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The two ships, a yacht and a shuttle, were little to get excited about as they entered the atmosphere of Aaris III. For the few beings planetside that had the technological abilities to note the ships, there was little to incite a response. The Death Striker base, long abandoned by that organization, was on the far side of the world. It was currently home to a small loosely-organized band of smugglers who used the wayward world as a storehouse and ad-hoc base for this portion of the galaxy. These two ships that swung low over the treetops presented little threat or fear to the minor criminal enterprise and their ill-gotten booty.
 

It was not entirely uncommon for ships to descend planetside. In as much as Aaris III was out of the way, forgotten, and of little use to the galaxy at large, it still attracted the occasional band of rich partying socialites or treasure-hunting history buffs. Nothing threatening to burly smugglers and sleazy fences. 
 

It was not an entirely wrong assessment. Inmortos and Apothos were fans of the historical. They did not present a true threat to the smugglers’ compound; at least not yet.

 

Inmortos’ Imperial shuttle hummed above the treetops. The world shone like a jewel both from space and on the surface. Every inch of industrialization had been taken back by the natural. The metallic cities were now covered by the sea, the sands, or the jungle. The external vents of the craft opened and began to scoop up the unadulterated air of the world. It replaced the reprocessed death-tainted air within the craft.

 

Inhaling deeply, the necromancer breathed in the heavy humid air above the jungles. Where another would have smiled at the fresh nutrient-filled life-tinged air, Inmortos did not. His smile was different, his dry cracked lips twisted in a demented cackle of delight. Where others smelled life, Inmortos tasted the lingering odor of death. Death was here alright, wherever life existed, death followed. The death here was different. It was planet-consumning. It was violent. It was omnipresent.

 

As the ships settled into a clearing along the sand-covered beach a short hike through the dense undergrowth from the forgotten city, their engine blasts kicked up plumes of sand and churned the beach waters into a froth. The vessels settled in as they began to go through their shutdown procedures. The landing ramp to The Eternus descended to the beach and the dozen undead Mon Cal residents shambles out to the world below, forming up two equal lines on either side of the walkway out towards the moss-covered trees.

 

Slowly, the Sith Lord descended the ramp. Each step was accompanied by a deep-seated clang from his heavy walking stick. Making the sandy beach, Inmortos paused. He inhaled deeply as he awaited his cohorts arrival on the world. A lesser man would have thought such a pristine and peaceful place would be beneficial for the soothing of a ravaged soul, the healing of a wracked husk. Inmortos was not a lesser man.

 

Closing his eyes, Inmortos adjusted his focus. Instead of focusing on the world before his eyes, his sight turned to that of eternity, of times present and past. Where his natural sight struggled, his view into the world of souls, life and death, was keen. Instead of jungles and trees, the Sith Lord saw the distance flickers of life, of souls, weak and pathetic as they might be. They were drawn to the rumble of the ships; curious but wary. Some visitors brought gifts; sweets, treats, and shiny knick knacks. Other visitors terrorized the primitives of this world. They had once ruled until an unnamed malady nearly drove them to extinction. They had nearly killed their entire race, pulled from the pinnacle of their status to where they now languished. They were lost in the bowels, within tunnels dug with their own bare lizarded hands underneath the now nature-reclaimed metallic cities and their ancient foreign technologies they once ruled. Inmortos could see them. He could sense their patheticness. He nodded in silence, assuring himself. They would do.

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The rarely visited jungle and Gaia world of Aaris III had little in terms of defense. They had a few rusted bulk cruisers that had been kindly donated by the old military mercenary organization but no one in the loosely organized defense gave it much hope. They had not been serviced in four decades, and the rust was thicker than the hull plating. 

 

AARIS III was doomed. The small defensive forces knew it. Sent out a comm through the old holonet beacon to the GA. Which they still believed existed. Then surrendered with all the dignity that could be offered. 

 

They had been abandoned decades ago by the strykers. Now they were abandoned by the Galactic Alliance which had died years before. The Sith were welcome to this Backwater. 

NPCs for boardwides and small stories on request

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The Iron Howlrunner's ramp lowered, and Krath Apothos descended in his walking throne, flanked by his Deepguard. His breath was already labored, and his dull grey skin gleamed with a greasy sheen in the humid heat.

 

Like his fellow Krath, Apothos cared little for the natural beauty of this place. The buzzing insects, the muggy air, and clinging muck only served as a distraction from the true potential of this place. Extending his mind outward, Apothos sought the faint signs of a civilization long gone.

