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Hou-Jo Poleb

Jen'saari'ari - Hou-Jo Poleb v Julio Wartide [Judge: Ayrian]

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Jen'saari'ari True Dark Lord, from the ancient Sith language Jen'ari meaning Dark Lord (of the Sith) and Saarai meaning Truth. This is a duel to determine the new Dark Lord of the Sith

 

OOC: Though this battle is occurring in a non-canon arena, it will begin and proceed as though it were canon. Each combatant will receive 2 setup posts and 5 duel posts. Aryian Darkfire will judge on the outcome.

 

((Continued from Merkava))

 

Hou-Jo was scavenging Midsengard for supplies. The Sith had seemingly abandoned the unholy site. Perhaps there were no Sith brave or unafraid enough to set up shop here. Maybe Ar-Pharazon was bored with it. The Dark Side of the Force was strong here. Maybe it was perceived as cowardice to dwell in a strong hold of dark energy.

 

He looked into the distance and saw a stain of blood on the ground. He approached the cold and dry blood to notice a metallic cylinder not too much farther away. In an instant Hou-Jo held it in his hand. Thumbing over a specific area, a red stream of plasma energy sprung out, as if trying to stab the cold, arid chill in the air. It was his weapon. He heard some mechanical whirring behind him. He turned to see an AT-ST staring him down in its sights.

 

The high-standing tank opened fire, but Hou-Jo was already several feet in the air, effectively side-stepping the assault. He landed behind it to prepare the finishing blow quickly. Lightsaber hanging dead on his belt he lifted his right hand, electrical currents crackling between his fingers, with light coalescing in his palm. He waited for this adversary to see it's doom.

 

Finally getting turned around, the AT-ST began to line up it's next shot, but taking aim would be as far if would get. Hou-Jo would unleash, not a barrage, but a single strike. The light immediately surrounding Hou-Jo dimmed, evidence of the twisted and unnatural nature of his intent.

 

A flash. Too fast for most to even see the initial white light before what followed. Force lightning. Not a stream of random, cackling current. Lightning. A single bolt, easily twice as large as a lightsaber blade in volume, massive and awe-inspiring. The blue-black bolt of energy went straight through the 'eyes' of his target, ripping a giant hole in the head. The mechanical beast crashed onto the ground a mangle heap. Immediately following the killstroke, a boom emanated from the site; the shear size and speed of the projectile cut through the physical air like a whip, undoubtedly catching the attention of any settlers in or outside the city.

 

Or from above. It was now that Hou-Jo felt a disturbance in the Force. He looked up to spy a capital ship in low orbit. Someone was watching him. Watching... but to what purpose?

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Consolidation. That was all that was left now. A year now he had been hidden, lost from the galaxy in strikes of vision too powerful to contain. Thousands of flashes, to fast to form any context, sometimes for weeks at a time before his writhing body just stopped. Nights seething in pain and cold sweats against the still cooler stones of the floor stretched on forever in the blackness of sealed doors. Over months repetition engrained patterns in his mind, set paths he could go down to see a possible outcome. The more he tried to make sense of any one, it would blossom off in a hundred other little wisps. Everything unfolded into something else, little things became mammoth in impact as paths progressed. Eleven months he gave himself to these many ways of maybe, emerging a tortured man. Everything was so possible, but so sadly certain. There were so many elements to consider.

 

A month of restoring his body from the carnage the visions cost brought everything in focus. And now he took his first tenuous steps on the path that had always been clear from the beginning. Transcendence.

 

The star destroyer was not difficult to obtain, what with the Empire dashed all through the galaxy, on the run on the outer rim from the wrath of the Galactic Alliance. Turning the crew took little effort, many of them looking for anything that could possibly save them from a life adrift on the rim. It would serve as a good symbol to those he would have to personally visit to press the matter. They would all bow. Bow or die. It was the only way, as it had always been. There was one thing to take care of before announcing himself, though in time it would have made itself known to the Order whether he said anything or not. Soon the Dark Lord would die on Gala, and Julio would be there to take the reigns and put the Order back where it needed to be. In the shadows, striking only when it was most critically devastating.

 

That 'one thing' to take care of was something that had vexed him for several months into his visions until he pushed himself beyond it to see the bigger picture. It was a blur, a massive darkness veiling a single presence on the surface of Merkava, a powerful station in the Dark Side, home to a Dark Lord or two in its time. Someone would be there, waiting? No. But ready? Certainly. Anyone bothering to dwell on such a hostile, hungering planet would know well the nature of the beast.

 

In low orbit he could already feel him. The presence he had felt once before, on this very same planet, when Dark Lord Dominique reigned from this very planet. Had he ever left? Had he lost himself in the hunger of the planet, fed on borrowed power?

 

Captain. I'm taking a shuttle down. He said without turning from the window, feeling his eyes upon him.

 

Fallen...

 

The shuttle landed softly a mere two hundred feet from the man lost in the desert. Julio's sandals made a soft, crisp crunch under his stride, like the land was dried and cracked. It sounded much like snow. The thought was an odd and happy one to hold as he walked closer to the man, thoughts growing quiet behind his bemused one. It sounded a lot like that time on Ilum, when he took the head of that wookiee pretending to be something other than a beast. This crunch lacked that moisture that snow had. Too brittle. This world felt very dead beneath a great hungering. The dark side was strong here.

 

Hou-Jo Poleb. Julio said with a soft, bemused smile on his face, the memory of snow and Ilum still lingering. I came here not knowing who to expect, but a fallen Jedi was not at the top of my list.

 

They were fifteen feet apart before Julio slowly came to a stop. His eyes flicked to the side to spot the destroyed machine, still smoldering. He couldn't help but greedily scour its surface, the damage it sustained in that one strong flash of lightning. Fascinating. His eyes flicked back to Hou-Jo's and could feel the suspicion. Please. As if I'd send a toy to test a master. His smile widened wolfishly, as if the thought was funny to him. Do you have these things all over the planet? Should I be afraid? A chuckle at the thought, but he continued in the next breath.

 

Well, come on then. If you'll want to be part of the Order, you'll serve like everyone else.

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Hou-Jo was soaking in the dark energies of the planet, preparing for whatever it was that descended upon him. The shuttle was carrying something vaguely familiar, but not a presence he could put his finger on. It was something far removed from his mind. Something locked away.

 

A shuttle had abandoned the confines of the wandering ship, its trajectory immediately proving to be straight for the fallen Grand Master. The ship landed dangerously close to such an unpredictable target. A man, only familiar through the Force, approached. Hou-Jo saw the slow, nonthreatening approach and closed his eyes, continuing to meditate. He focused on what his immediate plans should be. How to contact the Sith and plot his vengeance unto the Jedi Council. He pushed away thoughts of Rajah. Not because they were distracting, his life among the Jedi was a factor in losing her. They were merely thoughts that did not behoove him in this arena.

