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The sun felt warm against his bronze skin and ivory hair as Shiro was dragged out of the tent by the poles collar, the shackled chains ringing around him as he stared out into the masses of aliens that surrounded and stared at him attentively upon the arena like stage, his anger fueled by the mere thought that was no more than a oddity, the same look he saw from the others on Odik II.

 

"We'll start the bid at twenty five thousand credits." Shiro heard the man state as his crimson eyes darted toward him and he momentarily felt the familiar tingle of electricity shooting through his form. "Twenty five thousand to our Trandoshan friend in the back. Do I hear thirty thousand?"

 

It would go on like this for several minutes, most of it a blur for Shiro as he struggled against his confines only to constantly feel the pain of electrocution vibrating through his form. Odik II and the way he was treated there was one thing, but now he had become a captive, and being sold as if he was property. And this made his blood boil with intensity that he had never felt before. If only he could free himself. If only he could reach out and grasp those binding him, he ache to crush their throats and bury their egos in the hatred that was beginning to form within his heart. If only.

 

"Five hundred thousand credits!" Shiro heard abruptly, his gaze shooting to see a onyx skinned fellow dressed in fine silk standing off to the side, a group of crimson skinned confidants standing around him as the beings voice caught everyone off guard, Shiro included. "F-F-Five hundred thousand you say, friend?" Shiro heard the bidding manager stutter out in disbelief. "I'll have to see it to believe it."

 

The onyx skinned being and his comrades began their stroll through the crowd, the crimson skinned beings that surrounded him pushing onlookers aside with authority that even Shiro could not question, his mind not only dumbfounded, but taken completely aback by, a hint of fear rushing in. When the man stood before the stage, he reached up and stroked his beard like tentacles, and said only a few words that even sent the manager reeling fear, making Shiro wonder why he even ran during his arrest. "House Zibeti claims him in the name of the Dark King. Don't worry human, the credits are good." 

 

As he tossed a credstick upward into the hands of the human manager, his men climbed up and began to drag Shiro away, the young boy screaming a echoing proclamation derived from pure wrath just seconds before stun prods were brought out and his world ended in darkness once again. "I will never be anyone's property, his nor your's."

 

As he slipped away into unconsciousness, he heard the being reply. "Good. I will hold you to this."

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Zalis spent the next few days making a few press conferences, comm calls out to other investors and contacts who have suddenly become very aware of the new development within Black Sun and the clear as day change of how they were going to operate. After she finished up her business with everything that she could do on Onderon, she and Remo departed back to Old Mantell to re-establish the pecking order for things to come. 

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  • 4 months later...

Onderon, the new jewel of the Sith Empire. Or at least the newly reacquired and subsequently heavily polished jewel of the Sith Empire. Its history with the Dark Side ran deep, as the many Sith ruins on the world proved. Now a new Dark Lord has built a shiny new Dark Tower that surely wasn’t going to eventually join all of the other rotting edifices to ego that dotted the landscape in moldering dereliction. It was arrogant and wasteful hubris to try and explain true greatness to one’s inferiors, their definitive limited mental capacity was part of why they were inferior. The only worthy judge of an apex predator was the predator, the only hallmark of worthiness success.

 

Gwyndion could manipulate the fundamental fabric of the universe like it was a beggar desperate for drug money. No statue or monument could ever rival experiencing that level of existence. Why care about how slaves would remember you?

 

Gwyndion’s eldritch works had advanced to a point where he required a knowledgeable assistant, someone with enough understanding of the basic theories and formulas to perform related tasks at a level resembling competence. That was why he had come to Onderon, in hopes of finding a tolerable underling that could assist in a greater capacity than his thralls. They certainly had their uses, but usually it only took one heated outburst from their master to reduce their chemically bound minds to a state of lamentation bordering on suicide. Thrall turnover was a consistently high statistic.

 

Soon, however, the Sith would deliver an answer. Or a meal, if the candidate was found lacking. And there were so many ways to fail...

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"Wait outside."


Nok stood before the entrance of a tower, imposing and shaped to menace the land rather than blend with it. His battle droid bodyguards halted at his command, oblivious to what Nok could sense.

 

This place was newly built, but it radiated with the Dark Side. As he stared blindly into the structure, the uneasy feeling that he was trespassing crept over him.

 

I don't belong here.

