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Nok Morliss

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  1. Nok's scream didn't stop. Fear, anger, pain, and hatred all blended as Nok surged to his feet and howled at the approaching droid, even as he scrambled backwards to give himself a few more seconds. Not fast enough though. R3-M0's blades came closer and closer, his speed outpacing Nok's agonizingly slow acceleration. In a fit of panic, Nok thrust out with the Force at the ground, the walls, and himself, flinging himself backwards in an awkward, stumbling lunge that banged him against one wall before sending him spinning and sliding down a ramp. The pain that was the price of such a graceless maneuver was an undertone to the blaring orchestra of agony in his face. And then he was past it, past the deafening roar of his emotions. Just like at Mon Cal, Nok was deep in the Force. He felt, but he didn't experience. He understood, but he didn't think. If his emotions were a raging sea, then he'd just forced underwater. The intricacies of the Dark Side, hidden truths far beyond his reach, teased and tempted. Nok's mind and spirit stretched, but that power was beyond him...for now. It was easier this time. Not by much, but a little. And that power, so far, was just a little closer. I will not die here droid. Following a plan that he couldn't remember devising, Nok unclipped the lightsaber at his belt. Stolen from the corpse of the Zeltron gunslinger on Mon Cal, Nok had barely held the weapon, much less learned how to wield it. If he tried to match the droid saber-to-saber, Nok was just as likely to decapitate himself as fall to the mechanical crime boss's weapons. Instead, he pointed the weapon away from himself, and activated the saber. A bright green blade hissed to life...and Nok let go. He wrapped the hilt in the grip of his desire and sent it flying up the ramp with an intuitive ripple in the Force. He lifted his hand, ready to angle the path of the saber towards the hopefully oncoming R3-M0. TLDR: To escape Remo's oncoming attack, Nok threw himself (unskillfully) down the hallway with the Force, banging himself up and sending himself tumbling down a ramp. He has activated his lightsaber and sent it telekinetically up the ramp, hoping to catch Remo. ((3))
  2. Originating thousands of years before the Great Sith War, Sith sorcerers developed the art of Mechu-deru as a way to manipulate technology. Despite its wide variety of uses, the art saw less and less practice as time went on, though a small group of Jedi specialists managed to create their own form of the art after observing its use. Note: For PC droids and owned NPC droids, along with PC cybernetics and personal equipment, consider mechu-deru to be equivalent to the Jedi mind trick in restrictions. Your strong will protects your technology, and PC and strong-willed NPC droids can resist being directly manipulated. This doesn't extend to larger pieces of tech like ships or vehicles. Comprehension: The first and most basic art of mechu-deru, this ability allows a user to sense and comprehend mechanical systems. For most this ability only accounts for the purely physical, but true masters can perceive and interpret electronically stored data with intense concentration. This is usually a moot distinction as mechu-deru practitioners can often hack computer systems using the next level, Control, thereby forcing a computer to willingly reveal its secrets. Control: Once a student of mechu-deru can perceive mechanisms, they learn to control them. This ability only functions on sufficiently complex devices. A good rule of thumb is that a device is complex enough to be controlled if it is linked with a computer (or is a computer). A blast door or droid could be controlled, but a blaster or lightsaber couldn't. For most this functions as temporary, brute force commands overriding a mechanism's function, with the device either reverting to normal behavior or breaking down afterwards. Masters of mechu-deru can be more precise and thorough, intuitively adding or rewriting code to keep a device behaving as desired even after they've stopped influencing it. Droids or technicians who are aware of and/or experience mechu-deru can install specialized, unconventionally patterned circuitry to foil a user’s intuitive grasp on their tech. This does not render it/them immune to mechu-deru, but does make it/them more resistant to its effects. Assembly: Once a user of mechu-deru has a solid handle on Control, they can begin Assembly. This application of the art takes existing tech and recombines it into new, cobbled forms to suit the user. A collection of droid arms and a few power supplies might weave themselves into a multi-limbed arachnid, or the gutted remains of a starfighter and some freight lifters might be cobbled into the rough form of a quadruped that follows the user's mental commands. The most often used and basic form of this power is converting any handy mechanical parts and devices into tendrils of scrap that the user then controls. Any creation made with Assembly is inherently unstable and requires constant low-level concentration from the user to keep it functioning and held together. Transformation: A more complex and permanent version of