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Bakra was standing against a wall, idly waiting for whatever big announcement the Dark Lord was looking to make. While it meant little to him whatever, the Jedi, GA, or the Sith controlled the galaxy, he had to admit that the Sith threw wicked parties. He'd already lost track of most the pilots under him. He certainly didn't mind. And while he didn't necessarily engage in the more debaucherous partying, that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy a nice drink and get to mingling. He stepped off the wall and into the crowd. The people surrounding him was abuzz with stories of battle and glory from Dark Sun.

 

He shook a few hands, other officers and the sorts. If this were a bar, he'd be boasting about his kill count. Half a dozen fighters confirmed throughout the course of the battle. But bragging didn't do well for an officer in an official event like this, he's discovered. It was a better play to let his pilots disperse into the crowd and brag for him. Normally he wouldn't scheme for a promotion like this, but it felt right considering the environment. Sith had a certain reputation, and while he didn't care for career or duty, he like a large paycheck. He didn't exactly get paid per kill anymore. 

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Blood tasted like warm copper in his mouth as a split lip dripped blood onto his white teeth. The Pain from the blow had already been wiped away by the surge of adrenaline that pulsed through him with every second. The next punch flashed towards his face from the other direction and Delta bobbed his head under the blow, following up with a swift jab that caught the other man on the tip of his chin. Pain flashed from the two knuckles as they kissed bone, but the lights in the other man’s eyes snuffed out as he was knocked out where he stood. He dropped slowly slamming his head onto the decking and going into a seizure. The brute of a man writhed there for a moment before Sith medico arrived and dragged him to the sidelines. The battle of the Sith in black jumpsuits versus the Black Sun in their crimson red flight uniforms stretched the entirety of the makeshift arena.

 

A gladia display, but one that brought Delta so much joy that he was grinning from ear to ear, despite the blood. The brutality of unarmed contest was a thrill he did not often get to experience, though he trained for it constantly. It was some sort of contest between the crew of the Marie and the general Sithari army. And though Delta’s men and women were good, they were not used to the brawl.

 

He shook out a hand and dove into the fight at his right. A younger woman from the black sun was getting pummeled by a Sith woman and was busy kneeing the black sun agent in the back. Delta’s heavy fist blow stopped the sith cold and she slumped to the side. He shook the strings of hair that clung to his knuckles and he barked a laugh. 

 

“Get up Teres.” He pulled the agent to her feet where she swayed for a second, shaking her head before clapping him on the shoulder. Her red curls bounced and stuck on the blood that leaked out of her right ear. “Just a little longer, then this will be over.” She nodded then shouted for him to duck. The girls shout, was drowned out by the explosive sound of a fist hitting him in the base of his neck. And her shocked young pretty freckled face, stained with blood, disappeared in an array of stars. 

 

-

 

Perhaps relying on teenage soldiers was like a bad idea. 

 

The tone of voice betrayed the sneer in her voice, that Delta did not even have to turn his helmeted head to see her disgusted expression. 

 

“Now now, we can hardly judge the separatists when both of us also walk a battlefield little one.”  

 

His boots made little sound as they walked through the ruins of the outpost. He knelt beside a body of a young teenager who had taken the fragmentation from a mortar and had bled out clutching his rifle until the harsh dusty trench had turned to slick mud from his blood. 

 

“What do you think? Thirteen? You only outage him by what three years?” 

 

Kailens voice was hollow as she stepped over another equally young body. 

 

And how old are you then Delta? I'm A jedi, and I am much better prepared for fighting then these children.

 

He grinned into the tight helmet, almost triggering one of the HUD readouts. 

 

“Aww well, eleven. You know, growth accel and all that.” 

 

This was their first mission after all. How could she even know. And her gasp gave him some degree of pleasure. 

 

What?

 

He turned. His Illuminated T visor meeting her blue eyes. 

 

“What? Do you think we three million just volunteered and grew up on Kamino waiting? We were bred for this, you know that.” 

 

Were those tears? He couldn’t tell. The anger and shock on her face was enough to reward his little outburst but the dust of Melida/Daan could mimic tears well enough, he would need to get her a helmet too if they lived very much longer. Cries and movement on the horizon told him that death was very much a possibility, and one coming fast. His DC17 came up in one hand and he crouched beside her. One hand pushing her down onto the pile of bodies. Then he pulled his cloak over them both. Blink. Illumination on his suit vanished. All he could hear was her choking breathing. 

 

-

 

Blink

 

His head felt like it was filled with spiked gravel and he spat out a mouth of blood and rolled to his side. Teresa was also laying beside him on the cold decking receiving a boot in the chest for her efforts. He growled and lept to his feet again. Another day. Another fight. Another World, another day to die. Another day to fail at that too. 

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Telperien touched the center of her forehead with a bloody finger and bowed. First to the Spider, then to the Darth Nyrys. Then the Dathomiri spun on her heel and marched from the room. She walked the long corridors of the Super Star Destroyer with little focus as she searched for a barracks that was not occupied with troops or pilots. She had quarters, but they were kilometers away through many levels of turbolifts so when the next barrack quarters appeared on her left she turned in. It was relatively quiet. A pilot’s dormitory whose crew was not yet back. She waved hello to the mouse droid that scurried around the room and placed her satchel down. 

 

She withdrew from it her dathomiri war garb and frowned slightly at the lack of polish on the interlocking darkmetal scales. She growled and rubbed the suit over with one of the rags found on the counter, then stripped herself of her robe and uniform. She stepped into the refresher and let the warm water run through her hair. Blood from her arm pooled in the water currents that ran through her toes to circle the drain at her feet. A liberal application of soap from the dispenser on the wall, more water, then she toweled off and sat down in front of the mirror. Unlike the Sith Lady some distance away, she did not partake in transformation into beast but nervously looked for signs of decay. Inside the eyelid, gums, ears, tongue. No bleeding, no sign of the disease that she was terrified would waste her away again. The last gift as a child she had been given from the Dathomiri she had so recently overthrown. 

 

With no sign of that wasting disease she sat back and looked at the sheepishly grinning face in the mirror. Pretty, if a bit plain. Chapped lips and a wide grin over a tan and slightly freckled face. Dark hair that her strong fingers were pulling into braids. When the hair was finished, she dressed, finishing with her boots, she looked again at the armour she wore. Leather jerkin with a scale maille vest of sith darkmetal, a bare left arm, which she had covered with a thick leather vambrace. Pants of leather, boots, and a belt. She looked all the part of an archer from millennia ago. 