 

The man spoke his name, awakening Hou-Jo from his trance. He spoke as if he knew him personally. His reputation clearly proceeded him. No doubt his exploits across the galaxy gained him such favor with many. Yet, the way he spoke suggested that his name did not garner the respect coupled with knowledge of his very existence. Almost as if he was in afterthought in galactic affairs.

 

He caught this man's eyes drawn toward the fallen AT-ST before returning to the matter at hand. His tone continued further to arrogance, seemingly amused at the thought that he might be responsible for the errant assault moments ago. Amusing to Hou-Jo, actually, that any such 'test' be required and that this mortal feel it necessary to administer any rigor unto him. Odd, it was, that he would joke that Hou-Jo had fortified himself with technological advances, especially on this world. He did, however, say one thing that resonated truthfully with this man 'not-at-the-top-of-the-list'.

 

He should be afraid.

 

His tone did not deviate from arrogance, but presumptuous too, it became. He would at least humor the request, having still not uttered a single word he walked past the man to board his shuttle.

 

"She must believe herself Lumiya reborn to send another to draft me into serving her. My plans will be that as they always have been. My interaction with the Sith at large will be one-sided at worst and mutually beneficial at best. As for the subject of service, while I many not sabotage her efforts against the Jedi, I will not follow a woman whose splendor is robbed from the glory and greatness of Dark Lords before her. I do not ask you to be the middleman. Rest assured, I plan to say all this and more to Lady Dominique in person. It is clear that she does not see me as an equal, let alone a threat. No offense to you, but I should have expected an adversary from my past life. I suspect Lord Ar-Pharazon or Lord Quietus find themselves tangled in something that only their skills require."

 

Hou-Jo entered the shuttle and faced his chaperon. "My memory of the past few days is a bit fuzzy, but judging by the state of this world, I must have been in stasis for some time. I don't know what troubles me more; that she only now sends for me or that she let this great fortress fall into ruin. I can only pray that Lady Dominique's days as Dark Lady are numbered."

 

He walked through the ship, through what small real estate there was to be had. It wasn't in his conscious mind yet, but more and more things were beginning to feel out of place. For what was, presumably, a throw-away cruiser, things appeared to be significantly streamlined and more efficient than what should have been allowed in a few weeks time. Even for a prototype model, which this clearly was not. He looked at his chaperon again. Really looked. His eyes and the way he carried himself were weathered to a degree that would demand knowledge of him. The Force was strong with him, beyond the vague familiarity he felt.

 

Something was wrong. Hou-Jo would surely know of this being by all worldly (and otherwise) measures. But he didn't. Something began to creep into his mind. This Sith who came to fetch him. The decay of Midsengard. The sudden gap in his memory. Something had happened to him. His chaperon spoke words that he would have laughed at if Dominique spewed them, but the urge seemed like from a drunken madness that was suddenly gone. Did this man know more than what he was letting on?

 

"My apologies, I didn't catch your name, Lord...?"

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Darth Furion. He said nonchalantly, though let his inflection hang on the title and its every implication. Every Sith held open challenge, that was just the way. The title was worn proudly to let that be known prominently. But this one, this...Jedi so far fallen. He may not have cared for the hierarchical struggle so ambitiously exploited by the rest of the brethren. Hou-Jo Poleb was different, his passion fueled by something very specific, very personal. He had felt it so very long ago, and he could feel it in undercurrents beneath this man's exuding power. A focus his very own.

 

As the shuttle began to take off, Julio let his company's words mill through his head. They seemed out of place, reminiscent of another time. It seemed the fallen master had been disoriented somehow. Maybe the sheer nature of this planet or some other phenomena. Julio knew too well how easy it was to let things slip away or lock up tightly in the farthest recesses of the mind. Whether he had been in stasis as he suspected, or his mind lost years for some unknown purpose remained to be seen.

 

The shuttle ride was short, but quiet, Julio weighing his words carefully so as not to be confused. Docked, he made his way down the ramp, ignoring the rows of soldiers on either side of the pathway leading to the turbolift. As the doors slid shut and the lift began to rise, he spoke again.

 

I do not know what happened to you, but I believe you incorrect on the length of time. Dominique hasn't been in this galaxy for several years now.

 

The doors opened, and Julio didn't pause to let his words really register before walking on to the bridge.

 

"Commander on deck!" Shouted an officer at the nearest console. As one the deck turned without thinking and saluted, returning just as fast with a curt nod.

 

The Order has passed hands several times since you've been....indisposed. Presently, our current Dark Lord is getting himself killed spearheading an attack on the Jedi's Gala temple as we speak. I am currently taking the initiative to replace him and pull our Order up from the disgraceful state its in.

 

He spun on his heels, now standing half way down the long catwalk that ran between trenches of consoles and monitors. His eyes hardened, turning a brighter gold as the question swam to his head, and paths began to flare up in his head in a thousand different directions.

 

I assume you understand your options. He was still now, uncomfortably still. His face betrayed nothing. No growing anticipation, no tensing of his muscles. He just stood there, motionless with his hands clasped idly before him like he was asking for a decision between cherry or blueberry. As if on some mental queue, the captain gave the signal behind them and the ship lurched forward in a stream of blue brilliance. Soon they would be above Cardia.

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This Lord Furion stood before more than a man. A member of The Lost among the Jedi. As painful and destructive a loss to the Order as Count Dooku or Anakin Skywalker. Furion put on a brave face and stoic facade. A neutral face and a non-threatening demeanor, trying as he might, to not show his hand. Ignoring the seemingly contradictory appearance, Furion only simply ceased to betray the mechanics of his mind.

 

He sat silent on a shuttle ride. Walked past a sea of officers honoring him as if he were walking through a literal ocean. Spoke of the follies of the Dark Lord and his intentions to pull up the order. In the backdrop of an entire bridge of blue and red bars standing at attention to honor him, his words of the Sith spoke volumes. How such a terrible state it had sunk to, that he, Darth Furion, would bring to them salvation and dominance.

 

Dominion over the Sith had passed hands numerous times. From Havoc, to Barrabas, who cowardly bent to Ryu. To Quietus, a formidable Sith Lord was always second fiddle to true greatness. Dominique, who merely played into expectations of what the Dark Lord was to represent. All the way to this current Dark Lord who was "getting himself killed" to pass the torch to one more soul that was more unworthy of the title than the last.

 

Furion made the speech. He made the unspoken threats. He demanded the allegiance of such a powerful free agent, that once in his pocket, no one would dare question his claim. However, the way he spoke, as a man trained first as a Sith, he understood the Dark Side less than a being who was first a Jedi.

