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  1. Nia couldn't believe this. Three Jedi, and the war droid and the stranger seemed to have a better grasp on the situation. She looked at all the drawn weapons, the tempers flared, the threats issued. "Enough! All of you!" she shouted. In all her years, she'd never once shouted. She'd always been quiet. Always timid. But here, in the middle of chaos, she found her voice. "Mjan, Rose. For all your talks about fighting this war to defend the innocent, to defeat the menace of the Sith, you jumped so quickly to threaten them for your own protection. That is not what a Jedi is." She wheeled around to the second lightsaber-wielding Jedi (@Leena Kil), no more impressed. "You jump so quickly to your weapon, and though you do so to protect the innocents, you threaten an ally in the same manner that you are trying to dissuade him from doing it. You are a hypocrite." Next was the Cathar shouting of conspiracy and betrayal, oblivious to the countless innocent lives that had also been taken. (@Durose Roshan) "You are no better! You think this is a trap, and yet you draw your weapon and try to goad us to a fight! What good would that accomplish? We'd simply have even more dead Jedi. Not to mention the scores that still need our help, trap or no!" She spun around, addressing them all. "You're disappointments to the Order that my father gave his life to serve, bickering and spreading fear like the Sith of old, and if you insist on following this path to its end then I will have no part of it. You can find me out there, with the sick and the injured, doing what a Jedi should be doing, rather than spend your time acting like criminals and terrorists. You should all be ashamed." She spun towards the crowd, and subsequently, the exit. There were injured people out there, and sick ones too. She would help them, even if the others wouldn't. She pushed through the crowd, and towards the exit. She had a sinking realization she may have just left the Jedi Order, but right then, she didn't care. All she cared about was helping those that needed it.
    5 points
  2. The high pitched alarm that blared momentarily over the communication headset that was buried in Beth’s ear caused her to wince and she looked at the display panel with a practised eye. “Imps!” Came the voice of her wingmate and friend Kailia. That word, Beth knew, was purely instinctive on the Twi’leks’ end, but it still caused her to bite her lip before she could respond in some anti rebel tirade. They were still a mixed unit, and the phraseology of the unit still reflected that. And Kailia was right, these were Sith/Imperial ships that were escorting a group of transports out of the darkness of hyperspace. But to Beth, ‘Imperial’ meant so much more. It was a philosophy, it had meaning, it had tradition. Something that the criminals in the Sith Empire knew nothing about. They had built their new empire on a bedrock of terrorism, mass death, and the destruction of Coruscant. Look at what they had done to precious Carida. The very thought of it made her blood boil. And now they were here to take spice that could be used to enslave the galaxy. She flipped to an all squadron's frequency, dialing the squadron commanders from all wings. “Aérien and Sukhoi-” She addressed the agile My’tils and venerable E-Wings first. “-block any attempt at those transports getting to ground.” The X wing’s yoke vibrated under her gloves and the entire craft slipped sideways for a moment before she was able to regain control. “Tau…” But her voice had trailed off as the the X-Wing twitched again, throwing her against the sidewall of the cockpit. A matching screech from her Astromech brought her eyes to her S-foil. And there like a barnacle or a mynock was a massive droid, hanging off the wing. Her mind raced for a solution and a glance at the display board told her that trying to spin the droid off or any crazy maneuver would likely just separate the entire S-Foil from the Xwing. “Dimitri, keep your head low.” The droid whistled in return as the X-wing jerked violently again as the droid pulled on an aileron pitching the nose of the starfighter down towards the rapidly approaching planetary surface. She cursed and triggered the comm again to her own squadron. But already she knew what the result would be. The X-wing was acting sluggish to her attempts and the entire display board was lighting up a dark crimson red. That damned monster was tearing the starfighter apart! There would be no soft glide to the ground. She swallowed the bile that shot up into her throat at the thought of an EV in the thin air of Kessel. Then instinctively ran her hand down her chest, checking her flightstraps and the very light plastoid armour that she wore over the orange flightsuit. She checked the blaster carbine that was in its holster on her flightchair then grabbed the control yoke with both hands to stop the turbulence as they hit the low atmosphere. But there was not much she could do. She spared a glance at the evil looking droid, then clicked on her comms. “Templar one going to ground. EV. See you in the mess lads.” She didn’t wait to hear the acknowledgements. “Dimitri, fly another three seconds in straight glide, then eject too. Okay?” The mournful whistle told her his response, and she pulled the lever beside her seat. The ejection seat fired right after the micro thrusters in the cockpit’s windscreen fired. Launching the young pilot free of her failing X-Wing before the small boosters in the bottom of the seat took over, slowing her fall as the distant Xwing turned down towards the ground some kilometer below them. She would be on the ground in another thirty seconds. On the dismal surface of Kessel. “Spast it.”
    3 points
  3. Nok sat up in his bed. Around him, medical devices beeped as they projected what were no doubt concerning data that Nok was blind to. The 2-1B surgical droid tapped rapidly on one of the wall displays, then halted midtouch. It turned, and for a moment stared at Nok in a way he could only describe as dumbfounded. "What...what happened?" "I do not know, master. You were in a form of REM sleep, yet you skipped the initial stages, and I can find no evidence of what caused the sudden shift. The drug burned through your system at an accelerated rate. I suspect a foreign catalyst, but I have yet to locate it. It's possible it may have been dissolved in your bloodstream already." No...it was not physical. Nok could still feel it. Like a thread wafting in the still air, one end knotted around his little finger. The thread pulled taut. Nok, finally regaining some semblance of his mind, braced himself for the spirit. It was not the spirit that came, but a storm. A blizzard. Nok screamed, slamming down to the ground as if he'd been shoved by some invisible hand. Mindless, howling noise and power tore through his mind and body. It was everything. It was life, it was existence, it was death, it was oblivion. It was the Force ITSELF! Like corpse worms, it burrowed through Nok, trailing searing heat and the cold of death wherever it touched. Nok struggled, the small part of him that remembered what it had been like to unravel into the Force before. But this wasn't unraveling, this was being torn apart! He thrashed and ripped at the threads of the Force that he could manage to grasp, but it only added to the maelstrom. Devices, furniture, and the droid all rose into the air and began slamming and crashing around the room, the screeching and clanging of metal adding to the riot in the Force that only Nok could hear. Dead in the cold and dark. The vision returned. But not like before. Before it had been a muffled, veiled thing. Terrible like the shadow of a falling moon, but a shadow still. This was the full thing. And it devoured him. Empty, broken, quivering on the ground of the medical chamber. Yet Nok was also looking down at himself, a towering figure wrapped in shadow. The chill of death ate at the pathetic figure cringing beneath him. The prone Nok shivered, struggling to keep warm, despite knowing his death had come. The towering Nok grimaced in disgust. "Wait..." the cringing Nok said, haltingly. "This isn't right. This isn't...no...NO!" The towering Nok stepped forward, his shadowy figure multiplying until the weak, dying Nok on the floor was surrounded by terrible, indistinct figures. Nok saw himself through both sets of eyes, and for a fragment of a moment he had clarity. "I'm...you have to stop! You're losing yourself! This isn't what we wanted! This desire will never end! It will destroy us! We are wealthy! We are powerful! We have ENOUGH!" Then his mind broke once more, and Nok was in two places again. In the cowering wretch on the floor, and in the shadowy figures surrounding him. Shivering, impossibly cold yet not the least bit numb, the weak Nok felt things he had long thought buried. Regret at killing his own siblings. Disgust at his underhandedness. A brotherly affection for some of his subordinates. And above all, he felt the emptiness. That emptiness had been with him whenever he gazed upon his new treasures, or when he thought about all he had amassed over the decades. Hollow, the Nok prone on the floor soon could not muster the strength to even shiver anymore. His skin turned black with frostbite, and his mouth dribbled blood that froze his lips together. Meanwhile, the standing Nok's were unaffected by the cold. They saw what the weak one couldn't. They felt what the weak one refused to. They touched the Force. The Force was in everything. It was in the air, in the water, in every beat of every heart. It was entwined with every thought, it riddled every dream, and to it the void between stars was nothing but an infinitesimal speck. The Force flowed through the very fabric of the universe. And Nok could command it. Life was power. Through power came control. Through control came ownership. Through ownership came godhood. For what was a god but the being that owned your soul? This emptiness could be filled. As if the weak Nok could read the mind of the powerful one, he struggled to speak, lips tearing as the seal of frozen blood tore his skin. "No...stop. Please...we didn't want this... We just wanted to survive." All of the towering Nok's gazed down at their weaker counterpart. "It's not enough." One of the powerful Nok's raised his foot, and with a dull, anti-climactic thump, he brought it down on the weak Nok's head. It shattered like porcelain, frozen into brittle bone and dead flesh. The remaining Nok's turned, and as one they left their wretch of a soul behind. Dead in the cold and dark. In the physical world, Nok's scream had become a rasp as his voice had given out, his body helpless to act with the mind occupied. But the storm did not slow. It swirled around Nok like a force of nature, but as what remained of Nok's mind emerged from his vision-induced stupor, something else emerged from the center of a storm. Nok's will, hard as steel formed in the eye of the maelstrom, and Nok rasp of pain turned to a growl of rage and pure, primal denial of his own death. He flung his arms open wide and raised his voice in one last, rough cry, and he drew the power of life and death into himself. He doubled over, and the sound of muscle stretching and bones creaking filled the room. His skin, once an unhealthy shade of pale green, lost any remaining color, turning into a dull, lifeless gray. It stretched taut over his hands, legs, and face, forcing his body into a permanent hunch, his hands curled into claws even as his lips drew back in a rictus grin. The black corruption spreading from his eyes blossomed like a grotesque flower, spreading across the remaining of his upper face and stretching long, thin lines of rot and foulness along his jaw and down his neck. Power was what the Dark Side offered, and Nok had taken all he could from the storm of life energy. This twisting of flesh was a petty price. Then it was calm. Nok slowly rose, as much as he could with his warped, hunched form. He sensed the room around him. The machines lay broken on the floor. The surgical droid's chest had been sheared clean through from one shoulder to the opposite him, as if someone had grabbed it and twisted until something tore. Its eyes flickered briefly, perhaps attempting to serve its master as its programming dictated, but then the little lights went out for good. Nok saw his broken tools, his broken droid, and it kindled something inside of him. Rage. "How...how dare you" he rasped. Then, his voice growing stronger, he screamed, "HOW DARE YOU!!!" They were his! They belonged to him! He wanted them to function! How dare they cease!? They obeyed the dictates of reality before their master's will! HOW DARE THEY! Nok's mechu-deru extended out, and his will was made manifest. He commanded the droid to function. It was cut off from its power supply. A fact that was nothing in comparison to its master's desires. Cables snaked out to link it with what remained of its lower torso, and power flooded its circuits. But it wasn't enough. The storm of power he had taken in was too much to hold. It was destroying him! His attention turned to his possessions. "SERVE ME!!!" he screamed. The power within him flooded out, his mechu-deru the open channel it needed. It flowed into every cable, servo, processing unit, and power supply in a thousand feet. The eyes of droid guards burst into showers of sparks before they collapsed in smoking heaps on the floor. Lights exploded in rapid succession. Power supplies ruptured and and exploded, spilling fire and acid into hallways. But it still wasn't enough! The power flooded further, into the very walls and doors of the structure. Metal shrieked as door motors slammed on and twisted the steel around them. Girders bent as the mechanisms inside disassembled and reassembled into nightmarish combinations over and over again. The building shuddered as the entire structure twisted and shook itself almost apart in the wave of power channeling through its machines. Then, like the last bit of light of dusk finally falling behind the horizon, the torrent of energy stopped. Nok lay on the floor, and the only sound was the sparking of broken technology and the Sith Lord's rasping breath.
    2 points
  4. Orpheon took in a sharp breath as he first exited the vessel. As he exhaled he watched his breath become vapor and rise to the sky. His shoulders naturally hunched forward; his body naturally reacting in an attempt to keep body heat near his core where it would do the most good. Pulling out a pair of fur lined gloves he was glad he had brought some winter wear for this journey. Taking his first few steps into the snowy landscape, strangely he quickly became accustomed to the cold. The icey bite against his face seemed to fade and he almost began to feel at home. His vision seemed to sharpen, and his natural thermal vision seemed to improve. The slight waves of heat that he could previously see radiating form Leena seemed to grow larger, and become stronger. His hair whipped in the wind, strands falling into his eyes as he pushed on, following his new Master. After several hours of walking, the Chiss apprentice felt the desire to reach out with the Sight. Focusing inward, he reached for the strength of the storm within and allowed his feelings to reach beyond. He was surprised at the strength of the Sight on this world. Knowing that life seemed to be connected to the Sight, he was sure a world such as this would be bereft of the Sight. But somehow the strength of this world seemed to radiate from within. "Master, where does the strength of the Sigh......Force..... come from on this world? If life is what gives the Force strength, how does such a barren world as this radiate such strength?"
    2 points
  5. As Aziza made her way through the compound of the Sith with ease, surprise mingled with a strange sense of what might be termed derision. Long had she heard of the renown of the Sith, how fierce their fervor in battle, how intricate the webs of their plots. But now she found herself in the heart of their Empire, and she wandered unopposed and unchallenged. What was to stop a foe of the Empire from doing the same? Perhaps the Sith had grown confident in their power and could easily ascertain friend from foe by the merest glance, but even if that were true, she knew the potential of simple security checks and forces, and the power of procedure. The paved road she was walking was lined with statues, and she found her eyes drawn to one in particular. The being appeared to be the same species as Amadeus, tall and pale, though this Sith Lord boasted a jagged scar running through an empty eye socket. Indeed, the being bore the signs of many battles, including a prosthetic arm that wielded a warhammer of immense size. She pushed on, stopping only to ask servants and passersby if they could direct her to her quarry. Few were able to give her satisfaction, and she ended up mostly turning down streets on a whim. Eventually, her feet carried her to a hospital. Before she could decide whether to enter or turn aside, several figures emerged. First, a short dark-furred Cathar who moved with the lithe grace of a warrior and gave her a nod as she passed. She was followed by several men, mostly haggard-looking soldiers who nevertheless held themselves proudly. The one who appeared to be their captain gave her a nod of acknowledgement, and she nodded in return. Following them came another man, tall but haggard, with a strange haunted look. He was actively avoiding her gaze, and it took Aziza a moment before she recognized him as the same man whose statue lined the avenue behind her. Puzzled at his evasion, she took a step toward him. "My lord? Are you unwell?"
    2 points
  6. PREFACE "Prophecy" jin' snamsi, dark weaver Even with all of the intensive study that has gone into understanding force alteration (illusion), its secrets remain a mystery to even the most experienced of practitioners. Considered one of the most difficult schools of the force, it is with uncertainty where masters of illusion draw their complete power or where its potential ends - it is extremely draining and there are few that can utilize their powers regularly. It is a sort of mental magic, allowing the user to manipulate the immediate area around them with their mind through mental force, and creating from imagination, a world that is theirs to control. With further experience, one can project or force thoughts or memories on others. By this, Illusion is one of the most prominent schools in the alteration class, often undermined by the willpower of another. It is a variant to the force-natural school of alteration in that it seeks to change the world around the practitioner so that existent physical truths no longer hold, but while the force user generally hopes to alter that which is bound by the laws of nature, illusion techniques do not. Its difference comes from the fact that while alteration affects the entire world in proximity, force Illusion affects only the caster and the target(s). Illusion spells can change a target's visibility, produce or remove light, produce or remove noise, mentally seduce sentient/non-sentient creatures, induce hatred in it or calm it down, enhance or remove a creature's courage, prevent a creature from seeing or moving, or allow the target to see even in total darkness, and much more. The is surmised as the ability to enforce the caster's will on a target. - (Advanced) Hybridization of Illusion and Sith Sorcery “The nightmarish seeds of his mind have found new pasture.” By amalgam of Illusion and Sith Sorcery, Exodus steepened in his meditations and induced slumbers, all while empowered indicia were carved into his skin. The error of the Grey was that he had given the truest of hunters, even the faintest of scents to a place of power. It was not long before Lord Exodus happened onto a place his mind did not breed, nor could it comprehend. The Netherworld of the Force. His feet carried him forward, and the feeling of them were not lost to delusion. Nevertheless, his eyes had found somewhere; perhaps a place that could not be named or understood by any familiar tongue in the known galaxy. It could be said that the Dark Lord was staring into oblivion itself. Is It He Who Casts the Greatest Shadow? Enemies and allies alike were greatly unaware of his conduct within this void. Allowing the diversions of war play themselves out as they normally did. Heralded as one of the more powerful Sith, his impenetrable willpower became a characteristic that was reflected from the poise on his features, and permitted him extended time within this apparitional place of entropy. And strangely with time, the presence of the Dark Lord and the shadow that his carnal body casted began to evolve the more he walked the halls of Chaos. It would be here that the young Sith King gazed into an infinite abyss and studied, researching the ways of shadows and of darkness and of all the creatures that hid beneath them. In the Netherworld of the Force, the Allfather of the Assassins unearthed the ability to command the shadows, wielding blackness, truly mastering the darkness. This was an understanding that the shadows themselves were not merely an absence of light, but the reflection of possible worlds created by forces in conflict. He knew this to be the principle analogy of the everlasting oceans of darkness versus light that the Grey had revealed to him. DARK WEAVER / UMBRAL MYSTICISM (sith shadow magic; from the realization that shadows are a reflection of forces in conflict and that manipulating a shadow can influence the forces that cast it) “He is capable of wielding oblivion, a place of entropy; void. Something the natural mind cannot comprehend. If there is any ancient horror in the dark worlds of the Sith, it is wielded by the fingertips of his assassins. He wanted power, and he was drawn to the deepest waters to find it.”
    2 points
  7. Lust bloomed like a muja in spring and Sheog blinked his eyes at the sudden influx of the foreign emotion. Lust always made him think of Darla, or the extravagance of Lord Ar-Pharazon. His many-lidded eyes fluttered their way to staring at the Sith Lord, Sirena, who in some way reminded him of innumerable other Sith and Jedi he had met in the galaxy, but at least this one was a beauty. Assassins and their sex-drives were a dozen a credit, and overall exhausting to deal with for any length of time. In response to the feelings of Lust, the Hutt winked an enormous eye at the Sith, the multiple lids fluttering as if to say “Come to the back and fade to black with me baby”
    2 points
  8. Svata would not hurt a girl for this lesson. Not after that scream. Right or wrong, teaching moment or not, it wasnt him. And he'd sooner feed himself piecemeal to a slashrat than burn that girl to learn a trick. He listened, but did not follow the instruction. He'd do this his own way. The girl's trail was readily apparent. In the ruined wasteland, her footsteps were evident on crushed scrub brush and churned dust. Svata followed her at a jog. Two hours later Svata groaned as he created another hill and the girl was still nowhere in sight. Her trail was still clear, as it seemed she wasnt trying to hide it. For this exercise, he supposed that made sense. But it did mean he was going slower as he kept stopping to find Mark's of her passing. He'd wasted a good ten minutes when the trail of something big had crossed her path and sent careening off on a new course, only to double back when he realized she likely didnt have claws. The lady was sprinting for goodness sakes! These witches were tough, but how long could she- His thoughts were interrupted by a faint sound, something foreign to the desolate landscape and all too familiar to someone who'd fathered 3 daughters. A girl crying. He saw her, curled in the shade of a brown, dead bush. She was shaking. By the Force she was actually shaking. Svata moved up to her and plopped down next to her. She flinched away, but her heaving breaths and sweat slicked skin told him she had no strength to run. Svata plopped a canteen in front of her. "You're dehydrated. Drink up before you pass out." Her wide eyes, contracted to near mad pinpricks, stared at him like she was watching a snake curling to strike. "Girl, I'm not carrying you back." In the middle of his sentence, she snatched the canteen and slid roughly away, until she was a solid 10 feet from him. She guzzled the water. "You've got to be kidding. This might make you strong girl, but..." He stopped, at a loss for words. Not my world. Not my way. ...still feels wrong "Come on, let's get..." He paused. The girl's gaze had shifted to his left, but her face had only tightened. The crunch of dirt, faint but unmistakable, made his head turn. A rancor looked down from the nearby rise. "...Quiet for a big fella, aintcha?" The beast, a scarred, wiry thing, stared at him. No subtlety, no hesitation, no fear. An animal that knew in its genes that it was unchallengeable. Then it looked at the girl. Svata kept his voice even. "Girl, I know you're tired, but if those witches trained you to push yourself, then you better start remembering those lessons..." The rancor rumbled out something that might have been a growl and took a step forward. "cause this here's a surprise test." Svata started slowly moving to one side. The rancor stopped, tracking him with its eyes. Then it shifted back to the sweaty witchling... with the blood-soaked hands. "Girl...run." She didnt move. "Run!" Svata shouted. The rancor's head snapped back to Svata as the girl sprang up and sprinted away, clutching Svata's canteen. The rancor lurched towards Svata, its rumbling steps signaling that it was done stalking. "Fast for a big guy too huh?!" Svata yelled, half in denial and half to keep the predator's attention on him. He sprinted to the rancor's right, doing his best to keep it circling. All that muscle, bone, and teeth didnt turn well, but if it got the chance to charge then Svata was a dead man. His mind raced on a mixture of adrenaline and denial that this was how he died. He was not about to end his life in some rancor's stomach on a ruined planet because of an object lesson from a sun-baked witch reminiscing about the good old days. The rancor unfortunately disagreed. Svata was a hair too slow, and while the creature's close-set feet and top heavy bulk kept it from quickly pivoting, its arms had the range to make up for it. The back of a claw clipped Svata's shoulder as he sprinted, sending him into a lurching step that became a tumble. He scrambled to his feet and scurried over a small dune a split second before the rancor's claw came back to carve three furrows into the dirt where he'd been sprawling. Svata had nothing that could even scratch this thing. The Force... Really, really hope this does something to animals. Svata became a part of the moment. Unfortunately, as he suspected, the technique only hid him from the abilities of Force-sensitives. Not mundane eyes...or noses. The rancor shrieked in triumph as it stepped forward and loomed over the dune, staring down at Svata. It was hungry, and pleased. Svata could feel it. He could feel it. A crazy, probably stupid thought struck Svata. Too simple to be inspiration, but Svata would settle for desperation. He reversed the technique. Instead of concealing himself by making himself indistinguishable from his surroundings in the Force, he opened himself up and forced every ounce of him out. It was like stepping into a cold shower. He felt vulnerable, exposed, and panicked all at once. But the rancor stopped. It was confused at first by the inklings of Svata's deluge it was sensing. But then little bits began to stick. Svata feeding his first son as he wailed at the universe for being too much for a baby to handle. The rancor propping its mewling cub onto it's back as it cried for food the mother couldn't find. Svata showing his daughter how to heat nerf horn to make carving it easier. The mother rancor watching as the cub tore the throat from a dead animal and screaming in victory as if it had killed it itself. Svata wrapping the broken arm on his third son after he'd decided to return a dug's insult. The mother disemboweling some scavenging reptile that had gotten too close to her cub and taken a snap at it. The rancor shook its head and screamed again, but this time in rage. It didn't want this. It didnt want to know its food. This thing was food. Food! It's claws dropped around Svata and closed. Svata staring at the bodies of his family. He was all that was left. The mother mewled over her unmoving cub, her voice a sorrowful mimicry of it's now silent cries. It had starved. The mother hadn't been able to find enough food. The roar of the rancor was deafening. It hadn't wanted to remember that. Sorrow, rage, and raw pain laced the rancor's cry, and Svata felt every bit of it as it mingled with his own pain. In that brief moment the two creatures understood each other. The rancor stepped back, shaking its head as if to dislodge something, and it stared down at Svata once more. He had no control over it. He'd only offered it truth. The decision it made would be its own. The rancor growled, pure frustration evident even to Svata. Then...it turned away. Resigned, it strode back into the wasteland, hunting once more. Svata could sense in some lingering connection that it did not know what Svata was, bit it did know he wasn't food. Either it had forgotten the girl or left her trail alone for Svata's sake, because it trundled off in the opposite direction. He didn't know which, but was grateful for either. ____________________________ Svata staggered back into camp. "I failed your gorram test," he grunted, before plopping down onto the dirt.