 

He grimaced and squashed the thought. He'd been in the presence of true Sith before, and while this feeling was subtler and more insidious than the ferocity of his previous master, Nok knew better than to trust his instincts in a place like this. To back down, to show weakness, to give up, that would be the end of him as a Sith student...and possibly as a living being.

 

Still, better to leave the droids outside. They were his weapons, but here was a place Nok would need no weapons, at least none so obvious as the droids, and the clanking bots could be irritating at the best of times. No sense antagonizing a Sith.

 

He strode into the tower with a confidence he convinced himself was real. He allowed his fear to blossom inside him, and given where he was it didn't take any encouragement. He was afraid, but his intellect saw past the base emotion, letting it become the tool that allowed him to see. The Force echoed with the surging and waning of his dread, and as it did his attuned mind "saw" the tower interior around him. He barely noticed the details, watching for the Sith he knew was here.

 

Nok had reached the end of what he could accomplish on his own, without a master. He had spent years and a small fortune collecting Jedi and Sith trinkets with a new perspective, studying old texts and uncovering the philosophizing of ancient masters. He trained himself as best he could to master his new sight, to control the fear that was the birthright of his species and his greatest source of power. But now he'd stagnated, blindly groping for secrets and abilities he knew rightfully belonged to him but maddeningly eluded him. And so, he'd returned to Onderon, and found himself here, in the lair of a Sith known to be looking for an apprentice.

 

"I'm here," he called out into the empty space of the large tower chamber he found himself in. He held his arms out and turned slowly, posture straddling confidence and arrogance. "Do I meet your expectations?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

"..Neimodian." The word strangled from a rasping voice, throaty and outlandishly darker than the milieu of the tower. Attention drew to the figure in black, bandaged completely in a robe of shadow, hauntingly poised a few feet behind the one drawn as Nok Morliss. This creature had been tasked to him since the Kuati invasion, digesting behaviors and patterns in the force unfamiliar to those that could not read them. There were no features to scrutinize, nothing to escape the overlapping shadows that clamored about the creature unnaturally. Whatever this thing was, manifested cold insidious energy as if a mirror to the likeness of this place, snarling primordially before the promise of an apprentice.  

 

"You mustn't wake what stirsss abovee," the voice slithered across skin, hollow enough to raise hairs. "Not.. just.. yet." The shadow inched closer, as if it floated on the thinnest of air. "You come bearing nothing but flesssh and bone, and that iss what it will rip from you. An offering, young Morlisss, do not sstir the Lord of this place without one." Timely, the sound of scratching and low rumblings, echoed across the barren darkness. "You will find an offering in the waterss of Mon Calamari. Find thisss, and either Spider will be pleaaasssed."

 

 

The shadow vanished.

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"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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Nok whirled. The voice, where was it coming from?! His fear ratcheted up, but he couldn’t see it, couldn’t sense it. Where...what was it?

 

There. Something. A distortion, a warping, a fracture, a thread, a tangle. Something.

 

The list. Telekinesis. Extrasensory perception. Healing. Energy projection. Suggestion. Consciousness manipulation.

 

In his research of the Jedi and Sith, Nok had found the reports of several scientists who looked to categorize all that a Force sensitive could do. They’d analyzed reported feats, verified and checked against footage and data from the Clone Wars, and compiled a list. Nok had read each of them, and had been confident he’d understood all the Force was capable of, all it could offer him. But this…

 

Sorcery.

 

There had been mention of Sith sorcerers. Millennia old legends, fanciful tales of dark figures wielding unholy power. It had all been so clearly propaganda and hyperbole. Now Nok wasn’t so sure of himself.

 

This is real. Not illusion, not a trick. Something more.

 

Nok listened to the creature, the words carrying a weight beyond crude sound.

 

Mon Calamari?

 

Then it was gone. It hadn’t left, it was just not there anymore.

 

Nok’s brisk pace as he walked out of the tower was one part fear and one part excitement. Moving objects with his mind and swinging a sword around. Controlling the weak minded and electrocuting the strong. The goals he’d planned now seemed so...small. Pathetic. Like a child given a planet-sized supercomputer and using it to play Dejarik. There was so much more. If anything of what he’d read regarding the ancient Sith sorcerers was true, then the limits of what he could accomplish through the Force were vaster than he had ever imagined. There might not even be limits.

