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Korriban

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Roran flushed, embarrassed by his own action being so stupid. Having his hand that close to the rock was both amusing, and idiotic of him. Still, he had never felt comfortable with other people touching him either, but he refused to show it. Surprising as it was that she would use such a thing to help him, especially for such a minor thing, it did make him grateful. Pain was simply, but blistering would be irritating due to it being on his dominant hand. He would have popped it as soon as it formed, but it would still effect his aim, let alone if it did not heal in time for lightsaber training, which he was looking forward to immensely. "Pain is an old friend. Doesn't mean I like it, though." Particularly not burning pains. They were like some unholy fusion between itchy areas and bruises, only the feeling would not go away fro a much longer time than normal.

 

He listened once more to her lecture, enthralled by what she was speaking of. "It sounds like the force affects us based on how we use it then. It sounds a lot more complicated than the usual image of the Dark Side leading to deformation and the Light Side not..." He would had to think on this later. While he certainly wanted power, he would rather not become a decrepit old man in the process. He wanted to live for a very long time, and aging prematurely was not the way to go about it. Well, either way, it was something he would have to look into once he got a chance, like so many other things that had been brought up but not delved into. Regardless, he was prepared to sacrifice quite a bit on his journey. 

 

As she pulled her arms around him, he tensed up. He was not sure why she was doing it, but he had never had a chance to get used to physical contact. Life on Coruscant was not that friendly, nor was life as a soldier or mercenary. If she bothered to read his emotions at that moment, it would not have been fear so much as nervousness and confusion. Due to the lack of social interaction, Roran had little idea what the actions she was taking actually meant. He knew what a hug was, but this was... different, somehow. Plus the whispering in his ear thing was equally unknown, those his spine did tingle from that, both enjoyable and nerve-wracking. Maybe she was just someone who liked physical contact? He could not begin to guess. 

 

He began following her instructions once more, his internal questions being placed on hold for now. His closed his eyes, focusing himself once more, finding it infinitely easier than the first time. The vision of the star that was him came back, but this time it was not what he was focused on, despite its enthralling nature. No, now that he had focused, there were other... things, close by. He could not truly see or comprehend them, as they were not stars like he had expected, but various things to represent the people he could feel. The closest of them all felt... different. He dare not actually invade anyone's mind, but he could still feel the emanating emotions. An unfathomable rage, as well as a deep longing for... something. He could not tell what, but even so, it was marginally easier than combusting the rock, likely because he had already been extremely skilled at reading people. Thinking about it, perhaps that was one of the signs that he had been Force Sensitive all along. His uncanny ability to know when people lie, or what they were truly feeling, even if they tried hiding behind masks of stoicism, which was likely why the Jedi he had met hated him so.

 

Still, she had wanted him to feel the passions of the force itself, something he was not sure how to do. He experimented for a few moments, mostly with distancing himself from the objects, even his own star. At first he felt... nothing. It was a void, unfeeling and uncaring in how it effected those within. Yet, he still felt he was not seeing the truth. He distanced himself as far as possible from the objects, 'upwards' as much as such a movement could be. Slowly, he started to see... something. All those objects, millions upon millions of them, were being pulled towards something. It was not like objects in space, more like objects water currents, only each object seemed to be pushed in its own direction, making it more like a system of rivers that happened to intersect. His own, judging from the direction it was currently being pulled, had been directed towards what he was certain was his new master, almost seeming to orbit her object. He could not predict which paths would intersect, but he could tell the force had some form of guidance for whatever this vision was.

 

He had to pause, as he felt... something horrid. An overwhelming sense of fear and panic grasped his heart, as he slowly turned upwards to look even further away from the objects. As he did so, the final thing he saw was a star-sized eye, staring right at him. He returned to the waking world, pale, and terrified. As much as he would like to believe it was just someone who had sensed him, his paranoia, as well as the overwhelming feelings from before, made that unlikely. While there were probably force users who could effect people across the galaxy, he was simply not a significant enough person to warrant such a thing. Still, until he understood what he saw, he was against bringing it up. He took a calming breath, before speaking. "I... saw it. The Force's pull, I mean. It looked like it had led me to you, but I could not see why. I could see so many different people being guided in so many different ways. It was chaotic, and hard to really grasp." He was pretty sure the vision was just his own way of interpreting the Force on a sensory level, but even so, it was... as beautiful as it was horrifying. 

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Sirena chuckled at a remark he made, but kept her reply silent until his lesson concluded. "Its not say that using the Darkside mutilates your form where the lightside preserves it, but rather.... She goes quiet for a moment, her mind wandering around the best way to express it before she finishes it. "Think of your form like a flower. If you leave it be, it will stay the same. Much like the Jedi are taught to view the Force. But if you pluck it for another, no matter the care that is given, it will eventually wilt away. That is the life of passion."

 

Sure, you could follow the light, live the same life day by day, never knowing life through your passions. She chuckled half heartily, almost scoffing at the idea. "But to live through your passions, no matter the cost, is worth living. A Jedi can live his entire life and never know their self. But Sith live each day knowing themselves to the fullest."

 

She stepped to the side a few feet, her voice echoing around them, carried upon the whispering winds. "And now that you've seen the Force, you understand the lesson: Through Passion, I gain Strength" Sirena closes her eyes, inhaling slowly as she places the palms of her hands outward, and as she exhales, the ground around them begins to tremble and shake. Sweat beads down her brow and her faces scrunches with fierce focus as she bites her lower lip between her teeth. 

 

At first, the sand seems to only to be rolling toward them, each individual grain following the other. But as her face scrunches more in her intense focus, the ground seems to rise and the hidden figure of a sunken pillar begins to form as she unearths its marbled form completely as it balances before them. Opening her eyes, she grins as she gazes at Roran, holding it in place with her prosthetic hand as she reaches toward the sky with her fleshed hand, sparks of static forming just as an intense bolt of lightning ripped from the sky and split the marbled pillar in two, one half slamming into the sand.

 

Turning toward her Apprentice, maintaining her hold upon the half that remained before her, she spoke, the strain apparent in her voice. "And here's your next lesson. Focus yourself through your passion and understand the Force that flows through you. Use that to your advantage and attempt to lift the other half of the pillar just as you have seen me do." She winked as she placed her free hand back to relieve the strain forced by her holding it in place using one hand. "Do this, and I'll give you a cookie."


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Her comparison to flowers was a bit... strange for him, but the general meaning was understood. Similar to any piece of technology, the more used, the faster it would break. Still, that sounded horrible, particularly since he had never wanted to grow old. There were plenty of ways to reach immortality for non-force users, but perhaps the force changed things? Well, either way he now had another goal on that ever growing list. He remained silent once more, her words all he was thinking about now, saving his thoughts on immortality for later. Simply put, his ignorance in most areas of the force, as well as basically anything not related to combat or technology, meant he had quite a bit to learn, and he was certainly eager to do it. 

 

As she raised, then split, a pillar, Roran realized he had no frame of reference for how impressive that feat was. Sure, he had a vague understanding that it was possible, but not exactly how difficult it would be. For all he knew, she was a grandmaster, and that was one of the most difficult things possible for any force user. Well, that was an exaggeration, but it worked in the opposite was well. Without a frame of reference, he was unsure how hard the coming task would be, but given she did not expect him to split it in half as she had, he may be able to pull it off... with time, at least. It had become apparent already that using the force, at least for now, took concentration. It made more sense how so many force users could be killed by non-force users. If you acted too quickly for them to focus, they might as well be a normal person. Hopefully he would be taught how to combat that weakness, though even if he was not, he would train himself instead. Such a glaring flaw was too much for him to leave open.

 

Her joke at the end about giving him a cookie made him chuckle lightly, glad that she had a sense of humor. Just another reason he was glad it was not a jedi who had coerced him into joining them. They probably would have had him meditating for a week before even letting him know the bare bones basics of the force, let alone the tasks he had already completed. Despite the fact that he was sure most could have pulled off what he had done, he still felt pride, mostly because it was a display of progress. He exhaled, leaving his eyes open as he focused in a similar way he had with the fire. He felt resistance, much more than he expected, but persisted. He felt it give, however slight, and saw the pillar move very slightly, little more than tilting, before he had to take a breath again. "Is there something more to this? With the fire, I focused like a laser, but with this, it feels like I am missing a step or so..." That and he was having trouble combining the last two steps, of focusing himself, and of feeling through the force. It was to be expected, he had taken those last two lessons relatively quickly.

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"Well..." Her faced pouted as she gazed at him, releasing the pillar from the grasp she had upon it and letting fall back into the crevasse from which it had be pulled from. "Guess it means no cookie for you." Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a small cookie and threw it into her mouth as she approached him. Shaking her head, she spoke with a jest. "If it were easy, there'd be hundreds of Sith Masters running about here on Korriban rather than the many Acolytes, Apprentices, few Sith Lords and only a couple of Masters stationed here."

 

Placing her hand roughly mid way up his back and straddling her form against his backside. "With each person, it is different. Some take it to it like breathing, others it comes in time. But I'll demonstrate it the best I can." Placing slight pressure against his back with her artificial hand, Sirena spoke. "Close your eyes. Imagine the feel of my hand as the current of the Force you saw earlier that flows into you." Reaching up with her other hand, she traced his arm softly with her fingertips until her fingers rested upon his, speaking as she did. "Next, imagine that current flowing from you, down your arm, and out of the palm of your hand." Staying beside him, she waited to see if he reacted accordingly.