    2 points
  9. “Just… Master. I always disliked that title.” For a second, Armiena’s eyes widened and there was a glimmer of emotion in her face that resembled… fear? Apprehension? Or perhaps it was merely a sudden appreciation of the awesome burden that the veteran Jedi had just volunteered to bear. Whatever it was, the moment soon passed and she jostled a plastoid crate containing a set of small discs. The miniature divots of holoprojectors and sensors could be seen about their surface. “This is likely to be one of the very few moments that we are all in the same location. That's probably for the best. There’s a lot of work to do. I prepared something that we could use to coordinate our efforts. The comm unit is simple enough to operate once you have it calibrated to your Force signature, just place it on a flat surface and it will tap into an encrypted Holonet channel to maintain a virtual Council chamber.” She stared directly at Sandy Sarna. “I know about your mission to you-know-where, and as profoundly risky as it may be, it’s necessary. Force knows that we have so little on-the-ground intel there. We need to know everything you can give us--orbital infrastructure, interstellar traffic, planetary defenses, location of air traffic control towers, it's all needed. I suspect that ysalamir’s for the initial infiltration, get you into atmosphere without every Sith noticing you're there--just… kill the damned thing if there’s a hint of trouble,” she added unhappily to the towering marine behind her as she approached the younger Jedi Master. As she handed the smaller woman the communications unit, Draygo drew the smaller woman into an embrace that had to have been startling and whispered something into her ear. She repeated the same gesture for the half-Anzati, again handing her one of the communications units and murmuring a few words under her breath. Turning her back on the two Jedi Masters, Armiena faced the young Jedi Healer, her Padawan, and the Wookiee who loomed over every other sapient in the room. “Kil, Genesis, Kirlocca. Perhaps a less dangerous mission for you three, but still of critical importance. Chandrila was hit badly by the Mandalorians during their raid across the Core. The few remaining elements of their fleet were driven off by the Rebel Alliance, but the planet was damaged horribly by their attack. Mass casualty events in the cities, terrible damage to orbital and surface infrastructure, even failures of basic infrastructure like water purification. The Rebel Alliance is out of their depths when it comes to managing a reconstruction effort like this. We can’t allow a world this core to Coruscant to remain in such a vulnerable state. “The Survivor’s Foundation has dispatched a pair of their larger ships to take the lead, but… they’re borderline pacifistic. If the Mandos left stragglers behind, or Force forbid, the Sith show up in force, they won’t be in any position to resist. So, you have two objectives: assist the Survivor’s Foundation with their reconstruction and security wherever you’re needed; and reinforce the planet’s defenses wherever you can. The planet will need an early-warning system in the event that the Sith are eyeing it for takeover. We cannot simply allow the Sith to have complete domination of the Core, no matter what happens.” Draygo passed another of the communications discs to the young Mon Calamari Knight. Although her Padawan had nearly completed his own training, Armiena suspected that Genesis wasn’t quite in the mindset to operate on the doorstep of a Sith-controlled Coruscant, and would be relieved that know that there would be both a Jedi Healer as well as one of the Order’s most veteran Masters alongside him. “Now, questions? I can help you secure any resources you need, but I have a target that I want to tend to myself.”
    2 points
  10. Nok stopped moving. Very slowly, he turned his head and raised his hands. His blindfolded eyes stared into space as his own fear painted the room, that sudden rush of adrenaline when something surprises you followed by the electric chill that comes when you realize it's something dangerous. Nok took a breath, letting that emotion sink in as he moved past his physical senses and unraveled into the Dark Side. This world was strong in it. Centuries of suffering, fear, and death piled onto one another into something you could almost taste in the air, behind the stink of freshly dead bodies and burning plasma impurities. "Master R3...ah, Master Remo. I'm honored. I did not think I would ever meet the master of Black Sun. I'd bow, but I'm afraid you'd shoot me if I tried." The console behind Nok beeped, and he fought to keep a grimace of annoyance off his schooled expression. His program was done. The entire relay station was set to send an unprotected pulse to the shield generator, forcing an emergency shutdown. If Nok had done it right, and if he knew anything about the old shield generators they used on this rock, they'd be down for almost 20 minutes. Plenty of time for House Sovros' clones to take the atmosphere factories. The problem, appropriately enough, was the Naboo dedication to safety. A pulse like that would trigger a break and just cut power. The shield would be weaker, but not down. Unless, of course, someone pulled the manual override lever before the pulse got sent. The manual override lever on the wall directly behind the psychotic little droid and his henchman. Nok had heard of R3-M0. A dangerous criminal in control of more dangerous criminals, who regularly matched up against the darkest and most depraved elements in the galaxy. Black Sun didn't have the reach it once did, but every action of the mastermind in that durasteel dome that rippled through the underworld promised big things. "It seems you've caught me at a bad time Master Remo. And given your...independent affiliation I can only assume you're here to lay claim to this little rock same as us. Perhaps we can work something out? I might have something I can-" Nok's fingers barely twitched as he touched on the Force, the swirling eddies of energy around responding like the strings of a harp to second-year student. Not perfect, but passable. One of Nok's knives tore free of its sheath and launched itself through the air at the droid's henchman. ((1))
    2 points
  11. Of all of the emotions one would think that Zalis, the Queen of Vice would be feeling as she had her ship, Lucky Strike navigate the Akkadese Maelstrom towards the planet, many would not have guessed nauseated, but she was. The idea of the whole situation brewing on the surface brought up many scenarios playing out in her head, all of which had many of the legitimate companies she owned or had high stock in could come crashing down around what was transpiring or could transpire. At that was her sole purpose in making the run as fast as she could to get here. Not to respond to the Black Sun's call for agents to help defend it if they could, but rather to protect her own agendas, which could do more damage to the Sith Empire and Rebellion, which in turn would hurt her own business. She stood behind the pilot droid, PD-087, who was navigating as best it could with its high tech gear. She couldn't care less how the droid actually did it, so long as it got her planet side safely. As the ship moved, she got her dress off, which revealed bare minimum clothing, to which she quickly but her weapon belt and straps on, followed by her brown leather jacket and combat boots. She needed to make sure that she was in a position to defend her assets, no matter what. "Ma'am, there are a few reports coming in quickly. It seems to be several small insurgents attempting take overs at multiple locations. I will try to find the least dense populated are-" "No- swing me over near the processing plants. I want to protect them." She didn't give the droid a chance to respond, she began to walk back towards the landing ramp. She knew what she was about to do, and the droid knew its role in all of it. She opened the landing ramp, having sirens from within the ship blare at her in warning, which were quickly drowned out by the loud whoosh of wind that took over. She zipped up her jacket and and stepped down onto the landing ramp towards the edge, holding onto one of the gears that held the ramp. She looked towards where the ship was headed and saw what she needed to see. Lucky Strike was moving quick and low towards one of landing pads, and she saw her moment. She stepped off the ramp and leaned backwards in a quick fall over the landing pad. She used a trick she learned when escaping crime bosses she would assassinate from high buildings on Coruscant. She spun herself backwards so that she would land without a lot of impact upon her own bones and joints. As she landed, she pulled out two blasters and began to pour fire towards those that began to oppose her as she moved hurriedly towards defending the processing plant.
    2 points
  12. The first shot that sailed towards Char was crippling, winging and disabling his entire left side. The next two were lethal. The drone’s last noises before the blaster fire squared him away was a beep of pain. The Water Beetle, who was so eager to fulfill any command given to him, fell lifelessly through the air like a stone before exploding in a small ball of fire. Mozo was slightly more lucky as the shot went just to his right. The explosion that occurred barely fazed him, but the beep that had come just a millisecond earlier had enraged him. Having heard his companion’s death cry, he began to honk in anger and try to circle the pilot’s backside, away from her sidearm. It’s gun swiveled a top its body, firing twice at the chair. Xar had ordered her death, and she had killed his partner. Xar would be beyond displeased if both drones failed this task. While the lone drone tried to finish it’s task, Xar was busy with the astromech. It had denied him. It had declared its loyalty to the puny organic being. When the astromech turned off its engines, Xar was surprised. Xar couldn’t help but wonder if the little astromech didn’t care for its own survival. When the astromech attempted the electroshock Xar, he knew that the little droid must have had a death wish. The electricity was enough to short out Xar for about two seconds, forcing him to fall limp and separate from the droid,. As his own sensor came back on, he had a glimpse of the astromech’s own eye sensor. Rage filled the Hunter-Trainer droid once again, forcing him to forget why he had attempted to grab onto the droid in the first place. This little machine was trouble. “You wish to serve your inferior master so well?” Xar cried out as he raised both arms and aimed his forearm blasters. “Then die with her!” At a distance of a meter at most, Xar opened fire, giving two shots aimed at the droid’s eye. (2)
    2 points
  13. Xar sighed in annoyance among the pirates. This was not what he was hoping for. When Nok said he had forces ready with the Troig, he expected something a bit better. Something higher class, like combat droids, or highly trained assassins and sabeteours. Not a rag-tag band of merry, most likely inebriated, idiots. “Nok, you better come through on this next payment, or so help us, we will never do another one of these...jobs.” Xar grumbled to the Neimodian next to him. It was a hollow threat though. Nok had paid handsomely already before, and Xar didn’t suspect that would end after today. But did the Neimodian have to be so suicidal? The sewers on Mon Cal were bad enough. This…this was something else entirely. A honking noise distracted the Hunter-Trainer droid. His Water Beetle Drones, Mozo and Char, cocking their stun blasters were attempting to draw it’s master’s attention to the riff-raff around him. The countless potential threats were driving them insane. “Shush you two. They are friendly...for now. Now reattach. It’s nearly time.” At Xar’s command, Mozo went to Xar’s front and Char to his back. Xar held his arms out sideways to give the two drones better access. Small gravity locks clicked in place as the drones quickly turned sideways and embedded themselves. A last minute addition Vizier had made before Xar left Mon Cal. While the blue color scheme of the drones didn’t match his green, and their awkward shapes weighed him down slightly, it was a useful tool in this mission. True, they couldn’t shoot while in this mode, but it was still useful. Xar could now carry his drones when he would be hopelessly uncatchable at their normal speeds. Such as when dropping out of a spaceship and freefalling towards a planet. “Time to suit up” one of the Troig’s heads said. Xar didn’t know which one, nor did he care. He was just glad to get to work finally. Xar didn’t put on the suit that was offered. As a droid, the exposure of space wasn’t a worry. Atmospheric re-entry could be a bit harmful, but Xar calculated that, while he would get singed, he would survive. Besides, his first target was in space. With the hold override activated, a cheer went up amongst the pirates who were partnered with Xar. Mozo and Char seemed to take this as a good sign and honked in praise as well. Xar would have rolled his eyes if he could while leaping out of the ship. He was surrounded by lessers. Xar’s target was in sight. A large, barely working satellite almost in the planet’s manufactured atmosphere. Built as a communications array between this planet and others, it stood as a testament of being able to last despite years and years of neglect. Parts of the hull were made from Phrik even. Normal blaster fire would've ineffective against it. Xar’s mission was simple: Destroy it so that the planet below couldn’t radio for help. The band crashed into the satellite with ease. The pirates activated their magnetic boots to avoid falling off while Xar himself simply armed his claws and grabbed on to a piece of the hull. “Get to work you stupid mynocks! We don’t have all day for this!” Xar barked out. The pirates grumbled but obeyed, arming and attaching detonators. Ten would be enough, especially if they placed them at the... An explosion of noise caught everyone’s attention. Xar looked up to the sky where he had just came from. “What in the maker are those?!?” Ships were descending on the planet. No, they were beasts! Xar shook his head. Those were beasts but also machines. With riders of all things. And following them were actual ships. Xar looked at the pirates, who were dumbfounded. “Get to work you idiots! Don’t let them intimidate you! Move no-” All hope of keeping the pirates under control was lost. The pirates picked up their weapons and began to open fire at the approaching forces. Xar groaned in annoyance. “Idiot lessers...” A strafe of fire began on the satellite. Pirates who were next to the shots were blown away. A few smart beings were beginning to jump off the ship and continue their descent to the planet. One particular crazy pirate actually called out his enemies an inappropriate name before getting obliterated. “Must we do everything ourselves?” Xar lamented. Mozo honked once in agreement. Char rapidly beeped and honked in laughter. Xar sighed. These two were getting a memory wipe when the mission was done. Grabbing one of the last detonators, Xar made a running dash and jumped off the satellite, falling to the planet at a rapidly increasing speed. As the droid jumped off, he armed and chucked the last detonator towards the satellite. Once it would blow up, Xar would then descend to the planet, with the help of his drones of course. All he had to do was release them and let them slow his descent with their own methods of flight. Nothing could go wrong. A miscalculation of the detonator's timer ruined that plan. As the explosion occurred, the force shoved the unanticipated Xar forcefully away. With Laser fire around him and an explosion behind him ,Xar was in a world of light and fire. The momentum made Xar spin head over feet as the droid tumbled through the dogfighting. Over and over his sensors attempted to recalibrate, in a vain attempt at telling where up was up and where down was down. Xar stretched his arms out, grasping at that slim chance of catching something that he could help slow his fall. A dead pirate. One of those metal beasts with a rider. Anything. The possibility of catching a ship with his bare claws were astronomically small. But even so, the chance was there, as the droid was caught on a descending X-Wing’s upper right wing. With a newfound resolve and a determination that only a droid could muster, Xar clutched on as tightly as possible, pulled as close as he could, and clutched onto the bottom wing with his feet claws. “This is much worse then the sewers…” Xar stated to himself. It was bad enough that his entire pirate group failed to listen to him and were now probably dead. Now he would have to replace his claws too. Not to mention he’d have to live with the fact that he owed his circuits to some random pilot. Perhaps he could kill them, as a way of showing thanks. These X-Wings certainly weren't with Nok.
    2 points
  14. 6 hours earlier. Aboard The Bleeding Edge "And finalized." The voice coming over the comm was deep, clipped, and refined. While Nok could not see the hologram, he was familiar enough with the current Darth Sovros' reputation to pay careful attention to every word said. "Thank you Uncle." This voice, coming from the comm on Nok's left, was feminine and radiated the naked ruthlessness of the privileged. Darth Zayira. Niece of Darth Sovros. Nok Morliss' newest business partner. "And the terms of the contract are understood by both sides?" Sovros asked, sounding almost bored. "We wouldn't want misunderstandings clouding up this deal, assuming success." His tone remained level, but Nok imagined Darth Zayira shivered with him at the implied meaning. As the witness to the contract, Darth Sovros would take it upon himself to hunt down and destroy any party who violated the agreement. Even his own family. Perhaps especially then. "Of course Uncle." Nok thought he caught a slight tremor in her voice. "You understand, neimoidian, that my ships won't jump until we have confirmation that the defenses are down?" Nok took a moment to collect himself before responding. "Yes. Just keep your forces in the nebula and wait for our signal." There was silence, and even over the hologram Nok imagined he could feel Darth Zayira's glare. "Don't waste my time...apprentice. House Sovros-" She stopped midsentence. Nok didn't know what Darth Sovros was doing, but it was apparently enough to make the haughty noble back down. There was a blip as Darth Zayira disconnected, leaving Nok alone with the infamous Darth Sovros. "...One chance neimoidian." Then another blip, and Nok was alone. Present, aboard The Tortuga Nok slipped the last latch shut, the hiss of the suit pressurizing distracting him from the resentment and nervousness of the men around him swirling through the enclosed space. This is it. As the void of space opened up, Nok sensed something was ending for him. This was the true end of his time hiding in the shadows, living off the margins. He jumped out. The small voice from Mon Cal, from the deepest, scarred parts of his mind, spoke up then. Dead in the cold and dark.
    2 points
  15. In the break of combat the unmistakable sound of armour hurtling towards the door echoed in the hall. Boots thumping on the steel. Vox grinned, knowing his pack was coming to finish this skirmish. Kahla lifted her chin, smirking. He made a powerful charge towards her, lifting his glaive over his shoulder. She slide her left foot behind her, her weight planted firmly on her right. The heavy footsteps grew louder, any second they'd be all over her. Facing just one had proved a daunting task, but three more? She had to be quick. Their weapons clashed, the impact drowning out the impending fireteam. Pushed back on her supporting foot, Kahla slid her saber forward, Vox's blade near the hilt of her weapon she sliced down and right. The end of her blade pierced his right brow, burning its way to his left cheek. As he recoiled from the pain she slid her blade below what served as his handguard, liberating the weapon from his grasp with a heavy swing. The door hissed open, and the first volley of blaster fire rang out across the room. The hangar walls danced with hues of red and green as Kahla gave to order to return fire. From their advantageous positions, the Troopers started making short work of the Alliance soldiers. When the pack burst through the door, they didn't hesitate to launch grenades at the defending Sith. With the force she hauled the paneling up in front of her, creating a make shift shield of durrasteel. She had to hold it strong as blast after blast served to push back. The engines of their transport boomed just as the barrage halted. With great fury Kahla lept from her cover, only in time to see the shuttle's rear leave the hangar. Only a few, now surrendering Alliance troops remained. Kahla tightened her fist, her rage contorting her thoughts. She cut down the rest of the soldiers without mercy, one after another, slash after slash. The sith troopers came down from their position, one approached her. "We held the hangar, ma'am. Suffering two friendly casualties, three injuries." Her weapon disengaged as she breathed a sigh of relief. "Very good. Get the injured, and myself, medical attention." While she didn't secure the killing blow, she defeated the boarding foe, forcing them into retreat. Finally her pride had been earned. Comm link in hand, she reached out to her master. "My lord, I've successfully driven off an enemy attack. We have minimal casualties, and sustained some injuries. What are your orders?" The medic began tending to her gashes, her robes now soaked in blood. Kahla's spirits were high, glad she had proven her worth.
    2 points
  16. It started off with some tension at first, almost like putting on something that was just too tight. It alerted Kirlocca to the change, a change he wasn’t really sure he wanted or was ready for. Pain, memories and restrictions were being placed upon him. While he knew what was happening, he didn’t really think that it would feel the way it did. He was being brought back to life. Somehow, he hadn’t expected for anyone to even attempt it, not unless there were desperate times. But wait, I had known the state of the galaxy… why can’t I know that now? It was a question that was beginning to burn within him. He was going from being a part of the living Force, to only being able to feel the Force. He was indeed being brought back to life, but by whom? And why? His sight blurred for a brief second or two, and then all he could see was white. It was warm, yet cold. Feelings he hadn’t felt in forever. He was having a hard time figuring out what he was feeling again. The light was warm, yes, it was a light and it was warm. The cold feeling was his body. He was cold and wet. No, he wasn’t wet. He was… he wasn’t sure. What was that feeling? Air. He could smell, but he didn’t know what it was that he was smelling. It was all tension, but to a passing note. He willed himself to keep his eyes closed until he could feel the touch in the Force to wake up fully. It was all that he could do. Breathe, in and out…. Breathe… Just... breathe. Raven? Did he feel her? Slowly, the Wookiee began to open his eyes. His vision was blurred and could’t see. He tried to move, but couldn’t. Muscle memory was still coming back to him. Things just felt off, except for the Force. I guess it was how I used to be, fully dependent upon the Force. So I must return to that state. Re-closing his eyes, Kirlocca’s own voice began as best as it could. << I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. >> Kirlocca began to attempt to open his eyes again. His eyesight was still blurred, but nowhere near as much as before. His muscles were weak, but responding to his commands. He could now fully feel within the Force presences he had once felt before. He knew them, yet it was not as they were before. Emotions started to creep in-and they overwhelmed him in the strangest of ways. They didn’t flood back, but they did indeed come back. It was a process that worried him, to have everything that tied him down slowly coming back as his full freedom within the Force was slowly being taken away. And for that, he needed to will himself back into a position to speak clearly, but he wasn't sure if he could yet. So instead he reached out in the Force and connected with those of whom he had felt before. ... Raven... Tobias...
    2 points
  17. Ruling: Terra vs. Qaela Well, this is a hard one. On one hand, Terra was magnificent in pushing the assault, on the other Qaela was equally as deft defending and was moving to make the narrative very interesting. Frankly, I want to see the end of this duel. Calling it now isn't really fair to either side, so from the outset I'm going to call this one a tie. Welp, please read below for the explanation, but the win goes to Terra. I was asked to analyze specifically the interactions with tactical NPCs, and I will say both the tactics and actions were fairly impressive. I think tactical NPCs aren't nearly as immune to being able to dodge things as PCs are, and as such some of the escapes could be seen as a little much (while perfectly fine for a PC), but at the same time everything was done with measured skill and concerted efforts. This is the benchmark for how to use tactical NPCs in battle. A further note: the formatting was a bit annoying with the constant titles, I recommend simply bolding the names when they become relevant (definitely keep relevant NPC actions to separate paragraphs as much as possible, that does help to clarify it), and keeping the tl;dr spoiler for a summation of relevant actions as those posts can absolutely get dicey to read through. Here's how the next few seconds unfold: A Sith starfighter falls from the sky after a particularly vicious dogfight, landing much closer to Qaela's forces. This provides the cover amid the resulting smoke and debris her men need to extract her, as it also incapacitates her from an unexpected chunk of metal that manages to hit her in the head. This fight was going to be more or less a senseless meat grinder for both sides, and the break in action is welcomed despite the loss of chances to eliminate more high value targets on either side of the battle. Both women know this isn't over. The future demands an ending to this revelation, a conclusion for each to a surprising chapter that has come to an unfortunate and short-lived close. EDIT: I missed something very important in my readthrough here. I was assuming Qaela was using her own NPC forces to mostly serve as punching bags (outright allowing an AT-ST and an E-web emplacement to get one shot), but there was one counterattack where thermals were used against Terra's NPCs. This, to me, is a bit over the line. I missed it because the posts still read great and the action in the back and forth was intense. But per the rules and intended mechanics for duels, FUs should not be using tactical NPCs to any measurable effect in duels. As a Sith master, Qaela should be more than capable of facing off with this squad, and is even allowed to rise to the occasion should the dangers this squad presents outgun what she is typically capable of. Duels are meant to be writer vs. writer, and while good use of tactics is part of that, a Legendary NFU like Terra (the equivalent of a master-ranking FU) should be on even par when including the the tactical NPCs Legendary NFUs are allowed. As such, Qaela was acting a bit more like an NFU here than a FU. I was willing to brush off most of the NPCs she brought with her because of how easily she was willing to lose them, but when they become actual threats to viable elements of an NFU's combat potential, they cease to be flavor and become tactical NPCs, which is per the rules over the line. As such, the win goes to Terra, who may narrate the ending. (A final note: the only reason I narrated above is in the event of a tie, where I step in as the neutral party to ensure players have a fair positioning after the dust clears and to understand where they stand and what to do next. I do not do that in the event of a regular winner.)
    2 points
  18. With the focus on Aidan and Kashi, Aidan hastily ordered his men to advance to the assault shuttle at all costs, as it was their best hope of escape. With the Force, he levitated two bags of the credits, sending them hurtling towards the shuttle entrance. If he was to be at his best in this hornet's nest, he couldn't afford to be slowed down by them. A split second later the hairs on the back of his neck prickled, his senses giving him warning of the imminent attack by the Castellan, but he was in no position to do anything about it. The telekinetic energy sent him reeling, sliding across the street to slide to a nasty halt against a duracrete bench. He'd managed to twist himself to absorb most of the impact, but it still hurt. This was the work of the dark side, and it was high time Aidan took this threat seriously. For a brief moment there was a lull in the fighting as everyone in the area felt the young Darkfire delve into the Force, like a tone so deep it was felt rather than heard. The energies of the light swarmed to him, concentrating in his hand as he held it before him. Ghostly silver-white flames softly began flickering about him, manifesting from the intense density of Force energy. His voice cracked like thunder across the street as he walked forwards a few steps, taking an appropriate position. "Sith! I name you! Oppressor of the weak! Thief of virtue, scourge of the righteous! You have lost your way, and I will help you find it!" Aidan's hand shot forward to point at the Castellan, and from it poured an intense white-hot light, a supernatural jet of flame and water yet neither, the very essence of the energy of the light side, the Exorcist's flame. Aidan was not the judge of how it would affect the man, all reacted differently to the assault. The man would serve as his own judge. His own sins would damn him as he was confronted with them, but goodness and compassion in his heart would proportionately save him from the burning righteous wrath. Aidan's own hand began to burn, but he ignored the pain, it was the double edged sword of exorcism, the toll he paid for the right to exact such a punishing manipulation of light. This was all or nothing, and if he expected the rest of his men to survive it was a necessary maneuver, a price gladly paid. At the least, this would buy them the time they needed.
