The Zabrak and the Dragon

by DeltaXeno1138

First published

Dath Maul lands in Equestria, and is lead to a young dragon with dark side potential.

He's lost his family, his Shadow Collective, and his rule over Mandalore. And on top of that, his former master is now the ultimate power in the universe.
But just like on Naboo, Darth Maul refuses to accept defeat. Now he finds himself far out in space, beyond what's been charted of the Outer Rim, and nearing a strange planet he's never encountered. This planet has an odd connection to the Force, and once he arrives, he will be drawn to a young reptilian who has not explored his own potential.

An MLPxStar Wars crossover. If you haven't seen Clone Wars (and maybe Rebels), you're gonna be missing some context.

I like comments. Preferably positive.

Chapter 1

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A Mandalorian Gauntlet starfighter zoomed through space, the starship colored with the pilot's signature red and black as opposed to the ship's original dark blue and metallic grey. The ship and some supplies were all he had taken after he relinquished his control of Death Watch to his second in command.

The ship was approaching a backwater planet so far from the charted regions of the Outer Rim, it was very likely the Republic, or Empire now, had no presence on it.

This is what the pilot was thinking and hoping for. I did not travel to the unknown reaches of the galaxy to fall back into the hands of my enemies the Zabrak thought bitterly. Hopefully whatever was on this planet would aid him in his plan. His plan of bringing down the Empire, and by extension the Sith. The Sith. The ones who had used him, abandoned him, and killed his kin.

A beeping sound brought the Zabrak back to reality. He blinked, seeing that the ship was alerting him of its entrance into the planet's atmosphere. He looked down to see that his right hand had unconsciously left the steering handle and was now tightly gripping his darksaber, the only lightsaber he had after losing the half of his original in his duel with Sidious.

He exhaled and replaced his hand on the handle before using the ship's computer to scan the landscape he was approaching. There was a small village with a large amount of organic life-forms, especially in a forested area near the village. There was another large concentration in what appeared to be a city of sorts far away from the village. The signs of technology were very minimal, indicating that the inhabitants of this world were either far behind in their technological advancement or were primitives who deemed it unnecessary.

There was also something else, but it wasn't something the scanners could detect. It was what brought him to this planet in the first place, its strange connection to the Force. He found that the Force was immensely present on this world, but it felt different. The closest he could compare it to was the way his mother's magicks felt. Nightsister magicks were similar but very different to the Force.

Better to land in a less populated area the pilot thought to himself I don't want to risk being attacked out of paranoia or misplaced fear. Admittedly an attack by these life-forms would most likely be futile and more of an annoyance with their limited technology, but there was still the matter of their odd connection to the Force. They could be very adept and dangerous without the need of advanced weaponry. I must be cautious.

He decided on a landing point after a short time, a clearing in the wooded area near the village. He slowed his ship's descent, turning the wings into their upright landing position, landing safely on the dirt terrain.

"Princess Celestia!" Twilight exclaimed as she charged into the throne room. The princess in question was staring out a window in the general direction of where the UFO appeared. "You summoned me about the object. You saw it."

"Yes, Twilight" Celestia affirmed as she turned to address her former student "Luna alerted me to it as soon as it neared our planet."

"At first I thought it was a meteorite, but-"

"Meteorites do not slow down or change direction before making a safe landing." Twilight turned to see Princess Luna approaching, maintaining the same calm demeanor as her sister despite the apparent arrival of extraterrestrial life.

" is an alien ship" Twilight said a little unsurely. "Princess Celestia, has Equestria ever encountered life from another world?"

"Not to either of our knowledge. But if it has, it was either long before our time or it somehow transpired without our knowledge."

"The former would be more likely" Luna said "Nothing enters Equestria from space without my knowledge."

"So this is Equestria's first contact with alien life!" Twilight exclaimed with amazement. "This is so amazing! Imagine what advanced technology they could bring us. The ability to travel through space alone would be an incredible advancement!"

"Twilight" Celestia said suddenly, interrupting her former student's joyful ramblings before they intensified. Twilight froze and turned back to Celestia, removing her hooves from where she had placed them on her cheeks in her excitement. "I would remind you we do not know why this ship has landed in Equestria, or whether they are friendly."

That statement made Twilight stop and reconsider. The princess had a point. It was possible whatever had arrived had no intention of making a peaceful connection, and maybe even meant harm.

"You're right Princess. What should we do?"

"Sister, if I may?" Luna said before Celestia could say anything. With a nod, Celestia allowed Luna to give her idea. "I suggest we send Princess Twilight with a small contingent of guards to meet our visitor or visitors. I believe it would be wise to send the Princess of Friendship to welcome somepony we would rather start on friendly terms with."

"I agree sister" Celestia said before turning back to Twilight "Do you believe you are up to the task Twilight?"

The purple alicorn was stunned. She had just been given the task of welcoming an extraterrestrial to Equestria and ensuring that they came off as peaceful. She composed herself before responding. "I...I'm not sure Princess. But I will try my best."

"I know you'll do your best, Princess Twilight" Celestia said with a reassuring smile "And you may tell your friends they are free to accompany you. I'm sure it would save you the time of convincing them not to go. I also think you should take your new pupil with you. This should be a valuable learning experience for all of you."

Celestia turned to one of her present guards and addressed him. "Tracer, have a contingent of six guards awaiting Twilight outside the castle. They are to accompany her into the Everfree Forest." The guard nodded and hurried out of the throne room to gather the guards.

"We wish you luck in your task Twilight. I expect to hear from you soon. Hopefully with good news. And also, address the residents of Ponyville. Tell them there is no need to panic, as I'm sure a few have already begun to do so."

"Yes Princess" Twilight said with a small bow of her head before beginning to walk away. She did recall hearing the beginnings of a commotion before she had left.

"Twilight" the young alicorn stopped in her tracks at Luna's call "I must caution you. As the ship was landing, I felt something...dark. I don't believe our visitor means harm, but if they were provoked, they could be very dangerous."

Twilight took a moment to consider this before responding. "I understand Princess. I'll do my best to make sure we don't provoke them." Twilight made her leave as the two elder princesses stayed behind, silently hoping for the best.

Celestia was correct in her assumption that the residents of Ponyville would be a little riled by the appearance of a spaceship over their town. The fact that it landed in the nearby dangerous and feared forest didn't help.

Twilight had arrived with the contingent of guards with a few uses of teleportation. She joined Mayor Mare on the town hall stage after seeing that she was having difficulty in calming everypony. Using her magic to enhance her voice, she was able to tell everypony of the task she was given and that she wished for them to stay calm.

There were murmurs amongst the crowd, some unsure, some enthusiastic, and some outright against the idea of welcoming an alien. There were a few mutterings of possible vaporizing, brain stealing, and invasive experiments. Twilight shook her head at the fear of stereotypical alien activity, while also hoping that none of them proved true.

After instructing the town to either stay indoors or go about their business, Twilight returned to her castle, instructing the guards to wait for her outside. She found what she expected when she entered the council/map room, all her friends, including Spike and Starlight, waiting for her.

"So Twilight, we're going into the Everfree Forest to whip some alien butt, right?" Twilight was not at all surprised by Rainbow's question, giving an exasperated sigh before answering.

"No Rainbow, we're going to welcome them" Twilight said as she approached the map "And we're all going to be there to do it, including you Starlight."

"Me? Why would I need to go?"

"Well you don't need to go. It's just an opportunity for a learning experience in friendship. I am going to be extending a friendly hoof to a foreigner after all."

"Can we go back a bit?" Rainbow interrupted as she flew up into a hover "So you bring six Canterlot guards with you and we're not gonna be fighting any aliens? I've literally dreamed about this."

"Hold yer horses Rainbow" Applejack said as she pulled Rainbow down with her hoof "We've got no idea what these aliens are capable of. You wouldn't wanna go swoopin in only ta get yerself vaporized or something, would ya?"

"Or have your brains melted?" Pinkie suddenly interjected with her chipper tone "Or have them removed and put in a jar? Or get frozen and made into a wall decoration? Or-"

"I think we get it darling" Rarity interjected a little bluntly "I for one see the reasoning. We wouldn't want to provoke our visitors into violence and possible enslavement. Could you imagine how dreadful I would look in chains and tattered slave clothing?"

Rarity looked to everypony giving her deadpan looks. "What?"

"Okay" Rainbow conceded "I guess you're right. I mean, it's not like they've done anything to threaten far."

"Exactly" Twilight affirmed "Now we're all gonna go into the Everfree forest with the guards I was assigned, as a precaution, and welcome our visitor. And unless they give us reason not to, we will be friendly towards them and we won't provoke them into doing anything bad. Spike, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to stay here to watch the castle."

"What?!" Spike exclaimed in outrage "No! You can't have me stay here. I've always wanted to meet an alien. Can't you get somepony else to stay and watch the castle? One of the guards maybe?"

"Sorry Spike, but I don't think Celestia would appreciate having one of her guards be reduced to a house sitter. Plus, I can trust you completely. What are number one assistants for?" Twilight said with a flattering wink.

Spike let out an exasperated sigh while leaning his head back, though he did have a smile on his face. "Alright, you smoozed me into it. But if you get cool alien tech like jetpacks and I don't, I will never forgive you."

"I'll be sure to get you something" Twilight said with a sarcastic eye roll "Alright everypony, let's head out. We don't want to keep our new guest waiting." Everypony began following Twilight out, though Fluttershy was lagging behind a bit, which Rainbow took notice of.

"Hey" Rainbow nudged her timid friend "You okay?"

"Oh, um...yes Rainbow, I am" Fluttershy answered reluctantly "I'm just hoping that...they don't look too scary."

Rainbow suppressed a chuckle at her friends worry and was quick to try and calm her worry. "I'm sure they won't look that bad Fluttershy. And even if they do, that doesn't mean they'll act scary. Heck, they could look terrifying and be almost as shy as you, no offense."

"None taken. And you do have a point. Who knows? They might even be cute little bunny aliens!" Fluttershy finished with a squee. Rainbow shook her head slightly while also feeling proud of her friend for not thinking of the worst for too long.

"Rarity" Spike said, causing the unicorn to stop and turn to him. She was momentarily surprised when he suddenly grabbed her foreleg in a tight hug. "Be careful, okay? I don't want you to get hurt out there."

Rarity's eyes softened before she returned the hug with a smile. "I will Spikey Wikey."

Starlight was standing in the doorway watching the cute interaction. She hadn't been here long, but she was able to learn that Spike had a long standing crush on Rarity. According to Twilight, this crush had simmered down, so Spike wasn't as adamant as he once was. She also said that Rarity didn't return the little dragon's affections, at least not in the romantic sense that he desired.

Such a shame Starlight thought as Spike and Rarity released each other I bet a cute gentlecolt like him could make her really happy if she gave him a chance.

Starlight was startled out of her thoughts when Spike suddenly hugged her leg as well. "Same goes for you Starlight. You just got here after all."

Starlight was slightly surprised by Spike's affection, but smiled and followed Rarity's example. "Thanks Spike. I'll make sure to be careful too."

"Hey Starlight, you coming?" Starlight opened her eyes in surprise at the sound of Pinkie's voice. She then realized she had gotten comfortable in the hug, taking note of Spike's natural dragon warmth. She and Spike then broke away, shuffling and stuttering nervously.

"Uh, yeah Pinkie, I'm coming" Starlight said as she quickly rejoined the group, pondering why she held on longer. She pushed the thought aside, mentally preparing herself for what was about to happen. Spike meanwhile was momentarily questioning what just happened, only to put it aside in favor of getting some chores done.

As Spike began his chores, he felt an odd sensation in the back of his mind. It was actually a trait he noticed a while ago. He presumed he had some sort of extrasensory dragon organ or something that alerted him to danger, though the sensations barely registered and usually occurred right before said danger. But this felt...different.

Spike shook his head, refocusing on his chores. He would have to wait and see what the coming of this alien would bring.

The pilot had been preparing himself before doing some checking on the planet. The air was breathable, the surface temperature was akin to Naboo, and the few inhabitants the ship managed to scan...were quadrupeds. While sentient quadrupeds weren't unfamiliar, they weren't too plentiful.

That fact that these quadrupeds had managed to build large structures already spoke for their intelligence. Whether or not they were intelligent enough not to cross him was still to be determined.

Among what he prepared was a personal speeder of four he had stored in the troop bay of the ship, a pack containing some rations and a filled canteen, a black cloak, and of course his darksaber.

A few minutes before he was to head out, he sensed something. Something that was detected by the ship's computer as well. Approaching life forms. He could sense they were a group of the native quadrupeds from their connection to the Force. A few seemed to be stronger however, with the strongest leading them.

Aside from the strange feeling, he had felt power of this caliber before. It would pose a problem if he were attacked with the full force of it. He quickly reminded himself not to present himself as hostile, unless it was required.

From the cockpit, the Zabrak began to make out the quadrupeds as they approached. And then they became completely visible. To say the pilot was mentally startled would be a big understatement.

The Zabrak was perplexed as he beheld what appeared to be small, brightly colored equines lifted right out of a holoshow meant for younglings. There was also the fact that some of these equines appeared to have either horns or wings. Two things became apparent to him however. One: the ones that appeared to be the females were all flanked by horned, armored guards. Two: the female leading the entire group had both wings and a horn, and she was the strong one he had sensed.

He would have time to wonder about the possible significance of the horn/wing combination at a later time. Now, it seemed he was to be receiving a welcome, or possibly an arrest.

Deciding to leave behind the supplies he'd prepared, with the exception of his darksaber of course, he steeled himself and approched the boarding ramp. He pressed the button, put his hands behind his back and exhaled calmly as the ramp lowered, allowing him to exit the ship. Very well. Time to meet the natives.

They had arrived. After a ten minute trek through the Everfree, they had arrived at the clearing where the spaceship had landed.

Their current demeanor was somewhat the opposite of their behavior during the trip. Twilight was thinking aloud the possibilities of technological advancement and new knowledge of the galaxy. Pinkie was listing off the possibilites of the alien's appearance, from green and three headed, to giant slug, to insectoid, or "giant bug" as she put it. Rarity was expressing her desire to learn of their attire, so long as it wasn't any of the stereotypical and "atrocious" outfits, like the one piece chrome suits.

Now, everypony was staring in awe and wonder at the large vessel in front of them, even Pinkie and the guards. The glare of the sun and the minor shade resting on the outside of the cockpit left them unable to see whatever passenger was inside.

Twilight immediately noticed that the wings now appeared to be upright, though the center still resembled an arrowhead, as she saw from her telescope. Now wasn't the time to marvel at the ship's practicality however.

"Um...Hello?" Twilight called out "Whoever is in there...we have come to welcome you to our planet and extend to you our friendship." She was then going to voice the hope of exchanging valuable information, but there was a sudden hiss that startled everypony. A ramp extended downward that lead into the ship itself as small, unseen vents released what was presumably steam from either side of ramp.

A few seconds passed before steps were heard. Steadily, the pilot descended down the ramp until he reached the bottom and was in everypony's full view. It was then their turn to be startled, and slightly frightened. The most frightened being Fluttershy of course.

Twilight quickly took note of the alien's appearance. He was bipedal and greatly resembled the humans she encountered in the mirror world. She surmised he was male based on his facial structure in comparison to male humans she'd seen, and she hoped she was correct.

Unlike the humans she encountered, this alien's skin appeared to be both red and black, which formed intricate patterns on his entire face and apparantly his torso from what little of his chest she could see. Rather than hair, many small and sharp looking horns adorned his head. His legs appeared to be completely covered in armor for some reason. And his eyes. His eyes were a menacing and vibrant yellow with noticeably red blood vessels.

And then he spoke.

"I am relieved to hear that. I am also relieved to know you speak Basic. I believe my time here will prove beneficial. And now, I would request an audience with your ruler."

The words had been spoken with a pleasant smile by a voice that, while admittedly attractive sounding, appeared to carry a menacing tone behind it.

The former Darth, Maul, was now in Equestria.

Chapter 2

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Twilight drew back slightly, but quickly regained her composure to save face. She had been stunned by how well this all seemed to start out. The alien spoke Equestrian, or Basic apparently from what he had said, and he was glad to hear of their extended friendship. That wasn't enough to go off of however in finding out his intentions, plus he wanted to meet whoever was in charge.

"It's funny you should request that" Twilight said "I am actually a princess. Though I believe it would be better if you met Princess Celestia. She rules over our nation alongside her sister, Princess Luna."

"If they are the leading rulers, would they not be queens?" Maul asked.

"A...I've never actually asked about that. I probably should." Twilight refocused her attention back to the alien. "But before I arrange a meeting between the three of you, we should take care of a few things first. For one, we should make some proper introductions. I am Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship of Equestria."

Maul raised his brow at her introduction. Princess of friendship. Quite curious. And I can only presume Equestria is the nation this "Celestia" and "Luna" rule. There was also the fact that her name was both childish sounding and fit perfectly with her appearance, along with the strange star mark on her flank that he couldn't account for. He noticed that all the equines appeared to have their own personal marks. Even the guards, though theirs were almost entirely hid by their armor.

"I am Maul, Nightbrother warrior." It wasn't entirely a lie, more like a very stretched and exaggerated half-truth. Revealing that he was formerly of an ideology that was mostly frowned upon, somewhat unjustly, wouldn't serve his best interest. At least not in this situation. "I couldn't help but notice the armored soldiers accompanying you."

The fact that he was named after a violent act and identified himself as a Nightbrother definitely supported what Luna said of sensing something dark, and that he would be dangerous if provoked. Plus, he did just point out the guards.

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance...Maul. These are royal guards who were assigned to me for your welcoming, in case you were hostile. Which reminds me. May I ask what your reason is for coming to our planet?"

"I seek a refuge of sorts, and possibly some help. I would prefer to discuss this with this Celestia you mentioned."

"That sounds reasonable. But first we should get some other things out of the way. I would like to introduce you to my friends and bring you to my castle, where I will be able to send Celestia a message."

"Hm....very well then." Maul then took a moment to glance over the rest of equines that were present. He had already sensed the fear in the guards, which had only gone down when it appeared that he wasn't a threat. The others however were a mixed bag.

"This is Rainbow Dash" Twilight indicated to a hovering blue pegasus that was giving him a skeptical look, underlined with feelings of hostility directed right at him. It appeared not all the natives wanted to immediately be friends. And in a very very rare moment, Maul suppressed a chuckle at how ridiculous the name sounded with the equine's appearance.

"Hi" Rainbow Dash said curtly.

"This is Applejack" Twilight said, ignoring Rainbow's tone while indicating to a wingless and hornless orange equine wearing a hat. She responded with a "howdy", a word Maul had never heard before, along with her accent. Twilight then introduced the others, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Starlight Glimmer. He had to stifle a few more chuckles.

The way Rarity was inspecting him up and down was odd, as if studying his garments or physique. Starlight had given a small, nervous wave. Fluttershy was exuding the most fear out of the entire group, even after calming down, though only a very small amount. She had been hiding behind the one named Applejack since he had exited the ship. Even after being coaxed out by the orange mare, she was hiding most of her face behind her mane.

And then Pinkie Pie...happened.

Maul looked in every direction where the pink mare appeared from behind random parts of his body in extreme alarm. Apparently this one used her strange Force connection to move at rapid speeds, or be an extreme annoyance. Though from what he'd sensed of her beforehand, the answer was most likely both.

"Hi mister Maul! Is that really your skin color? Are you red with black stripes or black with a lot of red blotches? Or is it all a tattoos? Why aren't you wearing a shirt under your tunic? Do you want to show off those abs? What's this metal thing hanging off your hip? Why-"

The sound of a sort of distorted whoosh and Pinkie being removed from Maul's personal space silenced said mare, along with everypony else. Everypony stared in stunned silence as Maul's outstretched hand seemed to be holding Pinkie in midair. The only other thing that could draw their attention was the annoyed scowl Maul was directing at Pinkie. Fluttershy's fear had now doubled.

"I insist, that you stop...whatever that was." Maul let his arm drop to his side, which appeared to lock in place, releasing Pinkie from his telekinetic grip. Pinkie fell to the ground unharmed and began inspecting her body.

"How'd you do that without a hor-?! Oh wait, you have a bunch of horns. But I didn't see any of them glow."

"Hey!" While Pinkie was unharmed, it didn't stop Rainbow from being furious and getting right in Maul's face. "Who do you think you are treating my friend like that?! I oughta pound your E.T. ass into the ground!" Maul's only response was to raise a skeptical brow at the very overconfident pegasus. He noticed that the guards were now in defensive stances and their horns were...glowing?

"Rainbow! Stop! Guards! Stand down!" Twilight said as she used her magic to pull Rainbow back. Said use of magic caused Maul to lightly tilt his head back in both curiosity and confusion. "What is the matter with you?!" Twilight exclaimed.

"What's the matter with you?!" Rainbow shot back "Did you see what he did?!"

"Do you and Pinkie not recall what I said about provoking him into violence?!"

"He attacked her!"

"No, he really didn't. You know how I just moved you away with my magic, not hurting you at all? That's precisely what he did with Pinkie, though with some different form of magic. So I think you and Pinkie owe Maul an apology."

"What?!" Twilight's glare quickly silenced the pegasus. The guards meanwhile had stopped their magic but were still standing somewhat defensively. "Ugh, fine. But that doesn't mean I have to like it."

"Not asking you too. Pinkie, you too."

"Uh huh" Pinkie replied, her mane having deflated slightly. Maul meanwhile had regained his composure and replaced his hands behind his back, observing Twilight's admittedly impressive display of authority.

"I'm sorry...Maul" Rainbow managed to force out.

"Sorry mister Maul" Pinkie said gloomily "Sometimes I forget my friendliness can come off a little strong. I should've been keeping that in mind since you're not even from here. I hope you can forgive me."

Everypony looked stunned. Pinkie had never given this kind of apology before. She usually didn't need to. Maul was also impressed, and he was able to gleam this was either a first or a rare thing for the pink mare to have done.

"I understand if you do-"

"You are forgiven"


"You are forgiven for your actions" he then turned to the shocked, open mouthed Rainbow "As are you. In return, I would apologize for my own actions. You have treated me with hospitality, for the most part. I am unused to such energetic behavior and my response was somewhat rude. I too am sorry."

Not being too familiar with the process of apologizing, doing so left an odd and unfavorable taste in his mouth. Twilight meanwhile was surprised, as she was actually going to request that Maul apologize precisely for his rudeness.

"Aw, that's alright Mauly" Pinkie said as she hugged a startled Maul "I forgive you too."

"I am also unused to this. And unfavorable to nicknames."

"Oops. Sorry" Pinkie said after releasing Maul.

"Now that the matter is resolved, I believe you had a castle to take me to, your Highness" Maul said with a small bow of his head.

"Uh...yes, of course Maul" Twilight managed to get out, still a little startled by the turn of events. "If you'll just follow me. We really should get out of this forest. It's well known for being a bit dangerous."

Maul suddenly felt the inklings of a kinship between himself and the forest. Then he felt a disturbance in the Force. There were large creatures fast approaching, and unlike these equines, they had no intention of being friendly. The others were soon alerted to the creature's presence at the sound of numerous growls.

"Uh oh" AJ said "I recognize that growl. Manticores." While Maul had never heard of such a creature, he could tell they were not to be taking lightly. That was when three large creatures emerged from the tree line.

They were large felines with reptilian wings and scorpion tales. While the concept of these beasts wasn't too surprising, their individual parts not meshing was somewhat odd. Reeks for example appeared to be a mix of a large bovine and prehistoric reptile.

"Princess, stay back" one of the guards said as they all formed a protective wall in front of the mares.

"Fluttershy dear, now would be a good time to use your stare."

"I don't have control over it" Fluttershy said as everypony collectively backed away "Plus, I'm pretty sure this is their territory, so technically it's bad that we're here."

"Not the time for a nature lesson Flutters" Rainbow said as she hovered back. If she couldn't handle one angry manticore, she probably couldn't handle three.

"Allow me" Everypony turned in confusion to see Maul off to their right, stepping towards the manticores. For a moment, they all thought he was insane. Then he stretched out his hand and the same distorted whoosh from before was heard.

Maul was scowling at the manticores as he sent out waves, conveying to the beasts that he was a threat. The result was not the one he desired however. These things were apparently fiercer than he thought. Rather than back away and then run in fear, their growling intensified and their attention was now fully on the zabrak.

The anger coming off these things would normally intensify ones fear. But Maul only formed an evil smile of satisfaction. He slowly stepped to the right, directing the manticore's path away from the equines. And then the center one charged forward, leaping with an outstretched paw ready to strike.

"Maul, look out!" Twilight called, but she soon saw that doing so was rather unnecessary. Maul took a wide step to the side, dodging the manticore's attack. The feline turned mid-charge and skidded to a halt, facing Maul again and delivering another threatening growl. Maul repeated the action. He then saw the creature's tail moving quite actively. Knowing what was about to happen, he put his concentration on the dangerous appendage.

The manticore lunged forward, sending the stinger of its tail right at its opponent. Maul easily dodged the strike, along with the ones that soon followed. Its frustration at its peak, the manticore used its hind legs to lunge forward, its stinger and claws simultaneously going for Maul.

