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Ziost


Tarrian Skywalker

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Darth Mavanger watched from seclusion with interest. His cloak his his telltale armor, and while he doubted his presence in the force went unnoticed, her rested easy knowing that any who noticed him would likely let him bide his time. He knew the Sith needed strong leadership, and this new contender seemed to offer it. He would lead them himself in due time, but he had no place in aiding their efforts to rebuild, at least not yet. But there had been discontent even with Darth Nyrys, a renowned master of the Dark Side with a storied history of victory- there was no telling how the Sith would accept this stranger. She had power, but no standing ,and none loyal to her cause to protect her claim. While he believed her worthy, at least for now, the Sith needed stability to rebuild.

 

Should she fail to grant that, he would step forward and claim the title for himself. But should she defeat her challengers, claim the throne free of any real dissent, then he would return to the shadows, watching, waiting for the day that he would lead the Sith from hiding into a glorious new conquest.

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  • 1 month later...

Darth Mavanger approached quietly, his rage a vortex in the Force, sucking in the light and spitting out a foul miasma of hatred and wrath, even in a dormant state. His hood concealed his mask, but many Sith here already knew him by his stature and weapons alone. The new Dark Lord had made a good show of her power, but she was still new to the galaxy of the present day. He didn't want the throne- not yet. The Sith needed a gentler hand- His would only guide them to all out war, and they could ill afford that now. But his counsel could be useful. He stepped up, climbing the raised position that Darth Calpyso had taken.

 

"Darth Calypso, I am Darth Mavanger, Sith Warmaster under the previous Dark Lord. Should you find yourself a moment away from those below us, I would like a word with you before I depart this twice-damned world."

 

He spoke only loud enough for Darth Calypso to hear him through his mask before brushing past her towards his commandeered shuttle. His words were not for the remnants of their once mighty empire.

 

 

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Darth Mavanger glanced at the new Dark Lord as she spoke. Then it was true- She wasn't from this time. Shemay very well have been from the era of the Old Republic and Old Sith Empire, the one he had so foolishly tried to emulate in his early years. Those were simpler times- The Rebels were naught but a few isolated incidents, and he had been surrounded by allies, both force sensitive and otherwise. In the years of fighting that followed, he'd lost everything. He'd lost brothers, friends, his lover, fallen out of favor with the Dark Lord Exodus. And then, Darth Nyrys had given him a tool. The tool that had pushed his humanity to its breaking point until he lost that, too.

 

"I am as much a warrior as I am a strategist. Your challenge was tempting, to be sure. You do, after all, stand before a generation of Sith that served under me, and beside me in the galactic conflict. But after Nar Shaddaa, the Sith don't need another warrior, leading them to their deaths before they've recovered their strength. Have no doubt that when the time comes, I will take your title or die trying. Maybe it will finally stick. But for now, I have my own objectives, my own plans to enact. You have my word, whatever that's worth in the pit of vipers that are Sith politics, that I will not undermine your rule. I care not for my own glory, only the death of the fools in the Sovereign Alliance."

 

He took a moment before speaking again. At his mention of death, he remembered Naboo. The crucible that had turned him into what he is today- Rage and fury incarnate.  Since the Dark Side had reached out, dragged him back to unholy life, those emotions had never truly faded, although he had better control over them now than he had before. It's what made him so dangerous.

 

"My current objective is to remain on the course plotted by the previous Dark Lord. I will slay any who represent strong leadership within the Alliance, and leave the vultures to tear themselves apart. I know of Akheron's ambitions to grow his little cult. Inmortos wishes to draw ultimate power from the dead. I wish to lay waste to the Alliance. But I wonder, Darth Calypso, what your goal is for the Empire that I have bled and sacrificed for while we rebuild."