    2 points
  19. ROUND ONE Qaela / Mordecai vs Godfrey / Lok Round One [Q&M] Task Force Herløv targets Task Force Hammer with (Focus Fire) - A ship in Task Force Hammer takes 6 damage to their shields Starfighter action; bombers inbound on Task Force Hammer - The same ship in the same task force takes 2 damage to their hull Round One [G&L] Taskforce Hammer engages Star Destroyer Herløv with its removal action “Focus Fire” - Herløv takes 8 damage to their shields (Starfighter Action) Free Fleet Commander "Bombers Inbound" On the Herløv - Herløv takes 3 damage to their hull Rebel Alliance Precision Strike Carrier Group - Bombers Inbound on Herløv - Herløv takes 3 damage to their hull (Starfighter Action) Fleet Commander - Bombers Inbound on Herløv * Only 1 Starfighter Action per side; The other task forces do have starfighters, but the starfighter commands represent a side using an overwhelming number of starfighters to push through a certain action. So narratively speaking, you both have starfighters available, it's just on the lead PC to direct their actions as a unit. (First round up, reminder to both parties. Be as specific as you can with who you attack with, and who you are targeting. Thanks! Enjoy writing out the results!)
    2 points
  20. Nia shook he head at Rose's words, an emotion playing on her face and in her mind she couldn't place. How could they sit here, able to help, and not? Nobody knew where they'd came from- not unless Rose had started sharing those details with strangers. And now they were letting people suffer en mass on the slight chance that their objective would be compromised? It bothered her in ways she didn't know she could be bothered. She stood, and was about to protest, to go and help anyone she could, when an explosion rocked the warehouse. The glow of fire reflected off of her black pupils, dancing in the dim light of the warehouse. She froze, watching in horror. How many dead from that explosion? How many more to follow in the aftermath. Her heart fell. All she wanted to do, with every fiber of her being, was to help them, and she couldn't. The mission demanded it. When Mjan grabbed her, she gasped, her discomfort pulling her out of her mind as she was pushed behind him. At the very least, she was relieved to see her master prepare to go aid them. at least until Rose ordered him to stand down. That relief was quickly quashed by what happened next. Rose called out the incoming refugees, and she was thrown like a ragdoll higher into the scaffolding. And then, before she could say anything, he'd drawn his weapons, threatening the frightened people. She jumped down- her own safety was barely considered. She reached out, grabbing his closest wrist. "Mjan, they're refugees. They need our help, not more threats. Put your weapons away. Please. Whatever our mission was, this is what we need to do now. Do not start down a path we'll all regret in the name of more war." She stepped back, moving between her master and the crowd. "This isn't right. You know that."
    2 points
  21. Pure pazaak! Pure pazaak? Really? What was this spacer thinking? And why was he programmed to repeat the same phrase before and after every hand? If anyone had to live with this nattering every day, they'd probably have shot the holo in the face a long time ago. Whoever wrote this Rand.exe persona was probably a little loose in the brainpan. Sara stared long and hard at her cards. Her brow sloped closer to her eyes, flattening the faint wrinkles on her forehead and sighed through her nose. Her left hand kept her head from slamming into the metal of her dining table as the hum of her ship kept her idle thoughts at peace. Her other hand kept her bundle of cards from slipping to the table. There was a total of eighteen laid out on the table between three cards. And, in Sara's hand, she had: a plus/minus one, a plus/minus two, and a plus three. She knew she had the game in the bag and one more win would cement her streak. But she didn't see the point. This had been going on for hours. This was barely better than twiddling her thumbs. And if she had not invested in this holo-unit, she would probably be adding to the black marks on the ship's hull barely five feet away. The holo asked for a hit. '3' Pure pazaak! "I SWEAR BY THE FORCE THAT IF YOU…" Sara furiously intoned, clutching her right hand and sending her cards flying all over the floor. Her sweet amber eyes filled with murderous intent. Her thoughts were a hive of aggression and were just about to come to a head when a prick of sensation outside her perceptive bubble belayed the rising tide. Her cheeks flushed and her fist clutched even tighter. But, for the moment, her tirade was done. A loud beeping noise came from her cockpit, accompanied by a subtle groan from her stomach. A lazy glance noticed the hollow bags of rations left open nearby and despite the liquid fury still simmering beneath her skin, she decided there were things more worthy of her attention. Sparing one seething glance for the simulation still in progress, Sara got to her feet, paused to shake out her leg that had fallen asleep, and made her way toward the Luridae's cockpit. "What is it baby? Something good?" Sara cooed as she activated the transmitter on her dash. Her monitor fizzed for a moment before displaying the signal of a ship out in Calamari space. The signal was weak, but it was clearly a distress signal and not a job. Dang… Sara leaned against her ship and wiped her face with an open palm. She looked out at the empty void and lost focus, her gaze drifting toward the stars. "Well, it might be worth checking out." Pure paz-- Faster than she thought possible, fatigue plaguing her for the past few hours, her slug-thrower leaped to her hand and the holo-projector went up in smoke. Wasted creds "Anyway, time to see what this is about." Sara entered the coordinates into her navigational computer and initialized a hyper jump to the area; as close as the drive would take her anyway.
    2 points
  22. "..Neimodian." The word strangled from a rasping voice, throaty and outlandishly darker than the milieu of the tower. Attention drew to the figure in black, bandaged completely in a robe of shadow, hauntingly poised a few feet behind the one drawn as Nok Morliss. This creature had been tasked to him since the Kuati invasion, digesting behaviors and patterns in the force unfamiliar to those that could not read them. There were no features to scrutinize, nothing to escape the overlapping shadows that clamored about the creature unnaturally. Whatever this thing was, manifested cold insidious energy as if a mirror to the likeness of this place, snarling primordially before the promise of an apprentice. "You mustn't wake what stirsss abovee," the voice slithered across skin, hollow enough to raise hairs. "Not.. just.. yet." The shadow inched closer, as if it floated on the thinnest of air. "You come bearing nothing but flesssh and bone, and that iss what it will rip from you. An offering, young Morlisss, do not sstir the Lord of this place without one." Timely, the sound of scratching and low rumblings, echoed across the barren darkness. "You will find an offering in the waterss of Mon Calamari. Find thisss, and either Spider will be pleaaasssed." The shadow vanished.
    2 points
  23. It was overwhelming, the temptation laid at the feet of Aidan. Aidan thought he knew darkness, but nothing quite as powerful a focus as this had ever presented itself, the longing and hunger from the dropped lightsaber whispering sweet nothings in his ear. He wanted it so badly, or did it want him? Either way, he only realized that he had taken several steps closer to the saber only after a Pit droid scooped up the saber, scampering off with it. Momentarily rage flashed across his thoughts, everything he'd ever wanted was just at his fingertips and now it was lost. But were those his thoughts? It took a few seconds, but Aidan eventually managed to shake his head free from the influence the saber had tried to exert. So that was the power Frond had been fighting against...and he'd almost given it to Aidan. It seemed to have a will of its own, attempting to manipulate things to its benefit, and it nearly succeeded. Aidan shuddered at the thought of what would have happened had he actually taken the saber from Frond instead of reject it out of sheer chance and misunderstanding. As they walked back, Sandy remarked how defeated she felt over the ordeal, remarking how she failed Frond. Aidan remained silent, but reached out to her, reinforcing and bolstering her. Aidan wasn't sure if they had failed or narrowly succeeded or what had happened, but it was clear their trials and tribulations on this mission weren't going to be nearly as straightforward as he thought. As Frond spoke to Sandy, Aidan remained silent. He tried to help once, and stuck his foot squarely where it didn't belong. There were others present who could handle things far better than he could, and he was more than fine with letting them handle things. He still felt badly, but that would subside with time. Nothing could erase what had happened, they could only move forward and pick up the pieces. Sandy could use his help with that. She doubted herself, but she also knew far more than Aidan did. And he doubted himself, but he knew that mistakes happened, and what mattered was how he'd recover. All they had to do now was push forward. This was supposed to be a short stop on Ossus, but it had turned into so much more. While Aidan was concerned with finishing their task for the Empress, common sense said the Eternal Vigilance could wait, as if the Jedi hid it well then it would probably be waiting wherever it had been left.
    2 points
  24. As Tori revealed herself and tensions rose, Ban could feel the Force surge. It was strong here, reacting to their presence like an exposed nerve. But because of this, he was also strong here. Until now, his blades had remained extinguished, but Kari's strike necessitated reaction. The deep purple of his main hand blade sprang to life as he moved with practiced fluidity to intercept her, his offhand saber erupting in brilliant silver to guard against the follow up strike that came. For a handful of heartbeats they shared the staccato rhythm of lightsaber combat, Ban continually retreating as he could and never counterattacking. Kari represented a focal point for his future, it was something he could feel very clearly now. This was a test for him as much as it was for her, his actions here and now would determine the spectrum and hue on his future path. This was why the Force had brought him here: to test his mettle. His Master had once spoken of such events happening to him, but never described them extensively, choosing to keep them as private moments. Now, Ban understood why. As their movements came to a standstill and Ban managed to put some steps between them, he disengaged his sabers and motioned for her to stop, keeping them ready but lowered. He took advantage of the momentary hesitation by speaking clearly to her. Clearly she thought he was someone he wasn't, tricked by the Force. "Kari. Center yourself. Open your thoughts to the will of the Force, your eyes to the truth. You know inside this isn't right. Find your truth, and trust me to help you through this. Your emotions are understandably strong, but right now they only serve your sister." He stood unmoving, refusing to attack her. Should she press forward, he would be ready, the Force guiding his movements with unmatched elegance. He was never much of a swordsman, rather relying more on the Force to make up for his shortcomings. As the Kosai worshipped the Living Force, they felt its pulls and listened to them more readily than others skilled in communing with the Force. Here however, the nexus seemed to magnify that beyond what Ban thought possible, his body's movements almost guided for him as he merely thought about the path he wished to take, a living conduit of the raw potential the Force offered. Not in control of it, but in harmony with its ebbs and flows. Here, for the first time in his life, he truly felt like a Kosai. ((1))
    2 points
  25. Code of Conduct JediRP.Net Foreword By playing in JediRP and engaging in the associated discord channels, you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct, detailed below. The goal of these rules, guidelines and principles is to foster a vibrant, collaborative, character-driven role-play environment with a welcoming and supportive community. The following is the first draft of a Code of Conduct for the growing community in the RP and OOC discord channels. Feedback is welcome, and encouraged. We will attempt to document major changes and maintain an effective record. Rules Observed and enforced. Characters & Setting Time period and technology. Our Stars Wars galaxy is highly influenced by Star Wars Legends. With regards to technology available to characters this is generally interpreted as anything derived from Canon/Legends besides Super-weapons. You may not play characters drawn from books, movies, TV or similar works to which you do not hold the copyright. You are allowed to play characters inspired by books, movies or TV or with comparable powers, but not characters directly lifted from those works or directly referencing specific elements of those copyrighted works. OOC Conduct Foster a pleasant environment. Treat others as you would expect to be treated. Snark and negativity lead to an unpleasant OOC environment, and such attitudes should be checked at the door. It is your responsibility as a member of the JediRP community to ensure that the channels of communication that are established remain a safe and welcoming atmosphere. If a newcomer has questions, do your best to provide a helpful answer or point them in the direction of someone who can. If they prove to be disruptive, offensive, or problematic, inform a moderator and try to remove yourself from the equation. Avoid being a keyboard vigilante. No OOC bigotry or discrimination. Expressly forbidden are sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia. This list will be amended as other "-isms" are brought to our attention for inclusion. Those who make comments out of ignorance will be given an opportunity to pivot their conduct. Those who intentionally cross this line will be dealt with firmly. As we are playing a game which allows for taking on the roles of villains, bigotry may come up as a theme in some fictional characters. However, anyone found to be sheltering this kind of toxicity behind a veil of "roleplay" will be considered to be crossing the same line as listed above. Context is important. Do not assume anyone knows that you do not share the same opinions as your fictional characters. Be considerate. JediRP is home to a community of players with diverse backgrounds and sensibilities. If you are informed that an OOC conversation is making another player uncomfortable please respect their feelings and find something else to talk about. Racism, sexism, homophobia, stalking, harassment, or other abusive or discriminatory behavior will not be tolerated. Conflict resolution. The great majority of OOC conflict between players results from miscommunication rather than actual malice. Disagreements or differences of opinion between players should thus be addressed first with mutually respectful private conversation between the parties involved. Moderators can be called upon to provide neutral mediation if desired or it becomes necessary. Away for awhile? Let us know. Life always comes first. If something comes up which means you’re no longer able to participate in an ongoing story, let someone know! This allows the other players to work around your character’s absence rather than the story stalling and everyone being left in limbo. We're generally relieved to know we need to work around these situations instead of being left hanging, so never fear backlash over announcing your absence. IC Conduct Consent-based roleplay. Freeform roleplaying uses consensus between players to resolve conflict between characters, based on a single rule: The player generally has the final say on what happens to their character (except at the conclusion of a duel). Your character may attempt to perform actions upon another character, but it is up to the other player to decide what effect (if any) it might have. Likewise, other characters may attempt to perform actions upon your character, but the result is up to you. This doesn't mean you should disregard all attempted actions against your character or are allowed to god mode and break the roleplaying rules, rather you should never feel constantly pigeonholed into only one course of action that you're not keen on based on the controlling actions of someone else. If you have questions about this, reach out to a Moderator. Informed Consent is important. Perhaps the most important element to mutually satisfying experiences between roleplayers. Specific details do not always need to be discussed in advance of every interaction, but if everyone involved in a scene is on the same page as to what to expect for content and tone, then (theoretically) fewer issues with those narrative elements should arise. However, since risks are somewhat mitigated in a setting where we are each encouraged to collaborate intentions, informed consent is not necessarily a requirement to role-play interactions. After all, for some of us, the pleasure of a role-played scenario is not knowing in advance exactly what's going to take place, and having our character(s) react to it accordingly. To facilitate this, we recommend getting to know your audience before broaching a topic or subject matter which may be challenging. We all have different lived experiences and different levels of sensitivity and empathy. Some topics have very personal significance to some people, and their feelings as they pertain to those topics are important to consider. While one individual may have no limits to the fictional subject matter they are willing to participate in, it is important to remember that such limitlessness is not universal. Every complaint, concern, or issue expressed out-of-character related to in-character conduct should be given full due respect. Avoid OOC notations in IC forums. Please only make in-character posts in the IC forums unless necessary. All out-of-character comments or conversation should be directed to the appropriate forums or discord channels. Do not engage in any of the following behaviors: Godmodding (or GMing) is a term used to describe someone who consistently and flagrantly ignores, avoids, blocks or otherwise disregards actions taken against their character, often to the point of being effectively invulnerable. This makes things really boring. Power Gaming is a term used for someone who defines the outcome of an attack themselves without giving the other player an opportunity to react or evade. This is illegal per the roleplaying rules and will almost always result in a loss for any duel confrontations. Meta Gaming is a term used for the practice of basing IC actions on OOC knowledge. As a player you can access a lot of information there’s no way your character could know – board posts like character sheets, or conversations with other players. Having your character act on such privileged information is strongly frowned upon unless there is a plausible way they could have known about it. Moderators will review these cases carefully, and produce judgment case-by-case. “Mature” vs. “Explicit”. Roleplay in JediRP can and will touch upon mature themes. Characters are free to use adult language, engage in physical relationships, or commit acts of violence, but we expect our players to exercise restraint in how such subjects are portrayed. Graphic violence and sexually explicit content are not appropriate on any of our channels or forums. As a rule of thumb, aim for a PG-13 rating. When in doubt, fade to black and allude to something happening rather than use explicit detail. Guidelines The following is not strictly enforced, but review and adherence is strongly encouraged. Good RP Habits Turn order. Whoever posts first goes first, whoever posts second goes second and so on; once established this turn order is maintained for the rest of the scene unless otherwise agreed. An easy way to keep track is to remember who posted immediately before you – if they’re the last player to have posted then it’s your turn again. If there are a lot of characters active in the forum at once, it is usually decided beforehand and a turn order is pre-organized (definitely encouraged). Keep in mind: this turns into an enforced rule in any hostile scenario, e.g. duels. Post length. We do not impose strict limits on post length, but recommend that you try to keep IC posts in the general region of two to three paragraphs (that’s about 160-240 words or 800-1200 characters), with priority given to what your character does and says, since those are the main things to which other characters can react. If in doubt, ask. Is it my turn? Is this allowed? What’s going on IC? Where’s everyone standing? What does that character look like? If you find yourself uncertain or confused, the easiest solution is to ask for clarification. Communication is always key. Create opportunities for others. Roleplaying is above all a collaborative exercise, in which each player contributes not only to their own enjoyment but also that of their RP partners. The enjoyment you get from RP often directly relates to the amount of effort you make to include other players. A good principle to bear in mind is that every interaction should promote further interactions. Try to include hooks that will encourage both player and character interest and give them something to incorporate into their own roleplay. Give other players reasons and opportunities for their character to engage with yours. Pay attention to the mood. Different players have different tastes – some enjoy tense, emotionally-fraught drama; others prefer a lighter or more whimsical style of play. Just as grim menace might not suit a scene of playful banter, slapstick antics might not be appropriate when characters are engaged in deep soul-searching or bitter confrontation. Please be mindful of the tone of play when you join an ongoing scene – and if in doubt, ask the players involved. Respect the setting. While it may be exciting to wreak havoc, please refrain from constantly having your character casually murder NPCs or engage in wanton destruction of the setting just to demonstrate how dangerous they are. If you feel that incorporating such elements are necessary to develop a plot, please communicate these things with others that are involved and find compromise. Principles Things to bear in mind while playing. Actions have consequences. Player characters do not exist in a vacuum, and NPCs are not passive cardboard cutouts. If your character engages in egregious acts of violence or criminality the setting will push back against them. A character who consistently evades IC consequences to an implausible or unreasonable extent may be considered to be godmodding and will be dealt with accordingly by the Moderators. The Force is not always a solution. Conflict and the struggle against adversity are vital for interesting stories. While it can be tempting for a force-using character to apply their powers to every obstacle they face, blanket-fixing those problems with the same application (and no downsides) is boring. Instead, maybe the force fixes one problem but causes a different one; maybe it exacts a cost upon the practitioner; maybe it has unpredictable or unreliable results that provide opportunity for further role-play. Moderators have authority, but we are all human and subject to mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes may result in an unfair judgement. Please remain polite if you ever feel the need to discuss something which you feel was done in error by a moderator. If you don't feel comfortable contacting the specific moderator in question, please reach out to any of them. These Moderators are volunteers, so while it's important not to feel like you can't discuss something, please bear in mind that a moderator is not professionally obligated. Reminder This is a growing document, and subject to change. Civil, informed, and rational discussion is encouraged as to ensure the best possible standards are met. However, if you find yourself continuously at odds with the rest of this community, I strongly recommend you perform some introspection as to whether or not this is the appropriate community for you to be involved with. Our intention is to have a large and diverse group of people role-playing in as harmonious a gathering as possible, but we acknowledge such an intent is more dream than likely reality. Tempered expectations can do wonders for everyone.