With a Force powered leap, Maul soared over the manticore right at the time of the strike. While in the air, Maul grabbed hold of the dangerous tail and used his momentum to pull it down. The manticore was pulled down to its side, its head slamming to the ground, dazing it slightly.

Seeing its companion having difficulty with the intruder, the right manticore ran forward with a roar, its mouth open to grab the attacker with its dangerous jaws. The roar however tipped Maul off.

Turning to see the approaching manticore, Maul quickly turned and held the first manticore's tail in front of him, just as the second took its bite. This caused the dazed manticore to snap back to reality and roar in pain. It regained its footing and took a swipe with its claws, only to strike the other due to Maul moving with the first.

"Stop! You're hurting them!"

"I believe they are doing that themselves" Maul called back to the now concerned yellow pegasus. The two manticores then delved into a small fight with each other, eliciting an amused chuckle from Maul. Then the final manticore delivered a threatening growl.

Maul turned his attention to the remaining wildcat, finding it odd that it was standing its ground rather than following its companions actions. He no longer found it odd when he heard a noticeably smaller growl. A much smaller manticore stepped out from behind its apparent mother and leaped forward, delivering another non-threatening growl, though the venom from its smaller stinger would actually be more deadly than the adults, to compensate for its size.

"Aw, he's a wittle tough guy"

"Not the time, Starlight" Twilight said.

The small lion club was lifted into the air with a whoosh before its mother could pull it back, who let out a concerned growl as its cub was taken away. With a gasp from more than a few of the ponies, the other two manticores were now suddenly aware of the threat to the cub.

Maul was wearing a very smug grin that had been directed at the mother, now directed at the cub held up by his outstretched hand. The young predator continued to deliver its growls and began swiping at the air in front of it, being too far away to reach Maul. He noted and somewhat admired that the creatures seemed to be brave from a young age. Unfortunately for the cub, its bravery would not help it in this situation.

With a slight flex of his fingers, the cub's wings were forcibly pulled down to their folded position, replacing the cub's determination with fear and causing it to release a frightened mewl. The mother released another concerned growl while the other two prepared to attack again. Maul's attention was now drawn to his previous opponents, his grin never leaving his face.

With another flex of his fingers and a growl of his own, the cub's tail and limbs were immobilized with its wings, bringing out another frightened mewl. It didn't do the cub any harm, it was merely meant to intensify the fear. The two males lessened their growls and remained stationary while the mother grew more concerned. The fear coming off all these creatures only served to heighten Maul's schadenfreude. And then everything came to a halt.

"HEY!" The cub was suddenly grabbed in a very protective hug by a royally pissed off yellow pegasus. "Don't you DARE harm a hair on this defenseless little cub!" Fluttershy basically roared in Maul's face.

The two males began to slowly advance forward once they saw their attacker was distracted, only to be stopped when Fluttershy's stare was activated. The expressions on the manticores went blank as the mare stared at them. Maul meanwhile was intrigued, considering the Force energy coming off the pegasus' eyes, and the effect it had on the predators. The stare was then directed right at him.

"Let go of the cub" Fluttershy said intensely. While the energy was intense, it did nothing to affect the zabrak, who merely cocked a brow in response. His eyes then shifted to the now free thinking, male manticores. They were slowly creeping towards them, the mother joining almost immediately.

"Perhaps you should use...whatever it is you're using to call off these beasts." Fluttershy drew back in surprise, though her stare didn't stop. She took note of the approaching manticores and her stare frame of mind recognized the danger. She focused her stare on the trio until they appeared to go into a neutral state. She then went back to normal when she turned back to Maul. Her stare didn't have an effect on him, but that wasn't going to stop her from putting him in li- pfft ha ha haaaa. I'm sorry, a more accurate thing to say would be stop her from getting the cub down.

"Put him down, now." Maul eyed her with the same cocked brow before responding.

"As you wish" Maul said with a shrug. He relaxed his hand and lowered his arm, releasing the cub from his grip. Once she found she could actually move the cub from where it was held, Fluttershy began petting it and cooing comforting words.

She flew to the mother and placed her cub in front of her before apologizing for entering their territory and promising they were about to leave. She then apologized to the two males, planting a caring kiss on the injured foreleg of the second male. The manticores retreated into the tree line to lick their wounds and wait for the aggressive intruder to leave.

Maul found himself impressed yet again. Though Fluttershy's actions reminded him very much of the Jedi way, of connecting with animals peacefully through the Force. While it was a useful trick, he still believed that instilling fear was far more useful. The nature of these manticores however suggested they were either less susceptible to the dark side or rarely encountered something they actually feared.

"Now you listen here mister" Fluttershy said as she got back in Maul's face "I better not see you harm anymore animals or threaten their young. Or we are going to have a real problem." Maul blinked.

"That should not be a problem, but I will defend myself if I am attacked."

"That's fair" Fluttershy conceded, lowering herself to the ground before rejoining her friends. If everypony else had seats, they would've been on the edge of them. "We should get going. The manticores might get restless if we stay any longer."

"Uh...Oh yes!" Twilight said, recalling what they were doing prior "If you'll just follow me and my friends Maul, we will get to my castle." Everypony gave Maul a wide berth as he caught up to Twilight, eventually following behind them, the guards flanking the group.

Chapter 3

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"So Maul" Twilight said after a few minutes of walking "I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me." In truth, she had quite a few questions, but she knew better than to go overboard, especially with Maul. His actions with her friends and the manticores left her both incredibly curious and doubly cautious.

"I am willing to answer them, as long as you answer some questions of mine."

"How about a back and forth?" Twilight suggested "I ask a question and you answer, then you ask a question and I answer, and so on."

"That sounds reasonable" Maul acquiesced "Ask away."

Where to begin? Twilight asked herself, taking a moment to think of what to ask first. "I've encountered a species very similar to yours, but there are some noticeable differences. Are you a human?"

From the way she'd spoken, he guessed that she knew of humans but they weren't common on this planet. Something to look into in the future. "No. My species is zabrak. We are a humanoid species."

So then he knows about humans. And there are humanoid aliens out there. Yay! New term.

"I believe it is my turn. What planet am I on? Or perhaps I should ask, what do you call your planet?"

"We call our planet Equis. We ponies are kind of the dominant species, but we do live among other sentient species. Griffons, minotaurs, zebras and dragons."

So krayts are sentient on this planet Maul thought to himself. He doubted this made the large, dangerous reptiles pleasant to be around. His silence prompted Twilight to move on to her next question.

"You lifted Pinkie and the cub into the air without touching them. Are you a practitioner of some form of magic?"

"No, I am a practitioner of the Force."

"The Force?"

"You do not know of it." It was a statement, not an inquiry.

"I've never heard of it, no. Would you mind explaining it to me?"

"The Force is the energy field that holds the galaxy together. Life creates it, and in turn, it gives power to those who can wield it, such as myself. This is what you and your friends witnessed today." There was no harm in giving her the general information that any curious individual could find out on their own.

Twilight found this explanation quite fascinating. It sounded remarkably close to what Equis believed of magic. An energy that made up the universe and could be manipulated. She definitely wanted to learn more of it, but she had already asked one more question than she should have.

"I would like to hear more about it, but I believe you have the next question."

"That I do" Maul acknowledged. "This magic you refer to. I take it that is what I witnessed from you. Would you mind explaining it to me?"

"'s actually quite similar to this Force you described. Or rather, we perceive it in a similar manner. Energy of the universe that can be utilized by some, in our case unicorns and alicorns."

The rest of the walk was spent learning more general knowledge of each other. Maul learned of the three races, or technically four with the inclusion of alicorns, the four princesses and their designations, the extent of Equestria's technology and thus their lack of space travel, the occasional power hungry/power mad villain stopped with the "magic of friendship".

He doubted that literal friendship managed to defeat these foes that sounded as though they could give his old master a challenge. More likely their personal feelings amplified their magic, much like a dark side users anger amplified their power. The demeanor of these ponies made it apparent that they had more of a light side approach to how they used magic however. But he still sensed there was something or someone who had potential for the dark. The feeling that drew him here had increased since he landed, and it grew as they neared their destination.

Most of what Twilight learned was basic knowledge of Maul himself. His skin color was actually a result of being ritually tattooed from birth, his horns were vestigial unless he chose to use them in some manner, and quite surprisingly, his legs weren't armored but part of an entire lower body prosthesis. This fascinated everypony present.

He wasn't willing to divulge how exactly his entire lower half was removed, or how he survived! At least not in a way that really satisfied her curiosity. He claimed his strength in the Force allowed him to survive. Even though she wanted to know the actual biological reason behind it, she knew not to pry into such a sensitive matter. She instead focused on the amazingly advanced prosthetic he was sporting. Upon listening closely, she could hear a slight whirring. This was far more advanced than anything Equestria had. The most advanced they had was metal wings, which mostly went to veterans.

Aside from the personal stuff, she learned that there were entire worlds with sentient species and that many of them had the ability to travel through space for over thousands of years. She found it astounding that none of them had ever reached Equis before. Maul even claimed that the only way he found the planet was by having sensed it through the Force.

The others were given an opportunity to ask questions as well. Rarity of course asked about his "interesting" wardrobe and what he could say of fashion in the galaxy. Unfortunately for her, he didn't have much to say on the latter besides the fact that the clothes of the wealthy on Coruscant were known to be beautiful and elegant. His current wardrobe had been provided to him.

Despite her reservations about him, Rainbow couldn't suppress her curiosity over his ship, and how fast it could go. She was naturally left speechless when he revealed it had the capability of light speed.

Starlight herself was as curious about the Force as Twilight but wasn't comfortable enough to ask the alien anything yet. Everypony else had nothing to ask, except Pinkie, but she knew to give Maul some time before conversing with him again.

After the ten minute trek back, the group finally exited the Everfree. Maul immediately took note of the other ponies milling about, who in turn started noticing him as he was guided through the town towards Twilight's castle. His eyes shifted about as he started to feel the confusion, skepticism, and most of all fear, emanating from the populace. The smallest hint of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. They were right to fear him.

"Don't mind them" Twilight told Maul in an assuring tone "They're just not accustomed to an seeing an alien. I'm sure they won't do anything to try to harm you. They're probably too afraid to try anything anyway." If only she knew how right she was as much as Maul did.

Maul's eyes drifted upward as he approached what he surmised was Twilight's castle, taking in the admittedly impressive size and...unique design. Considering his size in comparison to the ponies, Maul was able to ascend the steps two at a time, though slowly since he knew not to break the guard barrier.

And of course there was the intensified sensation in the Force. Whatever had drawn him was residing in the castle, and there was no doubt now that it was a living being. Curiously, he felt that there was something else of great power in the castle, but it felt different.

Maul was lead into a large sort of council room through two large doors, and at the very center was the source of the power he was feeling. A large, circular table. While it was emanating a significant amount of power in the Force, he felt that it wasn't the type of power that could be used to his advantage. For this reason he focused his attention on the individual he had been sensing, who was in a smaller version of the surrounding chairs.

And this individual was in the middle of a nap.

A questioning look developed on Maul's face as he beheld the small reptilian. Aside from the tail and the face, the small being looked like a Trandoshan child, which he doubted is what this youngling actually was. He reached out with the Force and was surprised that this was indeed who had drawn him to the planet. That and the fact that it wasn't power he was sensing, but untapped potential for it.

"Why am I not surprised?" Twilight suddenly said with an eye roll, eliciting suppressed giggles from the other mares. "Give me a second Maul, we need him awake if we're going to get a letter to the princess."

Maul watched Twilight as she approached and nudged the sleeping figure to wake him. "Spike, we're back."

"Huh?" Spike muttered as he began to stir from his slumber. He rubbed one of his eyes before he snapped awake completely. "Oh! Yeah. Hey Twilight. I was just resting my eye-" He froze as he suddenly caught sight of the imposing figure among his friends.

"Spike, it's not polite to stare."

Spike blinked away his surprise, not realizing he had been focusing on the new arrival longer than he intended. "Oh, sorry. So um, this is the...alien?"

"Yes, and thankfully he means us no harm" Twilight informed her assistant "In fact he actually needs some help, but first, you should properly introduce yourself to him. Go on."

"Yeah, sure" Spike said before getting off his chair and approaching the alien, ignoring the odd feeling that had suddenly developed in the back of his head. "Hi, I'm Spike. I'm a dragon, and the personal assistant to Princess Twilight Sparkle" Spike said with a smile and an outstretched hand.

The zabrak regarded the youngling for a quick moment before leaning forward and shaking the offered hand. "I am Maul. A pleasure to make your acquaintance" he said with a small smile, which surprised everypony there. Twilight considered that he might've decided to make better first impressions. Though what he said next caused a bit of a problem. "You are a dragon?"

Uh oh everypony thought collectively. They knew where this was gonna go.

"Yeah I'm a dragon" Spike said defensively after letting go of Maul's hand "What? Do you think I'm too small? I've got the fire breath to prove it. I'll show you!"

"My apologies, I meant no offense" Maul said quickly before Twilight could intervene "I'm merely unfamiliar with your...breed. The dragons I know of are far larger and bestial. They certainly don't have the power of speech, or the ability to breathe fire. Quite an impressive feat."

Spike immediately developed a smile while everypony else was left stunned. This was the nicest Maul had acted since they met him. Some of them weren't even sure he could be this nice.

"Yes. Yes it is. I could tell you a story or two actually..."

"Spike" Twilight interrupted "While I'm sure it would be nice to hear one of your stories, again, Maul still needs your assistance."

"My assistance? Um, sure. How can I help?"

"I need you to take a letter and send it to the Princess Celestia and Luna."

"That's all? Yeah, sure thing." Spike pulled out a parchment and quill and began composing the message once Twilight began.

"Dear Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, I have successfully made contact with our other worldly visitor. His name is Maul, and he claims he's looking for refuge. He has requested that he meet with you personally to further discuss this matter. He has made it clear that he doesn't mean to harm us so long as he isn't given reason to. I eagerly await your response. Your fellow princess, Twilight Sparkle."

Spike rolled up and bound the parchment before sending it off with his magic fire, something that Maul found interesting but didn't dwell on. Twilight informed him that all they had to do now was wait. During this time, Maul took a walk around the room, realizing he had missed the subtle amount of energy that the entire castle seemed to be made of. Spike meanwhile welcomed Rarity and Starlight back with affectionate hugs, the latter of which seemed to last a bit longer.

"Is there anything you might like Maul?" Twilight asked "A beverage or snack?"

"Some water will suffice" Maul responded. Twilight gave a nod and walked off toward the kitchen.

Maul ceased his walk in front of the large table. He eyed it for a short moment before slowly stretching out a hand to it. Gently placing his hand on it, he was able to get a small glimpse of its magical power. Beneath it, or rather magically hidden, was a map of the country, each region name suddenly entering his mind. Griffinstone, the Dragonlands, Manehattan, etc. He also sensed that this map was connected to all but one of the seven mares he had met. The nature of the connection was the only thing that alluded him.

After removing his hand, he turned his focus back to the small dragon. He took note of the boy's affection toward the two mares, which seemed to almost be in conflict, and his earlier anger. Anger that was only barely tapped into. Both of these emotions would surely come into play when the boy's training began.

"Here you go" Maul turned to see Twilight had returned with a glass of water being held in midair with her magic. He thanked her before using the Force to bring the glass to his hand. After drinking half of his water, Maul sensed something coming from Spike.


And just like that, Spike expelled a scroll into his hands. He unrolled it and informed everyone that a chariot was being sent to bring them to Canterlot castle. Spike requested to join them, which Twilight gladly allowed. Maul finished his water and set the glass on the map before following his new acquaintances. By the time they exited the castle, a rather large golden chariot attached to two pegasi was waiting for them. This world was continuing to intrigue its visitor.

Maul felt the gaze of the town residents as he boarded the carriage with the others. They were all still unsure and frightened of him. He paid it no mind as the carriage took off into the air.

As they approached Canterlot Castle, it was impossible for Maul not to feel two things. A large amount of light side energy very near to a large amount of dark side energy. Curiously, the dark side energy felt...suppressed, despite how much there was.

Once they landed in front of the rather impressive castle, some of it appearing to come out of the mountainside, they all got off the carriage and began walking to the front entrance. Maul found it curious that there wasn't any guards lined up to welcome them, most likely to appear more welcoming. Though he did sense a minor disturbance.

To say Oates was anxious would be a huge understatement. Unicorn fresh out of the Royal Guard Academy, first day on the job at Canterlot Castle, and it had to be on the day an alien is coming to visit the princesses. Even though he was put on a simple hallway patrol, he couldn't help but feel he should be ready to fight. He realized that this feeling had made him go back and forth in the same hallway rather then walk into another. It was right next to the door beside Celestia's throne.

He caught a glimpse of Celestia's flowing tail as he passed by the door yet again, no doubt her sister was alongside her. Of course they would be calm for this, which is what she urged her guards to be when the alien arrived. Easier said than done. And then the large double doors opened. He heard the sound of hoofsteps, along with those of something he had never heard. Oates cautiously turned back and walked to the doorway. Then he saw the alien walking alongside Princess Twilight, and went about doing something quite idiotic.

"Alien!" Oates yelled as he charged through the doorway toward the demonic looking being. He skidded to a halt and without even thinking, he lowered his head, charged up his horn and fired three blasts of magic at the alien. His head snapped back up immediately with an overly confident smile, which quickly disappeared when he saw the alien react.

In an amazing display of reflexes, the alien drew a small metal hilt that was hanging from its hip, out from which a blade of black energy emerged. He deflected all three shots as fast as they had been fired and shot out his left hand. Oates suddenly found himself in the air, his throat being constricted by an unseen force.

One thought went through the young guard's mind as he looked at the alien's angered face and the air was restricted from his lungs. This was a bad idea.

Chapter 4

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The disturbance he had sensed finally manifested in the form of a frantic unicorn guard, charging straight towards him after releasing an exclamation of fear. He sensed the incoming danger and got into a defensive stance. The guard skid to a halt, ignited his horn and released three blasts. Thankfully, his training in both combat and the Force had gifted him with enhanced perception and speed. He drew his darksaber, ignited it, deflected the blasts into the walls and floor, and lifted the guard with a Force choke. These actions only took him two seconds.

While Rainbow was amazed by Maul's speed and weapon, much like everypony else, she was also angered by what he was doing to the guard. "Hey!" Rainbow exclaimed as she flew in front of Maul "Put him down right now!"

"Be still my little pony" Celestia said in a calming tone as she and Luna approached. Rainbow hesitantly flew back down, joining her shocked companions. "I apologize for my guard's actions. He's new here and hasn't become accustomed to his new environment. I would appreciate if you released him. Rest assured that we mean you no harm."

Maul's eyes shifted to the princess and back to the guard dangling in mid air, his forehooves pawing at his throat as strained chokes escaped his mouth. His face relaxed before he deactivated his darksaber and flexed his fingers, releasing the guard from his telekinetic grip. The guard fell to the floor, releasing a few strained coughs before taking deep breaths and looking up at Maul with terror in his eyes.

"Private Oates, is it?" Celestia addressed the guard, causing him to stand and turn to her.

"Yes Princess! Please forgive my actions. I overreacted and-" Celestia raised a hoof, cutting him off.

"I am willing to overlook this, so long as you apologize to our guest."

"Y-Yes Princess, of course" Oates said with a bow of his head before turning back to Maul "I apologize for my actions...Mr. Alien sir. This was all my fault. I was simply nervous of your arrival."

Maul regarded the guard for a moment, not to contemplate his response, but just to make the guard nervous. Maintaining his steely demeanor, he nodded and said "Your apology is accepted." A minor disturbance such as this was not worth wasting further time on.

Celestia dismissed Oates before addressing Maul again. "Now, I believe you wished to speak with my sister and I."

"That is correct" Maul replied, placing his darksaber back in its place. He turned his head towards his companions, some of whom were still shook up by what had just happened. Rainbow looked as though she wanted to start a fight. Spike however seemed to be in awe of him, his eyes particularly being drawn to his darksaber, which had also caught Twilight's attention. He could tell they both wanted to inspect the weapon further. The former would get the most of that opportunity, in due time.

"If you wouldn't mind, I wish to have our discussion in private."

"Of course. Twilight, would you and your friends mind waiting outside?"

"Are you su-?"

"What?! Princess you can't be serious!" Rainbow exclaimed, cutting Twilight off.

"I am, Rainbow Dash" Celestia said calmly "Now if you would please wait outside. And it would behoove you to mind your tone."

"A-" Rainbow stopped herself, recognizing the trademark subtle intensity of the princess "Yes Princess." She and the others started walking to the entrance, but she gave Maul one last angry glare before Celestia used her magic to shut the doors.

Maul found Rainbow amusing. He already guessed that she was a show off, and she was quick to anger, immediately untrustworthy of newcomers. He could imagine her as a young trainee at the Sith academies of old that predated the Rule of Two. Immersed in the dark side, she would've gladly cheated and used others to climb up the ranks. She would've no doubt been cut down in battle or in private by a fellow Sith who found her annoying or unworthy.

"We should make proper introductions first" the princess said before gesturing to herself "I am Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria. I control the rising and setting of the sun. This is my sister." She gestured to her smaller, dark coated companion.

"I am Princess Luna, co-ruler of Equestria. I control the rising and setting of the moon." The entire time, Luna had been eyeing Maul curiously, which was not lost on him.

He had begun taking in the appearance of the two princesses when he first saw them. Their higher stature, their royal attire, their ethereal flowing manes. But all of that was insignificant next to the sheer amount of Force power emanating from them. He doubted they could actually move the sun and moon, unless their solar system was somehow affected by this strange Force energy. He imagined that they could give his former master a difficult challenge. That's not to say he thought they could win, but there was a possibility.

He also found it odd that he hadn't been drawn to Luna, considering the amount of dark side energy in her, suppressed though it may be. It was possible that with Celestia's equal amount of light side energy, these two might've found their own form of independent balance. It wouldn't be in his best interest to make enemies of them.

"I am called Maul. I am a warrior of the Nightbrothers and a practitioner of the Force."

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Maul" Celestia said with a slight bow, deciding to inquire about this Force afterward "Would you be so kind as to tell me your purpose in coming to our planet?"

"I seek a temporary refuge to rest and replenish my strength."

"Refuge from what exactly?" Luna asked.

"An enemy of mine has come into great power. I was forced to retreat into the unknown regions to escape his tyranny. If he or his servants were to find me, it would mean my death. I humbly ask your permission to remain on your planet for a time. You have my word that once I am ready, I will depart."

"Luna, a word" Celestia said after regarding Maul for a moment. They both turned away from Maul, leaning in to quietly converse. "I see no reason to turn him away sister. Twilight already informed us that he means no harm, and I didn't sense any dishonesty in his claim."

"While that is true, I know he is holding information from us. I suggest we ask him some questions before anything else. And there's something about him that makes me uneasy. There's a darkness in him that's unsettlingly familiar. Though..."

"You also felt the suffering in him, didn't you?"


"I think we should give him a chance. After all, we gave you one."

"..........Very well Tia. Let us commence with the questions then." The two princesses turned back to Maul, who was patiently waiting with his hands behind his back.

"Well, Sir Maul" Celestia began "My sister and I see no reason in denying your request. We would simply like to have some questions answered first, if you wouldn't mind."

"Who am I to deny royalty?" Maul asked in a pleasant tone. While most of his time with Sidious was spent as a shadowy assassin, he had been taught how to converse with diplomats, royals, anyone in high power, should the need arise. They asked the same things Twilight had asked him, such as what he meant by the Force, his species etc., along with what he had learned from her. New inquiries included his weapon, what he could do with the Force, and a somewhat touchy subject.

"Could you describe this enemy of yours?" Luna asked "What is the power he has come into?"

He chose his next words carefully. "His name is Palpatine. He is the greatest evil in any galaxy, and he has become the emperor of the first Galactic Empire. You should consider yourselves fortunate if he never finds his way here."

"A galactic empire?" Celestia said "Then you mean to say, he rules over multiple worlds?"

"Yes, under the guise of a weak old man looking to improve the galaxy for everyone's benefit. But the only benefit is his."

Both Celestia and Luna could hear the distain in his voice. This made the latter unsure whether to ask her next question, but her curiosity was too strong. "What exactly is your connection to this emperor? How are the two of you enemies?"

Maul blinked before slightly turning his head, directing his eyes to the floor. Luna believed she may have pried too deeply. "I apologize. If you're uncom-"

"He was my master."

This time, the princesses blinked before their eyes went wide. At the same time, the three caught the sound of an exclamation.

"WHA-?! mm!"

"Ssssshhhhhh. Darn it Pinkie. Do you want them to know we're listening?"

"Sorry Twilight"

Maul's eyes briefly shifted to the doors behind him before settling back on the floor. His peripheral vision allowed him to see that the two sisters were still in shock. Not surprising.

"I'm...I'm sorry, I'm not sure I heard you correctly" Celestia said.

"He was my master. He stole me from my home when I was but a child. He trained me in the ways of the Force to be an assassin. Then I suffered my first real defeat, resulting in my...handicap" he said, quickly shifting his eyes down to his prosthetics "He believed me dead and replaced me. Once I was free, I realized I was nothing more than a weapon, an expendable weapon.