 

So I represent my people well. 

 

And she strode to where the brawl was beginning.

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F E A S T.

 

 

 

The mess hall was incredible, width and expanse stretched far and wide; a stretch of space that ministered to the thousands present. Vast banners magnificently pressed with the armorial bearings of the Sith Empire hung from mammoth pillars strewn across the monumental chamber, waving boldly in the face of all who looked up from below. Rows of steel seated all who were of proper rank or sanction, while the thralls of the Sith stewed and braised fresh provisions for them to consume. Drink and festive ceremonies ruled the coming hours with boisterous Imperial speakers honoring the fallen and glorifying those that still drew life. The conquerors extracted their fill as Vikings did, hoarding over their feast and addressing the adrenaline inside their blood with gladiatorial fight. Somewhere in the middle of the mess hall, tables had largely been turned over, creating improvised boundaries. Those of which dared to step inside of the broad circle, surrendered their peace, and offered themselves to a simple contest of might. Imperials, Agents of the Black Sun, and the hair-raising Sith all entered with their knuckles bare and their spirits running on a furious high. The brew and blend of blood and feed, flavors of exotic meats and drink, while battle and merrymaking roared without interruption. The power of the dark side was sublime, grand and distinguished by the powerful individuals that roamed nearby, feeding on the blind enthusiasm that spread like wildfire across the Scarab.

 

Conversations spilled over when the glasses began to dry, fill, and then empty again. The boldness of Bakra the Brave was one of the many shared tales that barked from mouth to ear, Imperial crewmen of the victorious armada never shied from boasting. The sheer volume of kills now under his belt, upholstered by a thunderous skill in weaving death between the enemy formations was a thing of art. Parables of Nyrys the Red Devil, unflinchingly weightless in her dance of death, devouring those that stood before her and furthering the enigma of cannibalism that haunted those that spoke her name. The young Anzati King allowed the whispers to entertain him as he swept by the masses and settled himself quietly amidst the crowd. The bloat of his power was easily suppressed, for he had done it since he was first introduced to the force, disguising his presence in order to move with the highest of efficiency, the fleet and prowl of the blackest vornskr. The Emperor King sat cockeyed on the lip of the table closest to the impromptu arena, watching his soldiers break each other. Robes of black with a fabric that seemed braided with the translucency of shadows was what he wore, the tunic beneath was woven and knotted with shadowsilk and trimmings of the purest gold. Those around him understood he held the supremacy of a Sith, and the feral red locks that hung in bunches from his hood, was the only sign that he was indeed the Dark King. 

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Strike. Block. Parry. 

 

The classic rules of swordplay applied to the not so friendly fight with fists and feet. Only when it devolved to ground fighting, did all rules change. So an open palm strike to the upper face of a Sith woman was enough to elicit a cry of pain before Delta swept her ankles and tossed her onto the circle of tables. It brought a soft cheer from his men and women who still stood beside him in their little shrinking circle. But then it was back to the brawl, Delta’s eyes ever looking towards the throne of the Sith Emperor. The King of the Stars as Telperien had christened him. 

 

Another set of crewmen, some kind of Sith Imperial Flight corps breached the ring and made for the smaller group of embattled Black Sun. Delta’s eyes found the leader, a large man with three chevrons tattooed on his hands. He was holding back, but was clearly the one who had goaded his men into a fight. End it quickly. 

 

“Dubrillion manoeuvre!” he whispered to the three men beside him who informed the rest as the wave of pilots fell upon them. 

 

Delta pointed at him with a bloody finger. 

 

“Forever sergeant, do your own fighting!” 

 

He shrugged laughing at the man’s roar of indignation and fell back to the other side of the ring, letting him pass through the crowd of Black Sun who made way for him. That was except for the well placed foot of a corporal who knew Delta’s command. The large pilot fell right where Delta placed a stern kick to the side of his head. Ending the fight before it began. The man groaned and was silent. Delta dove back into the fight with a blow to the stomach to one of the grey uniformed men then kicked him aside. The pilots fell back in short order and Delta swung his arm out to his injured men and women. 

 

“Now friends let us eat and drink, we have bathed this battlefield in hard won blood.” He laughed and grabbed a mug of ale. “And so it is consecrated.” He downed the drink and spat a mouthful of blood onto the decking. Grinning at the burning in his wounded mouth from the alcohol. His men cheered and they took a seat at the large table. He clapped Teres on her back and laughed again as she winced. She sighed and drained her mug as well, letting some of it spill past her lips to wet her crimson uniform. 

 

“How long have you been with me Teres?”

 

She laughed again and shook her red haired head. 

 

“Since I was a child you rescued from Black X-1. It's been over a decade since you and Crosa-” 

 

Black X-1. That dirty criminal lab that had striven to produce the alpha variants to the Rage viruses. They had been striving to produce what? A virus that was going to genetically target some kind of trait in humans. Why couldn’t he remember this. He had killed them all with Hoverich by his side. Using some kind of vicious gas. Had he really just killed indiscriminately for no reason? That was your entire personality for years you moron. 

 

 “-Hell I was even the youngest knight in the crimson twelve before half of us died at Dathomir-” 

 

He cut her off with a hug. It wasn’t a romantic thing. It was an emotional embrace. It was a smothering hug of a man who was glad to have at least one person by his side through all this. He wished he could have hugged Ailbasi goodbye. Why hadn’t he? Depression? Pride? All foolishness. He took a deep breath whispering a thanks to Teres and turned back to his drink, the smell of her hair and sweat still thick in his nostrils. What did it smell like?

 

-

 

It smelled like dust and fear. Dust that had filtered through a close sealed republic military issued air reservoir. It stuck to his tongue and filled his mouth with its plaster. The soft breathing of the Jedi beside him lulled his senses to the outside world as he fought at the dregs of sleep that pulled at him from all sides. A look at the dim chronometer in his HUD told him he had been awake for nearly thirty two hours, and a quicker glance told him that the Jedi had also fallen asleep in their hidden shelter under the enemies nose. An hour of rest surely wouldn’t hurt. His arm pulled the sleeping jedi closer under his cloak and she mumbled something in a sleepy tone before snuggling into the dust and the armour at his chest. He smiled slightly, scanning the horizon where sentries patrolled from their firebase. Surely a moment of sleep couldn’t hur-

 

-

 

The crack of his forehead hitting the mugs edge brought him out of the daydream. Teres laughed and slapped his back. “No time for sleep Prince. There is still quite the party going on.” 