 

They were still standing. Still standing. No more. He lifted his hands and sent out a wave of Dark Side energy. Men who would stand for Furion lie smitten at Hou-Jo's feet. He would think it wisdom, Furion would, to permit Hou-Jo of this. To see the Fallen's intention, he would allow such an abhorrent affront to his stature. Not to dismiss Furion's rage at the slaughter, the man simply attempted to appear in control. He had already laid down the gauntlet. Separating himself along the catwalk, already aware that violence was coming. He wanted Hou-Jo to make the first move. He lowered his arms, placing his right hand behind his back, prepared to strike.

 

"I can feel your anger. It gives you focus... makes me stronger." Hou-Jo was referring to the potent and dangerous form of Vaapad. Built from Juyo, Form VII of the Jedi's recognized forms of lightsaber combat, Vaapad was different. It shared a quality with Dun Moch, that it transcended mere lightsaber combat. It was a state of mind. As a Jedi Hou-Jo would turn his inner darkness and the evil of his opponent into his own strength. As a dark Lord, the only difference was the all-consuming darkness that escaped him into the air men breathed.

 

"I can only hope the current Grand Master shares the same weaknesses of his counterpart. So concerned you are of bringing your order to prominence you realize how infantile a goal it is. For better and for worse, my name will echo across the untold eons of history. As both savior and conqueror. I hope not to reign o'er the Sith, as you do. I aspire to demand all of known existence into reverence. They shall recognize my greatness, a unique perspective brought upon by living in two worlds. You should have made your move. I do not think you as unwise to believe any other outcome but this."

 

The time that he spoke allowed him to prepare the first volley. That this Furion would now be prepared for an assault was not in question. Hou-Jo intended to see how this groveler of the throne would cope with the pure awesome power of the Dark Side. His left hand ready to ignite a metallic canister with red light, his right sprung forth, illuminating the entire room with blue-black. A single concentrated bolt of lightning sped its way unto its target, breaking the sound barrier. It was assumed that Furion understood his options.

 

((1))

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An answer delivered in a blaze of destruction flashed across the bridge, and Julio couldn't help but smile as dozens of honor guard dropped to the ground writhing in pain. Their suffering stirred the Dark Side and made his heart flutter in a sudden thrill. If he wasn't before, Julio was getting excited now. He hadn't had a test in a long time. No struggle to help him discover himself, to push himself further than he ever thought possible. He wanted threat. He wanted Hou-Jo to try to kill him, to try take everything he worked for and crush it in his hands. Let him try, let anyone try. Anyone who dares question all of Julio's hard work, all the knowledge he had acquired through a life of suffering and trial. After all, that was what this was all about. The fight to hold the power that all others would crave.These men, remnants of the Empire now dead meant nothing the the Sith. They were weak lives snuffed out at the whim of this fallen Jedi in an egotistical display of power, or, and this was the thought that bemused Julio most, in some anticipatory strike against those he perceived to be potential threats. Either way, the thought was laughable. Let him cut down the weak to prove he can. The same childish display of power he expected of the rest of the misguided order. In the same flash the bodies wracked in lightning abruptly stopped, motionless even in their hearts.

 

"I can feel your anger. It gives you focus... makes me stronger."

 

Again he had to stifle a laugh. The pretentiousness on this one. Ego exuded from him, saturating the air with a musky bravado that stung the nose. He stood fearless against Julio, so sure of his victory already. Hou-Jo would probably even hold himself back, not bothering to put in real effort against one he thought so little of. It was this thinking, this type of baseless confidence that had destroyed so many Sith before. Julio would not be as naive. The fallen Jedi had aspirations of becoming a legend, pulling the galaxy to its knees in reverence to him and only him. Pipe dreams of children who know power but not purpose. To what end would he rule the galaxy? To sit on a throne and gloat for the rest of his life? To burn down his own kingdom out of spite and anger held for so long its lost its purpose? Some droll nonsense about about his 'unique perspective' coming from both sides of the line almost caused Julio to roll his eyes. As if he were the first to fall from grace.

 

"You should have made your move. I do not think you as unwise to believe any other outcome but this."

 

He could feel Hou-Jo focusing, drawing upon his disdain for Julio to lash out. The tide rose swiftly as dark power answered the man's call, and the bridge began to feel all too small in scope of the raw power being commanded. The feeling was...invigorating. To feel any free flowing form of emotion to such an extent from anyone else. It was good to feel the Dark Side so vivaciously.

 

Your arrogance blinds you. Julio said through his wide smile just as he lowered his mask, fading himself from perception of the growing beast that was Hou-Jo's darkness. He thought of Julio as nothing but a bug to be squashed, a trivial hindrance in his way. Not at all did he seem to expect any real threat. Just an anticipation of some meager attempt at violence.

 

As the single bolt of lightning spread out from Hou-Jo's fingertips a body was already flying into place in front of Julio. One of the very men that just died for no reason hung just a couple feet in front of Julio, lighting glowing through his flesh and calcifying his bones, dancing across flesh and burning hair and cartilage alike. The Master held the body in place for a few short moments, the display of light brighter and more intense as more malicious electricity poured in from Hou-Jo's fury, and the pair became indistinguishable in the brilliant haze. Forms became lost in the light before they split, one flying high in an arch and the other straight forward, both at Hou-Jo.

 

Lightning still danced slightly on the skin of the clouded figure coming straight at him, while a snap-hiss and a bright red light screamed out of the one in the air, but it was impossible to distinguish which was the Sith, and which was corpse. Everything about the two was muddled in Hou-Jo's vision, undefined in form or substance. The fallen Jedi had made a mistake. One he would realize shortly.

 

((1))

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The single bolt of energy escaped Hou-Jo's hand and consumed one of his prior victims. His assault with traditional Force lightning left all incapacitated, near the brink of death. Furion wisely sacrificed one to save himself. He had felt pain like his comrades before, but his sacrifice was without pain, as the concentrated blast undoubtedly killed him immediately. Such a massive blow downed an AT-ST instantly, blasting through its armor like a laser cutting through butter. This flesh and blood was able to withstand the blast much more effectively, some wizardry involved on the part of Furion, no doubt.

 

In one instant the bright light illuminated the entire bridge. In seconds Hou-Jo activated his lightsaber for the Sith's reprisal. He could see as much that the charred skeleton was being hurled in his direction and he guessed this was a ploy to cover an assault. He might have used the Force to succeed where his natural vision failed, but drawing more on the Force for such a purpose after his previous display would leave him vulnerable. He could only intercept one, but the consequences would be dire if he chose the wrong target.

 

He could not sidestep the assault; the catwalk was too narrow. Taking to the air was not an option. One body flew along a straight path while the other was lobbed over. He could fall back to wait for the higher target to come back down, but if the lower was Furion, his momentum would continue until it either met Hou-Jo or the back wall.