"I was later found by my brother, who brought me back to my mother, who healed my body and mind. Once I reemerged, he saw me as rival and came to deal with me. He murdered my brother and one of his pawns killed my mother, in front of my own eyes. Once I learned of his new empire, I knew I had to run or join my family in death. Your planet is where I stopped running."

During his monologue, both princesses took note of his hand slowly forming a fist, which seemed to be calling on the Force, as a subtle whoosh was heard and a nearby bust appeared to be put under stress until cracks were formed. Along with this, the deep yellow and red of his eyes seemed to intensify, further giving the impression that they contained fire within them.

A deep feeling of sympathy suddenly entered into the everypony, including the group listening in, but none more so than Luna. She now felt a sort of kinship with the otherworldly being. Both of them had been slaves to an immense and dark power, though hers was completely from within.

The eavesdroppers now had a better understanding of Maul's behavior when they first met. Even Rainbow felt a little bad for him. Anyone with that kind of tragic history was sure to be a bit grumpy in general. She still had her reservations about him though. So long as he didn't go too far, she could excuse his behavior.

"Luna, another word" the two sisters quickly turned to each other again. After a short talk, they came to a final decision and turned back to their guest. "Maul. After hearing your story and your reason for coming here, we have decided to accept your request. We grant you our express permission to stay on Equis as long as you need to."

"If there is anything we can provide, please do not hesitate to ask" Luna said in turn.

"I thank you, Princess Celestia and Luna" Maul said with a humble bow "I have but a few requests. I am in need of a residence, preferably secluded, and some currency for essentials such as food and water."

"Is that all you require?" Luna asked.

"Yes. I have learned to live with very little. If I may, I noticed a large structure within the forest where I landed. I sensed no life forms. May I use it as my temporary abode?"

"The Castle of the Two Sisters" Celestia said "It was our former home. It is currently abandoned, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's quite dilapidated and it resides just outside of a dangerous forest."

"I held my own against three...what was it?....manticores, without the use of my lightsaber. I should be relatively safe. So long as it remains standing, the castle's state is of no concern to me. So I ask again, may I use your former abode as my own for the duration of my stay?"

Celestia looked to her sister who gave her a slight nod in response. Celestia turned back to Maul and with a kind smile said "You may."

With a pleasant look on his face that appeared unusual for some reason, Maul bowed as he said "You have my deepest thanks, princesses."

"The chariot that brought you here will take you to the castle after dropping off my subjects" Celestia informed Maul, indicating to the closed doors "I will have the bits you require delivered to you soon after."

Maul gave a simple nod of thanks before the princess looked to the doors. "Twilight, you and your friends can come in now." Celestia used her magic to open the doors immediately, causing everypony to fall into the throne room in a tangled heap.

Once Twilight hastily stood back up, she bowed her head in embarrassment "I-I'm sorry Princess, we didn't- well we did mean to eavesdrop but-"

"It's quite alright Twilight" Celestia chuckled "I don't blame any of you for your curiosity."

"Yay! Maul gets to stay!" The aforementioned zabrak suddenly found his lower body being hugged by Pinkie. Maul held his arms out to the side with a grimace his face, doing his best to avoid any contact. "I'm so sorry this big meanie pants emperor took your family. It's no wonder you're moody all the time. I probably would be too."

"Your sympathy is...appreciated...Pinkie" Maul said uncomfortably while lightly patting her mane, which allowed her to catch on to his demeanor.

"Oops, sorry" she said as she removed herself and took a few steps back "Forgot about your personal space, hehe."

"Hey Maul" everyone turned to the rainbow maned pegasus who had spoken and was looking slightly guilty "I uh...just wanted to...say I'm sorry for how I treated you before. Pinkie's right, it's not like it's your fault that you act the way you do, considering your past."

"An apology isn't necessary" Maul interrupted in an assuring tone "Your behavior was understandable, if a little erratic. I hold no grudge against you."

"Oh" Rainbow replied with wide eyes "Um...good to know."

Everypony else voiced their own sympathies after as they began walking out of the throne room, though Fluttershy couldn't forgive his actions towards the manticore cub. Rainbow also couldn't help but feel that she should still keep an eye on Maul, she still found him a bit off putting. This was a feeling shared by the youngest royal sister.

"You're still troubled by him" Celestia said once everyone left the throne room.

"Yes, sister" Luna acknowledged "I do believe he means us no harm in his stay, but the darkness I felt in him is still present. I believe he may cause at least some trouble."

"Hopefully he won't, but if the worst comes to happen, he shouldn't be too difficult to handle."

Maul smiled smugly to himself as he and the others were making their way to the castle's main entrance. Having sensed that flattery would contribute very little, he knew that using the sympathy angle would further tips the scales in his favor, especially with these sympathetic and caring equines.

He had however felt the small hints of doubt from them, particularly in the one known as Luna. She had clearly felt the dark side in him, something he could've masked more successfully if his initial training had continued. Thankfully he seemed to have gained their trust for the moment. And now, he was about to win some favor with the one who had drawn him to Equis.

"You seem rather mesmerized by my weapon" Maul said, shifting his eyes to the startled dragon.

"Oh! Sorry. I didn't mean to stare" Spike said sheepishly "It's just...I've never seen anything like it."

"Would you like to take a closer look?"

"What...what do you mean?" Spike asked. Maul stopped and turned to the dragon, using the Force to summon his darksaber until it was levitating in his upturned hand. Seeing him use the Force still fascinated everyone, none more so than Twilight and Spike. Maul lowered his hand, the darksaber following until it was right in front of Spike.

"Go on, you have my permission" Maul said with a kind smile before pointing to a button just below the hand guard "This is the activator. Keep the emitter away from you and don't touch the blade. The injury would not be pleasant."

Twilight was about to object to to her young assistant being allowed to handle an alien weapon, but he grabbed it before she could say anything.

"Huh. It's heavier than I thought" Spike said as he weighed the hilt in his hand. He then thumbed the activator and looked up in awe as the blade that seemed to be made of the night sky ignited. Spike slowly swayed the darksaber back and forth while making a small exclamation of amazement. The weapon felt alive in his hand, like it was actually urging him use it further.

"Um, Spike" Twilight said a little worriedly "Be careful with how you handle that thing."

"Ah let him have some fun Twilight" Rainbow said "He should be fine as long as Maul's here. I bet your even jealous."

"No I'm-! That's not relevant" Twilight grumbled, much to everypony's amusement.

Spike started getting more confident, taking the hilt in both hands and making stronger swipes. The fun soon came to an end when he accidentally cut a pedestal in half, his smile disappearing and his eyes going wide.

"Uh...oops?" Spike said before deactivating the darksaber and holding it out for Maul to take back "Maybe you should take this back."

"It is only natural" Maul said as he used the Force to call his darksaber back "You should undergo some training before you handle a lightsaber."

"Yeah, probably" Spike said bashfully as he rubbed the back of his head.

"Well, no harm no foul" Twilight said nervously as she eyed the sizzling pedestal halves "Princess Celestia can have that replaced easy peasy. We should probably go now." Everyone agreed and quickly started heading to the main entrance again.

Maul had been watching the young drake intently as he swung the darksaber. His smile had grown as he observed him, his movements naturally being amateurish but surprisingly more controlled than he thought they would be.

While on the carriage ride back to Twilight's castle, Twilight made sure to tell Spike to write the princess an apology letter for the pedestal. Everyone except Maul got off the chariot once they landed in front of the castle. Twilight stayed behind to ask Maul something before he left.

"Um...Maul? I was just wondering..." Twilight said as her hoof scuffed the ground "If it wouldn't be too much trouble...since you let Spike take a look..."

"You wish to inspect my lightsaber, particularly the inner workings considering your abundance of fascination towards my advanced technology."

"Oh my gosh yes! Can I? Please?" Twilight practically begged with an eager smile. A smile that soon fell from disappointment.

"Unfortunately I cannot allow that" Maul said "I inherited the weapon and it is an old design. I have not the knowledge to reconstruct it if it were taken apart. You can understand, can't you?"

"Yes, I understand" Twilight said with a disappointed sigh "Thanks anyway. I hope you enjoy your temporary home."

"I'm sure I will" Maul said with a smile. He turned back to a forward face before calling to the pegasus guards. "Gentlemen, if you would be so kind." The guards nodded and took off, pulling the chariot into the air.

"Why is his smile so...unsettling?" Twilight said with a shudder. She shook off the feeling and turned to enter her castle. Once she reached the map room, she noticed Spike already composing his apology note.

"You looked pretty impressive swinging that sword around, Spike" Starlight complimented the dragon after he sent away the note.

"Yes, you looked quite courageous darling" Rarity basically gushed.

"Ah, well" Spike said bashfully as he swatted the air "I do my best."

Everypony chuckled before Rainbow chimed in "You actually did look pretty cool, little guy. You got experience with swords or something?"

"No, but I do always use a lance in my dreeeeeee- I always used a lance whenever Shining Armor visited from the academy and showed me some moves. Yeah, that's what I was saying."

"We all saw ya when we were in the dream world Spike" Applejack said "Remember when we had to fight that Tantabus thing?"

"Darn Element of Honesty" Spike grumbled, much to everypony's amusement.

"I still think you were impressive Spike" Starlight said as she came and rubbed the top of Spike's head.

"As did I" Rarity quickly added as she stepped in to rub Spike's back.

Spike's eyes shifted back and forth between the mares, perplexed at the sudden affection from both. I'm not complaining...but what just happened?

"Well, Ah better be gettin' back to Sweet Apple Acres, I still got chores that need finishin'" Applejack said, turning to head out. She was soon followed by everypony else, save Twilight and Starlight of course. Rarity momentarily eyed Starlight as she was walking out, her eyes slightly narrowed.

"And I've got some planning to do" Pinkie said as she hopped along.

"Pinkie" Twilight said cautiously, halting the pink mare "You're not planning to throw Maul a 'Welcome to Ponyville' party are you? Because I don't think he's the type of individual who enjoys parties."

"Of course not Twilight" Pinkie said with an amused groan "You worry too much." Twilight gave a sigh of relief as Pinkie continued hopping out of the map room, unaware of what the mare was thinking. I'm throwing him a 'Welcome to our planet' party! I know I can put a smile on Maul's face.

Back inside, Spike and Starlight had gone off to their respective rooms, Twilight following soon after. Catching a glimpse of movement, Twilight backtracked to peer into Spike's room through the slightly ajar door. She suppressed a small laugh as she saw her assistant swinging a toy sword around, almost exactly the way he had with Maul's saber.

While she was amused, Twilight did recall that she had seen her brother giving Spike a few demonstrations. This reminded her that she was considering having Spike take some self defense classes. She knew he had been wanting to learn this sort of thing in order to contribute more.

Hopefully he can start learning in the near future. I just hope we can find a teacher willing to train a dragon.

After departing, Maul asked the guards to drop him off at his ship rather than the castle so he could fly it over. They pointed out however that there was no room to land and the trees wouldn't allow them to fly low enough.

"That is no issue" Maul said as they circled the area where his ship lay. The guards were suddenly shocked when Maul jumped off the chariot. They were about to call down to him and descend to try and catch him, until they saw him land on the ground as if he had glided down. When he looked up and saluted them, they looked to each other before shrugging their shoulders and heading back to Canterlot.

"We're gonna tell the princesses we landed when we dropped him off, right?"

"Well why wouldn't we? It is what happened after all."

The two guards nodded to each other and refocused their flight path.

Maul used the force to open the ramp to his ship, boarding it and preparing for takeoff. The flight to his new abode was relatively short, no more than a few minutes. He landed the ship in the brush behind the castle rather than in front. A habit of strategizing for an escape; landing the ship right in front would leave it exposed.

While the castle was in a poor state, he was able to see that the ceiling had only a few holes in it, an easy problem to fix. After exiting the ship, Maul walked around the structure to reach the front door. Once entering, it was a short walk before he reached the rather spacious hall, two large banners hanging overhead, each depicting the two rulers.

There was also a rather sizable hole above that drew his attention for some reason. The faint sound of a magic beam being fired made him flinch in confusion. It was followed by the sound of bricks crumbling.

"precious light"

Maul's attention was drawn to a hall on the right, from which the faint, familiar voice had emerged. Knitting his brow, he began walking down the hall, until he entered a large throne room. He saw two thrones beside each other, clearly Celestia and Luna's, each one with their own respective banner above.

A louder crumbling sound drew his attention to another hole in the wall. He drew back when he suddenly saw a flash of something. He saw Luna in the air, her forelegs raised below the hole as the moon appeared to be blocking out the sun. And then he felt it. An echo of what he had felt within the younger princess.

The darkness.

It was suddenly clear to him. In this throne room, the darkness within the princess had emerged in full. It didn't matter that it was only an echo, he could feel the same power he had felt before. Only now, rather than a suppressed and balanced version, it felt pure and unchallenged. He wanted to see more.

He shut his eyes and immersed himself in the Force, focusing on the dark side, on the power that Luna had unlocked. While peering into the past and future was more the Jedi's forte, it wasn't uncommon for the Sith to try their hand at it. Most of the time they merely found it unnecessary, believing they could achieve their goals without the use of the ability.

After a moment, Maul was able to see everything unfold without having to open his eyes. He actually found himself amazed when he witnessed Luna become engulfed in pure dark side energy that was actually visible, no doubt it was from their use of magic. What emerged from the sphere, Maul could only think of one word to describe it. A word he had never used, and one he couldn't recall ever thinking of when beholding anything from a lush forest to even the stars in space.


He didn't consider this being beautiful from her appearance. No, she was beautiful for what she was. She was a manifestation of the dark side in its rawest, purest form. Anger, aggression, fear, and power, power seeking to grow and dominate all. Feeling all this had caused an uncharacteristically large smile to slowly form, only for it to drop to a frown when he felt the darkness' current companion.

"You must lower the moon!"

Celestia. He had been so fascinated he hadn't noticed her entrance. They began arguing, a good amount was muffled, but he managed to catch the name of the dark entity, Nightmare Moon. It was still rather childish sounding, but it did seem to fit her rather well. And then their fight began.

The two sisters took off, firing their magic blasts at one another. Thanks to the Force, he didn't need to venture outside to witness the battle. The scenery merely changed around him, following the two combatants. Now he understood where most of the castle's damage came from.

Maul couldn't help but smile when he saw one of Nightmare Moon's blasts hit her, causing her to cry out in pain before she fell back down into the throne room. His smile disappeared again however, when the Force told him who the victor of this battle would be.

Celestia summoned a rotating device that emerged from a compartment in the floor. There he saw the actual Elements of Harmony, gems from which large amounts of Force energy emanated. They had no real connection to the light side, they simply enhanced the power of Force sensitives, or at least these Force sensitives. If Nightmare Moon were to get ahold of them, there was no doubt her power would be enhanced.

He watched in displeasure as Celestia used the empowering gems to overwhelm and banish her sister to the moon. Everything faded away, and Maul found himself back in the throne room in it's present state. Clearly there was more to the story, considering he saw Luna herself, not banished and not in her dark side form. The two sisters had most likely reconciled between then and now. He would inquire about it later, but he would have to be careful in how he asked.

Recalling why he was in the castle, he exited the throne room and started looking for a way to a rear entrance. He was able to find a hidden passage that lead him outside, not too far off from where his ship was resting. He ventured to it to obtain the bare essentials, a speeder for more convenient transportation that he would keep within the castle, some water and rations, his robe and a sheet for the cold, and a medium case containing some parts and devices.

He was able to find a room with an adequate bed that only needed some dust cleared off. Since it already had a blanket, he decided to use the sheet he brought to cover the speeder after hiding it behind a crevice in the main hallway.

He knelt down on the floor and opened the case to double check its contents. A datapad, a few communicators, a device that could test the toxicity of water, a handful of ascension cables, two small vibroblades, and a few assorted replacement parts for each device. He had left tools for repairs aboard the ship, a few meant for the speeder resided in its compartments.

There was a small box however within the case, which held something that was more important to keep at the moment. He had made sure to acquire the contents when he returned to Mandalore after his mother's death. He had placed the box in the case during his hasty departure. He knew the contents would be essential should the need for them would arise.

The box held the necessary components to construct at least three new lightsabers. Truthfully he had acquired the components to make one lightsaber and maybe a shoto. Said components were rather difficult to come by, considering how careful the Jedi were in keeping lightsabers out of civilian hands. Thankfully, Maul had learned how to take apart devices and weapons to repurpose the parts, allowing him to make what would essentially be an impromptu lightsaber. The rest of the pieces he had, he came into in an unexpected way.

In a brief moment of curiosity, Maul had searched through the former duchess Satine's hidden belongings, where he found the pieces that were now in his possession. While he didn't know why she would have them, he suspected they might've been left by his old foe, Obi-Wan Kenobi. His disgust at possibly having something of Obi-Wan's was suppressed by his amusement at the potential irony. Using the spare parts from a peace keeping Jedi to construct lightsabers that would be used for killing and maiming.

He didn't intend on constructing a lightsaber at the moment, doubting that he would lose his darksaber or have it damaged beyond use or repair. Right now, the parts were intended for his imminent student, after he received proper weapons training.

There was one setback however, a lack of crystals, synthetic or natural. It wasn't something to be concerned about, synthetic crystals could easily be made, though it was a long and arduous process. Thankfully, creating synthetic crystals was all part of the training.

"Considering he's a dragon" Maul said to himself "He shouldn't mind the intense heat when the time comes for him to forge his crystal." Maul smiled to himself as he envisioned Spike, secluded in a room and sweating as he focused his anger into the crystal as it formed within a special furnace.

"He should make a fine apprentice."

Chapter 5

View Online

Five days had passed since Maul had taken up residence in the Castle of the Two Sisters. During those five days, Maul was starting to get used to his surroundings, though he would never entirely adapt to them. Celestia had also requested that Maul come before the town of Ponyville with Twilight so they could all know that he meant no harm. He agreed, recognizing the mutual benefit. The population would be more comfortable with his presence and unnecessary altercations with frightened or paranoid equines would be less likely.

Given the that the planet had no previous encounters with extraterrestrial life, incidents with foolhardy natives, even on a small scale, would be a given. The guard he Force chocked earlier was proof of that, along with the mint green unicorn who rushed the stage during the announcement.

"Are you an escaped human experiment?! Did you come from Earth or that mirror world and that's why your skin is like that?! Was your father black and your mother red?! Or the other way around?!"

Twilight was glad Celestia had sent some Royal Guards as a precaution, and that Bonbon was there to hold her partner back from climbing onto the stage.

"He's an alien Lyra!" Bonbon yelled.

"Yeah! A humanoid alien! Do you know Jules Verne?! What's he li-?! Mm! Mm mm mmm! MMMMMMM!" Lyra continued to scream even though Bonbon had shoved a hoof in her mouth. The guards helped pull the frantic unicorn to the back of the crowd.

After getting a quick nod from Maul, Twilight told the town about Maul's species and that humans did in fact exist. Thankfully the crowd responded with only a few surprised murmurs and Lyra visibly relaxed. She also explained that much like any individual, Maul would defend himself if he were met with hostility.

The event ended with no further situations, and much to Twilight's delight, a few of Ponyville's residents even came up to Maul to shake his hand and give him a friendly welcome. Maul graciously accepted the welcomes with a smile, as he had been taught to. His smile still managed to be unsettling.

As he departed on the speeder he had used to arrive, he could feel Lyra's gaze on him more than the others and sensed he would encounter her again. A minor annoyance, but even the smallest thorn could grant entrance to a lethal infection. He would deal with this thorn when the time came.

Meditation, a form of deep concentration mostly known for calming the mind, seeking your inner self or inner peace. There were others however, who used it to focus their anger, fear, and hatred into inner power. While Maul was no longer affiliated with the ones who practiced the latter, it didn't stop him from doing it anyway. It was still useful.

This "dark" meditation was what Maul did when he wasn't planning Spike's training or using his probes to create his own map of Equestria. He was using this meditation to try and find what precisely drew him to the planet. A world filled with purely light side Force energy was of little to no use to a dark side adept. The light side wouldn't draw him in, that wasn't its nature. There was something of the dark side on this planet, and he was going to find it.

The slightest echo of hoof steps alerted him that his search would have to be put on hold for the moment. He had another matter to attend to. Twilight had provided him with magic stones that when struck could create a spark to send a parchment letter, much like Spike's magic fire, for important messages. He had sent one to her earlier, inviting her over.

Maul wasn't accustomed to using physical parchment, but he found some charm in it.

Standing from his cross legged position on the floor, Maul exited his bedroom to greet the purple alicorn who entered his temporary domain.

"Ah, Princess Twilight, your visits are always a pleasure" Maul said with a bow and a friendly smile.

"Thank you Maul" Twilight replied with a slight bow of her own "I'm glad you've been adjusting to Equestria nicely."

"As am I."

"I'm surprised you invited me over though, considering you haven't exactly been making friends these past few days. Not that that's a bad thing" she added quickly "since you said you preferred some solitude. Ahem, so why did you invite me over?"

"I was actually hoping I could ask some questions concerning your...young assistant" Maul said, retaining his smile.

"Spike?" Twilight paused for a moment, not having expected what Maul said "Um...sure, I guess. What did you want to know?"

Maul had taken the time to think his questions through, how to word them.

"How exactly did you come to have a young dragon for an assistant?"

"Oh that's simple" Twilight smiled "I hatched him from his egg when I was a filly. Hatching him was actually my entrance exam for Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns."

"Interesting, and how did this school come by the egg of a dragon? It is in my knowledge and experience that dragons are quite vicious, and wouldn't let anyone take their offspring."

"..."Twilight was at a loss of words for a moment "I...actually don't know. I was never told, and I never asked." Twilight looked to be ponderous and somewhat regretful.

"Curious" Maul noted before asking his next question "How long have you had him?"

"About fourteen years" Twilight replied after a short second.

"That would make him an adolescent by now. Tell me, have you had any worries concerning his imminent behavior?"

"What do you mean?"

"Adolescence is when rebelliousness emerges" Maul said pointedly "And I don't mean to sound...offensive to your ward, but he is a dragon. And from what I've learned, fully grown dragons on this world are slightly more violent than the ones I'm familiar with. I would think you'd have some concerns as he grew."

"I never really thought of that" Twilight said as she used a wing to rub her chin "I have encountered teenage dragons, and they weren't exactly friendly." Twilight shuddered slightly at the memory. "But Spike was raised among ponies, and he's never been like other dragons. He actually proved how different he was from them during that incident."

"Be that as it may, you can't ignore the nature of life. Can you honestly tell me the young ponies of your land don't have their phases?" Maul said with a quirked brow.

"I...guess I can't" Twilight relented "Oh boy, what's Spike gonna be like?"

"That actually brings me to the reason behind my questions. I believe I can help you with your assistant when his imminent behavior arises."

"Really? How?"

"My past training, while ruthful, did come with benefits" Maul said "I was taught to control my anger and aggression, to channel them into a healthy outlet. I could provide your assistant with an altered form of my training to...alleviate you of any difficulties you would encounter."

"Oh that's...kind of you Maul" Twilight said a little nervously "But I don't think that's really necessary. Like I said, Spike was raised among ponies. I'm sure he won't be that bad."

"Hm, very well then" Maul replied in a neutral tone "I suppose this concludes our meeting. Thank you for accepting my invitation, your highness, I wish you luck in your future endeavors."

"Of course Maul, it was no trouble, and thank you." Twilight and Maul bowed to each other, the former turning after and beginning to leave.

"Heed my words, Princess" Maul called out before Twilight could exit, causing her to stop, though she didn't turn back. "The change is inevitable. Keep in mind that my offer remains open."

"......I will. Goodbye Maul" Twilight said before exiting, taking flight once she stepped outside.

"Farewell...Princess" Maul said with a mischievous smile.

Maul was standing before a window in his bedroom. At first glance, it would seem he was observing the nature near his temporary home, appreciating it. If one were to look closer however, they would see a look of concentration, uncommon for appreciating the beauty of nature.

Maul was completely indifferent to the amazing view. He was instead using the Force to reach out into the distance, toward the castle of the purple princess. He had been doing so since her visit over a week ago. Seeds of doubt needed watering in order to grow, and Force Influence was one of the best sources of nourishment.

Mind Trick was technically the same as Influence, but with a specific suggestion. Force Influence was subtle, more of a behavioral shift in direction. This is precisely what Maul was doing. His focus was on the mind of his inevitable apprentice. More often than not, those with dark side potential only needed the slightest of shoves into the right path.

Maul may not have been able to see what transpired in the castle, but he could feel the young dragon's growing emotions each time. It wouldn't be long before the alicorn decided to return to accept his offer.

He ceased his influence, sensing that Spike's emotions had grown enough to continue the job themselves, as they always did. He took a seat on the floor, entering into a calm session of his dark meditation with a smile. He wasn't at peace per say, but was rather in contentment, reveling in his small success.

Half an hour later, his smile grew when he sensed Twilight approaching the castle. He had a slight feeling of Deja Vu as the events of last week played out the same way, him arising to meet Twilight as she entered.

"Oh, hi Maul" Twilight said a little confusedly "Did I...send you a message saying I was coming?"

"No, I sensed you approaching."

"Oh right, you can do that" Twilight said, slightly embarrassed she had forgotten that "Actually, I probably should've sent you a message. Not exactly courteous to drop in unannounced."