 

As he boarded The Bleeding Edge, he felt as if he stood on the edge of a bridge, a bridge thousands of Jedi and Sith had crossed to reach power. Below, the dark void rushed past, and it promised to swallow any and all alike who swam its depths.

 

Nok would jump. And he would make it his.

Edited by Nok Morliss
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  • 4 weeks later...

The Stellar Princess was an enormous ship, almost as long as an Executor-class Star Dreadnought. Unlike the infamous warship, which was optimized to bring a devastating fusillade of turbolaser fire to a single unfortunate target, the starliner was designed to carry passengers rather than firepower; she had bulk. She had a massive undercarriage that was loaded to the gills with sapient beings… most of which was steerage space. Such was the state of interstellar travel after the fall of Coruscant--many of the grand old ladies of the Galactic Republic had been hastily retrofitted for maximum capacity to service the endless tide of refugees from the devastated capital of the galaxy.

 

And Zutia, more than a little light on liquid capital after losing most of her possessions on Korriban, was stuck in the lowest decks of the cheapest berths. Judging from the dimensions of the cabin that the huntress had been crammed into, it must have been a retrofitted ballroom--but it was now filled with bunk beds stacked five units high. The collective activity of thousands of sapients--humans, near-humans, humanoids, other mammals, reptiles and amphibians and species whose taxonomic class Lavell hesitated to guess at--generated an unforgettable miasma that was likely to result in an outbreak of plague in a few days.

 

And the crew…

 

“Howdy, passengers! We’ll poppin’ out of hyperspace in justabout 10 minutes, so ya’ll just strap yerselves in, ya hear?”

 

“Sweet stars.” Zutia Lavell mumbled to herself, still clutching an armored suitcase to her breast.. The entire crew of the Stellar Princess had affected a ridiculous attempt at a folksy accent throughout the voyage from Korriban. Confined to a cot that was barely longer than her legs, Zutia could only stretch her restraints over the suitcase and await instructions to finally depart this menagerie of a starship. Sure enough, in nine minutes the entire bulk of the ship shifted under her feet as it reverted from hyperspace. She endured the corny announcements that were delivered in a “please-kill-me-I’m-already-dead-inside” accent, instead feeling the vibrations that trembled through the chassis of a ship even as large as this starliner.

 

Then, finally, land. Solid dirt and duracrete under her boots.


 

____


 

Several hours later, the freighters containing those bound for Onderon finally touched dirt. Zutia gladly allowed herself to be carried along the tide of sapients into the open air of Onderon and the pleasant warmth of a humid day. Whereas most of the passengers thronged towards pilgrimage sites to leave behind insignificant trinkets, or bars to forget their troubles, or the offices of whatever bureaucracies existed within the Sith Empire to shovel the masses into insignificant employment, Zutia veered into the residential districts and walked until her feet ached from pounding the duracrete and the sun set.

 

And then she took refuge in a little tea shop.

 

The tiny store, barely more than a hole in the wall, actually wasn’t too bad. The decor was a little bright and kitschy for Zutia’s tastes, but the proprietors had the good manners to not interrogate her on the contents of her arm-long suitcase or to inquire about what large game that the hunter was seeking. Despite her Agamarian accent, there could be no doubt of her profession, considering the worn leather of her clothing, the dimensions of her cache, and the razor-sharp tuk’ata teeth that there she wore on a homemade necklace. They had the good manners to leave the hunter to collapse into a poofy chair and savor the pleasantly earthy aroma of a hot beverage.

 

She remained there for a few minutes, politely smiling when the native Onderonians checked in on their late-night customer. As adequate as the tea might have been, enjoying an overpriced cuppa was not her objective.

 

For a short time, she had trained under the Sith Lord Hephaestus. Zutia may as well have been a mere child at the time. The creature--the Agamarian wasn’t quite certain that the Sith recluse was human--had placed weapons into her hands, tools that she suspected Hephaestus knew that she wasn’t quite ready to wield. Perhaps she was ready now. Only time could tell.

 

Lowering her face as though sampling the herbal aroma of her cuppa, Zutia’s breath slowed and deepened. The polite smile on her lips faded and turned into a placid frown of concentration. She gathered the Force about her, tentatively, and a chilly presence began to emanate within the Force. It was but a mote of darkness, but it could not be mistaken that an acolyte with higher ambitions than mere supplication had come to Onderon.