 

"Try not to focus too much on the task at hand, but rather upon the current that flows through you," She spoke softly and calmly into his ear. "Let your passions and desire guide it, assert your will and control upon it, and lift it."


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She... actually had a cookie. How long had that been there? Well, no matter, she seemed to be enjoying herself, despite his irritating failure. Still, he had a goal in mind, a fairly hollow one for now, but it would serve as a path, at least. "Well, give me enough time, maybe that number can increase by one." He joked, before sighing to focus again. Her words once again served to calm him, letting him think this through, rather than rush in blindly again. While it had worked with the fire, he doubted it would be so easy with everything. Destruction was a simple thing, after all, but creation and alteration were much more nuanced. It would not be as simple as focusing the pent up wrath from years of suppression onto an object. 

 

Feeling her close to him again caused him to stiffen once more, though he relaxed quicker this time. Perhaps that was why she was doing it, to get him comfortable with human contact? If so, it was a good plan, albeit a surprising one. He must have been easy to read for her to form such a plan. He followed her instruction, her touch on his arm making him shiver. Nevertheless, he listened and obeyed, no longer paying any attention to anything beyond her words. The Force that he had imagined as a river current came flowing through, a steady stream, but just as strong as before. He focused on the feeling, trying to become familiar enough to trigger it without focus, before she spoke again.

 

This time, as he turned his hand to the pillar, he did not try to just will it to move, but instead formed a sort of connection between the pillar and his hand. If the force acted like a river current, then he did not need to fight the current in order to accomplish this, he needed to guide the current, to make it obey him. He remembered playing in the water as a kid, how he experimented with how putting his hand in the water in different ways made it react differently, and used that faint memory as a guide. It would not tell him how to do it, but it did give him the idea of doing it in the first place. In his mind, there were now 'strings' connection his hand to the pillar, acting like puppet strings, only much looser and slower to react. Still, there was something now, he was certain. He opened his eyes, to see the pillar in the air... spinning rapidly.

 

"What."

 

He could not have been more surprised, or irritated. Of all the things to go wrong, the pillar had decided to spin. Well, it was a sign he was doing something unfamiliar, but it just felt ridiculous. At least stopping the spinning would grant him just a bit more insight into how this operated. He twisted his hand, and the pillar turned slower, but at a different angle now. He kept experimenting, each movement causing the pillar to change in some way, before he finally managed it. Whatever had caused the spinning, he was unsure, but it was likely a flaw in the original attempt. At the very least, he had indeed lifted it, even if the results were not at all what he intended.

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"Now you're getting it." She spoke with a smile as she stepped away, briefly ducking as the object nearly took her head off her shoulders, causing chill bumps to rise all over her skin. "The Force flows through us just as it does the pillar before you, the sand beneath you, and the air in which you breath.

 

"Come. Sit." Sirena spoke as she sat cross legged upon the sands as night began to fall upon Korriban. Closing her eyes and opening her mind, small chunks of stone, broken roots, all began to encircle her and she prepared a fire pit before her. Once the stones encircled the dead and dry roots, she focused herself deeper into the Force and a small crackle of lightning flew from her hand, sparking the roots and starting a fire. Reaching into her satchel, she pulled enough food from it for both of them, including a bag of cookies.

 

"You know the reasons why peace is a lie, the very passions for life existing for a reason. And I've taught that through your passions, you gain strength." She spoke, rubbing her hands briefly as the cold Korriban air began to subtly blow, causing her to retrieve her cloak. "But without power, strength through passion alone cannot sustain you. This is the basic Sith Philosophy, and I will teach you only a portion at a time so that you truly grasp their meanings."

 

Sirena sat in silence after saying that, mainly to finish her meal, but also to allow him to reflect upon her words and what he has learnt during his own meal. But as she swallowed her last bite, she smiled and wiped the leftover from upon her lips. "Tomorrow we will depart Korriban for Onderon. So if you wish, you can adorn your armor once again" She laid back against the sand as she curled up in her cloak and looked up at the stars above them. "Or, if you've grown accustomed to the Robes, you can wear them. Either way is fine. But now that you've learn the three basic tenets, all of which you can read from the Datapad, you're true training will begin."

 

She waited a few moments incase Roran held any reserved questions. If he did not, she would soon be asleep and tomorrow would bring him a new era.


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Roran was quiet during his meal, belatedly realizing that the dark side did indeed have cookies, and they were quite good. Regardless, the events of today's training left plenty for him to ponder, though it would be later. For now, he had more to listen to it seemed. Onderon? He did not think he had ever been there, which was encouraging. New adventures in new places sounded wonderful, especially to practice these new skills. In his own opinion, despite the mysterious nature of the force, these abilities were simply new skills to master. Not to say they were not different, just that he would approach them as he did when he desired to learn any new skill.

 

Roran nodded along, listening patiently, and carving her words into memory. Darth Sirena seemed a very interesting sort, much less psychopathic than Sith were usually portrayed as, which he was very grateful for. He was quite sure he would have attempt to kill anyone who tried to do to him what a normal sith was said to do to their apprentices. "Thank you." He spoke, before she left, leaving himself as soon as he spoke. There were more meanings to that simple thanks than could be said. It would not be wrong to say that Roran had been utterly lost, purposeless and drifting through life without any real desires. Now, at least, he had an idea of what to do.

 

Instead of spending the night resting and coming to terms with his new situation, he spent most of the time practicing his new skills, particularly pyrokinesis. He felt an odd kinship with the flames he could summon, and so he felt compelled to experiment with it. He learned quite quickly that he could summon the fire with ease as long as he connected it to his anger. The problem was doing anything beyond that. Anger was a great focus to summon, but a terrible focus for controlling it. His solution became obvious after he realized that. He needed to apply the same lesson he used for telekinesis to this new skill. To move an object was simple, but fire was not so easily physically controlled. 

 

By the end of the night, he was able to move the fire in general directions, but he seemed incapable of fine control. He wanted to get to the point of writing his own name in the air, both for flair and for practicality. It would even help his intimidation! Well, regardless, he needed to get at least some sleep before he had to get up to leave for Onderon. Glancing at the time, he realized he would only get five hours of sleep. Nothing he hadn't done before, and not something he could have avoided with the excitement of the day, but he hoped it would not be noticeable. He did not want to disappoint Sirena over something so simple.

 

When he woke, he found he still had enough time to bathe and change, thankfully. Once he found out if it could be done, he would love to attach the robes to his armor properly. It would be a mix of practicality and style! Which was a surprising thing for Roran to care about, but he found an odd attachment to the idea. After a relatively quick shower, Roran found himself changing into his armor, finding it more comfortable for an actual mission than the robes. As he was halfway done, he heard what he thought was a knock on the door. "One moment." He hoped that did not seem demanding or rude, but he doubted she wanted to catch him shirtless.

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When Sirena awoke the next day, her eyes gazing upward toward the crimson skies of Korriban, she wasn't too shocked to see her Apprentice gone. Her mind flowed back toward her own Apprenticeship, the excitement, the mysteries left to uncover, etc. Rising from the sand, she reached out her hand and covered the fire from the night before, leaving any trail of them having been there buried beneath its surface. Gathering her things, she quickly made for the Academy.

 

After arriving, she too took the moments to pack her essentials, hop into the refresher, and apply a fresh coat of make up as well as change her own robes. As she gazed into the mirror before her, twirling about, she giggled. "Perfection as always Mi'lan." She spoke, winking at herself in the mirror, before she turned to exit, her things in tow. As she knocked on Roran's door, she heard him answer, but she played little heed, and let herself in.

 

"Did you rest well last night Roran?" She poised as she laid her things aside and sat down upon his bunk, placing her hands upon her criss-crossed legs with a joyful bounce in her mood. "Do you know much about Onderon? I've never been there myself, but I hear the Dark King is rather handsome.... Well, maybe not as handsome as you, but in his own way."

 

Sirena tended to babble like this alot, a ditzy side very evident in her personality. But there was also a very temperamental side buried deep within her as well. Very few people saw it, which is why she stood out from her colleagues, but it was there all the same, and dangerous. After asking her question, her gaze turned to Roran, her attention to whether he was clothed or not making little matter at this moment.


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Roran jumped as he realized she entered while he was still changing. Though, he did not really have the right to be upset. It wasn't that big of a deal, anyway, even if it was embarrassing. His life before this, both on Coruscant and in the military, had been too hectic to ever think about a situation like this. Worse, his life as a mercenary had been spent alone, making him unused to both other people being close to him, and compliments on his appearance. Most of the time, it was compliments on a job well done, not one on him personally. It was really rather mortifying to hear this woman call him handsome, of all things. At the very least, she seemed to say what was on her mind at any time, which he could respect, even if he were the opposite.

 

"H-handsome?" He coughed, shaking his head. "Anyway, I rested well enough. I've never been to Onderon, I'm not even sure what kind of planet it is, either. Traveled as I am, I never got to learn anything about planets I did not physically go to." That was true, there were simply too many planets in the galaxy to try remembering them all. Particularly with his horrid memory. "I hope it's alright to ask, but what exactly are we going to be doing there?" Her mention of the 'Dark King' brought up some sense of familiarity to Roran, but he could not remember where from. The best he could guess, from the context and title, was some kind of Sith Lord, likely one with more political power than Sirena herself. Not that he would say that aloud, just in case she took offense. 

