"Whoever you are, I will applaud your relocation abilities!" Count Dooku shouted while standing upon a wide multi-tiled floor within a vast impenetrable darkness save only for a single set of closed doors in front of the Count, "However, your security detail is greatly lacking. I will take my leave of this place while you pray that we never met again.
Suddenly the doors began to slowly open, revealing a figure in dark robes that Dooku observed with keen focus. The figure stepped out from the fading doors, revealing a zabrak with red skin and black tattoos upon his face. More importantly, Dooku sensed the potent and familiar presence of the dark side within this newcomer and soon recognized him for who he was.
"So you were my predecessor." Dooku said as the figure allowed his robes to fall from his form, revealing a simple black attire that did little to hide the cybernetic legs that the zabrak sith had in place of the ones that he'd lost, "My master praised your assassination prowess after your demise. The force must indeed be strong with you for you to stand before me alive and in one piece...relatively speaking."
"The Dark Side adheres to the Will of the Strong. I am Strong." Darth Maul explained with a voice that eminated with malice and confidence, "For I am it's master. A Dark Lord of the Sith."
Dooku burst out into laughter. As the fallen jedi's laughter echoed through this strange place, Maul stood in place, not moving as Dooku continued to mock him.
"Your claim is much more valid than many others who said the same thing. But you..." Several tiles lifted from their place on the floor as Dooku approached Maul, "You wear the trappings of the sith, you were trained by the sith, you fight as a sith and you think as a sith. But these can be imitated, my friend."
"I would say the same of you." Maul replied as he allowed Dooku to walk past without either looking at the other, "But you lack a fine quality that separates the Sith from the weak."
"A Sith shows no fear." The two sith lords said at the same time, "And I sense much fear in you."
"If I have any fear, it is not for you." Maul spat as he felt the echoes of his master's laugh course through his mind, "I have fought and slain many of your kind, Jedi."
"That title, no longer has any meaning for me." Dooku replied, exhaling as he took in the environment and the situation that he was now in, "Perhaps I should demonstrate my true profession."
"Amuse me then."
"With pleasure." Dooku spun around at the same time that his foe did, unleashing torrents of blue-violet force lightning at his foe. The Sith assassin narrowly dodged the blast and telepathically lifted and threw several tiles in Dooku's direction. Dooku focused to stop the tiles in place and then lifted up several others to throw them and the earlier tiles at Maul. Maul threw out his arm to punch a hole in the wall of tiles while the rest flew by him as he ran towards Dooku. Dooku reached out and gripped the assassin's cybernetic leg to throw the assassin to the ground and then fired another blast of force lightning at the zabrak.
The Zabrak snarled in angrish as Dooku continued to unleash his force lightning upon the fallen sith lord. The Fallen Jedi Master raised a single eyebrow as Maul managed to stand upon his feet as if he were resisting the effects of the lightning surge. Seeing the Zabrak pull back his arm, Dooku immediately did the same as he relinquished his lightning and applied his Own force push to counter Maul's.
Never moving, they struggled against one another; never faltering, they applied more and more force to their tug of war; their eyes locked with each other, their determination to kill the other only increased. Finally, the air-pocket compressed by the combined Force pushes ruptured and exploded, flinging both sith lords away from each other as the area echoed with the sound of small pieces of debris that hit the floor.
Dooku kept himself from hitting the hard floor with the force and lightly levitated to the floor as Maul flipped onto his feet. Though neither would admit it, they were impressed with the force power that they had displayed with each other.
"Well...at least I am amused."
"It is clear that this contest will only be decided through one avenue." Dooku declared as he brought out his curved lightsaber and activated it to reveal a scarlet blade, "But by our martial skill with a lightsaber."
"Agreed." Maul took out a long lightsaber hilt that Dooku noted to be a saberstaff and activated a single crimson blade.
"Intriguing." Dooku smirked in curiosity of what his opponent must be thinking and noted a second hilt on Maul's belt, "If you wish to use a second, I will not disallow it. It will make no difference in this contest between us."
"My tools are mine to use when I see fit." Maul answered as he settled into a stance that Dooku recognized. The two combatants quietly closed the difference between each other until Maul moved in to begin the battle. Dooku used the force to sweep out Maul's legs, though the assassin managed to stay footed when Dooku dealt the opening blow of their duel.
Dooku fluidly stepped and clashed his blade against the heavy strikes of his opponent. Both foes used their agility in their own ways to try and confound the other.
Dooku's agility was more focused within his arms and his footwork as he sought to control the central line of his opponent and sever the unrevealed secondary blade of Maul's saberstaff before it could be activated. With grace and finesse, he would unbalance his enemy and defeat them at the opportune moment.
Maul struck with the ferocity of a Sarapin beast, using high energy maneuvers and blows to beat away at his enemy's capabilities. To the outside observer, Maul's blows seemed like a disjointed dance. But Dooku had studied and easily recognized the rising momentum that the Sith Assassin was employing.
Finally, the two were locked in a tight bladelock that Dooku found himself losing. But this was more than a battle of physical capability, but of mental focus as well.
"Tell me Maul...how does it feel to only be half of a man?"
"I'm not human remember? Unlike your weakling apprentice was, old man."
"The Force acts beyond the limits of crude matter."
"Then why do I see sweat on your wrinkled brow?"
"Dun Moch...an effective tool against the uninitiated." Dooku stated as the two Sith continued to clash their blades against one another, "But we are initiated, aren't we Maul? Apprentices in the ways of the Dark Side."
"Members of the Dark Lords of the Sith."
"And you failed us."
"Regrettably. But I have returned, for only the strong survive."
"We shall see just how strong you are." Dooku pushed off of Maul's blade, forcing both combatants to fall back several feet from each other, "I suppose that we shouldn't waste our strength on words, should we?"