 

I am here. I will find you. Or you will find me.

 

“Pardon me, ma’am? Can I get you anything before we close?”

 

Zutia rose with a start. She had been slouching and must have appeared to have fallen asleep. “Hmm? Oh, yes,” she handed the young woman a credit chit. “One of those shuura scones, please.”

 

But it had been months since the hunter had last enjoyed the fruits of civilization, and here was no harm in taking a moment to enjoy a proper cuppa and a fresh-baked pastry.

So build that wall and build it strong,

'cause we'll be there before too long...

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  • 1 month later...

OWL

 

The Chidinkalu Horn sang a beautiful melody, serenading the retreating masses of the marvelous tea house. The bone-white musical instrument was made from the hollowed-out reeds of a chidinka, masterfully gripping breath into mesmeric sounds and affliction. The low tones it produced was enough to hypnotize audiences far and wide into a deep gaze, as if they could watch the notes peel from the flute itself, taking shape before them all with the naked eye. The creature dressed in strange decor, covered daringly in the cut-and-trim of a beastmaster’s kit. His helmet bore a half-skull with four long horns that twisted outward, while the rest of him was dressed in a medium-leather that oozed with bestial fur at every crevice. Darkness on the Land was the album he played, by mostly Scarlet symphonies as decreed by the Imperial Board of Culture. Still, the ominous cut of the bone-mask was all one could find in his expression as he laid against the lamp-post. Unassuming, and enchanting as the melodies grew louder and louder, while the sun drifted beneath the clouds. 

 

“City of Glass"

"Darkness on the Land"

"Emotional Hostages"

"Jewels"

"Lonely Heart Spaceport"

"Night is a Curtain"

"Slow Dancing Star"

 

 

 

(Zutia Lavell)

"Na-hah ur su ka-haat.

Su ka haru aat"

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  • 5 months later...

(( Final Round. OVERTIME: Kakuto Ryu VS Obsidian Knight ))

"SUFFERING."

Ryu’s arm was blown to pieces by the maelstrom, throwing him back and sweeping him away, only to find himself wedged in an upturned deck plate and buried under even more wreckage while the final moments of the duel played out. He watched as Armiena cut down Exodus, In the last remaining rational vestiges of his mind, he saw her containing her glee in the moments leading up to the death blow, and in those seconds he felt anguished, his paranoid mind interpreting as a sign that he had indeed been betrayed--a sense that struck home when lightning pierced Exodus’s body, and the opportunity to reconnect with what was potentially the last remaining person that he had a bond with. The force storm ended with a jolt as the ship swirling object fell, and he lost sight of Armiena.

He lost consciousness for a few seconds, his body riddled with gashes, his bones cracking and organs hemorrhaging from the many impacts he’d endured. He would only have a few minutes of consciousness left. He faintly heard Armiena calling his name, followed by the sound of many bootsteps. Her sudden desire to learn Ryu’s location was answered with a clanking at her feet. It was the lightsaber she had loaned him. The strap that had held it to his wrist was torn. Under the rubble she could hear motion as he worked to free himself. His arm only barely peeked through.

Though dissipated, he could still feel the swirling of Exodus’ maelstrom, the motion of his storm echoing thunderously in the force. He could feel it turning around him, and empowered by the profound grief he pulled it inward, letting his spirit become a hurricane of rage. Ryu’s arm disappeared below the wreckage, then burst through again to knock over a large wall panel that had been resting on his skull. His robes were torn to shreds, and the ghostly white figure was now painted entirely in streaks of his own blood. His right eye was filling with blood, a broken artery in his eye washing the sclera in red, meanwhile they gaping socket in his left still shone with a dim spark. He looked at Armiena with a new grotesquely twisted expression, crying blood and showing unbridled sorrow and agony on the right while steeming with psychotic rage and flickering sparks from his socket on the left.

Empowered by his desire to avenge Exodus and the echo of his murderous intent, He extended his fingers and the Legendary Transcendance floated to his grasp, Exodus’s own blade acting upon the Dark Lord’s final will by both drawing the very life force from Ryu and, at the same time acting as a focus for the echo of the Maelstrom that would empower him.