 

He did not fear her, or her machinations. She was surely formidable, perhaps she could kill him, and perhaps it would be his final death, but fear was weakness. He was, however, cautious. He told her part of his plan, that she may focus on that, and remain oblivious to what remained. Geonosis had thusfar remained safe from the Alliance, so far into the Outer Rim, but it was only a matter of time before they consolidated their forces and started striking at old Sith holdings. Already, Korriban had heard whispers of interlopers. 

 

He had much to do, but getting to know the Dark Lord was, for the moment, his largest priority.

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Darth Mavanger considered her words for a while before responding. The truth in her words was evident in her passion and the Dark Side's reaction to it. But what wasn't was whether she included the current Sith in her hatred of the Galaxy. She spoke as though she intended to lead them on the path of destruction, but had left it ambiguous as to whether or not that would include their own. He sighed, looking at her.

 

"I must tell you Calypso. I have lost everything for the Sith. Brothers, friends... lovers. I've protected our empire at Kuat and Corellia countless times, and I've burned theirs to the ground at places like Naboo and Nar Shaddaa. I've defied one Dark Lord, and followed another into madness. I have slain a Queen and claimed a world, and I have slain an Empress and toppled and empire, all in the name of the Sith Empire. Even though my life is not dictated by the whims of the Empire, I will not stand idly by and watch as you burn the results of my suffering and sacrifice down alongside the Alliance to satisfy your lust for destruction. I've made that mistake once before. I have no plans on getting between you and your enemy, as long as that doesn't include the Sith."

 

He let his words sink in for a moment before continuing.

 

"But these are not words of war, nor a declaration of my opposition. Make no mistake, when the time comes I will challenge you for the throne, as is the way of the Sith. But that day is not today, and until it is, our interests align. If you learn of someone who needs to be slain, simply inform me and I will do so."

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Darth Mavanger nodded slowly. He was talking to an ancient creature, he knew that much. She had likely seen cycles within cycles within cycles. But that did not make her omniscient on the ways of the Sith.

 

"There is truth in your words, Sorceress. The Sith have always been their own downfall. I would often debate such a topic with Lord Xahl, a dear friend of mine. He had the same mindset as you did- The Sith were destined to grow, unite, then fracture under the weight of our own hubris. I've always believed that growing out of our more... self destructive tendencies was the key to the survival of the Sith Empire. But that is something easier said than done, for they spawn from what it means to be a Sith at it's very core. If we don't seek to topple each other for power and position, do we truly uphold the most valuable tenants of our order? But that debate died with him over Kuat. Struck down by a coward who would sooner flee than face the consequences of his actions."

 

He inhaled slowly, remembering that moment. Xahl's smoking corpse tumbling across the durasteel ground, slick with the blood of the rebels they had just killed. A man struck down by his own lightning. A stark mirror to his own philosophy, and the first of many to die in Mordecai Valar's quest for conquest. One that would be warped into a crusade of vengeance, who's final victim was the man himself. All that was left now was Darth Mavanger, the Sith Warmaster. Fury incarnate, as unkillable and the Sith's ancestral rage.

 

Sorrow bled into rage, which in turn brought on more sorrow. They were two sides of the same coin, a vicious cycle of death and mayhem. But he had the power to break it. Whe nthe Imperials and the Alliance lay burning at his feet, when those responsible for this collapse of an empire had met their Empress in the afterlife, the circle would finally be broken.

And his chains would be broken.

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Darth Mavanger glanced at his communicator, his moment of introspection interrupted by a message marked as urgent across all Sith communication networks. He scowled, listening to its contents. He looked at the Dark Lord, nodding his head.

"It seems our work never ends. I will handle this ill-planned call to arms, and do what I can to cripple the Jedi. Until we meet again, Darth Calypso."

 

He send his own message through the communicator, his unique identifier notifying any who saw it of his role as Sith Warmaster. It would remain his job until Darth Calypso said otherwise- Any who would cast doubt on his worth would meet his blades, as every previous foe had.