 

Faintly he felt the presence of the Death Strikers camp, their weathered tools and picked over devices still relatively fresh. But it wasn't what he was looking for.

 

Deeper...

 

There. Below them. A cable passed directly beneath them, corroded and frayed but still mostly intact. The echo of thoughts and voices hung around it, clinging to the metal and insulation. A communications cable, a mile off and buried deep, but it must have been a large one for him to sense it from here.

 

He sunk deeper into his trance, letting the senses that the art of mechu-deru granted in conjunction with his own Dark Sight to feel the emotions that had been carried by the cable. Almost without conscious thought, he commanded his throne to begin walking closer to the cable.

 

Minutes passed, or maybe hours, Apothos could not be sure. The whole of his attention was focused on those faint whispers of an ancient people, their emotions preserved in the technology they had poured themselves in. As he grew closer, he began to sense those emotions that had been buried in those messages the cable had last carried. Anger. Fear. But hate most of all. A frenzied, clawing hate that even now, centuries later, Apothos could feel struggling to worm its way into his mind.

 

This had been no ordinary war. It had been something else. Something driven.

 

It did not matter. They were dead. But perhaps their war had left something for him.

 

He was nearing the cable, the underside of his walking throne and the chassis of his droids splattered with mud, when something else caught his attention. Technology. But large...and active.

 

His throne adjusted its course, and at his urging it began to lope across the ground, legs moving faster than they'd been designed to, but compelled to do so by their master's will.

 

As he closed in, he sensed what he was approaching. It was a ship, a bulk cruiser by the feel of it. Old and barely functional, but active. It had landed nearby, likely flying in low, either in the hopes of catching the two Sith off guard or because the junk ship couldn't be trusted to ascend above the treeline. Either seemed equally likely.

 

The throne picked up speed again, Apothos now taking direct control as if the device was an extension of his own body, though in far better shape. His droid escort was forced to sprint to keep up with their charge, and before long Apothos crashed out of the underbrush, startling a squad of what could only charitably be described as soldiers. Their blasters were spotted with corrosion, and their GA uniforms were so faded and mud-stained that it would have been difficult to tell them apart from work overalls.

 

A few raised their blasters, while the others only stared in stunned fascination at the bizarre sight before them. Charging them was a dirty mechanical throne, bearing a robed, half-dead neimoidian shrouded in a black cloth.

 

"H...halt!" One called out hesitantly. Apothos could feel his fear radiating out, and like a fire catching in dry brush, the other soldiers around him began giving off the stench of fear as well. They may not have known what Apothos was, but something deep in their gut told them he was nothing good.

 

Apothos gestured with his hand, and the blasters were yanked out of their hands. Such weak-willed pawns, abandoned here. Their pride had long since dried up, and their resolve had been quick to follow.

 

And their ship...

 

Apothos grimaced, even as the soldiers fell back and scrambled away, a few whispering "Sith" under their breath. One made it to the cruiser's ramp, only for it to retract and close before he could step foot on it.

 

Pathetic...but mine.

 

His will extended out to the rest of the ship, his mind parsing code and protocols, digging up maintenance records for problems that had long gone ignored.

 

His throne passed the stunned, frightened soldiers, and with a rusted shriek, the cargo elevator lowered from the underside of the cruiser. The soldier's surprise told Apothos that that particularly part of the ship hadn't been functional for years, but it responded to its new master's command.

 

"Your ship...is mine," Apothos said as he and his guard grouped onto the loading elevator. "You can stay here...or serve me."

 

The soldier who'd called for him to halt stepped forward, then stopped. His jaw jutted out, and his eyes narrowed.

 

"Long reign the Galactic Alliance," and Apothos felt a flicker of that pride kindle to life inside him.

 

Apothos cocked his head.

 

"Very well. Enjoy the walk."

 

As the elevator began to ascend, Apothos was pleased to see over half of the rest of the squad run forward and jump onboard the ship. Apparently their fear of what lived out here was enough to overcome their sense of loyalty.

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Apothos wasted no time. Inmortos raised a questioning eyebrow as his fellow sorcerer crashed into the underbrush. So many Sith were occupied with the here and now when eternity was all that mattered. Inmortos shrugged. The warped and twisted Neimodian had a role to play. In fact, the lizard wizard was proving to be quite useful now that his shackles had been removed.