 

Poleb flipped his body to the left, turning has back on the assault while dropping to his back. With his unarmed hand he used the Force to push against the wall in order to propel himself toward Furion. He held his lightsaber above his body, for in case Furion could see past the plume of smoke, he would be able to parry the one shot he'd have time for.

 

Passing underneath his opponent, he put the palm of his unarmed hand on the ground above his head. Pushing against the ground he flipped onto his feet. A relatively safe response. As Furion quickly took the air before the fight could begin proper, there was no way he could alter his course mid-flight to halt his passing nemesis. Not safely, at least.

 

Hou-Jo may have had failings as a Jedi. His application of the Force may not have always rendered him the preferable results. Some of his skills as a Jedi were lost to him in the darkness. Much was different about him in this stage of his life, but one thing was constant throughout.

 

Vaapad. The Way of the Vornskr.

 

No sooner that he was on his feet did he rush his opponent. There were two possible targets, only one was true; this much he knew. Furion was employing some type of wizardry foreign to Hou-Jo in combat. He did not have time for diligence in his decision. He had to choose and hope he chose true.

 

He engaged the form that Vaapad told him to be the source. He could feel one more strongly than the other, but maybe only in his subconscious did he doubt, unsure of the complexity of the illusion. Nevertheless, he latched onto the one that was the most vivid.

 

Hou-Jo swung his blade through the air in a magnificent display. The staccato assortment of light would quickly overwhelm an opponent unskilled in the ways of the Force. His assault reminiscent of the Jedi Sly Stevenson, seemingly wielding several lightsabers at once. Fluid and nigh unpredictable, Hou-Jo was confident that Furion would not be able to last long on the merits of lightsaber combat alone. Not without quickly falling to Poleb's blade.

 

Not as elegant as Makashi, the pure-duelist strikes were art in combat. Predictable, even, though difficult to best in its own right. If there were an ideal form to withstand Form VII, it would be Soresu, but the defender could only cope for so long. The acrobatics of Ataru shared the flare of Juyo, but at the expense of the user's stamina. Shien, or Djem So, was a Jedi's perspective of peace through superior fire power. All of them potent against masters of their respective craft, Vaapad surpassed them as a state of mind. Only a true warrior could overcome the entrancing display of light and might combined.

 

Not all of his strikes were meant to make contact. Some flew by with no threat of harm to add to the disorientation. While there were many blades by appearance, Furion would have difficulty judging where a true strike was coming from. Like the light left behind from a dead star, the light of his blade hung in various spots, as if striking from many places at once. This was what made the form dangerous to an opponent.

 

He pressed his assault onto Furion. While Hou-Jo believed himself superior and the clear favorite in any arena, he knew that his perception of time was skewed. Though he could tell this Furion was a member of a new breed, Hou-Jo felt it lacked the preeminence of Sith Lords of yesteryear. Though perhaps not a challenge, if this was the best the Sith to oppose him, he would leave nothing to chance.

 

Free of carelessness. Overconfident? Maybe. If cities would fall before the Jedi, his current foe was no match for the Sith. This was the opportunity Hou-Jo was waiting for. This was the path to realizing his destiny. His senses filled with excitement and rage. And he channeled these emotions into his blade, waiting for Furion to break off to recuperate.

 

((2))

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  • His metal fingers clasped in around the throat of the slow breathing officer as Julio rested his chin on the barely breathing officer, consciousness tenuous as waves of dagger like pain struck a thousand points on his body with every fluttering heartbeat. Time virtually stood still as the man had been ripped from the floor and pulled into Julio's cold grasp in a flash, but his eyes somehow pulled themselves open despite the pain. No, they were forced open.
     
          • Watch. Watch as this Jedi loses himself to his power. So quickly he pours himself into it, so quickly it goes unchecked.

The thought took only a moment to register before the man's vision was filled with a bright flash of light. And then pain, nothing but white hot, all consuming pain. Lightning burned through his body, up his spine and into every nerve stretching out, up into every synapse of his brain. It was too much, nothing made sense, his body wasn't his own, everything was ending. Suffering rang on eternally in that one second as that man died. With the final lightning surged thud of his heart, Julio dug his metal fingers half way around his throat and ripped it away. With a flick of the wrist the spraying body was cast in a high arch at the fallen Jedi.

 

Julio was already in a rush at Hou-Jo, his body sizzling in a flash of searing pain. Being in physical contact with the body as it was struck sent jolts through his crushgaunt. Nothing to the effect of a direct hit of such powerful lighting, but enough to clench teeth and let passion stir. His muscles tensed in a short spasm before electricity ran its course. Ego snarled behind the cage but Julio only let the gruesome vision of the blood spray play in his head as he charged, shaping it in his mind into a bright, straight lightsaber blade, poised at Hou-Jo's heart. In that flash of blood a *snap-hiss* accompanied the blade as it had every other time anyone heard a lightsaber. The Sith poured his fury into that dying man. DIE!!

`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`

 

 

Hou-Jo swung low under the flying corpse, his eyes transfixed on the glowing red blade always on the cusp of lunging for his life but never striking. He seemed to flip around to let what he felt to be Julio land where he had, effectively trading places before launching himself forward in a flurry of what felt to be a flow of great pride of skill and technique. Hou-Jo certainly was a master of his lightsaber, as much an extension of himself as the Force itself, but it consumed him. He lost himself to the lightsaber, so full of form his structured mind struck at only the threat perceived to be the greatest, everything else disregarded.

 

As the Jedi rushed at the illusion, Julio too rushed at the Jedi from his blindness. His left hand fell back to slide a finger across the exposed edge of his ryyk blade. The rage inducing poison drove out everything other than his enemy out of focus, but not out of mind. With ever beat of his furnace heart the fire grew hotter, with every step toward Hou-Jo an ever growing desire to break the fool who stood in his path to transcendence. It had been Julio's projection of his wrath, his desire for violence through the dying, agony stricken man that had put the powerful idea in the Force, but it was the fallen Jedi's arrogance that ruined him. He saw what he wanted and disregarded the rest.

 

The bone white mask ushered him unnoticed toward Hou-Jo, coming up on his right side. His lightsaber flew southpaw to his left hand as his right cocked back. Planting his final step, Julio's body burst forward in a massive rush of Force as all pretense was dropped and the full brunt of his one, precise strike. Hou-Jo's lightsaber play was so fast each bend and extension of his right arm cast long, brilliant designs in the air. It was certainly lovely against the man that wasn't there. The Jedi's sweep came in a horizontal strike at the phantom, and Julio's crushgaunt enshrouded fist fired out with the full force of his rising body and wrath flowing to one crippling blow to the tender ribs and muscles under the right armpit.