 

"By order of the Sith Warmaster, all forces are to belay that order. To reveal ourselves at such a critical time would undo everything we have looked to do. I will handle this incursion myself, but we will not hold Falleen."

 

He quickly boarded his shuttle, departing Ziost, and powered his hyperdrive, bound for Falleen.

Edited by Mavanger
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  • Esterhazy changed the title to Ziost
  • 5 months later...

Darth Mavanger gazed upon Ziost from the observation deck of the Raven's Bane, a quiet moment of contemplation in the frenzy of the planning and preparation for the battles to come. It occurred to him just how rarely he had opportunities like this- He had always sprinted from one fight to the next, seeking out his next victory, his next battle, his next enemy. Rarely had he been given the moments to contemplate why he fought. At first, it was for legacy. He wanted to make his mark on the galaxy, to create a legacy that people respected. After Dark Sun, it was to serve the Dark Lord with fanatical devotion, to be his trusted servant.

 

After twin battles of Kuat and Corellia, his purpose had shifted. If the Dark Lord had been unwilling to grant him status after his victory, he was going to take it for himself. He surrounded himself with powerful allies and loyal warriors, and brought the rebels in the Outer Rim to their knees, only to lose the one person he valued above himself. Vengeance had consume the next years of his campaign, leading to the death of the Empress and the fall of the Sith Empire.

 

And what was it all for?

 

This barren world was all that the Sith held claim to. Many knew his name, but what power did his people truly wield now? He had but one ship and the battered crew that manned it.

 

True to his hope, his sensors confirmed that Darth Akheron's ship was also in orbit. He thought he could see it in the far distance, a speck of off-colored light contrasting with the rest of the galaxy. He thumbed the Sith command comlink- it had been rarely used since the fall of the Sith Empire, but he knew Akheron would still hold one.

 

"Darth Akheron. The Warmaster has need of your presence. Report to my ship immediately and make your way to the observation deck."

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Darth Mavanger shook his head as the other Sith proclaimed his support for whoever proclaimed their leadership next.

 

"Maybe one day I will know the words that will impart upon you the wisdom I have found in my own death. Free you of the idea that the Dark Side grants us freedom, chooses it's champions. But the days of Dark Lords being some... mythical selection by the Dark Side is over. Thrice they have failed us. Exodus let dissent build within the Empire, Nyrys let the empire fall, and Calypso let the Sith fade from unity. When I came to the Sith Empire, they were powerful, united behind a leader that had led them to battle time and time again. I seek to usher in this era again. I will blaze a trail through the galaxy to it's very core with a Sith Empire reborn as warriors and generals, statesmen and logisticians. We will set the seeds of an empire to surpass any that have come before."

 

He watched the other warrior for signs of dissent, of aggression.

 

"I would claim the mantle of Dark Lord, as is my right as the Warmaster of the Sith Empire, the Warden of Kuat, the Scourge of the Outer Rim. I will claim this title in the name of my deeds, as your general, your ally, and the man that our troops trust with their servitude. I have invited you here to give you an opportunity to draw your blade in opposition, or to kneel to me as the true master of the Sith Order, as earned through my actions, through my force of will, not deigned worthy by some supernatural presence that deems me it's avatar, but by the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices I have made for our people. What say you, lord Akheron."

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  • 2 weeks later...

If Darth Mavanger was moved by his peer's pledge of loyalty, he did his best not to show it. He was glad to hear that Akheron would finally be abandoning his foolish beliefs, and was eager to see what he could do unbound by mysticism and blind faith. He turned to Tros, nodding at the man who had first found him in deep space.

 

"Lend your forces to this purge if Darth Akheron will have them. Chances for the real thing will be few and far between in the coming days while we rebuild our strength. Int he mean time I will task my remaining agents with finding the remaining Sith so that I may offer them the same ultimatum- Serve, or fight. Our unity is what allowed us a hold on the galaxy. When that fractured, so too did our grip on the people. I will not make that mistake."