 

Roran, deciding to show off just a bit, finished armoring-up everything but his helmet. He was a good inch or so taller with his boots, and he certainly looked bigger overall, not enough to make his uncovered head seem ridiculous, but certainly noticeable. He took a small breath, his helmet levitating from where it was on the bunk. The helmet turned to fit the position needed to attach itself, and locked into place over his head. Okay, it was slower than putting it on himself, but the key to mastering a skill was to use it constantly. If only he needed to set things on fire more often, he would gladly use that pyrokinesis. "I'm ready." His voice was distorted, just a bit deeper. His armor was made specifically to be air-tight so he could survive in vacuums, so he needed a microphone system to allow others to hear him, so his voice was naturally altered. Nothing could really be done about it, but he found that he actually liked the way it changed his voice, so he never bothered to look into whether there were better options or not.

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"Makes sense." She teased in response to his answer. In truth, very few studied planets outside any they had ever physically been to, Sirena included. She pulled herself from his bed and stood at its end, the silk and leathered robes she adorned making little sound and were more revealing than anything. After all, seduction was her main weapon and as an Assassin, it was a deadly one.

 

"As for our purpose, I havent really decided fully yet. The Jungles around Iziz are dangerous, but you're training isn't advanced enough for them yet. In truth, my own isn't up to par to take you there alone. Masters are the only ones who tread there alone." Her gaze while she spoke this watched Roran gather himself, her eyes portraying a sense of kinship that Roran would rarely see amongst their kind. "But there are untapped secrets around that could be incorporated into future endeavors. Tell me. What path do you wish to follow? Judging by your attachment to armor, you seem to follow the path of the warrior, but your affinity for Pyromancy are calls to the Krath. These things will tell me where we go once we reach Onderon."

 

With that said, Sirena exited his chambers and headed toward the spaceport. There were reasons she left her talk lingering in her departure, leaving him to question himself as much as his future. When he was ready, she would be at the ship awaiting his answer. She could not choose his future, but she could guide him correctly. After all, the next part of his training is what will define him and guide the drive behind what she held in store.


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On the floor, the Hutt security droid laid in its own coiled coils.  On the bed, sitting with its healing legs, Tear watched the door, growling whenever something approached, even before the door opened. It was as if it was guarding the chassis, even though it had no means to fight at the moment. 

 

Suddenly, the chassis began to move. Metal creaked and moaned as its hands tightened into fists once more. Tear flinched and tried to move back as the body began to spasm violently. Electricity moved through the dead wires. Gears began to spin and grind.  Its motors were alive once more. The chassis rose to full height, its cone-like head grazing the ceiling. It’s arms stretched and a low moan came from the thing’s speakers. 

 

“Aaaaahhhh….” Solus sighed in pleasure as his body reacted again to his thoughts. His yellow eye flickered to life, granting him the beautiful gift of sight. 

 

“Ah ha ha ha!” Solus laughed. He knocked the wall with a metal fist, intently listening and enjoying the clunking over and over. Tear began to howl, which only added to Solus’ joy. 

 

“Sound! And...and touch! I’m...I’m back! Ha ha ha! Why did I doubt him? It was nothing! I, Solus the ascended, am back!” 

 

But it was something. During the chassis' recharge, Solus screamed to the void around him. The rage he had felt was the same kind he experienced before his ascension. He felt like he could’ve killed something in that darkness. He could have been a true god, and hold a thing’s life in his hands and choose to end its existence.

 

However, it was gone now.  As fast as his anger had come to him, it had left like darkness at the dawning of the sun, and now Solus was overjoyed to be ascended once more. Only a shadow of it lingered.

 

Looking over Tear’s wounds, Solus was pleasantly surprised to see the legs were healing up nicely. It had stopped oozing blood and large scars and bruises had formed where Solus had broken it’s legs. He wondered if all species healed as quickly as this hound. It still couldn’t walk, but the bones were mending themselves. 

 

"Good thing...Perhaps with some help we can get you walking  again. I don't know when that will be, but I'm sure Lord Roshan and I could figure something out." 

 

What surprised Solus more was that Tear didn’t snap this time. While it did growl and hiss at Solus' touching of the makeshift bandages to further examine the legs, Tear did not try to bite. Perhaps it knew now that Solus was a machine and biting accomplished nothing. Or perhaps when Solus nearly choked the thing, he established a kind of dominance. Or maybe during the shard's recharge, Tear felt Solus’ hatred and anger, and associated it with something more.

 

Whatever the reason, Solus was pleasantly surprised. After rewrapping the bandages, Solus felt the ship shift. It was landing.  

 

A few moments later, Solus was on the ramp of the ship, looking over the landscape. The sky overhead was a dark nighttime. The dark sand under Solus’ tail felt course to his metal body, but he didn’t mind it much.

 

However, in the far distance, Solus could see something. Lights.Over his shoulders and around his neck, he carried Tear, who seemed very uncomfortable. 

 

“A new world…” Solus said, proudly, gazing at the lights in the distance. “A world in this world of worlds… and yet, this place...it feels...interesting. Like something is tickling my body, but not actually. Something...here” with a hand, Solus gently tapped where the sith hounds had left its mark on him, directly over where his shard dwelled. 

 

Tear gave a guttural growl. Solus almost shivered at the combination of the feel of the beast making a noise against him and the strange sensation of this planet. Turning, Solus bowed slightly.

 

“Ah ha! It seems we have arrived! But tell me, what is this place? And...why does it feel so...I don’t know...strange?”  

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The hyperspace from whence they came was soon populated by the presence of large celestial bodies as the T-6 Shuttle dropped out of hyperspace. Lord Roshan heard the commotion the Shard and its hound were making as he navigated the ship towards the landing spot indicated on the hud. He let out a brief suspiration before shaking his head.

 

Droids will be droids, perhaps.

 

Aliss sat quietly in the co-pilot seat as she watched. There was a twinkle in her eyes. She tried to hide it, but Lord Roshan had known her for far too long. She was excited and likely feeling a bit of wonderment as well. She had grown up on Ishvara her entire life. Exploring alien worlds was something that was likely beyond her wildest dreams. Truth be told, Lord Roshan was a bit surprised to even be here. He had become so comfortable over the years. It was strange to think that only a year ago he had been content to finish out his years on Ishvara with his Knights and his luxuries.

 

How times change.

 

Leaving the ship with Aliss and company, Roshan looked around in the darkness. There was an eerie feel to the cooling air of the arid planet. Perhaps ominous was more the right word for it but neither word fit quite right. It was as if someone needed to invent a word with a definition that fit neatly between eerie and ominous.

 

Darkside perhaps.

 

At the very least, the glow of the seven moons of Korriban provided them with more than enough light to not wander around in complete darkenss. Solus and the howl of his pet broke Roshan of his current train of thought as he stared at the light in the distance.

 

“Ah ha! It seems we have arrived! But tell me, what is this place? And...why does it feel so...I don’t know...strange?”  

 

“Come,” Roshan motioned as he began to walk, lightsaber in hand. “What you are feeling there, Sir Soulless, is the oozing, unbridled power of the Force. The raw power that the Jedi fear unless its been properly contained and diluted. The thing they call 'the darkside' and the unemasculated simply call 'the Force.'”

 

Then turning to Tear, Roshan added, “Venas zveris ax Nu valia dakraze j'us!”

 

As he charged cautiously onward, Lord Roshan debated whether or not he should reveal to Solus that Tut’aka could not only understand Sith but could actually speak it. It was an uncanny gutteral sound to have a Tut’aka whisper threats or growl opinions. In his experience, most only spoke to their masters or in the presence of biological ancestors of the Sith. But if you showed yourself capable of doing so, Roshan had found in his years of raiding caches and tombs that most Tut'aka would at least acknowledge you, if not outright respond. 

 

Of course, whether Tear could do so as well remained to be seen. Nevertheless, Lord Roshan would be shocked if the creature wasn't capable of it at least. Those who were foolish enough to underestimate the intelligence and sentience of the Tut'aka generally didn't live long enough to regret it and there was a reason why the Sith used them as their watchdogs. All the same, such "languaging" could be useful for Solus to learn at some point. But Roshan was unsure if he’d have to manually program the language into the droid or if the Shard would actually have to learn it from him or Sith manuscripts and the like as would be the case with most normal sentients. There was so much still about Solus that was a complete mystery to him.

 

Meanwhile, Aliss allowed Roshan to take the lead while her and Solus brought up the rear. She still didn’t know what to make of her master’s new “Knight.” Solus had not even go through a single trial or test and yet Lord Roshan was treating him as if he was fully vetted and proven. He even called him "sir"! Perhaps Roshan had finally snapped and lost it. But Aliss dare not question him. All she did know at this moment was that she felt excited and energized being on this mysterious planet. What Solus called “strange” to her felt oddly more like “home” to her.

 

Turning to the droid after walking in silence for some time, the girl eyed him and his animal companion before finally speaking up, “One thing’s been bugging me, mister. In fact, me and Lord Roshan argued about it a little before we landed. And I know he’s probably right... But...”

 

Her voice trailed off for a moment before she worked up the courage to ask, “Is your name Soul-less or Sol-ace? Lord Roshan thinks you named yourself Soulless because you don’t have a soul like normal people being a Shard of whatever shards are made of. And I guess that kinda makes sense. But I think you named yourself Solace because you are no longer alone and crying out and found this body has provided you solace.”