 

And almost on queue the ship dropped out of hyperspace, just above Cardia.

 

((2))

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Hou-Jo felt a rush of sensation flood the entire right side of his body. Some force carried him off his feet and across the bridge. He had realized previously that he was being subjected to some illusion and was now beginning to understand that he chose the wrong target.

 

He crashed into a control panel, damaging it significantly, though it didn't seem to noticeably effect the running of ship. The burning cold feeling under his right arm was beginning to fade into pain. He quickly began to try and send the pain below. He took his lightsaber in his right hand. It hurt to move his arm. He felt around with his left hand. He may have had broken ribs, but he couldn't quite tell.

 

He had already played into this man's hand too much. It was obvious that this contest could not be negotiated with the skill of a lightsaber, but rather their knowledge of the Force.

 

Furion seemed content not to fight, but to rather play chess against an opponent he viewed as a lesser Sith (due to his Jedi beginnings). Furion was being allowed to draw significantly on the Force in order to combat Hou-Jo in the way he was.

 

A flicker of light flashed in Hou-Jo's yellow eyes. He was drawing on the pain to induce a sort of combat nirvana. He clenched his fists, and with a wince, shoved his hands into the control panel behind him. The panel began to spark. Electricity shot from the panel and spread throughout the system, though with no specific precision.

 

Sparks shot from various panels in the bridge. Lights flickered. Remaining crew were either electrocuted or fleeing the scene. The Force lightning began to fry circuit-breakers inside the system, deactivating select systems in the ship. The siren for red alert began to blare over the intercom. The ship rocked violently. The engines seized up. The ship couldn't hold it's approach vector and began to speed toward the gravitational pull of the planet. Hou-Jo took a deep breath. One last violent burst came from a panel of systems near the pilot's station. The lights and life support shut down.

 

Hou-Jo's body began to float toward the ceiling, quickly being stopped by his arms stuck in the control panel. He ripped his hands out of the station to reveal his hands and forearms to be covered with Force lightning. Almost as if a miniature Force Storm engulfing his limbs. Theoretically capable of shielding his forearms from a lightsaber blow, as a lightsaber would absorb a barrage of Force lightning.

 

He floated into the air about halfway toward the ceiling, as did all the dead bodies and those few lucky enough to survive, frantically trying to get off the bridge. The only thing that illuminated the room was light from the nearest star, Hou-Jo's emblazed limbs, and Furion's lightsaber. He put his left arm in front, to defend, and left his right arm hang. Though the pain was out of his mind, he didn't want to risk losing the ability to use it. He would rely on his left as much as possible. He stared Furion down, switching to defense, to see if the Dark Lord's heir-apparent was capable of fighting on someone else's terms.

 

((3))

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What a spectacle it was, first watching the fallen Jedi flare in pain and fury, and then to watch him pour himself into a massive assault of raw lightning on the ship itself. Consoles flickered and burst in showers of sparks. Men and women alike sat entralled in their seats as the violet surge coursed through their body, calcifying bone and boiling blood. The Dark Side drummed with power as it savored their lives, spicing the rage poison burning in his veins. Julio loved every second of it. The struggle, the desperation. Both combatants wanted to live, but more so they wanted to lash out at the other, to test will against will. So much so that Hou-Jo was willing to crash the very ship they were on to do it. The few that were far enough from their stations to elude the tempest began running for the turbolift, the fear of such an unexpected siege on their vessel too much for their loyalty to hold. Let them run. Cowards.

 

As the lights flickered out and all the ship's systems powered down, everything began to tilt as the nose of the ship bowed low at the will of Cardia's gravity. Fighters began pouring out of hangars, escorting larger shuttles and transport vessels away from the derelict ship. Soon Julio would be utterly alone with Hou-Jo, a prospect that greatly thrilled him. It was always meant to be this way, one soul struggling against another.

 

The ship began to dip further and Julio crouched low, burying his crushgaunt's metal fingers into the bridge's metal panel floors to steady himself. If he thought this was enough to throw off Julio, he was sorely remiss. But why crash the ship? The move seemed sour with desperation. Why not attack Julio directly? What was going on in that misguided mind of his? The fallen Jedi, on the other hand, did not seem to mind the lack of gravity, letting himself drift idly upward. He stared intently at Julio, concentrating so hard to watch his every movement, ready to intercept with an armful of lightning.

 

The bridge was dark now, dimly lit by the far star and the two remaining sources of light on the bridge. When would this fallen Jedi learn what Julio really was? Darkness was nothing to be feared, but embraced. Snuffing out his lightsaber and returning it to his belt, Julio instead drew his father's automatic slugthrower. Hou-Jo floated in air, helplessly locked in a lack of gravity and now the brightest target on the bridge. Squeezing the trigger, Julio's eyes bored into Hou-Jo, intently watching him for any movement that would change his direction. If he moved, Julio would be leading him. Round after round flew silently out of the slugthrower, poised at the enemy's center mass. Veiled from perception of the Force by his mask and aided by the sudden dim lighting of the bridge, Hou-Jo may not have even seen what Julio drew after the crimson light of his lightsaber was removed from scene. Julio screamed as he fired, rage taking over. This fallen Jedi had dared stand against him, in ignorance or ego it didn't matter. He thought himself a Sith just from his fall, as if switching from light to darkness was enough. He didn't know anything about being free, about struggling for the sake of growth. He simply wanted to live as he was, and make the galaxy sorry for whatever they had done to him. And now he broke his capital ship just to put Julio on edge. A petulant child throwing baradium around like it was righteous.

 

So what if the ship was crashing? Surviving a crash was far less a concern than putting this dog in its place. The only way this fight would stop was if one of them was defeated, completely and utterly crushed so that there would never again be doubt who the Dark Lord really was.

 

((3))

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Hou-Jo, by enveloping his forearms and hands in lightning, had hoped to engage Furion's lightsaber, trying to catch the Sith in an unfamiliar arena of combat. Not without ingenuity, Furion reacted unpredictably yet again. He had no desire to prove himself in zero gravity, as two Sith would in the past. A somewhat famous story, from what Hou-Jo had heard of it. He couldn't quite remember the aggressors, but if he had to guess, it was Faust and Barohm Zar.

 

Hou-Jo wanted to leave proof in the mind of his opponent that it was he who was the strongest. Strong enough to command the Sith. Furion was only trying to survive. Hou-Jo was left relatively vulnerable to Furion's counter. Abandoning any appearance of elegance or class, a primitive firearm was his answer. Not even a blaster, but a slugthrower; as primitive as they came. A man who used his foe's mind as his own weapon, this Sith lapsed into a common gunslinger.

 

Hou-Jo saw flash after flash emanating from Furion as he released round after round of explosive metal shards. He screamed in anger as he fired, depriving himself of precious oxygen that had been lost with life support.