 

He opened his communicator and send a signal. It was a signal to his troops, to his command structure, that the game was now afoot. With the support from Tros confirming the loyalties of the Mandalorians, and a known Sith like Akheron supporting his claim, all that was left was ascertaining if Calypso yet lived and if so, whether or not she opposed his ascension. Deep down though, he knew they wouldn't be able to find her. Whatever dark side experiments she had departed to perform were likely the cause of her disappearance.

 

Still, even without direct opposition, there was work to be done.

 

"You mentioned the Shadow's Gambit. I don't know it, but if you're speaking of it then I presume it has some importance to you and your coming plans? Speak freely."

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  • 3 months later...

Darth Mavanger walked through the ruins of Ziost's surface, the planet's cold biting at his being even beneath his robes and armor. He hadn't truly understood the magnitude of the Daith Order's failure to recover from the war in the early days, each still pouring resources into fighting the tide of Sovereign and Jedi forces to hold onto whatever pieces of the galactic stage they could. Instead, they had lost everything, and were left with nothing to rebuild. All around him was evidence of this. Sith who didn't know the first thing about building an empire, only maintaining one that had been built by others.

 

So used to their palaces and offices, they were unprepared for the harsh ice age that Ziost demanded they endured. Most that had the ability had retreated to the ragged fleet in orbit. He had received a few petitions of loyalty himself for such a luxury to be provided, but he had declined them all. They would learn to endure the elements, or they would never be able to retake a galaxy who's populace now resented them.

 

Still, not every Sith had been rendered helpless. The useless had sunk, resembling the beggars and the rabble more than Sith without the support of nearly limitless resources, but the truly powerful and resourceful were starting to rise to the occasion, establishing their own districts and territories that they ruled over like petty kings and queens. He had visited several such places, gaining the allegiance of those that would bend the knee, and gaining the heads of those few who had tried to oppose his rise. He was content to let the survivors continue their rule once they had sworn fealty on the condition that they heed his call when the time came.

In truth he could have mobilized them today, struck out for battle in a desperate attempt to regain a foothold. Part of him wanted to do just that, to relish in the simplicity of waging war. But he was surrounded by the consequences of such sentiments, and understood the need to let his people stabilize. This brought him to where he was now. It was a humble place, an old restaurant in the heart of the old capitol. And yet, despite the humble appearance, it was Sith, and a place left untouched by the surrounding would-be warlords. It drew curiosity as to why such a small position would be left unassailed, and warranted a visit if nothing else. He entered fully expecting to be stopped, either by guards, words, or traps, but met no resistance. Curious indeed.

 

He could feel the difference in the air as soon as he entered- Not heat per-se, not this close to the entrance, but a lack of biting wind and the start of a new structure built over the old. It was almost a metaphor for the Sith as a whole, but he wasn't concerned to ponder such things at the current moment. Moving deeper, he could see a familiar glow, a known presence in the force. A forge.

 

He reached the doorframe, his frame blocking out any stray light that may have found its way in, leaving only the light of the fire to illuminate the room. He could see who he could only presume to be the owner of the forge at work, studying whatever tome or manual she had managed to salvage from the fallen empire.

 

"I'm impressed. It took me the might of a hivemind to assemble my forge this efficiently, and yet you've managed to perform such a feat out of the kitchen of a diner. How did you manage such a thing?"

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Darth Mavanger watched the Sith for signs of trickery-  and was relieved to see none. She was well built, the time behind the forge shown by her figure. Her spirit was commendable as well- she was not one who would fall to the elements, at least. Not every Sith who had survived the collapse would be able to say the same. How she managed to fend off the warlords, though, remained to be seen. Was she simply too small for them to notice so far? Did she offer her services? Was she dangerous enough that letting her have one building on the fringes of their territories was a minor appeasement? All of these questions he would know the answer to in time.

