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Study in Sanguine

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The room is dark and hazy, humming with primal energy. The jedi wakes on his back, and finds himself strapped tightly to a rack. His first instinct is to reach out with the Force and feel his surroundings, but when he tries, centering himself and steadying his breath, he’s unable to. A chill races up his spine. Turning his head also proves futile, as is trying to move his limbs. He feels sluggish and confused, his connection to the Force muffled.

For a heartstopping moment, the man wonders if he’s being held in an Embrace of Pain. The torture device - a strange creature from an even stranger planet - is a favorite of the Yuuzhan Vong, who find the agony it inflicts a suitable conduit for meditation. For others, though, the Embrace is excruciating - hours and hours of regulated pain just shy of too much, never relenting and never allowing the release of blacking out. To die in such a way is an unbearable thought.

Only when it is too late, will the Jedi realize there are far worse fates.

“Awake, are we?”

The smooth voice comes from somewhere above him, sliding through the dark like silk. In the dim candlelight, a face appears, hovering over his own. His heart stops, and then begins to race. Kylo Ren, the Jedi Killer, smiles down at him with sharp teeth and burning eyes. They look black in the gloom, the flickering sconces caught like maddened stars in his gaze.

Beneath the other’s amused attention, the man struggles anew, trying to lift his deadened body into motion. To his own horror, he has no more luck than before. He’s trapped. Ren chuckles, patting his cheek condescendingly, and before the jedi can snarl his displeasure, a calloused hand finds his temple, increasing the pressure in his head. The world goes black.

When he wakes again, there are a row of figures surrounding him. With his head stuck in place, he can only make out those directly in his line of sight. Unlike Ren, whose pale face is stark in the darkness, the others wear an array of masks, their warped visages staring down at him. The Knights of Ren. For the first time since he first awakened, the true danger of his situation sets in.

There’s a metal bar in his mouth, akin to a bridle, though the man isn’t sure if it was there before or not. His eyes roll frantically, catching glimpses of black robes near the side of whatever he’s laid on. Fear is brackish in his mouth, and his body is covered in anxious sweat. The man has heard enough stories to know what happens next. Desperate, he tries to connect with the Force, all of his senses straining. It’s there, just out of his reach, kept locked inside him by whatever they’ve done to him. Kylo leans into his vision again, this time from the head of the table, making his face appear upside down. He leers, the sockets of his eyes hollow and bruised, and flattens a palm over the panicking jedi’s chest.

Even laid prostrate, with his Force denied him, he can feel how powerful the other is. It seeps into the air, congesting the room with his energy, and it’s a wonder the Enforcer can even function. He’s filled to the brim with stolen power, the Force roaring beneath his skull in a palpable storm. It’s terrifying and awe inspiring all at once, and the man can’t stop the harsh, trembling sound that escapes him. He thinks of his family and friends, even as the sight of Ren’s blown pupils and growing smile sends a fresh bolt of horror through him.

A prickle of pain below his sternum tells hi he missed the knife in Kylo’s hand. It’s the only warning he gets.

For a long time after, the only sound is muffled screaming.

The blood is hot on his tongue and thick down his throat. Split down the middle, the jedi on the table finally succumbs, the life passing from him in a weak tide. He lasted longer than most, his ribs splayed wide and his intestines strewn over the sides of his body. Greedily, his knights begin shoving the ropes of tissue into their mouths, their masks pushed far enough up to free them. Watching with detached interest, Kylo chews through the wet iron of the jedi’s heart. He’ll collect his lungs later, as well as other choice bits, to be stored for consumption over the next few weeks.

For now, the Knight indulges, savoring the warm weight of the organ in his hands, and the slippery coat of blood dripping from his mouth and chin. Already his headache is abating, the sense of his brain being ripped in two calmed by the fresh source of Force-laden meat. It fills him with a dizzying surge of power, his body metabolizing yet another pool of genetic tether. When they’re done, and when they’ve stored the parts they want, they’ll complete the ritual, turning bone to ash for Kylo to gorge on. If all goes well, and the jedi was powerful enough, he’ll receive visions, flashes of maddened insight sure to help him along his path.

Until then, Kylo bares blood slick teeth in a sharp grin, and sinks his hand back into the cooling chest cavity.