 

Standing on the beach, a beachhead to his new dominion, Inmortos surveyed the lush growth that turned up in wall-like fashion at the edge ls of the sand. Vines, limbs, and greenery were all that could be seen when one tried to survey beyond. Yet still, Inmortos could sense them, their spirits, as they eked closer, their curiosity overcoming their sense of self-preservation.

 

Apothos was off, Inmortos could feel his ripples in the force as clearly as the winds overhead washed through the swaying trees. The subjugation of Aaris III was beginning and unlike the bread and butter warriors of the Sith, sorcerers had a different tact. There were no army-laden menaces falling from the sky to spill forth their conquering cargo. Bloodshed; Inmortos delighted in it even if it was not always the most direct application to a problem. There would be plenty of it in the coming days; just not yet. There were quicker, more efficient, subtler ways to accomplish the same goal. This world would fall not just to the Sith, not just the lords of Mon Cal, but to his dark touch: his eternal touch.

 

As the curious reptilian eyes began to peer through the foliage, Inmortos acted. Apothos would handle the offworlders. The locals here were now within Inmortos domain. Inhaling deeply, the air about the Necromancer paled; it’s temperatures dropping several noticable degrees. Taking a step forward, ice began to snake out from the Sith Lord’s feet and staff as they touched the ground.

 

Exhaling, a gale of frigid wind bellowed forth. Greenery shriveled and withered in a moment as the cone of cold sprung forth from the frail Lord’s lungs. Plumes of what seemed to be steamy smoke billowed upwards into the yet untouched humid air as anything caught in the projectiled blast of arctic air succumbed to the assault. Arcing out in lighting-like all-embracing patterns, ice spread at a rapid rate outwards from the font of power: the darkly swathed sorcerer himself. The sand crystalized into a solid, the sea began to solidify and break apart only to welcome in more rapidly cooling water that froze and repeated the cycle, the jungle withdrew as it might before the first trees bowed before the might of the cryomancer’s spells. They toppled with groans and crashes of thunder beneath the onslaught as they were iced over, their humid homeworld entombing them as they fell.

 

And there as the ice advanced, so to did Inmortos.

 

Within the wood, curiosity turned to shock, awe, and trembling at the display of power. The scaly cold-blooded primitives hissed warnings back and forth filling the jungle with a cacophony of noise as they watched and fell back before the onslaught of one man, his undead minions standing motionless behind him, towering sentinels of unknown purpose. Perhaps they too possessed the powers of the gods?

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The ship groaned and creaked as it rose over the trees. What should have been a smooth ascent was instead a vibrating. jerking rise. Apothos could feel his throne adjusting for what at first seemed like an uneven floor, but he soon realized it was the ship's gyroscopic balance malfunctioning. He doubted this thing could have even broken atmosphere before falling apart or exploding.

 

Around him, the rattling of scrap and broken machinery littering the floor drowned out the roar of the thrusters engaging. Behind him, the fear of the Galactic Alliance soldiers...or rather former soldiers...emanated out and filled the ship like a soft hum. But there was something else. Their fear didn't feel right. They were certainly afraid of him specifically, that was for certain, but it wasn't the bone-deep fear of helplessness or death. It was something else. Something more...anticipatory?

 

"INTRUDER"

 

Apothos' throne whipped him around, so attuned to him that it responded on its master's reflex. Lurching to its feet, buried in all the discarded tech, was an old, rusted droid. A large one. It only took Apothos a second to recognize a Red Terror droid.

 

"INTRUDER" it repeated, its old vocabulator laced with static. Its hands raised, and Apothos's throne turned again, putting its high back between Apothos and the droid's extending fingers. That may have saved Apothos' life, as the cap of each finger detached and the concealed blasters beneath erupted in laser fire.

 

Erupted might have been too strong of a word. Now that he was paying attention, he could sense that only 3 of the 10 blasters were functioning, and the larger blasters concealed in the chest were being stymied by the rusted chest plates refusing to retract. Still, three blaster bolts to the chest wasn't much less lethal than 10 for someone like Apothos.

 

Rage welled up inside the Sith sorcerer. How had he missed it? No, that was obvious. He'd been so intent on connecting to the ship he hadn't even bothered to check for additional security. There had been no other living thing onboard, and the possibility of a droid had never occurred to him.

 

A hissing screech of pure vitriol burst out of his frail form as his will slammed into the ancient droid, tearing through its mind and demanding that it submit.

