The Old Republic: The Third Lesson is a short story by Paul S. Kemp published in Star Wars Insider 124. The story features the Sith Lord Darth Malgus, and serves as a prelude to Kemp's novel, The Old Republic: Deceived. Both The Third Lesson and Deceived are entries in The Old Republic novel series, tying into the Star Wars: The Old Republic video game.
After the Sith Empire lost the Battle of Alderaan, Darth Malgus felt rage burn through his body. He was unwilling to believe that the Empire had lost Alderaan to the Republic. Malgus felt the presence of a light side user and demanded that his pilot take him back. He scoured the area searching in the Force for the light side user. Initially there was nothing, but then he felt him. He instructed the pilot to hover above the ruins until he returned although he was seriously wounded. A Zabrak Jedi revealed himself and ignited his blue blade and the two engaged.
A boy named Veradun followed his father into the family's private zoo that was financed by the Empire. Veradun's father told him that he enjoyed the animals so much because he could learn much from them. When the child asked what, the father instructed Veradun to follow. The father led Veradun to a Kouhun tank and lifted a feeder rat above it from a nearby cage. The father dropped the rat in the tank and the kouhun bit it in half. The father asked Veradun why the kouhun killed the rat as Veradun had fed it only moments before. The boy answered that it was instinct. The lesson from that animal was that savagery was the province of animals, not men and that savagery was only useful if it was controlled and put in service to an end.
Malgus realized that his bloodlust and anger had allowed him to be sloppy and overlook the Jedi's power. Malgus allowed himself to control his anger attacked the Jedi, blocking large amounts of rubble. Malgus came to the conclusion that he could have ended the Jedi at any time, but he needed the satisfaction of a lightsaber kill.
Veradun's father showed him the viirsun next, an avian that Veradun found particularly boring. The mother fed the viirsun offspring some partially digested insects. But the offspring quickly attacked the mother and killed her. As it turned out, the viirsun wasn't one and was actually a mimnil, a creature that looked like a juvenile viirsun and had actually killed the viirsun offspring and waited for the mother. The lesson was that Veradun must trust no one, least of all those who appear weak.
Malgus was surprised when he felt another Jedi in the Force. The other Jedi switched on his lightsaber, but was quickly killed by Malgus when the Sith crushed his windpipe. Malgus felt a quick flash of anger from the Zabrak Jedi and the two fought once more. Malgus let Force lightning strike the Jedi, but he continued to fight never the less. When Malgus channeled more power into the Jedi, he fell to his knees... beaten.
Veradun's father led him to a cage with a tarp over it. Veradun thought it must be new to the zoo, as he had never seen it before. His father told Veradun that the boy's instructors had seen few with his talents in the Force and that he would be a great warrior. The father walked away telling Veradun to look inside the cage and figure out the third lesson. When the boy pulled the tarp off it, the cage was empty and realization struck home.
Malgus turned off his lightsaber as a confused Jedi pondered why. But Malgus stepped forward and activated his lightsaber in the Jedi's chest. The look in the Jedi's eyes had said, Mercy from a Sith? The question in the Jedi's eyes was one Malgus had asked himself countless times and one that his father had tried to tell him. Sometimes there was just a empty cage...
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