Assembly, Transformation marks a user’s beginnings of true mastery of mechu-deru. This ability, which usually takes between several minutes to several hours depending on the complexity and scale of the project, takes existing tech and reshapes it to the preferences of the user. This is unlike Assembly which only cobbles together what’s already present. This can be used to make something created through Assembly stable and permanent, or to adapt something to a new purpose. A blaster rifle might be altered to a short range laser drill, or sabotaged to explode when used. A nav-computer might be redesigned into a droid brain or a targeting system. The rule of thumb is to evaluate how close the current tech is to what the user wants it to eventually do. While the function might be different, it should still be within the same “family” as the original function. It’s also important to keep in mind the limitations of what the user has to work with. The example of a blaster being converted into a laser drill is possible, but will likely draw far more power than what the blaster has available, and will need additional components to function for any useful amount of time. Repair: Repair is a refined version of Transformation, compelling a damaged mechanism to reassemble itself into its previous functional state, provided the parts (or suitable replacements) are present and not completely destroyed. Note: The following techniques, due to their immoral and warped nature, are exclusive to Dark Side users. Infection: The first of the Dark Side advancements of the art, Sith Sorcerers are able to use Infection to imbue a sufficiently complex device or computer system with an element of their malice. This corrupts the technology into a murderous, hateful creature that only desires to torment and kill anything outside of itself. More complex subjects show more signs of intelligent behavior but are also more difficult to infect. Even a master will be unable to infect anything greater than a droid, though a cabal of sorcerers working together could theoretically infect something greater. The entity will usually target the weakest and most vulnerable victims first, so a sign that something infected is on the loose might be the conspicuous absence of droids and maintenance workers. This behavior will continue as the evil creature works it's way up to more difficult targets, until it is either found out and eliminated/purged or it runs out of victims, at which point it enters a state of stasis. It should be noted that the creator of the entity has no control over it, and in fact it seems to have specific resistance to its creator's use of mechu-deru. Also, with all else being equal, it will prioritize its creator's destruction before other potential targets. Some of the most intelligent of these entities have gone so far as to create intricate plots to cause the suffering and demise of the sorcerer who created it. This makes the technique of Infection a risky move, and it is wise for a sorcerer to avoid infected systems once the spell has taken hold, especially droids with their innate potential for independence. Infection is a tool of sorcerers overconfident in their strength, ambitious enough to take the risk, or desperate enough to have no other choice. Replacement: While true healing is beyond the capacity of the Dark Side, the technique of Replacement can serve as a close substitute. A specialized combination of Transformation and basic elements of Infection, a Dark Side user can take technology and change it to replace lost flesh. Metal plating can serve as skin, tubing can double as veins, etc. The graft is unconsciously sustained by the user, and can be swapped out for better parts if they become available. Skilled users can even add functional augmentations like weapons from what they have available. There is a hidden downside to the technique however. Any flesh replaced in this way will never heal, even with the use of bacta. Cloned grafts and transplants will be numb, lifeless, and quickly rot. Even if a whole limb were replaced with a transplant where only a portion of the previous limb had been replaced with technology, that portion would inevitably turn lifeless and rot away on the new limb. The mind is incapable of comprehending the need for flesh in any part of the body where this dark magic is employed. Conversion: The darkest art of mechu-deru, this technique requires the sorcerer to craft a seed mechanism, a dust sized speck of metal that nevertheless requires days of precise rituals and meditation to create. If this seed is injected or ingested into a living creature, the sorcerer can awaken it, causing it to begin converting the victim into an amalgamation of technology and flesh over the course of several days, though legends speak of masters accomplishing the transformation in mere minutes. The resulting creature, a technobeast, has had its will broken by the process and is under the sorcerer's control. However, a potential victim can resist the transformation altogether and exhaust the seed through sheer force of will. Note: While willpower is the in-universe reason this power may not work on a PC or owned NPC, it should be emphasized that Conversion is only to be used with the consent of the other player.