 

The droid faltered for a moment, its blasters quieting. The lights of its photoreceptors flickered and dimmed...then brightened. It stood straighter with a new purpose. Deep within its memory banks, it recalled being abused by these same soldiers, frustrated at the isolation and monotony of their lives. If it was still intelligent enough to understand the concept of revenge (which was not for certain), those memories certainly did little to stop Apothos from taking control.

 

It lowered its arms with a rusted shriek, and stood at attention.

 

The back of Apothos' throne smoked, scarred black by the sudden attack. Then, slowly, legs clanking against the metal floor, it rose and turned. The hidden, blind face of Apothos was brought fully in line with the "soldiers" who had surrendered to him. Who had agreed to serve him.

 

Who were his.

 

"How dare you defy me?" Apothos rasping, weak voice betrayed none of the anger he felt. It sounded...curious.

 

"I...we didn't know-"

 

Apothos raised his hand to forestall the lie. His hatred swelled, ballooning inside his chest into something like the heart of a sun.

 

"How dare you?"

 

His curled hand extended straight, skin stretching painfully as he forced his fingers out. Apothos recalled the line of a tome he'd read a half-dozen times.

 

To wield the Dark Side is to wield raw power itself, drawn up by your emotions. If a practitioner can channel this power through their body, the natural bio-electrical currents running through your flesh can provide a suitable and ready template for that power to take. The consequences can be debilitating and painful to the wielder, but if one is determined to wield the true power of the Force, then sacrifice is a given.

 

Apothos took a breath. Then he let his hate call to the Force...and he let the responding power flow through him.

 

Brilliant, hot white-blue light crackled on his extended fingertips, and then burst out in a wild explosion of lightning. It ran along the walls and ceiling in wild arcs. It snapped, broke, and reformed over and over as it danced everywhere it could touch. Apothos' body shook with pain and laughter as he cackled while his fingers smoked.

 

After a few moments, the power exhausted itself, and Apothos slumped back into his chair, cradling his now blackened and injured hand.

 

The traitors were dead. So was the droid.

 

Apothos frowned. He had not meant to kill either. The soldiers he'd meant to punish, and the droid shouldn't have been hit at all. His control was-

 

His thoughts were interrupted by the ship giving out a loud, descending whine, and Apothos cursed. His little uncontrolled display of power must have touched on the ship's primary energy coils, and while the standard safety features and redundancies should have handled the power surge, this old piece of junk had likely had neither for quite some time.

 

The ship began to dip, and Apothos felt light as the ascent was reversed.

 

No. You will not fall while you bear me.

 

He extended his will once more, and called upon the ship to repair itself. His mind raced through systems and conduits, and where it touched the ship began to reassemble. Secondary and tertiary systems suddenly came back online. Rust shook itself off of pistons. Lights flickered on as diagnostic programs activated and began assessing the damages.

 

The ship began to level out, and as it did, alarms that had corroded into silence years ago suddenly garbled to life, blaring out proximity warnings. Then, faint and distorted, a voice warbled out into the cockpit. It was unintelligible, but as connected as Apothos was to the ship, he didn't need his hearing to know what it said.

 

"Impact imminent."

 

Apothos ceased his efforts on the ship, knowing he didn't have the time to fully fix it before it crashed. Instead, he turned his attention to his throne and the smoking droid.

 

"Protect me," he ordered, his will and the Force carrying the command along the channels of his mechu-deru.

 

The droid's chassis obeyed first, shrieking as the metal tore and flew towards Apothos. It wound itself around the arms and back of his chair, forming a protective shell that molded itself around the contours of the Krath's body. Pistons positioned themselves as make-shift shock absorbers, and even the blasters found use as single-use retro-explosives to correct and counter sudden shifts in momentum. It was an impromptu, one-use device composed of sheet metal and held together with the Force, but it might protect Apothos from the oncoming crash.

 

The last rivet screwed itself into place as the ship collided with the ground. The tearing sound of metal that had filled the room became utterly deafening as the ship's bow ground into and through the metal streets of the ancient city that had the misfortune of being in the vessel's path. Apothos' throne was tossed across the cockpit, legs scrabbling and clutching to maintain some kind of equilibrium. Bursts of tibanna gas struggled to counter the sudden movement as the remains of the blasters burst on cue. The metal shroud surrounding Apothos collided with the front viewport, sending spiderline cracks through the weekend epoxy material, and the pistons fired in perfect timing to mitigate the blow on its occupant. Even so, the collision left Apothos reeling.