    2 points
  26. BAN ULFSON'S CHARACTER SHEET Identity Real Name: Ban Ulfson A.K.A: N/A Homeworld: Unknown, suspected Corellia, raised on Thalassia Species: Human Physical Description Age: 39 Height: 5'10" Weight: 175 lbs Hair: Black with peppered Grey Eyes: Brown Sex: Male Equipment Clothing or Armor: Typical black Kosai attire, similar to Jedi robes but more form fitting and focused on being lightweight, mobile, and stealth-minded coloring. Weapon: Twin lightsabers that can connect and lock at the base of their hilts to form a makeshift staff saber, main hand has a deep purple blade, while the off hand has a bright white blade Common Inventory: Comlink, credits when he has them Faction Information Force User, Force Sensitive or Non-Force User: Force Sensitive Alignment: Neutral Current Faction Affiliation: Freelance (Kosai) Current Faction Rank: Jedi Knight equivalent History Force Side: Grey (Light leaning) Trained by: Cairus Rex Trained who: N/A Known Skills: Telekinesis (to include rudimentary forms of barriers), Force movement (Speed/Jump/Cushioned Fall, etc.), familiar with simple mind tricks, finely tuned tracking senses Background: Ban never knew his parents. He was recovered from a spaceship crash on Thalassia after a pirate attack, his parents dying in the process. While the pirates had left him for dead, a compassionate Thalassian salvager found him shortly thereafter and nursed him back to health, raising him with the rest of their family. Ban was worked hard during this time, but he learned much about technology and how to work with his hands, experience he now considers invaluable and well worth the pain. When Ban was a teenager, a strange old man named Cairus Rex came to the settlement his family lived in, identifying himself as a Kosai. While he carried on like a quiet kind of mercenary, he took care of a nearby problem for the village and was paid well despite the rest of the village treating him with disdain. Before Cairus left, he made Ban an offer, having studied him from afar for the several days he was there. He explained to Ban that the teenager was special, and he could truly teach the boy to unlock his potential. Sensing the opportunity put before him, and dazzled by the old man's feats, Ban accepted, reluctantly leaving his family behind to live the life of a Kosai nomad. Years passed, and Ban completed his training, spending a few more adventures with old Cairus before striking out on his own, selling his services to those who needed them, following the will of the Living Force, establishing balance to the natural order of things. Only two months later, Ban received word of Cairus's passing, an unfortunate spacefaring accident caused by a malfunctioning navicomputer. While Ban mourns his master's passing, he accepts it as the will of the Force, and tries to live as he was taught. Ship Registration Name: Quietude's Penumbra Class: Shuttle Model: Upsilon-class Command Shuttle Manufacturer: Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems Length: 12.3 m (37.2 m tall, with wings extended) Armaments: Twin Heavy Laser Canons (2), Anti-Projectile Deflection System Armor: Reinforced Durasteel Hull, Layered Deflector Shields (2) Anti-Personnel Defenses: Biometric Lockouts, Sensor Jammer Modifications: N/A, but comes standard with enhanced military-grade sensor suites, as well as a subspace communications antenna and a hyperwave comms scanner, generally used to listen in on unsecured enemy communications. Ban has a vague idea what less than half of these advanced systems do. Appearance:
    2 points
  27. P 0 0 3 The Council beneath the Spider picked apart the intelligence that had gushed onto their table, with choices that would hold vast consequences no matter the decision. Members of the Council had their time tallied, powerful minds that were capable of far-reaching foresight, each drawing on the possibilities set before them. Ailbasí had unearthed the roots and historic value of a planet Cathar, stationing an intrinsic hold on the lands of a vicious species, planting the seed for future harvest. Word was, that the fair lady had discovered the promise of not one, but two apprentices that were ripe with the call of the Force. Invaluable was the word used between the members of the Dark Council, for the replenishing of the fallen ranks of Sith over the last few years was key to their ascension. Lady Nyrys had decided to take it a step further than that, imprinting the mark of the Sith Empire on the beskar-clad world of Mandalore. This was a position of irrefutable strength. News of this had traveled to King Exodus immediately, especially because those that carried vested interest in the department of foreign relations had become frenzied at the thought that a newcomer had trespassed against her authority. The Dark Lord quieted any discomfort and allowed Lady Nyrys to work unimpeded, this would offer her the freedom to do what many others in her position continuously failed to do; building an independent and tangible power-base directly attributed to her ranking within the Sith Empire. This was no simple task, and the diligence required to do so took a wealth of ambition that many others had proven to lack in droves. This earned genuine favor from the King of the Sith, even from those within the Empire that continued to hear her name in discussions inside of council meetings, listening with an itch of jealousy for what she had accomplished in such a small window of time. One of the many other affairs dissected at the gathering within the Spire, was the subject of the Blood Prince. This was a creature of far spread experiences, hands that were clothed with the deaths of a great many, a sound strategist and ally to those that he had sworn himself too. His dealings represented the nature of the Black Sun Crime Syndicate, an organization that Lord Exodus had reached out and given life to when their existence, along with the Brotherhood of the Sith, was at an end. The correspondence team had received more troubling information in this case, unraveling a possible assault on Dark Sun Station from sworn enemies that were in search of the false Empress. Displeasure was the tone carried across the chambers. It was made clear on Kuat that the Imperial Remnant held neither the interest nor the concern of the true Emperor. The era of children running amok with titles for crowns, binding the stupidity of sheep together to forge armies with no foundation, was a dying theme. Exodus knew this truth and continued to sharpen steel with steel to fasten the Sith Empire to the roots of the galaxy, ensuring their formation would not blow out like a candle-flame against the winds in which many others before had suffered. This truth was not shared by his allies, and for that, they were unprepared. The Black Sun had managed to capture the false Empress, shackled and bound but for a purpose that failed to bear fruit. The Imperial Remnant had their fleet dismantled into pieces above the powerful orbit of Kuat, and their morale left in the hands of screaming exorcists. Whichever string in the webs of these events that Exodus wished to see, he could pry from the memories of those that had survived them. He watched in the ways they fought, organized themselves with reckless abandon, and cared little for the chess moves that were veiled in every breath. Mere children of the Force, playing with powers of the galaxy while still feeding at the teat of the breast. The Empress of these things would have no information to produce, and merely served as a rallying cry for those that had now come. It was as if their allies were desperate, moving with lack of reason and purpose. They held onto a pawn of war and in return, was met with their doom. The council shared their displeasure openly, a stain on the coat-of-arms invisibly worn on the chest of the Blood Prince. There were those that even whispered of betrayal, a setup brewing behind the call for reinforcements. The evidence of this was not hard to find, the idea painted itself very vividly, for the odds were counted against their dumbfounded allies and a plan shared between the Axis did not exist. Recent victories had been a merit of their unrivaled coordination, enmeshed in their coupled movements and strategies, but now there was nothing but a cry for help in the black of space. The reason that these criminals had not slit the throat of the little woman who dressed her name as an Empress, or even bargained for wealth as was their nature, was innately suspicious. No, the council would have no parts, for the treachery of the Old Empire had nearly costed the lives of each of the Sith now present, and they would not allow Black Sun to recklessly do the same. Delta-73, the Blood Prince of the Black Sun would die with his name and carry the weight of his failures to the afterlife. The crime-lords would understand swift destruction at the hands of those that now opposed them, and the odds that they faced without the slightest notion of a plan, would assure this. The council brushed the concerns of their confused allies aside, and listened to the roar of the Sith Empire fleet outside. Glorious was the sight of Onderon, shadowed by the Black Scarab and the locusts of vessels that surrounded it. As much as the delegations of the Dark Council carried weight, King Exodus had neglected to take part in them, focused rather on the knowledge of the Dark Side as he had done in the past few months. His say was final, and increasingly unchallengeable with mounting success. The forces made ready for war, most believing that the Crusaders that stampeded across the galaxy, would meet the Sith Empire at Mandalore. Communication between the two powerhouses had been nonexistent, so each of the commanders within the Sith Armada prepared for the worst. There would be blood to be paid, or a new-found ally to spill it with. Exodus however, remained quiet over the last few days, reserved to his personal chambers, while his intentions remained unknown. His command structure pleaded in many ways to understand the next move, but answers had not surfaced in the latest. On the eve of this morning however, the war-horns of the capital thundered across the world of Onderon, enticing a religious-like zeal across the nations as the armies of the Sith Empire began to line their departure. [Transmissions sent to Lady Nyrys for rendezvous] [Lord Exodus has sent for Sheog, Neo, Telperien, and Eve to board the Black Scarab, immediately] [Transmission to All Sith have been sent, to rendezvous in Space with the Sith Fleet] Prepare for War.
    2 points
  28. The Hutt breathed in a blubbery breath of the stale air of the Dark Lord’s personal chambers. It was claustrophobic, the air tasted of latent fear and broken souls. It could also have been because Sheog’s massive mountain of a greasy body was not meant for the humanoid living quarters. His heavy-lidded eyes, horrifying crimson flecked with sulfuric yellow, scanned the room, passing over the Empress with little interest. …Lord Sheog… The Hutt’s deformed nostrils wrinkled, a momentary disdain for the title. He was a Master of the Sith and killed more Jedi then the rest of the active order combined to get there. Somehow, he had even killed several of the Jedi several times. …What do you think the Sith have become? The Hutt pondered the question. He never knew, when talking to his Sith brethren, if such questions were traps, or bait, or reason for some idiot to attack him. He didn’t care to be cautious with Exodus, diplomacy and guile were not the Hutt’s style, and would stink of dishonesty even worse then the noxious grease that stained his flesh. Sheog set the stage with a recounting of Kuat, the last battle at which the Sith had been tested. He was blunter then normal. <<Our Sith got kriffing rickrolled by Stormtroopers without lightsabers.>> The Hutt snorted derisively, pausing to deal with the phlegm that came from his action. He almost coughed the slimy bolus onto the Dark Lord, but caught himself, swallowing it like Lallu would have. He continued, his disgust bridling on anger. <<Well Lucifer died, which is par for the course... Have you ever played Acceron mini-Golf? Like one shotting every hole at a family fun center. Yeppp... Lucifer got bloody roasted. His apprentice too. Wasted by an unmounted TIE pilot no less.>> The Hutt produced a small, desiccated wormlike lizard. Its dead flesh was cradled in his palm. The chubby fingers slowly curled around it, crushing it into bloodless chunks. Wordless disgust. Ysalimiri <<Oni died like a bitch against what they called a... Sexorcist I think. Probably was a fun death by the sounds of it. Got burned alive by flames, must have been one hell of a night. You ever had a night like that? Burning the bedsheets…>> The Hutt glanced sideways at the Empress and gave her what he thought was a coy smile but it came across as a grotesque interest. <<They don't call you Sexodus for nothin I'm sure.>> The Insane Hutt calmed his absurdity, halting his prattling monologue before it became more indecent. He glowered at the tiara, pondering the Imperial’s efficiency. They had used some form of Meta, had won everything, but had still lost. <<What have the Sith become?>> The Force was rocked by the Hutt’s concentrated madness. Gluttony and greed entwined, wrapping themselves about the Hutt like a cloak. The staff cracked against the flagstones, sending sparks into the shadows. <<They do as most creatures do. Shirk from responsibility when it is foisted upon them. We have a galaxy to conquer, let us not allow the weak to feed upon our strength, like a babe sups upon the breast…>> His eyes fell to the Spider’s, and they shone with power <<Let us forge it in our strength. If the rest of the Sith are to follow, they will need to grow up from the children they are. To leave their sandcastles. Their toys. Their whores...>>
    2 points
  29. …Do you think slaughter brings me honor? The needling pain of a god’s disapproval ran its way up her spine, clawing and scratching through her nervous system. Terra let out a retching gasp within the confines of her buy’ce as the pain shattered her will. She spasmed and gagged, her body-weight supported by HADES. The fires from Dar’Manda illuminated her own failures …Cassus Fett did me no honor in the genocide of the Cathar. The voice was calm but filled with condemnation. The conviction wormed its way into her soul, burrowing deep and shattering the illusions of what she had made. Her mouth felt as sour as her belly as she spoke “I have taken your proud people and turned them to nothing but thieves and raiders…” The pain dug further into her gut, and she felt as though she was being stabbed over and over again with each heartbeat. She ripped the buy’ce from her head and spewed soured blood onto the fertile ground. Terra looked at her reflection in the polished helm, illuminated by the fires made from the innocent dead. The bronze circlet caught the light of the flames and washed it across her chimeric eyes. …Make them mine. With one last shuddering heave across her body, the voice left her with its commandment. Terra closed her eyes, wracked with the afterglow of a god’s touch. The pain subsided, but the condemnation did not. Opening her comlink, her gravely voice filled the Mandalorian’s encrypted channels. Her fingers caressed the crystalline totem that hung from her neck. “Belay previous order.” She placed a silver-laced flower upon her tongue and began to hum her own battlesong, her body beginning to writhe to the animalistic beat as she advanced. Her lithe form, dressed in armor as it was, twitched and moved erratically in the flexibility of her Echani race. As her pupils dilated, she danced towards the yawning doors of the warehouse. Her heartbeat matched the roars she heard in the dark as she slipped her buy’ce back upon her head. She greeted the familiarity with a primal howl “We do not flee from fire or iron.” She checked the action on her battlerifle “We are the tasters of blood.” Her tongue flicked across her blood-painted lips as she approached the entrance “We are as mad as wolves and as strong as the Mythosaur” Her long hair hung down her back in a plait that whipped about as she danced “The slaughter of the weak brings no honor to Kad Ha’rangir.” Her flesh felt as though it was alight with holy fire. Her heart hammered in her ears in its primal beat. Her senses were filled with the gnawing anxiety of the deep forests. The eyes of the women and children, packed amongst the server-racks and technology, glittered on her HUD. “We will test ourselves upon the strong and leave the weak in his hands.” Terra opened her external comlink and let out a horrifying, beastly howl. She would restore the honor of her people but would not leave them to its weakness. To the women and children captured by Kain, an armored, howling, writhing beast was at the doors. If they stood against her, they would fall and be left to scavengers as dead flesh to reward entropy’s greed.
    2 points
  30. That hunger, the calm malevolence, the dread and horror which radiated like waves of fire off of the Hutt struck upon Sandy with little grace. It was an ancient thing, hunger itself, and covered in a masquerade of malice. If there had ever been something that embodied the Sith Lords to Sandy Sarna, this Hutt was it. Even the humour, while it brought a wry smile to her lips gave her pause. Was this the Dark Lord? Surely it must be, something so ancient could have survived off of the darkside since the time of Marka Ragnos. But the hunger was too sharp, too piercing to be a lasting hunger. It was the hunger of the Maw. This was malice and gluttony given shape. All consuming, and it must be fed. From people, to starships, planets, to entire galaxies themselves. Leave this hunger alone now, and it would consume everything she loved. The lightsaber showed its bright white light against its glittering eyes, reflecting in cavalcade from the spittle around his great lips, making a dancing and swirling shadow that bounced across the darkening hanger. She spoke at last as she let the force flow around her, mimicking the white light of her saber. “Let the child go from here Great Hutt.” The saber flicked its tip towards the distant young girl who was cowering behind his great mass before whipping back up towards the Hutt. “I do not know you, and I do not fear you. Now I assume you will not surrender?” Her eyes flickered from the axe on his belt to the staff he held in his hand. She had never before faced such an opponent, but she had met and defeated many Sith, and every one had thought themselves unbeatable. And she was a Jedi Master. This was her duty, her great honour. She took a step forward and let the force flow around her, gathering around the weapons on her belt as she reached out with the hand that did not hold the lightsaber. The force moved and two of the vibroknives flickered off of her belt driving from her right and left in solid arcs towards the hutt’s great mass, their blades a sheen of microvibrating darkened metal guided by the force itself. While she used the force to wrench at the decking below his great mass, it was harder than a simple pull at a man's ankles, but she hoped it would provide distraction enough for the knives to find their purchase. Summary: Two vibroknives towards Sheog while pulling at the decking beneath him to distract and break his footing (padding?) ((1))
    1 point
  31. The great and enormous slug peered from behind a veil of tobacco-smoke upon the planet and shipyards below. His glinting eyes picked out the lonely Golan platform that was the planet’s lone defense, beyond their enormous fleet. He let out a sigh, resting a grotesque hand on Gwen’s lithe shoulder. <<Ahh… Kuwait.>> The girl looked back at him through her beautiful brown eyes which stared quizzically at him “It’s pronounced Kuat, sir.” The Hutt pondered the strange name difference as he sipped on the stem of his elaborately carved pipe <<Perhaps, but for some reason I want to call this impending battle a Desert Storm.>> The girl sniffed, almost snorting with laughter “I’d say it’d be more of a Dessert Storm if you led it.” The Hutt placed his hand over the centermost of his many hearts, mimicking a humanoid gasp of wounded self-image and staggering backwards. <<A fat joke, from my own subordinate… What is the galaxy coming to?>> He reached out with the faintest flicker of the force, touching the distant pulses he could feel of the light side. He spread there a smattering of hunger, to any who had fought against his battle-meditation in the past, it would bring back horrid memories of how broken fleet combat used to be. Either that or of the last battles of Kuat or of the fall of Onderon and the battles of Ossus and Ord Mantell, where he had devoured countless legions. He passed with it a spreading horror, and a challenge... ...Come and face me, feast upon destruction...
    1 point
  32. Silence. Pure, perfect, dead silence. Without his sight, the lifeless void was a great blank as the others spread out away from him in the descent. So, it jarred him when his comm crackled to life. Shimsinblimp knew those ships weren't set to arrive until after some of the ground defenses had been cleared and a landing zone was prepared, and there was no way they'd managed that. If Nok changed the plan, House Sovros could declare the contract invalid and leave them all with nothing. But the troig was also a capable commander and experienced raider. Nok grimaced, hesitated, then resolutely pressed the switch of the subspace transceiver. _____________________________________________________________________________ Kelzin H'nabro stared out the viewport of his ship at the roiling nebula. "Adjusting thrusters to compensate for drift," his first officer muttered from his console, voice bored and listless. "Kriffing Maw," Kelzin cussed, just as lifelessly. This was the worst part. Waiting. "Commander, there's still time..." Kelzin rubbed his forehead. "What are the odds right now?" "3 to 1 that we get sent home, no combat." Kelzin could understand the men's reasoning. Half of combat was positioning, advancing and retreating, fleets chasing tails. This was Kessel. Even under the thumbs of criminals, attacking it was...well it was something you just didn't do on a whim, and every crewman here (at least the nobles) could see a cobbled together attack when they were sitting at the helm of one. The commoners...well, they were brainwashed clones. They spoke when spoken to. They thought as they were directed. They didn't really have an opinion on the matter. But Kezlin knew something his fellow Force-less nobles didn't. He knew his wife. Darth Zayira, a woman with a vicious streak to match a nexu and an ambition that could out hunger a sarlacc. But more than anything else, she had an insecurity so deep it was swimming around the core of Onderon. No way would she just pull them back, not with her uncle watching. And if Kelzin failed her...well, she had two other husbands, and one of them actually was Force-sensitive. "Fine. Give me 800 crowns on the long shot. There's going to be a battle, and more than that we're going to be walking on that scummy asteroid in 24 hours." He saw his first officer shrug as he lazily keyed in his commander's bet. "It's your money...sir." As if the universe had a sense of humor, the light on Kelzin's console blinked to life. It was a small thing, but every set of shoulders on the bridge of the VT-49 Decimator tensed at the tiny click. Kelzin grinned. "We're on." _____________________________________________________________________________ The nebula parted, and a wedge of ships in tight formation raced out of it. Their sensors parsed the dogfight in front of them even as they became visible to others. At the head of the formation flew the blade of the tiny fleet. A VT-49 Decimator, the old imperial ship painted green with brilliant gold patterns lining the wings in opulent, overwrought designs. Etched in flowing script, the bow of The Eldest proudly proclaimed its name to the stars. Less extravagant but matching in green and gold, 4 Guardian-class corvettes spread out on each side of the lead ship, the 8 vessels forming the blades of the arrowhead. Hanging in the center, 5 Sentinel-class landing craft and 2 Gozanti-class carrier corvettes kept pace. The Gozantis each bore a HAVw A5 Juggernaut. The heavy wheeled vehicles bore blaster scars that poorly matched the polished fleet, but looking carefully one might see pilots waiting patiently for the land battle where they would demonstrate their real value. Completing the advancing force, 20 HH-87 Starhopper fighters screamed out of the concealing gases and fanned out, screening the tiny fleet. _____________________________________________________________________________ "Sir! Fighters ahead! Counting...X-wings...E-wings...My'tils...Javelins...Still working on the final count sir." "What? They're already-" "Sir! They're engaging the Kessel defense forces! And..." The first officer paused as he enlarged the still image of one of the Javelins on his screen, or more to the point, the image of the insignia emblazoned on it. Kelzin's teeth gritted. "Rebels. Of course." "Orders?" Kelzin's stance changed. His spine turned to iron. He pointed forward, the image of resolute and commanding. "Advance! Cover the transports to the landing zone! Anything gets close, you destroy it. Do not pursue. Fighters! Fan out another 100 meters and harry anything that tries to approach. Don't be brave, just keep them off us until we can get these troops on the ground." The fighter pilots, flash-trained sullustan clones, gave no affirmation, instead simply obeying. "Sir, we'll be in firing range in 10...9...8" Kelzin's eyes narrowed. Well...this may be a challenge. He smiled. _____________________________________________________________________________ Nok only had a moment as his own fear illuminated the ground to his peculiar sight before he struck it. He managed to turn it into a half-decent roll, and the clunky suit absorbed the rancor's share of the impact. Unfortunately, it left him bruised, stunned...and on his back. He struggled, flailing in an inelegant way for almost a minute as his faculties returned to him. He then realized two things. He wasn't alone. They weren't Shimsinblimps men. "Alright drunk spider," one of the men surrounding him, fear and anger pouring off him in equal measure, barked. The other two laughed nervously, and Nok could only assume it was a local joke. "Don't move, or we help you out of that armor with these." He hefted a serious looking blaster rifle in his hand and pointed it at Nok. The other two held their rifles at the ready, but were more focused on checking their surroundings than on Nok. "Of course, of course," Nok said, voice measured even as his rage, humiliation, and fear mixed inside him into some strange emotional bonfire of indeterminate quality. "I won't move a muscle." He reached out with the Force. He had one good trick, and while his knives were under the bulky suit, the scumbag guards (weequay he realized) had provided him with the tools he needed. The blaster rifle of the most distracted guard jerked to one side. With his nerves as thin as paper, he fired out of panicked instinct, and promptly dropped the guard who'd been hovering over Nok to the ground with a scorched hole in his shoulder and a string of Huttese curses. Dumbfounded, he only had a moment to consider as the third guard raised his own blaster at the supposed traitor's head, screaming "Drop your gun or I'll shoot!" "I...what?" stuttered the befuddled guard. Nok chuckled. "He asked you." Then he touched the Force again, and the trigger of the third guard's gun pulled back a few hair's breadth, and the second guard collapsed, lifeless and smelling of burnt grey matter. The third guard wheeled on Nok. "You're doing this!" "Too late." The first guard's gun, levitating into the air behind the third guard, went off at Nok's tiny gesture, and the third guard fell silent for good. "You...you...kriffing...magician!" The first guard, now disarmed and writhing, only managed the fractured sentence through a thick blanket of pain. "No need to be disrespectful." Nok turned the gun even as he lay, now relaxed, on the ground. It rotated, then fired once...twice...and the guard joined his friends in the Force's final embrace. A few clicks and Force-propelled pieces of armor later, Nok was free and standing. He grabbed his comm and spoke into it, collected and feeling rejuvenated by the bursts of dark power the violent deaths had released. "The fleet is on its way. We clear a landing site now. According to my comm's locator...I'm near one of the power relay stations. I should be able to disable one of their shield generators from there. Any assistance would be appreciated, but no matter what we need to clear the guns from this area...or at least blind them somehow." Nok started walking.
    1 point
  33. MODERATOR POST: DUEL BETWEEN GENESIS AND MORDECAI NOW THIS IS PODRACING!!!! Errr . . . Star Wars!! Gentlemen, this duel was so Star Wars it could have been a scene from a movie. Bravo! There was a very Qui-Gon V. Darth Maul feel to it at several points. I hope to duel with each of you in the future. You name the time and place and I’ll be there. I loved this duel. I cannot go through everything line by line, but a few of the items of note in this duel are below. I like to read the posts leading up to a duel to get a feel for the scene. I will admit I was worried about Genesis’ state of mind and being leading into the duel. That being said, you made it work for you throughout the duel. The emotional flux of Genesis and the sway of the force was key through the whole duel. Genesis was able to find his focus and use it. Genesis exuded the ideals of the ideal Jedi. The pull of darkness, the temptation, and the committal to that which is right. Genesis is a man of peace, but willing to wade through the muck of battle for the good of others. Mordecai’s skills and abilities remained true to his character sheet. He is a blade master and makes use of that, not trying a shotgun approach at anything a Sith might use. Classic movie-worthy dealing. Beautiful moves and an attitude worthy a Sith lord. Trying to convert before moving to violence was awesome. It defied the stereotype of a Sith, while you also acknowledged it. I noticed a few spelling and grammatical errors in posts. Capitalizations, the use of apostrophes, and forgotten words can change sentences and make lines hard to read. They are all simple enough to correct. I know that I am guilty of these things at times too. This leads into my next point, apparently Mordecai’s blade “filed” Genesis’ shoulder? Is that supposed to be filleted or something else? Genesis took a large amount of brutal damage right off the bat and continued to take more as the battle wore on. Even glancing blows with a lightsaber can be horrendous. The things can melt through armor and cleave through flesh like a hot ball bearing in a tub of lard. There is a reason that in a galaxy of technology and guns, that the zealots of the galaxy carry laser swords and are feared and respected for their use. Mordecai did not take any damage. This was not because he dodged or expertly blocked, in fact; Mordecai took the one offensive move towards him in turn. This was a duel after all. The philosophical musings were great, but without force application into action or even straight action defensive or offensive, it is hard to call it a duel. I was really worried when Genesis deactivated his saber mid battle. The next post had, what I think, was the highest point of the battle. When Genesis, full of the force, reactivated his saber and defended himself. That was a great chunk of writing! Driving forward in an attempted final blow was beautiful too. I wish we could have seen that sooner. That level of dedication and zeal could have turned the tides and if this duel went another three rounds I think it would be an entirely different ballgame. A Sith Lord against a Jedi Apprentice and the apprentice is cut up right from the get go. Even so, the Jedi came back swinging in the final round. Considering it all, there can only be one winner in this duel as it stands. The winner is MORDECAI and the next post goes to MAVANGER. Congratulations! Don’t forget that Genesis is trying to skewer Mordecai as his final act in the duel. You both did a good job and should be proud of what you created.
    1 point
  34. "Hello there..." I'm here. Now I just have to figure it all out.
    1 point
  35. Sunset, along the winding streets of Lessu, the shadows grew long; amongst them darted a solitary figure. Form shadow to shadow, recessed alcove to balcony overhang the wraithe-like being moved. She was intent on not being seen or tracked by anyone or anyrhing. Only a block further now and her quarry would be within her grasp. There were a few early patrons already stumbling around outside. It was not hard to flip up and over them in the dark alley-like winding street between tall imposing spires. Slipping through the door, the armored spy was inside with her quarry in sight. Her gray cloak fluttered behind her as she disappeared into the dimly lit cantina. Scanning the facility, the woman overlooked the common rabble until her eyes settled on the teenager behind the bar. “Bingo,” she hissed cheerfully as she lightly stepped and twirled through the crowd. Several twi’leki and humans were already gyrating on the worn stained and all too tiny dance floor. With a cat-like elegance, she slid between them and slid onto a stool at thar bar. With her brown hair tucked behind her ears and her blue warrior’s tattoos on her face, The Malia was the visage of a huntress of old; her sleek light Sith inspired armor rimmed with furs beneath her cloak completing the ensemble. Waving her hand to get the bartenders attention, the warrioress offered a genuinely warm smile. There she was, Serenity Vowler, seventeen year old native of Ryloth who frequently made runs to Corellia. The Malia had been watching her from afar for weeks trying to determine is she was a suitable mark. Finally, she had decided to approach her and make the girl an offer, an offer to change her the course of life, change her story, make a difference in the galaxy and not become a casualty of the looming chaos of Corellia. It all started here, now, with a smile a wave and a drink order. “Heya stranger, when you get a break I’d love a Corellian tapcafe if you’ve got some. Maybe two. One for you, one for me? I’ll be over there when you find the time.” She had all night. She would sit there all night if she had to, to show Serenity how serious she was. Slipping from her stool, The Malia moved with grace and poise through the cantina to a middle booth along the back wall. Here she could keep an eye on the bar and on the door. Safety first.