"There is nothing to fear, your highness" Maul said reassuringly "I could sense your urgency, and I would be glad to help with whatever issue you may have."

"I..." Twilight paused, flabbergasted "Wow. Maul you...I wasn't expecting this sort of behavior from you so soon. You must really be adapting to Equestria! Does this mean you'll accept Pinkie's invitation to a 'Welcome to our Planet' party?"


"Okay" Twilight made a mental note to pass that onto Pinkie, again. She then switched to a slightly hesitant demeanor. "Actually, my situation has to do with what you brought up last time."

"Regarding your ward?"

"Yes. Spike has been...acting out lately, it's so odd. First he brought up the fact that he still sleeps in a basket rather than a bed, and that even after the castle showed up, he just got a glorified new one."

"I mean, seriously. Look at it" Spike said as he gestured to his sleeping area "It's like my old basket was given gold plating."

"Well yeah, it looks nice" Twilight attempted to reason.

"Polished manure, Twilight. Polished manure." Spike then gained a cross look as he lead her back out into the map room "Do you not want me to have a proper bed or something? Do you think I should act more like a faithful dog?"

"Wha- No! Of course n-"

"That's it isn't it? I'm more of a dog to you! I just happen to be able to write and magically send messages! Doesn't help that I was turned into a dog when we went to that mirror world."

"Spike!" Twilight exclaimed "You're not a dog, and nopony sees you that way, me most of all."

"Then why can't I have a proper bed?"

"You can! I'll look into getting you as soon as possible."

"......As soon as possible?" Spike asked with crossed arms and narrowed eyes.


"Good" Spike said curtly before turning and walking back to his room.

"Wow" Twilight said breathlessly. She hadn't expected this sort of outburst from Spike of all individuals. It practically came out of nowhere.

"You've had him sleeping in a basket this whole time?"

"Oh don't you start!" Twilight exclaimed as she turned to Starlight "And were you eavesdropping?"

"Not exactly eavesdropping when it echoes throughout the castle" Starlight pointed out "Seriously though, why didn't you get him a bed before?"

"He never complained about it before" Twilight shrugged "He always seemed so content with what he had."

"He's a teenager by now, right?"


"He's probably getting those teenage hormones. I actually got rid o- encountered, encountered that with some teenagers who were newcomers to Our Town.

"Teenage hormones?" Twilight asked specifically.

"Of course. And I wish you the best of luck in dealing with a teenage male dragon" Starlight said amusedly as she walked off.

"Hey, you live here too!"

"But you're the guardian, ta-ta!"

"Ta-taaa" Twilight mockingly grumbled in Starlight's direction. Her face became thoughtful as she turned back to look in the direction of Spike's room, Maul's earlier warnings coming to mind.

"And that wasn't the only thing" Twilight continued "He brought up that he always has to ask for bits instead of having his own, and that I'll bring him along with me just to take notes."

"And are these accusations accurate?" Maul asked with a quirked brow.

"I....I'm ashamed to say they are" Twilight said as she hung her head momentarily "And even though I'm looking to change all that, I realize that Spike's attitude probably won't go away anytime soon, and may actually get worse. Teenagers do tend to take issue with excessive chores, and Spike's have increased since the castle arrived. That's why I'm here. I was thinking I might take you up on your offer."


"I wanted to check what specifically your training entails."

"That is fair. My training will consist of rigorous exercise of both the body and mind to strengthen them and to release tension. I will teach him combat in hand to hand as well as weaponry."

"I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with Spike learning how to fight" Twilight interrupted.

"I would imagine from the past adventures you've told me of, there were a few instances where his assistance could've been useful" Maul countered.

" have a point there, but what if he uses what he's learned to hurt somepony he shouldn't?"

"That is precisely what the mental aspect of the training is for" Maul replied "I will teach him to fight only when necessary, such as in self defense or in an altercation, and how not to let his anger make him lose control. I'm sure you would prefer he release his frustration on inanimate objects rather than someone who might find him in a bad mood."

"I..." Twilight hesitated, taking moment to think over Maul's words "I suppose you're right. I can't just ignore what's happening, and it would be awful if Spike literally lashed out at someone when he didn't mean to."

"Then you accept my offer?" Maul asked with a smile, already knowing the answer.

"....Yes, I do" Twilight said with a confirming nod "But Spike should have the final say, not me."

"I agree. He should be given the choice I never had. I trust you will send me a message when he's given his answer?"

"Even better, I'll have him send the message to you personally" Twilight affirmed "Well, I should go and tell him the news. If it means anything Maul, I'm confident he'll accept and that you'll be an excellent teacher for him."

"That is thoughtful of you to say, your highness. You have my deepest thanks" Maul emphasized this by placing a hand on his chest before giving Twilight a respectful bow. Twilight returned it in kind with a smile; she and Maul bid each other farewell, with the former asking that he call her by her name, as a sign of friendship.

Maul watched Twilight as she took to the air from his home yet again, releasing a chuckle as she got further away before proceeding to his bedroom and stretching out his hand to once again reach out to the young dragon.

Maul smiled as he felt Spike's elation, opening his eyes and placing both hands behind his back, waiting. It wasn't long before he saw the wisp of green magic carrying Spike's response. He stretched out his hand, using the Force to call the message directly to him.

Maul caught the wisp, which immediately transformed into a roll of parchment. He released it from its seal and proceeded to read. His face transformed into a look of nefarious pleasure as he beheld the written words.

Dear Maul, I'm interested in your offer. If you can really teach me what Twilight told me, then you may have found yourself a student. All I need is a few more details. Just tell me if I should head over or if you'll come here. With regards, Spike.

"All too easy." The message didn't have an actual acceptance of the offer, but Maul knew it was inevitable. The dragon's emotions were too strong, too drawn to the potential, everything until the submission was merely a formality.

Maul approached the desk he had found and moved to his room to write his response, instructing Spike to come to the castle the next day. He used the magic stones to send the letter and sat down on the floor afterward.

He immersed himself in the Force yet again to continue his search for whatever was radiating the dark side. Each day brought him closer and closer to discovering where this thing was.

He received no sleep that night, as he stayed in his immersion for many hours, searching. It would prove fruitful as he finally discovered where he would need to conduct a live search. It was some distance from his abode, but it was doable. Whatever he was looking for, he would find it in the very outskirts of the Everfree Forest.

"Thanks for the lift Twilight" Spike said as he climbed down from the alicorn's back. She had insisted she take him so that he may avoid the dangers of the Everfree. He wasn't one to object to that offer.

"Are you sure you don't want me to go in with you?"

"I'm sure Twilight" Spike said confidently "This is something I need to do on my own."

"Well, okay" Twilight relinquished. She then caught the dragon off guard by giving him a sudden hug. "Good luck Spike, I know you'll do great."

Spike smiled before returning the hug. "Thanks Twilight." The pair held the hug for a second longer before parting.

"I'll see you-" Twilight cut herself off, realizing they hadn't been told how long this would take "Whenever you're done with this. Goodbye Spike."

"Bye Twilight" Spike replied before she turned and flew off. He then turned and looked at the main entrance. Behind those doors was the alien claiming he could teach Spike; teach him to fight, teach him to control his emotions, teach him to not be weak and useless, as he often felt he was.

He took a deep breath and steeled himself before making his way up the steps. He slowly reached forward and opened one of the doors, allowing himself inside. He was surprised to see his inviter down the entry hall, waiting for him with his hands behind his back.

"Welcome to my abode, young dragon" Maul said kindly as Spike approached "I was glad upon receiving your response. You have come for elaboration on my training offer, yes?"

"Hey Maul, and yeah, I have" Spike said as he came to a stop "It's sounds really tempting just from what Twilight said, but I'd like to know exactly what I'd be getting into."

"A reasonable request" Maul said with a slight nod before gesturing to the floor "Please, sit." Spike complied, sitting cross legged across from his would-be teacher, who sat down the same way.

"So, what exactly would I be going through with this training?"

"Well, like most forms of warrior training, you will be subjected to rigorous exercise both physically and mentally" Maul's demeanor then switched to being very serious "However, this form of training will include methods and practices unfamiliar to your world. I will teach you the ways of the Force and how to properly wield a lightsaber.

"The trials you will face will leave you exhausted, frustrated, and angry, especially towards me. But I can assure, the results are worth the effort. Submit to my teachings, and you will be born anew, stronger, faster, more powerful than you could imagine. You will be able to fight and defend yourself, as well as your friends...and loved ones."

Spike had become entranced by Maul's words, unaware his mind was being the slightest bit influenced, his deepest desires being urged to the surface. Spike only raised his head slightly at the mention of loved ones, not giving any form of vocal response. His eyes shifted, taking a moment to think.

What Maul described sounded as though it would leave Spike changed, considerably different from who he was now. But everyone changes with age, with life experience. If he agreed to this, he could become stronger, more powerful. He could actually contribute, not be a liability all the time, actually fight against an enemy if necessary. He had often dreamed of himself in his exaggerated form, joining in the Changeling battle at Canterlot, smashing Sombra's crystals in the Crystal City, even getting in a few good licks against Tirek before Twilight took over. The basis of his dreams, at least, could become a reality.

"Are you up for the challenge of putting yourself to better use?"

Spike was snapped out of his thoughts by Maul's question. He looked to the alien for a quick moment before shifting his eyes downward. He took a quick moment to think it over before coming to a decision. He brought his eyes back up and looked into the ones focused on him.

"Yes, I am."

"Excellent" Maul replied with a smile before standing, Spike following suit "You will not regret this decision. We begin tomorrow."

"So soon?" Spike asked in a surprised tone.

"This form of training requires an immediate start. Is that too soon for you?"

"Uh, no! Not at all" Spike replied quickly "I said I was up to the challenge, and I am."

"Good. Return here tomorrow....six in the morning should be appropriate."

"Six?" Maul cocked a brow at that "Which is no problem at all, I'll just set my alarm clock early. At least it's not as early as Shining's wake up time when he was at the Royal Guard academy."

Maul walked Spike to the front door after their meeting time was established and Spike used some of Maul's parchment to send Twilight a message to pick him up.

"I will be awaiting your arrival tomorrow, my young apprentice."

"I'll make sure to be here right on the dot..." Spike paused unsure of how to continue "What should I call you? Calling you 'teacher' just doesn't really feel right."

"Perhaps a more apt name to address me by would be...Master."

"That...actually does feel like it fits. Master and apprentice, I like it."

"I sensed you would" Maul replied with a smile as Twilight descended to the ground.

"Hello Spike, Maul. Can I assume from your expressions that everything went well?"

"You sure can, Twilight" Spike said "I start my training bright and early tomorrow."

"That's great Spike! I'm know you're gonna do great" She then addressed the Zabrak still at the entrance "Thank you for this Maul. This would really be Spike's only option since dragons aren't accepted into the Royal Guard academy, I checked. Plus, you're bipedal, so Spike should have an easier time than if he were trained by ponies. Is there anything I can do to repay you?"

"The opportunity to pass on my knowledge is payment enough, Princess Twilight. But coupled with my allowed residency, I should actually be repaying you."

"Oh Maul, that's really not nece-" Twilight cut herself off as Maul finished approaching her and held out some form of device that appeared to have some form of screen on it.

"This is a datapad. It is used for the input, storage, and displaying of information. This one has a rather large memory size, it contains information on vehicles, devices, weapons, a few hundred planets and their cultures. I know you are fond of new information, and I thought lending you this would serve as a decent repayment and a sign of friendship."

Twilight had taken the datapad with her magic as Maul spoke, her eyes never leaving it.

"Your highness?"

"You just gave Equestria's most bookish, knowledge hungry pony a device with literally multiple worlds worth of information" Spike explained to his new master "I'm pretty sure you broke her for the moment."

"Will she be alright?"

"Yeah, this has happened before" Spike assured him "I just gotta point her head in the right direction while she's flying. I'll see you tomorrow, Master."

"Farewell, my young apprentice" Maul said as Spike climbed onto Twilight's back before giving her sides a harmless jab. She unconsciously spread her wings and took off with Spike holding onto her head so he could direct her.

Maul reentered the castle and made his way to his room, taking his place at the window he kept staring out of. He managed to catch the slightest glimpse of the duo before they were completely out of sight.

Not long after, he received a very repetitive and large font 'thank you' response from Twilight, to which he rolled his eyes at. Manipulating the alicorn had been easy once he knew her weakness. She would be occupied with the datapad for quite some time. Thankfully he made sure to erase any extensive data on the Jedi and Sith. What remained essentially told that they were Force practitioners of opposing ideologies and nothing else. He crumpled up the parchment and threw it away before redirecting his attention to the distance.

Tomorrow he would begin his new apprentice's training, and perhaps soon after, he would venture to the outskirts of the Everfree to find whatever was calling to him.

Chapter 6

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Maul pulled back and to the left on the handles of his speeder, bringing the whole thing into a parallel position.

He had stopped just outside the Everfree Forest, where it met with the area he had come to know as Rambling Rock Ridge. There was nothing impeding him from continuing on the speeder, but he had the oddest sensation that he should continue on foot.

He had finally found where the dark side radiator was.

It was.....not calling to him, exactly. There were faint pulses of the dark side coming from off in the distance, and he was drawn to them, urged to find the source.

He had set out just as night began to fall. It was already dark and the moon resided in the sky by the time he arrived.

He climbed off of the speeder, confident that no animals could cause it any harm or steal it. He was carrying his darksaber with him, along with one of the vibroblades, as a precaution in the unlikely case that a wild animal would disarm him of his primary weapon.

Said weapon was being used for him to run practice drills alone when he was not training his new apprentice. They had begun with simple exercise to hone a more appropriate body for the dragon.

Needless to say, this meant they had some time before they would begin weapons training. That didn't mean Maul had to refrain from maintaining his present skills.

Ideal warriors trained every day, or at least most days.

He began his walk towards...whatever was out here.

He made sure to emanate his own dark side power to ward off any would-be attackers. There wasn't much that he could sense, mostly smaller, barely threatening predators such as owls.

But he did sense something deeper in the forest whose outskirts he was currently occupying.

He paid this feeling no mind, focusing on his main objective and continuing on.

Maps could be very misleading in distance going off of images alone. Equestria's maps were no different. It was nearing a half hour as Maul could feel that he only had a quarter of the way left.

He slowly came to a stop as he sensed something odd.

Looking up and further ahead of him, Maul spotted something sticking out of the ground. And it was giving off the same form of energy that was drawing him in, but differently.

It seemed this object was only giving off a portion of the power.

He approached it and soon felt that there were more like it further ahead. He knelt down do inspect what the object was.

It was a sharp tipped crystal, dark purple in color and appearing to have a dark aura.

He raised a brow at the small crystal before reaching a hand down.

A living image flashed in his mind along with a sound, causing him to pause in his reaching.

He had seen eyes in pure darkness, eyes of red and green with flowing purple energy coming from them. And he had heard something between a growl and a snarl.

He blinked before continuing to reach down, taking hold of the crystal in his fingers. It wouldn't budge from the earth, even when he put more strength into it.

He retracted his hand as he gave the crystal a cross look. He decided against using the Force to try and pull it free, as it was not what he came for.

He looked up, quickly sensing more, then spotting another one nearby. It was slightly larger in size. He stood and began moving in the same direction he was being drawn toward rather than to the other crystal.

He started seeing more crystals in the ground, each one increasing in size and proximity to the others. Eventually, he saw multiple jagged crystal lines leading to a small rock wall, the lines appearing to give off streams of energy from the main source.

On the wall there wasn't crystals, but what appeared to be flat lines of the dark material leading up to a grouping of crystals in the middle of the wall.

The object he was seeking was inside the grouping.

He didn't step closer, staying where he stood, feeling the waves of the dark side as they pulsated from within the crystals. These waves still weren't speaking to him, but he did know what he had to do.

He had to free it.

He slowly reached out his hand, calling on the Force to apply pressure to the crystals. He clenched his fingers, applying more pressure when he felt that more was needed.

He saw vibrations but the crystals didn't move at all, as if they were a picture that was being shook.

A few minutes passed with no progress, angering the zabrak. He furrowed his brow and applied even more pressure, his hand now trembling from the effort.

A small number of cracks began forming in the crystals as they themselves finally started to twitch.

More Maul thought to himself, his teeth now clenched and fury blazing in his eyes You....will my-!

Maul threw up a protective Force bubble when the crystals suddenly exploded, sending pieces all over. They bounced off the invisible wall, bringing no harm to the dark sider.

Maul lowered his hand, bringing down the shield and allowing him to see where the cluster previously was. He had to step forward to get a clear look at what was resting inside the indent left behind.

The indent was curved, sharp, wavelike, as if blades were glued together into a pocket. What seemed odd is that the indent didn't have features to suggest it was created by some tool or Maul's actions, but that it appeared naturally formed.

Maul quickly surmised that whatever power the object held had manipulated the rock wall to form the indent as a resting place.

The object in question was some form of curved spike, red in color that gave it the appearance of an intensely heated object. It clearly wasn't a crystal like those that had been covering it, and he couldn't discern what it actually was.

He stretched out his hand again and used the Force to levitate the object out of the indent.

Once it was halfway and it caused another flash of the same eyes, Maul suddenly knew exactly what it was.

It was the horn of a unicorn, but not like any of the ones he had seen adorning the heads of the ponies.

He brought it to levitate in a slow spin above his palm, inspecting the horn curiously, noting its curve and lack of spiral grooves. He halted its spin and slowly gripped it in his hand.

And almost immediately, his hand seemed to be forced away by a rather powerful surge of dark side energy. His Force hold on it had been broken, but it remained hovering in the air.

He eyed it in an alarmed state as it remained where he had been holding it.

Small pulses of black lightning started to come from the horn, increasing in quantity and intensity by the second.

Maul was about to Force push the horn away from him, his former master's lightning and the pain it brought flashing through his mind.

But the black lightning shot out before he could do anything, forcing his back to arch as it hit him in the center of his forehead.

It did him no damage or harm, much to his surprise, but put him into a state that somehow felt like he was simultaneously in a trance and completely aware.

His eyes glowed green as he felt very familiar magic surge through him. He saw white for a few seconds before being consumed by utter blackness.

He could tell his physical body was immobile, but appeared to have an ethereal form in the blackness, which he couldn't see. He turned his immaterial head, looking for anything in the dark.

Then he started to make out a figure coming from the dark.

The magic he felt could only bring one conclusion to his mind. And so he did the closest thing to speaking in this netherworld of blackness.


"No" the figure responded "But from what I can gleam, I'm not that far off in terms of power."

The deep voice, the appearance of the same eyes from earlier, and whatever magic this being had that was surging through him suddenly filled Maul with understanding.

"I know who you are. My acquaintances spoke of you. My apprentice spoke of you."

"Then you should know of my title" the being responded "My position of power that, from the looks of it, you should be in admiration of."

"Of course" Maul said with an indulgent smile, using his invisible and immaterial form to kneel before the being. "It is always a privilege....

"Meeting a King."

Chapter 7

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Spike released a pained and annoyed grunt as he once again hit the ground. It was the tenth time that day.

"Get up" Maul said, standing not too far from the dragon, a fighting stick in hand.

Spike gave another grunt as he complied, a sour look on his face. He got his own fighting stick back into the ready position.

A few tense seconds passed before the young dragon once again rushed at his master, taking the first swing. That swing and the five after it were easily blocked, just like their predecessors, before Spike was jabbed in the chest, forcing him to one of his knees.

"Never make the first move against an opponent unless you know you can beat them."

"Would've been nice to know that the first eight times" Spike said as he stood back up, once again taking the ready position.

He decided to change up his tactic, keeping Maul's advice in mind. He instead waited for his master to attack first.

He found it preferable to his earlier method, but still found himself getting knocked down. He did manage to block a decent amount of his master's strikes and deliver some of his own.

He didn't get in any strikes of course, but it was improvement in his book.

It had been two and a half weeks since Spike had agreed to become Maul's apprentice. Those first two had been dedicated to exercise, building up Spike's muscle and burning away his baby fat.

The latter of which was long overdue.

Spike's strength hadn't increased exponentially, but there was significant improvement. He could now bust out five quick push ups rather than struggle with two for five minutes.

Most of his baby fat had burned away, leaving him quite slimmed down with only a small curve that just wouldn't seem to leave.

He assumed it was genetic and would stay with him, since most dragons he saw had rather large bellies.

The dragon used a steadying stance and a hand dug into the ground after his master gave him a forceful kick in the torso.

He shrugged it off but was still peeved at the move as he stood back up.

"Pretty easy to kick someone when they're shorter than you."

"Size should not matter" Maul replied "You must overcome the disadvantages of your limitations and find the advantages in them. Figure out how to use your size.

"Again" he commanded.

Spike released another annoyed sigh as he obeyed, returning to the ready stance.

I'm starting to get envious of Twilight. She gets to do something she enjoys.

Study, study, study.

Lightly bloodshot, violet eyes speedily scanned through the information displayed on the datapad screen. A purple hoof alternated between sliding against the screen in every direction and pressing buttons to scroll through and bring up new information.

The purple alicorn paid no mind to the sound of hoof steps approaching the spot where she had been residing for most of the last two weeks.

Turquoise magic suddenly enveloped the datapad, pressing one of the buttons to shut off the screen.

For a few seconds, Twilight's eyes continued to scan the device as if it were still on before it began to register in her mind that it wasn't. Her eyes froze and her head started to make the tiniest of motions, looking around as if the information were somehow no longer within the device.

The alicorn suddenly had her head gently pulled back, bringing her eyesight to the ceiling. Her eyes continued to dart about, not registering her friendship pupil, or the small bottle held in her magic, in her field of vision.

Starlight squeezed the small bottle, releasing three drops into each of Twilight's eyes, mostly relieving their bloodshot appearance.

Twilight blinked as her head came back down, the hold on it now gone. Her eyes started darting around again, searching for the information.

They suddenly froze back on the datapad when Starlight used her magic to turn it back on, the information Twilight had been going through still there.

"" Twilight lightly laughed with joy as the precious knowledge returned for her to soak in. Her eyes resumed their scanning as Starlight shook her head with a smile as she exited.

Spike had placed Starlight in charge of making sure Twilight didn't go blind while he was training with Maul.

Starlight agreed, which earned her a thankful hug from the dragon that lasted longer than either expected. The memory of the comfort and warmth of the hug reminded her to continue the task.

She didn't mind doing it since it wasn't annoying or tedious. The whole thing became routine for her pretty soon, a simple afterthought.

Starlight shook away the thoughts, realizing she had stopped in the middle of walking. Then she remembered her own curiosity.

Starlight's head slowly leaned in to get a peek at the datapad after walking back into Twilight's room.

Spike stretched his limbs and rubbed portions of his torso, feeling the pain and soreness from the training.

He had followed Maul's advice concerning his size and discovered that there were uses to his limited height. He was able to duck leg sweeps and punches that Maul was more accustomed to directing at a higher level.

He was also able to build off his evasions, going between Maul's legs, sidestepping him, and even get him off balance by pushing an outstretched leg upward.

Maul was still the more experienced fighter however, so Spike still wasn't able to win any of their sessions.

Maul had curiously ended the training earlier for some reason. He only stated that there was something that needed to be addressed.

Spike climbed onto the back of Maul's speeder as the latter seated himself. Even if Maul had a second, Spike was too small to drive it.

It was a little demeaning and uncomfortable due to the limited space, but it was hardly something Spike felt the need to complain about. They only had to speed through the land for a few minutes from the castle to the middle of the Everfree.

The pair came off the speeder after stopping behind the castle, Spike no longer questioning why his master did so. They walked around to the front and entered the castle, stopping in the middle of the main hall.

Maul turned around to address Spike, as he had made them stop.

"You have a connection to the Force, my apprentice, but it is different from any Force Sensitive I've encountered."

"What do you mean?"

"I can sense the Force within you, but you cannot call on it to obey your commands" Maul explained "It is within you, but it must be unlocked for you to utilize it.

"Come with me" Maul instructed, leading his apprentice into a large room.

"Isn't this where Celestia and Luna....had their fight?" Spike asked hesitantly.

"I was not aware" the zabrak lied "I felt an echo of the Force here and found it appropriate for the process."

"What process?"

"Please sit" Maul instructed, ignoring the question, gesturing to one side of a low set stone table that Spike hadn't noticed.

"Wait here" Maul said before departing, his apprentice giving him a questioning look.

Five minutes passed, during which Spike felt an odd sensation in the direction of where his master went. The sensation was off putting, like it was coming from something he maybe shouldn't interact with.

Meanwhile, Maul had left to his room to obtain the necessary materials for the process. He opened his case and reached a hand inside, extracting from it two small vials.

He opened his hand to look at the two vials, both containing a reddish powder within. He finally decided they would be necessary after seeing no progress in his apprentice's Force abilities.

No unintentional levitation, enhancement in physical ability, or even sensing attacks.

He continued to stare at the vials, beginning to recall how he had obtained their contents a few weeks ago.

"I've never encountered an alien before" the immaterial Sombra noted "Especially one with your kind of power. It intrigues me. There's really no need for that. Rise."

Maul did as he was instructed, though it was still within the void of darkness.

"I sensed you as you neared this planet. I called out to you. I thought perhaps whatever power you had in the dark arts could aid in freeing me. From what I can see....this Force you use cannot do so in the way I desire. A shame."

