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Krath Apothos

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About Krath Apothos

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  1. Entering behind the necromancer, Krath Apothos rode into the room. The hunched, grey skinned thing that might have once passed for a neimoidian sat curled up in a high-backed Emperiax Walking Throne, followed by an honor guard of six DG-series "Deepguard" battle droids, Monitor class. A silky, black cloth lay draped over his head and down to his shoulders, completely obscuring his features, and a red robe hung off of the rest of his emaciated body. The six spindly legs of the throne clicked and clinked along the metal floor as it maneuvered its bulk towards the command center. As the chair moved, its rider said nothing, but his sightless eyes locked onto Darth Akheron, the black veiled facer following him as his throne bore Apothos to stand...sit...next to Krath Inmortos. As Inmortos finished his introduction, Apothos tore his attention away from Akheron, saying nothing to his former master. Instead, he only said, "Krath Apothos," in brief introduction.
  2. Slipping out of hyperspace, two vessels joined the growing cluster of warships above the orange ball of Geonosis. The S-161 yacht The Eternus and the Baudo yacht The Iron Howlrunner seemed entirely out of place among so many vessels geared for war. The power of the two Krath who flew aboard them however, was another knot of dark energy to add to the swirling maelstrom of the Force that had been born of so many Sith Lords collecting in one place. A raspy voice broadcast over the hailing frequencies. "This (cough) is Krath Apothos, accompanied by Krath Inmortos. The lords of Mon Calamari would join their efforts to this endeavor. Permission to board." The message cut out, and in his cockpit, the hunched, twisted form of Krath Apothos devolved into a painful fit of coughing, his whole body shaking with each labored breath. The dull, grey skin of his hands turned white as he clenched and unclenched his fists. While his body suffered though, his mind reached out through the Force. The Force nearly boiled in the presence of so many practitioners of the Dark Side. Each sat distinct as a node of corruption that- Apothos paused in his examination. There... He knew that presence. Under the black cloth that covered his face, Apothos smiled.
  3. Coral City, the capital of Mon Calamari, the sun-kissed city of the seas, lay blanketed under thick clouds oily with smog and smoke. An unnatural chill swept the streets, and the open air parks and pavilions that had once held crowds of thousands every day now stood empty, walked only by patrols of dark red Deepguard battle droids. The people, Quarren and Mon Calamari alike, huddled in their homes, afraid but unable to give shape to their fear. All across the city, the weak and feeble had died. Hospitals turned out bodies in the dozens. Minor, inexplicable glitches accompanied the sudden onset of death, with seemingly every machine prone to fits and bouts of static and twitching. In one case, a criminal demonstration protesting the pollution of their waters at one of the droidworks had turned ugly when the Deepguard arrived, and for no explainable reason a cargo loader lurched forward into the crowd, maiming and killing dozens in seconds while the people scattered. And there was the water... The waves were choked with toxic runoff from forges and droidworks, and for days saboteurs and activists had been swarming the edges of the city, clogging up drains and leaving outraged graffiti anywhere they could reach. But now, no one went anywhere near the water's edge, and none of them could exactly explain why... From this greasy, dim reflection of what Coral City had once been, two ships ascended, before piercing the overhanging murk and accelerating out into the clean void of space. Inmortos's S-161 Stinger luxury yacht, The Eternus, flew beside the sleek, blue-green frame of the newly christened Iron Howlrunner. A Baudo-class sporting yacht, the fast ship was smaller than what Apothos had been used to in his old life, but maneuverable and infinitely customizable. This particular model had been owned by a prestigious Mon Calamari engineer before he'd died protesting the actions taken by his world's new Sith ruler. At its helm, Apothos reclined. The pilot's seat had been ripped out, and Apothos sat on a silvery, high-backed Emperiax Walking Throne, six silvery legs automatically adjusting and balancing against the thrust of acceleration. Immobile and magnetized to its back was a folded Neimoidian mechno-chair more suitable for tighter corridors. Apothos did not touch the controls. The ship moved and altered at the Krath's thoughts and will, accepting the touch of its new master with the absoluteness of a machine. The two ships jumped to hyperspace...
  4. 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.
  5. 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."
  6. 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.