 

The ship slid along the surface of the ancient city, toppling buildings with its bulk and shedding tons of rusted sheet metal behind it, before eventually grinding to a halt propped against one of the larger surviving skyscrapers. The building teetered and groaned, but miraculously stayed standing.

 

Inside, Apothos' damaged throne began to twist and repair itself under its master's mechu-deru. The droid chassis shell fell apart, its purpose served, and a bruised, battered, but living Apothos coughed and grimaced as his chair slowly lifted him from the mess of scrap that had buried him.

Edited by Krath Apothos
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Carving a swath of ice and downed trees, Inmortos advanced a sole entity of entropy on the humid worldscape before him. Creature and primitive alike fled before the icy tendrils that branched out into the undergrowth. As he passed, a path of dense ice coated the way in a glassy smooth frigid walkway. As he progressed deeper and deeper, the reptilian residents of the world began to cautiously appear at the edges of the ice, gingerly touching the solidified liquid and chittering in hushed clicking tones. What was this thing that subjugated their world at will? Did it not appear in the same way as the offworld interlopers, in a smooth stone from the sky? What then was this power this darkness-clad being commanded? Where others commanded light in fixed displays, this one subjugated all that stood in his path. Even the ancient forests fell at a breath.

 

Inmortos drew upon the darkness all around him. Life and death were prevalent here amongst the green. Tipping the scales drove the life-filled jungles towards the inevitability of death. With each moss heap that withered and tree that fell, the cryomancer’s necromancic powers grew infinitesimally. Every step was a surety towards the eternal guarantee. This world was ripe for the plucking, all Inmortos need do was reach out and grasp it. With Apothos having set off to handle the small off world remnants, Inmortos was free to subjugate all that befell him.

 

Finally, Inmortos lowered his hands, the direct blasts of frigid air dwindling, remaining only in the deathly aura of cold and shadow that seemed to cling to the Sith like a uncleaned coating of barnacles. With a trail of glassy cold coated destruction behind him, the Sith stood alone. Before him rose the collapsed and rusted walls of an ancient citadel. Forgotten by time, lost to the grasp of eternity. Beyond, Inmortos could see collapsed towers, skyscrapers, and other structures that boasted of an ancient civilization that had ruled this world. Forgotten to all, but not to the Sith. He could see beyond. With a glance, Inmortos could see what had been and he knew what would be. With that realization, he began to laugh, a raspy cackle that echoed along the ice trail and down along the deserted twisted streets. Forgotten no more, here, in the service of a Sith Lord who would not be forgotten, the city would be returned to a glory that it’s former might could ne’ar hold a candle to.

 

The dark Krath was wrenched from his machinations of glee by the crashing of a mighty, albeit derelict vessel, into the desolate city. The screeches of destruction mingled with the tangible cries of terror and pain that seemed to radiate from the ground itself. Immediately, Inmortos’ eyes glazed with unholy anger. This was his city, who dared touch it?

 

Leaning heavily on his cane, Inmortos plunged himslef at a rapid clip-clopping walk into the desecrated city. At the fringnes, emerging cautiously to glance were the innumerable reptilian residents who had once owned the city only to have become the slums of their own failures. The Sith Lord was cognizant of it, he did not care. This city would serve him, her occupants would serve, subjugate, or become the mortar upon which eternity was crafted.

 

Into the city he moved, a solitary reaper. Fallen obstacles  dissolved at the press of his hand to clear a pathway towards the city center. The closer he came to the downed vessel, the more Inmortos could taste the putridness of Apothos. What had he done? Had his power overwhelmed him already? Had he been but a pawn that strove for eternal glory only to be snuffed out?

 

As he finally neared the ravaged ship, a twisted thing of metal from a bygone technological boom, he tasted them, rising on the winds: the souls of the men desecrated by the Sith’s display of electric rage, bound in the cackling static of the force as even in death, they struggled to find peace.

 

Touching his hands to the bulkhead, Inmortos leaned, pouring necromaric energies of destruction and decay from his fingertips into the metal. The hull glowed an eerie orange as if it were superheated. It’s glow heightened in  intensity before suddenly the entire panel gave wave in a plume of rusted dust leaving a hole large enough for the necromancer to stoop and enter.

 

Inside he could smell the death. The tendrils of electricity and dark magics doing little mask their aura. The mangled bodies of the soldiers, burned and crushed would be of little use; not in that form at least.