  3. Nok's jaw clenched as this hiss of those twin ancient weapons coupled with the buzz of an R-units electroshock probe. Of COURSE this kriffing thing has lightsabers! Why the **** not!? His spiking, brain-stem fear had painted a clear picture of the little death machine rocketing off the ground and its weapons coming out to bear. Nok had no room. He couldn't dodge in time. But he could fall. Nok dropped to his back and kicked off the console with his feet, sliding across the floor on a film of blood. There was no point in protecting the console. The program was ready to activate, and Nok could just do it from a different console if it came down to it. Gyroscopic law. A spinning object doesn't change orientation quickly. Neimoidian biology. A neimoidian's head is quite high off the ground. Nok grinned as he predicted he would pass right under the droid. Thermodynamics. Rocket exhaust burns. Nok fought to not open his mouth to scream as he passed under the murderous R-unit and got a scorching soak from the spinning mob boss's oxidizing fuel. His combat leather insulated his body from most of the burns and didn't catch fire, but his face was another matter. A landscape of pain erupted across his bare skin, and his elegant, silken red blindfold ignited and blackened. As he slid past one of the other burning bodies and came to a stop halfway through the hall, he tore it off and threw it aside, revealing what was underneath. Framed by blistering, raw flesh stripped back by fire, Nok's ruined eyes were the star attraction of a horror show. The skin around the skull-like empty sockets was black, scarred, and necrotic with Force corruption. Where the stiff flesh had cracked under the fire it oozed a faint, yellow fluid. The stench of old sickness and gangrene mixed with the meaty fragrance of burning meat. Nok did scream then. In pain, in rage, in hatred, there were no words in his mind, just raw emotion directed at this little trash can that had arrogantly dared to think Nok was beneath it. The Force roiled around him, the Dark Side pooling and unraveling invisibly into threads and waves. Nok extended his hands, pain and vitriol mixing into something primal, and grasped at those currents of power. No gentle, intuitive control this time. He wrapped his will in the Force around R3-M0's companion, the droid Nok had driven the knife into, and tried with all his power to throw it at the spinning master of Black Sun. TLDR: Nok dropped to the ground, slid across the blood-slick floor under Remo's lightsabers and electroprobe, and got a faceful of fire. Channeling the pain, he's trying to throw Zepex at his master. ((2))
  4. 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))
  5. There were a lot of things that Nok might have guessed would be useful in getting inside the shield relay station. His weapons, his growing mastery of the Force, his experience in sabotage... His neimoidian sense of smell was not on that list. Nok had been jogging towards the shield relay station, relying on the spoken instructions of his comm device to compensate for his blindness. He had estimated he was less than a mile out when an acrid stench wafted past him. Nok's neimoidian scent glands, not covered by his respirator, got a full blast of the odor, and even as his eyes watered the smell triggered a memory. Nok had once owned a small ore refinery that had smelled just like this, and if he remembered right it had come from the building's old generator. A Naboo model, it had been built to run off of Naboo-mined plasma. When the whims of history ensured that the sparkling blue stuff was too expensive to import, people like Nok had turned to artificially grown plasma to keep their machines running. Problem was the impurities in the manufactured plasma burned up when it was used, and it stank like nothing Nok had ever known. And if they were using artificial plasma, then they were using a Naboo model generator, and Nok had crawled around in his own generator enough to know the usual layout. Granted, he'd been doing it to blow it up in an insurance scheme, but he figured the experience translated. Mentally chuckling at how uncreative he'd been in those early days, Nok had followed his "nose" to find the exhaust port, and as he predicted there had been a maintenance hatch. It was locked and sealed of course, but once again the Naboo obsession with safety measures got Nok what he wanted. A slight Force push on the right mechanisms inside the door and he tricked it into thinking there was a sudden pressure build-up inside and that someone was trying to work the inner latch. With a hiss and a squeal it popped open, and Nok crawled down into it and towards the relay station. Now, Nok was hooking up his datapad into the station's main computer. The bodies of two techs who'd had the misfortune to be doing maintenance lay a few feet behind him, bleeding out from the necks. The twitching body of an astromech lay a couple yards further back, the blast mark on its head smoking. So long as he wasn't interrupted, this wouldn't take long...