  7. It returned. Whatever it was...beast, nightmare, spirit...it returned, furious and desperate. No tricks this time. No hunting for hidden weaknesses. It meant to take Nok once and for all, power versus power, will versus will. It came like an icy wind that stripped Nok of his fine robes, tearing them from his body as if they had been threadbare rags. Then it took his skin. Then the flesh beneath. His warmth. His blood. His bones. In Nok's nightmare, it stole them all. Then it began to take Nok's mind. First came his things. He saw vaults of nova crystals, chromium, and gold. He saw piles of relics and trophies, stuffed beasts he'd never hunted and fine gems he'd stolen. Bit by bit, piece by piece, they turned grey and disintegrated. The vision around him whirled and the icy wind of the spirit screamed in joy. It was going to unmake him. Next came his servants. Rows upon rows of droids lined up before his eyes, each programmed to serve one purpose, to serve one man. Nok was their universe, their reason for powering on, their reason for thinking at all. As he watched, they too turned gray and fell to dust. Nok could feel his soul unraveling. Now it turned its attention to his power. Memories played before Nok like holofilms. He saw himself as a young man, slitting the throat of his youngest sister. He saw the explosion at Hallax Industrial HQ as his bidding competitor's lifelong dream went down in rubble. He saw himself wielding the Force for the first time, touching that immense infinity that lurked just beyond sight. One by one, the monster devoured them all. Possessions, servants, power...it took them all. What was left of Nok? He was hollow. A fragile shell on the brink of collapse. He was nothing. He knew nothing... ...nothing but desire. He wanted. He wanted so badly it burned. With each thing the spirit had taken from his mind, his hunger had only grown. It wasn't the simple greed of a neimoidian. It was the searing, blistering desire of the grub that had killed his nestmates for their food long before he grew hungry. It was the young businessman who'd crouched and slept in a crate for three days to plant an explosive. It was the hands that had dug through a mess of guts, blood, and body parts for a single jeweled brooch, even as the imperial forces continued their purge block by block. Nok was empty, and that was what defined him. And this spirit had only strengthened that. Those...are mine Whether it was the Force or some quirk of this nonsensical, nightmare realm, the world responded to Nok's desire. His mind reached out like a spectral claw, and he felt it tear into the spirit, plucking away the mental pieces it had snatched from Nok. He tore into the thing, ripping what was rightfully his from its mind before digging the claws in even further. Nok saw glimpses of the spirit's mind. Of its desires. Of its fear. Nok saw the sword. His lip curled in glee. You were mine...but not anymore! Nok hurled the spirit away, back where it had come from.
  8. Nok fell. He crawled through a field of waving grass, the Onderon sunset casting orange streams through the waving shadows. He stood over his eldest sister's corpse, the last of his siblings to die. Now it was a howlrunner. Now it was him. Still he fell. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't think. But he could see. There. Grasping, clawing, reaching, clutching, something held him, dragged him down. Nok was pulled down, and as the thing coiled around him and flowed through his mind like ice water, he sensed it. He felt it as if it was himself. It hated. It rejoiced. It conquered. Nok recoiled from the malevolent thing, and on some level he knew this was more than a dream. It was far too real to be a dream, and far to real too be the mundane world of light and base, solid mass. Here, things simply were. And this thing...Nok knew it more and more with each second it soaked through his soul. It would consume him. It would be him. Nok screamed. The creature screamed with him. Dead in the cold and dark. The words came with a hard bite that they'd never had. Before they'd been a whisper, then a scream. Now they were a icy knife plunging through him, leaving nothing but the dead, evil thing that spoke to him with dark joy. Suddenly, he was solid. He was real. It was like lying in bed, paralyzed and numb. Dead in the cold and dark. No. He lay on the ground, tall, indistinct figures surrounding him. Dead in the cold and dark. No! They stared down at him in mute judgment. They didn't hate him. He wasn't worth their hate. Only their brief irritation. Nok was powerless. Nok was weak. Nok had nothing. Nok was nothing. The faces, indistinct, flickered to ones he recognized. Most were neimoidians, countless greedy, conniving fellows who had looked at Nok with...disgust. Almost pity. No. He had won. He'd tricked them. He'd... Cheated. No!!! Worth nothing. I'll kill you! Hollow, black laughter was his response. It shook the world, and the dark figures dissolved, along with Nok's vision. Nok fell again. The creature's grip grew tighter. Nok could feel its anticipation. It wanted out. ...Out from where? The creature attacked with new viciousness, and for a few moments Nok thought he was lost. ...Those who surrender The unearthly shriek of joy mixed with panic filled Nok's mind as the creature struggled to grind the last of his soul away. ...Deserve to be consumed. Nok grasped that thought, a hard gem that creature struck again and again. You failed! Strike. You were blinded! Strike. You only take from those too weak to stop you! Strike. Then it's slimy, slippery tendril closed on something. Buried deep, deep within, it grasped it with glee and pulled it forth. You didn't kill the second howlrunner. Strike. You were scared. Crack. Nok saw it again. He relived it. Those few seconds standing before the second howlrunner, the terror of his own potential death freezing his hands. Coward. Failure. Weakling. Nobody. Nok tried to scream, but his thoughts flowed like congealed duracrete. This...this was wrong. Yes, he'd been scared. But so had the howlrunner. He saw it, tearing away the veil the entity had thrown over his memory. The howlrunner backed away, panicking at the smell of its dead mate. It had been terrified of Nok. It had... NO!!! The beast had lowered its head. In surrender. I never surrendered. The creature clawed, but Nok's strength returned as the creature's cold lies and truths alike were pushed back. I never surrendered! Nok clutched at the creature now, and it squirmed, digging its ethereal claws into his mind over and over again, tearing his mind apart. He could sense its intention. If it couldn't have Nok, it would destroy him first. I never surrendered!!! Now GET OUT! Nok threw the beast away into the inky void, and readied himself for whatever came next.