"How do you know of the Force?" Maul asked in surprise.

"I'm combing through your mind. I would've asked for you permission if I cared enough to do so."

Maul had no response, but decided that he liked this stallion's attitude.

"You're training the whelp that aided in my defeat" Sombra noted with surprisingly no malice, hate, or anger.

"I would've expected a different response, considering."

"I'll help you."

"............I beg your pardon?" Maul was taken aback at the former king's words. It took him a moment to register what he was told.

"Why would you so willingly aid me in training one of those who defeated you?"

"You should know quite well why" Sombra stated, using his magic to bring up some of Maul's old memories. Blurred memories of his time on Lotho Minor, when he had lapsed into a shell of his former self.

"You know exactly what it's like to be isolated, immersed in the darkness to keep yourself alive, slowly losing your sanity and powerless to do anything.

"But my situation is worse. I have no physical form to call on my magic. The most I could do was provide myself with protection. And then you came along. But as I said, you can't help me.

"But I'd like to help you. I've been searching for a way out of this damned abyss since my defeat and have found nothing. My consciousness is useless without a body and the power in my horn is going to waste."

Maul noted the increasing anger the defeated ruler's voice. His presence in the void gave him the impression that Sombra was indeed becoming very akin to himself in his past, unstable state.

"But in your hands" Sombra continued "My power can be put to better use. I've seen what you have planned. Your intentions for this........Empire.

"And for the whelp" Sombra said with a hint of malicious schadenfreude "I would gladly surrender my consciousness and grant you access to my power, knowing that it'll be used to further the rule of darkness and influence that cursed dragon, shaking those princesses' little world."

"I must admit, I would've expected you to seek higher aspirations at the cost of your power and sentience" Maul said in a unsure tone.

"I have been stuck in this abyss for at least THREE YEARS, completely alone with nothing but my own thoughts and the maddening fact that I can do nothing. And now I'm speaking to a horned alien, the likes of which I've never seen, who is apparently training one of my defeaters.

"I'm half convinced I've gone mad." the upper half of Sombra's body materialized, his lower half composed of living shadows, and rushed towards Maul's immaterial form and grabbing his tunic, brining him to his rage filled eyes "DO YOU WANT MY HELP OR NOT?!"

Maul beheld the half materialized king with wide eyes, not of fear, but of surprising familiarity. Maul could recognize the mental deterioration brought on by the dark side.

Taking this fallen king's offer would be to grant him a mercy, sparing him from the inevitable insanity. Maul of course had no interest in mercy, but there were benefits to be had from granting it.

"What must I do?"

With a flash that seemed to feel like an impact, Maul found himself out of breath, supporting himself on his hands.

He was back in the physical realm, breathing heavily and released from Sombra's hold.

He looked up to see that the horn was till in the air, one or two bursts of black lightning going over it at random.

And then he heard Sombra's voice.

Crush my horn into a powder. Keep it in the two vials you have with you.

Maul stood, eyeing the floating horn before producing said vials from his belt.

Wait until you feel the time is right.

"To do what?" Maul asked.

Maul snapped out of his memories, realizing he had taken longer than he meant to. He made his way to the hall with the vials and an object he had obtained from the kitchen before hand.

He noticed a slight reaction from his apprentice when he returned.

"What's with the teapot?" Spike asked nodding toward said object.

"There are special remedies of old" Maul said as he levitated the teapot to the table "Made specifically for the purpose of unlocking latent Force abilities."

Maul sat on the opposite end of the table, across from Spike, bringing up a circular, grill-like object from underneath the table. Spike soon realized it was some form of portable burner as Maul placed the teapot on it.

It was apparently already filled with water as Maul switched on the burner and pulled out some tea leaves from under the table to drop in the water. He also placed two small vials on the table, both containing some type of red powder.

"What's that stuff?"

Maul paused in his actions, his eyes shifting up to the dragon.

Consume the powder.

Both of you. I would suggest in the form of tea to mask any unpleasant taste.

Maul gave the horn a questioning look before it explained that the magic couldn't simply be transferred over, as the horn had become a permanent vessel. Attempting a transfer would dispel the magic entirely.

Sombra gave Maul one last warning before instructing him to proceed with crushing the horn. He informed him that his magic was restricted to this world.

Should either Maul or Spike leave Equis, whatever enhancement they received would disappear.

Maul reached out a hand and began applying pressure to the horn, using the other to levitate the open vials under it.

The pulses of black lightning increased as the horn was slowly crushed. They appeared to burn away some of the horn, as by the end, both vials had been filled with a quarter of space remaining.

This was fortunate, as Maul had suspected the entire horn in powder form would overfill the vials.

Maul smiled to himself as he placed the vials in his belt and started the walk back to his speeder. He noted that most of the crystals were now gone, catching a brief glimpse of a few retreating into the ground.

Just as he finally neared his speeder, he sensed the same thing he had before when he had emanated his power to ward off predators.

There were apparently some predators who perceived his output as a challenge.

Maul looked around as green eyes appeared within the foliage, soon revealed to belong to some of the creatures he had learned were quite feared by the equines.


He smiled as he removed his darksaber from his belt, keeping it at his side as the wooden canines crept closer.

He thumbed the activator, igniting the blade, prompting the imminent chunks of firewood to attack.

"The main ingredient" Maul said in response to Spike's question.

He then took hold of the vials and emptied their contents into the already steaming concoction.

Spike noted the steam changing to a strangely familiar green color.

It was off putting.

Maul produced two handle-less cups and poured the contents of the teapot into both.

He levitated one over to Spike, who took it in his hand unsurely.


Spike looked up at his master with a questioning face. He looked back down to the cup, still unsure, but shrugged his shoulders and brought it to his lips.

Maul followed the action, keeping an eye on his apprentice as they both started to drink.

They both eventually finished the concoction and placed the cups down on the table.

The taste wasn't bad, so much as odd. Spike smacked his tongue within his mouth, indicating as much.

"Did you use chamomile for th- GAH!"

Spike hunched over with a cry of pain, clutching at his torso. Maul grunted as he clutched at his chest with one hand, using the other to steady himself on the table.

Spike pushed away from the table forcefully, now on his hands and knees. He started to release pained grunts as he started clawing at himself. The pain wasn't the worst he had felt, but it felt as though he were being forced through a change.

Maul appeared to be going through the same thing, clutching at his head as random memories flashed through his mind, Sombra's power coursing through him.

He saw a slightly younger Palpatine looking down on him with a hand to his chin, electrostaffs from training droids rushing to him as they made their strikes, constructing his original saber, using the saber to kill enforcers of Black Sun and the Hutts when he was still an apprentice, stunning Qui-Gon with a strike to the chin, his hand clutching Savage's face, Palpatine's evil smile as he shot lightning at him, the charred remains of the Timberwolves he had slain weeks prior.

The whole thing ended as he felt a small surge that quickly receded. He slowly stood, feeling a new sense of power and somehow aware that nothing was done to his appearance.

He discovered the same could not be said for his apprentice after he turned to see his still prone form.

Spike was now larger, approximately eye level with a normal sized equine. The spines on his head had also grown, and slightly changed shape, almost appearing to end in pointed tips. His tail had grown to about five feet and his feet now had apparent claws, resembling those of a Trandoshan. His entire body color had turned a slightly darker shade.

Maul was about to address his apprentice, when he released a new exclamation of pain and started to claw at his back.

Maul's brows raised as he saw something beginning to grow out of the dragon's back, accompanied by the sound of bones cracking.

Spike reared back on his knees, releasing more exclamations of pain, his back arched as the protrusions continued to grow.

They had the appearance of lengthy arms, until the appendages started growing more protrusions from under them, the bones being followed by skin and scales.

The growths eventually became whole, revealing to Maul that his apprentice was now a creature of flight.

Spike lunged forward, catching himself on his hands and breathing heavily as the new limbs had finally ceased to grow.


The dragon remained the way he was, still breathing heavily, taking a moment before he started to respond.

"I....I feel...."

He raised his head to look at his master. His eyes were aglow with the same green Maul had seen in Sombra's eyes, until he blinked, causing the glow to fade away.


"Good" Maul replied "Your training will have to be modified, but the results shall be the same."

Maul stepped forward, offering his apprentice a hand. He took it, allowing his master to help him to his feet.

"You've taken your first step into a new world."

Chapter 8

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Twilight's mind had been overloaded the past few weeks with all the knowledge she was taking in about the universe beyond Equis. Starlight was in a similar position after the allure of said knowledge captured her as well.

Despite what they had learned, they were not at all prepared to see what they saw in the castle's hallway now, after the half hour it took to refocus them after taking away the datapad.

"A- Me- Ne- Si- Ha-" Twilight stammered as she beheld Spike's new appearance with dinner plate eyes.

Starlight's mouth hung open while her eyes copied Twilight's, though she scanned over Spike's new form with great interest. Dropped jaws and wide eyes were on the rest of the Mane Six, with Rarity copying Starlight's inspection.

Spike and Maul merely smiled at everypony's reactions.

"What....did you do to him?" Twilight finally managed to get out, more confused than angry. Rainbow was the opposite in this regard.

"Yeah!" Rainbow shouted as she flew right into the zabrak's face "Tell us what freaky experiment, mutation crap you did to him!"

"Rainbow!" Spike exclaimed as he used his hand to push Rainbow away without touching her, and placed himself between her and Maul.

"Relax. And don't yell at my master" he said, lacing the latter with a small bit of venom "He didn't strap me down and do this against my will. I agreed to it and did it myself. And even though I didn't know about the body change, I'm not complaining."

"Neither am I/same here/who would?" Rarity, Starlight and Pinkie all said simultaneously, earning them confused glances from everypony else.

"Well, because the new look suits you Spike!" Rarity explained rather quickly "So, there's not really anything to complain about."

"Yeah, what she said" Starlight said as she pointed a hoof at Rarity "And it'll be convenient! Since you're so much.....taller! You can.....reach things....from higher places now, you know?"

"I think he looks hot!"

Pinkie received stares of confusion, shock, and a few of anger. Spike meanwhile was blushing rather profusely and rubbing the back of his head.

"You really think so Pinkie?"

"Of course I do! I wouldn't be surprised if you had to use a stick to hold off any mares. If I were into best friends and dragons...."

"We get it Pinkie" Twilight said in a rather annoyed tone.

"Yeah/Quite" Starlight and Rarity added.

"Um....hello?" Rainbow called out from her detained position "Equestria to EVERYPONY!!!! Am I the only one seeing Spike do that magic force stuff?! And on me?!"

"Oh right" Spike said before releasing his hold, allowing Rainbow to fall to the ground.



"Spike, how did you do that?" Fluttershy asked in wonder.

"Maul gave me a special elixir that helped unlock my Force ability. And it made me the way I am now." Spike emphasized his last statement by stretching out his wings.

"What kind of elixir?" Twilight asked in Maul's direction with great interest.

"It was a tea containing an ingredient used specifically for unlocking, or rather enhancing Force sensitivity. I also wasn't aware there would be a physical transformation. Curious, considering I didn't undergo one."

"Perhaps I could look into it" Twilight suggested insistently "I would just need to know what exactly the ingredients for this elixir were. Maybe even get a sample?"

"My apologies, your highness, but what little of the ingredients I had were exhausted. And even if custom permitted me to reveal what they were, it's unlikely they would be native to your world."

"Oh" Twilight replied somberly "I understand."

"So what you had was only enough to use once and you can't say what it was" Rainbow said "Hm. Seems a bit convenient."

"My people are almost entirely gone. I'm one of the few who still knows of our ways, so I must uphold them. And I was not intending to find an apprentice" Maul explained rather pointedly.

The zabrak's words caused most to glare at Rainbow disapprovingly, which actually made her feel a little guilty.

"Sorry Maul. I didn't mean to offend you or anything. And sorry about getting in your face earlier too."

"Your apology is accepted" Maul replied with a slight nod "Now, as to our main reason for being here, other than showing you Spike's new form. We were wondering if you'd like to see how he's progressed in his training."

"I'd love to" Twilight said enthusiastically "Girls?"

Everypony else agreed, Rainbow, Starlight and Rarity being almost as enthusiastic as Twilight.

"Great" Spike said "We're only gonna do combat right now. My Force training's only been light levitation, pushing and pulling."

Maul called their fighting sticks to his hands from against the wall, taking position opposite Spike.

"If at any time you feel concern for your ward's well being your highness, it would be understandable if you wanted us to cease."

"Thank you Maul" Twilight said with a nod.

Maul tossed one of the sticks to Spike, who caught with some help from the Force. The pair bowed to one another before getting into ready position, holding their sticks in front of them with both hands.

Maul made the first move, delivering two evenly paced strikes that were blocked by Spike. Spike returned the strikes, which were also blocked by Maul. The number of strikes increased, as did the speed. The pair traded blows, moving back and forth accordingly as everypony watched intently.

Maul started stepping it up a notch by delivering a few surprise strikes, which Spike successfully blocked, though he seemed alerted. Soon, the pair started to move about the room more freely and putting more into their movements, making wider and more forceful swings.

Maul parried one of Spike's hits upward, allowing him to land a quick strike at his midsection. This caused a few gasps from the mares, but Spike paid it little mind.

When Spike and Maul next connected their sticks, Spike pushed Maul away and rushed him with a flurry of strikes. He managed to land a few blows, which a Maul smiled approvingly at.

Soon enough, the demonstration could be considered a light duel, with the two opponents moving as if it were. Making wide sweeps, attempting to strike legs, narrowly avoiding some hits.

Eventually Maul was able to knock Spike onto his back, dazing him for a moment. One last strike was heard, as Spike had been able to raise his stick in time to block Maul's finishing slash.

"Well done apprentice" Maul said with a smile as he retracted his stick before offering a hand.

"Thank you master" Spike replied as he took the hand to be helped up.

The two bowed to each other before the room was filled with the sound of cheers and clapping.

"That was awesome Spike!"

"It was mighty impressive."

"Most impressive" Rarity emphasized.

"Yeah, it actually was" Starlight agreed.

"It was really....intense" Fluttershy contributed "At least it was when I was looking."

"Thanks everypony" Spike said a little bashfully.

"I'm glad to see you've progressed so well Spike" Twilight said "I can't imagine how good you'll be when you're finished."

"Speaking of which" Maul interjected "We should be returning to continue. He still needs to practice with his newfound abilities. Come apprentice."

"Yes master" Spike replied before following Maul out "I'll see you all later."

Everypony bid Spike farewell before going their separate ways.

"Starlight, I'm gonna need you to watch the castle for a bit."

"You're not gonna do some more studying on the datapad?"

"..............." Twilight stated off in the direction of the room where the device waited before shaking her head "Well I was, but I wanted to look into the ingredients for that elixir. Maul said it was unlikely they were native to Equis. That doesn't mean they aren't."

"Couldn't you try looking for them in the datapad?"

"I'm sure Maul would've told me if I could. And if they have connection to the Force, then they're definitely not in there. There's just so frustratingly little information about the Force and things connected to it, at least as far as something like ingredients goes.

"But if there's anything like these ingredients on Equis, I'm sure a certain zebra could tell me."

Chapter 9

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"Tell me Twilight" Zecora said as she poured a cup of tea for her guest "What brings you to my home? Is everything alright?"

"Well yes" Twilight said as she took the cup in her magic, giving her friend a thankful nod "But there is something I wished to look into. Something I think you could help me with."

Zecora tilted her head and raised a brow at the statement.

"You do know about your....sort of neighbor, Maul, right? I mean, I'd be surprised if you didn't."

Zecora seemed to grow serious all of a sudden, regarding Twilight for a second before shifting her eyes to the side, as if looking through the wall to the abandoned castle.

"Equestria's guest from beyond the stars?" Zecora asked before taking a sip of her own tea "Yes. I was on the border of town during his welcome and I've observed him from afar."

It was impossible to miss her apprehension.

"You seem put off about it."

"What is it you need my help in?" Zecora said, quick to convey she wanted to change the subject.

"Well, if you've been observing him, then can I assume you know he's become a sort of teacher to Spike?"

Zecora merely nodded.

"Well, recently he put him through some kind of ritual, and they both drank a tea, some form of elixir. The elixir changed Spike. Physically I mean, mostly.

"He's about as tall as a pony, his limbs are longer, his colors are darker, and he even grew wings. And he can use this Force now, like Maul. The Force is-"

"I've seen him use it" Zecora said, taking Twilight by surprise and conveying she could skip the explanation.

The zebra's brows were slightly furrowed, listening intently as Twilight continued.

"I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but I am very curious about the ingredients Maul used for the elixir, considering what effect they had. He can't tell me what they were due to his culture and he used up what little he had. He told me it was unlikely Equis had these materials, but I thought if it did-"

"That I could tell you of them or any possible twin."

It wasn't a question, and Twilight confirmed the conclusion with a nod.

Zecora looked down into her tea as if in deep thought.

"Unfortunately, I know not of any natural ingredients with that effect."

"Are you sure?"

Zecora nodded, causing Twilight to look down in disappointment.

"For such a transformation, natural ingredients are not what I'd expect."

This caught Twilight's attention.

"What do you mean?"

"I've only heard of this achieved through magical means. And without enough skill you'd be turned to smithereens.

"Are you certain it was something so simple? Only an elixir tea?"

"That's what Spike and Maul said."

Zecora mulled this over, thinking about what this could mean.

"If any such ingredients exist, then they're unknown to me. It is likely Maul is correct in their absence on Equis. I apologize, Princess, if I seem remiss."

"You don't have to apologize Zecora" Twilight said as she raised a reassuring hoof "It isn't your fault. I just got my hopes up.

"Thank you for the tea. I'm sorry if I wasted your time."

"Not at all Princess" Zecora assured her as she took back the empty cup. As Twilight made for the door, Zecora looked down into the cup and studied the leaves left behind.

"Twilight" Zecora called out just as the alicorn was out the door. She stopped and turned around to come face to face with Zecora, her eyes going wide at how quick she appeared to have moved.

"A zebra like me is quite attuned with certain forces. Nature and auras and such. Things have felt....different, since the arrival of our visitor. And even more so with his continued stay."

Twilight's ears folded back as she noted that Zecora had stopped rhyming. She had never heard her speak out of rhyme.

It was unsettling.

"I have sensed a darkness from him. I am aware he assured us he means no harm, and I believe that. But I also believe his presence and what he's doing with your ward will bring....a change. I'm not sure if this change will be good or bad, perhaps both.

"Take my advice Twilight Sparkle. Keep a close eye on young Spike and your new friend. You must be cautious."

Twilight simply looked back at Zecora with wide, unsure eyes.

"I will Zecora" Twilight said with a nod after a time. She turned around and walked off, rather slowly at first as she considered her friend's words.

Zecora watched her go before looking off in the direction of the Castle of the Two Sisters. She continued to look as if she could see the master and apprentice at that moment.

She narrowed her eyes and reentered her home, an unsure and uneasy feeling of what was to come.

"So what's the lesson for today, master?" Spike asked as he and Maul entered a clearing in the forest. The clearing was surrounded by five large rocks, essentially boulders.

"We are going to take your Force training a step further, apprentice" Maul answered as he turned to face Spike "You have had it easy thus far. Your connection is still weak. And it must be enhanced. Once it is so, you can do so much more."

To illustrate this, Maul lifted his arms, his palms upward. The tell tale whoosh of the Force was heard, and to Spike's amazement, the rocks levitated into the air.

Spike stared at the large stones in awe, barely able to believe he was seeing these heavy objects floating like clouds.

With an exhale that caught Spike's attention, Maul dropped his arms, causing the rocks to fall to the ground with immense thuds.

"And now you shall lift them."

"What?!" Maul's expression didn't change at the exclamation "I....I can't. The heaviest I've been to lift is a stack of books, and that was only four or five! I can't lift anything that big!"

"I thought you had learned size was irrelevant."

"That was with fighting, not lifting things with my mind."

"The same applies. A Force user with a strong enough connection can move mountains. And your connection must be strengthened through practice and facing obstacles head on.

"Lift them."

"Fine" Spike said with a grunt, his eyes narrowed in annoyance. He figured they could come to this another day if he made it clear he wasn't strong enough yet. Though he did want to try a little.

A whoosh sounded as the young dragon stretched out his arms and called on the Force. Immediately, he noted it was difficult to even take hold of all the rocks at once. They all began to twitch on the ground, but it was so little that one would have to look closely to tell.


Yeah, easy for you to say Spike thought as he grit his teeth in frustration. The rocks shifted a bit more, but he was no closer to lifting them. He fixed his thoughts on doing just that and another whoosh was heard as he called on the Force further.

Two of the rocks began to move more than the others. Seeing this, Spike put most of his concentration on them, and they began to lift into the air, albeit very gradually.

"You're annoyed, frustrated, angry. Good, use that. Channel those emotions into the task. It will make you stronger."

Spike released a grunt as he did as instructed, the muscles in his arms tightening even more. The two rocks he had been making progress on lifted higher into the air, about a foot or so.

He held them for about ten seconds, but it was too much for him.

With an exhausted exhale, Spike released his hold on the rocks and dropped to one knee, panting heavily.

"You didn't lift them all."

"Really?" Maul cocked a brow at the remark "I told you.....I can't.....they're too big. Too heavy."

"If you deem yourself incapable then that is precisely what you will be" Maul said as he approached Spike "You have natural strengths that can enhance your connection to the Force, but they never will if you don't believe they can.

"Your emotions are the key, specifically your anger. It is your strongest ally, if you can make it work for you. It is a wellspring you must tap into. And I happen to know an easy way to do just that."

Maul had made his way behind Spike as he was talking and stood a short distance behind him. At the end of his sentence, he reached out a hand in Spike's direction.

The young dragon suddenly jerked back, his eyes going wide as he released a strangled gasp. His entire body was in pain.

"What.....what's happening?" Spike asked in a strained voice.

"Pain is another powerful ally that goes hand in hand with anger, if you make it so. If you don't, then it is a distraction, especially in a fight, where you won't be able to rest and recover.

"If you want it to end, seize control of it, let it fuel your anger so that it may serve you, aid you in completing the task that causes it. Lift the rocks."

Spike had fallen to his hands in his pain and had begun to believe his master crazy with what he was hearing from him. He wanted to object, but given his training so far, he was sure it would be useless.

The pain wasn't especially excruciating, but even moving seemed to make it worse as he raised his head. Maul flexed his fingers, increasing the amount a pain a slight bit, causing Spike to release a pained grunt when he felt it.

He wanted it to stop badly, so he reached out a hand in desperation, calling on the Force again. He couldn't even discern how many of the rocks he now had in his grip, but it didn't matter. He had to continue.

Managing to sit upright on his knees and bring his other arm up, Spike called on his ability even further, registering he was at least taking even a weak hold on all the rocks.


Spike grit his teeth and put on a face of determination, sending out a command for the rocks to move. They twitched again, more so than the first time. After a short second, one appeared to begin to levitate, but only by a few centimeters.

"Channel your anger. It is your strength."

Spike growled as he commanded the rocks to move, but he faltered and the one he barely lifted returning to the ground. He clenched his eyes and put one of his feet to the ground, raising himself up the slightest.

His eyes shot open when he felt strain on the bones connecting his wings to his back, as if they were to be broken in half. He released an exclamation of pain and the movement of the rocks basically stopped.

"Lift them!"

Spike was now furious, at the pain, at himself for being unable to stop it, and at his master for subjecting him to it.

"RRRRAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!" Spike screamed as he clamped his eyes shut, bolted to his feet and shot his arms up.

Maul smiled before dropping his hand, releasing the painful hold he had on his apprentice.

"Well done."

Spike panted as he opened his eyes, unaware of their green glow as he beheld what he had done.

The two rocks he had lifted on his first attempt were hovering high in the air, above even Maul's height. The other rocks floated as well, though not reaching above Spike.

Spike gasped as he released his hold after realizing the pain had ended, falling to his hands and knees in exhaustion, the ground rumbling loudly when the rocks landed.

"A warrior's path is not without pain" Maul said, now standing in front of Spike, his hands behind his back "If you wish to no longer follow this path, you are free to withdraw. Free to leave your training incomplete, to leave yourself incapable of defending yourself and others from threats."


Maul looked down at Spike questioningly. The young dragon looked up to him, breathing heavily, the vibrant green in his eyes now fading.

"I want to keep going.....I want to be stronger......I want you to teach me. Teach me how to be as powerful as you."

"Very well. We are done for today. You have earned yourself some rest."

Spike reached a hand up, silently asking for help. Maul simply looked at him. Spike knitted his brows and huffed, placing his hands on his knees to raise himself up while Maul began walking back to the speeder.

"You're angry at me."

"" Spike responded half confused.

"Don't lie to your master."

"...yes" Spike responded somewhat guiltily.


Chapter 10

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Three weeks later

"HA! HA! HA!"

Loud exclamations travelled through the trees of the Everfree Forest. If one were to follow them, they would get louder and louder as they neared where they were originating from. At the source, they would see the sounds were coming from a young dragon who was fighting against a horned being.

Spike advanced on his master, making hard strikes against his practice sword. Maul blocked each strike, but did retreat from the force of the blows. His determined expression did not waver. He made his own strikes, most of them getting blocked, as they had been most of the time in recent days.

