QI’RA: Chapter Forty-Nine

An Imminent Fate

Qi’ra looked up and saw a shaft of red light pouring from a hole in the ceiling. She had fallen ten feet into a dark cave whose walls were lined with the brambled tree’s roots that snaked toward the surface. In the darkness, she could hear the distinct squeak of bats. Her heart hammered in response.

There was the hum of a lightsaber as Maul appeared at the edge of the hole, his form a shadow against the maroon backdrop of the nighttime sky. And then he jumped into the cave before her, his blood-red lightsaber bathing the darkness in a haunting glow.

She grunted as she forced herself to stand despite the agonizing pain in her ankles and legs. The unexpected fall had caused her to land a little awkwardly on the cave floor. Her ankle luckily hadn’t twisted but there was still a great deal of pain to be had.

As he noticed that her movements were more sluggish than before he advanced slowly, his smiling face haunting in the glow of his weapon.

“You see, even the planet is fighting you in my favor,” he boasted.

“You won’t win,” she said through clenched teeth as she backed away, holding her sword out in front of her to keep at him at bay.

“Oh, but I think I will.”

He made a motion with his hand and suddenly the cave was filled with the squeaks of startled bats. She looked up in horror as the ceiling was suddenly alive with thousands of large bats that, awoken from their sleep, were now frantic and furious. She didn’t hesitate.

She turned and ran as fast as she could through the cave as the bats swirled after her in a ferocious chase. She could hear the hum of Maul’s lightsaber behind her as he chased after her.

She had never run so fast in her life. With her sword in hand, she swiped at the bats diving to attack her and in doing so didn’t realize that the cave floor was about to turn into a steep slope until she lost her footing and ended up rolling down the hill toward what seemed to be a cliff. She gasped, rolling to her side and thrusting the sword into the ground.

Her descent began to slow but it wasn’t slowing fast enough. She screamed as she felt her body falling over the edge of the cliff but her fall would come to an end as the sword lodged itself in the cave’s floor at the very edge of the cliff. She swung helplessly back and forth and when she looked down her eyes widened at the seemingly endless pit of darkness beneath her feet.

She heard a cackle and when she looked Maul was approaching, his lightsaber twirling in his hand.

“Oh, Qi’ra, you would’ve made a great Sith. Always trying to kill your master. Only this time, you will not prevail.”

She knew if she didn’t act now she would die. So, she mustered all of the strength that she could and swung herself onto the cliff, rolling past Maul’s feet as he struck at the place where she had just been, and rising to her feet behind him.

He turned, his yellow eyes wide with horror as he realized what was about to happen just seconds before she kicked him right off the cliff.

“Nooooo!!!!!!” he screamed as he disappeared in the darkness.

She stared at the pit, her sword hanging to her side and her chest heaving from the exertion of their duel. She couldn’t believe it. She was victorious. She had vanquished a Sith lord! The thought was staggering.

As her gaze rose to the ceiling of the cave she thought about T-38.

“What would you say if you could see me now?”

With tears of joy forming in her eyes she smiled.

It took nearly an hour for Qi’ra to find her way out of the underground cave. When she did she was surprised to find that the maroon sky had brightened. It caused the joy and relief to bloom inside of herself.

She hurried through the brambled forest, her glowing red sword lighting the area around her. The noise of wildlife surrounded her, making her move faster to escape the haunting planet. She was nearly at the edge of the forest when suddenly she was brought to a skidding halt as she heard a voice.

It was a whisper carrying on the sudden gust of wind but there was no doubt whose voice it was.

“You think you have defeated me,” Maul said.

She whirled, pointing her sword at her surroundings but he was nowhere to be seen.

“But you have only delayed the inevitable.”

“Show yourself, you coward!”

His laughter echoed through the forest. “Now, you will die.”

In response, a hand emerged from the ground followed by many more hands as a green mist suddenly rolled across the forest floor like fog. Qi’ra screamed as dead women with bits of greying pale skin still clinging to their skeletal forms and clothed in ragged shreds of red cloth approached her, their gaping mouths oozing dark liquid that looked like blood.

Qi’ra screamed, swinging at them. Her sword decapitated one such live corpse but the woman only continued her approach. With her wide eyes filled with horror, she turned tail and ran faster than she ever had, Maul’s laughter echoing around her.

She broke her way out of the forest, dodging hands that continued to jut from the ground, grabbing at her running ankles. She saw her ship. She was so close. She could hear the running footsteps of the dead women chasing after her, their outstretched hands reaching to grab her.

She yelled as she launched herself to her ship as the ramp opened just in time. She hurried into the vessel yelling to the black-and-gold protocol droid that had accompanied her, “Get us out of here!”

She screamed as she felt an ice-cold hand clutch her ankle. She turned and kicked the dead woman off of her as dozens more of the horrifying attackers clambered onto the ramp.

“D!” she called again, speaking the droid’s first letter of his name.

“Oh my!” the protocol droid as she beheld her situation, hurrying to the cockpit and starting the engine.

Qi’ra scrambled to the wall of her vessel as the craft lifted from the planet’s surface, opening a compartment and pulling out a handheld grenade. She yelled as she threw the armed grenade at the throng of women that had pulled themselves onto the ramp.

The front attacker looked down at the grenade in her hands just a second before she exploded, taking her and the rest of the creepy attackers along with her. The blast knocked Qi’ra back into the cockpit and sent the ship careening to the side.

She pulled herself to her feet, closing the ramp with a press of a button on the console. The protocol droid then launched the ship toward the hemisphere, away from the dead women brought to life by some unearthly magic and Maul.

Qi’ra released a sigh of relief as she sat on the floor of the cockpit, her chest heaving from her lack of breath.

“Is everything okay, m’lady?” the protocol droid asked.

Qi’ra could still hear Maul’s voice taunting her in the forest. She thought he was dead but in actuality, he was still very much alive. He would undoubtedly seek revenge against her and that meant she needed to remain vigilant. The thought was slightly depressing but at least she had survived.

Looking up at the droid that sat in the chair beside her she responded, “Yes, I believe so.”

The droid nodded, seeming pleased, before launching the ship into hyperspace.

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