 

Sweeping his hands outward, Inmortos began to quietly chant in a tongue more ancient than that of the original Sith. He called upon powers that ruled before civilization itself was more than an infant in the womb of the galaxy. The Sith’s raspy voice cracked and boomed with each horrid whisper. The temperature dropped with each syllable. He moved as a carrion bird, almost hopping from meal to meal, surveying each for the choicest of morsels. Running his hands across their ragged forms, Inmortos drew the last puff of breath from their lungs, carrying with them the essence of those who had died at Apothos’s hands. Each breath materialized into a glassy coat of snow across the fallen’s bodies. It was swept up by a telekinetic wave of the sorcerer, vanishing into the folds of his robes. Soulfrost. The temple had begun.

 

Only once his dark ritual was complete, the husks of the damned left to somidify in the cold or rot in the hest did Inmortos right himself to a fully standing position. He turned to look upon Apothos. “Worthy sacrifices my brother; but it is not enough. There are more here. More to be seen and subjugated to my will. Here, in this forgotten city, will my legacy be born for eternity.”

 

Outside the ship, numerous lizard-folk had gathered eying the ship and who or what it might contain. They withdrew fearfully at the swelling of cold that seemed to breathe from the ship itself in a steam as it met the humid airs all about. They hissed and whispered to one another as their hunter-caste, if it could be called even than, clutched their primitive spears and clubs in nervous anticipation of what was to come. The cry had gone out, something had come to their world. The bravest had gathered to investigate and if need be confront it.

 

Inmortos could feel them outside. He could taste them. He hoped to use them in life and in death. For now, he hoped that their lives would serve. Death was a readily available commodity; but each had it’s value. One not needless waste it when life could hold such a gift until the proper time.

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Inmortos stepped from the shadow of the ship, exiting the breach he had made. Outside he surveyed nearly a dozen skin, tunic, and leather clad lizardfolk. Each clutches a spear or some other makeshift weapon. Towards the back there were even some with crude bows of wood and sinew. 
 

The locals eyed the interloping Sith nervously. He could taste their fear. It was almost more sweet than the fear of the fish folk Apothos commanded. These base minds knew much less and feared even more. There was one thing they did know however: power. Power was what subjugated them to their false jungle deities. Power they feared and could not match. Power was what kept order in their subterrainian commonwealths. The rule of might still clung ahold to them, even if they were relatively peaceful.

 

It was true, they were not warriors. Still, Inmortos could taste the baseless death and destruction they had wrought upon this world as if it was yesterday. So fresh, so blurred was the passage of time to the decrepit Sith Lord.

 

All these people needed was a push. A push to show them true power. A push to inspire and invoke fear. A push to bring them under his thumb.

 

Looking out over the gathered few, the chosen, Inmortos knew what he must do. They did not share a language or culture. They did not need to.

 

Stepping forward, Inmortos footsteps crinkled with icy intensity as the moss and growth froze and snapped beneath his death-shod feet. He approached the militia, licking his dry lips and tasting their unease. He did not stop moving forward, slowly. They withdrew, pressed against one another until they were practically crushing their comrades for fear of this man and the aura of death that radiated from his very visage.

 

And then it happened. Finally. With no where else to go, no where to run, no where to turn, a young male drove his stoney spear point into Inmortos. The carved edges sliced through his cloak with ease and the weapon lodged in the Sith Lord’s side drawing blood and ichor in equal amounts to pool and saturate his garment.

 

Only then did Inmortos stop his progress. The dark Firrerreo locked eyes with the lizard-like local who was even now shaking uncontrollably with fear.

 

Not a word was said as silence seemed to fill the air and press in heavily from every side. Running his hand upon his blood-soaked robe Inmortos drew his hand up to look at his own mortality before he turned his attention back to the trembling cowardly soldier before him. Slowly, with the intensity and purpose of oncoming death, Inmortos reached down to grasp the haft of the spear in his bloody hand.

 

With a hiss the weapon dissolved in a crackling of splinters, falling downwards in a fine dust of aged sawdust. The offending lizard gasped as he held out his hands to see the dust that was his weapon sticking to his palms. His shock was not over though, far from it.

 

The Sith Lord lunged closer, his hands shooting out to grasp a limb and face of a lizard on either side of he who had struck him. In a ethereal tidal surge of power that vibrated the leaves of trees down the way, Inmortos unleashed his power so that all might behold. Both the lizard to the right and the left disintegrated to dust amid screams of agony. No one dared to move even as they cringed at the sounds of the pain.

