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  1. 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
  2. Grief. It rose from the city like a miasma, the tiny tragedies of each death drawn too early by Inmortos' call a candle that released a plume of the black, raw emotion into the air. Anger. An undercurrent that flowed through the city. It lurked in the minds of every citizen, from the proud autocrats who'd kept their positions through bribery or good fortune, to the lowly, broken workers who had always kept their head down no matter who ruled. They saw this planet as theirs, and it rankled them to know Apothos had claimed it as his. Fear. Ah. There it was. Like the golden light of the sun or the constant pounding of the waves on the city's base, fear colored everything. They feared Apothos. They feared the new, dark thing that had taken up residence. Even those who had never seen the necromancer or heard of his coming knew something had changed, and like animals at the onset of winter they could sense the death in the air. Apothos extended his hands, the new arthritic pain in his fingers nothing compared to the power that flowed with such ease through his hands. Inmortos was a vortex, a whirlpool that drew the energy of death into himself from the city as a whole, and Apothos could see the ripples and currents that the necromancer surrounded himself with...and sent back out to the corpses that would be his servants. Could Apothos do any less? Exhaling, he rode the waves of fear and death with his mind, extending his will in a dozen tendrils to the city that he knew, deep in the core of his soul, belonged to him. He was a god, and this was his domain. His will would be obeyed. He found machines, computers, and droids that his mechu-deru would turn to instruments of his will. Quietly, instinctively, Apothos saturated each and every one with his will. An impossible task normally, but with his newfound mastery and the currents of power that Inmortos was calling up, Apothos found that his reach had extended beyond anything he had dreamed possible. Code was rewritten. Command sequences were added and implanted deep in the core of each device's software. A door was given a special protocol to slam shut on someone passing through, should the proper target be identified. A speeder bike would start up and accelerate out of control should the command be broadcast. A gonk droid would overcharge and become a walking bomb with a simple line of code. Dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of tiny traps and malicious programming saturated the city, hidden beneath a layer of steel and circuitry. Yet, it was dormant. Hours spent in ritual to turn his city into a weapon, but it still needed a master to command it. Apothos of course could, but it was not his place to deal with minor, petty annoyances. He needed something else. He needed... A low, rasping chuckle escaped him, muffled by the whipping winds that had numbed him hours ago. He did not know if he'd planned it, or if perhaps the Force had guided him, but the perfect solution was all around him. Apothos shifted his focus to his Deepguard battle droids. They patrolled the city streets, and only a few, bloody demonstrations of their strength and firepower had been enough to subdue those who saw them walk past. Now, Apothos slid into their minds like sliding a worn glove onto his hand, their electronic shells recognizing the touch of their master. He added a simple command code to them. Deepguard were already capable of broadcasting to each other. Apothos simply expanded that to include...everything. If a Deepguard identified an enemy, every device around them capable of recognizing their signal would react, their hidden traps and coded killing protocols activating in a storm of mechanized mayhem and death. Let enemies try and take Apothos's city from him. He was god here. The city served him.
    1 point
  3. For a moment, the only sound was the sputtering of sparks. Blood pooled outward from Nok's prone form. Then he twitched. Like a stunned insect, the hunched body of the neimoidian blindly flexed and felt around him. Then slowly, slowly, he began to rise. His legs weakly scrabbled against the floor and were no help, and his near useless arms could barely extend themselves to a right angle, much less push him up. Instead, he rose as if suspended on strings, until his stooped body rested on his feet. Where once Nok had been tall, he now curled over in a permanent hunch. His skin was drawn tight across his body, looking as if it might tear with the slightest movement. And the black, corrupted flesh had exploded over his head, with tracing lines running along his jaw and neck. Blood stained his chest an ugly red, and it continued to run down his soiled, shredded robe, darkening the fabric where it touched. Nok breathed in a heavy rasp, and for a moment, it was difficult to tell if he was fully concscious. Then he extended his hand, gray skin turning white where he forced the fingers to straighten, and the remains of the medical diagnostic station slid over to him, screeching and sending up sparks as metal scraped against metal. He tightened his hand into a fist, and bits of the plating and equipment tore themselves from the mass of useless electronics and floated over to Nok, arranging themselves over the deep knife wound. Inhaling, then exhaling, Nok called upon the depths of the Force he had willingly lost himself to, and willed the Replacement power of mechu-deru to save the failing prison of his flesh. Metal bent over the open gash, cables wound under his skin, tubes that had carried lubricant and coolant replaced the severed blood vessels, and in a few moments the bleeding had stopped. Where a small knife wound had once been, a mass of metal and lights covered a 6" diameter at the center of Nok's chest. With every beat of his heart, the lights pulsed, and as the seconds passed the pulses grew steadier as his heart founds its strength again. "Your...lesson...was appreciated." Nok rasped, his voice hoarse and weak but more certain than it had ever been. "You have held up your end of the bargain. You have a place here...Inmortos." The Nok cocked his head. "What you called me...Krath...Krath Apothos." If possible, his rictus grin spread a little wider. "Yes...Nok is dead. He surrendered. He settled. And so he was devoured. Krath Apothos rules the skies of Mon Calamari...and soon more." He turned his blind gaze to the Sith who had broken his chains and set his soul free. "Darth Inmortos...was that a lie? I have met...Darths...before. Limited, blind creatures. You do not strike me as such."