Maul made one forceful strike that resulted in both opponents staring each other down as they pushed against each other's weapons. Spike eventually pushed Maul back and swiped at his torso with his claws, surprising the zabrak. The swipe missed, but was followed by more from the practice weapon, forcing Maul to retreat.

Spike rushed his master, continuing his swipes for a few seconds until he saw he couldn't reach. So he came up with an idea. He ceased his strikes and allowed his master to get closer. They exchanged a few blows before Spike gave his master a false opening. His practice sword was struck upward, sending it into the air from his loosened grip.

Maul gave a smirk, then retracted it when his apprentice mimicked it. Spike backflipped into the air, using his tail to catch his practice sword. When he landed, he reared his tail up into a forward curve, the sword pointed at Maul, like the stinger on a scorpion's tail.

Maul barely got out a surprised look before he had to block and deflect rapid strikes from the impromptu stinger, soon having to retreat back once again. Spike wore a smug expression as he made his master back away, observing his occupied actions. He saw a perfect opening.

He made a new swipe at Maul's midsection, catching the zabrak off guard for a brief moment, causing his next few blocks to be rather hasty and rushed. Maul hurriedly retreated to avoid the claw swipes while still haphazardly blocking the scorpion hits.

Maul caught the smug look on his apprentice's face and realized he was leading him to hit a tree. Putting on an annoyed look of determination, Maul began striking the scorpion hits back and dodging the swipes in a more maneuverable fashion.

Spike's smile shrunk slightly but he continued on, until Maul took a sizable step away from him. Suddenly, with a whoosh, a large piece of wood flew in between them as Spike was making another swipe. His claws ended up embedding into the wood, getting stuck, much to his surprise.

Maul smirked this time, causing Spike to knit his brow and start his scorpion hits again. However, he only delivered two before Maul stepped forward rather than backward, the practice sword going past his head and hovering over his shoulder. Maul grabbed Spike's tail right after the missed hit and spun around, swinging Spike away from him and toward a tree. Spike struck the tree vertically with an oof before falling to the ground.

Spike looked up at his smiling master with a look of determination, getting on one knee before breaking his claws out of the wood. He then called on the Force and used his arms to start flinging rocks and chunks of wood at Maul. Maul easily batted away the projectiles with his practice sword, using the Force to deflect more when Spike began to increase the amount and speed.

"Rrrraaaaaarrrrgh!" Spike exclaimed as he charged forward, one arm continuing to fling projectiles while the other held his practice sword at his side. Maul permitted him to get closer as he continued deflecting the projectiles. Once close enough, Spike leapt into the air and flared out his wings, ready to make a downward slash. Maul drew back his own practice sword to strike his apprentice before he could be hit, only to find himself falling backward as his apprentice gave a strong flap of his wings, sending him backward as well.

As he fell, Maul saw that Spike had slipped his tail beneath his eyesight to pull at his leg. He narrowed his eyes as he quickly positioned a hand to rest on the ground, knowing Spike's real attack was coming.

"Ha!" Spike yelled as he brought his practice sword down onto the ground where his master had been. His eyes widened as he caught the slightest hint of Maul sliding beneath his legs. Before he could react accordingly, he found himself being pulled by his tail, sending him to his stomach. He flipped his body and swung his practice sword, only to have it batted out of his hand. Spike then found himself forced onto his back by a metal foot, the tip of his master's practice sword pointed at his face.

The duo stared each other down with narrowed eyes for ten intense seconds.

And then Maul began to chuckle.

"Ha ha ha, well done my apprentice" Maul commended as he took his foot off of Spike and stepped back. Spike stood up and called his practice sword back to him, holding it to his side as he faced his master. "Not many opponents have gotten me to retreat during a duel. You have come along quite well in your training."

"Thank you, master" Spike said as he bowed to Maul.

"I believe it is time for your next advancement."

"What's next for me, master?"

"Well, you've honed your weapon skills so well. At this point, it would be a waste to utilize them without a proper blade."

" you mean-?"

"Yes, apprentice. It is time for you to construct your own lightsaber." Before he began his training, or even before he underwent his magical change, Spike would've cheered and leapt for joy. But he was a changed dragon now.

"I am honored to have come this far under your tutelage, master, and very grateful to obtain this privelage" Spike said as he bowed once again with one hand covering the other. He kept his cheering inside his mind. "What am I to do first?"

"First, you must obtain a crystal."

"I'm not sure about this, master" Spike said from the back of the speeder as it neared a very familiar place.

"I can assure you the Force has a presence there. You will find what you need." As they reached their destination, Maul pulled back on the speeder's handles, making it stop right on the edge of the gemstone grounds.

"Do I just pick a gem at random?" Spike asked once they dismounted.

"No" Maul replied "You must reach out. And listen."

Spike raised a brow slightly in question. Maul had only told him that he would need a crystal to power his saber, that lightsaber crystals had some connection to the Force, and that there weren't any pure ones on this planet, so they'd have to improvise. He was skeptical of any gems with a connection to the Force, but he obeyed nonetheless and closed his eyes, reaching out with his feelings.

He was suddenly aware of many things. The large amount of gems underground, how deep the deposit really went, the space made of tunnels and caverns beneath, and the beings occupying that space. Said beings sent a ripple as they seemed to somehow feel his presence.

"Do not focus on them. Listen." Spike readjusted his attention back to the gems and did as his master instructed. It was an odd feeling. It was like he could see the gems without actually doing so, and on top of that, he could feel them. Their place in the dirt, their size, shape, and even a sense of their color.

And then he heard it.

"I hear it."

Something he had never heard before, and couldn't describe exactly. The best he could come up with was...

"Singing? Like it's...calling out me."

He almost wasn't conscious of the fact that he had begun to move toward the sound, or that his master was following close behind. As he neared the source, something nudged at his mind. There was something coming towards them. But this was practically drowned out by the increasing volume of the sound.

Spike stopped when the sound did and opened his eyes to stare down at the ground. The singing had stopped, but he could tell its source had not disappeared. To further confirm this, it returned for a split second at the initial volume he'd heard it.

"Here" he said before turning to Maul "It's here." His master simply gestured to the spot. He took the cue and began to dig for the gem. Maul meanwhile shifted his eyes toward a not too far off hole, sensing what his apprentice had: the Diamond Dogs approaching. Maul had learned of the gem digging canines and quickly surmised they'd be no threat at all.

"I got it" Spike said as he finished digging, reaching down to withdraw the gem. It was big enough that his fingers almost didn't go around it. "It looks a bit weird. Like it's dirt color- Wait." Spike brushed away the dirt coating the gem, and his eyes widened at what he discovered. "It's....clear. Transparent. I've never seen a gem like this."

"Perfect. It is precisely what you need. Which is why you must protect it from our visitors."

"Visitors?" The ground began to shake. "Diamond Dogs."

As if on cue, three familiar, large canines emerged from the ground.

"You intrude on our territory and try to take our gems?! We can't allow that" Rover declared.

"No we can't" Fido agreed.

"Yeah. So you better hand over that rare see-through, or we'll have to-" Spot paused as he felt a hint of recognition at seeing Spike. "Uh, boss? I think that's the same dragon from before. Ah!" Spot yelped as he received a slap upside his head.

"Clear the dirt from your eyes, dummy" Rover chastised "That dragon was a small, wingless, weak little whelp. This dragon is bigger, has wings, darker colors, and looks stronger. It can't be the same one."

"Actually, it is" Spike said, his eyes narrowed from the description of his past self. "Long time, no see, guys."

"It is him!" Fido exclaimed "He does look stronger."

"You?! You dare show your face around here again?!" Rover angrily shouted.

"We were simply retrieving a single gem, gentlemen" Maul said in a calm tone "And now that we have it, we can be on our way and out of your hair."

"I don't think so" Rover said menacingly "Like Spot said, that's a rare see-through gem, so we can't let you leave. Unless you give it to us."

"Sorry Rover, but I need this gem, so we are going to leave."

"No you aren't." Rover snapped his fingers, and eight Diamond Dog guards emerged from the ground, surrounding Maul and Spike and pointing their spears at them. "You only have yourself and your....horned monkey friend. No ponies to help you. Not even the screechy, annoying one."

"What did you call her?" Spike said as he took a step forward, his anger giving an aura that the dogs could feel, much to their surprise. Maul could tell there was no avoiding the confrontation, but he also knew it wouldn't be much trouble.

"Uh, boss?" Spot said nervously "You said yourself he looks stronger. And his friend looks kind of tough too."

"He's not that much bigger. And I bet his friend isn't as tough as he looks. Plus there's ten of us. There's no way they can take us on."

"There's eleven of you, you dumb cur" Spike said aggressively making all the dogs gasp "And we could probably take more than-"

"What did you call me?!"

"Only we can use that word!" Fido exclaimed.

"That does it! We were just gonna beat you up and take the gem. But now, we're also gonna make you our gem diggers."

"We are no one's slaves, dogs. And it would do you well not to try and make us so" Maul threatened.

"The horned one thinks he scares us!" Rover exclaimed mockingly. "Let's show him how scared we can make him!"

"I'm certain these dogs aren't nearly as heavy as the rocks, wouldn't you agree, apprentice?" Maul said, keeping his calm demeanor.

"I definitely would, master."

"Then I shall let you deal with this rabble on your own."

"With pleasure" Spike replied as he passed the gem to his tail.

"Enough talking!" Rover shouted angrily "Diamond Dogs, attack!" On cue, all of the hostile canines charged toward the duo, barking viciously.

Spike simply smirked. Once the dogs were all ten feet from reaching them, he threw out his arms with has hands open, and they all froze in place. The sudden lack of movement made the dogs cease their barking and start looking around in confusion.

"What's going on?"

"I can't move!" Spot exclaimed.

"Me neither!" Fido replied.

"What is this?!" Rover demanded angrily.

"I've learned some things since the last time we met, Rover" Spike said with a smug smile.

"You?! But that's impossible! Dragons have no magic like this! Gah!" Rover cried as he and all the others were suddenly lifted into the air.

"This one does." Spike thrust his hands downward, slamming the dogs into the ground. This made them all release pained grunts. The armored ones faired the worst, as their armor impacted against them. Spike repeated the action three more times, leaving all the dogs more pained and dazed. He allowed them mobility since it didn't really matter at this point.

"His magic can't be that strong!" Rover yelled as he flayed about in the air. "Fight it and break loose! Then tear him apa- Arr!" Rover yelped as two armored guards were slammed into either side of him at a flick of Spike's hand.

"You were saying?" Spike asked as he removed the guards, leaving a near unconscious Rover.

"We give up! We give up!" Spot cried in desperation. This brought Rover back to his senses.

"What?! No we don't!"

"Yes we do!" Fido pitched in. "You can keep the see-through. Just let us go!" All the other dogs, save Rover, murmured in desperate agreement.

"All right" Spike said with a shrug, releasing the dogs from his hold. They all fell to the ground with oofs, and curled up as they began to groan from the pain. Rover however still refused to give up, shakily standing as he seethed.

"No! I am leader here! I own these gem fields, and I won't let you take what's ours again!" Rover growled and began running toward Spike with a snarl, only to stop when he felt a sudden lack of air. The Diamond Dog released a choked gasp as he clutched at his throat with both paws.

All the dogs watched in fright and bewilderment as their leader appeared to be choking for no reason. They soon however noticed Maul had his hand stretched out, his fingers appearing to grip something that wasn't there. Their fear intensified immediately after making the connection.

"A leader who does not know when to retreat is a foolish one" Maul said as Rover flailed about on the ground. "And one who does so when facing an enemy much more powerful than themselves is suicidal. Do you want to live?"

"Y....Yesssss" Rover choked out as he nodded furiously.

"Then you will admit defeat and no longer interrupt our leave?"


Maul released his hold on Rover's throat, allowing him to gasp desperately for air. Maul made his way back to the speeder, though Spike stayed, looking at his master with a furrowed brow. He had never considering doing that kind of harm to the dogs. He fixed his gaze on them, which upon seeing this, made them all scatter in fear and retreat underground.

Spike was surprised by this, and almost felt a sense of guilt blossom in his mind. But then his eyes briefly flashed a dark green, and memories of what they had done to Rarity and what they planned for his friends resurfaced. And the guilt was extinguished.

He smirked, satisfied in knowing that a mere glance had sent the canines running. He flicked his tail as he began following his master, sending the gem into the air. He caught it in his hand as he started to pick up the pace. He also considered maybe finding a way to practice that choke ability.


Having found a Force attuned gem to serve as an impromptu kyber crystal, Maul decided the special furnace for forming synthetics needn't be constructed, even for modification. But there was an issue.

"I have never encountered a gem or crystal attuned to the Force that wasn't a kyber. I'm afraid I can't tell you the specifics on how to implement it into your saber. I can tell you it's much too large, and needs to be cut down in some manner. Think the size of those small diamonds Rarity uses for ear rings."

"I'm not too sure how I'd go about making that happen" Spike replied as he looked at the gem. "Any suggestions?"

Maul couldn't get too good a read on the gem through the Force, but he felt attempting to bleed the gem had a likely chance of not working, and said process might seem suspicious to his apprentice and his friends. It would be sour leaving his mouth, but it may be the safest and only way to work with it. "When making a lightsaber, you must first form a deeper connection with your crystal. An imprinting of sorts, making it attuned to you specifically. Perhaps attempting this bond through meditation can give you the answer."

Spike considered this for a moment. "Well, worth a shot." Spike placed the gem on the floor and sat down cross legged a few feet away. He placed his hands on his knees, closed his eyes, and immersed himself. He focused on the gem, visualized it, and reached out to it. And soon, it happened again. "I hear the singing again. It's faint."

"Listen to it. Focus on it. Decipher what it's telling you."

Spike did as his master instructed, and the singing became louder. Curiously, it didn't seem like a loudness that would drown out other noise. It was like a loud thought. And the thought began to take shape. Within his mind, Spike could faintly see the gem, and there was something in it. It was very small and in the center; he needed to see it more clearly. He delved deeper and deeper, the gem growing in size, though it didn't get much clearer. But despite this, he still caught a better look at what was within. It had color, and it was flickering.

Spike's eyes opened suddenly, and he saw the gem floating at his eye level, above where he'd left it. He realized he had made it levitate without meaning to. He turned his head to get a glimpse of Maul sitting similarly to him from behind.

"It's been some time, my apprentice."

Spike looked around at the castle walls, and realized the sun was actually a bit lower than when he had started. It has been, he thought to himself in surprise.

"Did you discover how it is you should proceed?" Maul asked, making Spike suddenly remember what it was he had seen in the gem.

It was a flame. A small, purple flame.

"Heat. It needs heat."


Spike sat cross legged on a floor in a room that he had made some modifications to. He covered the windows with a mesh fiber, and he made an impromptu fireplace with some stone bricks from the castle ruins. Within the fireplace was a small steel pot he had found that he cut a portion of the side out of, converting it into a small oven. The makeshift oven was glowing orange, waves of heat wafting out into the room.

Within the oven floated Spike's gem, which itself was also glowing from the heat, held in the air as Spike kept his hands raised. His eyes were closed as he calmly breathed in and out. He flexed his fingers, causing drops of melted gem to slide off to the floor. The gem slowly shrank as he continued this.

He maintained a connection to the gem like he had earlier, while also focussing on the heat. He was able to tell when it was beginning to cool, prompting him to take a deep breath and release a calm stream of fire into the fireplace. He did this every few minutes. This kept the makeshift oven glowing.

As time passed, Spike could hear the singing of the gem get clearer and clearer. While there were no clear words, he could somehow understand it, telling him to continue, and warning him to do so carefully. Were he to rush this, add too much heat, or put too much pressure, the gem could melt unevenly or crack and be ruined.

He could also perceive the gem in his mind the way he had during his initial connection. In his mind, the melted portions faded away, giving him an idea of its imminent shape. The purple flame was also growing, from a tiny match-like flicker to a ball of fire, as he thought of what he would use the gem for. To construct a weapon that he would use to fight his enemies, to defend himself, but more importantly, to defend those he cared for.

Eventually, the singing was as clear as the sky, and the fire seemed to travel throughout the modified gem. It was ready. Spike lowered his arms while still keeping the gem in the air, flicked a hand, throwing the mesh off the windows, and in a swift motion gave a single, connecting, Force enhanced flap of his wings into the fireplace. The gust of wind pushed out the built up hot air within, sending it out into the room, the force of it helping it exit through the windows.

Spike slowly drew his wings back and pulled the finished gem towards him. He stretched out his hand and ceased the gem's movement when it arrived above his palm. He opened his eyes and beheld the gem. It had changed, and not just in size. It had color. It was now purple, the same purple as the flame he perceived. And it seemed to have a tiny glinting light in the center.

He allowed it to gently settle in his palm after realizing he had been entranced by it for a few minutes. He closed his hand around it and stood, making his way to the door. When he opened it, he found his master waiting on the other side.

"You have your new crystal." Spike opened his hand, allowing his master to see the fruits of his labor. Maul found the color interesting, since kybers that turned purple were attuned to those who affiliated with the light and the dark, and called on the latter to serve the former. He kept this to himself, still keeping the knowledge of the light and dark a secret from his apprentice. "Very good. Now, you will construct the hilt. From these parts." Maul gestured to an open box next to the door containing an assortment of metal pieces.

"I'm guessing there's no instruction manual and that I need to use the Force to construct it" Spike stated after eyeing the box.

"That is correct. You must know your weapon inside and out, piece by piece. And the crystal requires a placement so precise, only the Force could allow you to accomplish it."

Of course it does, Spike thought to himself. Well, I signed up for this. And I'm not turning back now. "I'll see it done, my master." Spike bowed to Maul before using his tail to pull the box towards him. He then gripped it and brought it up to his hands, making sure to keep his crystal secure. He retreated into the room and used his tail to close the door.

Spike soon found himself with the incredibly tedious task of figuring out how to construct the hilt. He sat the same way he had before with his eyes closed, but with his hands on his knees now. A quarter of the pieces he was given floated in front of him as he tried to decipher which parts went together. Not being knowledgable with technology didn't help, even worse so with the pieces being of advanced technology he had never seen. He had to rely entirely on the Force to even get a basic idea of what most of them were. A power cell, insulators, adjusters for length and power, various wires, etc. He was relieved whenever he found something simple like a casing, screws, or accessories like a blade shroud.

Further complications arose with the construction of the different components. He either used a wrong piece for one component, assembled a component incorrectly, or discovered that one couldn't go where it needed because another component had to be constructed around another. This made him frustrated, causing irritated growls to vibrate in his throat. The pieces in his grip shook whenever he did this.

He recalled similar frustration from putting together puzzles of various tiny pieces. He remembered the advice Twilight gave him whenever he struggled with them. Getting angry and throwing the pieces all over wouldn't help things. He had to calm himself and take in the detail of each piece.

Spike took a deep breath and exhaled, slowing his heart beat. He quieted his mind and reached out with a stronger focus, keeping the pieces as still as possible. Like a puzzle, he looked over the ones he was more familiar with, saving them in his mind. He then went over the ones he was less familiar with, and considered how they would go with the familiar parts. From there he considered how they would all be contained within the hilt.

And then it occurred to him; he hadn't thought of how the hilt would look. For some reason it hadn't occurred to him before. He assumed it would be like his master's, but currently he could feel that that most likely wouldn't be the case. He then took inventory of the shapes of the pieces, how they would fit in a hilt, and the parts that would serve as the covering. He found that a hilt like his master's lightsaber was possible, but it would be much more difficult and time consuming. And there would be a higher likelihood of malfunction.

An image began to form in his mind, a hilt that would work. It was only a basic idea, but he could make it out. It was more of a circular hilt, like a tube or pipe. It was like the hilt of their practice swords, or the handle of jousting lance. The latter stuck out the most in his mind. He went over the pieces again with the new shape in mind, and things started to fall in place.

It still took some time, but it felt much simpler. It was as if the pieces knew how they needed to form, join, and be arranged, they just needed to be guided. Any other needed pieces would float out of the box to join their kin. He eventually had the main parts formed, floating apart from each other with a few smaller, inner pieces. There was a space in the general center, surrounded by small pieces that would form a housing of sorts. The space for the crystal.

As if on cue, Spike heard whistling that was somehow high pitched but not bothersome to the ears. His only response was to slightly tilt his head in the direction of the sound. His crystal resided next to the box of parts, its light still glinting. He lifted a hand from his knee just the slightest bit and gestured to the crystal. It lifted off the ground and floated toward the airborn parts as they formed the necessary portion. He placed his hand back on his knee when the crystal settled into its newly formed housing.

The parts began to come together, connecting, rotating when necessary to accommodate each other. They each clicked and whirred as they joined. The metal shell slid over the skeleton and locked in place, while the intricate parts of the emitter did the same. A round, downward facing hand guard was placed on the top, slightly influenced by the recollection of a jousting lance.

And it was done.


Maul sat in the in the center of one of the castle's larger rooms. The light of the moon streaming through a few holes in the ceiling was the sole source of illumination. Maul himself was shrouded in the dark, almost imperceptible to most eyes.

As he waited, he took to meditation to help him discover a way to put his apprentice through a trial. With the enhancement of his power, he felt a much stronger and clearer reach than he had before. And through this, he found that there was something far away, hidden in a heavily populated area. What was hidden was something very familiar to him; pain, deep and excruciating. The more he focused on it, the more he was given the feeling that it was where his apprentice needed to go.

Said individual was making his way towards him. He could sense a great deal of relief from him, but also fear. Fear of failure, of not having done a proper job. So he would see if he had succeeded.


Maul opened his eyes, which were like haunting light bulbs in the dark, but they hardly affected Spike. The dragon stood not too far from him, holding something in his hand.

"You're finished. May I inspect it?" Spike held out his hand face up and opened it. The lightsaber floated out of its resting place, turning into a vertical position as it neared and stopped in front of Maul. He put it into a slow spin to look it over. "An interesting design. Unique, like most sabers. Well, turn it on, and see if your hard work was not in vain" Maul said as he floated the weapon back.

Spike reached out and grabbed his lightsaber gently. He pulled his hand back and looked at it for a moment. He had no idea what would happen if he had constructed it wrong. He was worried. But he had come to trust in his master and the Force, and that combined trust outweighed his doubt. He gripped it with both hands in front of him, kept it in the center at an angle with the top away from him. And he thumbed the activator.

With a snap-hiss, a white blade with a purple aura shot out of the top. Spike's head reared back the slightest bit when this happened, his eyes widening as he beheld the blade. Having only seen the darksaber, this was almost an entirely new experience for him. He released a quick laugh of a single breath, like a scoff, in amazement at what he was seeing and that he had made it.

He began slowly moving it around, before switching to a single hand hold. He watched the blade and listened to its hum as he waved it about the air. He then made a few quick slashes, and then dropped it to his waiting tail. It caught the hilt and immediately coiled around it, the hand guard preventing it from slipping over and being injured. He put his tail behind him and moved it from side to side, looking over his shoulder to be careful. He then positioned it a certain way and snapped it upward, sending it and the weapon over his head. One of his scorpion strikes. His eyes followed the blade as he retracted his tail and made two more strikes to the left and right.

Spike pulled back his tail and brought it in front of him, minding the blade. He put his lightsaber in front of him, uncoiling his tail from it until the bottom of the hilt, allowing him to take hold of it in his hand again. He looked up at the blade, admiring it for a moment longer. He then thumbed the activator again, and extinguished the blade.

Spike suddenly remembered he was not alone and looked back to Maul, who was now standing with his hands behind his back. He hadn't even noticed him get up. But more apparant that that, was that Maul was smiling. He walked up to the Spike and placed his hand on his shoulder, applying a gentle grip.

"Well done, my apprentice. You have made yourself a weapon worthy of your use."

"I couldn't have done it without your teaching, my master" Spike said in gratitude as he bowed to his master.

"You are too kind. Now get some sleep, you've earned it. And you will need the rest, for tomorrow we will give your lightsaber a test drive" Maul said as he started to depart for his room.

"I look forward to it, my master. Thank you."

As Spike left, Maul's eyes traced his path as if being able to see him through the back of his head. He narrowed his eyes as his mouth formed a malicious smile. And after that, you will face your own test.

Chapter 11

View Online

Spike's friends were naturally excited and impressed upon recieving the news that he now had his own lightsaber, along with a belt with a magnetic latch and a ring to attach the weapon to. Twilight was particularly proud, albeit a bit pensive about her assistant having such a weapon. The skill she had seen him develop helped to ease her worry.

Rainbow and Pinkie were the most excited to see the blade be ignited, and the most disappointed when Spike said he wouldn't yet. They quickly perked up when he informed everypony that they were invited to a demonstration on Maul's behalf.

It would be taking place in the woods of the Everfree near Maul's current residence. They were all surprised to hear this, and even more so when they were informed they would have no trouble with any of the resident creatures. Spike explained that he and Maul's Force presence allowed the animals to sense that it was claimed territory. This was how Maul had explained it to Spike, though in reality, this was only partially true. It was also Maul's projections of a threatening aura that kept the animals away.

And so, Spike's friends found themselves sitting in the sidelines of a clearing in the woods. In the center stood the master and apprentice, facing each other, with their lightsabers in hand. Rainbow and Pinkie fidgeted in place from anticipation, though the latter was closer to hopping in place. Rarity and Starlight looked on with great interest, particularly towards Spike, something they both noticed of each other but made no comment on. Twilight was in a similar state, though also nervous, her wings shifting every so often and her heart beating a tad faster than usual.