    1 point
  36. Delta watched the walls of water slowly close about them, walls of near instant, crushing death. He watched the death come and reflected on the irony that it no Jedi could have killed them. The Blood prince and his King Emperor, even in death, would carry the banner of being undefeated on the field of battle from Onderon to Mon Calamari. He dimly hoped that he had stored his DNA recently, but the water stopped. It not only stopped, but came to a sudden crashing halt before the power of the force. He involuntarily took a step backwards in pure awe. He had seen such things before, even the deceased Jedi whose red body was submerged somewhere in the chamber had thrown up a protective barrier. But it had been futile and inept, absorbing only a handful of blaster bolts before he was run through with the power of Sith combined arms. But this was monstrous, this was the force in its fullest, the power of the gods of old. Shocked faces looked back at him from the troops, some behind expressionless helmets, but still he could feel their amazement. Close up He mouthed, and as a unified group the soldiers pressed close to the Dark Lord, giving him space but freeing enough room should he need to shrink the bubble of force. Delta gestured to the two medics who were working silently on one of the dying men. They looked up and nodded, standing and letting the man submerge below the still waters. What was next was only for the living. Tir-Oxen two doses, every soldier, prepare to treat anyone who may develop the bends. Delta pulled Blacktorin so that she was leaning against his knee and accepted the four vials from the Medics. He placed them systematically into the hopper of his hypospray and injected them into their necks. He took a deep breath and then began to pray. And above him the aquatic forces of the Sith began their approach.
    1 point
  37. Solus nodded and obeyed Roshan’s order without question, coiling against the wall Roshan was near. "That is wise Lord. Very wise. I must admit, I am not as wise in combat as you are Lord. All I seem to be good at is pummeling. Perhaps my wisdom will eventually grow observing you." When the being showed herself again, mentioned how Solus had done as expected and eyed him, Solus couldn’t help but feel a smidge of pride form inside of him. This being, while new and strange to him, had in a way complimented him. And that felt good. Even as she turned and spoke to his master and introduced herself, Solus found himself studying her. She was much different from Sir Aliss, though being of the same gender. Her stature and form was entirely different. Where Aliss carried herself like a snake with a purpose, this being carried herself more delicately. Her skin appeared more smoother then Aliss, as well as a much different color. But the two were both fairly hairless on first glance, and had two arms and legs. Still, this being was a different species compared to the others in the room. "Forgive my manners. I am Lady Sirena. As for the Holocron, the test was to resist, not touch it. But Master Helios was never one for all the details and preferred his students to play with fire." Solus nearly mentioned to Aliss about how she was wrong to touch the so-called ‘Holocron’, but he silenced himself before that. That would be a foolish move on his part, would it not? Aliss was a child of Roshan. It did no good to berate her. She was probably smart enough to realize her error. If not, then Roshan was in the clear position to point out her error, not Solus. When Sirena mentioned how she wasn’t part of the test, Solus visibly became a bit more open. His body slouched slightly, his arms lowered out of a defensive pose. “That certainly makes me happy to hear...Lady Sirena.” Solus cherished the title Lady as his synthesised voice uttered it slowly. It sounded so much different from Sir and Lord and Darth. “This here is Lord Roshan. We are his children. Sir Aliss…” Solus realized how Aliss was still on the floor. He slithered over and bent down to offer her a now clean hand to rise. Solus was almost disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to study the blood and brain matter from the battle. “So sorry about that Sir Aliss. Let me help you. And I am Solus, Lady Sirena. Solus the Ascended. And he is Tear..." Once done with Aliss, Solus pointed to his currently unconscious hound. "If you, Lady Sirena, are not part of the test, then why are you here? Are you a person who uses what Darth Helios calls ‘the wicked flame’? Surely you are some sort of deity, for that energy that crackled from your fingertips was godlike.”
    1 point
  38. As the group sloshed down the corridor through what had to be raw sewage, Nok kept quiet. The droid and the Jedi together seemed more than capable of filling the silence, and better yet they didn’t need someone to respond to keep them going. That big one though...he was strange. Nok could barely see him from the faint fear and minor aches of the others. He was empty and still, as if he was dead. Still, Nok was grateful to be ignored. It helped him to focus on...the cold. It had crept up on him, but now he felt it sink in. A malicious, invasive presence, moving with hints of intelligence. Dead in the cold and dark. Nok gritted his teeth as he felt a surge of uncontrolled fear run raw against the underside of his skin, the words dredging up a familiar sensation with fresh intensity. No. I am in control of my fear. That vision is my weapon, not- Your end? Nok’s heart seemed to stop for a second. Had that...no, that had been his own mind, fueled by this place, by this presence. Your destiny awaits below. Stall. Stall and run. Run to the sun and be warm. No! He thought fiercely, shutting out the treacherous thoughts as his skin crawled in the chill. I will not give up! I am Nok Morliss! I fought and killed my way to where I am, and I will take anything I want from this pointless universe! Nok’s confidence gained footing as he reminded himself of his victories, his deals, his vast wealth. I’m smarter than them! I’m better than them! Everything I’ve earned and taken from the fools of this galaxy is proof! And I’ll have more, because that’s what I am! I am a conqueror! Nok’s mind turned as cold as the air as he took control. He dissected the fear running through him, analyzing it until it was nothing but a sensation, just like the cold. A tool to be partnered with the Force and his intelligence. Flashes of Nok’s siblings sprang into his mind, memories that had been indistinct suddenly clear. He saw their mewling and their groveling as they envied their elders. He saw himself, pretending to be one of them as he snatched and cultivated wealth and power. You’re just another one of them, part of the set. You’ve always been one of them. You just convinced yourself that you were special. Just like every idiot you’ve conned. You are not real. You’re my own mind. Am I? Then I know you best, don’t I? Nok could feel his control slipping as the fear squirmed free, doubts fraying his focus. You think that because you robbed a few Outer Rim rubes and hedge-fund brats that you’re something special? You’re just an opportunist, a vulture with a little more bite and a little less patience. You think you can stack up to a real Jedi? Or a real Sith!? Nok fumbled in the sleeve of his robes until his fingers closed around the hilt of one of his vibro-knives. This. I earned this. ...You only killed one howlrunner. I...no, I had the other killed as a lesson to myself. To never surrender! I think you actually believe that. Nok head throbbed, and his skin felt like he was submerged in a hill of clinging, stinging insects. Be quiet! You’re my mind! Mine! You’re mine! You will- The Jedi tripped and fell into the hole. The “sight” broke Nok out of his trance. His own inner turmoil was providing plenty of negative emotion to see by, but he’d barely realized they’d even come to a pit. And then the Jedi had just...tripped. Then the large one jumped after her. Nok collected himself as he entertained the possibility that he was hallucinating. Could he even hallucinate with the way he was? No. It was real. It felt real. As real as the squish of bodies landing in yet more raw sewage. Nok’s resigned acceptance that his expensive, custom robes were a total loss at this point surprised him. The fear was gone. He grimaced as he sucked in a breath. I am a conqueror. He jumped.
    1 point
  39. Lok's eyes lit up as soon as the Empire exited hyperspace, the confused look of worry and determination swirling in his gaze as he looked across the bow. It wasn't that long ago that he was on Coruscant, the once famous jewel of the Galaxy no more than a melted gem at the hands of the Sith. And in that moment, his thoughts crossed back to his own homeworld, that of Onderon and the oppression it faced and the likelyhood that it too could one day mimic Coruscant. Turning to Captain Greer, his gaze now fired with anger, he issued orders. "I need Maelstrom and Augustus at Position Felix with the rest of Sentinel at Position Phillip and what's left of Menace at Position Seal." Lok spoke with a stern but calming voice. "And I need them there now." Captain Greer went about relaying the issues, as Lok stood there in silence. As nervous as he was, he could not show it. He had always been a fighter, meeting his combatants face to face. He was no fleet commander and he knew it. But he could let his men around him know it. This was the assignment given to him by his Empress and the Jedi Grandmaster upon his return to Nar Shadaa, and he would not fail them. With a sigh, he grabbed the comm, ordering a direct line be opened with the lead ship, Herløv. "This is Lok Skyshatter of the Imperial Knights." He spoke, reaffirming his tone by letting his memories of Onderon fuel his determination. "By order of the Empress Raven Zinthos, you are entering protected airspace. Cease and desist, and you will be allowed safe passage back to wince you came...." As Lok was speaking into the open comm, the six corvettes began to maneuver and place themselves into position, klaxons aboard each readying each for what could come as ammunitions and ships were prepared in haste. All Lok had to do was give the final order and the Sith Empire would feel the true might of the Zinthos Empire. With an inward sigh, Lok finished. "Remain on course, and you will be fired upon." ******************************************
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  40. Nok whirled. The voice, where was it coming from?! His fear ratcheted up, but he couldn’t see it, couldn’t sense it. Where...what was it? There. Something. A distortion, a warping, a fracture, a thread, a tangle. Something. The list. Telekinesis. Extrasensory perception. Healing. Energy projection. Suggestion. Consciousness manipulation. In his research of the Jedi and Sith, Nok had found the reports of several scientists who looked to categorize all that a Force sensitive could do. They’d analyzed reported feats, verified and checked against footage and data from the Clone Wars, and compiled a list. Nok had read each of them, and had been confident he’d understood all the Force was capable of, all it could offer him. But this… Sorcery. There had been mention of Sith sorcerers. Millennia old legends, fanciful tales of dark figures wielding unholy power. It had all been so clearly propaganda and hyperbole. Now Nok wasn’t so sure of himself. This is real. Not illusion, not a trick. Something more. Nok listened to the creature, the words carrying a weight beyond crude sound. Mon Calamari? Then it was gone. It hadn’t left, it was just not there anymore. Nok’s brisk pace as he walked out of the tower was one part fear and one part excitement. Moving objects with his mind and swinging a sword around. Controlling the weak minded and electrocuting the strong. The goals he’d planned now seemed so...small. Pathetic. Like a child given a planet-sized supercomputer and using it to play Dejarik. There was so much more. If anything of what he’d read regarding the ancient Sith sorcerers was true, then the limits of what he could accomplish through the Force were vaster than he had ever imagined. There might not even be limits. As he boarded The Bleeding Edge, he felt as if he stood on the edge of a bridge, a bridge thousands of Jedi and Sith had crossed to reach power. Below, the dark void rushed past, and it promised to swallow any and all alike who swam its depths. Nok would jump. And he would make it his.
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  41. The ship around Xar shifted and groaned as its engines worked to land softly in what felt like unsteady ground. The droid peered from his hidden compartment, a little peephole the only way to see anything in the storage area. It was still dark and cramped with boxes upon boxes of miscellaneous items. Nothing had changed. But the ship was landing. Silently the droid nodded to itself, satisfied with the change of events. It had been getting annoyed with its cramped quarters. Xar had spent so much time observing the organics with his now gone drones, planning on how to escape, slicing computer terminals to plant data and erase camera footage, and sneaking onto a cramped ship that carried only some spare machine parts that wouldn’t notice a little extra weight. Xar sighed to itself, its three voice boxes making an odd harmony with itself. So close to getting free. Footsteps. Xar peered out again. A large rodian had entered the storage area, and was using a cable to move some of the heavy crates, digging to one of the sealed crates on the floor. Xar observed curiously. Why was the rodian moving the crates? There was nothing of note in the ship’s manifest. No matter. Xar had enough of this. He wanted out. And the Rodian was in leaping range. With a surge of energy, Xar pushed on the wall that contained his cramped body. A clang of metal. A whir of motors moving into action. A look of fear and surprise. A scream suddenly cut short, following by choking. Xar stood over the dying creature in silence. As the rodian gasped for air through its sliced throat, the Hunter Trainer droid looked over the blood stained claws and gave out a sigh. “Organic lubricant...so…” Xar paused to find the right word. “...execrable. We despise such ichor.” Without acknowledging the rodian’s dying breaths, Xar wiped his claws on the victim and moved to the crate. Xar lifted up the lid to reveal numerous small containers filled with orange and blue powders. “Spice” Xar muttered, its three voices all alike in recognition. This ship was smuggling illegal spice with its scrap metal. And from the looks of it, a quite rare kind. Not Ryl but almost just as good. Xar looked at the now dead rodian. “Clever. We are impressed, though you should’ve covered this with something in case of inspection. Then again, out here on Tatooine means no inspections...” Xar reached down and grabbed the rodian’s data pad. A quick hack to get past a password, and Xar was surfing through the data. While the data didn’t show the spice on the manifest, knowing about the spice might clear up some information. Like why a ship from Rodia would bring a load of scrap metal, some blasters and bacta to such a dust ridden, resource-lacking, worthless planet like Tatooine. Xar sighed at one line of data. “Must be delivered in person. Do not be late. Only hand bacta and special materials to KREXEL VIDEL. Payment upon arrival. ” The shipment should have been out of the ship by now. If Xar didn’t hurry, the ship might have gangsters or worse onboard soon. And the ship needed fuel before launching again. A moment later, Xar stepped out the ship, data board in one hand and the crate of illegal spices and some bacta behind him on a hovercart. The droid’s green chassis sparkled under the twin suns above. Somewhere nearby the roaring of a tuskan could be heard. Xar sighed again as he looked around. Such a horrible place. Still, this had to be done. Xar couldn’t have people trying to track his ship so soon after leaving Rodia. A short distance away Xar could see a few beings. One of them matched the description of this Krexel. Approaching the beings, Xar spoke out, all three voices trying to sound intimidating and gruff. “Attention: Mr. Krexel Videl. We are Xar, with your delivery.” Silently, Xar prayed that there were no unwritten special instructions for the delivery. He had rewritten the manifest to have his name instead of the rodian pilot who was bled out in the cargo bay, but beyond that there wasn’t much he could do. Except maybe wipe his bloodied claws off a bit more, but time was money right now.
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  42. Coming out of hyperspace, the blue and green gem flashed a few quick glints as the angle of the ship's approach made the sunlight appear as if it was dancing across the edges of the planet's atmosphere. Inside the hijacked YT-2400, the Traitor's Gambit, Durose slowly made his way to the cockpit as he felt the ship lunge out of hyperspace and begin to drift. This is it. Let’s get this over with already. Hitting the comms, Ro contacted Dhon as he entered atmo. The unkept Cathar had Ro’s face but a dirty, roughly trimmed mane and two braided strands of mane hair that extended down from his chin on each side. He was what some might call an outdoorsman or what others might consider “wild.” Dhon sneered as he spoke to Ro over the comms. “I’m where we agreed upon, Ro. This better be worth my time! I dropped a hunt for you. And it was a good hunt. No. A great hunt!” Ro rolled his eyes. He sighed before replying. “It’s always a great hunt, Dhon. Did you bring what I asked?” “I even dug the plot.” Those words caught Ro by surprise. He angrily glared at Dhon. “You have no right--” “Save it, Watcher! You have no right! This is my domain! Cathar is mine. And here you are handing out blood bonds and oaths and all this willy nilly and expecting all us to respect them? But I have no right?” “I’m not getting into this with you right now,” Ro roared back. “You know exactly what I mean, you--” The transmission abruptly cut out before Ro could finish his sentence. The response didn’t surprise him coming from Dhon. It still irritated him all the same. But to be fair, Dhon didn’t probably deserve to be the subject of Ro’s ire. It was just easier to ignore the pain he was feeling right now by finding someone or something to be mad at instead. Planet-side, Roshan carried the body to the ancestral burial pit of his home city. Located at the base of the massive city-tree, Dhon stood there casually waiting. He began ribbing Ro the moment he was within earshot. “So this is what all the fuss was about? Kind of ugly if you ask me.” Ro glared at Dhon as reached the edge of the hole and he held the body over it. Staring down into the darkness, he said a few traditional Cathar blessings and retold stories of this Rose’s deeds, both honorable and dishonorable. Then dropping the body into the pit, he finished with another final blessing. “May your soul be blessed with rest and become one with the Circle of the Force and the city-tree of our ancestors. May your physical body and your remaining life force provide this tree and the generations of Cathar to come the strength to live their life in the manner that you once did. Our bond has been fulfilled but you will not been forgotten.” "So says we all." Cutting his hand, Ro allowed some of his blood to drip down towards the body below. Then nodding to Dhon, the two of them began to fill back in the 2 meter hole with dirt. “Was she really worth all that?” “She was my Soo’Gah’Wee,” Ro growled. “So yes, Dhon. Yes! She deserved every bit of this ceremony and probably better than she got, too!” Dhon laughed, “Your ritual blessings are a little rusty, bud. That ending was especially rough.” “Thanks.” “I’m just saying,” Dhon shrugged as he shoveled another pile of dirt into the burial pit. “It was pretty sappy, too, bud. But if she was your Soo’Gah’Wee then she must have earned it. We may not be totally alike, but I like to think that we both know what something like that means to Dhonarr and to us.” “Yeah,” Ro replies with a somber note as his eyes drop down towards the pit. “It was a mistake, bud. Humans are too soft and squishy for us. Especially to waste your time mating with.” “We weren’t... we didn’t.” “Ha! Sure you didn’t, bud? I seen the way you look at her even now. I might spend most of my time in the Vast Veldt but I wasn’t cloned yesterday, Ro.” “I’m done with this conversation.” Nodding, Dhon and Ro continued shoveling in silence. When they were done, the two proceeded to head back towards the ship. “So, Watcher. I’ve waited long enough. Are we going to talk about this offer of yours or what? I didn’t cut short a great hunt just to meet up with you, help you bury some human female, and shoot the breeze.” Standing at the ramp of the Traitor’s Gambit, Ro finally replied, “I have a deal to offer you. I know you’ve been left behind to watch over, mum. But I need a favor.” “What kind of favor,” Dhon responded as he eyed him skeptically. “I need a co-pilot to Nar Shadda and then delivery of a helmet to its owner on Tatooine.” “Oh? And what’s in it for me?” “Do this and this ship and its droid are yours.” “What’s the catch?” Dhon frowned. “I’ll have to get a new registry for the ship.” “From Watcher to thief?” Dhon laughed. “The Link going bankrupt under your watchful leadership?” “The Link and Coruscant are gone.” Dhon had a witty response already ready to come out but Ro’s words caused him to pause. He gave Ro a confused look before responding. “What do you mean gone?” “Like dead and gone. Destroyed. Massacred,” Ro replied angrily. “Like while you were out here playing wildness tracker billions of people were being murdered by crazed fanatics who believed they were some sort of second coming of the Mandalorian savages of old.” “Wow. You don’t say,” Dhon comments rather casually. “I would have never guessed that. So your cash cow kinda went belly up then?” “You are missing the point, Dhon. Do we have a deal or not?” Dhon laughed. He then patted Ro on the shoulder as he stepped onto the ramp and past Ro. “Whatever you say, bud. But after I fulfill my end of the deal, whatever I do with this ship is my business.” “Deal.” Dhon turns back and smiles, “Then we have ourselves a plan, bud. Times a wastin’. We got a den of scum and villainy to visit.” ((Off to Nar Shadda)) _________ &
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  43. Kyrie welcomed the assistance of the reconnaissance troopers that had accompanied the Jedi, letting them support some of her weight as they moved to deeper cover. It was another collapsed building, but one that was much more intact than many she had explored since the death of this world. The permecrete was crumbling, but most of it was cloaked in the façade of the standard officeworks. She didn’t recognize any logos, and nor could she decipher the faded arubesh on the rotting scraps of flimsi that piled up in the ruins. It smelled of ranat urine and stagnant water. She could sense the roaming spirits of those that had died there passing about her in a haze. She could almost hear their laughter. Side effect of being so close to a wound in the force. The young woman drank the protein solution, letting the bitterness of it dissipate in the rising nausea. The force was illusive, and she could barely feel its strength. Every time before she had drunk from its river and it had always restored her, but now that water did not flow. All she could feel now, was the unease of her rescuers. Mutterings of souls were of little comfort to non-exorcists. She took another swallow of the protein solution and stared at Lok and Adenna through her violet eyes. A pensive smile passed over her face “Master Alluyen, of all the ideologies of the Jedi, those that the Exorcist follow, run the knife’s edge that is the boundary between the light and the dark.” The smile turned into a frown “We take the dark side upon ourselves, consuming and debriding the wound that is left so that it may heal. I fear somewhere along my path, I strayed.” She stretched out an arm, letting the cloak fall away from it to reveal the anorexic flesh. Gone were the muscles and strength that she had been once blessed. “In that stain of corruption, the crucible of my soul was shattered. The dark side was used to resurrect me, but for what purpose, I do not know.” The girl glanced between the two Force users. With the expression of her internal frustration, a few tears swelled in her eyes unbidden, blurring her vision. “The soul I share this body with is dark. A tortured pawn of dark sorcery. It is because of this I can only see the Force as though through the reflection of a shattered mirror.” The Jedi shook her head, the tousles of muddy blonde hair bouncing with the movement. "What you ask is for an Exorcist to become at peace with what she swore to destroy."
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  44. ((The timing on this is all too good to pass up. I'm weaving the narration together a bit here just to emphasize the cymbal crash that each of these is meant to represent. If further clarification is needed, I will provide it, or if necessary rewrite it.)) ((Exodus)) At the words of this man, Vadmir froze. By himself, he didn't look like much compared to the firepower the Mandalorians had assembled here, and Vadmir had complete trust and faith in his brothers and sisters. Why, then, was he paralyzed with fear? The all-encompassing despair that this would be the final resting place of the Glory Bound? All of them were criminals to their own culture, but here they were united in singular purpose: to regain their honor. Death in combat was honorable, but it did little to further their way of life. Vadmir knew they were often utilized as disposable soldiers because of this, but this feeling made him feel as if no amount of effort was worth anything. It was as if this man knew something he didn't...whatever Arkab was up to? Had he doomed them all in his ignorance? As these thoughts washed over him like a gentle waterfall downstream from a toxic waste dump, another of the guards nearby at the sabacc game took notice at his posture, leaving the game to come check on him. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Delta)) Ah. And there it was, just as Rina had suspected, the claim to be Mandalorian and the refutation in the same breath. This man knew Mando'a, he may have loosely known some Mandalorian people, but it was clear he didn't understand her culture or values at all. If there was one thing that defined a Mandalorian warrior, it was pride. Even in her shame as one of the Death's Watch, she had not chosen to forsake her heritage and leave the clans altogether, she held true to her faith and beliefs and wanted more than anything else acceptance from her old friends and family. Earning that in death was often seen as a last resort, but one that the Glory Bound took seriously. <"And the cruelty of the Sith emerges. Do you seriously expect me to just surrender to the likes of you? If you truly knew us, knew our lives, our culture, you would not disrespect me with these offers of false surrender. You just don't get it, and you may never. But maybe I can help things along."> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Exodus)) As Corran slowly approached Vadmir, he noticed the younger soldier slightly shaking, completely transfixed on something. What? A fleet of Star Destroyers in the distance? Some terrible war machine? Corran began to circle to his side in his approach, scanning the horizon but seeing nothing. Something began to churn in Corran's stomach, though, a bad feeling he couldn't kick. It was when his gaze turned back to the younger warrior he finally saw him, and his stomach dropped. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Delta)) There may have been some realization, some dilation of the pupils behind his helmet as Rina dropped down to a crouch, recoiling her legs to hurl herself at the nearest Ishi Tib marine, sending them both sailing towards the exact spot she'd aimed for. Behind his cover, watching things, Remar's stomach sank. He had silently hoped and prayed, but oftentimes gods simply just don't give you what you ask for. He watched her fall, the memory etching itself into his mind in slow motion as he knew this was the end. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Exodus)) Spast! Where had this one come from? Corran's reflexes shot through him like lightning seeking ground, immediately going for his blaster, his actions noticed by several of the rest at the card table. This was it. This was where it all came together or fell apart, and as the strings of fate began to unravel with every microsecond it became clearer they were headed for the latter. They were proud warriors, sure, but this was war, and war is ugly. As Corran inhaled deep, in the very recesses of his subconscious there was a small voice softly telling him they were in for a reminder of just how ugly things would get. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Delta)) As Rina fell, she made it a point to keep her eyes on the Sith commander. She wasn't sure why...pride, defiance, these were to be expected. However, she also felt regret. Things could have been different. In another universe, they could have been different people. Friends, even. But war and fighting were inevitable, the results of biological nature and games of kings and kingdoms. People died every day. Few truly lived, and fewer still found redemption in their death. Rina had claim to both. As they landed square on the tripwire, an enormous explosion rocked both of them, shredding both of them almost instantly. There was a feeling of blinding pain and then...nothing. For the rest, however, the gates of hell had opened. Shrapnel from the blast tore towards several other unprotected soldiers, and the three hidden Mandalorians burst from their hiding places, lighting up targets of opportunity with heavy repeating blaster fire, two grenades from Remar, and blaster fire. The element of surprise was thin, but they would use it until they failed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ((Exodus)) Corran yelled a general alarm, causing the rest to scramble for battle positions. Two or three Mandalorians stopped as they saw the man outside the shield, not realizing who he was. Corran was smart enough to understand this man was a Sith, an individual who represented incredible danger by themselves, but the other greenhorns began to question his warning. Slowly, Vadmir turned, taking off his helmet, revealing a face that was red from tears and anxiety. The very act unnerved his brothers, as freely removing one's helmet was tantamount to sacrilege among their people. His voice was soft, but they all heard it. "We're all dead anyways." It was only then that they noticed the thermal detonator he'd been holding, as he made a beeline sprint for the shield emitters. He would give his brothers their honor back. This was the way. The only way. The detonation rocked the cavern with a bass thud, the confined nuclear blast completely atomizing Vadmir and most of the emitter array, immediately causing the shields to fail. And for the rest of the Mandalorians, the gates of hell opened. War was ugly. And it was long past due for it to rear its ugly head.