“I… Remember Gala now… This man, he stood beside me, against you, and those who stood with you. Echos of that day live in this blade, and affirm that they were not just my own fevered hallucinations. He was my brother… and you used me to kill him. You’ve deceived me to kill my Brother… Was this your plan all along? My final punishment, to have me help you hunt down the last of my family, Oblivion having already been dispatched at your hand. Oblivion never returned, did you know that? Would you do that to me again? Deny me the last of those who I loved as brothers, before killing me or consigning me back to the dark pit you pulled me from?”

Ryu was shaking with rage, bits of the ship beginning to drift upward as his will to be free began to manifest subconsciously in the force amid his surging power. No longer able to contain it, he thrust his left shoulder into the air and let out a primal scream, which vibrated in the force and made the very ship around them vibrate with his intensity. Coalescing the residual energy of the maelstrom, he pulled down a massive bolt of force lightning, concentrated and focused, yet brief, hammering down from the ceiling directly onto Kakuto Ryu and splitting at his flesh. The shape of a huge monstrous claw was faintly visible in the flash of the lightning, his crude wreckage arm reforming once again.

Spliting from Ryu, it surged throughout the ship setting electrical systems ablaze and short-circuiting panels while arcing between the Sith Soldiers and stunning them long enough for him to make his final stand. The lightning must have had far reaching consequences to the ship, as now the artificial gravity abruptly failed, and objects were beginning to drift around the room, dimly visible among smoke, fire, and arcing panels.

"GET OUT!"

Ryu’s shout was at once a demand and a plea as well, his fractured mind simultaneously begging her to just leave and becoming bent on driving her out of the ship--through the walls and into space. She would escape or he would see her dead, if she didn’t kill him first. He still had doubts in his mind, but those doubts were so quiet now behind the drumming, and worse, the psychotic screams of rage that filled both his mind and his lungs.

"GET OUT!"

With Both Hands he began to pry the floor panel that had been pinning him up, sparks dancing through the debris that held the shape of his arm by the power of his will. A massive sheet of steel broke loose with a crash, nearly the whole width of the room and at least as long.
 

"GET OUT!"


Weighless but inert, Ryu kicked off against exposed ship innards below and began pushing the massive slab, slowly at first, then faster, then at a sprint, until he could barely keep up with it. Smaller debris followed closely behind, caught in a current of the force that was amplifying impact of his effort. Each time he imparted his force onto the wreckage he drifted randomly, alternating between the ceiling, walls and floor as he bounced off his target and then heaved himself forward again. The big object was not difficult to move in Zero G, but had a lot of inertia, and required a great deal of force to gain momentum, becoming harder and harder to stop with each push.


Ryu threw his force arm into the floor far ahead of him and used it to pull himself forward rapidly as he kicked off  to try to catch up with the wreckage one final time. His lightning hand and stretched out and snatched a force hammer, having been knocked loose from one of the soldiers that he had shocked with his initial volley and drawn into an ever increasing cloud of debris propelled forward at Armiena. Twin Crimson blades erupted from Transcendence, his body spinning as he twisted the blade through the wreckage and cut it into smaller, but still formidably large pieces.
 

GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!

 


Ryu shouted, spinning around wildly and swinging the hammer at different pieces deck plate and other debris, shouting his furious demands every time he launched one forward. The pieces of wreckage flew at such velocity that they threatened to tear open the side of the ship upon impact. Close behind the volley, a final swing of his hammer aimed at Armiena herself, with the lightsaber ready to follow up.

((One And done. Thanks for playing with me. No hard feelings no matter what happens.))

Edited by Kakuto Ryu
Continuity fix (had inaccurate COD for Exodus)

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So, there was the cause for the nagging warning from The Force, despite the incapacitation of the masked Sith. Naturally. there was the predictable honor-guard of black-clad minions that rushed in to collect his ruined body--mooks that Draygo probably would have had to hack her way through had she chosen a more conventional means of boarding Goliath. Their life-expectancy under these conditions was measured in seconds; their weapons and armor would be cardboard if The Force still desired her survival. The true concern of the veteran Jedi was Kakuto Ryu--his flesh-made-metal body reeked of malice just as vividly as the hallway reeked of ozone, and more than his body was quivering with the strength of his rage.