"Before we begin, perhaps we should formally invite our uninvited spectator" Maul suggested, turning his head to look into the trees.

"It does sound like the polite thing to do" Spike replied as he looked in the same direction. "Why don't you have a front row seat with everypony else, Zecora? You'll get a better view" Spike suggested with a kind tone.

The aforementioned zebra emerged from behind the trees with a look of slight guilt and embarrassment. Everypony was surprised to see that she had actually been hiding, and by the fact that Maul and Spike knew.

"Hi Zecora. Long time, no see."

"Hello Spike. Indeed it has been" Zecora replied as she eyed Spike up and down, taking in his new appearance. She had heard of how he looked from Twilight, but never got to see for herself. "Forgive my intrusion, I did not mean to be rude" she said with a humble bow of her head. "I hope your view of me is not skewed."

"I'm mostly just curious why you were hiding" Spike replied with some nonchalance. "But I'm pretty sure you owe my master an explanation the most." Everypony else stayed silent as Zecora approached Maul. This wasn't for them to get involved in at the moment.

"I've sensed your presence before" Maul said, before Zecora said anything, to her and everyone's surprise. "But it was always far off. You give off the aura of a wise individual, and something of a warrior. But where are my manners? I am Maul, Nightbrother" he said with a slight bow. "And you?"

"I am Zecora" she replied with a light bow of her head. "Zebrican shamaness. And hopefully a friendly neighbor" she said as she stretched out a hoof. She grew nervous as Maul looked at the offered appendage, but didn't show it. To her relief, he took her hoof in his hand and shook it gently.

"A pleasure to meet someone seeking no ill will, and of such a prestigious role. I like your mane style" Maul said with a smile as he nodded towards her mohawk.

Zecora's eyes widened and her cheeks blushed at the compliment. No one ever complimented her mane. "Th-Thank you. I like your horns, and what I assume are cultural tattoos." Everyone took note of her lack of rhyme, mostly with looks of great confusion.

"Thank you" Maul replied as he released her hoof. "Since you've apoligized, kindly introduced yourself, and offered your friendship, I offer you the opportunity to witness the demonstration." Maul gestured to where the others sat, where Twilight and Rarity quickly scooted to make a space for Zecora.

"I am honored by your invitation, and accept it with great, though subdued elation" she said with a smile and bow before making her way to the spot. After sitting down, Twilight quietly told her how this was the second time she heard her speak out of rhyme, the others saying it was their first. She whispered her reply. "With serious situations, this tends to occur. This, our first meeting, was such, I think you can all concur."

Having resumed their position after Zecora sat down, Spike and Maul removed their lightsabers from their belts, and moved their arms to point them out to the side. "Ignite the blade" Maul instructed. Simultaneously, both he and Spike thumbed the activators, and the blades emerged. A chorus of oohs sounded from everypony as they stared in awe at Spike's purple lightsaber. Twilight's nervousness even lessened slightly as she was temporarily entranced.

Spike began to slowly wave his saber around, while Maul waited. "Huh. I never noticed the blade's own weight before."

"It is a current of energy. Energy created by your thoughts and actions as they flow through the crystal, becoming one with the blade. The more you weild it meaningfully, the stronger your bond with it, and through that, much easier cooperation. Take ready position."

Spike adjusted himself into a steady stance, holding the saber in front of him. Maul raised his saber and a made a quick strike, to the audience's surprise. Spike's training may have been severely limited in comparison to Sith training, but it was still carried out with the intent of progress. He shouldn't have to tell him where to block. And Spike did not dissapoint.

He was able to raise his own saber, quickly blocking the strike. He raised a brow when he realized the blades were barely sliding against one another.

"Lightsaber blades are drawn to one another, and will lock when they connect. But that lock is not stationary, and it is only as strong as you make it." Maul drew back his saber and Spike returned to his stance. The former quickly delivered some more strikes, Spike successfully blocking them where he had to.

"Good. Now let's go through your forms. One" a low block to the left "two" low right "three" high center "four" vertical dead center. "Faster. One, two, three, four. Again. One, two, three, four, five!" back block. "One, four, two, six" tail protection. Six three one five!"

After that, Maul went silent, not specifying the forms. Spike got them right regardless, moving back and forth as required. Twilight lightly bit her hoof nervously, while Fluttershy partially hid her face behind her hooves. The rest watched with great interest, Rainbow unknowingly making slashing motions with her forelegs. Pinkie did so knowingly. Rarity and Starlight took note of how smoothly Spike moved, gracefully even. They both saw how the other was watching at different times and briefly narrowed their eyes before refocusing in the demonstration.

Maul charged and striked hard on Spike's blade, making him steel himself as he pushed back. "Strengthen the lock" Maul said as he took a step forward, causing Spike to take one back as he grit his teeth. "Push back. Put yourself in charge of disconnecting the blades to force me away."

Spike grunted as he pushed back against his master. He felt him making another step forward, but he didn't step back, putting them very close. He furrowed his brow and released a growl of determination. He put more effort in with his legs and began pushing back. It was slow, but he was able to get his master to step back twice. Thinking quickly, he used his tail to push on the ground, making the retaliation forceful enough to benefit him. He made a strong downward slash, which disconnected the blades as Maul stepped away.

Maul took the disconnect and made a quick flourish of his blade as he stopped his retreat. He then smiled at his readily stanced apprentice. "Good. Now treat this as an ordinary duel. Rrrah!"

Spike's eyes widened the slightest bit as his master lunged at him. He quickly blocked the strikes sent his way, before batting a few away to allow him to strike back. Their audience's heads followed their movement as they moved back and forth. It wasn't all that different from their usual sparring sessions. For a time.

Master and apprentice met for another blade lock, though not as strong as before. Maul narrowed his eyes at Spike before a telltale whoosh sounded. Spike's eyes widened as the Force alerted him to incoming danger. His eyes darted to the side and caught sight of a piece of bark flying towards him. He used his tail to swat it away, and was immediately pushed back and kicked in the chest, sending him back, to everypony's surprise and slight outrage.

"Hey! That's cheating!" Rainbow shouted.

"No!" Spike replied, to everypony's confusion. "It's day two, week six of training. Ignore or deal with distractions while still focusing on the larger battle."

"Yes" Maul confirmed. "Now let's see if you can make up for your misstep."

The sound of various object sailing through the air could be heard as Maul tilted an upturned hand to and fro. Various branches, pieces of wood, and rocks began flying towards Spike. He surprisingly cut through each one before he was hit, the Force guiding him in which way to turn for all of them. The watching ponies looked on with nervous expressions, each striked projectile making them jerk forward slowly. To their astonishment, he was able to stop each one, their slightly burned remains strewn about around him.

They didn't notice Maul rushing him, but Spike did. He blocked the flurry of strikes that initially met him. They were soon replaced by spaced out strikes, and more projectiles. Spike never took his eyes off Maul, moving back as he blocked strikes, made his own, and intercepted the projectiles with his tail or wings. He had to be quick when using his blade to cut them, as Maul took the opportunity of Spike leaving himself open. One instance almost would've left Spike with a mark on his chest. The projectiles eventually stopped, and the duel resumed with its previous state.

Both opponents switched to single handed combat, their free hands behind their backs. Their back and forth bore much more resemblance to a fencing match. The distorted clashes were quicker, and their steps were wider spaced.

Spike came up with an idea, and put a larger amount of space between him and his master. He tucked in his arm, placing the bottom of his hand against his chest. He then made a large lunge forward, stretching out his arm to point the blade tip at Maul. Maul smirked, seeing this as a way to disarm his apprentice. He lunged forward with his darksaber pointed similarly and made an upward slash as the blades met, or rather, when they were supposed meet. His eyes widened as he saw Spike give a flap of his wings to pull himself back. He landed, folded his wings, and quickly charged forward. He used his saber to bat Maul's out of his hand as his disarming intentioned strike ended.

Spike and Maul sidestepped one another and ended up in each other's previous position. Maul stared at his empty hand in surprise before looking at his apprentice, who was smirking as he pointed his blade at his master. Everypony cheered for Spike, Pinkie being particularly loud. Maul chuckled lightly before responding. "Very impressive, my apprentice. But we are not yet finished. Set your lightsaber to its training mode, for now, you will have to make a strike against an unarmed opponent."

Everypony was dumbfounded by this, while Spike merely looked at his master questioningly before doing as he was told. He moved a switch on the side of the hilt, and the blade became dimmer, the white of it turning a muted purple. Spike waved it about, the deep hum changing to a higher pitch. He then striked a nearby tree to test the blade. There wasn't even a scratch. Everypony was surprised to see this, not knowing or expecting a lightsaber to have a safety setting, though it made sense.

Spike repositioned himself, facing his master, who had both hands placed behind his back. After a few seconds, Maul nodded, and Spike charged at him. Maul quickly leaned away from a downward slash and stepped aside. Spike turned around and narrowed his eyes before rushing forward again. He released quick breaths from his nose as he swiped at his master, who expertly dodged and weaved out of the way.

Spike lifted his saber high and swung down, but it was no longer in his hands. He had used his tail to grab it. This was able to fool Maul, who hadn't retreated back far enough for the incoming scorpion strike. But he wasn't so easily bested. He ducked as the strike was made, the blade going over his head. Immediately after the duck, he kicked Spike in the stomach, sending him back. He then used his hand to strike the end of the tail as it followed, sending it into the air and knocking the lightsaber out of it, preventing his head from being struck. The lightsaber deactivated after being released, sailing back through the air toward its owner.

By this point, Spike was also not easily bested. As his master rose, he gave a mighty flap of his wings, sending him forward slightly above ground. He caught his lightsaber, activated it, and used his coiled tail to push off the ground, giving him a strong boost of speed.

Maul's eyes widened as he saw his apprentice bulleting towards him with his lightsaber activated. He almost didn't move his hand fast enough.

"HA!" Spike exclaimed as he plunged his non-lethal blade towards his master's chest. He flapped his wings to keep himself in place. Maul was looking at him wide eyed, almost fearfully, as he leaned back, his legs positioned to keep him steady. Spike shifted his eyes downward and his brow shot up as he saw his technical success.

Maul had moved his hand over his chest, his palm being the receiver of the jab. But what surprised Spike wasn't that his blade seemed to be much shorter, Maul had taught him how to absorb energy through his hands, though they only tested this with intense heat. What surprised him was that there was a green mist emerging from the area around the point of contact. It was similar to the green mist of the tea they drank long ago, though much thicker.

Several seconds passed before Maul chuckled and stepped back. The lightsaber blade returned to normal size and Spike drew back, lowering it before settling himself on the ground. He deactivated the blade before Maul spoke.

"Well done" Maul said, before placing a hand over a fist in front of him. "Spike."

Spike focused himself, secured his saber to his belt, and mimicked the gesture. They both bowed to each other.

"It is with great pride that I tell you, that your training is complete. And to cement this, we have one last thing to do." Maul stretched out his hand and called his darksaber back to him. "Step forward, take a knee, and bow your head, my former apprentice."

Spike blinked in wonder, but obeyed. He took a knee in front of Maul and bowed his head. Maul held the darksaber up and activated it, much to the ponies' confusion and slight worry. Spike heard the weapon turn on, but he felt no danger from the Force, so he remained calm.

Maul lowered the darksaber's blade to hover above one of Spike's shoulders, moving it back and forth between both as he spoke. "By the will of the Force. By the right of my culture. I designate you an honorary Nightbrother, warrior of the Force. I grant you a warrior's name;" he raised the blade in front of his face "Varpa Taral. Translated from the ancient tongue as Spike, the Protector."

He deactivated the blade. "You may rise, brother."

Spike stood up and looked at Maul, smiling and looking on the verge of tears. "Thank you" he said as he offered his hand. Maul reached forward and made it so they took each other's wrists in solidarity. "Brother."


Spike's eyes widened at the shout, and he quickly released Maul, turned and shot out his hands. He caught Pinkie with the Force before she could tackle him, leaving her suspended in the air. This didn't stop her from raining her joy on him as she flailed about.

"Way to go, Spike! Full fledged warrior! And total hottie." Spike rolled his eyes, having gotten used to that compliment from Pinkie.

"Yeah, big guy!" Rainbow zipped down beside him and gave him a friendly, though a bit hard, punch to the arm. "All grown up and a total bad ass!"

Spike chuckled as he used one hand to rub his arm. "Thanks."

"And a total hottie!" Pinkie exclaimed in reminder as she popped up beside Rainbow. This made Spike do a double take before looking back at where he had been holding her. There was just empty space.

"Give it a rest, Pinkie!" Twilight exclaimed as she ran to Spike, the others following.

"Yes, darling. We heard you the first time."

"Yeah. No need to repeat the obvious" Starlight pitched in, making Rarity and Twilight pause.

"Wait, what?" they both asked, Rarity lacing her words with a cross tone.

"Nothing! Hooray for Spike!"

Twilight brushed the exchange off while Rarity eyed Starlight suspiciously. Twilight latched on to Spike, giving him the strongest hug she could muster.

"Oh Spike, I'm so proud of you! I was a little terrified for a bit, still kind of am, but you were amazing! And how far you've come is amazing."

The rest of the mares joined in the praise, which made Spike blush bashfully as he rubbed the back of his head. He wasn't able to stop Pinkie from her second attempt at getting him. With everypony around him, she only managed to tightly hug him rather than tackle him. He used the Force to loosen her hold on him, allowing him to breathe better. She soon called for a group hug, which Spike tried to say wasn't necessary, but they were having none of it. He enjoyed it regardless.

Spike felt feathers tracing down to his lightsaber. "Rainbow, don't even think about it."

"Aw, come on! Let me try it out just a little bit. Please?!"

"No can do. Only trained ponies, and even then I'd only let them wave it around in training mode a bit."

"Psh. Didn't know being a badass and a buzzkill was possible." Everyone laughed at Rainbow's remark before breaking up the hug.

"Hey! You know what this calls for?!" Pinkie suddenly asked.

"A party" everyone save Maul said unison.

"Is everypony trying to take the fun out of everything for me today? But yes, A PARTY!" Confetti shot out from behind Pinkie's back from out of nowhere, per the usual. "Tonight, Sugarcube Corner, everyone here's invited! Along with the town. And Maul!"

The aforementioned zabrak had been standing off to the side, watching the exchange with a small smile. He still wasn't used to displays like this, having never partaken in them.

"The invitation is appreciated, but I'm afraid I must decline. I have never been one for parties or other social gatherings. And I tend to stick out rather unpleasantly." There was also the fact that every time he saw Pinkie do unexplainable things with no alert from the Force, he was further put off by her.

"Oh no" Pinkie said determinedly "I've been waiting to get you to a party since you got here. You're going, mister. You should be there for your student after all."

"I'll be with him in spirit" Maul insisted. "Besides, it's more of a celebration for him. I wouldn't want to impose."

"Shouldn't be any imposition at all" Pinkie said through gritted teeth, which formed a manic smile.

"Pinkie" Spike said rather intensely. This caught her attention and caught her by surprise, as she had felt a cold chill when he spoke. "I've been living with Maul for a while during my training. I've gotten to know him a bit and get a feel for him. He's my friend, and he doesn't like parties. Your pestering him. And I don't appreciate it. If he doesn't want to go, he doesn't have to. Okay?" Spike asked as he looked at her with narrowed eyes.

Everypony looked on in stunned silence at what was transpiring. Maul held back a smile as he felt Spike's anger radiating off of him, albeit to a small degree. Zecora looked back and forth between Spike and Maul, the latter she could somehow tell was holding back a smile.

"O...Okay" Pinkie replied somewhat fearfully. She then turned around to address Maul. "Sorry for pestering you, Maul. I kind of forget that not everyone likes parties. Or that they don't have to. Can you forgive me?"

"You merely care a great deal for your passion. Perhaps a bit overzealous, but you can learn from a mistake. You are forgiven" Maul said with a slight bow of his head.

"Thanks" Pinkie said with a more reserved smile before looking to Spike with a hopeful expression. He nodded with a small smile. Her smile grew with an audible squee. "Okay. I'm gonna head over to the Corner to get things started. My invitation is still open if you change your mind, Maul."

"Noted" Maul replied with a nod before addressing Spike. "Taral. You have earned time for rest and celebration. Go to your home. We shall see each other some other time, brother."

"Thank you, ma-brother" Spike replied with a slight bow. "Hey Twilight, do you have a quill and parchment I could use?"

"Sure. What for?" Twilight asked as she levitated the items to him.

"I wanna go to Canterlot to show the princesses, I'm letting them know we're coming" Spike explained as he wrote a bit on the parchment before tearing it in half. "I also wanna tell Shining Armor to come over to see, and maybe challenge him to a quick spar."

Twilight rolled her eyes with a smile as Spike finished the letters and sent them away one at a time. "Starlight, would you mind teleporting everypony back to town while me and Spike go to Canterlot?"

"Sure thing."

"Hey, I'm going too" Rainbow insisted. "No way I'm missing out on Spike taking on Shining Armor."

Everypony chuckled at Rainbow's remark before parting. Starlight teleported everypony else while Spike requested that they all fly to Canterlot. He took enjoyment in his still recent ability of flight.

Maul's eyes followed as Spike and the other two took off into the sky towards Canterlot, Rainbow challenging Spike to a race. Once they were out of view, he began walking toward his residence.

"Maul" Zecora suddenly said, the only one not to have left. Maul hadn't noticed her continued presence and halted when she addressed him, turning to her.


"You forgave my earlier rudeness, but I feel I should extend some neighborly goodness. You refused an invitation to a party, but I wonder if you would join your neighbor for some tea?"

Maul's brow raised in slight surprise. He reached out with the Force and felt that her kind offer was genuine. For the most part. But he felt no danger from the little bit of deceit in her. He felt more danger from young pickpockets in the lower levels of Coruscant.

"I haven't had tea for some time. Your offer sounds lovely. I accept. Would you give me but an hour to rest?"

"Of course" Zecora replied jovially. "I would not wish you more labor. I shall wait for you my neighbor."

"Thank you."

They both turned around and started heading for their respective homes. They also briefly narrowed their eyes and shifted them to the side as if looking through the backs of their heads.

After entering the castle, Maul stood still and raised his hand. He stared at the center of his palm where he caught the saber, his eyes narrowed as he recalled seeing a wisp of green smoke. He gestured with his other hand, using the Force to pull his darksaber from his waist and levitate it in front of him. He turned it sideways and activated it with a flick of two fingers. He focused on the goal of absorbing the energy and reached out his hand.

Once more the green smoke appeared as the blade made contact. He continued this for almost a full minute before deactivating the saber and returning it to his waist. He stared at his palm again before closing his fingers into a fist. He had only seen something like this when he, his brother, or his mother had been injured. His plan for Taral's next test would need an adjustment for a slight delay. He had to look into this further.

Chapter 12

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Maul stood in the center of the room where the royal sisters had battled, staring at his palm yet again. He formed a fist and closed his eyes, concentrating. After a minute, he could hear the familiar ghostly wisping, and opened his eyes. From the sides of his fist, he saw the green smoke emerging. He opened his hand to see his palm was completely covered in the substance.

He moved his hand slightly back and forth in fascination and confusion. As he listened to the breath-like wisping, he noticed something peculiar about it. There was something else to its familiarity, but not in the sound itself. Something in the feel of the sound, if that made any sense. And he realized what it was.

The essence of the fallen king.

It seemed the tea he had ingested to increase his power did so in an unexpected fashion. He had suspected this was the case, but he couldn't be sure. Now he was. He had never learned the ways of the Nightsister's magicks, and doubted he could learn them now given the lack of info needed for it. But he was willing to try even rudimentary things.

He outstretched his hand and focussed on some small bits of debris left over from the royal battle. It took a moment, but eventually the pieces seemed to be nudged before tendrils of green smoke wrapped around them out of nothing. They lifted off the ground and floated towards Maul.

He made them stop in front of his hand before commencing to wave it back and forth, focussing on a new task. The pieces were grouped together, the tendrils collectively swirling around them. With more strain than anticipated, Maul willed the magic to start connecting the pieces, growing new connections as if being grown back together.

After some time and further strain, Maul made an uneven, bumpy hand shape. He matched it up to his own hand before releasing his hold of the magic. The smoke disappeared, and the debris hand crumpled away to its original pieces.

While he had no interest in pursuing some kind of sculpture making, Maul knew he would still need to practice. Especially if he was to achieve a skill that he had never learned to do while as a Sith. It didn't matter that it'd be green, he would shoot Force lightning from his hands one day.

He looked at both his palms as he imagined it, conjuring up green smoke on both of them. The brilliant rays arcing across distances to strike whatever foe he unleashed it on, forcing back similar energy shot at him, just as he saw his mother do on Dathomir. Any who dared face him when he could do this would feel the pain, the pain of flesh burning, blood boiling, nerves overloading, their very bones feeling like they would explode from the inside. The same pain he felt before, during his training, his capture, and torture, all at Sidious's hands.

Small bolts briefly travelled over the smoke on his palms, and his eyes widened.

A few more scurried over his palms very soon after. Continuing to stare at his palms, he slowly turned them to face each other, and focussed. He was rewarded with the sight of bolts of green lightning dancing between his hands. Small bolts. Very weak. Practically nothing. This didn't damper his mood, for many things, including power, started out that way.

Very small.

Maul soon realized he had spent more time than he realized, and saved this progress in his mind to be followed up on later. He had a neighbor to meet for tea.

If one were to stand outside the doors of the Canterlot throne room, they would hear the grunting and huffing of two individuals, and someone else cheering one of them on.

"Atta boy, Spike! Wipe the floor with him!"

Rainbow Dash, Twilight, the royal sisters, Cadance, and Flurry Heart watched with amusement as Spike and Shining Armor sparred with one another in the middle of the throne room. Shining Armor found he had underestimated Spike more than he cared to admit.

"Gah!" Shining Armor exclaimed in discomfort as Spike pinned him to the ground belly down. His tail was coiled around one of Shining Armor's hind legs, one hand helping to pull it in a painful direction. His other hand held on to Shining Armor's horn.

"Say aunty. Say aunty!" Spike smugly urged his surrogate brother.

"No! I can get out of this!"

"We said no magic or Force, so no teleportation!"

"I know! Rrr!" Shining growled as he strained to get out of the hold.

"Perhaps you should call for me or my sister, Shining Armor" Celestia suggested win a chuckle.

"It does seem the wiser course" Luna concurred with a smile.

"Do you really have so little faith in me, your hignesses?"

"Of course not, dear nephew. But in this instance..."

"I won't be beaten by my little brother!"

"I don't know, Shiny" Cadance said in a teasingly unsure tone.

"Et tu, Cady?"

"Come on, dude" Spike somewhat insisted "I'm not gonna let up."

"Grr! Fine! Then Sir Armor...falls" Shining Armor said dramatically as he stopped straining, causing everypony to roll their eyes. "Oof" he exclaimed as Spike pinned his head to the floor before releasing him.

"Ha ha! Yes!" Spike cheered as he stood and raised his arms in triumph.

Flurry Heart giggled in her mother's grasp as she clapped her little hooves. "Unca Spike win! Dada punk!" Everyone stared at Flurry in surprise, all four princesses putting a hoof to their mouths to try and hold back their laughter.

"Pff! Ah ha ha ha haaaaa!" Rainbow Dash cackled as she flopped to the floor on her back. She devolved into hysterical laughter as she clutched her sides.

Shining Armor looked at his daughter with an overly hurt expression. He turned to Spike and pointed a hoof at him. "You turned my daughter against me!"

Cadance lightly smacked the back of his head with her tail while still holding back her laughter. "H-Honey, stop acting like Rarity. No one likes a sore loser."

"Best fight ever" Rainbow Dash said as she picked herself up off the floor and wiped a tear from her eye.

"It was rather impressive and entertaining to watch" Luna said.

"I agree" Celestia said. "I think you could have a future in the Royal Guard, Spike. If you so chose."

"You really think so?"

"Now you wanna take my job?!"

"Babe, that's not even what she said" Cadance dead panned.

"But I bet she and Spike are thinking it!"

"If I let you try out my lightsaber, will you stop whining?" Spike suddenly found himself in a headlock and receiving a noogie.

"Check out my little bro! All grown up and strong enough to beat me. Now let me see!" Shining Armor exclaimed as he released Spike. Spike held out his lightsaber with a smirk as he rubbed his head. Shining Armor took it in his magic and proceeded to try it out.

"Hey!" Rainbow exclaimed indignantly "What the heck?! He can use it but not me?!"

"I said only trained ponies. He's Captain of the Royal Guard, he counts."

Rainbow grumbled in response as Shining Armor waved the lightsaber around giddily. Thankfully, Spike had preemptively switched it to training mode. Had he not, a few pillars would have scars in them by now. Also thankfully, Shining Armor kept his random flailing to a minimum, mostly performing moves from sword training.

"Please be careful, nephew" Celestia said cautiously. "I wouldn't want to lose another pedestal."

"Hey, it's in training mode" Spike said assuredly "It can't cut through anything. Whoa!" Spike exclaimed as he used the Force to catch a vase that Shining Armor accidentally knocked off a pedestal. "But that doesn't mean you still shouldn't be careful" he said as he levitated the vase back in place. "I think I should take back now."