  6. CLACK! The sound of plasteel body armor striking metal caught Nok's attention through the din of tumbling droid parts. It had come from...below. The Jedi must have fallen. Nok struggled to pin-point his fallen foe, his pain and fear slowly dissipating from fresh clarity to a muffled echo. He stalked as silently as he could, remembering his lessons from Mistress Rill. The old noghri had been vicious and had left him with more bruises and cracked knuckles then lessons, but she'd managed to instill the basics of stealth in the affluent neimoidian. It took several long, agonizingly slow moments, but Nok finally positioned himself above where the Jedi must have fallen. His fear and pain, still fading but not gone yet, rippled out from him. He focused beneath him, bringing the faded shapes into sharper clarity by will and desire. There. There was the armor. But...then where was...? ((3))
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. "Excellent. It'll be a few days at the least until I can set my end in motion. Besides, I have some of my own projects I'd like to work in the meantime. Leave a way for me to contact you, and I'll let you know when things are ready on my end and we can plan the operation." "Oh," Nok said standing and bowing his head to the Troig, "and it's Nok Morliss." He smiled. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Nok shuffled through his office after the Troig had left, the cowering Pantoran slave emanating fear. He ignored the artifacts scattered across the tables. They were nothing but old relics as far as he could tell. Valuable, but not useful. He'd love to do more in-depth analysis on them though, in the hopes they might lead him to a better cache, but they weren't what occupied his attention. Moving past them, he focused his attention on the droid chassis, sprawled and deactivated.. The guardian droid that had been either protecting or imprisoning that...thing in the tunnels. There were no records anywhere that mentioned a model that even resembled this thing. Ichtyoid head...likely a Mon Cal native design. Nok began disassembling the plating over the chest, find latches and switches by instinct and the unusual "vision" provided by his slave's fear. As he worked and considered the machine, his body relaxed. A tension that hadn't left since the caves was easing away as he lost himself in the droid's innards. This move...this takeover of the Shipyards...It was a perfect opportunity, the kind of thing businessmen and criminals dreamed of falling into their laps. Nok had been in the right place at the right time and had managed to come out the other side with the prize in his hands, but now he was exposed. Nok had always survived by never being noticeable. His businesses were always small, and half of them were legitimate if not ethical. He'd avoided purchasing a pylat bird, a huge status symbol among neimoidians, to avoid being noticed by his peers. He scattered his funds in dozens of vaults and accounts and under almost a hundred identities. But now he was out in the open. Now he had to answer to his investors who'd put up money to purchase the Shipyards. They'd already started seeing a return on their investment, but Nok knew better than to assume they'd just stay in the background. Now Nok was in bed with a criminal like Shimsinblimp, someone who would just as soon shoot Nok if he thought his new "partner" was a hindrance or cheating. Heck, now Nok was working with a psychotic killer droid with an ego the size of a purrgil. People would take shots at him now. He couldn't hide. The exposed wiring of the droid suddenly stood out in stark relief, and Nok realized why. He was afraid. Nok started to tamp it down, but stopped. He took a deep breath, and took the fear in. He let it build. He fed it. He ran through mental holovids of getting gutted by the psychotic Xar, or gunned down by the cold Shimsinblimp. Each played out in cold, full sensory detail, as if the Force mirrored his fears directly back into his mind. The Dark Side around him responded to his emotion, and he stood at the center stirring it into a maelstrom. He barely noticed his slave's terror spiking, or the artifacts on the tables rattling before falling off onto the soft carpet. He couldn't see the lights flicker or see the door panel flash and go dark. He sank further into his fear, becoming a part of the Force, unraveling until it wasn't even fear anymore. It was some hidden, roiling, dark mass in his chest that spread through his limbs. It compelled him to act. It willed him to fight. It demanded he take. Then something caught his attention. It almost knocked him out of his trance, but as the Dark Side twisted about him in invisible currents, something in the droid chassis was...diverting the flow. It was slight, but it was there. Nok brought his focus to bear through the haze, and saw what it was. In the palm of each hand, a small tablet of metal and circuits lay buried under the durasteel. It resonated with the power of the Dark Side. So...that's why I couldn't figure out how you generated those fields... He grinned. Someone used alchemy on you to make it happen. He flicked his hand out, and the call button at his desk across the room pressed down. As deep as he was in the Dark Side, it required as much mental effort as blinking. "Secretary. Have one of my security droids retrieve an item for my ship and have it brought to my office. It'll be cataloged as Item 81. The Art of Mechu Deru."
  10. "A excellent operative, but still just one bot." "Hmm...any method of taking over is going to draw attention eventually, no matter how we do it. Smart people will connect the dots if we try to keep the Sith name off of it, and I think what little image the Sith Empire has will survive a dip with the spice trade. I'd hoped to use the Sith armada to do our dirty work for us...but maybe we can still use their troops. Not the jackbooted Sith troopers," Nok mused, popping another egg into his mouth, "but a more profit-minded force. House Sovros has strong interests in expanding their slave operation. They're proud and ambitious, and enough competition has jumped into the market for them to feel threatened. They've also got an insane military, all clones, perfectly loyal and controllable. If we offer them a good portion of the spice on hand, a contract to purchase slaves from them at standing market rate for the next few years, and supply our own troops to back theirs up, I could see them throwing some of their forces our way."
