GENOCIDE AND GENESIS
In pure darkness laid a man. Alone on a stone floor, he sat in silence.
Could it truly be this black, or did I go blind? Is it really this quiet, or am I deaf? Am I truly so alone, or have I am I just no longer able to reach anyone else? It feels like I have been here forever...
He focused on the cold stone floor beneath him. Though all his other senses were blank, he could feel the cold, and cling to the hope that at least it was real.
"Perhaps I am already dead, and this is purgatory."
The man ruminated on the sound of his own words. It too seemed real, though it offered him little comfort to consider that it might be. He could remember nothing of who he was or what existed outside of the suffocating darkness. He wasn't even certain that there ever was a world beyond the blackness that enveloped him.
"You are not dead yet." Echoed a metallic voice.
The voice sounded very close. He groped blindly for its source, but found nothing but cold stone.
"Is someone there?" He pleaded.
With a flash, a white light pierced through the oppressive darkness, radiating from the blade of a silver lightsaber. It was held by a tall, imposing figure, clad head to toe in bone white armor, with dark metal hand. A mask covered his face, its empty dark eyes giving the impression of a skull. The strange voice hissed from the masked man,
"You ARE alone, Ka-ku-to Ryuuuuu."
The man looked down to see his own hands, pale gray skin in the white light of the ghastly figure's blade. Hearing the name aloud, he felt a certain that it was his own, yet could remember nothing more about himself. Ryu picked himself up off the ground to face the armored man.
"How did I get here?"
Dimly, he saw the outline or a transparent cylindrical tank. Ryu approached, a dull blue light illuminating a body inside from below. Though the frame was smaller, childlike, he recognized it as his own. Ryu put his hands on the glass tank as he studied the figure. In the reflection on the glass he noticed two men standing behind him. They were tall with tan skin and silver hair much like his own. One held a datapad while the other scanned the floating body with a handheld device.
"You really screwed up this one. You said you'd run the simulations before you tried anything novel. The Boss is going to be mad." Remarked the man with the scanner.
"I did run the simulations. They came out exceptional! This one will be strong and durable, an excellent laborer. Look at how this muscle tissue is forming, it's nearly twice as dense as predicted. Sensory and motor neurons are hyper responsive. Its skin is remarkably tough. It's even growing faster than the other samples." Said the other man with the datapad.
"But it's not taking the cognitive entrainment. It might not even be able to understand basic at this rate. The point of this project was to create workers who would require a minimum of training, so we could put it to work on complex tasks. We weren't paid 250,000 credits a head to make mining drones!" Replied the first man, visibly annoyed.
"Okay, fine, maybe integrating the massassi DNA sequences didn't work out as well as I expected, but It's not a big deal. These things happen in experimental eugenics. It's not as if there aren't plenty of asteroids to mine. The boss will still get his money's worth, I'm sure."
The two figures turned and walked away, fading into the blackness. When Ryu turned to try to see where they were going, he was met instead with the man in the skull mask. Before could react the masked man grabbed him by the top of his head. Ryu's hands gripped tightly around the the cold metal wrist of the Masked man, powerless to break free.
"You hear that? You were a mistake. If only they had any idea how massive of a mistake it was, they would have put you down when they had the chance."
The Masked Man repositioned his thumb on Ryu's left eye, pressing in. Ryu screamed in agony and horror as his eye made a grisly pop and blood sprayed out onto the armor of his tormentor.
Ryu was awakened by a bare light fixture activating on the roof of a cave. He squinted and opened his eyes, finding himself laying on a roughly hewn rock floor. Packed tightly in the unfurnished room were dozens of others who looked like him. Men and women with ashen gray skin and silver hair, dull silver eyes. They wore ragged, dirty jumpsuits, with metal rings around their neck, wrists, and ankles. Each began to rise to their feet, their bodies stiff from the rocks they had rested on.
"Rest interval has ended. Line up to receive your nutritional supplements and work directives." Crowed a black overseer droid, standing just inside a doorway. Four identical droids flanked him, wardens subservient to the overseer. One was holding a tray of doughy grey bricks and the rest loaded with an assortment of mining equipment. The others in the room did as they were told, leaning over to receive one of the small bricks of synthesized protein before being sent away with a droid.
Still on the floor, Ryu noticed that a woman in the line was staring at him, her eyes revealing an unspoken concern. Before he could wonder why Ryu was hit with sudden wave of pain. The cuffs on his limbs and neck began to emit electricity with an loud crackle, sending him into convulsions for several seconds. In that moment Ryu felt his consciousness pull out into a place that felt distant, until he was high above, watching himself be dragged away by the warden droids as they scolded him for delaying the work schedule.