 

Righting himself, Inmortos ran a hand down his wounded side, his innate abilities  already trying to stitch the wound. He coated his hand in blood and with it reached out. The lizardman who had attacked him nearly fell in fear, his knees knocking together. Inmortos grabbed his face and the lizard hissed in pain as the blood seemed to burn and freeze leaving a blackened raised scar across his maw.

 

Then and only then, did the Sith throw back his head and cackle. It was a laughter that reached to the sky. The air above them plummeted downwards in a whoosh of wind, it’s tempersture dropping rapidly at the touch of Inmortos’ voice.

 

And all here would know that he, Krath Inmortos, carried forth the powers of life and death, that by the touch of his hand eternal damnation was wrought, and by the kiss of his lips their gods would fall.

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In his mind's eye, Apothos watched the end of a world.

 

Seeing Inmortos take his domain was like watching the last breaths of a man taken by death. A violent , gasping death rattle, a last bucking of the body desperate to cling to what was already lost. Then nothing. Cold. Inevitable.

 

The locals certainly seemed convinced. The fear the radiated from them created a light to Apothos' sight that must have last been matched only by the burning inferno of this city when it fell. Pain, hate, wrath, fear, all saturated the metal beneath and around him.

 

The metal...

 

Apothos' chair lurched the remainder of the way out of the wreckage of the ship. The reptilian inhabitants noted him, but the dark presence standing before them was of greater concern. The neimoidian sorcerer paid them no heed. The city was what drew his attention.

 

He extended his awareness, finding broken circuits and shattered pistons hidden beneath the corroded sheets of corroded metal. Their function had long since gone, but the intricate intentions of the devices remained. Here was the corpse of a civilization, the bones hinting at the designs of its creators. Septic systems, communication lines, power networks...all present, and all decayed.

 

Then his mind touched on something. Like the crates of spice on Kessel, this hunk of metal hummed with the pain and fear its past had saturated it with. Leaving Inmortos to his conquest, Apothos's throne carried him down from the ship and through the streets. A few of the local lizards peeked their heads out, then hid as he passed, unaware their fear revealed them to Apothos far more effectively then his nonexistent eyes ever could.

 

He found what he was looking for at the end of a long alley, blocked by rubble. The debris was old, predating Apothos' misadventure with the ship. It appeared that a blast of some kind had sheared away portions of the surrounding buildings, covering this portion of the alley. But it was the piece of broken scrap metal jutting out from the rubble that caught Apothos' attention.

 

Upon closer examination, it was a weapon of some kind. A large tube that had carried some kind of power generator. Some kind of heavy, anti-armor weapon then. The lizard that had carried it must have hated with a true fire, greater than anything his peers might have felt, for Apothos to sense it this long afterwards. But it was not alone. Scattered, like dying embers, were the flickers of other dark emotions, all linked to weapons of different kinds.

 

Why here? Why had such a cluster of weapons (and presumably the remains of their owners) ended up here?

 

Apothos extended his awareness again, and found his answer.

 

There was a security system here. Advanced, capable, better than anything he'd seen on this planet. Tucked away in this random alley, its sturdy construction had held up remarkably well, leaving it almost functional. Masterless, it responded to Apothos' command almost eagerly.

 

A panel, partially obscured by rubble, squealed and shifted, then finally slid away to reveal a passage.

 

____________________________________

 

Apothos's chair exited the long, winding passage, deep beneath the city. The heat had grown intense as he descended, far more than made sense. It pressed against him, oppressive and insistent, as if the city was making a last ditch effort to hide its secrets.

 

As his throne made the last few steps, he sensed what he hadn't before.

 

A forge.

 

A city of metal. All that metal has to come from somewhere.

 

Below him was a massive pit, hundreds of feet across. He could sense more, lined up in each direction, cold holes that had once held the great fires that smelted this civilization into existence. Automated arms hung limp from corroded rafters, awaiting commands for manufacture. Blocks of metal and carts of ore sat in neat piles, never to be used.

 

The silence was absolute. This place had remained undisturbed since the city had fallen.

 

Apothos laughed.

 

A dry, rasping laugh that built and echoed through the chambers. And his will came with it.

 

A tiny, tiny glow glimmered to life in the bottom of the forge closest to Apothos. Then it grew brighter. And brighter.

 

Fuel lines reconnected. Plating bent back into place and shed years of corrosion. Status lights blinked back on.

 

There was so much here.

 

Let Inmortos keep his dead.

 

This steel corpse belonged to Apothos.