 

She grinned to herself as she finished, satisfied and confident in her astute observation. She, too, had heard Solus' screams through the Force and the calmness this droid chassis had brought him. To be right over Lord Roshan, even in something meaningless like this, would be a victory all the same. Aliss wasn't sure if Solus would validate Roshan or her or even have anything at all to say on the subject. Either way, she was happy to have finally addressed the elephant in the room and said her piece. Shrugging, Aliss turned her gaze back towards Roshan. He seemed like he was determined to get somewhere and she did not want to lose sight of her lord as he charged up the hill in front of them.

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“The Force…” Solus mused over Roshan’s words for a bit. “Force. Darkside. Yes, that feels correct. Maybe its because of the darkness around us, but yes, that feels...perfect. Like a touch of something wild. Or chaotic. But tranquil inside somewhere. Like something cold, but waiting to be hot. Like...yes, darkside sounds right. I like that…” 

 

As the shard mused, he followed his lord, his words lowering into a mumble. He wasn’t sure if he was feeling nervous at this planet and that was why he was talking so much or if it was something else. Still, he continued to prattle on while Tear on his shoulders and ignored its master entirely. Instead, the hound simply looked around at the darkness. 

 

“I must say, this place is something beyond me. When i said a world beyond worlds, I knew what i meant, but I had forgotten all the senses I had experienced. Like this...sand? Dirt? Whatever it is, it is much different than the metal back where I ascended. Like a grinding sensation, but so much lesser then the grinding of my own gears.  And I feel like I should be cold, like one of my visions, but I do not. Perhaps something about me is incomplete. No, I feel like that is wrong...hmmm? Oh sorry Sir Aliss, you asked something?”

 

As Solus listened to Sir Aliss’ question, he had to pause in thought for a moment. He realized that he was still learning what he called ‘the language of sound’ as he himself hadn’t noticed how his Lord and Aliss both pronounced his name differently. 

 

“Well, Sir, truth be told, I’m unsure myself. You see, us shard’s aren’t accustomed to names really, and sound is something new to me still.”

 

Solus glanced back at Aliss and realized he needed to explain himself. 

 

“You see, us shards are immobile by nature. We grow from the rocks around us, and we generate subtle hints of heat and electricity with thoughts. But we do not move. Thus, we are always connected. We knew each other almost perfectly. Not like how I now know that the ship is back that way…” Solus gestured with his head in the direction the group had come from.

 

“But really know each other. We could know each other’s thoughts. We communicated by simply thinking. We knew each other. When we referred to each other, we simply were called brother, or sister, or parent. So I didn’t have a name for most of my life. "

 

“But as you noticed, I had a name at my ascension. And that is because of my visions. For some reason, I had visions, if that is what you call them. Maybe experiences would be a better term, for I didn’t just see. I felt. I smelled. I heard. And these ‘experiences’ were amazing. Eye-opening. Full with energy and life and color and...well, everything!  It is how I knew of this...world of worlds. Imagine, experiencing something new, something beyond your comprehension.  That is what i had.”

 

“After my first experience, my family grew distant from me. They named me. They called me Solus the Singular. That is when I became separate. As time went on, I had more experiences. Eight of them I think. And each time, I tried to share them with my family. But it's like explaining color to...beings who had never had sight before! How do you explain the sensation of sound to beings with no ears? Or the idea of moons and planets to things that have never left a cave?”

 

Solus gave a deep sigh. His entire body was drooping forward, with his head hung low. His voice had become softer and slower. His emotions were clearly visible.

 

“They declared me sick. They declared me mad. And with that, they somehow cut me off from them. I do not know how, but they had separated themselves from me. I lost all connection to them and became alone. The last thought I heard from them was declaring me Solus the Lonely. And then...nothing…”

 

The robotic being stopped slithering forward. He was remembering the experience. It was so real to him at the moment. The emptiness. The void. The silence. The loneliness. Tear perked up, sensing the emotion that was rising within the being. 

 

“Imagine losing all of your senses. Your ears. Your eyes. Your body. You can only think. There isn’t even blackness because you can’t see color. Just nothingness. Now also imagine being alone. But you knew you weren’t alone. That somewhere, beyond you there were others and if you could only reach out you would no longer be alone. If you could only speak, you could break the eternal silence that is consuming you. But you can’t because you don’t have arms. You don’t have limbs or a body. Your tongue is your thoughts. Your sight are your thoughts.  All you have is your thoughts and memories of better times. Can you? Cause that's what I had to go through!”

 

Solus words became louder and sharper, rising in tone. He dropped Tear from his shoulders to the ground, who yelped sharply in pain. Solus ignored his actions, instead now raising his arms and yelling at the moons overhead.  

 

“That is what I had! A better time, where I was perfectly in tune with my family! And then a vision of something even greater!  And then nothing! I was cut off from my family! From everything! They cut me off from everything that made me whole! They cut me off from the experiences! They vanished too! I didn’t have another one to give me comfort. To give me life! To give me anything! I was alone! And broken! And nothing! I might as well have been nothing!”

 

Hitting the climax of his emotion, Solus slammed his fists down into the ground. The sound of his hands hitting the ground made a large thud, but nothing more. The dirt around the group flew, but nothing else. But even then, the shard inside the body screamed it’s odd silent scream. It’s red glow and momentarily turned black, with each white line dashing about violently. The Force rippled and reverberated from the chassis, echoing silently, unperceivable except to those attuned to it. 

 

 After the momentarily silent scream, Solus paused, feeling the anger drain from him. He now felt empty, like some kind of husk. Like the energy in him had been drained, even though he was still at near full power. Slowly, he raised himself and turned back to Aliss. 

 

“And now here I am. In a body in a world of worlds. Tell me Sir Aliss, does it sound like I have found peace with this body? Cause I don’t remember peace anymore. I feel joy, but I don’t know about peace. Or does it sound like I have no soul? I know I had one when I had my family. When I truly knew someone. But now, i don’t know anything. I simply don’t know.”

 

Solus reached and picked up the hound again, and began to make his way forward. “Call me whatever our Lord desires. After all...”

 

Solus looked back at Aliss, giving a nod as if it was a wink. His entire attitude changed with his next words, as if nothing was wrong. “We are his servants. And he is our lord.” And Solus continued on, heading towards the light. 

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VEXOK SAVAKA

 

 

Far from luxury, far from the ordinary.

 

The rolling sands of red began to boil something fierce beneath them. Over the last few months, tremendous sand storms impregnated the lands, storming across the old terrestrial and wreaking a havoc that frightened off-worlders to their core. We had been too inviting, and the spirits knew this. Cultists spent halved decades prophesying a powerful shift in the high dune-shores of Korriban, telling of a time where hedonism and worldly possessions would return to a sweeping dust. The spirits were angered, tourists and wayfarers gathered in record amounts, keen on studying the immortals works of those that drank and died in the dark side of the force. The teachings of more than just the Sith, of practitioners that vested their life blood in the studies of primal sorcery and the most forbidden of arts, were on showcase for the spoil and pillage of the undeserving. The rule of the traitorous white wolf had endorsed such sacrilege, and his love for the enemy had blinded him to the deflowering of his culture. Korriban was a Gate to inexplicable power, and the doors were slowly closing under the watch of the Spider.

 

A small wind crept up on the derelict port, a little stronger than the usual, worsening levels of visibility. The humans that worked these parts looked drained of the color in their skin, and machine-like in the way they systemically secured the newest docked vessel.  A Cathar, a strange Droid, and a Tuk'ata disembarked and continued on their path, perhaps searching for a thing that no longer existed here. Comfort, was long gone in these parts, and as the Sith Empire drew itself across the galactic front, these red sands darkened under their seven moons.

 

All the same, the winds continued to strengthen, and the trek to the nearest temple was a mile up-shore. As the three pressed onward, they came upon a creature overlaid in a dull-green cloak, holding a protected flame fixed to a long black-metal staff.  He held the make-shift lantern high, unconcerned with how much of the burnt flesh on his face peaked through his sagging hood. He worked his jaw, easing the stiffness that shot up to his peeling cheekbones.

 

 

"J'us buti vi griezta fopa ant bnila, j'us dary nenx ana dyibio j'us naile mirtis. Buti sis atuzirsaga, ax tarabaga?"

You are as heavy hooves on glass, you do not walk as if you fear death. Is this arrogance, or madness?

 

 

The voice yawned out across the distance as they approached, addressing the three of them indiscriminately. His concern was not for their lives, but for the terror that their lack of precaution would stir. The lands were not what they once were, and their footsteps hammered the sands, signaling the things buried low and far. The creature stood before them now, awaiting their response.

 


"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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Posted (edited)

LORD ROSHAN:
A feeling tickled at him as he pressed forward. Sliding his mask out from underneath his cape, he placed it on his face to scan the surrounding area. Sure enough! Someone mysterious was up ahead. He crouched a little as if he was intending to stalk his prey. But before he could alert the others and suggest caution, Solus began angrily howling at the moon. Roshan tried to wave and motion him for silence but the Shard either didn't see him or didn't understand.

 

Sighing deeply, Lord Roshan placed his hands on his knees and let his head drop towards the ground in frustration. Any element of surprise was surely lost now and it wasn't like Korriban was a tomb world either. Korriban certainly had its predators and predators hunted at night.

 

Lord Roshan remained half-crouched with his hands on his knees and his head down in frustration throughout Solus' tirade and fist pound. It wasn't until Solus had finished and began to lift back up Tear that Roshan finally spoke up.