"I think you're right" Shining Armor acknowledged as he deactivated the saber and magically handed it back. "So, can I use it again in the future at full power?"

"Can I tell everyone I beat you?"

"You know what? I don't need to use a laser sword that badly."

"If I tell everyone you beat him, can I use it?!" Rainbow asked eagerly.

"Wait, what?!"


"Oh come on! What do I have to do?!"

"I think we should be heading back. We don't wanna get sidetracked and be late for the party."

"Don't ignore me!"

"I think you're right, Spike." Twilight and Spike said their goodbyes to everyone while Rainbow said hers curtly and continued hounding Spike as they left.

*knock knock*

Zecora answered her door and found her expected guest. "Maul, please come in, I'm glad you came. Our tea is ready, I just extinguished the flame." Maul gave a gracious nod before leaning forward a bit to pass through the doorway. "Please have a seat, while I get you your drink. Make yourself comfortable, I'll be as quick as a blink."

"Thank you for having me" Maul said as he sat on a stool at Zecora's table. He looked around the house, seeing the various masks, vials, and assorted materials around the hut. It was very quaint. He also noted a familiar aura about the hut, one he hadn't felt until after Sombra's horn was consumed by he and Spike. Even then and now, it wasn't as strong, but familiar all the same, particularly from Zecora's cauldron filled with some green brew. The aura of the Nightsisters.

"Your tea" Zecora said as she placed his cup in front of him, drawing his attention. She sat down opposite from him with her own cup.

"Thank you" Maul said as he grabbed the cup and took a sip. "This is very good. I'm not exactly familiar with your world's teas. So far they haven't been disappointing."

"I am glad you like it" Zecora said with a smile before drinking some of her own. Unbeknownst to Maul, Zecora had used a special herb in the tea that helped the drinker become calmer, more comfortable with company if they had any. More open to talking. She hoped to learn anything she could from him. "Tell me, have you enjoyed your time on our planet?"

"It has been very adequate. I am grateful for the hospitality I've been shown from the populace, present company included."

Zecora nodded with a thoughtful smile before they both took another sip. "Do you miss your old home?" This gave Maul pause. She hadn't expected such a question to be that invasive. "Forgive me. I hope I-"

"I've never really had a home" Maul said suddenly, cutting Zecora off. "The life I was forced into didn't much allow for any attachment for wherever I resided. The closest thing I had to a home was Dathomir, my home planet."

"Would you mind...telling me more about it?" Zecora said with genuine care and interest.

"....I was born of the Nightbrothers clan. We were subservient to a matriarchy, the Nightsisters. I was taken from my mother at a young age, long before I could ever know my brother. I only returned long after I was already a warrior, and there wasn't much left. And now there is hardly anything." Maul trailed off, his eyes lingering on the tea in his cup. Soon, a hoof came to rest in top of his free hand. He looked up to see Zecora looking at him with sympathetic eyes.

"I am truly sorry."

Maul didn't respond, instead letting Zecora's hoof stay where it was. Eventually he spoke again. "You remind me of the Nightsisters." This made Zecora draw back slightly, her eyes widening in light surprise. "You have a smiliar aura to them. But much more...gentler. Yet, not one to be trifled with.

"You said you were a shamaness. Do you practice magic?"

"In a way" she replied as she retracted her hoof. "I am obviously not a unicorn, but my practices often have a magical connection. While progressing in my studies, I had a strong predilection. I still remember my fellow trainees, and their somewhat strong jealousy." Zecora looked off in wistful recollection for a brief moment. "Forgive me. I'm recalling happy memories of my home, while you have none of your own."

"Do not worry. There is nothing wrong with happy memories. I'm glad you have them. I've grown accustomed to my deprived upbringing."

"I would hope of your home you'd have some things, at least a few. In fact, I believe Twilight told me you made a tea of a special brew." Zecora feared she probed too obviously from the slightest furrowing of his brow.

"...Did she?"

"She wished to know if what you made was truly the last, in an effort to help retain something of your past."

He could tell she wasn't being entirely truthful. Not hard to determine that Twilight most likely wanted further knowledge despite what he already gave her. "How very kind of her, but pointless. I already told her I had no more of the necessary ingredients and that they would unlikely be native to this planet."

"Perhaps not, but the magical aspect of it may yet be replicated."

"Did she tell you it was a magic elixir?"

"No. Given the effect it had on young Taral, it wasn't that hard to determine. Be assured, I won't speak of your secrecy out of respect. I'd like to offer my help in recreating a tea of similar effect."

Maul didn't answer for a moment, simply staring at Zecora. She maintained her kind smile and met his studying gaze unwaveringly. "You make a very kind and generous offer, but I'm afraid I must decline. And I also must be departing" he said as he set his cup aside and stood up. "Leaving my temporary abode unattended for too long provokes a certain green unicorn into unwelcome snooping. Thank you for the tea."

"May I ask why exactly you decline my offer?" Zecora asked as she pulled Maul's cup close to hers.

"What you've learned of me, does it include the Empire?"

"It does."

"Then you know they are a danger. If they ever reach this planet, they will discover I was here. My prolonged presence, while necessary, has been risky enough. I want as little a trace of myself here as possible, including any connections to my culture."

"Fair enough. Then I bid you goodbye, my neighbor from beyond the sky." Maul nodded before he turned around and made for the door. As he continued, Zecora looked into his cup, and her brow furrowed as much as it possibly could. She nudged the cup a few times to move its contents, to make sure of what she was seeing. Maul was seated on his speeder and ready to activate it when he heard Zecora's door open not too far away. "Maul!"

"Is there something wrong?" he asked as she approached him.

"No. I just wanted to say...if you ever need help in anything, particularly anything magic related, do not be afraid to ask me. And ever feel the need to someone."

Maul regarded Zecora for a moment, the slightest hint of confusion on his face. He could feel she was being genuine, and caring. "I will." He focussed on the path and sped away on his vehicle.

Zecora looked off in the direction Maul left, her eyes a mix of sadness, concern, and uncertainty. Eventually she walked back into her hut and grabbed his tea cup again. She once more looked into it and saw the same thing the leaves told her before. A deeply tortured soul, seeking peace but strongly restrained by past and current misfortune. Someone looking to do very big and likely bad things, and not necessarily bad to Equestria at least. And someone who would likely need help in the near future.

Like most instances, Pinkie's party went off without a hitch. Per Spike's request, and a few of the other girls' advisement, the entire town hadn't been invited. Instead, close friends and a few casual friends were invited, including some colts Spike had developed a rapport with. This included Button Mash, Rumble, Pipsqueak, Snips, and Snails.

They initially didn't believe Spike when he told them of his training or that he had an actual laser sword, until he showed them. He very quickly had to ask Twilight to teleport him to the castle and back to leave behind his lightsaber after their barrage of urging to let them use it. He did not want such a weapon around these colts, especially Snips and Snails. Thankfully, they were pacified by some displays of his Force abilities.

"Whoa! Three tables at the same time!" Button Mash marveled as Spike made the tables spin in a circle in the air.

"Please be careful with those, deary" Mrs. Cake requested.

"Big whoop" Rumble said, unimpressed. "Princess Twilight and Starlight could do that easily."

"Oh, you mean two of the most skilled magic users in Equestria?" Spike asked smugly. "I couldn't lift anything not too long ago, let alone three tables. And this isn't even the hardest I've done. You should've seen me lift a bunch of boulders."

"Okay, now I know you're lying."

"I'm serious. Five boulders."

"Prove it."

"How? There's no boulders here."

"Yeah there is" Pinkie chirped as she appeared among the colts. She activated an unseen lever which opened a large trapdoor to her party cave. Down below could be seen three large boulders. "Would these work?"

"Pinkie, why do you have those down there?" Twilight asked.

"What? I can't bring some souvenirs from home?"

"Those'll work" Spike said before stretching his arms. He thrust his hands downward and a whoosh was heard. Everyone at the party turned to watch as they heard the sound of rock movement. Spike released a few grunts as his face started to take on a look of slight anger. The boulders started levitating upward as he grit his teeth. He released a growl, and everyone felt a chill, assuming it was from their awe at the display. He turned his hands palm up as the boulders rose above the gap of the trapdoor. He took a deep breath and exhaled as he held the boulders in place.

Spike turned to smirk at the awestruck Rumble, everyone else looking on in similar wonderment. The entire party erupted into applause. Spike leaned forward, indicating a bow, before starting lowering the boulders.

"Please be extra careful with the those!"

"Don't worry, Mrs. Cake. I reinforced the floors in case an accidental dropping ever happened. He could drop five of those and not leave a scratch."

"Well that's a relief" Spike said before dropping his hands and realising his hold, allowing the boulders to drop halfway down to the lower floor, causing a loud boom.

"Oh my goodness!"

"The floor is o-kay!" Pinkie declared as she looked down into her party cave.

"Oh thank heavens." After that, Mrs. Cake asked that Spike stick to much lighter objects that wouldn't potentially damage her shop if dropped.

"That was pretty cool" Snails said with a goofy chuckle. "I kind of wish I could lift big things like that" he said as his horn charged and he replicated Spike's table demonstration with ease. Most everyone was surprised by this.

"Wow, Snails" Twilight said. "For a colt your age that's actually an impressive feat. How'd you learn to do that?"

"I don't know. I never really thought about it. I usually don't."

"It's true" Rainbow Dash confirmed. "He doesn't think about anything."

"Ever" Pinkie and Fluttershy said simultaneously.

"Huh." Spike was surprised to hear this. Even he had to at least think of moving the tables. Perhaps something to look into.

In accordance with Mrs. Cake's wishes, Spike suggested another display. Soon, he was sitting in the center of the shop in a meditative pose, creating a radius of weightlessness. This allowed the flightless colts to swim through the air gleefully. Rumble joined in a calm back paddle, glad to fly without tiring his wings. Scootaloo and Pinkie soon joined in, both laughing with different types of glee.

Spike suddenly felt something like a mental wave of something wrong. It happened in an instant, startling him out of his concentration. "Ah!" Everyone he'd been levitating suddenly fell to the floor with shouts of surprise. A few landed a little roughly.

"Ow! What was that all about?" Pipsqueak asked.

"Spike? Are you okay?" Twilight asked urgently as she rushed to his side. Everyone turned their attention to him to see what was wrong. Rarity and Starlight soon joined Twilight.

"Yeah" Spike replied, sounding a bit unsure as he put a hand to his head.

"What happened?" Starlight asked.

"I...I don't know. I just had this sudden feeling something was wrong."

"Did you perhaps over exert yourself, darling?" Rarity suggested as she placed a caring hoof on his shoulder.

"No. I did way more during my training. It's like...I could tell that something bad was happening. Somewhere." Everyone looked at each other curiously, while the three mares comforting Spike looked at each other hoping they might have something. They all shrugged.

With the odd feeling gone and the realization that the party had halted, Spike shook it off and picked himself up. "I'm sure it was nothing. Come on, everypony. It's a party. Enjoy yourselves."

"Are you sure you're okay, Spike?" Twilight asked while everyone resumed the festivities.

"Yeah, Twilight."

"Are you absolutely certain, Spikey Wikey?" Rarity asked.

"I swear I'm okay. Don't worry about me. Hey Big Mac! Bet I could beat you at hoof wrestling without using the Force!"

"Yer on!"

"I got five bits on Spike!" Rainbow declared as she herself set up one of the tables for them.

"You think he could beat an Apple?!" Applejack declared indignantly. "Ah wager five on Big Mac!" The colts and the crusaders crowded around the table and made their own bets with each other.

"Two hunks showing off their muscles?! Yes, please!" Pinkie exclaimed as she took a front row seat.

"Ditto!" Starlight declared. "Go Spike!"

Twilight and Rarity drew back, the former in off put surprise, the latter in offense. Rarity practically charged to wedge herself next to Starlight, putting herself closer to Spike, much to Starlight's annoyance, and Twilight's further bewilderment.

In a time long passed this, Applejack would have to convey for her brother that he didn't want to talk about the results. And neither did she, but only when Rainbow gloated and pestered her to admit what happened.

Hours after the party ended, Spike lay in his bed asleep, shifting about as he made small grunts. The same feeling that he had at the party had returned, but it was happening more than a few times. His brow was furrowed in slight displeasure. Within his mind, each sudden wave brought with it quick instances of sounds. And for some reason they made the feeling worse.

Two similar snarls.

Loud cheering.

A stallion's malicious laughter.

Along with these sounds was the feeling of fear. Tortured, cowering, suffering fear. It was connected to these noises, they were the cause. Particularly with the last sound he heard before he woke up with a phantom pain in his back. The crack of a whip.

"AH!" Spike screamed as he quickly sat up and placed his hands on his back. Just as quickly, he lunged onto his feet, summoned his lightsaber into his hand, activated it, and held it close in a ready stance of attack. He panted quickly and heavily as his eyes scanned the room, while at the same starting to glow green. The glow receded right before his door opened.

"Spike! What's wrong?!"

His instincts reacted before recollection did. "Rah!" Spike exclaimed as he threw out a hand and levitated Twilight in a vice grip while holding his lightsaber back as if to throw it. Twilight gasped when she was lifted. Spike's mind became clear when he saw who he was holding. "Twilight" Spike heaved before he released her and deactivated his lightsaber. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was you." He let himself fall back on his behind, still panting, though slower and not as heavily.

Twilight shook off how the brief incident affected her and rushed to his bedside. "Are you okay?! What happened?! Was there someone here?!"

"No, I...I'm fine. I just had a...a nightmare, I guess. But not one like I've ever had before."

"What happened in it?" Twilight asked concernedly as she climbed onto the bed and placed a foreleg around him.

"That's just it. I don't think anything happened in it. Or at least I can't remember if anything did."

"Well, we don't remember most of our dreams, but the way you reacted seems like you would've remembered something."

"I know. But I don't remember anything, except...feelings. Like pain, and sadness...and fear. I felt" Spike suddenly wrapped Twilight in a hug. She was startled by this, but returned it nonetheless to comfort him. "So scared." He had a long pause before continuing. " was different than anything I've felt. Almost like it wasn't mine. Like I was...feeling someone else's fear." He was starting to sound haunted. "But there was so much of it. Too much for one creature."

"There there" Twilight said soothingly as she stroked his back. "It was just a nightmare. It's over." Twilight had never seen Spike like this, this affected by a nightmare, or that defensive. When he seized her with the Force, she got a look at his face in the glow of his saber. He looked as though he had been attacked, and ready to retaliate, but it was more than that. It was how his face conveyed anger and fear, the way his eyes looked into hers for the briefest moment. He had looked like a vicious animal backed into a corner, ready to defend itself. Ready to kill.

And for a split second, she had feared for her life. It terrified her.

Despite this, it only strengthened her resolve to stay with him and make sure he was alright. She tightened her hug, and he snuggled further into her embrace. She was reminded of when she was raising him while he was still relatively a hatchling. How he would run to her bed crying about having a nightmare and wanting to stay with her. She always said yes.

"Here, just lay down. I'll be here with you" she said as she guided his head to his pillow, repeating the same words from those old days. "I promise I won't leave you alone." Spike wrapped himself in his wings as he situated himself.

"Thanks, Twilight" Spike said softly.

Twilight lied down behind Spike, continuing to soothingly stroke his back to aid his return to slumber. When his breathing indicated he was asleep again, she scooted closer to wrap a wing over him. She drifted off herself soon after. Her last thought was hoping that whatever had happened with the nightmare wouldn't happen again. That he wouldn't be plagued by these odd feelings any longer. That he would have no reason to react the way he had a second time.

Her hope was in very deep vain.

Maul was thankful none of the common incidents he had heard so much about had occurred during his stay. It allowed Taral's first feeling of a disturbance in the Force to be that much more effective. Otherwise, it might've been only half as effective, even with what he did to help Taral feel it.

He had reached out to find what he felt the night Taral constructed his saber. The hidden disturbance that the Force told him Taral had to encounter. It was still far away, and after checking the holomap his probes made, he determined where this disturbance lay. In Canterlot. From there, he basically acted as a conduit for the disturbance to reach his clan brother.

He knew he was successful, as he felt Taral's anxiety after sending the strong echo of the disturbance. He was surprised to find he felt a pang of guilt, but he reassured himself it was necessary. Taral needed this, he could feel it.

Maul still needed some time to hone his magic abilities, but that didn't mean he couldn't leave some insurance. Especially after he felt Taral become calmer. He stretched his hand out the window once more and sent one last repitition of the disturbance. One with a special emphasis.

In his sleep, Spike's head jerked one last time as he felt the disturbance. It ensured the recently left impression was much stronger. He felt the pain again, but had a greater sense of its nature. It was inflicted maliciously, and harshly. It was deep, and excruciating. And it came from many.

Chapter 13

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Nearly a week had passed since Maul had helped Taral feel the disturbance. And during that time he had taken it upon himself to learn more about this disturbance. He needed to be as prepared as possible when the time came to deal with it. So, he sent out a few small probes to Canterlot to gather visual and audio information, with the instruction to stick to the less pleasant areas.

He also continued practicing his magic, mainly focussing on producing the green lightning to a stronger effect. He didn't see much need in performing incantations, spells, or a repeat of his manipulation of the rubble. It could have been much more beneficial to him if he did, but he had neither the interest or patience for it. He didn't make the best progress with his goal.

"You are my power! You will do as I command! RRAGH!" The most he accomplished was having the lightning surge all over his hands, only a few bolts being thrown in his frustration. He sighed in disappointment and frustration, extinguishing the smoke and lightning from his hands.

"Patience" he told himself, much as he hated doing so. So many times he had to deal with patience, flipping between annoying and tolerable when necessary. When he waited to strike at the Jedi when he was an apprentice, when waiting for the Jedi to come to him after his return, when building a position in the underworld, etc.

Just then, Maul's probes returned, having gathered everything they could on the nature of the disturbance. He turned upon hearing the sound of their hovering and placed his hands behind his back. "Show me what you've discovered." The probes obeyed Maul and made a large circle in the middle of the room before projecting a video recording and playing the accompanying audio. Maul's eyes widened and his brow slowly raised, not just from the surprise of what he was seeing, or the perfect opportunity it presented, but also from the unexpected feeling it gave him.


"Maul!" Spike exclaimed as he rushed into the zabrak's home. "I got your message and flew over as fast as I could. You said it was urgent."

"Indeed it is" Maul replied from his spot in the middle of the main hall, where he'd been waiting. "It concerns the sensation you've been feeling. I have felt it as well."

"You...You have?"

"Yes. It is a disturbance in the Force. They occur when something is wrong. Tell me what is you felt."

"I thought it was just nightmares" Spike muttered to himself. "I felt...fear. And pain. Horrible pain. But it felt different. Like it wasn't my own. And there was too much of it. Almost like-"

"It was the pain of many others" Maul finished for him. He didn't wait for Spike to question how he knew. "Then it is as I feared."

"What do you mean?"

Mail turned around to face Spike and lifted a hand in the air to make a gesture. His probes descended from above, floating behind him. "I felt the disturbance at the same time you did, and I felt the need to discover its source. I sent out these probes in its direction to investigate. And I...discovered something troubling, in the city of Canterlot."

"What is it?" Spike asked with clear worry. He hoped that whatever it was didn't pose a threat to the princesses or the citizens.

Maul hesitated. "You are not going to like what I'm about to tell you."

"Brother, this disturbance has been plaguing me for the last week. Please tell me so we can figure out how to put a stop to it."

Maul waited a beat, took a breath, and told him. Spike wasn't sure he heard Maul correctly, or he was having difficulty processing the information.

"An underground...dragon fighting ring?"

Maul nodded.

" a fight club, or something?"

"Not in the way you mean" Maul replied. "From what I saw, it is a place where dragons, young dragons, are taken and forced to fight one another for entertainment and profit."

"No" Spike replied immediately. "No, that's not possible. A place like that couldn't exist. Not in Equestria, and especially not in Canterlot. Not with the princesses there" he insisted.

"I have been to many cities in my time, Taral. I learned quickly that they all have two things in common. Dark corners for the scum and villainy to skulk about. And those in high positions of political and social power who turn a blind eye to the suffering these scum cause. Either from corruption, disinterest, or ignorance."

"The princesses would never turn a blind eye to the people that are suffering!"

"Having met them, I'm inclined to agree. But the fact that this place exists tells me they have no knowledge of it."

"But how could they of all ponies not know?!"

"The criminal element always finds a way to hide from those who would stop them. Intimidation, bribery, connections on the inside."

Spike stepped back, putting a hand to his temple, his mind reeling from the information. I don't believe it. I can't believe it. A fighting ring hidden form the princesses? Where dragons are forced to fight?! Like wild beats?! Wait. "By who?"


"Who runs this ring? Who makes these dragons fight? Older dragons?"

"I think you know the answer."

Spike furrowed his brow in confusion, until he remembered something. Something from his first nightmare. The laughter of a stallion. How could he know it was a stallion's specifically? "Ponies?"

"Mostly stallions, going by the footage the probes captured."

"But...there couldn't be so many ponies who are that bad. Most of them are nice, or at least don't mean any harm. There's only been a few bad ones, the villains."

"You have been raised in a caring family, and among benevolent rulers, Taral. Your perception of others is kind, optimistic. Inaccurate."

Spike took a moment to consider this, and then he became more aware of a certain detail. Young dragons. Young me? "Show me the footage."

"I would advise against that at this moment."

"Maul, show me the footage" Spike insisted as he stepped closer. "I need to see it. I need to see it, now! Let me see it!" He exclaimed to the probes, having stepped past Maul to speak to them directly. They looked to their owner, who gave them a nod.

The probes levitated backward to get enough space, once again making a circle to project their recording. Spike then saw an arena pit, bathed in dim lighting, a cage dome at the top. Around the cage were somewhere around fifty ponies acting as an audience, sitting in bleachers. All of them were cheering with aggressive enjoyment, like an audience at a wrestling match. But what caught Spike's attention the most were the individuals in the arena.

At the very bottom of the bit, which had a mixed black and brown dirt floor, were two dragons. Two very young dragons, not much bigger than Spike was before his transformation, fighting each other. They didn't even have their wings yet.

One of the young dragons was a bit bigger than the other. It had patches of missing scales, with burns and claw scars in their place. Some of its scales were also scratched, while others had bite indents, noticeably around the throat. The smaller one had far less signs of previous fights, but wasn't devoid of them.

The dragons walked on all fours, snarling at each other, swiping at each other with their claws, leaving marks. They tackled each other and tried to hurt one another in any way they could, clawing, biting, tail smacks. They threw each other, slammed each other on the ground, and threw their fire at each other. A magic barrier appeared when the fire touched the wall or the cage, protecting the viewers.

The entire time, Spike's ears were assaulted with the loud cheers of the audience, shouting and yelling encouragement and demands down at their entertainment. They were so loud they almost drowned out the snarls and growls.

"There you go! Get him!"

"Use those claws! Go for the eyes!"

"Sink those fangs into his throat!"

"I bet good money on you, whelp!"

"You're bigger than her! You should've won already!"

"There you go, girl!"

"Earn your food!"

The room seemed to shake for a moment as Spike's hands slowly clenched into fists, trembling with rage. Maul watched from behind, satisfied at his brother's growing anger, but he couldn't bring himself to smile, knowing the internal pain it was causing him.

The recording suddenly froze and the sound cut off. The smaller, apparantly female dragon was on the older male's back, her claws digging in to the side of his head to hold on while she bit his fins. His tail and hands were reaching to pull her off, his eyes directed upwards trying to look at her, his mouth open in a frozen scream of pain and anger.

"That is all they recorded." Spike didn't respond, but he was radiating pure hatred. "Taral?" Maul said as he stepped to his brother's side. He then saw that Spike's eyes were fully glowing green, and they weren't focussed on the dragons, but on the ponies. The ponies who were frozen in their malicious enjoyment of the barbaric spectacle they arranged.

"They need to be stopped" Spike said in low, slightly raspy voice. "We have to tell the princesses."


"What?!" Spike exclaimed in outrage as he turned to face Maul. The green glow of his eyes had briefly intensified. "What do you mean no?! They won't have any problem dealing with this!"

"I don't doubt it, but it would only be temporary" Maul calmly explained. "More likely than not, that is not the only ring in operation, and if one is shut down, the others will scatter and find a new hiding place. The princesses would surely use every resource they could, and it would surely be noticed, even if they did so discreetly. And I doubt they would want to make this public. If the dragons got wind of this, it would be an international disaster."

"I didn't even think of that" Spike replied in shock. "Ember's been a big supporter of ponies and dragons getting along, but if she or any other dragons found out about this, they would be furious. They would want to take action. Ember might not even be able to stop them. They might burn down Equestria! What can we do?!"

"A situation like this requires covertness. Stealth. I have given this thought, and I have formulated a plan. It will involve infiltrating this ring, but we need to be disguised. Myself especially. I know something of a way to do this, but we will need assistance from someone else."


*knock knock*

"Maul, young Taral. I was not expecting the two of you at all. But you are more than welcome-" Zecora stopped mid sentence as she took note of the serious expressions on their faces. "Is something wrong?"

Maul answered her. "We need your help."