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Over the coming days, the foundries that Apothos had discovered beneath the city churned evermore to life. There was all the taw materials a fledgling foundry could ask for. Soon enough the dull roar of their fires could be heard grumbling faintly beneath the city. Weapons, armor, and even the beginnings of an ancient lizard-designed corvette began to take shape beneath the surface. The entry to the foundry that Apothos had found was but one of a chain of such structure, some larger and smaller. Most of them were still secured; although a couple had to be rid of lizardly inhabitants and their primitive abodes.

 

On the surface, Inmortos’ will began to reverberate from his display of power. The lizardfolk warriors who had witnessed the dark lord’s display of power had been quick to spread the news of what they had seen to the others until hisses and chirps were resounding about the island. Within a day’s time, the people were bringing offerings to appease this new being that had descended from the heavens and called forth powers to overthrow their own gods with a wave of his hand.

 

Nothing they brought was good enough. Nothing could appease Inmortos’ appetite. A chosen few, given the mark of the beast, for that is what they called the blackened palm print Inmortos bestowed upon those who quivered bjt dared to stand up to him, had become a sort of vanguard for Inmortos. While they could not stand against his undead Mon Cal and Quarren servants, they served a purpose. They were allowed into the presence of their dark deity. They alone were not struck down in his presence without a gift. They became his hands in their tribes.

 

Over the weeks they began to assemble vast populations of their kin. Some began to slave away in Apothos subterranean realm of fire and shadow. Others worked to clear the rust and overgrowth from the downed city. When one died, his soul was drawn forth by Inmortos himself. It was the only time labor ceased, when the dark deity strode forth to reclaim the life lost. In grief, hope was found; for those who died in the service of their new god-king were reborn, stronger, fearless, and strange. Those blessed enough to die in service worked without ceasing, elevated in status over their mushy mortal brethren. The secrets of necromancy were Inmortos’ alone; but to the primitives, he was their god. He was a defier of death, conqueror of all that was seen and unseen.

 

Those who did not work were sent into the abyss of fire and darkness to slave before the master of the hellscape, never to be seen again.

 

Long dead warriors, ancestors, and friends were unearthed and brought before Inmortos. They too received his touch and rose again to ‘live’ and serve alongside those that had counted them lost for all eternity. 

 

And so, the peoples worked diligently. They harvested their foods and purged their city at the will of their overlord.

 

Each lizard that was worked to death had his soul frost harvested, the beginnings of Inmortos’ temple and tomb. Atop the toppled spire of the city’s highest point, a ziggurat of ice began to take shape, it’s cold tendrils branching outwards over the city blanketing the area in an eternal autumn of cool winds and cold nights. Fallen sheets of metal and stones were hoisted by the primitives sheer strength of numbers and desire to please their new god-king. The tower took shape looming over the landscape.

 

The city was coming to life. The world was bowing before the Sith and in that submission, the ancient prosperity was coming to the present and growing exponentially.

 

Within a grand circular central chamber atop the ziggurat, Inmortos stood, his hands raised high and blackened by the frigid air that whirled and swirled about him. He chanted, dark ancient words of prophecy, older than the Sith Empire, older than the Jedi or the Sith, almost as old as the universe itself.  From his maw spilled the frost of countless souls, primitives, Mon Cal, any and everyone Inmortos had harvested from. He poured their deaths, their darkest emotions into his creation until it was complete. An ornate throne of swirling whirls and jagged maws of mythical creatures sat there. It was the center of the room and from it radiated an ink cold darkness. It was the lack of fire, lack of heat and light. It was an analogy of death itself, sustained by the darkness and frost and blood that were poured into it. For days, Inmortos carved bloody deathly runes into every sacrifice his enforcers brought to him until the blood  flowed freely down the throne and poured forth from the ziggurat unto the masses below. 
 

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks to almost a month a vast horde of living and dead assembled beneath the command of Krath Inmortos, deity of life and death. They were armed with fanged blades and clothed in feral armors of night.

 

The dread corvettes that slowly chugged out of the atmosphere were unable to contain the mass army of undead that were being pulled from the soil. The city continued to serve. The ziggurat grew and it’s icy halls expanded outwards, bolstering the foundation and oozing darkness, cold, and ice.

 

It was only then that Inmortos and Apothos opted to depart their newfound conquered world, to return to the lair of water and machine, to Apothos’ den of iniquity. A fleet needed to be commanded to augment the smaller ships of Aaris III and carry forth the armies of Inmortos and the navy of Apothos unto the galaxy.

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