 

"If you morons are done waking up anything and everything with the next two miles--"

 

 

"J'us buti vi griezta fopa ant bnila, j'us dary nenx ana dyibio j'us naile mirtis. Buti sis atuzirsaga, ax tarabaga?"

 

Roshan's attention was immediately diverted as he glanced back towards the figure that held the light in the distance. He knew those words. That was Sith. Perhaps with the proper steer and prodding and a little bit of luck, Roshan had managed to get the Force to lead them where they had needed to go after all.

 

"Neither. Ignorance," he retorted under his breath as he straightened up and began walking in the direction of the stranger again. He kept his hand firmly around his lightsaber as he resumed his approach. He had no idea what to expect but he was not foolish enough to trust a stranger just because they might look harmless from a distance. Especially not on this world.

 

"If you two are done," Roshan began in a voice laced with exasperation. "We have company. And you'd be wise to keep up and shut up."
 

As he neared the creature, Roshan formally addressed the unknown figure, "I am Dhonarr Roshan of Ishvara. These are my Knights. The red-skinned human looking girl with yellow eyes is Aliss. The Serpent-Droid guy that... looks like... like an anorexic hutt in body armor... I guess... that's Soulless."

He lowers his voice a little bit as he addresses the figure more directly, "Nu ziur anas j'us zenoti tave lirza iv tave Tsis. Zyemus. Mes tapti' iezkon zo meistras iv tave hekkyuhe qkereyr. Dary j'us zenoti wo?"

Spoiler

I see that you know the tongue of the Sith. Good. We come seeking a master of the darkside. Do you know one?

 

___

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*** *** ***


MOMENTS EARLIER: ALISS

"...us shard’s aren’t accustomed to names really, and sound is something new to me still.”
 

The teenager frowned a little and gave Solus a look of confusion at his words.

 

"But then how did you know your name was--" muttered in a slightly muted manner before Solus cut her off.

He spoke of his past and his story. He spoke of sadness and loss and rejection and loneliness. 'Were all droids this dramatic?" she wondered to herself. She almost moved to comfort him as his voice and posture sunk into a depressed demeanor. But this was too weird. 

How do you console a being made of metal and wires? Do you pet it? Do you touch it? Do you speak to it? Do you offer it a treat? Or program it with a burst of happiness? Wait. Can you program happiness? What would the code for that look like?

 

As Solus stopped dead in his tracks, Aliss started to slow down, torn between keeping up with Lord Roshan and making sure that Solus was okay. This was all her fault, after all. She was the one who asked the dumb question. 
 

Spoiler

"You know why you failed, Aliss! What have I told you a million times! Keep your mind on the task at hand! Why can't you be more like Nomi?"

"But I can. I am focusing. I swear!"

"Funny. If that was the case, you wouldn't have been surpassed by someone 3 years younger than you!"


Her blood boiled a little thinking about Nomi and her past mistakes on Ishvara. This was yet another example of her not staying focused and causing trouble. As Solus began to lose his cool, panic began to encroach upon her normally stoic expression. She was sure Lord Roshan was going to be mad at her for this debacle.

Look what you started, Aliss! You idiot! ...

 

You idiot...

 

"... To give me life! To give me anything! I was alone! And broken! And nothing! I might as well have been nothing!”

 

THUD!

There was a special wide-eyed horror in her eyes as Solus' metal hands came in contact with the ground. Aliss quickly spun her head around to look at Roshan. It was even worse than she had thought. Instead of telling them off, he simply slumped over in silence.

Disappointment. Frustration. Failure.

She had not been on this new world for even an hour and she had already managed to find some way to be a failure yet again. As Roshan addressed them, her shoulders slouched. Her head fell slightly. She opened her mouth to speak.

It's all my fault. I know. I know. I. I. Swear.

The words were too familiar to speak. She just listened. But a voice in the distance interrupted Lord Roshan, giving Aliss a chance to regroup.

I'm not a failure. I. I swear! But I'm really not. I'm really not.

 

Her eyes watered a little at the thought. She was glad that she had the darkness to hide her face a little. But the weakness of her emotions still embarrassed her. Which made her even more angry. Her hands clenched tightly at her pant legs. She was no longer facing the Shard droid by the time he picked Tear back up. She was holding her breath so hard she felt like her head was about to explode before she finally allowed the air to escape her lips. Her breathing was labored but she closed her eyes and thought of her mom's smiles to calm her mind for a few seconds.

 

“Call me whatever our Lord desires. After all. We are his servants. And he is our lord.”

"If you two are done, we have company. And you'd be wise to keep up and shut up."

 

As Solus passed her, Aliss began walking again and caught up beside him. Thankfully, Lord Roshan had more important things to worry about right now than her mistakes.

 

"Yes. You are right, Soulless. I was foolish and let us get distracted. I am sorry," she replied quietly.

 

There was a momentary pause, but then she added, being careful to keep her voice at the level of a low susurration, "And I'm sorry about your family. I know how you feel. I lost everyone, too. But now you have me and Roshan."

She uttered that last part with a faint but soft smile before returning to a rather expressionless demeanor and turning her attention towards the mysterious stranger Lord Roshan was talking to. At this point they had both more or less caught up to him and by her count, it was three against one.


___
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Edited by Durose Roshan

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Solus flinched when Roshan ordered him and Aliss to shut up. He moved faster, carrying his hound over his shoulders. He silently cursed himself for being distracted and being noisy. However, he kept pace with Aliss until the two caught up.

 

“Thank you, Sir Aliss…” Solus whispered back to his friend. Tear growled softly. 

 

Solus looked over the figure in the distance. He didn’t understand the words it spoke, but he shivered at them. It appeared Tear either understood them, or at least recognised them in some form, for his ears perked up, his tail swayed sporadically. Solus squeezed the hound’s hind legs slightly, to which he received a growl and hiss in turn.

 

“Oh come on, Tear, what is he?” Solus asked out loud, then immediately tried to be quiet, remembering Roshan’s words just a moment ago. With a whisper, he asked “Sir Aliss, what is that being?”  

 

When the two caught up, and Solus heard his master describe his knights to the unknown figure, Solus leaned over slightly and spoke softly. 

 

“What’s an anorexic hutt? Is that a compliment? And what is our lord saying? Tear, do you know?”

 

Tear stayed silent, watching Roshan and the stranger. And Solus watched as well.  

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Low laughter came suddenly in response, almost a growling as it first started, but then the humor grew as loud as the roaring winds. The creature had to double over with hand on knee, contradictory to the usual rigid appearance of him and his kind. But then he readjusted, straightening himself while leaning more of his weight onto the make-shift staff. He eyed the flame that he had captured earlier, and then returned his gaze towards the rather strange collection of sentient or semi-sentient bodies. They were serious, and it was only now that the creature had realized what they had just asked for. The storm was opening up somewhere near, but the skies were too choked with dust and clouds to pinpoint how far out the chaos really was.

 

Anas buti zo grezmenes faejon va, Hisxis..

That is a dangerous request, Cathar..

 

He let the thought sink in, the very notion of how dangerous the masters of the dark side could be. Their reputations were of an ill-kind. Capable of stacking the odds against them and coming out on top, each and every time. The power that the masters of the dark side held within them, more often than not, drove them sick with unquenchable blood-lust. There were few left if truth be told, most burning out like a flame to waxen wicks. Those that hungered for the knowledge and the power grew in significant numbers, while those that had achieved both of these things, were a dying breed. The creature used his free hand to pull his hood up, and cover his face a little better than before, the sand hitting his charred face was far from pleasant. 

 

J'us zenoti tave lirza, kad sis buti nie dits bauztipe latraha. J'us buti takjona, su yunoks katesi askal tu'iea vadinti..

You know the tongue, but this is no charter school. You are strangers, with little merit behind your names.. 

 

The heavy accent of his Sith diction came out rough, nearly as if anger was attributed to his entire speech, but this was just the sound of the pyromancer at large. His watched them all, with a curiosity to match his natural paranoia. This world was one of savages, creatures willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of ascension. What stood before him, was untested, and perhaps a small threat to these sacred sands.

 

.. Armijio. Ar sis buti tu'iea geida, na j'us nayir rajidona tu'saen stai ir dabar. Nuo j'us ir tu'iea idevoka, sekleti buti stuyi.

..Yet. If this is your wish, then you must surrender yourselves here and now. For you and your intentions, shall be tested.

 

 

Kam zodis j'us?

What say you?

 

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"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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"Anas buti zo grezmenes faejon va, Hisxis.."

 

The oversized Cathar shrugged in response, “Ar j'us zinot liepti nun aneu, mes seyyunr mezdi xis sayr yikyunr zinot zemas mes zinot tapti' kia tave nedro aikste.”

Spoiler

If you had told me otherwise, we would have left because that would have meant we had come to the wrong place.

 

With the figure still standing at a bit of a distance and the dust swirling around them, the moonlight gave little away as far as the creature’s features. It was clear that he wasn’t the most capable at avoiding flames and firey objects but beyond that, Lord Roshan wondered who he actually was. Focusing on the charred face, Roshan pondered the alien's race and place of origin. 

A Sith Master in disguise? A natural born Sith native to the planet? Did those even exist? Weren’t they extinct? Was he the last of his kind? Or are there more? What mysteries await us here on Pesegam? 

 

“J'us zenoti tave lirza, kad sis buti nie dits bauztipe latraha. J'us buti takjona, su yunoks katesi askal tu'iea vadinti..”