 

He managed a laugh and drained his cup again, cold blue eyes searching the crowd, as if looking for a matching set of steel blue eyes and a sea of freckles. He shivered and hunkered back over his mug of ale. 

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Mordecai stepped into the arena, a robotic arm resting in his grasp, and a second lightsaber resting on his belt for the time being. He was no stranger to parties, but this one seemed to have devolved into a brutal fistfight. He smirked. It seemed the Sith troops held up to the same reputation as their masters. His goal for now however was to find Lord Valinor, his master. She was likely awaiting his return, to judge his progress and his deeds. He hefted his trophy over his shoulder, looking around cautiously. He could see members of her legion mingling in the crowd, so it wasn't unlikely she was nearby.

 

He heard whispers and tales of others' deeds and accomplishments in the battle. Dead Jedi, wrecked ships, and slaughtered troops; to hear it from the troops, the battle was a resounding success. But he knew there was likely more to it. The Scarab had been forced to retreat, and without support, the station may have fallen. He knew nothing of this conflict or the Dark Lord's strategy, but losing a station and sustaining heavy damage to the Scarab was likely not the plan.  Still, it wasn't his position to judge the war. Not yet, at least. He'd go where he was told, for now.

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Triumph was what the Scarab celebrated, their arrival had aided their allies, and stemmed their extinction from the battlefield with odds. Minimal losses were tallied for the expedition, and a severe increase was wielded when the leadership of the Black Sun had decided to consolidate their fixed assets into the possession of the powerful Sith Empire. The advent of the Sith was a mere caution to the Jedi and Republic forces that had decided to assemble in vast numbers to isolate the infamous Delta-73 and demand surrender by means of violence. The ultimate outcome spoke volumes to the calculated efficiencies of the armada and the crew that manned each vessel. With success came an extreme level of prudence however, and with influx of allies and prisoners that made their presence known aboard, a swift knife would slice into the ship and carve the abscesses from the root. Members of the Sphere of Sith Philosophy would do the job. 

 

The Sphere of Sith Philosophy is led by Dark Councilman Darth Gw’rchod, an aged being of Cerean origin morphed and melted by years of dark side torture. A silent skeletal specter of a being who rarely speaks; when he does, however, it is in a chilling low growling undertone that sends shivers up the spines of his followers and his foes. Those who cross Darth Gw’rchod are known to vanish suddenly in the night. Most are never seen again; but those that are found again, are often found chattering twitching wrecks espousing dark side philosophies and little else as they look on in horror at unseen nightmares that plagues their every waking moment. The Knights of Red Truth spread themselves thin throughout the Sith Dreadnaught, operating on the whim of the mysterious Gw'rchod. These were the militant groups of Sith that have dedicated themselves to the preservation of pure Sith beliefs within the Sith Empire, black clad enforcers of the Pyramid of Sith Philosophy that swoop in to punish and reeducate any who espouse beliefs that conflict with Sith ideologies. Those that were eager to loan themselves to the Sith Empire from the remaining Black Sun, would be met with grace. Those that resisted the call, would disappear and find themselves whisked away on a transport to the nearest reclamation camp. 

 

Imperial officers of higher decree, found themselves on tasks of particular intent, seeking out individuals that were most accomplished post-battle, as well as predesignating the role and rank of the newest allies. Authorized and uniformed couriers found themselves inside of the mess hall, equipped with simple envelopes inside of their possession. Inside of these envelopes, simple letters of recognition for efforts distributed and accomplishments tallied, were drawn up with pride. Royal Sith-Imperial imprints were molded into the lettering, and those that carried promotions with them, also carried the weight of a rank-equivalent medal to sport upon their Imperial raiment. The Blood Prince would be approached by a man of the Truth, humbly interfering with where he and his crew were positioned, and bowing incredibly with honor to a man of such prestige. "Captain," he spoke the rank frankly, almost as if welcoming him, and then handed him the weighted envelope. He would leave the famous soldier to divulge the information, and then return to where he came from.

 

 

 

Welcome to the Sith Empire, Delta-73;

OOC:

  • You begin with the rank of a Captain within the Sith-Imperial Army
  • Under your command, is a Company worth 100-300 soldiers. Customize as you see fit, but must be approved.
  • A personalized mission will be your first task, and will begin as soon as all assets have been re-fueled
  • ICly, you can treat this as an official letter of promotional value, and have it written as you see fit.

 

 

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Throughout the Black Scarab, a sense of dark power undulated in waves over all of the mortals tucked within its blackened belly. Qaela, while preferring to keep herself separate from the often violent court intrigue, was not immune to the sentiment and felt herself drawn in with the rest. Keeping watch over the training academy on Korriban had suited her as it kept her from the limelight: safe and as secure as one could be in the Sith Order. When summoned to war along with the rest of the Empire's forces, she had heeded the call without reservations. She had seen what had happened to those who refused to answer Dark Lord Exodus' commands and didn't wish that for herself. Unfortunately, there had been no need for large numbers of ground forces in this battle, so she had not been needed to fight, but she had been ready.

 

She, as well as a quartet of her more trusted acolytes, arrived in the banquet hall as it was entering its second life of fervent celebrations. There were crowds of half drunk individuals blissfully enjoying themselves mingling with hunters stalking the room like birds of prey waiting for weakness to show itself. She saw many familiar faces among the powerful elite, as well as some that she had known far longer. Ca'Aran was here, though she had heard he had been severely humbled at Dark Sun Station. She had not felt any joy at receiving that news and wished there was a way to help him despite how things had turned out, but she would not interfere unless he asked it of her. The dark and slightly confusing presence of her daughter was also here. She had heard some rather intriguing and disturbing things about Telperien's journey, but again, she wouldn't interfere unless her daughter came to her. Qaela would never follow her mother's controlling path, but would allow her daughter to walk the path that she choose.

 

Above all present, the Dark Lord Emperor was present, basking in the power of his darkness and of the empire he built. Qaela didn't begrudge him of that power nor did she desire it herself. One had to be supremely powerful to take that role or one wouldn't hold it for long. As of yet, the Spider had managed to play the game of power expertly, both keeping his rivals focused on each other while extruding power himself that made none wish to challenge his position. She was content to wait in the shadows now, biding her time while others jostled for influence, rising and falling at the whims of the Dark One and at the machinations of their peers.