 

The confusion was instantly banished from Draygo’s face as the fallen Sith’s lightsaber rushed into his hand, and she stared almost unblinkingly at him, her expression not unlike the glare of an overgrown bird-of-prey. She merely turned to face him, widened her stance into a fighter’s crouch and allowed her turquoise blade to quietly boil a hole in Goliath’s deckplates. Armiena remembered Gala well enough. She certainly remembered the mockery of the Sith just before she killed him--adolescent taunts about sexual proclivities while he was attempting to penetrate her torso with a Sith-spawned blade--and she remembered very vividly the sensation of waking up several days later, with a garish scar over her breastbone and with a brand-new heart that had been freshly-cloned from the Praxeum’s surgical bays. That nearly-fatal wound had been courtesy of Kakuto Ryu.

 

She snorted. That idealistic, angry young woman would have found the cynical, veteran Jedi unrecognizable. The older, steadier woman despised that stupid, self-destructive girl and the many costly mistakes that she had made. 

 

“That was war, Ryu!” She began shouting over his rant as his paranoia degenerated into hysterics. “He would have killed me--just like you were killing my friends. I chose to stop fighting that war--I chose to show you mercy when nobody would have batted an eye at me murdering you--you chose to come with me into this pit, when I gave you every opportunity to sit this one out in a bombardment bunker--and I don’t even know that man’s----schutta!” At that moment, lightning arced over the walls and bathed the hallway in a shower of white-hot sparks. The riven and uneven deckplates decided that clinging onto the bottom of the Jedi’s armored boots wasn’t much of a priority and her body floated a few millimeters into the air.

 

Something shifted in her broken left arm and a fresh strain of agony reminded her of the injury. Not quite trusting herself to move without gravity, Draygo glanced about for weapons, any tools that she could use to fend off the former Dark Lord of the Sith. The black-clad minions had brought a small arsenal with them, mostly rifles of a design that the veteran Jedi couldn’t recognize, but she doubted their ability to stop the berserking man-machine. That was fine. The lightsaber would suffice for self-defense, but Draygo had one last weapon left. It was a dangerous weapon to use, potentially even more injurious to those who wielded it as it was to those that found it used against them. That said, if properly used, it could cut more deeply than a lightsaber, landed with a greater impact than a turbolaser blast, and was more volatile than a canister of unrefined coaxium. A Death Star or Sun Crusher would have blanched at the destructive power of that weapon; careful application could bring down an empire.

 

Somewhere, she hoped that Darex Trevelian was smiling, because using it required her to get very close to Ryu and would probably get her killed in the process. Remaining perfectly still so as not to cause her body to drift away from the deckplates, Armiena waited for Kakuto Ryu’s assault and was not disappointed. The former Dark Lord was physically tearing debris from the walls, and throwing himself against the plating to impart rotational momentum to the slab of durasteel--then finally slicing it to ribbons with a wild series of zero gravity-assisted slashes from his crimson lightsaber--and then smashed them towards her with strokes of his stolen warhammer.

 

The pieces of debris, jagged chunks of durasteel plating and kilometers of superconductive fiber, may have been massive, but their size mattered little to The Force. Armiena simply glanced at each chunk of debris as it approached and telekinetically redirected their path towards the sides of the chamber. They gouged ravines into both the innards of Goliath as well as the men that they collided with, and soon filled the air with chunks of shattered steel and plastoid--and the whimpers of the men that they had struck. However, Armiena held onto the last piece of rubble, suspending it merely a meter before her face. She launched it straight back at Kakuto Ryu’s right arm to interrupt the swing of the force hammer, and a spring off of her feet launched her directly at her old enemy. As the two met, there was a desperate tangle of Armiena’s turquoise blade against his crimson, the two hilts swirling about each other in an attempt to turn the other’s blade. With only a few millimeters left before the former Dark Lord’s weapon tore into her flesh, she gained the upper hand and forced it away from her heart.

 

Just before the two collided and Armiena would have run him through, she extinguished her blade and the only weapon that met Ryu’s flesh was the steel of the dowsed hilt. The collision of limbs and blades painfully wrenched her left arm and darkness teased at the edges of her vision, but she wrapped her legs around Ryu’s, keeping the hilt of her lightsaber pressed just under the former Dark Lord’s heart. In microgravity, there was no opportunity to maneuver--the two Force-Sensitives would bob aimlessly in the bowels of the ravaged ship, with nothing to push off against save the chunks of debris that were floating by their faces--and each other. Neither of them were likely to be a willing platform to kick off from. Armiena had surrendered her defense and any ability to maneuver to deploy a final weapon: sincerity.