 

"Dary nenx tnisi tu'saen. Nu dary nenx svies tave khutrai nuo tu'iea cticsutr. Tik zo zioplys valia iezkon azinimas ir cali lauke armio svies sulig tave nayasa."

Spoiler

Don’t flatter yourself. I did not learn the language for your sake. Only a fool would seek knowledge and answers without also learning from the source.


Lord Roshan paused for a moment, his mind on the last half of the being’s sentence. This talk about their names and their merits. Before he could reply, however, the stranger added a few more words.


“.. Armijio. Ar sis buti tu'iea geida, na j'us nayir rajidona tu'saen stai ir dabar. Nuo j'us ir tu'iea idevoka, sekleti buti stuyi... Kam zodis j'us?”

 

Or where they threats?

 

"Nuyak lojafiee avitsasi kia Darth Hel ir tave Tsis. Ir mes valia nenx buti mazo sulo anuloti vi kia rajidona ant tave xuontai iv zo nur rihyr vstirze. Kia parod geiâ silpnuma valia nenx buti sefide iv zo Tsis. Kad mes valia kioska kalv ar anas feikti j'us kakpijs."

Spoiler

My loyalty belongs to Darth Hel and the Sith. And we will not be so easily defeated as to surrender on the commands of a nameless stranger. To show such weakness would not be fitting of a Sith. But we will stand down if that provides you comfort.



Not taking his eyes off the stranger but turning his head slightly and raising his voice so as to signal to the others with him, “We’ll gladly put away our weapons and desist from any hostilities towards our guide here. He may know of whom we seek.”

 

Aliss looked to Solus before putting away her lightsaber and assuming a less hostile posture. She is unsure of what the two were saying. Roshan taught her Echani but never the words of the "sacred ancients" as he always called them. Perhaps this alien was one of them. The whole exchange made her increasingly uneasy.

 

Roshan then returned to the Sith tongue and added, “Kad fasona nie vykti ra seniai mekn, zo Tsis dartovi nenx adata zo ardu'kardas ax zo macij milsura kia zudyti j'us ir jok mirazas kia tave drastâe buti ros j'us aukoti tu'saen zo krevas reiksme iv uzstafas. Ar nuyak hana buti nenx vi byloti ir nuyak redis buti nenx tiesa, mes valia nenx zinot zinot zo duryasligea sso visa.”

Spoiler

But make no mistake old man, a Sith does not need a lightsaber or a metal stick to kill you and any illusion to the contrary is simply you giving yourself a false sense of security. If my aims were not as spoken and my words were not true, we wouldn’t have had a conversation at all.


Placing his lightsaber back on the belt of his ancient sith armor, the Cathar adds, “Ar j'us naile tave gti iv mus na Nu nodi j'us zenoti iv deos mes iezkon. Kad ar j'us zenoti tave Tsis, na j'us zinot yunoks ais kia vulti ax rak mus j'us. Zhol valia nenx buti ao iv re aikste kia ctatebyu re meistras iv ane stuvtaga.”

Spoiler

If you fear the three of us then I doubt you know of which we seek. But if you know the Sith, then you have little reason to attack or nor us you. It would not be either of our places to deprive our masters of their property.


Lord Roshan realized that he was taking a bit of a gamble. He knew that his words could provoke the creature or dampen its “zeal” to assist them. But he had not forgotten the words of Malyss, a perspective of the Sith that his old Master had wholeheartedly endorsed once upon a time, so very long ago.

“...the Sith do not sit idly by waiting for fate to pull their strings and set them into action. The Sith are masters of their own futures. Masters of their own worlds. To be a Sith is to be a master of all things that surround and affect you."

He would not fear a stranger. He would not show weakness to a “nobody.” Only the weak hid who they were, and to hide one’s name and power and pretend to be weak was the trait of a slave of the Force, a Jedi. That’s why the Masters of the Sith never cowered behind homogeneous robes and the walls of tall buildings and the safety of their capital ships. Instead, they strode through the hallways, passageways, and battlefields in distinctive and easily identifiable armor, leading their soldiers on the frontlines. They wanted their enemies to know exactly where they were so that they could feel the fear of the darkside and the dread of their inevitable destruction as it consumed their hearts and buckled their knees.

 

If this being was truly a Sith Master, perhaps he would now drop his charade and unveiled his insinuations and comments. And if he wasn’t, perhaps he would see that Roshan meant business. 
 

When he left behind Ishvara, Lord Roshan had resolved in his heart that he would never again wait for the strings of fate to dictate his future and set him into action. He would take command and push his fate and the fate of his followers forward by his own actions. If his first test was slaying this guardian and he failed, so be it. At least he’d now know this creature’s true intentions. But if this was a true servant of a Sith Master, perhaps the alien would not so readily strike down a servant of Darth Hel and the Sith. As Lord Roshan saw it, that was for the creature's master to decide. Of course, whether the two would see things in the same light remained to be seen and with the dark energies of the planet swirling around them like nagging whispers on the wind, Lord Roshan couldn't deny that there was a part of him itching for battle.

___
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Edited by Durose Roshan

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With each word that passed between his lord and the stranger, Solus grew more and more twitchy. Tear listened carefully, a semblance of understanding in his eyes, but for Solus, there was only confusion. And a little bit of annoyance and impatience. 

 

“Its a pity we can’t just continue on. Or at least speak common” Solus mutterred, only loud enough for Aliss to overhear. “I mean, we came here for...what was it? Right, seek a Sith master. Funny, I remember what Sith means. Its a name for one of the gods of these worlds. From my visions. Pity I didn’t have any visions about what’s being said…”

 

As Solus muttered, Tear hissed once at the being, as if to tell him to shut up. Solus glanced at the hound, and shook his own head in annoyance. 

 

Those visions long ago...they were a comfort and a pain now. A comfort because he felt that they gave him some kind of insight into this world of worlds. But a pain because not all of them were good. In fact, a bunch were actually painful. Like the one Solus had recalled in his battle with Tear and it’s brother, Rip. The sounds of destruction, like screaming of beings, crunching and crashing of ships and buildings, the booming of explosions and the crackling of fires. The sight of people killing each other out of pure panic as overhead a large sphere was coming crashing down onto the populace below. And those other gods that fought to prevent that, utilizing their magnificent powers to slow the descent of that celestial object.

 

Solus shook himself.  His lord had said something in the tongue he understood. Something about weapons, but having been lost in thought, Solus didn’t hear it fully. He could only infer what was said by observing Sir Aliss putting away her weapon. 

 

“I should get myself one of those…” Solus mused, noticing the weapon. It was something truly unique and powerful. A true weapon for a god slayer like he was to be. 

 

Lord Roshan returned to speaking in the unknown tongue. Solus sighed and slumped slightly. Still, this stranger was curious. Solus studied him for a bit. Was he Sith? Or was he not even a deity? 

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He listened intently while a trace of disdain played against his peeling features, but his composure was without flaw. The creature was well-winded, speaking in tongue with a confused arrogance that no master of the dark side would bother to endure. But for now, he ate slow-burning torture. He leaned the staff harder into the sands, and the fire captured within it looked as if it began to swell in size as he did so. "Enough!" Perhaps this Cathar did not understand the tones of the Sith language, or perhaps it just enjoyed the sound of it's own voice. He then pulled the hood from his head to reveal a scathed man, burned flesh through and through, ailing thickets of muscle and exposed bulbous vessels that dry-heaved over the features of his face. 

 

"I wonder if in this language you will understand my meaning. Your words are empty. You speak many of them, far too many for an old man to care for, and all of which mean nothing to me. You are loyal to a name that has expired and holds no weight. You recklessly trod across lands foreign to you, imploring direction without addressing just who you are, much less the dismal company you you choose to keep. You stand before a keeper of the sands, and you have proven unwise, stranger.

 

This comfort you speak of, the word is unfamiliar to my kind. Pain is the only luxury you will find standing before me, for I am a Master in the arts you seek, one exemplified in studies of the Wicked Flame. With but a whisper, you and those entrusted to follow you, would become no more than ash stirred by the ass-end of this old staff. But with temper, I fear the flame would swallow us all."

 

The pyromancers of the Krath were uncanny catalysts to a primordial savage unlike any other, the boils that surfaced their skins were testament to how they earned their names, and earned their abilities. "I am Darth Helios, and you will yield to me and surrender your identities, or you will feel the heat of Horuset settle into your bones."


"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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As Solus watched the two, the stranger pulled his hood back revealing his face. Instead of revulsion or horror like many people may have had, the Shard had a sense of awe and curiosity. He had examined his hound’s wounds and had been fascinated earlier. Why wouldn’t he find these different, appearent and extreme wounds more so?

 

Still, the tone the stranger spoke with made Solus flinch slightly. Being robotic didn’t mean he had thick skin. It was apparent that Roshan had not made the being happy. 

 

Panic set in Solus’ mind. Without thinking he slithered up quickly and almost laid a hand on his lord’s shoulder, just as Aliss had done to him, but stopped a few inches away, too scared to touch his lord. Instead he whispered, “Allow me, my Lord, to speak to Helios. For I believe this being can help us, and if not, then I will fight on your behalf as the loyal child I am…”

 

With that and not waiting for a response, Solus slithered forward a bit more, his metal tail leaving a thick trail in the sand. When he was a few feet ahead of Roshan, he bowed slightly to the man. Tear was struggling to stay still and on top, but kept his eyes on the man all the while with its glowing eyes. 