 

As it was always with those in power, a small crowd had formed wishing to siphon some of the crumbs of power that fell from the plate of the ascended. Qaela was never a sycophant, but it would not be wise to ignore their leader and risk offense. When it was her turn to present herself before the Emperor, she did so bowing her head and displaying her genuine respect at his authority. "My Emperor, I pay homage to your victories and power. Command me and see your will done."

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A Simple Man

 

 

Such dissimilar species, confidently unified under the voice of one. The consideration had never crossed his mind, but it was incredible to watch such a wealth of culture assembled in complete union, for a purpose that the Sith had carved from stone. The xenophobia of old had been discarded, and somewhere on the other side, his mother would exude a level of pride that he was once familiar with. Such memories were small sparks inside the dead of his heart, striking flint, but igniting nothing inside. Her warmth had disappeared forever, and the sweet scent of every breath she took, was lost in the winds of her final day. There was no keepsake to hold dear, for the roaches and rats consumed more than their fill on his home-world. Natural selection became your only friend, and the mother and father to teach you the harsher lessons of this universe, was always sheathed in death.

 

The black hood that rested on the brim of his nose-bone slid backwards when he shook himself from his muse. The depth of maroon that saturated his knotted hair, seemed both wearied and regally burnished, affixing the look of a barbaric conqueror. The skin that mapped the prominent bone structure of his face seemed ageless, a genetic constitution that most species would die for. Still, trace amounts of darkened ink outlined the smaller details of his face, clannish Anzati markings etched in and around his temples. The brilliant mane upon his head covered the tales of each symbol inked onto his skin, but was a clear sign indeed to who it was sitting unevenly, enjoying the show. Some noticed sooner than others, and the reactions were categorically different. There were those that harbored total fear and shifted further into the background, there were others that understood the power and leaned in to shower themselves selfishly, their faces and their fears were telling. The Dark King paid them little mind, and instead reviewed the way in which the Blood Prince drank himself with battle. The language that each soldier fought with, told a story that each of them held inside of their craven hearts, which story was it that this clone held closest was the question. Perhaps Exodus would see for himself. 

 

Clusters of men and women parted ways while a familiar face entered into his proximity. A dangerous place for people and things to crawl into. She bowed graciously, presenting a most sincere level of esteem. She wore herself in an attire that blended with the common people, neatly masking the command of who she was and the power she commanded. She was fair in the face, but the chronicles of her past was anything but. Humans were an uncertain flock, fleeting in life but supremely capable of a treachery beyond their means. His mother had worked to teach him this, and his Father learned him the ways to physically address such vermin. Lady Qaela held a mercy that Exodus granted few, and for her homage paid, he would always lend an ear.

 

"Undo the formalities, Qaela. This is a celebration, have a drink." Although he wished for those that followed to unfetter for but a moment, the manner in which the cool in his voice never changed tone even slightly, was worrying. A decorated tray was soon placed frankly on the table from where Qaela stood, fine glasses bubbling to the brim in a neat arrangement. The drink was hers to have whether she decided to take part or not. Sheog would not have hesitated to devour the tray at first sight, there was something voraciously humorous about his appetite that was unsettling more often than not, but insanity was the price paid. Exodus was indifferent to the festivities, finding a small measure of joy in the physical contests that played themselves out before his very eyes. Once they understood it was the Spider who was in attendance, they fought harder.

 

"Your work on Korriban bears fruit, whispers swear upon your efficiency. I will have to return to the land to see for myself. There is something I must ask of you though." Exodus turned his face from the pitched royale and looked the Headmaster into her eyes. "The room for mediation between our enemies and our Empire have been wanting. No words have been spoken, but their behaviors have proven to be irrational and emptied of the moral glass from which they've swallowed for generations. Dark Sun Station is a testament to this, they are embracing their true nature right before our very eyes. Darkfire spoke of a prophecy before he burned, and it seems the old fool might have been on to something." The ocean of our wills, the struggle between polar ends of the force. "... I wish to have words with the face of the Republic, there is something I must know, and something I demand. The difficulty of establishing such communications is of no concern to me, but my message must surely be received. They do not need to know who it is that calls upon them, but if they must, tell them I am but a simple man."   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"My respect is not a formality, it is something earned," she replied to his initial statement. Then, a small smile cracked her lips as she continued, "Still, this is your celebration and thus, it would be a pleasure to enjoy the fruits of your labor." She graciously accepted the offered drinks, but didn't recklessly consume them. Rather, she sipped the exquisite and likely costly alcohol, savoring the multiple layers of flavor from the initial burn of contact to the flowing tendrils of smoky aftertaste. She didn't drink much, but she knew quality like this was not to be hastily imbibed. Her body language did relax and she removed the thin leather gloves that shielded her bare hands from direct physical contact.

 

She listened to his instructions with a growing sense of excitement at the challenge ahead. Contacting the enemy would require a good bit of self control to both maintain a proper representation of the power she was speaking for all the while restraining herself and those with her from scaring their targets off. She didn't hold any illusions that their enemy would be exactly eager to talk after losing so many planets and battles, but desperation would drive them to it. They may also believe themselves equal to the Dark Lord and the Empire he created which could cause some problems as she faced their hollow pride. She didn't fear for her safety, though rumors had come that the Imperial Knights weren't quite like the weak and easily manipulated Jedi. Those, she had heard, just might attack her on sight rather than allowing her to toy with them as she had other Jedi.

 

As for what he wanted to ask or accomplish, that was not for her to say or know unless he wished her to know it. She understood what it meant to follow orders without knowing all the details and would not try to play outside the bounds of her role. Plus, what she didn't know was one less thing she could divulge either by accident or through torture. She would carry out her role as directed and allow the Emperor to do what he desired.

 

"Those who are weak always grasp at the chance to save themselves through words," she said before setting down the empty glass back on the tray that had been its previous home. "I do not believe it will be difficult to get into contact with them for they do not practice deception as an art, but rather see it as a vice. I have been among them many years ago, though this time I am not going as Qaela Darksong, but rather as a representative of the glory of the Sith Empire. Have your servants provide me with more details at an appropriate time and I will make haste to get you the answers you seek."