I had forgotten this place. This was my first day at the mining camp. The first of too many days to count. This was a hopeless, joyless place. Except...
The view of that room faded to blackness, and in the next instant Ryu found himself in his body again, face to face with the woman who had been staring at him before. He had become aware he was trapped in a memory, and could only watch as the events unfolded as they had in the past.
"Take this." Ryu said aloud, extending his hand to the woman. "The overseer did not want it. He said it was a different from what we usually dig up."
Ryu dropped a transparent silvery crystal into the hand of the woman, who brought it close to her eyes to inspect it. He saw her smile as she turned it around between her fingers, seeing how the light danced across its surface, reflecting colors they had never seen before in their monochrome existence.
To her, it seemed like the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. But for me, it was her smile that was captivating. Like the shimmering colors in the crystal, it was something I'd never seen before, and it became the only thing I valued.
After that day, she would spend every moment she could at my side. We could only be together between labor shifts, when we were told to sleep and the few minutes before and after. She would lay next to me in the dark, and I would feel the warmth of her body, the softness of her skin. In that rocky prison, she was the only thing that had ever been warm or soft. We rarely spoke, and now I can't even remember what her voice sounded like. But even so, I think that I loved her...
Ryu heard the metallic voice of the masked man, laughing derisively.
"You think you loved her?! Ahahahaha-"
Ryu found himself in the mine, a sonic hammer clutched in his hands.
"You don't even remember her name, or a single word she said!"
Ryu Raised the tool up over his head, and then slammed against the wall of the cave. Crumbled rocks fell to the ground as he raised it again.
"A monster like you never loved anything, it's not a feeling you're capable of!"
Ryu brought down the hammer again and again, bits of rock flying through the air as he tore through the wall.
"If you ever felt love, it was for violence. You only know how to hurt people."
Ryu continued flurry of strikes, a large fissure spreading vertically as he pounded.
"You deserve to suffer."
Ryu stopped hammering, but the fissure continued to grow, splintering more and more. He took a step back, but it was too late. A roar of wind accompanied the collapse of the wall, sucking him out into open space. He tried to scream, but his lungs were emptied of air. He could see the tears in his eyes turning to steam as he felt his body decompress, his flesh expanding like a balloon the the vacuum. The pain was unfathomable, simultaneously freezing cold in the shadow and boiling hot in the sunlight. It was less than a minute before he passed out, but it felt like an eternity.
Ryu reawakened in the black room, laying face down the floor. With his one good eye, he could see blood pouring from his hollowed out socket. He felt a heavy boot on his shoulder, and the cold metal hand of the masked man gripping his left wrist. His arm was bent backward, already dislocated from its socket.
"This is your punishment."
The masked man began to pull, Ryu howled in agony as his flesh started ripping. There was a nauseating shredding sound as his muscles and sinew were torn apart, until finally his arm completely detached, only to be discarded on the ground in front of him. His body grew cold from the loss of blood, and quickly he fell unconscious.
"Amazing... He's waking up."
Ryu's eyes opened to the sight a bright examination lamp. Every inch of his body ached. One of the Arkanian scientists was taking readings off him with a medical scanner
"I've never heard of anyone surviving 10 minutes in a vacuum before. You've gotta be the luckiest slave alive. If we weren't afraid that a cargo ship might pick you up and start asking questions, we wouldn't have even bothered to retrieve your body."
The Arkanian set down the scanner and began making notes on a datapad.
"Needless to say, nobody expected your heart to still be beating when we got you back inside."
The scientist left the room, pausing just outside the door to inform the warden that he would be ready to resume work on the next shift. When the morning came, a droid led him to the main barracks where the slaves slept at night. He entered the room as the lights kicked on, and the overseer began the day as he had every other.
"Rest interval has ended. Line up to receive your nutritional supplements and work directives."
Ryu didn't expect much reaction from his fellow slaves, but he had anticipated at least one person would smile when they saw that he was still alive.
"Where is -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ ?"
Amid the solemn faces, he did not find the woman who he cared for. Though they all looked much alike, to him she was unmistakable. The way she carried herself, her expressions, the way she walked--in the time he'd spent there, these were the only things he'd thought were worth learning. He began to pace around the room, double checking everyone's faces as they were lining up for food and being sorted into groups.
"Why isn't she here? Where is -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ ?!"
The familiar buzz of the stun cuffs rang in his ears as waves of electricity ran through his body. He fell to his knees, but recovered as soon as his punishment ceased.