 

“Forgive my words if they are empty,” Solus started, bowing slightly deeper, though with his height it put him only a few inches shorter than the human named Helios. 

 

“My name is Solus the Ascended, the to-be god slayer as my master, Lord Roshan, dictates. This beast I carry and tame is Tear. I trod recklessly because I am only newly ascended to these worlds of worlds... “

 

Solus did not look up, hoping this sign of respect would be enough to calm the man down. Solus feared that if Helios became more angry, Roshan would be angry, and Aliss and Solus would be just a burden to defend. He had to help, even if it was by showing respect at a slight cost of dignity.  Course there was a risk that he would make Roshan angry too, but he had to try. 

 

“ I, like my Master and Sir Aliss, are conduits of the Force. But I do not know the way to control it. If this ‘Wicked Flame’ and the Force are truly related,  then I must request for your knowledge. Your knowledge...or the pain you offer. If either will help us, then I will take it, for everything is better then the abyss I have known...”

 

Solus looked up at the man, his own yellow eye taking in all the features of this being. The scars were so fascinating, nothing like the broken bones in Tear’s legs. He did not fully understand what could have caused those yet, though he would learn eventually. 

 

“Darth Helios, deity of the Wicked Flame, guide us. I, Solus the Ascended, or however you must title me, request this.”

 

As Solus awaited Helios' response, he bowed his head again, and stayed silent. Tear kept his eyes on the man though. However, he too was silent as well, recognizing that his own master was putting himself and his very young hound at great risk. At great risk to this being who spoke that old language so easily. 

 

Please Roshan. Be impressed by my initiative. I do this for you...  Solus begged silently, feeling his lord’s eyes on him. 

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Posted (edited)

Lord Roshan:
At last, the charade was over. Roshan grinned slightly underneath his mask as he dropped to one knee and bowed his head.

 

“Allow me, my Lord, to speak to Helios. For I believe this being can help us, and if not, then I will fight on your behalf as the loyal child I am…”

 

Lord Roshan said nothing in reply. He would allow Solus the opportunity to speak for himself. Listening to his words, Roshan cringed a little. Solus was but a child in this world, literally. To Roshan, his words made him sound weak and naive. But perhaps that was unavoidable. There had been no real time to train him any further about the “world of worlds.” And perhaps weakness is proper when facing a Sith Master. He would have to learn these things on his own. As Solus finished, Roshan raised his head slightly and spoke.

 

“Master Helios, I am the one called Dhonarr Durose Roshan, apprentice of Darth Hel, amateur historian and philosopher of the Sith Order, student of Sith lightning and the most violent Sith arts, master of the echani arts, and servant of the Order. I do not apologize for overstepping my bounds. I had to be sure that you were not a Jedi or a fool posing as someone of power. But I submit to your punishment if necessary. You are the ones we came looking for. We do now submit as Solus says. We are yours to command, Master Helios.” 

 

___

image.png
 

 

*** *** ***

Aliss Roshan:
Sir Aliss looked on in a mixture of abject shock and world-shattering horror as Lord Roshan bent the knee to the grotesque looking man. The man himself didn’t scare her. She had seen all sorts of disfigured faces before. After all, she had killed more than her share of people over her short life. But in all those years, regardless of the odds, she had never seen Lord Roshan bend the knee to anyone.
 

She couldn’t believe how much this had shaken her. It was like she was watching her god submit to a frail, wounded looking corpse of a man. It was like he was throwing away everything she had been taught. It was like she had now officially lost everything. Her friends. Her family. Her home. Her planet. Her god. Her universe.
 

Anger boiled inside her heart. She wanted to ignite her lightsaber and leap at the man. She wanted to kill him. She wanted to give her Lord back his godship. That was the one thing that she needed him to maintain. He had to have known that. She’d die for him to maintain that. Her world lost all meaning and coherency without it.


Admittedly, he had taught of a patron goddess Dominique that was powerful and wise and helped him to ascend. But this man was no such goddess. He was not larger than life or glowing with power or as tall and magnificent as the mountains of Neromar.


Aliss could see the hand behind Roshan’s back motioning for her to kneel as he and Solus finished speaking to the man. Defeated, Aliss dropped to her knees. Her body lurked forward and crumpled towards the ground, her hands now firmly planted on the dirt. Her fingers dug into the sand as she bowed her head downward, watching the small swirls of dust that flickered in the moonlight. Droplets of water began to capture little particles of sand, the sand hugging onto the moisture with all its might, desperate not to allow even the tiniest amount of this rare offering to escape. 


Aliss dare not raise her head. Part of her felt like she was absolutely overreacting. But she had given up everything. She had lost everything. She had done it all for him. She would have followed him to the ends of the universe. But until this moment, she had never really asked herself what he was. He was the god of Careth, god of the hunters, the flame, and the thunder, Lord of the Night, Lord and King of the Knights of Roshan.


Maybe she was being melodramatic and angsty. Her mother would undoubtedly have scolded her for her attitude.

"What does a scrawny, little 15 year old know of the world?"

"I'm almost 16, mom."

"Oh ho ho. Excuse me. Scrawny, little almost 16 year old."

"Mooomm. It's not funny. I'm serious!"


She imagined her mother's coy smile followed by her soft laughter. It was such a petite and gentle laugh. Those were probably the wrong words to use to describe a laugh. Aliss knew that. But they just fit for some reason. And the more she thought of her mom, the more pain she felt swelling inside her heart.

She had thought that they had angered her Lord. That all of this had been punished for their lack of piety. That everything up until this point had been deserved and their fault and a test of their loyalty. That she could possibly right things and maybe even, by some miracle, see her mom again. But for the first time, a terrifying thought crossed her mind. What if this beast had failed them. What if her god was no stronger than a man! Even worse, what if he was weaker?

___
image.png

Edited by Durose Roshan

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THE SPACE BETWEEN SAND.


 

He watched them, such a curious bunch. Reminded him of the little ones that had come to marvel of red fire and blackened ash on the first day. The jovial acolytes of his class, juvenile to the steep power that the force would offer them, unprepared for the hate that would boil in their veins forever. These few however; their speech seemed mired with tones of hope, pleasantries and perhaps a strange bravery. Such character was contrary to the bastards that were belched from prison reform to serve the Sith, even the camaraderie they showed here was an alien feeling. These were ideals that the Master had not seen for a time in these wretched sands. These were ideals that would most likely lead to brutish death by the hands of hungrier students. There was time yet, to see if these few would one day turn on each other, and find daggers to settle into the spines of the ones they had arrived with. A powerful trinity like the one of old, was unlikely.

 

He allowed the wind fury of the coming storm to fill in the silence, choosing not to answer the introduction of either creature. "..Come with me."

 

His leaning on the staff finally took, and a loud crunch was heard. The fire inside of the staff illuminated beyond a furious pallet of bright-orange, mixing now with a sickly green and black. The sand beneath him, and for a few feet outside of his circumference, began to slowly gyrate in a counterclockwise flush. The area became seismic, trembling with just enough force to unhinge one's standing balance. The shifting sands started to dissipate before their eyes, now showing that the staff was wrenched into a strange sealing mechanism. A solid plate of metal was unearthed while the strong rattling soon reached a climax, then came to a boring halt. Exposed slabs of metal continued to innocuously drain the bleeding sands, unveiling an opening maw that proved to be a hidden entrance after all.

 

Helios held his eyes tightly closed, with a single hand concentrated over the loosening access point. Once the widening diameter was large enough to fit the full berth of a hover-cruiser, Helios moved without further delay, descending the stairwell that extended into the belly of reddened rock. He moved slow, almost deceivingly so, but with enough time for the strange folk to follow his lead. He would not ask them, he would show them. If reluctance was their answer, the darkmetal plates would not wait more than sixty seconds to independently reseal.

 

The downward spiraling steps spanned at least a mile, starting as roughshod metal, which slowly buried itself into the cavernous rock that surrounded them and became a natural outcropping of steps. Metal was outmatched here beneath the rolling sands, only illustrating the strangeness of nature's design down here. Vicious stalagmites, craggy drip-stones and carved images of tremendous taunting gargoyles haunted these parts. In every direction hung brilliant carvings, billows of black smog, and waltzing flames to light the way. The air was easy for now, but the open flames that ran the length of the structured outcropped stairway strangely captured the eye, choking the air in places with a hoarse smoke that seemed to revitalize the body. Walls continued to close in around them, making it impossible to see what was yet below, and where it was they had come from. The walls held history though, etched tapestries of powerful creatures that once shaped these omniscient tunnels. Helio spoke nothing, knowing at least some of them followed nearby with the sound of feet hitting the awkward pavings. 

 

The Master of the White Flame worked himself a small distance ahead of the group, only by aid of comfort from how many times he had traveled these access points. With that separation though, he always came to a stop when the marvel of Vardin Valley came into view. The walls opened up closer to the tail-end of their long descent and a sprawling panorama became all that could steal your breath. If one was not careful, the stretching phenomenon below was distracting of how high the distance really was. Plenty had met an easy death from these heights. This was an incredible underworld, carved from stone and old magic. Fantastically large columns sprung up from the pits of Korriban and heaved into the roofing of the hollow under-city. There were people everywhere, spirited crowds reminiscent of communal trade-villages, everyone eager to make pace and address their tasks at hand. Most of them were dressed in moth-eaten robes, hued in a red dustier than the sands above. Others were of larger species,  or of blackened robes, some even of the green that Master Helios drew upon himself. The remaining steps would lead them into the wayfaring industrious market, but other lanes of foot-traffic would find you in the residential quarters, temples of worship, the forges, or a bevy of other quadrants. All things lead through the Bastion of Pelko, and Vardin Valley was a sea of opportunity hidden from the prying eyes of those who did not belong.