  9. At first, nothing happened. Nok lay there, long moments sliding past. At first, he waited patiently. Then, he grew confused. Then irritated. Then frustrated. "Why does it not work?" The droid offered no response. Then Nok realized he couldn't sense the droid, despite his growing anger. Nok couldn't sense anything at all. "What is-" Nok said as he stood up from the bed. There was no floor. Nok plummeted, or at least he thought he did. No air moved past him, he couldn't see, yet vertigo so intense it almost made him vomit sent his stomach into his ribcage. The substance had not been a simple hallucinogen.
  10. Nok's own twinge of fear illuminate the vial to him. But to him it was simply...liquid. A chemical? A drug? Nothing I want to take in the presence of a stranger. Nok smiled, his expression almost slimy in its falseness. "Millennia? Quite a treat then." He stood. "I hope you don't mind if I retire to somewhere more comfortable to take it," he said, waving his hand absent-mindedly at the room. "Such power deserves a more fitting locale to be used." Of course, Nok intended to have the substance tested first, and he had no doubt Inmortos knew that without it needing to be stated. It would have been far more unusual for Nok to trust Inmortos. Sith did not trust. "Eat more if you like. Otherwise, consider my staff at your service. Explore the city if you like. I'll let you know when I'm ready to proceed with our business." Nok walked out of the room. When he was nearing his own chambers, he spoke to the Deepguard droids that had fallen in beside him as his bodyguards. "Post Inmortos' picture in the database. Have the city's security cameras and droids observe him, but do not approach. I want him tracked, but from a distance." "It will-," the droid on his left started. "-be done, my lord," finished the droid on his right. _________________________________________________________________________ 4 hours later "You're certain?" Nok asked, suspicion laced in his tone. "Yes," the 2-1B surgical droid responded, "the drug appears to be nothing more than a mild hallucinogen. Uncommonly manufactured and with rare active ingredients, but the substances involved are all well documented and studied. There are some contaminants, likely caused by non-sterile processes, but nothing toxic or biologically reactive." "And the test subjects?" "All 6 subjects, human, quarren, and mon calamari, experienced the expected effects of relaxation and minor hallucinations. The same can be said for the remaining 18 subjects who were subjected to the synthesized copy. I've also compared the substances chemical makeup against your specific biological profile, and can find no potential reaction specific to your biochemistry." The droid cocked its head, a moment of rare personality shining through. "Honestly, sir, this stuff would barely be considered illegal on most worlds. Its not even addictive." Nok frowned. Perhaps he'd been duped. Or perhaps the substance was intended to open the mind and make the user more susceptible to the Force's influence. A minor benefit, and certainly not what Nok paid for, but still... A brief moment of fear and worry flashed through him. What if he was wrong? No. The analysis was conclusive. And even if there was something unexpected, Nok had a full medical team present with the best toxicology and diagnostician databases downloaded into their high-quality brains. He was protected here. "Very well. Monitor my signs, and be ready to flush my system of the substance if I signal it." He paused. "Or if my life is threatened." The droid only whirred and flickered its optics in response. Nok looked down at the vial, then downed it in one gulp. He lay back on his bed and waited.
  11. Nok leaned back in his chair, and kept his silence for several long moments. The room was dim to him, the pair of Sith not providing sufficient emotion to much more than provide the equivalent of candle light. But Nok could hear, and the barest of outlines showed him the glass the liquid faintly sloshed in. Extending his hand towards Inmortos, Nok called on the Force, drawing on a burning anticipation and desire to stir the currents of power. It came easily, and pushed him deeper into it. He wanted power. He would have power. Instead of the glass lifting though, the table cloth beneath him parted, and out floated an ancient, sheathed blade. Still polished from the museum it had been stolen from, and untarnished by year in the vacuum of space where Nok had hid it, it gleamed like a showpiece on first glance. Closer inspection revealed its true age. Weathering and scratches along the sheath, and the faded color of the leather wrapping around the hilt, served to convey the weight of time that hung on the weapon. "Yes, I have your weapon." Nok smiled. "And I have three lightsabers."