"Terminate all communications, report for work directives immediately." the Overseer insisted.
Ryu begrudgingly approached the overseer and snatched up his brick of synthesized protein. None of the others were going to speak for fear of being shocked, and the droids weren't going to start being helpful now.
"Follow Warden Delta to Sector 6." Crowed the droid.
Ryu gnawed on the tough flavorless lump as he walked toward his assigned area. Upon arrival at the mining site, he picked up his mining hammer from the warden and began to strike the wall.
"Alright, I'm smashing rocks, looking for gems. Now, will you tell me where -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ is?" Ryu shouted back at the droid as it watched to make sure he didn't stop working.
"You are not authorized for requested information, and slaves are not authorized to speak during labor interval. Terminate all communications."
Ryu seethed at the response. There had been other laborers who had disappeared like this in the past. If they were injured while mining, they usually returned once their wounds were treated. But others had disappeared without warning, and they never returned. For Ryu, neither possibility would be acceptable. He lowered his hammer and turned to face the warden droid.
"And what if I refuse to work until you tell me?" Ryu demanded.
The warden's response was predictable. The stun cuffs and collar began to pump electricity throughout his body, bringing him to his knees. Ryu's jaw clenched, the pain only serving to anger him more. Ten seconds later the voltage halted, and the warden repeated his orders.
"Terminate all communications and resume labor immediately."
"No." Ryu spat back defiantly.
Again electricity surged through his limbs and neck. His flesh started to bubble up, lines of burns in the shapes of the electricity scorching into his flesh. His arms and neck tensed, but this time, he stood firm. Ryu grit his teeth and began to scream, both for pain and for rage. He raised up the hammer he used to break the rock walls and began to march toward the warden droid. The Droid looked around as if in confusion. The nearest containment door began to close, and an alert siren sounded.
The hammer smashed into droid's chest with a satisfying crunch, crumpling its torso and sending its pieces flying in 5 different directions. The stun cuffs deactivated with the droid, allowing Ryu to breath a sigh of relief. By luck the droid's torso slid into the door frame, blocking the door from sealing fully. Ryu sneered the droid's severed head then gave it a kick across room. He didn't really know what he would do next, but the path forward was clear. He slid his hammer under the door then, feet first, followed behind it.
Ryu made his way to the part of the facility that was ordinarily restricted to slaves. He had only ever been to the medical bay, and so that seemed like a good place to start looking. He arrived to find it empty, the lights off, the exam tables and bacta tanks inactive. His jaw clenched in frustration. Undeterred, he checked the other rooms nearby. Across the hall was the cloning lab, unmanned and filled with empty maturation tanks. The next door down seemed like a sort of storage facility, filled with chemicals, equipment, and unused droid parts. It wasn't until the fourth room that he ran into one of the Arkanian scientists.
The scientist gawked in disbelief for a few seconds before frantically digging in his pocket and withdrawing a control device for the stun cuffs. Disbelief gave weigh to panic when the stun cuffs activated but failed prevent Ryu's advance.
"Oh c'mon these are supposed to subdue a wookiee!" the Arkanian shouted, smashing the button repeatedly.
Ryu smacked the stun cuff remote out of the scientist's hand with his hammer. The remote clacked against the floor, then crunched beneath Ryu's foot. The scientist, meanwhile, recoiled in horror at the sight of his hand, which had snapped at the wrist and was dangling straight down. Ryu disregarded his cries of pain to scan the room. His gaze fixed immediately on a set of transparent capsules lined up along the walls, one of which contained a female body. Its surface covered in frost, Ryu approached it with purpose and began to scrape away to get a better look at the face of the woman inside. There was no mistake. It was definitely her, her eyes closed, a peaceful expression on her face.
She seemed serene, as though sleeping, and so he started to knock excitedly on the glass.
"Hey, wake up, we're getting out of here!"
The woman remained motionless, unresponsive, even as he began to pound his fist into the glass. Ryu sensed that something was wrong and he began to grow frantic. He turned to the scientist, now quivering in the corner and clutching his wrist.
"Why isn't she waking up? What did you do to her?!" Ryu shouted.
"Shes... She's in Cryogenic suspension. She's being shipped off colony tomorrow. You can't wake her." Answered the Arkanian, increasingly fearful of what the slave might do.
Having never heard of Cryogenics before, Ryu had no idea what this meant, but was rapidly growing impatient.
"Fix it. Get her out of there, now." Ryu Growled.
"I can't, we-we-we don't have the facilities to revive her on the station--" The Arkanian Quivered. Ryu grabbed him by his broken wrist and threw him into the wall.