 

"Roshan, Solus, Aliss. What do you see?" Assuming them to fall in just a few steps to his own, his voice echoed inside of their heads, wholly inquisitive to how they perceived what now laid before them, their answers waiting to be judged. 


"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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"..Come with me."

 

Rising from his kneeling position, Roshan waved on his companions without looking back. He was ready to leave the waiting and words and sand behind. There was training to be done. He only hoped that this Sith Master could be trusted. Only time would tell.

 

As they proceeded further, they reached a point where the human stopped in his tracks. Shaking quickly followed as the sands around them began to shift. At first, Lord Roshan thought that Helios might be doing all of this through the Force but he soon realized that he was using his staff to pull on some sort of hidden mechanism.

 

Smart. It should have guessed that there would be hidden facilities built within the landscape. It’s fortuitous that we found him when we did. But was it really luck? Or was it fate?

 

As the being closed his eyes and outstretched his hand, a thought rolled across Lord Roshan's mind. He immediately eyed Aliss and scowled. She moved her hand slowly away from the lightsaber that she was reaching for. Roshan continued to glare at her until the man began to move again, entering the cavernous hole.

 

Looking down into the deep, Lord Roshan looked back at Solus as the Shard awkwardly held Tear, “After you, Soulless.”

 

The truth was that he wasn’t being courteous. Part of him debated how a droid chassis of this shape, holding a Tut’aka no less, could traverse steps with any success. If Solus happened to go tumbling down, Roshan wanted not to be caught in the wake of such brutal folly. He had no idea how far such a fall might be or how much it would hurt.

One way or another, the group eventually began to follow Helios with Lord Roshan now bringing up the rear. A few more minutes and the pathway led them to something rather unexpected.

 

Life. Lots of it. Even with the night well underway, Roshan could see the movement of creatures of various species below them. There was something about the location that reminded him a little of his home on Ishvara. In a strange way, it reminded him of who he missed and what he had lost.

 

"Roshan, Solus, Aliss. What do you see?" 

 

Roshan eyed his surroundings as he followed Master Helios. He took it all in for a moment, carefully examining the movements of the “villagers” and their market. Aliss, however, didn’t need any more time to formulate an answer.

“Enemies. Competition. Strange ants that we don’t know and I don’t trust.”

 

Roshan sighed as he shook his head, “You’ll have to excuse the girl, Master Helios. She spent her entire life on Ishvara...”

 

Aliss glared back at Lord Roshan, the intensity of her look shocking him a bit. Something was clearly up with her. He had known her since she was little. This wasn't just her trying to be a brat. However, now was not the time to address whatever it was that she was upset about. So instead, Lord Roshan decided to ignore her stare and resume speaking.

 

“I see legacy. Something forged likely through hard labor, if not slave labor, that will probably outlive us all. I see players, cogs if you will, mosts likely doing their part and performing their roles. And more importantly, I see knowledge and opportunity. Old things often hide knowledge long forgotten. Old ‘magics’ more powerful in the hands of the worthy than most will ever know or actualize.”

 

Making sure that Solus had had a chance to say its peace, Lord Roshan then added, “Undoubtedly, you’ve been her countless times, Master Helios. But tell us. What do you see?”

___
image.png

Edited by Durose Roshan

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Solus marveled and admired as the sands blew away and the opening was made through no visible means. The ground...the very ground they stood on was a door! Solus looked at Roshan and gave a nod, the only way he could demonstrate his excitement without speaking. He dared not interrupt this Darth Helios’ actions.

 

Solus followed without hesitation at Roshan’s orders, excitement building inside of him. He didn’t think how this could be a trap, or a test, or anything else. He simply followed. Down the stairs he slithered, each step receiving a slight thud as his metal body went down. It took some balance, and more than once Solus had to let go of one of Tear’s legs to steady himself, but he moved onwards. He also had to stop once or twice to look at his surroundings. The place was nothing like the place of his ascension back on Ishvara. This was both natural and unnatural. Metal perfectly melded into stone that was clearly worked on. The shadows under the gargoyles' eyes were both lifeless but alert. And the walls…

 

When the walls closed in, Solus couldn’t help but release one hand on Tear and feel the walls and their etchings. The history here was so fascinating and complete, but beyond the shard’s comprehension. He felt like he could stay in this tunnel for several years and be no closer to understanding their meanings. 

 

“This...isn’t this something Tear? Sir Aliss? Lord Roshan? My my, I could stay here for...well not long but...” Solus rambled as his fingertips traced the engraved image of a large monster. It captivated him. As something newly born into this galaxy, everything was a beautiful painting to his eyes. After that momentary pause, Solus realized that Helios had gone further ahead without waiting for him, and he was blocking the path. Solus picked up his pace and slithered forward again. 

 

“Darth Helios, excuse me, but where are we…”

 

Solus stopped. The view in front of him stunned him. The sight of a city under the ground absolutely took his entire being away for a brief second. In that second, Solus saw so much.  So much life as bodies moved about, each with their own purpose. And the noises they made! Some were speaking in tongues unknown, some were clomping around, others were making whispers and hisses. 

 

Solus sighed in both amazement and sadness. So much life in one place. It was like before his ascension and before he was alone. 

 

"Roshan, Solus, Aliss. What do you see?" 

 

“Enemies. Competition. Strange ants that we don’t know and I don’t trust.”

 

“You’ll have to excuse the girl, Master Helios. She spent her entire life on Ishvara...”

 

Solus could feel the tension behind him. It was clear that Aliss was not used to being under Roshan’s wishes. To be fair, Solus was only used to it cause he had known no other way yet. 

 

“I...I see…well I see a place of life...of...potential. A place to possibly learn or...” Solus started, trying to put his words to thought when suddenly…

 

“You! Little droid...” A silky smooth voice called out. Solus turned his attention sideways and looked around, not seeing where the voice had come from. It wasn’t until he glanced towards some steps did he see the creature. 

 

A being slightly shorter than Roshan, dressed in black moth-eaten robes approached the group. Over its head it kept a mask of pure black, with only the two small slits for eyes and it’s red painted beak exposed. 

 

“Little droid…” the thing cooed as it held out a hand, revealing the large leathery wings that were fitted into the robe. “How much for that... specimen?”

 

Solus was surprised and had to stop. This being’s words were smooth and long, with tones that rose and fell like music. 

 

“Specimen?”

 

“Yes...that young hound...never had I seen such a....specimen...how much?”

 

“Oh! You mean Tear!” Solus exclaimed and shifted the beast a bit on his shoulders so he could see better. Tear studied the thing carefully. When it reached forward to pet the beast, Tear snapped once at the fingers of the strange being. The merchant laughed as it brought its hand back. 

 

“Yes….Tear….that hound is such a...beauty...You must be extremely well programmed...to catch such a beast...How much?”

 

The being stepped closer. Solus leaned back, nervous at what was happening. He glanced around and saw that the others were moving forward without him.

 

“I...uh...he’s mine. To, um, tame, as my master said. Yes that’s it, Tear is for me to tame.”

 

The being’s black eyes widened at this. “Ah...you are owned...such a pity...so then that is owned...as well…”

 

Solus swayed slightly to either side to the being’s voice. Like some kind of snake hearing a tune, Solus felt his own mind sway slightly. It was so musical. So magical. 

 

“I...uh, no….I am pledged to...um, why do you want Tear?”

 

The being chuckled a soft chuckle again. “Why, don’t you know the value…. of the mighty Tuk’ata? Especially such a young... pup like that? Why…”

 

The being, who Solus thought may have been female but had no way of telling, reached forward to attempt to stroke Tear, who growled a warning.

 

“Their teeth can cut through many things... at a ripe age...their claws are a fine alchemical ingredient…. Why those eyes… very healthy...I could make very strong potions...hmm…

 

“Potions?” Solus asked, curious at this word.

 

The being spotted this curiosity, and cooed again. “Little droid…”

 

Leaning forward the figure stared its abyssal eyes into the shard's reticle. 

 

“If you ever become unowned, or maybe...you want to sell Tear, find me...Kirrinisha....now take care….little droid.” 

 

Without another word, the strange birdlike thing turned and wandered off, humming to itself. Solus could only stare for a moment wondering what had just happened. It was also now that he began to feel the eyes on him. Many beings were watching the strange looking droid carrying a wounded sith hound, wondering what it may do. 

 

“Ah...I uh...Roshan? Roshan?” 

 

Solus began to panic, realizing the others had moved forward without them. But that settled once he spotted a green cloaked figure. Figuring it was Helios leading the others, Solus chased after them. 

 

“Ah please Roshan, don’t be mad. Don’t be mad. What am i saying, of course he’ll be mad...ah kriff...still, that being. Such a lovely voice. But potions? What the heck are those? And what's alchemical ingredients…clearly I’ll have to ask the others about those…”

 

Solus made his way forward, and soon was right behind his lord. 

 

“Yes, opportunity! That is what I see! Haha!” Solus faked a laugh, hoping that the others weren’t disappointed with him being sidetracked. 

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