 

Now that the initial trepidation of coming to this place had faded, she found herself enjoying the show of force and of revelry. She had never been one to truly let loose and allow her guard to fall, but she could relax herself as much as was possible. She doubted anyone was going to attempt to cause trouble while she spoke with the Supremely Powerful One.

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The unfamiliar voice so close behind him made Delta spin into a crouch off the seat. But before any fight could commence he burst out into laughter that was mimicked by his crew. He bowed his head in thanks and took the package from the Sith Imperial and shook his hand. He placed the package down behind him on the table then slowly turned to face his crew. Their faces told the story. Mostly a mix of fear and anticipation, but there was a lot of defiance in their faces. As if to deny that he could even think of being demoted, executed, or whatever the dark lord had planned for him. Delta could feel that same mix of emotions in himself, so much so that he dared himself not to open the package at all until after the event was done and he was safe in his rooms. 

 

But that was the way of the coward, and every bit of that had been beaten and flogged out of him a century prior. The decision came naturally, face physical fears head on. And so the clone commando lifted the package and stared at it. The envelope was of a grey-brown paper and was strangely bulky, a dark blonde eyebrow arched over his steel blue eye and his fingers broke the seal. Two fingers dipped in and removed the flimsiplast first. The translucent flimsi was scarred by dark red lines of writing that he quickly scanned then passed to Teres to read out to the rest of the crew. He set the package down and picked up the duel cylinders judging their weight as the young woman read out the command to the crew of his Marie.

 

“Your Rank  RC-A2532-D73-” Her red eyebrows furrowed as her slightly tipsy mind tried to read out the long complicated number letter combination that made up his old name in the clone wars. “-Is captain where you will command a company of soldiers. Duty report is 0500.” She trailed off, her voice becoming questioning. “Is that it Prince?” 

 

He smiled, still staring at the two cylinders in his hand. “Captain now and It is indeed.” He held out his other hand where she dropped the flimsi. He rolled it up between two fingers and dropped the plasticine film into his half full mug of ale where it dissolved on the alcoholic foam. Leaving only the insignia of the spider in a halo of red where the ink remained captured on top of the drink. He looked back up to his bridge crew and nodded. “That means you all have to be up in five hours right?” They all slammed their hands onto the tabletop and saluted their eyes wide with anticipation. The commotion from the noise died down as they began to pack up and leave until only Teres remained. She leaned a tired head against his shoulder and he pulled her close for a moment before ushering her off as well. Then he was alone at the table. His heart racing and his continued to look at the two cylinders. He could be useful, he could serve. A smile played itself across his face until it tugged painfully at the scabbing wound on his lip.

 

There was a chance here. A chance to start again. And not many people got the opportunity to change their lives. He tucked the cylinders into his pocket and took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment before he exhaled. His eyes fluttered open and strayed down to his mug, where the blood red Spider stared back.

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“.. Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name.”

 

Words left him flippantly, the shallow undertone of his tranquilizing voice still distinct enough to be heard. The significance of his thoughts aligned with the way in which his enemies conducted themselves, blindly swimming in the actions of the dark side, replenishing the tremendous appetite that such a force demanded. Little did they know, and even lesser did they understand that it was a fear that drove them. Someone and something they could not name. Perhaps his enemies assumed to understand the face of the Sith just as the others did, applying a haunting allusion of some Machiavellian Spider, or the sagas of brutality that the name Exodus provoked. These were the quiet attempts to place an identity to the dread that now stirred their misbehavior, the rationale for their blatant butchery. It was humorous at best, for even now their efforts failed them, and there would be no way to cover their shame. The shortcomings of the failed Galactic Alliance allowed the Sith to harvest more influence. And now, the Darkest Emperor now harnessed the incredible prominence of the Imperial Reign; more sweet nothings that chiseled a romance of narrative over who he was and how dangerous he could be. But deadlier was what he could be, although when and how, was the most frightening part of it all. For now, he allowed a slight and sinister smile, the softest hint that more was to come.

 

"Your daughter is nearby, be sure to properly receive her before you leave here. She is much stronger now, and the child you knew is perishing." 

 

 

As the Lord of the Sith Empire sat in the midst of his kin surrounded by the favorable, his eyes searched abroad. Qaela was the first with sufficient rank to approach, and the floor was hers to speak if she so pleased. She kept company, as was unexpected, but perhaps there was reason to her stay. Others would come, and familiarity for knowledge sake was an underestimated commodity. Shortly, this small recess would adjourn, and the bells and whistles of the Scarab would requisition war. It was only a matter of time. For now, the high-handed assassin made himself accessible to his people, open to those that sought opportunity.  

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Bakra couldn't see the Dark Lord, but he was sure the man or woman behind the title was present. He smiled to himself. That was good. Hopefully the Dark Lord would hear of him, though whether or not the leader of the Sith took any note was still in the air. As was whether or not Bakra really wanted to be on the Dark Lord's radar. He watched the ongoing fights with interest- He wasn't a fighter, but he could enjoy watching a good brawl. Distasteful, maybe, but he grew up a criminal. This was just a pastime to him.

 

His attention was drawn to a chorus of sheering and shouting around a table, and he watched as they left on who seemed to be the leader's orders. He approached from behind, speaking once he was closer.

 

"Your people respect you. That's good. When I was a mercenary, there wasn't a dogfight in the galaxy I wouldn't follow my commander into."

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A smile graced Qaela's lips at the mention of her daughter. She had been aware of Telperien's growing strength, but she was pleased that even the Emperor had acknowledged it. That bode well for the girl, though she was always worried that Telperien would try to gain too much too quickly and burn out as many Sith did. A slow and steady rise was best: make sure you had a solid foundation before climbing higher else you would topple and join the sea of bones of those who made the same mistake.

 

"All must grow older," she replied. "I only hope that with her strength comes the wisdom of how to use it. Before I attained that wisdom, I made a great many mistakes that cost me far more than I ever wish her to have to pay. I shall indeed receive her and show her the respect she deserves before the night is over."

 

She bowed once more and withdrew from the Imperial presence, not wishing to take further of his time than needed. She had her orders and tasks, she wouldn't simply linger in hopes of showing off the Emperor's attention or of hoping that he would shower her with some undeserved benefit. She had a few tasks to accomplish before leaving, some to speak to and some to observe.