  11. Nok didn't look up as the infamous spicejacker entered. He didn't need to, his senses picking up the traces of his secretary's fear as the criminal had passed, and the waves of anxiety rippling off of his new Pantoran slave filled in the rest of the blanks. He did however pause in his meal, his fork and knife hovering for several long moments as Shimsinblimp spoke, his very presence a blatant show of power and authority. Time would tell if the troig would deliver, but his reputation was enough to convince Nok not to bet against him. Good, he thought. He needed someone ruthless and unwilling to settle. His Pantoran slave, a young woman in chains, cowered in the corner. A delightful find, the woman apparently suffered from a mental disorder that left her with constant, low-level paranoia. The cost of her medication had lessened her value, and Nok had picked her up cheap as a result, ordering her over the Holonet from the market on Onderon. Dropping the dosage of her medication and keeping the source of now steady fear in his office had been like setting up a desk lamp, and now Nok could "see" Shimsinblimp easily, along with the rest of the room. From the front door to Nok's desk, the place was sterile and clean, the smooth lines Mon Calamari favored in their architecture evident everywhere. In the far corners, the space grew more cluttered. Table's of newly acquired Sith and Jedi relics that Nok had only started to examine as part of his hobby mixed with the latest in Mon Calamari tech, disassembled and scattered. On one table in particular rested a single droid chassis. Red, worn, and very old, the droid looked much as it had in the strange entity's chamber below the surface, the entity that had brought Nok to this world in the first place. Deactivated now, the droid was otherwise fully assembled aside from a missing panel here and there. Nok resumed eating, stabbing his fork into a small bird's egg before lifting it to his mouth and biting into the fatty morsel. "Have you ever had pylat eggs Master Shimsinblimp? They're a delicacy on my homeworld, very hard to get. The bird's are even harder, though I hope to have one of my own soon." Nok wiped his mouth with a napkin, and looked up to face the troig head on. "I agree entirely. Jacking shipments is a short-term solution for the size of the undertaking I hope to encourage on this world. If you're going to have a constant source of spice readily available to stream into the Mon Calamari markets, then we'll need a source, preferably under your control or the control of a friendly party." Nok picked another egg out of the thick, yellow sauce and popped it into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before continuing. "I don't need to tell you that the best source is Kessel." He held up his hands in a placating gesture. "I know, going after Kessel sounds crazy, but I think that there's an opportunity here. Kessel has remained out of the galactic war for some time now. The Sith are too enamored with bringing order to their conquered worlds to want to mess it up with drugs, and the rebels want nothing to do with that sort of thing. Kessel is essentially a non-target. However, I have a few contacts in the Sphere of Production, and I have it on good authority that if something were to compromise Kessel's defenses a nearby Sith fleet would jump on the chance to invade the world and make a tidy profit off of its subjugation. And after that...well, they need to sell spice to someone." Nok sat back, and waited for a response.
  12. Yes! Got you! Nok grinned as the ripple of pain blossomed from the Jedi, emanating out and illuminating him...briefly. Nok's smile turned to a grimace as the Jedi asserted his control, already fading back into obscurity. Trained then. But he won't know where- Nok stumbled back out of surprise as his faint sensation of the Jedi showed the figure moving towards him. Quickly. The sound of an ignited lightsaber echoed through the factory. Nok perceived...something in the air. Not the Dark Side... The split second he had to question the sensation was followed by the answer as telekinetic power, broad and imprecise but still forceful, caught his back and sent him reeling forward again. BANG! Nok clanged into the side of the industrial press that gave him cover against the rapidly approaching Jedi. His head throbbed and his knees buckled as he fought to regain his focus. He realized that he had never needed to sense manifestations of the Light Side before. Absent the emotions Nok relied on, he wouldn't see them coming. Is it any different for you? Nok regained control, and the approaching Jedi was the perfect motivator for Nok's rising fear. He sank deep within himself, touched the Force, and unraveled. The Force swirled around him, stirred into a vortex by Nok's intensifying emotions. He gave himself over to the fear and let the cold clarity of the needling sensation take control. He raised his hand, and one of the vibroknives strapped to his wrist detached, hovering before him. A flick of his fingers, and it darted up above the press and spun menacingly down towards the rapidly approaching Jedi. Nok would have one shot before his enemy closed. The knife wasn't the attack though. Nok barely kept enough focus on it to keep it in the air and moving. As it approached, his other hand shot out, still hidden by the press, and he sent a blast of telekinetic force at the Jedi to match the one that had struck him.