 

The fallen Grand Master contracted, quite nimbly and with haste with no gravity. Floating in what was essentially the fetal position, he used his arms and legs to cover his chest and head, trying to use lightning and Force to defend against the bullets. Several impacted against the lightning, but several tiny bits embedded themselves in his arms. He couldn't defend against them all. Several bullets grazed his thighs and shoulders. One bullet he could not deviate and he was shot in the left leg. It went clean through right below his knee and embedded itself in the back of his upper leg.

 

He grunted in pain, letting precious air go free. His anger hit a fever pitch. He had intended to wait out the assault, until the clip was empty, but his rage towards Furion's cowardice had reached its pinnacle. Even more frustrating was the fact that his tactics were relatively effective.

 

Hou-Jo threw the lightning off his arms as he fully expanded his body. Having been sustained as a cycling pseudo-storm, his makeshift gauntlets flew at the source of the bullets like a net. The force sent him backward toward the ceiling. He activated his lightsaber and slashed upward into the ceiling toward his rear. Slash after slash, he gained momentum toward his target, as if rowing a boat.

 

Would Furion stand his ground and face Hou-Jo face-to-face or would his cowardice persist? Hou-Jo had some advantage in the form of having undoubtedly more oxygen in his system. He didn't know how long this would be true; the ship maybe had a minute or two left outside of the atmosphere. He closed in on his target, lightsaber ready to strike.

 

With any luck, Hou-Jo would finally get to engage this "man" more directly. He feared, though, that this Sith would pass out from foolishly screaming out. He didn't want to win; to merely survive. He wanted the world to know who was the strongest. He wanted the Sith to know what a Dark Lord was capable of. He wanted Furion to know that Hou-Jo Poleb was more than just a fallen Jedi.

 

Much, much more.

 

((4))

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Still, more and more lightning. Any question of whether or not Hou-Jo was committed was lost in the near mesmerizing display of constantly manifested power. The Jedi had been drawing deep from the Force for some time now, whether deep in his battle trance or releasing massive volleys of lightning, strong enough to completely cripple a capital ship, strong enough to shatter bullets and throw them aside. The target hadn't moved at all, freely floating slowly toward the ceiling. Not at all a difficult target to hit. But this wreath of lightning snatched most of the bullets from its path, fifty in all before the soft *click-click* signaled the drum clip empty. It had taken only a few short seconds to empty the gun, and as Julio holstered his gun to again ready his lightsaber for the charge, the lightning wreath erupted from Hou-Jo like a great wave threatening to wash over him in pain and incapacitation.

 

Before he could think his body was throwing itself backward, toward the nose of the ship as his feet kicked off the surface held firm by his metal hand. He couldn't control his flight back, couldn't turn to anticipate without turning from Hou-Jo, their eyes locked even as the fallen Jedi seemed to row across the ceiling toward him. The lightning wave bathed the floor below him in dancing jolts of violet. To the bodies still on the floor in some way, either strapped to their seats or their shoes melted to the floor, the lightning seemed to almost animate them for a moment as jolts turned into momentary twitches or convulsions, even an occasional fluttering of the eyes. The imagery painted a grotesque scene of anger and selfishness, struggle beyond care of destruction. And it was wonderful.

 

Pain shot up his back as he collided with a console, suddenly veering slightly toward the ceiling at a much slower pace as momentum was lost in the impact. That sudden flash of pain rocked the cage and the beast howled within him, begging, no, now demanding to be FREE. His furnace heart burned in his chest with the poison and it demanded more! More struggle, more freedom, more release, more punishment to this worm that dare question what he had earned, what he deserved! Pretense was lost in the Sith's head as all he could think about was this Jedi's life, and exactly how valuable it really was to his plans. He had been called to Merkava by the Force, that was without question. But was it to collect Hou-Jo to aide the Order in the year to come, or was it simply for this moment, right now? Another test?

 

You will bow to me, Jedi! Bow to me as you've bowed to Dark Lords before!

 

His lightsaber snapped alive as he leveled it with Hou-Jo, his right hand open beside him. If he wanted to cross sabers so badly, if he felt this was his strong ground, then this was exactly where Julio would break him. At this speed they would meet soon, but his sword arm would be difficult to lift properly with the most likely broken ribs. Pain aside, muscles connected to those ribs simply wouldn't work right. The hail of gun fire had left it winded, it seemed, though he could simply be trying to focus after drawing upon the Force so heavily. He had worn himself out, thinking his foe easily cut down rash displays of power. Julio had mostly held himself back, building on his fury as the Jedi continued to defy him. As they met, Julio's left wrist immediately went into a flow of flourishes, bounding lightly at Hou-Jo's weapon before flicking around to attack at another vector, disengaged and about again time after time as he kept the Jedi busy. No heavy blow was made between the meeting of lightsabers, and parries quickly disengaged before they threatened to move Julio too much. Hou-Jo would have to press pass the fencing like stance to get anywhere near Julio.

 

Soon the beast would be free and there would be no hope for Hou-Jo Poleb. Let him find out for himself the true power of the Dark Side.

 

((4))

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Even when dueling southpaw, Hou-Jo's Vaapad form was not to be trifled with. Furion thought himself capable of going toe-to-toe against an injured swordsman. At best it gave him a fighting chance for survival. Whether or not he could pull through and win, however, was by no means written in stone.

 

As a Jedi, Hou-Jo was held in high regard as one of the all-time greats. He led the Order at one point, both spiritually and in battle. Something that was lost in his legend was that he wasn't necessarily successful in direct combat against Sith. Whether he was facing Kakuto Ryu directly, or fell to Geki because his troops failed him, he didn't have the strength to overcome.

 

However drastically his priorities may have changed, there was one thing about him that differed most about him. He possessed, now, the strength and conviction to carry out what he sought. He was weak as a Jedi. Perhaps it wasn't his falling out with the Order. Perhaps it wasn't Rajah. Not even the path the universe had set out for him. Maybe he was just built to play by a different set of rules. Maybe he found himself on this road not from a few moments of time, but from the sum of all his parts. He was trying to kill the Dark Lord of the Sith not to end his reign of terror, but be the successor who was more brutal than his predecessor.

 

Hou-Jo did not fight with the dominance of lightsaber that he knew he possessed. While he did not believe himself brought down far enough to be an equal sword fighter to Furion, he wasn't necessarily in his element. He was capable of dueling with his off hand. He pushed the pain away from his ribs, but that didn't undo the damage done. Even to maintain proper balance wasn't a guarantee.

 

He was taken surprise by Furion's offense, not merely content to play Hou-Jo's hand, but to beat him with it. This Dark-Lord-to-be was still out of his element. He tried to be quick, moving his lightsaber in and put it somewhere else before his opponent had a chance to react. Vaapad-like, even if amateur and a mimicry.