 

Her eyes did not light upon her daughter, but her Force sense confirmed that the girl was here. She figured that Telperien's spirit had migrated to a new shell. If the girl was ready and willing, perhaps she would see about remedying some of the weakness that necessitates such transformation. Since she didn't have too much direct contact, Qaela wasn't entirely sure what went wrong in her daughter's connections with the Force. It would be an intriguing puzzle if the girl wished to have it solved.

 

As she began carefully stretching out her Force senses to locate her daughter, Qaela's purple eyes fell upon another. She knew that what had happened to Ca'Aran had to have cut him to the core. Losing Black Sun must have shaken him more than anything she had done to him because, while she had wounded his heart, Black Sun and the purpose it gave him was his soul. He was a man left without that purpose now, without anything to fill the void of his broken and shattered heart from what happened in decades past. She felt a bit of sorrow as she saw him sitting alone, but she would not approach to console him. He had made it clear he was no longer interested in her and she was no longer the possessive type. He might not even wish to have her near, and she would never press the issue.

 

Reluctantly turning her back on her love, Qaela began narrowing down the hunt for Telperien, quite intrigued to find what waited her at the end of this search.

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The dark scale mail felt heavy on her shoulders after the first hour of talking her way in circles around the Dark Lord’s company. It marked her clearly apart from the Rest of the Sith except for her own dark haired mother. In physical age, Telperien was not much younger than her mother, for the body she had devoured and assumed was of a woman in her early twenties. But inside she was still quite young, trapped in the ever changing outward corpse. This form was one that she had assumed and kept the longest as an adult body had its own distinct set of advantages. She was quite happy not being treated as a young little girl anymore, but the other look in men’s eyes, those made her distinctly nervous. She shrugged off another man’s advances with a laugh and drained her class to the dregs. 

 

Breathe, burn it off. It’s not worth the intoxication. 

 

Another breath and the alcohol burned away in her stomach, leaving her feeling warm but otherwise unaffected. She circled the room again, gold flecked amethyst eyes flicking between her mother and her adopted father. 

 

Why did they both seem so lonely? Was there something in the quest for power that left everyone with such torn souls? 

 

She didn’t feel lonely. Was there something wrong with her? She decided it was time to find out exactly that and stepped up to her mother. She opened her strong arms wide and placed a crooked smile on her lips that she had learned from Delta during her time in the body of the young girl. She was very different now in appearance, strong, beautiful even, but her spirit was the same. And deep inside she yearned for her mother to be proud of her. 

 

“Mother” Came the strangled and emotional whisper. 

 

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The body before her was unknown, but the spirit was part of her. Qaela knew there was a great deal of change in her daughter, but she was slightly surprised at the profoundness of that evolution. Qaela's violet eyes ran up and down, but they did not behold the shell her daughter possessed. Rather, they searched the soul and sought insight into the path that brought the girl to her. Telperien was no longer a naive girl struggling to learn the basics of how to protect herself and use the Force. She was not a master, but she was a power in her own right.

 

After many long moments, she said quietly, "You have changed, Telperien. Changed and grown strong."

 

Qaela gestured for her quartet of escorts to remain and pointed to a slightly more private area. The four acolytes took up positions around to ward off unwanted intruders and watch for any threats or spies. As soon as they were seated at a table still strewn with remnants of a feast, Qaela asked with genuine curiosity, "Tell me, what path have you taken since we left?"

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“They respect me because they must, I have never lead them wrong, not in two decades.” Delta gestured to the other man to have a seat. “I am Delta73, at your service. Tell me what warrants your presence among the forces of the Sith Lords?” His name was famous, the name that had sunk cloud city, killed a million civilians at Alderaani Towers at Coruscant, and slaughtered the Naboo Royal family. He was curious who this mercenary was and what had brought him into this service. He took another long sip from the ale and looked back up at Bakra 

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There was an unspoken distance at the feast between Darth Nyrys and the rank and file. Her reputation as a literal maneater was spreading, and while that didn’t stop the troops from checking her out, it still meant that they kept a healthy distance. She wasn’t in the mood for such things anyway, so admired from afar worked for her. This was the first time in a long time that she had the ability to simply sit and think. 

 

She did not care for it, not one bit.

 

In theory the brawl should have appealed to her, but in reality, she didn’t know how to fight without killing. In her anthro classes at uni, they had talked about the sword being a symbol for war because it was often the first weapon societies would invent solely for the purpose of war. Other weapons either doubled as tools or implements for hunting, but the sword was of singular purpose. Right now Darth Nyrys felt like a sword at peace time.

 

An unusually close presence disturbed Nyrys from her moping, a Sith trooper, tall even by Sith trooper standards, loomed over her. It would have been an imposing presence if the soldier’s mumbling hadn’t been picked up by his helmet mic. A vague familiarity clung to the man, and her unnatural sight revealed him to be different from his peers. Most Sith troopers had blood on their hands, but this one was clean, and through the lens of the Force his armor looked like the polished metal of a questing knight of forgotten eras. He looked like the kind of person Nyrys wanted to be fighting for, protecting him and others like him from the hypocrisy of the Jedi.

 

“Look buddy, I think you’re still a few beers short of having the courage to hit on me or whatever, but I like the look of you so while you’re trying to find a line in the bottom of a glass you can sit next to me.”

 

Somehow she could tell through the armor that he was flustered and searching for words, which he found at last, “I’m... looking for a girl…”

 

“That is… not the best pick up line I’ve heard, but it’s by far not the worst either. You’re in luck, tall awkward and armored, because I am in fact a girl. Mostly. Bits of monster mixed in.”

 

“Her name is Ailbasí, Ailbasí Zirtani.”

 

It was weird enough to feel the presence of a ghost, but for that ghost to be the disquietude of her old life was a whole new level of strange. Nyrys had intentionally distanced herself from anything even marginally related to her past, cutting out even close friends and family. She had seen early on how wanton some Sith could be with violence towards bystanders and didn’t want anyone she cared about becoming collateral damage. But it didn’t surprise her that someone might come looking anyway, or at least hire someone to look into it.

 

“I know her, but this just turned into a private conversation. Follow me.” She got up and started to lead him away from prying ears.

 

“Ma’am, my friend is also looking for her, he’ll probably want to hear this too, may he join us?”