  13. Nok nodded graciously, first to Vizier, then to Xar. "My associate is correct. As I understand it, you are currently between markets after the political shifts on Nar Shaddaa. By the way, I'm genuinely sorry to hear about that. Time was you could get anything on Nar Shaddaa, and now..." If Nok regretted one thing about his injury more than anything else, the far and away 1st place winner was the ability to roll his eyes for effect. "However, talent like yours doesn't just lay down and die. I'm here, but not as a buyer." Nok turned the case so that only the table's occupants could see, pressed his finger against the reader, and opened it. Inside a soft, green glint radiated out. "20 kilos of refined nova crystals. Set in 0.5 kilo bars. No markings. No tracking devices. No radiation treatments." Nok pushed the open case over to Shimsinblimp. "This is a down payment for the job I'm hoping to hire you for. I want to hire you," Nok said, leaning back, "to sell spice. To be clear, I want you to set up a spice market here on Mon Cal, and I'm willing to pay to see that happen. And I'm not talking about a rodian on a corner lot peddling to academy brats. I want big. Global. It's why I'm coming to you. I need someone with experience in the business and the drive to build something here on Mon Cal, to take advantage of the opportunities a newly conquered planet offers for such ventures. I think you're that man. Why else would you be here after all?" Nok leaned forward again, serious. "I understand there's issues to resolve. Steady supply lines for one. But if you are looking to build something here on Mon Cal..." Nok smiled. "Then you could do far worse than to have a Shipyard's executive as an investor."
  14. Nok stood behind what he guessed was an industrial press for stamping out droid chestplates, a suspended conveyor line entering one side of the mammoth machine bearing sheets of metal and exiting the other side carrying rough approximations of flattened torsos. The whole thing creaked, but otherwise gave no signs of stirring. Nothing in this factory did. A soft shuffle made Nok hold his breath. It had been faint, and he couldn't tell exactly where it had come from. Blind, the neimoidian relied on his sight within the Force to "see", but he needed the darker emotions like anger and fear to act as beacons to illuminate his surroundings. Right now his own low fear, a tension in his gut, softly stirred and swirled around him, but it wasn't enough to see whoever was here. No fear...Definitely a Jedi. Nok measured his breathing and continued to wait. It seemed his contact had come through. A single Jedi, an apprentice, alone in a factory on Mechis III and far away from any allies. Perfect. Nok needed to move up the ranks. He needed notoriety. He needed clout. He needed a reputation if Mon Cal was going to go his way. And what better way than killing a Jedi? True, a half-trained Jedi in an ambush, but a trophy lightsaber was still a trophy. Nok wasn't dressed in his usual robes, but in combat leathers. He slowly, painstakingly drew one of his vibroknives, and leaving it off he drew it across one of his fingertips. He winced at the pain, but grinned as that same pain rippled out in the Dark Side, illuminating the next few rows of the factory for him. And...yes...a faint impression of a man moving between the machines. There you are...Now, let's see if we can't scare you a little... Squeezing his finger to intensify the pain while crouching behind his machine to make sure he stayed out of sight, Nok saw the impression of another suspended production line a few feet away from the Jedi, this one bearing dozens of identical, humanoid left legs. Nok reached out with the Force, the intricacies of the energy filling the factory like the keys of an instrument. Just press here and... Three of the droid legs wrenched themselves off of their hooks and half spun, half tumbled towards the Jedi at Nok's gesture. Not enough to kill, but enough to bruise. ((1))
  15. House Sovros “The House of Greens” “Ein Hanobaith Sofran.” - House Motto of House Sovros. Translation: "Our Sovereign Desolation." While House Sovros has not openly existed for much of its millennia-long life, nor has it always existed under that name, it is one of the oldest Dark Side cabals. Originating on Onderon thousands of years ago, the founders consisted of the various Dark Side enthusiasts among the nobility who eluded the purging of the planet by the Jedi and the Republic, namely by virtue of not being Force-sensitive themselves. The organization quietly preserved the teachings of their Dark Side masters, hoping for a new Dark Lord to rise from their bloodlines and return them to power. As time passed, other groups on Onderon, mostly minor nobility, who felt disenfranchised or threatened by the Republic or planetary government found their way into the fold, tempted by the promises of a dark uprising. However, no Force-sensitives were born into the old or new bloodlines, and at some undefined point the House's methods changed. They began to quietly acquire Force-sensitive human children wherever they could, raising them as family and marrying them off to members to introduce Force potential