 

Furion did not possess the discipline, nor state of mind, to fight in such a way, however. He thought himself in control. Hou-Jo saw that he was hurt. While covered up by his parlor tricks, Furion had been hit with Hou-Jo's barrages of lightning. As he let go of his illusions to stand up to a master swordsman, there was truth to finally be seen. Force lightning had become the staple of Sith Masters in the galaxy. A thing that was thought unoriginal. It was not regarded as proof of a great Sith, but merely a luxury allowed to soldiers lucky enough to kill a Jedi or two. To those who bolstered the ranks just enough. There was no elegance or class left for it. It was a throwaway. An entry level maneuver to lead people to throwing fire or whatever perceived next greatest bastardization of the Force was. Dozens could learn it, but few mastered it. Many could reign in its awesome power, but far less made an art of it.

 

As simple and contrite it seemed, it was effective. Extremely so, in the proper hands. Effective even against Furion, who showed signs of damage. For his many tricks, Hou-Jo was able to see what Furion would try and prove otherwise; just a man.

 

Hou-Jo moved to the offensive, bringing on what might Vaapad offered with his compromised state. Blades appeared to come from many directions. Awe-inspiring to a spectator and fear-inducing to a recipient, Hou-Jo channeled his reaffirmed confidence and rage. He drew on the anger and contempt of his adversary. Bodies flew around in a spectacle. To a passerby a violent and random series of blows, but to the trained eye it was two masters of their respective craft fighting not just for their lives. They fought for the ruin of the other man.

 

Hou-Jo did not let up in his assault as the ship neared the atmosphere. The zero gravity of space would quickly shift to gravity heavier than the norm. The planet Cardia would not even render the duel to standard gravity. He readied a strike with both hands grasping his lightsaber. He would undoubtedly suffer the consequences should he survive the duel, but broken ribs never threatened anyone's life. Not for centuries, anyway.

 

He was leading up to a crescendo weaved elegantly into his symphonic sword display. Evidence of a promise made by a Dark Jedi was to be seen in Furion's eyes. A promise made to man who did not remember it. The fate of one man and entire galaxy would forever change. Hou-Jo brought down a hammer-stroke against Furion's blade, bringing down his weight, natural and unnatural strength down against this sorcerer in one carefully timed blow. There would be time to recover for both as the ship crashed into the sky. Even if the fallen Jedi failed, Furion would only partially succeed.

 

As Hou-Jo's rage and ambition reached a new height, something happened. Something was born on Cardia that would forever change life everywhere. The culmination of events of one life reached a climax. A man stood against Furion, but he knew nothing about him. Whatever was left of the man stranded in Midsengard was gone. Hou-Jo Poleb was dead.

 

((5))

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Taking the bait, Hou-Jo pressed his assault toward Julio, readily falling into his free flow form of Vapaad. He pushed aggressively, with the same absurdness and bravado as ever. Passion and fury poured from his aggressive swings, raining on Julio in rapid succession. The blows came faster, and from every direction each fleeting moment they remained locked. Julio held his lightsaber far in front of him, pushing as and redirection the fallen Jedi's blade with every ounce of effort. The attack pressed on and on, rapidly infuriating Julio as he was consumed purely in his own defense. It was easy to see why Hou-Jo kept pressing to cross blades. He was like dancer on stage, lost in the music, nearly oblivious of his dance partner. Still he drew deep on reserves of power, demanding more and more of his broken body and mind to break through his opponent. Now, more than ever, was it so readily evident the difference between the two. Julio had held himself back, striking out only when critical damage was sure, while the fallen lashed out with everything he had, pulling and tearing at himself to bend the Dark Side to his will. He had no training in the dark arts, didn't at all understand the consumption and self destruction of the beast.

 

As Hou-Jo pressed his assault, and as slowly the gravity of the planet began to take shallow hold on the bridge, the pair of them began to edge toward the nose of the ship. With each little loss of ground Julio could feel the the wall growing at his back, more imposing and final with every desperate parry. He couldn't find an opening to strike back, every unconscious movement instinctual flow of his Darkness pouring out to defend against Hou-Jo's own. There was no apparent answer, he may very well die here in this very moment, forgotten long before his dreams came to life.

 

No.

 

The thought just couldn't sit in his head. Everything he had worked for, every pain and struggle he had overcome, every single day in his life had been devoted to a single thing. Transcending the man he was into something so great, so undeniably free that nothing could ever stop him from simply being. This fallen Jedi, this man who stood against everything Julio wanted or needed was nothing. Misguided and angry at the world like everyone else. He had fantastic potential, certainly, but he simply didn't understand the darkness in his own heart. The fallen Jedi simply let his passions rule him, captivated by the freedom he was for so long denied.

 

Julio's foot found the wall and all panic melted off his face into a wide, brilliant smile. Hou-Jo's arms were raised high to strike down in a massive blow, locking in that brilliant moment of clarity. The path was certain now, all doubts checked in sudden realization. Rage and intent held purpose in one critical moment, a single point where fate itself was vulnerable. Assassins trained to seek this moment. To find that chink in the armor and strike hard and fast. To do the most crippling damage as quickly as possible to ensure the victims defeat. As Hou-Jo brought his saber down, Julio sprung forward kicking off the wall. For the first time throughout the entire struggle, Julio was charging the fallen Jedi face to face.

 

The Sith's crimson blade turned horizontal to catch Hou-Jo's hammer strike far sooner than expected. Stuck at the apex of his strike, Hou-Jo's arms hadn't yet wrought forth the full momentum of the strike, leaving them hanging high for that one brief second. There was a second in which Hou-Jo's face was clearly visible from Julio's low, crouching angle. Now! This was that very moment! His metal fist, coiled at his hip, rocketed up through the opening in a powerful uppercut, bolstered with poison induced rage and the complete focus of the Sith's intent. He did not want to kill this one, but he would bow.

 

But just as the crushgaunt slid between Hou-Jo's elbows, the short lightsaber built into its top wrist initiated a snap like a warning bell, the precursor to any awakening blade. But the standard hiss of the awakening did not follow. In the same thought to spur alive the lightsaber hidden in the folds of metal of his crushgaunt was one to deny it a vital component that gave the device its composure. The electromagnetic containment field. Without it, the lightsaber produced not form a cohesive beam of plasma, but instead pouring out the superheated plasma like a fountain from the fallen Jedi's knees to his throat as the metal fist rose to crush into his unprotected jaw.

 

((5))

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That was, without a doubt, one of the finer duels I've had the pleasure of reading, and I'm honored that you both chose me to judge it. I fully realize the implications of this duel, and I'm committed to doing my best in judging it. Unfortunately, last night Internet Explorer on another computer ate the post I had typed up, tonight I'm on my computer and that will not be the case.