 

"The extent of complacency within the Sith will never cease to disturb me. You are correct that I seek no such pity. I forged my will on the front lines of war and conflict, in space and on ground. I had thought that I found allies cut from the same cloth, but alas, they have disappeared along with Calypso and those loyal to her. No matter- The Sith were once powerful enough to annihilate any form of resistance to our rule, and with the right leadership, we can be that again."

He didn't move as he spoke, watching for signs of hostility.

 

"I would offer that leadership. I don't ask that you kneel if you do not know me, nor my deeds, but I would ask a service of you. My blades have been lost in the throes of battle and chaos and rage. I would petition you for a new weapon. My forge is far from here, and returning to it risks both its' secrecy, and Ziost's. In return for services rendered, I would offer you a fresh shipment of bodies to continue your repairs and your fortifications. They are on their way as they speak."

In truth, he didn't know that she was a forgemaster when he had come, but everyone on the planet was looking for manpower. Whether she had been a fighter or a crafter, he would have found use for the slaves.

 

 

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Darth Mavanger pondered the smith's words. In his time studying the Sith Forge he had read about such rituals, and she didn't ring of deceit or treachery, neither in her body language nor her presence in the force. He walked forward, lifting a large cleaver from it's position on a wall rack. He examined it closely- it was a twisted, old thing. He could only imagine the creatures it must have cut to create a fine cuisine. Now, though, it would taste a different kind of flesh. He looked at the smith, a stern expression upon his face.

 

"Then it is done."

 

He placed his arm upon the counter closest to the lit fire, taking only a single breath before bringing the cleaver down on his arm with frightening speed in power. In a mere moment, it had been severed just below the elbow, blood spurting across the counter with a warmth that seemed almost cool compared to the fire of the forge. He withdrew the stump quickly, shoving it into the fire to cauterize the wound. As the fire flared and his flesh melted, his stoicism broke, and he released a bloodcurdling scream. It carried not only the pain of the wound and of the flames, but deeper pain, something more ephemeral. A wound that would not heal with bacta or with time. One that had festered now for years. One that he had pushed down and abandoned for the sake of the Dark Lords before him.

 

Vengeance had never truly been his.

 

But now the Sith were at his command. Not a contingent, not a war front, not the military. The entirety of the Sith Empire was at his back, and he would wield them as a blade. He would cut a wound deep into the same part of the Sovereignty's soul as what now bled him every moment of every day.

 

The Galaxy would know peace only when there was nobody left to fight him.

 

He removed the stump of his arm from the fire with a shuttering breath, steadying himself. Once, he had thought himself able to rest. That if he couldn't find a cure to what ailed him, that he could stop the pain in another way, in the embrace of death. But he was denied his death on Naboo. The Dark had dragged him from the brink with but a single purpose- to burn those responsible for Jarvus's death world by world.


And then again, in a moment of clarity aboard that damned shuttle, forced to leave Falleen, he had consigned himself to the same fate. That he would never again be called upon to face these things. The cold expanse of space had consumed him, hidden him- Until the Dark led that damned sorcerer to his resting place. Back into the war. Back into the politics.

Back into pain, and suffering.

 

It was who he was.

 

It was what he was.

 

But the time had come to uphold his end of the bargain, and his moment of introspection faded as his arm cooled and the pain began to simmer. Clarity was once again lost. He led the smith to the courtyard, where many already lay slain by an over zealous sorcerer. For a moment, he looked for the offender, intending to bury the cleaver in the chest of whoever had disobeyed his orders.

 

He was pleasantly surprised to see the man already dead, his corpse used as a seat for a militant slave. Something about her seemed different than the rest- The way she carried herself, even here, spoke to him. She was a fighter. A warrior. A predator. It was no wonder that she was who the smith was drawn to. Indeed, had he known such a presence was amongst the slaves and captives he would have done things much differently.

 

"They are yours. Whether you sacrifice them, train them, or set them free matters not to me so long as it does not threaten our position here on Ziost."

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