  12. The shing of the knife sliding against the fork as it parted the soft meat was the only sound for a moment as Nok cut into his meal. A pitcher of a thick, yellow sauce floated on unseen threads of the Force and drenched his meal as he popped the first morsel into his mouth. "Please," he said, swallowing, "serve yourself. I've ordered that we not be disturbed." Another bite, dripping. "Eat as much as you like. These creature provide far too much for a single meal."
  13. "...I think perhaps I was unclear. No, I dont desire equality. However, I find if two parties can make pretenses of equality, they tend not to...strain each other as much." He chuckled. "Its the entire lie civilization itself is based on, and it's such a useful tool. So allow me to clarify." Nok held out his hands in a gesture of conciliation. "Pretend to treat me as an equal, and I shall do the same for you. Because you are right. I am not weak. Nor do I aspire to mere equality. What I desire, Darth Inmortos, has no limit." Nok turned, but before he stepped away, he paused. "My apologies for my brusque words before. I'm usually far more in control, and I'm sorry if you took offense at my rudeness. I shall endeavor to be more polite in the future." ____________________________________ 6 hours later Nok gasped for air, and the din of clattering metal filled the underground complex. His pale, sickly gray-green hands twitched, and the normally unpleasant smell of the neimoidian people was amplified into something mythical as his body oozed oils approximating something similar to human sweat. "Again," Nok commanded. DG-S1D, one of the new Deepguard models fresh off the assembly line, stepped forward and pushed the pile of scrap off the otherwise bare floor in front of his neimoidian master. DG-S2D followed, bearing another copy of what the pile of scrap had once been. A gonk droid. "Master..." DG-S2D began "...Perhaps it would be..." DG-S1D chimed in. "...better if you started..." "...with something..." "...less complex..." Nok took a deep breath, then slowly released it. Millions of credits in research and development...and yet 50 programmers couldn't get rid of that kriffing tic. Nok had gone so far as to use Mechu Deru on these two. Apparently it hadn't worked. "...Stand back," was all Nok said. Complexity wasnt the issue. This was a matter of will. He extended his hand, and began to chant. "Dewch wrth i fy ewyllys ddod, yn unmake fel y mae fy ewyllys yn ei wneud, fod fel y mae'n rhaid i'm hewyllys fod" The sluggish currents of the Force, stagnant in the sterile, stale air of Nok's droid factory, quickened to Nok's touch. Crazed whorls spun into existence, before settling into something that almost betrayed a pattern as the chant and Nok's will shaped them. The currents twisted and bucked as Nok narrowed his focus, like snakes writhing in his hand, but his command was absolute. The nexus of the currents drew tighter and tighter together, and the air rippled in protest to the unrefined sorcery. Then the currents collapsed. Nok felt...joy. Awe. He gazed on the Force, the infinite connections that bound together all living things. Was...was this what the Jedi saw? What they felt? Was this the Will of the Force? Then the moment was over, and Nok stood before the squealing gonk droid, frantically stepping back and forth while its octave of tones gave the approximation of a scream. Nok wasn't sure how long had passed. Not slag. Good. Now the moment of truth. Nok extended his awareness into the droid, the act almost second nature now. And there it was. The droids power source, slightly altered. The droid was now a bomb. The droid's screams continued, and Nok wondered if it understood what had been done to it, but he quickly dismissed the thought in the face of the triumph that rang in his mind. Transformation. The fourth level of mechu-deru. Assembly hadn't held much challenge after Nok figured the trick, but Transformation had stymied him. Sensing, controlling, and altering technology simply through will...it only worked by avoiding comprehension. Each level of mechu-deru required new forms of forced ignorance, the ability to deny what was real and bring his own desire into certainty. "I suppose we should test it." Nok extended his hand again, and with a practiced thought sent a command to burrow into the droid's most basic programming. Walk The droid, interestingly, did not stop screaming. Its legs however obeyed. Even as it wailed, it rotated and walked where Nok desired, into the test bay. DG-S1D slid the reinforced door shut behind it. Nok sent another command to droid, still clear to his senses behind the door. Die BOOM The room shook and quivered while the sliding door groaned, but it was over as quickly as it begun. Nok smiled. ____________________________________ The next night The banquet hall glittered and gleamed in the soft, artificial lights. Tapestries commemorating the triumphs and trials of the peoples of Mon Cala hung beside the skulls of sea beast down centuries ago in hunts only remembered by names and dates. Soft, low music echoed through the chamber from hidden speakers, and servant droids moved through the room on padded feet, to better ensure their masters were undisturbed by their attendance. However, the sight that dominated the eye was what lay on the table itself. Surrounded by platters of fruit, sauces, and side-dishes, sat a slab of golden-browned meat. As large as a person and lacking any definable shape, one wouldn't be able to determine where it came from until the smell hit. The succulent, heady aroma of oil and seasoning mixed with the distinct smell of fish that enticed but never overpowered, and only one creature in Mon Cala's seas was known to produce such a mouth-watering combination. Nok had paid well to dine on the flank steak of a whaladon tonight.