into the House's various family lines. The adopted Force-sensitives themselves never became more than minor Dark-side practitioners, partly due to fear and neglect of the House's noble members who disliked an adopted outsider gaining too much power. Then Abraxes Vastoga was born. A powerful Force-sensitive and the first born to the House, Abraxes was showered with opportunities and training, whispered by his family to be the new Dark Lord they had hoped for. Abraxes took on the name of Sovros as the persona he would use to conduct the House's business in secret and away from the judgmental eyes of the Jedi. He began quietly growing the power of the House, and eventually inducted non-humans with Force-sensitivity potential into their ranks, envisioning whole dynasties of Dark Side users spreading across the galaxy under his rule. This dream never came to fruition. While his sorcery did preserve his life beyond its natural limits, he eventually died to betrayal when another Force-sensitive was born to a different family line, and the new Sovros was chosen to ascend. Since then, House Sovros existed as a hidden entity on Onderon and the surrounding systems, emerging with the rise of the Sith Empire to embrace their long desired destiny of power. Today House Sovros is an influential Sith house, mostly based out of their ancestral home of Onderon. Their patriarch or matriarch is always known by the title of Darth Sovros, and they see themselves as elite and sophisticated compared to other Sith. Class, legacy, and wealth mingle with their Sith hunger for power, intrigue being one of their favorite tools along with the more subtle applications of the Dark Side. New members looking to be inducted from outside of established bloodlines must show strong Force-sensitivity, a keen intellect, and a civilized demeanor to be considered. Even more importantly, a member is expected to marry (sometimes to several spouses) and bear children (not always with one of their spouses) as directed by the current Darth Sovros to ensure strong, numerous offspring. Where Force-sensitivity can't be found, partners are selected for their health and other talents in the hopes of breeding the positive traits into the family line and eventually into future Sith Lords. Families in the House determine their status by the deeds of their ancestors and the capability of their line to produce new Force-sensitives. Much of the House’s wealth is tied up in the slave trade, with cloning, breeding, and capturing all used to supply the demands of Sith society. They sponsor auctions and run shipping lines specifically catering to slavers throughout the galaxy. Independent slavers are often sponsored by the nobles of House Sovros, and entertainment centers using slaves such as gladiatorial pits and brothels often have the Sovros seal somewhere on the paperwork. They savagely compete with other slavery-interests in the Empire, envisioning themselves as a monopoly on the evil trade in their promised future. Outside of the slave trade, House Sovros owns some of the most fertile, valuable land on Onderon, which it exploits ruthlessly to fill House Sovros’ coffers and feed their extravagant lifestyle. They are extremely territorial, and lesser Sith who encroach on their claims or stand in their way often end up dead or disgraced before long. In the event that the House cannot rid itself of its rivals in such a direct way, the House of Greens turns to contracts to try and ensnare and litigate their obstacles out of power, eventually turning them into just another slave. Orders “You bear a legacy beyond millennia. A river of blood has carried you to this moment, and you shall carry our noble house along its path to our foregone destiny. Those who don’t will drown. Remember this as you take up the mantle we have graciously offered.” -Sovros noble speaking to newly inducted warriors of Vu de Zakkeg House Sovros is divided among several orders, ranging from the nobility to the commoners. All serve Darth Sovros, but outside of their master’s direct influence the orders are prone to cold and cruel competition with each other. Each plots to put their own Sovros in command of the House, and intricate plots years in the execution are an accepted reality among the House’s higher orders. Vel de Malraas, the Order of Assassins Sith who follow the path of the Assassin find themselves given over to the Vel de Malraas, an order named for the stealthy Malraas native to Dxun. This fraternity of killers, illusionists, and manipulators are currently the dominant order of House Sovros, largely due to the current Darth Sovros having risen from their ranks. The Vel de Malraas prefers subtlety and cunning to the brutality of the warrior or the strange magicks of the sorcerer. Indeed, it’s considered a blot on one’s honor to have one’s deeds attributed to one’s self. An ideal member of the Vel de Malraas will never be known as anything but another stuffed shirt sipping wine, at least until they bear the title of Sovros. Vel de Drexl, the Order of Warriors Named for the infamous apex predator, the Vel de Drexl takes on the martial duties of House Sovros. In particular, they take up the art of dueling with a fanaticism