    1 point
  4. SITH EMPIRE ROUND SEVEN. Fleet Command (Flagship) High Command: Exodus, Inquisitor Barca Augmentation: Axial Weapon (MK-I), Ultra-Heavy Flak Cannons (MK-I) Xhendora-Class Dreadnought, Goliath |0/17| Battle Line Escort: Tradition of Excellence Commander: Exodus, Inquisitor Barca Task Force Experience: Veteran, 2XP Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer, Minotaur |32/25| Sith Empire Destroyer Group [Turbolasers]: Focus Fire Assigned PC: NPC (Qaela) Task Force Experience: Veteran, 2XP Assigned Callsign: Herløv Kyber-Class Star Destroyer, Herløv |0/10| RETREATED _________________________________________________________________________ Assault Lance [Kinetic Ram]: Juggernaught Assigned PC: Nok Morliss (commanded by NPC Jaden Jorus) Task Force Experience: Green, 1XP MC80a Star Cruiser The Prodigious |0/10| DESTROYED Combat Air Patrol Carrier: No Fly Zone |Sergeti| Assigned PC: Nok Morliss (commanded by NPC Jaden Jorus) Task Force Experience: Green, 1XP Lucrehulk Control Core (LH-1740) Eye of Opulence |0/6| MC30c frigate Tidewalker |3/3| MC30c frigate Blue Horizon |3/3| Thranta-class corvette Dawn Sentry |2/1| Thranta-class corvette Winning Hand |2/1| DESTROYED Covert Strike Force: Silent Hunters Assigned PC: Nok Morliss (commanded by NPC Jaden Jorus) Task Force Experience: Veteran, 3XP Nova-class Battle Cruiser Our Velvet Ire |9/9| _________________________________________________________________________ Advanced Warfighter Cadre: Catastrophic Oracle Commander: Nyrys Task Force Experience: Green, 1XP Promised Razor: |3/9| Lamia: |3/3| Cassandra: |2/1| Sibyl: |2/1| Egeria: |2/1| Pythia: |2/1| RETREATED Tactical Support Escort: Wayward Serpent DESTROYED Commander: Nyrys Task Force Experience: Green, 1XP Temple of Vipers: |1/9| Coiled Hatred: |3/3| Nidhoggr: |1/1| Moin: |2/1| Goin: |2/1| Svafnir: |2/1| Green Precision Strike Carrier: Unforgiving Rebuke Commander: Nyrys Task Force Experience: Green, 1XP Myrmidon: |11/10| ________ The Xhendora-Class Dreadnought hovered over the esteemed shipyard installation, its forward batteries raining beautiful death on the Rebel formations. On the tactical screen on the flagship's nigh-transparent deflector shields flickered and died. A few more bursts, and the display informed the tactical officer that the warship shield output had seized being operational. "The installation is mostly evacuated of civilian hosts, Captain Zloth'cal'duorii," the officer reported. The Captain of the Goliath nodded briskly. Zloth'cal'duorii was a thin, contentious man with cold virulent eyes, who had been in Imperial service since just after the end of the Onderonion Wars. "Excellent. Inform the boarding parties that they may proceed." Dozens of troop transports had previously launched from the Star Destroyer's hanger carrying specialized Imperial stormtroopers who would assist those that already occupied the defended shipyards, heading at their sluggish but sure pace for the installation. The Captain watched from the forward bridge, monitoring their progress on a tactical readout. The transports had heavy shields, but for the most part, held a direct line to the asset that they still had a loose grip on defending. When the transports reached the station's docking bay, shields dropping as they maneuvered to dock, the stormtroopers would fan out and reinforce the current manifest of largely deployed ground units. One of the Destroyer's numerous TIE squadrons swung around the transports in lazy loops, sensors scanning for any sign of Rebel interference. So far, the backdrop had been relatively clear, save for the bombing runs that chipped away at the stalwart formation of both the Goliath and the Minotaur. Omega Six braced for the jolt as the launch tractors grabbed her TIE and flung the tiny craft away from the hull of the Goliath. Punching the engines to full, she swung about and fell in beside Atom's craft. They formed behind the two TIEs piloted by Howl and Huntress. The old man's voice came over the comm. "Omega Wing, this is Omega Leader. Omega Five and Six, hang back and screen our objectives for any designated attack. Green on proton torpedo deployment, let them fly." "Copy, Omega Leader," Six acknowledged, though she was challenged by the direction personally. "Omega Six, this is Five," said 'Bucktoe', sounding troublesome as usual. "Did yah see how they peeled back that Nebula-class? Real cowboy shit if you ask me! Are we fixin' ta just sit 'ere and wait for 'em to tag these yellowbellies? These no-good rebel pilots are dropping like flies, they can't fly like us honey!" "Yes, Five, we're going to just sit here," 'Red Fox' said through clenched teeth. "But for crying out loud, Buck, be quiet. This is an open channel." "That's good advice, Buck." Huntress' voice said, level as always. "I suggest you take it." "Copy that, ladies," he said ruefully, watching as the rest of the Wing tore the opposition to shreds, wondering just how long the fleet itself had to hold out for.
    1 point
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