 

“You want to kill me? Well, here I am. It’s the best shot you’ll ever get from me. But you know as well as I do that killing me won’t change a damn thing.” Unblinking, heart racing, Armiena just stared into Ryu’s eyes and spat out her words before the sheer lunacy of what she had just done registered and she was killed for it. “It won’t bring back your dead friend, it won’t make you feel any better, and you’ll go on to kill a bunch of poor sods in the future just because it’s what you’re supposed to do. And you will never get it out of your head that the queen bitch of the Jedi Order gave you a choice to do something different and you rejected it. So go ahead and fracking kill me or choose to do something else.”

 

And with that said, Armiena waited to die--or for something else to happen.

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First off, let me just appreciate the work both of you did in retelling a homage to the ‘Trinity’ and the battle of Gala. Having reread that fight after a first passthrough and then rereading this fight again I must say it is a fitting addition, both sides having shown tremendous growth in both character and writing ability. 

 

My only complaint was that actions can sometimes get lost in the midst of dialogue and perhaps highlighting them could have been more helpful to the mod teams. However it does ruin the aesthetic of the posts so I understand why it would not be included. 

 

Now on to a ruling. 

 

While both characters used quite a few actions in their posts it is to be expected as both are master level PCs. Ryu’s attacks were succinct and feasible in the environment of the last duels aftermath. His three main attacks (Debris launched via warhammer, the warhammer hammer itself, and the lightsaber) were dismissed entirely by Draygo. While it is normally a good idea to not take massive damage in a single post duel, completely ignoring your opponent’s attacks is not the direction you should take.

 

Draygo’s two attacks (A grapple followed by placing a lightsaber hilt against Ryu’s chest) while a feasible attack it should be noted that this is a closed attack. (posting successfully completing a grapple is posting the effects of an open ended attack which is disallowed in the RP.) While obviously not intended abusively, it does tip the duel in Ryu’s favour. 

 

As such Kakuto Ryu is the winner and may have the next post.

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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"SUFFERING."

 Pt 2

Armiena struck a cord with Ryu, drawing the Ryu that had dreaded who he truly was back closer to the surface. The man was sure that this suffering was his own doing, his punishment. And in that moment he knew who and what he truly was.

A monster. One who drank deep of the power of this manic rage, one whose only friends were the homicidal maniacs who valued the supreme strength if offered without question, Those who were prepared to live with the immense suffering that it would bring to everyone around, as long as they should live.

The friend he would kill her for was another monster. A creature of hatred without mercy or love in their heart. That is what the old Ryu, the specter from his nightmares, was. That is the only kind of person who could call him friend. Those who learned to love the suffering, for it was the only constant in their world. Seeing this, he wanted to stop. To help her escape. Maybe even go with her. He wanted to save her life and get her back to her Padawan, Genesis, and try to make up for all the pain he had caused.


But he couldn't stop. It was too late to go back now. That part of him didn't have control anymore. He had given in fully to the Dark side, to the memories of who he once was: the specter who walked the land like a hurricane, bringing sorrow and ruin upon all he came in contact with without thought or remorse. Not because that's what he wanted. But because that's what he was. The Dark Side was a powerful addiction and he had drank too deeply of it to stop now.

So as Armiena pressed her hilt to his chest, having had the path to a killing blow but not taking it, Ryu felt a renewed sent of anguish. If she had killed him, she might have been spared him the profound torment he was to endure, both in this moment and for the rest of his days; having to watch as his fury exceed his ability to be to maintain control, having to live with the fact that he will have betrayed all who might have called him friend, and that he could never know true companionship for none would ever be safe in his presence. Because it was already too late. The red blade of transcendence emerged from the back of her chest.

Ryu's anguish manifest as a horrible psychic scream, a mournful cry of anger and agony that went on continuously. The walls and floors vibrated, slowly at first, then faster and violently, until the whole side of the ship shook apart, sending her into space along with large mass of twisted steel. He stood on the precipice, his location fixed by the force and his mouth agape. He cried out in agony even as the area depressurized and he was forced to the silence of space. Left standing in empty space, he watching her body drift away.