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  45. As he was relieved of his roles and responsibilities, a heaviness lifted from his shoulders and he could breath a little easier. However, this still looked back on Adenna as well. He nodded in acknowledgement of Adenna's orders and agreeing to her suggestion of a Imperial Knight scan of his aura, dismissing himself from the meeting moments after Sandy had left. Leaning on his cane as he walked, he left the room all-together. One mistake was all it took, apparently. He visited Nel'Pi briefly, neither of them was in a talkative mood so it was back to the hanger for him. Making all the necessary copies and briefings Master Hazgel would need for his tenure as the War Master. As soon as all that was done, he purged his local copy of the records so there wasn't anything that could be said of him tampering with files that he no longer had a right to. The hanger bay was quiet, save for the emitters and their gentle humming tone. His ship was empty, save for the PIT Droids, who he stripped of their personality subroutines again. Unsettling. He thought, and left to go down towards the armory- to an open area where he could properly meditate. Since everyone was in the medical wing of the ship- or taking care of the wounded; He felt a sense of guilt for not being there himself, but he needed to take care of his mental state right now- or as best he could, while on a ship. While en route, the shape of a trandosian came into his field of vision- but before it could solidify, it was blown away by some unfelt wind. He didn't want to deal with Sabatin's ghost anyways. When he exited the turbolift- there was Master Maris, but no words were exchanged. Maris bowed, and Tobias nodded his head back to him, then walked right by him. Maris's hurt could be felt through the Force, but onward Tobias walked- into the armory, into one of the firing ranges, activated the training drones and watched them take to the air and hiss around. Walking into the center of them, several things happened at once- his lightsaber sparked to life, training bolts erupted from the emitters on the drones, and the lights went out. And so began his first round of meditation. There was no anger, no sorrow in his aura- there was regret and frustration, but nothing that wasn't in check or could be exercised out. Nothing would linger, other than his long-term mission here- that determination he would keep.
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  46. I thought this site was dead... left... again... well, let's see if people are still around. ^^; xXx It took him a full half hour longer to reach his racing circuit that night, but between his memories of sneaking out from his previous life and the 3D map he'd downloaded onto his data pad earlier that day, he managed to successfully find a new route. Bleersh immediately informed Anakin that it would be a slow night, and the assembled competitors were scheduled to only race twice. After some internal debate, Anakin decided to lose one of the races (despite it grating on him to do so purposefully) so as to draw a little less attention to himself. The first race had more money involved, so he won that one and lost the second. Bleersh, thankfully, didn't say anything to him other than his usual spiel about the cred chip. Anakin left by a different exit and made sure that his route back to the Temple was hidden, difficult to follow and full of small exit points he could use that other, larger beings would find difficult to exploit. Unfortunately that meant he had to resort to crawling through vents again. He muttered dryly to himself as he moved back through the buildings towards the Jedi Temple that he would know the Courscanti ventilation system better than any droid in existence by the time he reached his sixteenth birthday if this kept up. Fortunately, he got a decent amount of sleep that night and went through his classes the next day in a surprisingly good mood. It took him a few hours to realize and analyze his frame of mind. It couldn't be the racing the night before, he concluded; while winning the one circuit had brought on his usual elation, the loss had soured the whole evening. Despite this, he felt...calm and light, as if a weight had been lifted from his soul, and couldn't attribute it to anything other than his supposed 'therapy' session. He wasn't sure what surprised him more, the fact that his session with the mind-healer had actually helped, or the fact that the difference in his life was so significant that he had actually noticed it. If Healer Girth's sessions would do this to him every time, he would have few problems going back to see him. His group of fellow initiates seemed to enjoy his newly brightened mood, although he could tell that they also found it a bit strange. Still, their reaction to this change was to be even more sociable than normal, but, to his surprise, their actions (which would normally have him repeating a mantra in his head about how he had changed and did not use the Dark Side to crush windpipes anymore) hardly bothered him at all. The end of the second day after Girth's confrontation would have normally ended in a session with Master Xio, but he had asked that they reschedule as soon as he'd gotten his message from Dooku. She had complied to his request that they postpone for a day with some hesitation. Still, he'd been able to convince her (with the excuse of homework) and was then able to focus on his upcoming meeting with the former Jedi Master. He couldn't be more glad that his machinations would give him plenty of time to sneak out of the Temple and finalize preparations for the evening. Meeting with Dooku again would be tricky, but he hadn't been a General in a war or a Dark Lord and second in command of a Galactic Empire for nothing. It had been a while since he'd been required (or able) to go anywhere incognito, and sneaking around was never his style, but that didn't mean he couldn't do it. He couldn't draw attention to himself at the moment, no matter how he wanted to just go in swinging his lightsaber. Not to mention that killing or even purposefully hurting anyone (even Palpatine's bounty hunters) at the moment was something he wanted to avoid. Sith tended to go out of their way to kill and torture and as Vader, the practice had been a rather effective, if perverse, way of relieving stress (at least to begin with, it had lost its potency and become a simple habit after a while). He didn't like the idea of falling back into the pattern. It would make any fall back to the Dark Side that much easier. The sun had almost sunk to the horizon when he slipped out of the Jedi Temple and made for his rented storage shed. It didn't take him too long to collect his mechanical limb extensions. He had made sure to clean them previously and so needed little preparation other than to place them gently into the large shoulder-bag he'd had the foresight to bring. He'd also brought his lightsaber just in case, although he knew igniting it when in a disguise he could only barely run in would allow him to do little more than deflect a few shots and cut through inanimate objects, but that was better than nothing. He made a note to try and learn to wield his saber while in disguise. He'd probably only be able to get some basics down, but it would be better than nothing and it would reinforce the story he'd told Dooku. He'd sneaked out the night before to do some reconnaissance, and now he couldn't help but be glad that he'd been paranoid enough to over-prepare. Dooku had given a time in his message and Anakin had been thankful that he hadn't asked to meet during the day. Getting away would have been far more difficult in that case, and he hadn't given the man any sort of alias he was comfortable with posting on the holoweb to affirm or deny that he could make it to the meeting. The first thing he did after picking up his disguise was travel to and check his planned escape route, scanning for and dismantling any cameras at the necessary points. He left the bag and his lightsaber hidden, grabbed a pre-written note on a folded piece of flimsy and set off towards the intended meeting place in civilian clothes. As he did his best to trod along like any other, carefree child in the universe he found, not for the first time, that he felt immensely grateful for the fact that he didn't have a padawan haircut. He would have had to invest in a wig or two in that case. Actually, he may want to do so anyway as it would give him options if he had to do this again in the future (likely). He filed the thought away as something he would consider at a later date. It only took him a few minutes to get to the proper street. First, he glanced around and opened himself to the Force. It would be difficult to locate anyone in the crowded street, but they had to have a few lookouts in place. It took him longer than he cared to admit, but eventually he found three people in the vicinity located at strategic places above and below the walkway who were giving off a cold anticipation. Whether they were all bounty hunters or assassins waiting for him was irrelevant as he would need to avoid them anyway. With a nod he turned and walked with a now purposeful pace, pausing to consider a few restaurants, as if searching for something. When he reached the correct restaurant, he allowed himself to smile in triumph and rushed inside, bypassing the waiting customers with little thought for them. It wasn't a high-class diner, but it was respectable enough and seemed to be doing rather well that night at least. "Excuse me," he said to the young, probably under-paid host behind a podium. The youth looked down at Anakin with an expression of annoyed confusion, but to his credit, he still responded politely. "What can I do for you?" "I'm here to meet a Mr. Dooku," he said confidently. The host eyed him skeptically for a moment before shrugging. "This way," he said and lead Anakin through the maze of full tables towards a more private area in the back. Once they approached, he saw the Count sitting with a calm air of disinterest as he fingered a glass of wine on the table in front of him. It didn't look like the drink had been touched. Anakin refused to allow any expression but excited anxiousness onto his face as he and the host approached the table. After a moment, Dooku glanced up. His eyes brushed over Anakin for just a moment and he frowned in confusion before he turned his attention to the older boy. "Yes?" he asked. "I believe the other member of your party has arrived," the restaurant host replied. Dooku's frown deepened. "There must be a mistake," he started, but Anakin cut in before he could go on. "He said you'd say that." The Count turned narrowed eyes back to Anakin, probably disapproving of his lack of respect. "Who did?" "Mr. Lars. He gave me a lot of credits to give you this," Anakin said with a wide grin as he held up the note. Dooku didn't move to take it for a moment and Anakin took the opportunity to glance at the wine glass and then back at Dooku. "He said you may want to finish your dinner first though." It would draw less attention if the Count stayed to eat and the Bounty Hunters thought 'Luke Lars' was just delayed. The frown didn't completely leave the Count's face, but the disapproval was replaced with a wary curiosity as he finally reached forward and took the flimsy. Both of the boys watched in silence as Dooku read the note. It informed him that he was being followed and then it had a small, printed map at the bottom that would lead him where he needed to go. For the man's peace of mind, the route went through public roads. It would be up to Dooku as to whether he should follow Anakin after he reached the end of the map, but it was about the best Anakin could come up with with his limited assets in two days. After a moment, the Count re-folded the flimsy and stuck it in his breast pocket before looking up and nodding. "Thank you, young man," he said to Anakin and then turned his gaze back to the host. "Please inform my waitress that I will order now." "Of course," the host said with a respectful nod. "Will he be joining you?" Anakin realized the young man must be referring to him, but he didn't speak. "No, that will be all," Dooku said dismissively. "Yes, sir," the host said again before turning to Anakin. "Allow me to show you the way out." "Okay, thanks!" Anakin put in as much exuberance as he could into his words as he followed the youth back through the restaurant. Now he just had to kill an hour or so. He wondered for a moment when he got onto the walkway outside the restaurant where he should go now. He didn't want to head directly back to the meeting place where he would be waiting for Dooku as the bounty hunters had probably already marked him. If they were watching him, they would be expecting a child who had just gotten a good amount of extra credits, and he had to convince them. He noted a street stall selling some candies and figured that would be a good place to start. He'd always enjoyed sweets as a child, but hadn't gotten them much in the Temple. Eventually the lack of sugar had tempered his taste for sweet things, but he could handle a few treats and perhaps some confections. Not three stores down he could see a sign for a bakery. Nodding excitedly, he ran up to the short line in front of the street vendor and made sure he looked impatient as he waited, shifting back and forth from foot to foot. When he reached the front of the line, he bought something cold and sugary that he thought a child might like. Then he sauntered down the street towards the bakery where he got several sweet rolls and a few other desserts. Then he sat down at the small selection of tables in the bakery to eat and figure out where he should go next. What else did children like? Toys? Yes, toys. That would be acceptable. This area of Courscant dealt mostly with food, but he knew of an entrance to a mall not too far away. It wouldn't be difficult to lose any tails he had in there and double back. Nodding to himself, he finished his current roll before hopping down from the chair and rushing out and into the crowd. A little over half an hour later, after giving the almost full bag of sweets to a random child that had looked down on their luck, he dug his pack out from its hiding place under the stairway where he'd hidden it and quickly strapped his disguise on. Then he stretched out with the Force and waited for Dooku to come. xXx Dooku knew that he'd been tagged and followed since he'd landed on Courscant. He was a Count and a former Jedi. It wasn't exactly unheard of for people to watch high-profile parties such as himself. And if Luke was right and Palpatine was the Sith, he would have expected the man to hire people to watch him. It wasn't anything he couldn't put up with and they hadn't approached him, so he had let them be as well. He hadn't known who they were working for after all, and as long as they didn't do anything, he didn't care. Or he hadn't before he'd gotten the note from a certain former Sith. Your tails are bounty hunters sent by him. They attacked me last time and are likely to do so again if I am seen. If you still wish to meet, follow the map below. LL The logical part of him suspected a trap, but his Force senses remained still. The Force wasn't any more clouded than normal, so he kept his lightsaber handy and followed the map. He only had to check it once or twice before putting it in a pocket and leaving it there. He still had his tails, but the note didn't say anything about losing them, so Dooku figured Luke would take care of it. He frowned at that thought. He'd learned the personal name of the being first, not the surname the child had used (if that was his real name) and so continued to think of the being as 'Luke', but it rubbed him wrong. He wasn't familiar with the former Sith and at the moment, he didn't particularly want to be. He made a mental note to start thinking of the being as 'Lars' instead. Even if it wasn't his real name, it felt better, less personal. He wondered why Luke would introduce himself by only a personal name. Dooku scoffed. It was probably because that name was a fake as well. He'd researched anyone by the name of 'Luke' but there had been hundreds of thousands across the galaxy. Of those, there had been thousands of reported child disappearances (because Sith tended to take children as apprentices so he figured that would narrow down the search results) by that name throughout the Republic as well. He hadn't cared for the statistics both because he had no idea where to begin looking among those results and the fact that there had been so many children... Ahead, he saw his destination and brought himself back to the present. He'd never really let his guard down, but if this was a trap, he'd have to have all of his facilities with him to overcome it. Down a side-street of sorts stood a doorway in an otherwise blank, durocreet wall. It had an electronic lock that required an access code, but Lars had provided that information along with the map. He calmly walked up to the door, entered the code and strode inside, closing the door behind him immediately. "This way," a mechanical voice in the dark almost made Dooku jump. Almost. He hadn't sensed anyone, but now he could see Luke Lars standing at the end of the hall in a turbo lift. "That is terribly convenient for an ambush," Dooku pointed out. Lars didn't say anything for just a moment. Then he spoke again, sounding a little frustrated. "You could have walked into an ambush the moment you stepped through the door. They will be here soon. And I will not be caught." "Why not simply dispense of them?" After all, wasn't that usually what Sith did? Of course, this being wasn't a Sith anymore, so perhaps he wanted to avoid it? "Palpatine undoubtedly has some form of mobile recording or transmitting device on one or all of them. I do not wish to give any of my skills away." It was weak, and Dooku knew it, but he also sensed the real reason had far deeper implications, possibly ones Lars himself was still coming to terms with. It was a sense he got through the Force (because he simply didn't know the other being well enough to get that feeling otherwise). "Very well," Dooku said with a nod. It had been a while since he'd taken a real risk anyway. He wondered what was making him feel so...reckless and (dare he think it) trusting of a former Sith. Jogging down the hallway, he rushed into the lift. Lars pushed the 'closed' button and the floor dropped. Dooku turned towards his companion to ask a question when he noticed that Lars had something in his hand and it was pointed in his direction. "Is that a scanner?" "They may have tagged you." Dooku frowned. Just how amateurish did this being think he was? A beeping from the instrument had him blinking down at the device in surprise. "How?" he asked incredulously. Lars seemed grim. "No matter how good you are, someone is better. There are also such things as lucky shots." "I do not believe in the idea of 'luck'. It is the will of the Force." Lars seemed to study him for a minute before he spoke up. "Have you ever considered that perhaps that there are other unseen forces at work besides the Force? That luck is a byproduct of those forces and the Force agreeing? Or at least not disagreeing, perhaps?" Dooku raised an eyebrow as Lars ran the scanner over his body and stopped at the bottom of the half-cape he wore. Dooku examined the hem as he thought over Lars' question. He was annoyed at himself and his stalkers when he did indeed find a small device. After a few moments, Lars held his hand out, silently asking for the bug. "When you say 'other forces', do you mean a God or another omnipotent being?" Dooku finally asked. The being shrugged his shoulders, studying the transmitter Dooku had handed over. He didn't speak for several seconds and Dooku let it go as he didn't want to start a conversation in a lift ride that would probably end soon (although he'd continue it if Lars decided to humor him). He had begun to wonder exactly how far down the former Sith was planning on letting the lift go. "I wouldn't profess to know," Lars finally answered. "But I do not think the Force is all there is, it is only the most obvious transcendent entity." Dooku cocked his head. "Are you suggesting that the Force is indeed sentient?" He'd heard the suggestion before, but few Jedi accepted the theory as truth. It was actually a rather entertaining debate subject for some of the padawan classes. Lars looked up and didn't answer for a moment. Then he held up the little device. "It's just a tracker, not a listening device and it seems to be the only one they were able to get onto you. It could prove to be useful in misleading them." The Count didn't say anything, refusing to acknowledge Lars' lack of answer. Before he could say anything, though, the former Sith pressed the 'stop' button on the lift and hurried out of the doors when the turbolift halted at the next floor. Dooku followed him into the hallway of what looked like a floor full of old offices. The door closed behind them and Dooku noticed Lars wave his hand. Not twenty seconds after they exited the lift, it continued on its descent without them. The floor they had stopped on held many old but secure offices of various kinds. Dooku could see a worn dental sign hanging from a front desk through the large, transparent windows of a darkened waiting room. From what he could tell, many of the other doors lead to similar businesses. "And what, pray tell, would you recommend now?" Dooku heard himself ask dryly. "I would say we have a few minutes at most before they realize what happened." "Would you be averse to climbing stairs at an accelerated pace?" Lars asked, and Dooku could hear a dry but rueful grin in the distorted voice. Before the Count could answer, Lars had turned to hurry down a hallway. They quickly found the old, drab staircase and used Force-aided leaps to jump several steps at a time. In only a few minutes, they had reached an upper-mid-level where Anakin knew they could hail an air taxi. And that is exactly what he wanted their pursuers to think had happened. Instead of rushing outside, though, he ran into the correct hall, entered the code to a portal immediately to their left, and stepped inside the darkened doorway as it opened. Once the Count had followed him, he turned around and locked the door before taking out an electric light source and activating it. Dooku looked around, surprised and a little impressed. "Droid maintenance tunnels?" He could practically feel the other's smirk of amusement. "Yes. Many people forget that these hallways exist. Once inside, there is little to no security and I have scoured this area already for cameras or bugs of any kind. We can safely talk here." "Impressive." "Simply well planned." "And what would have happened had we met one of my followers while ascending the stairs?" "I would have incapacitated him before he could communicate with the others." Dooku shook his head. "It is rarely that easy." Lars nodded. "I know. I am used to...improvising." "I see." "This way, Count," Lars said after a slight pause as he turned and started down the tunnel. "Droid tunnels rarely have access to other levels, but I do not wish to chance that they will somehow find that door and open it." He gestured with his masked head towards the portal they had just entered through. "Still paranoid, I see," Dooku couldn't help but comment wryly. Lars shrugged. "I am alive." Dooku conceded the point and followed the other man deeper through the long, metallic hallway lined with machinery and droid ports, many of which were full of recharging units. Finally they reached what looked like a room to store old droids and spare parts. Skeletons and half assembled robots had been shoved into corners and the whole room looked utterly filthy between the grease and the dust that lined the edges of the box-like room, where no droid or human had recently stirred it up. Still, Dooku found himself a fairly clean crate and took a seat. Lars did the same after dragging one forward. "Now, Count, you wished to speak to me? Have you found any evidence to corroborate my claim?" At this the former Jedi frowned. "No. Nothing definite in any case. The search remains as difficult as ever. I fear I cannot justify or disprove your theory without approaching the man himself." The other being's fists tightened with a creak of metal. "I see." "I believed you implied that acting at this moment would be detrimental and I wanted to hear your reasoning." He didn't have to be Force-sensitive to know Lars had frowned. "If you acted now, what would you do?" Dooku was finding that his patience for Lars' tendency to answer inquiries with a question of his own waring very thin, especially since he'd already answered this one. "As I said before," he said, proud that he couldn't keep only the barest tightness from his voice, "I would take your information to the Council or before the Senate." "You also pointed out that you need proof, and neither you nor I have any." "You could testify." The being scoffed. "Please. It would be my word against his. Who do you think the rest of the Senate would believe?" "Then I would confront him." "No!" Lars said loudly, startling Dooku with his insistence. After a moment, he seemed to calm down as he shook his head and slumped a little. "You don't understand. Confronting him would only be playing into his hands." "Then we spring the trap," the Count responded firmly. For some reason that seemed to cause Lars to pause and study Dooku fervently. "You disagree?" the former Jedi finally said, once again keeping his feelings of irritation and annoyance out of his voice and off of his face by sheer will alone. Lars must have heard it anyway. "Forgive me. You just reminded me of someone for a moment. "Yes, I do disagree. Palpatine is an agent of darkness. He can twist one's mind almost as easily as the Dark Side itself can. He does his research well and he has a dozen contingency plans in place at any given moment. He is also a master of adapting to new situations. We would be hard pressed to come across a more dangerous man. Simply waltzing into a situation contrived by him unprepared is suicide...in more ways than you can know." Oh? And just what kinds of suicide was Lars afraid of? Physical? No. Social? Doubtful. Mental? Probably, although Dooku still couldn't imagine one man, no matter how powerful, being able to do such a thing to him—a former Jedi Master. Besides, unlike Lars, apparently, Dooku did not consider himself a coward, and if he had to die to bring peace to the Galaxy, then so be it. He had given himself to that cause long ago and Jedi or not, he was not about to change that now. "Are you suggesting we sit by and do nothing?" Lars let out a sigh, something that sounded quite strange and raspy through the voice modulator. "I am simply suggesting we continue to try and gather information on him and then wait for the opportune moment to strike." Dooku shook his head. "I have still found no evidence to indicate that Senator Palpatine is Darth Sidious. I am taking you at your word for all of this. How am I to know you aren't simply misleading me?" And that was what it boiled down to. Dooku was willing to wait for just about anything if he had sure, reliable knowledge about something. He didn't exactly have that assurance here. "Do you have any other leads?" Lars asked with only the barest touch of heat to his voice. Dooku frowned. That was apparently all the answer Lars needed because he nodded, and when he spoke again, he did so more quietly. "You are frustrated because you gave up the Jedi Order for this. I understand more than you know. Believe me when I say, I want to take him down just as badly as you do." "Why?" Lars seemed taken aback by Dooku's question. "What?" "Why do you wish to 'take him down' as you so put it?" Dooku asked nonchalantly, hiding his darker suspicions. "I hear murder is the way to advance in the Sith Order." It seemed to take the other being a moment to realize what Dooku had implied, but when he did he responded with venom. "I don't want his position. As far as I am concerned, we should happily and completely dispose of anything to do with the Sith Order; eradicate the stain from our midst. All holocrons, all artifacts and all but the least detailed of records. "Why would I wish to be rid of him? Disregarding the fact that he ruined my life? Or that he kept me mentally chained for decades? Or that he lied, stole, and manipulated his way into power? Or perhaps you are looking for the acknowledgment that under his rule, billions upon billions of sentients will die and whole planets will be destroyed?" "Quite the impassioned speech," Dooku responded. "But it could still be an act." Lars clenched his fists. Actually, he had put Dooku's fears to rest at least temporarily, but he didn't need to know that. It gave the Count a little more control over the situation. "If you cannot trust my information, then what are we doing here?" Dooku suppressed a slight smile. At least he knew he could get to the being if necessary. He leaned forward on the crate and regarded Luke Lars with a calculating expression. "I wanted to ask you why." "Why what?" Lars asked slowly and, by the sounds of it, through gritted teeth. "Supposing your story is true and your information correct, why did you come with this information to me? I am, after all, a friend of the Senator's, and would probably take his side. Or did you hope to gain an inside ally so to speak? Or is there another reason?" Lars didn't speak for several minutes, mulling over the question. He seemed to have relaxed, and Dooku had little doubt that the being would answer him truthfully. "I came to you because I did not think the Jedi would believe me," he finally said. "You broke away from the order because you disagreed with them on a fundamental level, from what I understand, so