 

Ailbasí would have had very large concerns with going somewhere private with two presumably armed and armored strangers. Darth Nyrys however did not live a life ruled by fear and potential hazards, so she responded coyly with, “Well, if he’s cute.”

 

“He certainly thinks so…” the trooper responded with no small amount of frustration in his voice.

 

=====================

 

The soldier’s friend turned out to be a field officer, although he kept his armor better maintained and polished than most bridge officers. His bearing wasn’t just disciplined, it felt in some way regal. He was attached to a different unit than the first trooper, so most likely they knew each other outside of the chain of command. When the door shut, he spoke first.

 

“We’ve been trying to find her since her abduction on Onderon. We found her ship on Cathar, along with a body, but for some reason my compatriot swears upon all of the stars that he has a feeling that she’s still alive. And while I think that he’s crazy, you never know with cloning technology these days. So we’re still asking around, and your name came up a few times in regards to her. So if you know anything, even if it’s the fact that she died on Cathar, please, let us know.”

 

Nyrys regarded each of them for a time, a tumult of emotions swirling inside her gut. She could lie, give them some measure of closure. Were they actually Sith troopers? Or were they just stupid enough to try and sneak on board an active warship in disguises? If the latter, it was a security breach that needed to be addressed quickly. Also, if the tall one was actually sensing her condition through the Force without training, that could make him a powerful asset with the right training.

 

“A feeling, huh?” she responded casually, “Have you reported to special projects for testing? If you turn up positive, I have room in my schedule for an apprentice.”

 

“Every trooper gets tested as part of processing these days. They said I was about as Force sensitive as a nerf and cheese sandwich, but they also said that sometimes regular folk can get residual effects from exposure to a powerful practitioner like a Sith. SpecPro said that you lot call them bonds or leashes.”

 

With sudden anticipation and a “feeling” of her own, Nyrys reached up and removed the trooper’s helmet. Even with her completely unreasonable heels she had to stretch a fair bit to get it all the way over. She couldn’t see the way that she had on Onderon, so she ran her gloved fingers over his face to compare it to features in her memory.

 

“...Knell?”

   

Knell had been the rookie cop on Onderon that had interceded when she had been attacked. It was before her training had begun in earnest, and without his intervention she would have died. Even without hearing a verbal confirmation she knew in her soul that it was him, and with a joyfulful eardrum shattering squeal she launched herself into a pouncing hug.

 

“Is… is she attacking you?” The voice of the mystery friend sounded more than a little amused. 

 

“I don’t know, I’m confused,” Knell responded.

 

“No dumbass, I’m overenthusiastically hugging you. When I died on Cathar I hopped bodies to this one, because apparently that is a thing that I can do. Be honest, does this look do anything for you? Because I’ve been striking out a lot since I switched into it and… WAIT, you didn’t enlist just to find me did you?” Crazy awesome body strength let her keep her perch while jabbing him with an accusatory finger.

 

“Now I’m somehow even more confused. But I didn’t enlist to find you, I enlisted because I felt it was my duty to join after the Jedi tried to attack Onderon twice. I became a cop to protect people, but with the war returning there is only so much I can do with a badge. Finding you just happened to coincide with that. Side note, do you know who shot me at the hospital, because I have words for them.”

 

Nyrys finally released Knell from her hug before speaking again, sheepishly this time. “That was… well, kind of my ex, but it’s super over now. My life was very crazy for awhile, and when I found someone that I thought I could have some stability with, I latched on without really considering what he wanted out of it. He didn’t hurt me or anything, I think he was just too damaged to reciprocate in the way that I wanted. I didn’t handle it in the most mature manner, but I still think ending things was the right decision. It’s not my job to fix people that I’m dating.”

 

At this point the mystery officer chimed in, “I did join for a girl, but it was a different girl and she left me and my shattered heart behind when she decided to go full career upon making bridge crew for a star destroyer. I was drowning my sorrows in brandy when I heard Corporal Maqlin asking about you. I don’t remember much of the conversation, or much of that night for that matter, but apparently I promised to help him find you. That being said I must admit that I am relieved to find you well, miss Zirtani.”

 

It was Nyrys’s turn to be confused again, “Do I know you from Uni or something…?”

 

The officer removed his helmet before speaking again in a voice that Nyrys instantly recognized, “I don’t know, did you watch holotoons in college?”

 

Nyrys almost launched into another hug but stopped mid pounce. “Am I allowed to hug you… yee… thee… wait, I’m a Sith, I don’t have to acknowledge etiquette hugging boundaries!” She had spent less time with the crown prince than Knell during her time on Onderon, but he had a special place in her heart from the roles she had seen him in (or heard him in when it came to voice acting). So he too got a hug.

 

After a brief silence, Nyrys spoke again, far more solemnly this time, “You’re going to hear things about me, things that you won’t want to believe are true. I need you both to understand that they are probably true, or at least based on truths. If circumstances were different, I would beg you to save me from what I’ve become, but we’ve all seen what the Jedi and their allies are capable of. I need to be this monster that I’ve become if there’s going to be any hope of stopping them. I hope that you can accept that, but if you can’t, then I need you to walk away because it won’t be safe for you to be around me. Not going to lie, I considered letting you think that I had died to protect you from who I am now, but we’re all adults here and able to make our own choices.”
 

The following silence was sobering, but what she had said had all been things that needed to be said. Too many people depended on her for her to try and pretend to be the girl that she used to be. The days of mercurial desire and idly pivoting direction to get what she wanted were fading away as the only true constant in the galaxy loomed ever closer, war.

 

“That ugliness aside, it means a lot that you came this far to find me. I’m not really in a place to figure out what to do with that right now, and I think we all need to come to terms with how each other has changed. I guess what I’m trying to say is thanks, and that I need time to process all of this.” 

 

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Bakra raised an eyebrow. This man was a dangerous one, if he was who he said he was. A terrorist of sorts. Not that it bothered him. He found killing innocents distasteful, but as long as he wasn't the one to do the deed, he could live with it. Some people only knew the language of violence. It was a useful one- universally understood. And on the scale that the man before him had committed? It would be pretty hard to go unheard. He sat across from Delta, watching carefully.

 

"I'm Bakra. As for what brings me here, I was a freelance mercenary based in Nar Shaddaa, but got good enough that the pay wasn't keeping up with what I could make in a proper navy with my skills. Figured the Sith were the better bet. So far, I haven't been wrong." he said.