  14. Nok stared without hesitation at the sorcerer, though without eyes he wasn't sure if he looked intimidating or ridiculous. Then Inmortos mentioned the sword. ...A dark, evil sword possessed by a malevolent spirit? The words tugged at his mind. Something...something... Ah, the antique showpiece from Dromund Kaas! Nok's mouth twitched in the hint of a frown. He remembered now. The blade had been old, but the museum he'd gotten it from hadn't even been able to prove it was a Sith artifact, beyond being dug up on a formerly Sith planet. There had been rumors of staff who handled the blade acting strangely, and at least one custodian had offed himself after cleaning the sword's case. The rumors had intrigued Nok...but the sword proved to be nothing special. No Sith technology in the blade, nothing that might indicate a connection to the Force. Nok stole it anyway along with a few other Sith trinkets on display and locked it up, thinking it nothing more than junk, and dismissed the stories as people's morbid imagination seeing Sith in the shadows of the mundane. "I may have what you're looking for," Nok said, "looking" down as he brushing snow off his robe nonchalantly. "I'll send out a ship to retrieve it. It'll be here tomorrow morning." He turned his face back up to Inmortos, non-existent lips set in an annoyed, thin line. "In the meantime, if you wish to speak with me again, there is an intercom." He stood up. "I can assure you that you've made the impression you intended to. You are, indeed, very powerful, and can probably kill me. That's why I hope this display of yours was just that...a display, to educate me." His teeth gritted as a heat built in his chest, and the Force thickened with his rising storm of emotion. "Because I will not let someone push me around in my own house." He smiled, slime almost dripping from the expression. "Not unless I intend to kill them later." Nok's robe flared out at the unexpected venom in his words. No... Nok breathed in and knotted up his anger. He had always prided himself on control, and lately it had been slipping more and more. "I don't expect someone like you to be scared of me, especially after that little trick of yours. If you were, then you're either lying and plan to kill me, or you're not the person I need. However...if we are to work together, there are two things that need to be made perfectly clear. One. We are equals. Otherwise, we're just going to end up killing each other. Two." The ice and shattered glass clicked and rattled as Nok's anger burst its bonds again, and the faint echoes of something deeper and blacker rippled out to twist the Force into a sickening distortion. "Don't break my things. Fair enough?" Nok's face turned back into a unreadable mask, and his voice was again that of the conciliatory, compromising negotiator. Just one more scheming neimoidian.
  15. Nok whipped around. The hall was empty. Silent. Nok stepped to the center of the hall as he pivoted. What is that? It was like a chill. Dead in the cold and dark. Then it struck. Nok's breath left him as the wave of pure darkness rippled out like a explosion and washed through the building and beyond. The Dark Side twisted and roiled as if some toddler had grabbed a thousand threads and was shaking them. For a moment, Nok couldn't identify what was real, lost in the cascade. Then, a shrill beeping brought him back. His comm was going wild. Nok picked it up and thumbed it on. A dozen different callers competed for a line, and systematically Nok went through each until the picture became clear. That Sith had conjured a storm. _________________________________________________ As the door to Darth Inmortos' room opened, a blast of chill air rushed out, eager to leech into the rest of the building now that the way was clear. His robes blowing violently back in the sudden gust, Nok braced himself against the wind and stepped inside. The Dark Side coalesced so strongly around this sorcerer that Nok had no issue seeing him, anymore then he might have trouble seeing a maelstrom. Grimacing at the raw power on display, Nok struggled in a few more steps as the cold tore at him with each step. How is this even...possible? Nok extended his hand, calling on the Force...and drew the room's rime-coated desk chair over to him. He sat down. He waited.
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