I hoped that you would at least hear me out." Dooku raised one eyebrow. "What did you think the Jedi would do to you if you went to them?" Lars scoffed and shook his head. "Besides lock me in the lowest bowels of the Jedi Temple? They would probably have me treated for insanity and they would dismiss my claims completely, believing that they, in all their self-righteousness, could never have missed such an obvious person being the Sith Lord." Truthfully, Dooku had to admit to himself that Lars wasn't wholly wrong. "Very well," he said after a moment. "I have one more question, although it could be classified as more of a speculation. The hints and clues I had found previous to your contacting me seemed to be geared specifically towards me. I believe Sidious was targeting me personally. Would you know why that is?" He could practically feel the other sentience's eyes on him, staring at him incredulously. "Have you honestly not figured that out?" Dooku did have some suspicions, but he didn't particularly like to think about them. He'd been hoping Lars could give him another reason, something he'd missed... "He is looking for an apprentice," the Lars finally said. Dooku managed to hide his wince at the other being's words. "Then he is looking in the wrong place," Dooku replied stonily. "I may not be a Jedi anymore, but I will not turn to the Dark Side and I will never be a Sith." If the Sith were supposed to take over the universe as he suspected, then they would have to do so without Dooku's help. Depending on how they were to act, he may not hinder them, but he would not outright side with them. Ever. To his surprise, Lars just laughed mirthlessly. "Do you find my words amusing?" Dooku asked, somewhat incensed. "Only in the fact that I said practically those exact words on multiple occasions," the being said sadly. His tone was not confrontational in the slightest, instead having a sort of sad wistfulness. Dooku couldn't help but deflate. "In the right circumstances, he could probably turn just about anyone," Lars continued with another shake of his head. "If you do end up meeting him as Sidious, well, I hope he doesn't ensnare you as easily as he did me." Dooku wasn't sure whether to feel defensive at the other being's lack of faith in him or worried at the absolute certainty that Palpatine, as Sidious, would succeed in turning Dooku. It was a sobering (and rather worrying) thought. "On another note, I don't think we will be able to meet on a regular basis," Lars said, leaning back on his crate, "but I believe I would like to try and meet fairly often. I have to admit, I do not often get the opportunity for a good debate and you seem to like taking the stance of the devil's advocate." Ah, so Lars knew that half of what Dooku had brought up had been to simply draw out an opinion from the former Sith. Still, the Count saw the invitation for what it really was: A chance to disillusion Dooku to the Dark Side even more than he already was. Lars was worried he would fall. He felt a flame of annoyance at that, but after a moment's debate, decided to push such useless feelings aside and take the offer. If nothing else, it would make his life here on Courscant more interesting. "Very well," he said with a nod and leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees as he spoke. He had every intention of squeezing as much information out of Lars as he possibly could, and this was a golden opportunity. Force, Lars was practically inviting him to ask about his background, but he figured he would start with something a little more straight forward. "Why do you think all evidence of the Sith should be destroyed? After all, any sentient who does not know their own history is doomed to repeat it." They debated about many different subjects for the next hour, at which time Lars informed Dooku that he needed to leave. They set up a holoweb site and a basic code that would allow them to contact the other if necessary. They then set up a restaurant where Dooku would meet whichever messenger Lars would send and parted ways. Dooku found a turbo lift to take him to a higher floor where he could catch an air taxi as he was more than ready to go back to his hotel room and sleep. He didn't see Lars slip back into the maintenance area. If he would have and if he would have followed him, he may have seen him take off his mechanical limbs, stuff them in a bag and enter the ventilation system with an annoyed mutter. END CHAPTER Notes: A/N: Many, MANY people have said that Dooku's first name is 'Yan', but I have yet to be able to substantiate the claim in any book or published canon. As such, Dooku will continue to be simply 'Dooku' or 'Count Dooku'. It will be his whole name, similar to Yoda or (more appropriately) 'Queen Elizabeth' (okay, I'll bet that someone knows her last name, but I sure didn't off the top of my head). Oh, and I got a note from a rather dedicated reader that they were reading this story without knowing that it is indeed a sequel to my other story 'Hindsight is not Perfect'. This tends to make a LOT more sense if you've read that one first. It's only 11 chapters and a short epilogue, so if you haven't read it, you may want to. ^^; I also want to point out that most ventilation systems really AREN'T big enough for people to crawl through. However, on Courscant they have extremely large, exuberant buildings that have been in circulation for decades if not centuries. For people to get the ventilation necessary for even somewhat comfortable living, I can't see the systems having main tubes that Anakin could crawl through at his current size fairly easily. Let me know what you think, good, bad or otherwise! :)
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  47. Sith Assassin Guide What are Sith assassins? Assassins practice a blend of stealth, social, and mental powers to further the goals of the Sith from the shadows. Whether an assassin focuses on being an invisible killer, masterminding great political schemes, or driving their enemies mad through mental manipulation is up to the player. Assassins are also not limited to those archetypes, and this guide is more of a tool for inspiration and establishing themes than creating hard and fast rules or immutable character templates. In more tactical/gamified terms, assassins tend to be lightly armored strikers and debuffers that kill through precision and exploiting vulnerabilities, and survive through speed and misdirection. Veteran players will be available and willing to mentor new writers that want to improve their craft, but assassins are generally recommended for experienced writers. Our current lead assassin is the Dark Lord Exodus. Key concepts: Fluidity, misdirection, agility, adaptation, stealth, speed, power of perception, poison, mind games, multiple approaches, illusions, unexpected movement, invasive Assassins and recurring themes Politicking: While warriors and sorcerers incidentally gain political power as they pursue their endeavors, assassins often actively seek political power. This unfortunately makes other Sith quick to question whether an assassin deserves the position they occupy, especially when it comes to Sith lords, but by the time an assassin reaches master rank they are generally regarded as proven. While there absolutely are assassins whose ambitions exceed their capabilities, it is worth noting that assassins also have the most training and natural aptitude for leadership roles. From an assassin’s perspective, they are the best suited to leadership, focusing on the larger picture, and are simply doing what is best for the Sith. Alternatively, an assassin may find a skilled warrior or sorcerer that lacks political savvy and offer to serve as council and emissary. In this way an assassin can advance themself through the rise of their ally while largely remaining in the shadows. These situations can be mutually beneficial as long as both Sith understand and respect the power dynamics and roles involved. Mortal ties and fake lives: Assassins are more likely than any other type of Sith to keep or develop ties with people and organizations outside of the order, both to accrue power and to keep their social skills sharp. Pretending to be able to relate to lesser beings is a skillset that requires practice and upkeep. Some assassins also develop ties to serve as emotional fuel for their powers, or because the Dark Side makes using people for pleasure and personal gain so easy. Rarely, Sith will seek out lovers, family, or friends from their lives before the Sith order, but that often ends in tragedy. Some Sith will maintain a family mimicking the motions others go through in advancing politically and professionally. Spouses in these arrangements are almost always either highly independent and occupied with their own lives, or so susceptible to mind tricks that their daily lives are almost like waking dreams of whatever patchwork false reality the Sith wishes to give them. Often these marriages and their offspring are treated as afterthoughts, unless any children possess Force potential, but some Sith cultivate them like gardens and compare them with other Sith in friendly competitions and wagers. Such games can quickly turn torturous or even deadly for the people caught in them. Mind games and control issues: Sith assassins have a penchant for (or some might say obsession with) mind games, controlling the information available to and perspectives of people around them. As self titled masters of manipulation, assassins always want to feel in control, even if that control is not direct. They want to feel like everyone is a piece on a board that they can move when the time comes, and when they can do so, they want people to know who is in charge. On their more benevolent days assassins want to be considered solution finders and match makers, but that’s just the opposite side of the same coin. When an assassin finds themself not in control of a situation, they tend to react in one of three ways, leaving the situation, hiding until they can understand the situation better, or doubling down on their skills of mind control and manipulation to force control over those around them, or at least the most susceptible person. Showmanship: Assassins don’t just focus on results, they focus on how they can multiply the effect of those results through performance. They make difficult feats look trivial, and mundane actions look flashy. There is music in their steps and poetry in their plans. For many, they embody power, desire, intrigue, and temptation. The assassins have a reputation to maintain, and they expend a great deal of energy doing so. Patience: More than the warriors or even the sorcerers, the assassins practice patience. Their games can play out over years or even mortal lifetimes. There is no bigger picture than the one that assassins focus on. This may make them seem indifferent to more immediate concerns and setbacks, but that’s only because they are. Powers Duelist’s cloak: An illusion power that focuses on concealing rather than deceiving, the duelist’s cloak let’s the assassin conceal his or her footwork and core stance behind a flowing illusionary robe that leaves them their full range of movement. Phantom step: When the assassin dodges or disengages, for a split second multiple illusionary instances diverge in probable directions and maneuvers to foil attempts to predict the assassin, lead shots, or score attacks of opportunity. OOC( I want to emphasize again the brevity of the illusion here to specify that this is not to create a mid duel shell game, rather just to increase survivability while disengaging an enemy.) Painful truths: The assassin uses illusionry to adopt the persona of someone known to the opponent, and speak with their voice. The goal of the power is not to deceive the opponent by adopting a false appearance (in fact the target often can intuitively detect the deception almost immediately), but rather to damage the enemy’s composure with uncomfortable truths and unspoken doubts. This power works best when the assassin either has been surveilling the target or has performed some sort of invasive mind reading attack. Mind pick: This power lets the assassin project the victim’s mindscape onto reality. While in use, reality, memory, and imagination bleed together to make an amalgam scenario where the assassin can attempt to call upon painful memories or hunt for information by trying to prompt the target to think about it. (Originally this was going to be an opposed romp through the target’s mind with both parties oblivious to real world events, but there was too much potential for other participants in battles to gank one person or the other mid mindscape duel, either trolling or as part of an underhanded one two punch combo. Instead it’s a blend of mindscape and reality to allow both participants the ability to react to events nearby.) Dreadful Morpheus: The assassin can deep dive into the mind of a sleeping or unconscious victim, devoting their full energies to exploring the depths of the dreamscape. While mind pick allows the user to peruse the surface of a target’s mind, dreadful morpheus allows the Assassin to actively dig for memories through neural pathways that connect thoughts and ideas, or to implant dreams into the victim’s psyche. Think of the connection between thoughts as like navigating wikipedia through links. The assassin must start somewhere unprotected, and outmaneuver the victim by approaching the information they need through an unexpected angle. With this power the assassin has a great deal of control over the dreamscape elements, similar to the monster from Stephen King’s It.(Since only the aggressor is making a gamble here with the other party already unconscious or asleep, I felt more comfortable with a deep dive here, rather than giving a player incap on demand.) Gale Blade: Less a distinct power and more a refined aspect of telekinesis, this skill lets the assassin affect the arc that a blade or other weapon travels in when thrown. This should not be treated as a homing attack, but rather the ability to throw around cover or in a manner that returns the blade to the hand without sacrificing lethal momentum. The assassin should already be visualizing the arc before the blade leaves his hand. Gale blade also preserves the momentum of a throw even after impact. Grasping Fetters: This simple ritual allows the assassin to treat a throwing weapon as the point of origin for telekinetic throws, holds, and pulls, allowing them to apply resistance from unexpected angles. Alternatively, the assassin can treat the weapon as sort of telekinetic grapple point to swing or redirect their movement with. Shadow Lash: The assassin relies on distraction and controlling the battlefield, and this application of illusion exemplifies their ability to strike unexpectedly at range. The lash that the Sith appears to conjure allows them to deliver painful strikes with considerable reach. While the pain is illusionary, that makes it no less vicious to the senses of anyone struck. A Sith Lord can create more complex illusions where the lash touches, especially if it entangles a limb or weapon. Flesh might bubble or become covered in cancerous lesions, or weapons may rust and crack, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Cloak of Lies: This illusion power allows the assassin to appear as someone that belongs in an area. It doesn’t replicate an existing person’s appearance, but rather just extrapolates an appearance of an appropriate look of a low key identity. For example, the Sith may look like a janitor, secretary, security guard, or office worker. The power doesn’t force people to believe that the Sith does in fact belong in the area (that’s the realm of a straight up mind trick), but it does lower the chances of people noticing them to begin with. This power works best in locations where staff or security are too numerous for everyone to know each other. Sudden Reversal: The assassin uses the Force to form an invisible barrier momentarily for them to springboard off of, allowing rapid changes in direction, aerial course correction, and otherwise impossible maneuvers like double jumps. This power can also be used to reduce falling impact by breaking the descent into multiple segments rather than a long fall. Sinister Brand: The assassin can mark a victim’s soul like ranchers brand cattle. The power is not a direct link, but rather an affliction of the spirit designed to be readily recognizable by the Sith that embedded it. Once a Sith has branded a person, it becomes significantly easier to pick them out in the Force. The more insight the assassin has into the person, the stronger the brand becomes, not only making them easier to track, but also metastasizing the darkness within. The weak willed find themselves becoming more ruled by their passions and less able to function with a clear and calm mind, eventually becoming slaves to impulse and their own dark desires. The iron willed (read PCs) won’t be dominated by the mark, but must wrestle with their own inner darkness more as the brand grows in power. It’s important to note that Sinister Brand does not appear as foreign or alien to non Sith that observe it, instead it appears to be someone losing control of their own demons. Empathic Delirium: The assassin unleashes a deluge of emotional energy onto the mind of a target, attempting to overwhelm the victim and throw them off balance in a fight or make irrational decisions while suffering from a state of severe emotional imbalance. The power can only project Dark Side related emotions like fear, jealousy, lust, and anger, and the more tone appropriate the emotion is, the more effective the power is. As with many other mental powers, understanding your target is key to getting the most out of this application. Toxic chemistry: This power allows the assassin to manipulate a victim’s response to fear and excitement. The neurochemistry of a sentient brain has the same trigger response for both, and the brain tries to file it afterwards according to various parameters. By adjusting those parameters, the assassin can seduce with terror and make the victim fear healthy attraction to others. OOC(This power is meant more for use on NPCs to recruit cultists and PCs that have consented for the purpose of storylines, as always, ship responsibly and remember to respect other players’ boundaries.) Lingering Doubts: A more subtle tool in the assassin’s mental arsenal, Lingering doubts allows the Sith to implant a thought, mental image, or short scenario into the victim’s mind, or tag a memory that the assassin knows of. Whichever route the assassin chooses, the power creates a small but nearly indelible mark in the victim’s psyche, causing the mental payload to be repeatedly brought to the surface of the mind. This is not a brute force mental attack, but rather the means to slowly make people question themselves or others, what they want, and who they are. Shadow Step: The assassin is adept at manipulating their weight and center of balance, allowing them to move silently and traverse over loose material like snow instead of through it. Particularly skilled practitioners can use this power to walk on the surface of fluid bodies. Storm Dash: With a powerful burst of TK energy, the assassin flings themself in a direction of their choosing. This power allows the assassin to change direction or misdirect opponents easily, but is more draining than sudden reversal. Death by Inches and Degrees: Originally a warrior’s application of the Force, Assassins who favored piercing weapons adapted this power with a more subtle approach. This power prevents a Sith from thrusting too deep into a target, using telekinetic control to stop the blade the moment a killing strike has been delivered. When engaging multiple targets, this is crucial in making sure the assassin is not hindered by having their blade too deep into the enemy. Nightmare Lurch: Through illusion and focused muscle control the assassin moves in disconcertingly unnatural and erratic ways. This can be used to both intimidate and to confuse opponents. Blood Echo: The assassin can cut themself and use the blood to broadcast a false ping of their presence in the Force. The range of this power is roughly twenty meters, and it pairs well with throwing knives. A Truth Amidst Ten Thousand Lies: The assassin floods the Force with thousands of potential strikes to conceal one attack that lacks any kind of Force guidance, making the attack both less accurate and less likely to be deflected by Force users. Punish the Weak: By probing through the Force, the assassin determines which opponent is most vulnerable to being overwhelmed quickly. This should not be treated as a variation of Shatterpoints, as it does not reveal how to strike or guide the attack, it’s simply sizing up opponents through preternatural abilities. ------------------------- A discussion on stealth and invisibility: I remember a while back watching a video on Force use that used the example that a Jedi could fly, but the strain of using that much Force for an extended amount of time made it impractical, especially when other forms of conveyance were readily available. I think a similar argument could be made for invisibility in that it is feasible but not practical for an assassin of any worth as they have powers and skills that let them operate at a lower baseline of Force use. During downtime a Sith may choose to indulge in invisibility in a place with enough supplemental Dark Side energy, such as a Sith temple or personal lair. Should the Sith decide to do this outside of their lair, they will forgo their Force senses and quickly become fatigued from extended use. Passing out while invisible means passing out without the aura of self that traditionally protects Force users, leaving the Sith vulnerable to Dark Side spirits. ------------------------- Poisons: Sith Poison is an oft mentioned aspect of the Sith arsenal, but its applications have been glossed over or used more as a justification for bringing Jedi to the Dark Side. Here are some alternative interpretations of side effects from poison as it spreads. Breathstealer: Swelling in the throat makes it difficult for the enemy to catch their breath, and impossible to do so quietly. Blinding Hypocrisy: This poison dilates the eyes to an extreme degree, making bright lights unbearable and even normal light sources difficult to look at. Trembling Doom: Micro spasms and muscle twitches course through the victim’s body, making fine motor control difficult. -------------------------- Forms of Control Political Office: Excepting times of overt Sith rule, assassins who hold power through politics are the most at risk for having their identities compromised, but the rewards for maintaining a public persona of power can be monumental. While we’re all familiar with the heights that Palpatine rose to through politics, even on a smaller scale the Sith can be afforded opportunities and tools of great value. I assume we’ve all seen the movies so this entry is more of an acknowledgement of the method than a complete overview. Cults: There are several avenues that Sith can use to establish cults and secure recruits, and while cults may not have the direct power of some of the other entries in this section, the inherent secrecy and zealous nature of cult members provide their own advantages. The recruitment process is made easier by the fact that Sith actually do have access to mystical powers, instead of just relying on charisma, subverted faith, and drugs. Furthermore, assassins can use the Force to erase memories and manipulate perceptions, allowing them to control the experiences that members have completely. The vast majority of Sith cults are cons to gain power and influence, but on rare occasions the cult leader might actually be a true believer. The Sith are indifferent to this as long as the cult serves its purpose, but players should keep rule 6 of the universal Force guide in mind if they go this route. It’s also a good idea to avoid the “everyone was a cultist the whole time!” trope. Some Sith dispense with pretense and simply form cults around their Sith personas, but these groups are used more to attend to ego than accomplish any secret objectives. The exception to this is power players who don’t want to admit that they’re in a cult and think that because they have lunch with Darth so and so they’re totally in the inner social circle of that Sith. They are not. But they are still useful. In terms of writing, it’s better to portray cultists as people that came from somewhere and were consumed by this hidden life rather than just faceless bodies that do whatever they’re told. Cultists should have their own internal logic for doing what they do, whether it’s seeking power of their own, wanting a sense of belonging to something larger, or even because they’ve been brainwashed by the Sith, but relaying that information gives depth. Celebrity: A Sith who uses celebrity wields an indirect and difficult to anticipate power. Celebrities have access to places and people that might otherwise be unreachable, and while they can’t directly control their fans, they can have a disproportionate effect on public opinion. Managing stardom’s never ending demands can be hellish for a Sith, but the money and fame can be intoxicating. Some Sith cheat and use mental control to attach themselves to a celebrity as part of their entourage or as a lover or agent, controlling a star from the shadows. This is a far more viable method for active Sith to utilize celebrity over the long term. The Devourers of Stars are a group of Sith assassins and body hoppers who offer a third option, abducting celebrities, taking over their lives, and then publicly burning out when their usefulness expires or a new celebrity catches their eye. Media: There are two different ways that assassins can exploit the media. The form most commonly associated with the Sith is the use of propaganda, whether in the form of defamation of enemies, propagating anti-xeno sentiment, glorifying Sith accomplishments, and vilifying enemy factions. Propaganda is rarely one hundred percent successful, but it doesn’t need to be as long as it convinces a suitable percentage of the masses. A more subtle approach involves Sith masquerading as investigative journalists to perform character assassinations with surgical precision. Even pillars of virtue can be twisted under the corrupting touch of an assassin, or at least convincingly made to look like a monster. Amusingly, if an assassin ever decides to take the role seriously, they’re actually quite capable Crime: Criminal organizations allow Sith to achieve their objectives through unexpected avenues, provide excellent financial resources, and generally don’t mind that they are working with evil space wizards should the subject arise. Many Sith cultivate ties with smaller criminal organizations or even local street gangs to act as muscle or perform simple but less than legal tasks. Some Sith even form their own criminal syndicates, after all, Sith powers are especially suited for crime. While such endeavors are more time intensive than a simple business relationship, the profits are notably sizeable. Alternatively, some crime lords have built significant empires before discovering that they were instinctively using the Dark Side to enhance their command. Business: Corporate and Sith psychology tend to go hand in hand, and the perception of Sith seemingly having limitless resources is fed largely by their mastery of the corporate sector. A Sith Lord can use the Force to manipulate deals, force acquisitions and mergers, and cause untimely deaths for rivals. Assassins that have mastered the Sith hive mind power can create soul crushing never ending crunch periods, causing mental breakdowns and collapses from physical exhaustion. -------------------------------- Lairs: A lair is many things to an assassin. It’s a temple to the self, where they go to recenter after a deep infiltration mission. It’s a walk in multi story closet where they perfect disguises and hand craft their looks. It’s a theater and a funhouse where the assassin can torment unassuming guests or impress their fellow Sith with displays of grandiose illusion. It’s a trophy room of their favorite kills and deceptions. It’s a workshop for designing concealed weapons and mixing deadly poisons. It’s a study for planning future missions and reviewing intel. It’s a powerful conductor attuned to the assassin’s soul. Lairs are meant for plot and not PvP (luring the enemy to your super secret nerve center is not a sustainable strategy). It’s a chance to explore the psyche of the character outside of their on mission personas and look at what matters to them. Lairs are too personal to be part of locations like major Sith temples or other areas with major through traffic. Sample Lairs A forgotten tenement in a rundown part of the city serves as a lair to an assassin who grew up in poverty and favors targets of wealth and hedonism. After he kills them, he binds them to one of the crumbling and rotten apartments to exist in squalor for eternity. An abandoned theater serves as a shared home for a close knit troupe of assassins who reenact their favorite kills on stage for friends and potential clients. Occasional squabbles between members turn the theater into a nightmarish phantasmal killing ground, but amends are made in time. A manor home that has outlived its foundations. Reluctant to lose such an important memory, the assassin has allowed a family to move in and renovate, completely unaware of the Sith’s presence. The family is now the Sith’s new chew toy. -------------------------------- Sith Assassin Fighting Styles (These are sample styles and by no means the end all be all of Sith assassin combat styles.) Treacherous Blade: This fighting style focuses on baiting, redirection, and punishing enemy attacks. To the untrained eye