"GET HER OUT NOW!!" Ryu insisted, his demands echoing throughout the whole facility.
"It-it- can't be done, I'm sorry-" The Arkanian admitted, grudgingly, between wails of pain.
Ryu howled in anger. He looked back at the capsule, then raised up his hammer--intent on opening it himself.
"NO, YOU FOOL!" The Arkanian cried out impotently. But it was too late. Ryu shattered the tank with a single swing of his hammer, a radial web of fractures spreading across it's surface. He jammed the handle through the glass, careful not to hit her. Gripping the hammer near its head, he pried the glass away, then tore away the broken pieces with his hands. His palms lacerated and bleeding, he reached into the tank and touched her face.
"Wake up -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ ! We're going to be free. -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ ...."
Her skin was cold and hard. She was motionless, not even breathing. He slid one hand to the side of her neck, taking her hand with the other. His bloody palm print stained her cheek.
"Please... -̴̢̢̝̤̰͚̄̈́↑̸̨̨̡̝͚̯̟̬̂͝☺̷͓͓͉͠♠̵̯̻̹̼̥̔̉̋̈́ ...."
A hairline fracture formed across her face. Ryu gasped in terror, and then more fractures radiated from the first, until she was covered in a web of cracks that enveloped her whole body. Ryu held his breath, his heart sinking, and a moment later she shattered into thousands of pieces. Ryu stood stunned, trying to process what was happening as shards of her hand slipped between his fingers. The silver crystal he had given her fell into his palm, having evidently been in her hand when she was frozen. Ryu clenched his hand into a fist, lowering his head to see the grisly mess of her remains. Shaking now, he closed his eyes and screamed again.
The Arkanian scientist stood in stunned horror. Ryu turned toward him slowly, tears streaming down his face.
"What have you done-" Before the Scientist could complete his sentence the mining hammer struck the top of his head, fragmenting his skull and shooting bits of blood, bone and brain matter in every direction. Ryu watched as the lifeless torso slid onto the floor, blood pooling from where its head used to be. He stood there, unblinking, blind with rage. The anger that had been building since he was born had boiled over, and in this moment it became an overwhelming madness.
Ryu walked into the hallway outside the cryogenics lab, where he met with another Arkanian scientist and the remaining four droids. They had come to find the source of the commotion, only to find Ryu splattered with the remains of the first Arkanian.
"Subdue him." ordered the second Arkanian scientist. The droids activated the stun cuffs on Ryu, but this time they had no effect. The electricity flowing through him strobed, lighting up the hallway as it danced along the surface of his neck and limbs. The droids drew stun batons as Ryu turned and raised his hammer. The scientist began to panic when he saw Ryu's furious gaze, a feeling which increased ten fold as the droids were smashed to bits by four swings of the blood soaked mining hammer. Before he could bring himself to run away, Ryu's hand was around his throat, the electricity of the stun cuff passing into him and making him convulse as Ryu strangled the life from his body. There was a awful crunch, and the scientist fell limp, his tongue hanging from his mouth and his eyes growing empty.
Ryu dropped him to the ground with a sneer then proceeded to smash the remains of the droids into smaller pieces until the stun cuffs stopped firing, and then a little more after. When the droids were barely recognizable hunks of metal, Ryu did the same to the body of the second Arkanian. He began to howl like a wild animal as he crushed the body into bone fragments and bloody paste.
A terrified whimper came from the other end of the hall, and Ryu turned to identify it's source. A third Arkanian screeched in terror at the grotesque scene. Seeing Ryu's white skin painted head to toe in blood was enough to make him turn his back and run as fast as he could. Ryu's bloodlust still unsated, he took up the chase, letting out a bestial growl as he began his pursuit, bloody footprints trailing in his wake.
Having seen his colleague mutilated, The last Arkanian was prepared to abandon the station entirely. He sprinted to the hangar and ran up a ramp to a cargo shuttle. Barely in the door he shouted for the automated droid pilot to take off immediately. Before he could even reach the pilot seat the gore bathed hammer shattered his spine. He doubled over, his stomach touching the floor but his head his chest facing the ceiling. Blood pouring from his lips, he gurgled and sputtered. The last thing he saw was the blood cloaked nightmare looming over him, raising the hammer into the air and bringing it down on his face.
A couple hours later the cargo shuttle touched down on a landing pad in the snowy wastes of Arkania. A dozen of its inhabitants rushed out of a nearby facility to meet the shuttle. As the landing ramp opened a particularly well dressed Arkanian began to voice his confusion.