 

"How about you? You've made quite the name for yourself. What brings you here?"

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The grey black mist of the presence of Lord Valinor seeped into the edges of the arena ring, the tendrils of aether consolidating into they formed into the form of the Sith Lord. The mouth beneath the mask smiled, its voice harsh and full of glee, the orange eyes fixed upon Mordecai. 

 

“So you come back to me with the smell of victory.” 

 

She strode towards her apprentice and placed her hand upon his shoulder. 

 

“You have but few tasks left. Find the Dathomiri Qaela Darksong and offer your services in my name. She will find you a task worthy of the dominion of the Sith. Obey her and demonstrate your worth for the time is fast approaching that you will no longer need me.” 

 

The Sith Lord turned and strode silently from the ring.

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It was strange how easily that silent fear of rejection and disappointment came creeping back into her heart. She pushed against those thoughts as she looked upon her mother. So much had changed but her mother had stayed the same beautiful woman who had left her behind at Dathomir. She nodded to her mother’s quiet praise and strode with her to the abandoned benches near where Delta was talking to some Imperial officer. Sitting down, Telperien adjusted the maille shirt she wore over her dark leather tunic and looked her mother in the eye. A nervous finger idly wrapped and unwrapped itself around one of her dathomiri braids. 

 

“I have chosen the lonely path of a Sith. I have not sworn to any order other than the Dathomiri, though perhaps that’ll come in time. For now they need all the help they can be to become strong.” She looked down at a discarded cup of mead and with a shrug downed it. She looked back at her mother. “And you mother? How have you been? I can’t imagine you feel any different having been on Korriban.” 

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“Well welcome Bakra.” Delta raised the mug of ale still clenched in his fist in a slight salute. “Did you fight against the Imperial Remnant when they took Nar Shaddaa from the hutts or are your only commitments for cash?” He chided a laugh and took a long drain from the cup before setting it back down and looking thoughtfully at the other man. “It is of no matter, the Black Sun has folded into a non military group so I took my troops and came here. I have had a long standing working relationship with the Dark Lord so I was welcomed to some extent.” He adjusted his collar and checked at his split lip with the dab of a finger. “And what skills do you bring to the Sith Navy?”

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The transport ship from Krayiss II arrived in a fashionable time frame to the Kuat system, the emblem of the Spider adorning its hull and transponder codes identifying it sole purpose of arrival as it touched down with a comfortable squat. Shiro sat alone in its hold, the memories of Krayiss II playing over in his head as he thought back to Shaq'teel's words, the thought of true freedom being within a possible grasp if the Zibeti Elder was to be truly believed. He had heard whispers of the Sith Order before, but he couldn't fathom himself skilled enough to be counted among their elite no matter how sweet the words of his Master were to hear.

 

"We've arrived," His escort spoke as he stood, ushering the young Shiro to follow. "It's time."

 

Shiro stood upon an unknown precipice, adorning clothes he had not worn since he was condemned to slavery. His glowing crimson eyes looked out the small viewport as he stood, watching numerous Soldiers and Guards motioning about as the pit within his stomach turned into knots. Time was a relative matter, not only in practice, but in theory as well. To say it's time was to know it, and even Shiro doubted its authenticity. But still, he followed his escort onward and down the sloping ramp as his boots clanked beneath him. If it was truly time, only time would tell.

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Qaela looked over the more basic, almost crude armor that her daughter was fidgeting with and considered more than the words that reached her ears. There was a lot of underlying history and struggles all but written in the younger girl-woman's voice and aura. It was interesting that Telperien had embraced the culture that had rejected her rather than the strength that the Sith under Exodus offered. She had heard of things happening on that cursed planet and wondered how accurate the rumors were. Still, it wasn't her place to dictate where her daughter's heart lay as long as that path didn't force them to be on opposite sides.

 

"Korriban is a wretched place," she answered, "but within that harshness is a purity that can be found in few other places. I choose to go into the rancor's den and molded it to my own needs for the better of the Order. There was plenty of blood shed, but now a very large portion of the new Sith share my views on the necessity of balance and the benefits of serving the Order rather than just the self. I have allies and power, though that is insignificant next to the possibilities that are open to me. The Galaxy is sick and needs a curing fire to sweep away the dead weight and replace it with strength. The Sith of old burned too brightly and greedily, destroying everything without leaving anything to regrow, but I believe that the Emperor understands the need for balance and restraint. Until he tips the scales away from that balance, I will serve his Order."

 

One of her Four approached and gently touched Qaela's shoulder. The former Nightsister paused a moment, then nodded with resignation. She reached within her black silky robes and pulled out a large coin made of bluish black metal. On it was engraved a series of runes on one side and the symbol of the Sith Empire on the other. Qaela placed the coin on the table and slowly slid it over to her daughter, wondering if the girl would recognize the ancient Dathomiri runes of black magic on its face. "Should you ever find yourself in trouble or needing an ally you can actually trust, show this to any Sith or soldier who has gone through the Korriban academy in the last two years. They will serve you and, should the situation warrant it, alert me of your need so I may come. If any present such a coin to you, trust them and do as they say."

 

Standing up, she said, "Duty calls. Know that I am proud of you, Telperien, blood of mine. Stay strong and true to the Dark Side, and do not cross the Dark Lord. Do not burn too brightly or you will draw unwanted attention. If you ever tire of the blood and new bodies, go to the Bastion of Pelko and seek out Master Strae."

 

With one last look down at the body that held her daughter's soul, Qaela turned and, followed by her Four, she left the grand hall and went about her duties.

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Mordecai was caught off guard by her words. Victory, yes, but still failing. He wasn't one to question, however. Not yet, at least. If she was giving him a chance to redeem himself, he'd take it.

 

"Of course, my Lord. I will return when my task is complete."

 

And with that, he left her. It was much more brief than he'd anticipated, but maybe that was for the better. He had a feeling the longer he spent around the Lords in his current state, the more dangerous it would be for him. 

 

Finding the Dathomiri wasn't hard- she traveled with an entourage, evidently. Finding a chance to speak, however, was not as easy. she seemed to be in the middle of an important conversation, and he wasn't one to ease drop on people who could kill him easily. After she was done, though, he approached, bowing respectfully.

 

"Quela Darksong, I presume? I am Mordecai. Lord Valinor has tasked me with aiding you in your duties. How may I be of service?" he asked, straightening himself as he did do.

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