 

To say that this duel was spectacular would be an injustice to it, simply because it raised the bar and went beyond that. I loved the intro posts and how the story seemed to flow smoothly straight into the duel, painting the backdrop nearly perfectly. I'm a bit miffed how you guys used nearly the same scenario I was planning to pitch for the 2v2 duel against Lee and Ben, but on the same token I never mentioned it to Furion and you guys seemed to pull it off better than I'd envisioned us doing it, so bravo. It all had an unrelenting sense of urgency to it, which only multiplied when the Star Destroyer started to fall to its death above Carida. But I've waxed poetic on the actual duel as a whole long enough. So without further ado, onto the judging!

 

Hou-Jo Poleb, your posts were full of power. Rich, flowing power that at times seemed too much, pushing the envelope, but at the same time evoking the raw unbridled energy that comes with being the Dark Lord. It's been said before in the RP that games like the Force Unleashed aren't to be considered when comparing characters to canon, as the Apprentice goes far above what even Anakin was capable of in the rest of the canon, and Anakin was the Chosen One. For example, the bolt shot through the ATST might have been feasible, but normally a feat like that would leave the summoner incredibly drained afterwards. Still, you wrote the character well despite this, clearly portraying him as a veritable Force avatar that is not to be trifled with.

 

Master Furion, your posts were full of control. You were the ideal master Assassin, favoring intellect over power, and striking your opponent in ways at just the right time that always forced him to keep on his toes. You took less damage in the duel than I would have liked to see, as conceding damage is often a sign of respect for your opponent, yet you still played it like a master at a chess table. Your tactics speak volumes about your experience, and you maneuvered through the fight with expert grace. Out of all your duels I've read, this is one of your more impressive ones.

 

The first set of duel posts started the fight out with a bang, with Hou-Jo summoning a huge bolt of Force Lightning at Furion, and Furion blocking it with a nearby corpse while countering. While I don't agree with the raw power the bolt was implied to have (through the introductory posts), I'm still a little disappointed Furion chose to take no damage from this, as the reaction time for pulling off such a move is a little questionable. As such, I'm going to have to say Hou-Jo impressed me a little more in this set, and it's clear he's off to a powerful lead.

 

The second set of duel posts involve Hou-Jo unleashing his mastery of Vapaad, and Furion countering that with the revelation that it was an illusion his opponent was fighting. I have to say, I loved the way how Hou-Jo was descriptive of Vaapad as a style, possibly the best description I've ever seen, and that's saying something as I use it myself. Furion, however, set him up very nicely, striking at an opportune moment in a critical area. i actually did some research on a crushgaunt, and while it mentions enhancing hand-arm strength, it strongly implies that's really only for gripping or crushing something with your hand, not punching or the like. However, the strike was delivered to a critical area, the armpit being one of the lesser known weak spots on the body, and Hou-Jo yielded it in the next post. Hou-Jo's ribs are not broken at this juncture, but his muscles are messed up from the blow and there is still a good deal of pain the rest of the fight. Due to the illusion and the critical hit scored early on in the fight, it seems to me that Furion has taken the lead here.

 

The third set of posts was where things slowed down a bit. Hou-Jo reeled from Furion's blow, and then attacked the ship with insane amounts of Force lightning, taking them into a zero-g environment as the ship began to fall towards Carida. Normally I'd consider something like that impossible, but considering there was already electricity running throughout the ship from the ship's generator, not to mention the fact that it wasn't a direct attack on Furion, I saw it as more of a plot point. And as a plot point, it gets kudos for adding an insane amount of urgency to the duel and overall read, though it has little merit on the actual duel. Hou-Jo finished off with taking a defensive stance and covering his forearms with some kind of lightning shield, hoping to lure Furion in close to better finish him off. Yet, Furion didn't choose to take the bait, instead shooting at Hou-Jo from afar with a slugthrower, something that would be difficult to simply dodge in a zero-g environment. With another brilliant maneuver, not to mention a lack of an attack or suitable defense from Hou-Jo, Furion is still the frontrunner.

 

The fourth set of posts are again slow as far as combat action, with Hou-Jo defending as best he could against the bullets and Furion simply meeting him head on, finally acknowledging the need to deal with Hou-Jo personally. As far as a lightning type shield goes, I've never heard of something like that before, neither would I think that it'd be much good at blocking anything, a lightsaber included (as was implied). It seems to be a technique used in the Force Unleashed, though as far as Force theory goes alongside Lightsaber physics, I don't see it being useful (as a lightsaber might be able to 'catch' and ground the lightning, but it doesn't necessarily mean lightning would repel a lightsaber blade, if anything it would probably be attracted to the blade to ground itself out). However, the shield was used against physical bullets, and it sounded like you did a good job of describing what would accurately happen. Immediately after Hou-Jo begins clawing his way towards Furion, who meets him head on, finally ready to engage in good old-fashioned lightsaber dueling. There weren't really any attacks here, just moving around, so by default I still see Furion as the frontrunner in this duel, though this round can be considered a tie.

 

The fifth and final set of posts bring the duel to a dramatic close with Hou-Jo, ragged yet driven, surging at Furion with the wrath of an angry god as he drives Furion back, his Vapaad sloppy yet not bad enough to be considered out for the count, in fact more than enough to give his foe a run for his money. Furion takes the assault well in his writing, slowly driven back to a wall and then attacking Hou-Jo with a jet of plasma at an opportune moment, exactly as an assassin should. Both duelists are clearly in their element here, with Hou-Jo clearly about to end Furion's life swiftly if the assassin's gambit doesn't pay off. To be honest, the last post of a duel is a big thing to me, and you both wrote masterful posts, making this last set the crown jewels of the whole duel. To me, it is very close to call, as though Hou-Jo is injured his mastery of Vaapad is clearly enough to drive Furion back against the wall, and though Furion seems beaten he once again pulls a rabbit out of the hat with a surprise attack at the last second.

 

 

 

But, there can be only one victor. Both duelists are terrific writers, and I'm glad they're in our RP. It makes me uneasy just thinking about having to ever duel them myself in the future, as this is just the kind of fire they can bring to the table when they really need to. Both duelists used sound tactics and were very true to their characters and fighting styles, and both clearly used almost every ace up their sleeves. However, due to the injuries Hou-Jo sustained and how overall Furion held himself back the majority of the duel, I must award the victory to Master Furion. I mentioned before that I would have liked to see him take more damage throughout the duel, but even if he had from the few attacks that could have connected, it would not have been enough to turn the tide in the end. While Hou-Jo is a veritable Force God, gods can be stricken down from their thrones through trickery and deception, which Furion masterfully displayed in all his posts. Well done, both of you, I hope to have the honor of doing something like this again in the future.

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