it may seem like a reactive style, but in truth the Sith is controlling the flow of the duel by feigning vulnerability and drawing out strikes. The style lends itself to parrying weapons and off hand strikes, along with limited special armor use on the hands and feet. While many techniques of the style can be used in full armor, true mastery requires freedom of movement, speed, and maximum awareness. Hidden Path: With so many Sith assassins using concealed weapons it was inevitable that a style would develop that catered to their usage. Hidden Path is a precision fighting style that achieves victory by systematically crippling the opponent. Depending on the weapon, Hidden Path will target joints, arteries, and pressure points until the enemy is unable to effectively retaliate and a killing blow can be struck. Poisonous Little Death: As the name suggests, this style focuses on poison usage, almost always as the opener. Rather than endeavor to deliver a killing blow, the intent is to distract the victim from getting help or otherwise neutralizing the poison, while also pushing the heart to beat faster and therefore spread the poison more quickly. The style is acrobatic and ostentatious, relying both on physical theatrics and illusion to harry and startle the victim into a state of reactionary panic. Spiral Ghost Dance: An evasive style that has the assassin perpetually engaging and disengaging to capitalize on advantageous moments and prevent the enemy from pressing any sort of attack. If the enemy is skilled in close quarters combat, the assassin keeps distance and distracts or throws off the the enemy’s balance with throwing knives or lanvarok disks, only closing when the enemy is overwhelmed. If the enemy is a ranged combatant then they are given no room to breathe as the assassin dogs them relentlessly. ------------------------------- Rituals and other diversions Rituals of youth and beauty: There are many variations that have been developed by the Sith over the years, but ultimately the general metaphysical mechanics are the same. The young and beautiful are sacrificed, or at least have their youth and beauty drained out of them to a crippling degree, and the vital energies are imbued to some medium that the Sith can apply or imbibe to absorb them. In terms of results, many consider it the most effective and undetectable. Sith who rely on it must be prepared to routinely invest time in performing the ritual, and increasing the number of sacrifices as they age. The greatest issue with this method however is the eventual development of a mental condition that makes the Sith begin to perceive flaws and imperfections in their appearance, despite no observable change to anyone around them. If pressed to explain what they think is wrong, they tend to be at a loss for words, desperately trying to grasp a way to communicate what they are seeing but usually falling back on words like “blight” and “rot”. This condition tends to manifest three to five years into using the ritual, and slowly worsens over time, although no actual perceivable deterioration occurs. Ritual of Tainted Perfection: An attempt to provide a solution to the creeping madness of the sacrificial rituals, this one concentrates Dark Side corruption into a single feature that becomes undeniably warped. The rest of the body ceases to change or age, other than to grow more fit and attractive with the accumulation of Dark Side energies, however the corrupted feature proportionately continues to worsen. Clawed fingertips may metastasize into arms covered in scales, black eyes might start weeping blood continuously, a serpentine tongue that constantly tastes the air might start imbuing words with an otherworldly tone. While many Sith consider it a worthy tradeoff or even relish in the reactions they get to their mutated appearances, their warped visages undeniably out them as Sith, which can be problematic for infiltrators. Sith who work wholly within the Sith Empire such as government officials benefit from propaganda portraying the mutations as noble sacrifices made in service to the Empire. Black Rite of Apoteras: If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is not any quest for supreme beauty flawed? Is it not better to sculpt perceptions than the body? Apoteras is about embracing one’s own monstrous nature and forcing people to love it, rather than trying to sculpt a perfect body through sorcery and lifestyle. Upon performing the rite, the Sith’s body rapidly transforms into a corrupted state of “otherness” that is alien and monstrous. Each transformation is unique, and unsettling to look at. Or it should be. The horrific underlying power of Apoteras makes its disturbing form inexplicably desirable to those that behold it. Witnesses are acutely aware of their revulsion for the Sith, but are overwhelmingly compelled to also desire it, as if driven by some sense of morbid curiosity turned unhealthy fixation. -------------------------------- Sith Assassin places of power The Broken Halls: A locus of Dark Side energy in a dilapidated castle overrun with phantoms and dessicated Undying who have outlived their usefulness. An intricately woven veil of illusion covers the grounds to make the denizens fair and delightful to look upon, and the decor and structure well maintained, but this illusion varies from most in that it is only visible to those skilled in the art. To the uninitiated, the Broken Halls is a desolate place of nightmares, wandered aimlessly by shriveled and gangly monstrosities. That is why the assassins come here to train in intrigue. A novice must learn to hide their reactions behind a pale mask of lies, to convincingly profess love to unspeakable horrors, to smile and make small talk with feculent courtiers who smell of offal and rot. The Theater of the Gods: An ancient fane located in a partially submerged cave network where primitives used to go to seek the wisdom of their divinities, researchers would later discover that the stories of mythical encounters were tied to a mixture of hallucinogenic mold spores, plants with mind altering effects in the water, and natural gases that bewilder the senses and steal away focus. While no mechanical lighting is installed in the fane, the molds and algaes in the caves are bioluminescent with a wide array of colors. The Sith have begun using the caves to practice mental warfare, learning how to cope with an uncooperative and deceitful mind of their own and also how to effectively alter the minds of others. There are a number of cenotes that connect to the cave system, and masters are known to toss apprentices down them to see if they can make it out from the deepest parts of the caves. Not all do, many dying due to starvation or the paranoid delusions of their peers. Some become the madness that they have consumed, learning to live in the caves in a state of permanent delirium, and becoming a serious hazard in their own right. The Impossible Labyrinth: Built to test the skill and determination of assassins through massive free for all brawls, this structure is a grand maze with overwhelming verticality set within a massive gyrosphere, allowing the whole structure to spin, tilt, or even invert itself at its master’s whim. Furthermore, the entire interior is kept pitch black. Its creator shares the video feeds with a select few, who watch its bloody proceedings for entertainment. Still Lake Manor: A strangely placid manor adjacent to a calm fog shrouded lake, the peaceful location certainly does not strike one as a Sith holding. Inside the manor the furniture is dated but of high quality and appears barely used. The servants are obedient and attentive, and the head butler will readily hand over keys to new guests that open any door in the manor save for a wing on permanent reserve for Luxia Ravelle. Still Lake Manor is largely seen as a token of favor given out by the Dark Lord to Sith that have earned his attention, and sometimes, it is exactly that. Other times, however, when a rival Sith’s star starts burning too brightly the Dark Lord sends a very special invitation to the would be challenger. At first glance, their treatment seems the same as any other guest’s. Over time however, they may start to notice holes in their recent memories, and that they drift off more easily than normal, but it’s easily explained by the sedated atmosphere and copious amounts of food and wine. Things unravel however as the periods of missed time grow from minutes to hours to days to months to years, until suddenly it’s decades that are unaccounted for. Time has passed, because if the Sith struggles they can remember random details from what otherwise seem like gaping holes in their memories, and they can be prompted to remember certain events, but what they can recall is limited. Eventually they fade away entirely, lost to old age and a catatonic mind. But it has only been a week or two. The Time Drinkers are a secret (even by Sith standards) group of assassins that report directly to the Dark Lord and possess a very specialized skill set focused on numbing and circumventing a Force user’s ability to detect threats and external manipulation. The initial blackouts are caused by sedatives delivered through whatever means are most likely to be consistent with the current Sith. Sometimes it’s food or drink, sometimes it’s skin contact. Sometimes it’s in the bed sheets or the freshly laundered clothes. During the blackouts false memories are implanted but buried deeply to make them seem distant and the incompleteness implies memory loss, and the Time Drinkers use illusion to appropriately age all of the staff for bouts of wakefulness. The staff seems familiar with the daily habits of the Sith because they put them there. Throughout the process, the dosage sizes increase until finally the Sith fades away. A perfect murder through stagnancy. Worldbuilding The Charybdian Hollows: Imagine beings so filled with vain self loathing and envy for the lives of others that they became singularities among a sea of stars. Drawing in light and sound, joy and warmth, the Charybdian Hollows spend most of their existence as featureless shades, faces distorted by reality’s inability to handle their non identity. While in this state, the hollow feeds on the world and the people around them, creating an aura of disquiet and suffocating ennui. Upon reaching a satisfactory level of satiation the hollow devours it all en masse, transforming from a desolate singularity to a brilliant star. Exuding powerful charisma and raw force of personality, the hollow explodes into the public eye, burning through their energy stores at breakneck speed. The high may only last a night, or at most a few days, but during that time the hollow is the life of the party, the center of attention, and the object of desire in the minds of everyone around them. The Godbeasts of Onderon: While the implications of Exodus’s seeding of Onderon with the Dark Side will be seen to some degree planetwide, none were more deeply affected than the Beast Lords. Some tribes feared the changes brought on by eating corrupted beast flesh, and other tribes simply tried to endure it as a new facet of survival. A handful however sought mastery over this newfound power. Considered mad by the other tribes, they had their greatest hunters, shamans, and chieftains gorge themselves upon the meat of Sithspawn. Most were driven mad and heavily mutated by the Dark Side taint, but a select few of profound spiritual strength mastered the power that they had consumed and became monsters with insight ascendant. The hunters became quadrupedal beasts with fangs that could tear through durasteel and hardened skin that was as resilient as heavy armor, their bodies growing to the size of a landspeeder. The shamans and shamanesses, trained in the path of walking between two worlds, became bestial hybrids, able to evolve their own bodies to adopt the traits of the beasts they had eaten. The chieftains found a higher truth and became as dragons. While many understandably mistake the Godbeasts as warriors, their animal cunning and preference for stalking prey makes the assassin arts of highest appeal to them. The Godbeasts that spiritually guide their tribes also use the illusive powers to craft powerful internal journeys of the mind and to walk among their tribe unseen. The Procurers: While assassins are largely assumed to use their skill sets for murder for obvious reasons, there are other very lucrative outlets that they can be put to. The Procurers are Sith specialized in providing for the special needs and rarefied tastes of their fellow Sith. Alchemical components, ancient texts, rare ores, people of a specific type, whatever the Sith need, the Procurers can provide for a price. While some requests can be obtained easily through legitimate means, the majority involve theft or kidnapping. Procurers love solving puzzles and beating challenges, and security systems and guards are like high stakes puzzles and challenges that try to shoot you. The harder the heist, the more Procurers are into it. The Procurers routinely confound museum and private collection security teams, and have absconded with an astounding number of members of planetary royalty. For these mystical thieves, wealth is almost an absurd abstract of which they have an overabundance of and yet little use for. Even the most high tech thieving gear does little to put a dent in their carefully hidden bank accounts. As such, Procurers have something of a reputation for frivolous and nonsensical spending. Some of it could be considered vaguely charitable (sometimes they tip service industry people so obscenely that they never have to work again, or they might build a school or a hospital to impress a romantic interest), but to them it’s just finding amusement in their fortunes. The Kennel Masters and the Friends of Luxia Ravelle: Two groups of Sith assassins that enjoy a symbiotic relationship occupying the galactic party scene. The name Luxia Ravelle is a myth spoken of in reverent tones by bon vivants and hardcore party goers alike, an urban legend synonymous with extravagant bacchanals and wild excess that sounds too grandiose to be true. There are people you know, people that claim they know Luxia and can get you in. They don’t look exceptionally beautiful, well connected, or even the partying type, and yet there they are, insisting on being able to accomplish an absurdly impossible thing. They’re coworkers, book club members, friends from sabacc night, and shy college students. But you humor them, you say yes, and then that weekend they deliver you into paradise. The drinks are the best and worst kind, the kind where you don’t realize how much you’re drinking, and drugs are on the house upon request. Maybe you hesitate at first, you’ve never done anything like this before, but your friend dives in headfirst. A transformation takes place and they’re no longer a quietly average wallflower, even though they look the same now they’re an eleven and everyone wants to be around them and you want that too, even just a piece of that. That’s how they get you to swallow the hook. There are two types of predators working this hunting ground, Trainers and the Friends. Trainers are Sith who use access to the party as a carrot that quickly leads into a cycle of blackmail and increasingly severe tasks. The ones who stop trying to fight back are called hounds, and that is where the group gets the sobriquet of the Kennel Masters. The services of their hounds can be purchased for the right price by other Sith… The Friends are the actual party runners, using illusion where necessary to create the grandiose extravagances of the party until it can reach its own critical mass with bodies. They use that same talent with illusionry to kidnap and impersonate people that nobody pays attention to. The Friends have less of an interest in making people do bad things for them and more of an interest in making people want to do bad things. These assassins use an umbramantic ritual with the bacchanals as a focal point to infect people with darkness, nurture that darkness, and then feed on it. When the party bloats to sufficient size, the Friends consume all of the guests not claimed by the Kennel Masters in a cannibalistic bloodbath that rejuvenates their flesh and makes their power swell. When the Friends emerge from the cocoonlike mound of half eaten bodies, they now wear the features of their former guests, and the legend of Luxia Ravelle continues. It is unknown if there even is a Luxia Ravelle, or if it’s just another part of the theatrics... The Kind Ones: A peculiar breed of Sith Assassin that has an unusual path to power. A Kind One will enter the service of a household appearing as a member of the staff through illusionry. In larger households they will often go unnoticed, but in smaller or more perceptive families a great deal of confusion may arise over an unknown but helpful individual that no one can recall hiring, or even seeing beyond a brief moment of passing. Superstitious people may even whisper of ghosts or otherworldly beings. But over time, the family and the staff come to accept the mysterious entity as being benign, both through its actions and a general sense of kindness surrounding any passing encounters. Furthermore, a sense that the being’s presence is a secret of utmost importance to keep from outsiders infiltrates the minds of everyone. After some time of enjoying the quiet industriousness of the Sith, either the matriarch or patriarch of the family (Or sometimes both, if the Sith has their eye on an heir of age) will begin to suffer a wasting disease that burns through them quickly. Exploiting the grief of the survivors, The Kind One will assert more and more influence into the lives of the household, replacing the lost parent as a romantic partner and cementing their place until they become the head of the household. If the children are well behaved and useful, The Kind One will allow them to persist, but if they rebel against its presence it will kill or otherwise remove them from the board of the game that it is playing. While the goal may seem like a crass desire for material wealth and possessions, and sometimes that is exactly what it is, more often The Kind One has a more sinister purpose for its manipulations. It was not just wealth and privilege that attracted The Kind One to the family, but some nascent spark of Force potential. While rarely do any of the members have enough talent to be Sith in their own right, they carry enough power to virtually ensure Force sensitive offspring and also have proven that they can function in a family unit, and that is the true prize that the Kind Ones seek, future soldiers for the Dark Lord’s forces raised in secrecy. The assassin does its best to both protect and grow the family, dealing with threats both without and within. It is harder on its own children than the original heirs, in a calculated move that both makes the original children more sympathetic to the half outsider, and inures the Sith child at a young age to hardship. In fact The Kind One often appears to spoil its stepchildren, fattening the lambs for a coming slaughter. If the Sith children appear to be lacking in Force ability by the time they come of age, The Kind One shows them how slaughter their step siblings and steal their power for their own. The Kind One does not aid the Sith children in this, that is not the way of the Sith, and if the originally family overcomes their murderous stepkin, the Sith will instead channel the power of their failed offspring into the survivors, ensuring that either way a crop of new recruits is harvested. The Kind Ones represent the usurpation of family and the desire to twist a loving place of sanctuary into a means to an end. While The Kind Ones are probably better as NPCs due to what actual play for them would be like, I’m adding them here because they also make for great character background fodder, if the player chooses to be one of The Kind One’s descendants or surviving stepchildren.
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  48. As Aidan's shuttle cruised down through Nar Shaddaa's atmosphere, he marveled at the idea that mere months ago, this moon was infested with all kinds of criminal elements thanks to the influence of Nal Hutta and the Hutt Cartels. The Empire had changed so many things for the better here, and had suffered blow after blow. Now, he was one of the last few bastions of hope, holding the front lines against all manner of enemies that would seek to see them extinguished. They were still without their Empress, but that was only a matter of time. Aidan wanted to help with that operation, but he knew his talents were needed elsewhere. After a few more minutes, the shuttle touched down lightly on the landing pad, and Aidan briefly felt Sandy's presence nearby. It was a small comfort, knowing she'd managed to survive her encounter with the Mandalorians. Later they would have time to catch up, but for now Aidan had a singular mission on his mind. One purpose that he needed to fulfill, something that would define his future in the Imperial Knights, and perhaps even in the Jedi. It didn't take long for him to get back to his room, having procured a small handheld scanner on the way from one of the supply points. First, he scanned the Sith lightsabers, displaying an expanded holoprojection look inside the devices. Then...he activated his father's holocron. Aryian's ghostly image materialized in front of him, greeting Aidan with a warm smile as the holocron recognized a prior user. "Hey, kiddo. What would you like to learn today?" "Hey, dad. I need to see any stored schematics you might have on lightsabers." As requested, Aryian raised his arms, flooding the room with projections of schematics for various types of designs, as well as textual articles detailing how to build one. As Aidan began studying, Aryian's image spoke to him once more. "You sure you're ready for this?" "Positive." Aidan barely noticed when Aryian's image faded with a slight grin and a nod, leaving Aidan to peruse the information in peace. It was all the image was programmed for, but Aryian had the foresight to understand that his son would eventually be ready for the larger lessons a Force practitioner needed to learn. Meanwhile, Aidan began to take lengthy notes on a datapad, understanding he'd need several materials to even begin the process. This would not be an easy task. Aidan didn't expect it to be.
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  49. Lix Tetrax touched down with the grace of a bantha sliding down a sand dune, that was to say, the landing was swift, heavy, and shook the ground with the impact. And from its dark back, the Mandalorian Crusader Rose dropped down to land behind before the threshold of the facility. Her hand came up and began to move in silence, a code that her AI knew well. "Lix, give us overwatch." As you wish mistress, sensors indicate a possible imperial strikeforce heading this way, they are not banking to engage our forces. Her hands began to dance again in return, her shoulders also adjusting with each gesture to give emphasis. Then the dance of blasters will commence after the kill. Lix give us firing vectors should we need them, and hold the doorway if a firefight erupts. We are not firing first, not until their intentions are clear. The AI comes first, and if the imperial remnant wants to boogey later we will give them that pleasure. The AI inhabiting her metal angel gave its acknowledgement and the orange light of its optics looked back towards the sky as She bounded from her place to stand beside her Mandalore. This time speaking in soft rushed basic instead of communicating through the kinetic movements of the lorrdians. Though her hands did speak along as was often the case of those who spoke kinetic languages. “Imperials Mand’alor. Though hostile intent is not known.” She shouldered her T-21b with its viper attachment and her HUD picked up its reticle, superimposing it over the huddled masses within the facility. Movement. Sky and Air. Trap. Tin soldiers commanded by the Void. No Honour in fighting tin robots. Rose let the air hiss past her teeth in a low whistle. “Lix informs of multiple non imperial contacts. Droid. Controlled by the Void.” She used the term ‘Void’, which the soldiers of Mandalore’s army had used to refer to the unknown KAIN. “Switching to IR overview and dropping cover.” She dropped into a crouch and scanned the entrance to the structure from within, looking for the hulking shapes of whatever the void had brought them to parlay with her viper attachment letting loose two smoke grenades which filled the entrance with dark black smoke that hung in the listless air.
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  50. ((Jointly authored)) As Aidan skidded to a halt, one last gift from Sandy pierced his abdomen, leaving a nasty wound. He painfully rolled to his back, her lightsaber clattered down next to him, hitting a jutting chunk of metal just right and shutting it off. Half a breath later, she thudded down near him. His attention was elsewhere, further up. The pattern had shifted, certain probabilities had come about, and he was too late. He knew going into this that he’d only have a limited amount of time, but he'd also sorely misjudged Sandy’s abilities. On his belt, his comlink buzzed, playing a message out loud that his commandos had successfully sabotaged the Galactic Alliance military headquarters power generators. He thumbed it, sending an affirmative to his commandos, telling them to regroup with the main forces, that he’d see them on the other side. Aidan had made the winning play by coming here in the first place. Live or die, he’d already won. They’d just be cloned, anyways, they were too valuable to their particular organizations to be left among the dead. As his eyes remained fixed on the sky, he wheezed out a pained but low response to her. As he did so, he reached out as best he could with the Force, suppressing her pain, knowing it was likely greater than his. “I tried to tell you,” he groaned, “This was bigger than us.” Sandy coughed lightly from where she had landed, the sharp permacrete chunks digging painfully at her from where they had embedded into her from the fall. Her voice was soft and distant, every breath a ragged affair of sputtering inhales and violent, bloody coughing. “I had hoped,” she said between coughs, “That I could change your mind.” Stay with me, he thought. Just a little while longer. He could have been merciful, he could have tried to knock her unconscious or simply give her a quick ending, but he wanted to feel a connection he’d never felt with her before, no matter how hard she’d tried over the years. He’d only been cloned once in all that time, and the experience almost broke him. Deep down, he was afraid, and he only wanted her company. Was it selfish if that meant she’d experience pain a little while longer? Pain was a distraction, meaningless. That was the mantra the Inquisition had taught him. But to inflict it so carelessly on someone else, especially someone who loved him… As the skies grew darker, he tried to stay in his cold logic, but found it more and more difficult with each passing second. “This was going to happen regardless of what either of us did…” Her pale, blood streaked arm reached up towards him as if asking for him to grab her hand. Though she was several meters away. Her eyes gazing distantly at the darkening sky. “I know, I think I always knew.” Another spat of coughing, pink bright blood splattering the duracrete. “But I always hoped, I always wanted. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Tears were flowing freely now, dripping down her ash streaked temples to pool in the mess of hair, duracrete, and blood below her head. Her eyes widened a bit, her pupils readjusting to the diminishing light. “I...I forgive you,” he managed. Less than a minute now. Admitting it was difficult for him. Ran counterintuitive to everything he’d known with the Empire. You don’t forgive, you get better. You aren’t sorry, you improve. Looking back was generally pointless, looking forward was what led to great things. But there she was, making him look back. The one counterexample in all of his finely crafted logic he’d been taught and woven for himself. Like a loving thorn in his side. The rumbling was more noticeable now, louder, and he wondered if she heard him. Her breathing was more shallow, running faster, as more blood leaked in a lazy river from her arm and abdomen. Some light coloured fluid dripped out from her pointed ear. But she heard him. A forlorn smile stretching over her lips. Couldn’t we just run away, back away so far… As the last seconds ticked by, the pattern coming into place, he looked over at her. “Find me...when this is all over.” She couldn’t have heard that now, the rumbling was so loud, perhaps she had read his lips, but he didn’t care. In the face of it all, she was still here. She’d always been there for him, and now at the end of this grisly chapter of their lives they had each other for a brief moment, and it was a comfort he couldn’t have asked for. Her voice sighed, almost dreamily. “I will, I promise.” She took a deep breath, her head rotating just enough so that her unfocused eyes could see him. Her lips spelling out a few words as the rumbling became deafening and the memorial seemed to quake. Her intentions spilling into the Force. I lov- Her eyes became unfocused, and her presence in the force departed before the sentence was finished, leaving with a loving embrace through the Force, a soothing, comforting feeling. Aidan was alone. His gaze never shifted from her as the bulk of the crippled Imperial Star Destroyer touched down, nearly a quarter mile from where they lay. The superstructure quickly enveloped them, collapsing the memorial and they were no more.
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