"No...I suppose that we shouldn't." It was a quick moment, but Dooku saw Maul swiftly grab the second hilt as the two clashed once more and Dooku was unsurprised when Maul activated the black blade of the darksaber. Dooku adapted his footing to adjust for the increased velocity of Maul's duel-saber capability and increased offensive reach. Dooku's mind continued to wheel under the merciless assault that was starting to gain the advantage over his duelist style as his combatant gained more and more momentum.
Sensing an opening, Dooku locked his blade against both of Maul's and knocked them away as he moved to strike Maul's side. Maul dodged the strike and slash kicked Dooku in his shoulder and kicked him onto the floor face first. Dooku recovered and pushed out with the force and threw Maul away from him. Dooku stood upon his feet and fired a bolt of Force Lightning to momentarily stun Maul as he closed the distance between them to finish this fight. Maul had recovered enough to defend against Dooku's calculated and rapid strikes.
Dooku fully knew about the weaknesses of duel wielding and maintained his offense to prevent the Sith Lord from being able to build any more kinetic momentum. Dooku side-stepped a strike from the dark saber and slashed for Maul's neck. Maul blocked the attack and snarled when Dooku blocked his blow from the dark saber. Though he was at a seeming disadvantage, Maul could sense something within his opponent. A weakness that was becoming more and more apparent the longer that this contest continued. Maul smiled even as Dooku pushed him back with a burst of force power and when Dooku fired a bolt of force lightning into his body. Deciding to keep up this growing weakness, Maul used his sabers to block Dooku's torrent of lightning and focused upon Dooku's wind pipe at the same time that Dooku had tried to grip his leg.
Both combatants were brought to their knees before recovering and continuing their duel. Maul saw noted how Dooku's strikes were starting to become more direct, attempting to disarm or amputate a limb from Maul rather than go for killing blows. All while Maul continued to seize the physical advantage. He found that it was becoming easier and easier to bat aside Dooku's "finer" strikes with his greater momentum and fierce velocity. After batting aside Dooku's blade, he kicked the left side of Dooku's rib cage and spun around Dooku's counterstrike until both combatants had their backs to each other. In a split second, both combatants began to spin in order to correct this and Maul was quicker.
A second blade activated.
Looking at the back of his opponent, Maul smiled deviously as Dooku staggered forward with his right arm lifeless upon the ground. Meanwhile, Maul held his fully activated saberstaff in his right hand and the darksaber in the other. Maul had long learned patience from his defeat at the hands of Kenobi and waited as Dooku dazily walked forward in pain and shock. The old man turned and fired a bolt of force lightning which Maul blocked with his darksaber while spinning his saberstaff to rapidly cut off Dooku's hand and his arm up to the elbow and then the rest of it up to his shoulder.
Pain, Agony, and the sheer weight of defeat stunned Dooku as he fell to his knees. He looked to where his right arm lied and tried to focus upon the lightsaber within his lifeless hand. But the pain that he felt was too great...he couldn't focus to call upon the force and lift up the lightsaber. Even if he could, he had no hands to hold it with nor any other way to continue this contest against the zabrak.
He had lost.
"Submit." Maul commanded as the blades of his sabers rested next to Dooku's neck. Just as he was about to deliver the final blow, he heard a laugh that made his fierce eyes widen in fear. The first true fear that Dooku had ever seen from his opponent since their duel had begun, "Master?"
"Well done Lord Maul! Well done!" Darth Sidious said with sadistic excitement as he slowly marched from forth from the surrounding shadows. The arena crackled with his delightful laughter as he approached his apprentices, "You have failed me for the last time, Tyrannus."
"Lord Sidious..." Dooku breathed, quickly realizing that a transference had just occurred within the Order of the Sith Lords, "But...you would have this...beast to lead the Fist of the New Order?"
"The Fist of the New Order was only born within your delusional mind. A fixation born from your pride...I will not allow your lack of vision to destroy my plans for my Empire." Sidious said with disappointment, Maul watched his master stalk towards him as if waiting upon his call, "This old fool was a waste of my time and resources. Kill him."
"Why?" Sidious laughed as Dooku stoically spoke, he was not asking for mercy but for a reason, "We could...destroy the jedi...together...all of us. Are the jedi not our true enemy?"
"Remember the first and only truth of the Sith Lords, Tyrannus. There can only be two." Sidious coldly stated to the shaking Count as he approached the recently concluded duel, "And you are no longer my apprentice. You have been replaced by one more worthy and more powerful."
"Take this knowledge with you into oblivion." Maul said to the silent and fearless Count, "Good...you will not beg for mercy. Had circumstances been different, if I had died on Naboo...you would have been a worthy successor to our master. But, the weak shall die to make room for the strong and the worthy. Despair if you wish, but remember that I granted you a warrior's death." The Count closed his eyes and took a final breath before Maul brought his blades through the Count's neck, decapitating Darth Tyrannus and instantly ending his life.
"You have proven yourself powerful, Darth Maul." Maul sheathed his sabers and knelt before the cloaked figure in reverence and obedience, "Rise and follow me, my apprentice."
"Yes Master." Now where he belonged, Lord Maul stood upon his feet and followed his master away from his mysterious battleground. He reached back and used the force to pull the curved hilt of his fallen foe into his hand. In front of the zabrak, Sidious' face held a wide and sadistic smile from the events that had occurred on this day, "What of the Seperatist Movement that Dooku directed my master?"
"You will assume command of it from the shadows with Grievous as your mouthpiece."
"As I did with Mandalore?"
"I will not fail you again master."
"See that you don't." Sidious warned his newly returned apprentice, "The next time that you fail me, I will see to it that your hatred has nothing left to sustain. Understood?"
"Yes my master."