"Hey, what's going on here, this shipment isn't scheduled for another..."
The Arkanian trailed off when he saw a blood soaked man with a hammer run down the ramp. Ryu charged headlong into them, taking each man out with a bone shattering swing of his hammer, one after another until only broken bodies remained. He continued in through the door they had emerged from to continue the slaughter.
The massacre would end some hours later, the base still and silent, purged of all life save Ryu's. Fresh blaster burns and vibroblade wounds marred his flesh, but were ultimately insufficient to stop the rampage. The other slaves who Ryu had left behind ultimately starved in captivity, no one left to free them or bring them supplies. In effect, it was a sort of suicide, as he had erased every trace of his existence by eliminating every person who knew of it. At dawn he sat outside on the landing pad, a plume of flame billowing out of the door of the secret facility, blood and bodies around him freezing in the bitter harsh wasteland.
Ryu turned the crystal over in his fingers, watching the light of flames and the rising sun flicker across its surface. He hardly noticed when a massive flying reptile arrived at the scene, attracted by the stench of blood, and began feasting on the corpses. It was nearly as big as the ship he had rode in on, black with two massive wings and a mouth big enough to consume a man whole. He looked up at it, and it stared back at him for a moment, but gorged on the dead, it did not seem interested in Ryu, and flew off without bothering him.
Some time later I would learn the beast was a rare arkanian dragon. At the time, I remember thinking that it could have killed me but chose not to out of some form of kinship. It and I were just beasts that existed to terrorize weaker forms of life.
Now I look back on that day and think that it spared me because it believed that by doing so, I would make more corpses for it to devour.
"It was right."
Ryu was back in the dark room, atop masked man, pinning his arms down with his knees. His left arm and eye gone, he repeatedly bashed the skull mask with his remaining fist. His knuckles grew bloodied and bruised, staining the white mask as he relentlessly pummeled it. Finally the mask began to crack, then fell apart to reveal his face. Beneath the mask Ryu found his own face, and in it he saw flashes of a lifetime of murder, a trail of flame and mangled corpses that had led him to this point. Unphased by the horrific memories, he did not relent in pummeling his doppelganger, instead smashing his head against the ground over and over until the face was no longer recognizable.
Ryu found himself in the center of a large windowless room with a single light overhead. He was trapped in a small round forcefield, unable to move. His left shoulder was just a socket where a mechanical arm was mean to attach and his left eye merely a hollow socket. His body was covered in fresh wounds from what seemed to be a recent battle, one that he had evidently lost. In front of him was a massive stone door, nearly a meter thick, in through which filed a procession of cloaked Jedi. They took positions surrounding him, their hoods up and their faces obscured by shadow.
"We are gathered here to pronounce sentence on the Sith Lord Kakuto Ryu. For your crimes against society, for the innumerable lives you've ended, and for the instability and chaos you've sewn across the galaxy, we believe that are too dangerous to be allowed to exist. Yet, it would be against your principles to simply execute a defenseless man. Thus we have decided that you will stripped of the Force, you will be stripped of your memories, and you will be stripped of your freedom. You will be confined to this cell, deep underneath the temple, where you can never harm another again."
The council reached out their hands in unison, calling on the force to invade his mind. He could feel them prying open the gates around his thoughts, unlocking his memories and then obliterating them. He tried desperately to fight back, to lock his memories away, but before long there was nothing left. He felt the force being cut off from him, his sense of the universe that surrounded him growing silent. In the end he was an empty shell, isolated within himself, and purged of all sense of identity. He fell to the ground, alive but catatonic.
The Jedi filed out of the room, and sealed the door behind them. The force field deactivated, leaving him all alone in an empty cell with just a wall mounted food synthesizer and a hole in the corner of the floor. The single light deactivated itself moments later, leaving him in complete darkness. There he would remain for nearly a decade, his mind struggling to repair the damage that was done to it in this place of quiet and shadow.
Ryu finally understood that this was the place he found himself at in the present, and that all the hallucinations he had experienced were his mind trying desperately to piece his memories back together. Where he had once felt the force, he now experienced a scar on his soul, a great emptiness that was even worse than the darkness and the silence that had filled his days. His newly found sense of self only served to magnify his suffering, and he contemplated smashing his head into the wall until he could end it for good.
Unexpectedly, in his darkest hour he saw a thin strip of light leak in from the door frame, growing to a blinding glare as his cell opened to the outside world again. Unsure whether it was real or another hallucination, he got up from his spot in the floor and approached the doorway. Struggling against his own disbelief, he exited the cell.
The moment of his rebirth was at hand.