bordering on mania. Disputes are often settled by the saber among the warriors, though typically duels are only permitted to go until dismemberment, not death. Cybernetic limb replacements are a common sight on the warriors of House Sovros, and the rigorous scorekeeping of these contests determines a warrior's status. Outside of duels, most warriors are trained to dominate a drexl mount of their own, which they ride into battle at the head of the House’s common troops. No warrior can truly achieve greatness within the Vel de Drexl without a proper mount, and the most venerated warriors often duel atop these mounts in grand airborne spectacles excitedly watched by enthusiasts across the Empire. Vel de Crasna, the Order of Sorcerers Vel de Crasna’s titular creature is a good representation of the Order’s place within the House. Named for a carnivorous plant, the sorcerers of Vel de Crasna are known for approaching things from unconventional angles compared to their fellow, more predatory houses. Lurking in remote estates and in winding tunnels and catacombs, the Vel de Crasna is hardly ever seen by outsiders except at House functions and any opportunities for the scheming magicians to grab power. Accumulating lore and going through slaves like firewood, rumors abound as to the sorcerer’s goals and plots, something fed by the intricate and seemingly nonsensical rules and rituals followed by the order. Vel de Crasna earns its keep by providing the House with Sithspawn, “improved” slaves, curses, and Dark Side imbued talismans and weapons. Vu de Zakkeg, the Order of Riders The highest of the non-Sith orders, Vu de Zakkeg is composed of the failed children of the various family lines of House Sovros. That is to say, it’s made up of those born to House nobility without the blessing of Force-sensitivity. Their namesake animal, the tough and ferocious Zakkeg, are given cybernetic implants to allow the noble-born to control them, and the warriors of Vu de Zakkeg are trained their entire lives in the use of weaponry and battlefield tactics in order to serve the house in its conflicts and conquests. Some are trained in specialized fields, such as bounty hunting, finances, or technology, but most find their place on the back of a Zakkeg. Those who do well often find themselves a position of honor as a subservient spouse to a Sith, in an attempt to draw out the latent Force potential in the warrior’s bloodline. Vu de Boma, the Order of Vassals Near the end of his life, Abraxes Vastoga tried another method of creating Force-sensitives to increase House Sovros’ power. He secretly constructed an underground cloning facility, and began cloning himself and other Force-sensitives in the hopes that a few would bear the capacity to wield the mystical power he hoped to build his dynasty on. When clone after clone failed to display the necessary abilities and was promptly recycled, he refused to give up and expanded the operation. By the time he died, the cloning facility was truly vast, but had failed to produce any Force-sensitives. It was abandoned for a time, but with the coming of the Sith Empire the House saw the purpose of such a place and brought it back online. Short-lived clones were pouring out of the facility within a few years, and were being sold as high-quality slaves or made to serve as soldiers and workers for the House’s interests. Thus the Vu de Boma was born. Composed entirely of clones, the Vu de Boma forms the bulk of the House’s military force. Each clone is flash trained and brainwashed to make them perfect for their planned occupation, and House Sovros has not been hesitant about utilizing species specific to the jobs they require the clones to fulfill. Abyssins, with their capacity to regenerate from the abuses heaped on them, are typically found in the role of common laborers. Wookiees and Talz can be found leading Sovros battle-lines as shock troopers. Zeltron are cloned and trained as supervisors, taught to use their pheromones and telepathy to keep other slaves in line and root out dissidents. There are even rumors of a special project to manufacture the notoriously difficult to clone Clawdites to serve as a spy force. Some say that the House has already succeeded. Vu de Orbalisk, the Order of Servants A small order stemming out of the clones of Vu de Boma, the Vu de Orbalisk are servants and bodyguards for the three Sith orders of House Sovros. By tradition, the highly trained and extremely subservient order are the only slaves permitted direct service to the Sith of the House of Greens. As such, they hold great authority carrying out their masters wishes among the lesser Vu de Boma, and are given greater access among the House’s many properties. The Vu de Orbalisk acts as the right hand of the Sith orders, valued for their skill and trustworthiness. Occasionally a member of the Vu de Boma proves itself exceptional enough to be promoted to this honorable order, but more often members of the Vu de Orbalisk are custom cloned for the purpose. Genetically modified consorts altered to their master’s tastes lounge in parlors while warrior cyborgs decked out in gold and green patrol the halls.
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