He walked slowly back toward the nearest pressurized door, tears and blood evaporating into clouds of gas and being sucked out into the ether as he moved. As he opened the door he found the red knights staked out to greet him. They were immediately sucked into space by more than just the room depressurization, as Ryu willed them to simply be out of his way. When the door closed behind him, and at last he was truly alone, he collapsed from his many wounds, and fell unconscious, drifting in the corridor.

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The alarm klaxons echoed throughout the Onderon System as the Sith Imperial Fleet emerged from hyperspace over the dual planets. Initial scans told the engineers in orbit everything they needed to know about how the assault on Corellia had gone. Though the fleet had lost many support ships, the gaping holes in Goliath and other star destroyers told the story of the firefight. Perhaps, they thought, the Galactic Alliance had finally found a spine.

 

But the fleet was not wholly disemboweled. The majestic Kyber class Star Destroyers had not been left in smoking ruin in the stars. The commanders had seen their men through the worst of the fighting, and they would see them safely docked at the emergency yards in low orbit. 

 

“Scramble them an escort, bring the reserve fleet to bear. And the Ion cannon online. We do not know if the Rebels are pursuing.” 

 

“Command!.”  Came the confident voice of a lieutenant from comms, and all eyes glanced to her. Feeling the sudden press of eyes, her countenance shrank but she pressed through the embarrassment. “Reports from the automatic fire suppression systems and AI in the interior of the Goliath report blaster fire. It appears the command ship may have suffered from a Jedi or Rebel strike team.” 

 

The Governor nodded. 

 

“Then we will send a team of our own.” 

 

___________________________


 

“Now follow through.” Delta shook his head as he watched the young woman squeeze her eyes shut as she pulled the trigger. The bolt sailed into one of the stone facades that made up the old black sun and now Sith Marine quarters, showering splinters of stone into the grey dirt. He let out a laugh as did the Marines relaxing behind him in the shade of a barrack door. The target was, as of yet, untouched despite the girls best efforts. 

 

She groaned and placed the pistol onto the granite countertop before looking ashamedly back to Delta. He held up a finger to ward off tears or apologies then extended the arm to pull her into a close hug. 

 

“You are still closing your eyes Æthe. Work with sergeant Liminsdurn after dinner on it. But I see improvement.” 

 

She nodded and then returned the hug. And Delta could feel the little droplets of unacknowledged tears against his chest. He sighed and patted her red hair, making sure to not hit the thin styled cybernetic unit that stretched along the backside of her head. Connecting from temple to temple. “You are doing great Æthe.” He pulled the hug tighter for a moment before letting her go. 

 

“Thanks Dad.” 

 

Her grey blue eyes met his and she gave him another hug before sticking her tongue out at the marines behind him. That was greeted by a chorus of laughter that Delta happily joined in on as he watched her run away back to the command quarters. 

 

Then the siren sounded over the courtyard and he was sprinting towards the barracks. 

 

___________________________


 

“Bring us in slowly, there is still a lot of electricity in the area.” 

 

Delta’s voice was muffled as he leaned over the shoulder of the pilot in the shuttle. The naval pilot nodded silently as he pulled the shuttle into the destroyed hanger bay and Delta got his first sight of the ragged interior. 

 

“Mag locks on, move in bounding cover.” 

 

The rear hatch dropped and the marines of Echo company moved in formation down the ramp. It was a damn horror show, bodies floating, girders collapsed and whole sections of the ship were open to space. But there were no signs of active resistance. 

 

“Midicos are clear for entry, start triage. Tag any Jedi or Sith bodies.” 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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  • 3 weeks later...

Non-existence dissolved into a wave of emotions, warm and intimate, as if to say “At last, you have come home”. A tension that she hadn’t realized had been building up had finally been released, and desperation was replaced with effulgent joy. Even though she no longer had eyes to feel heavy, there was a gossamer blanket of fulfillment that enticed her to drift off, to unravel into her base elements. She could feel the infinite collective of everyone that had come before her, reunited into a single divine prime. There was no pain here, no sense of loss or regret or sadness. All that accepted the light, even in their last moments, were welcome here.

 

There was no judgement to be passed, no consequence for malignant deeds and choices. Once she had seen the Force as an entity balanced between Light and Dark, each equally powerful and necessary as the foundation of existence. Here though, the truth was laid bare. There was the will of the Force, and there were those that challenged its wisdom. The Force was a naive idealist, espousing tolerance over justice, acceptance over action. There was no Dark Side of the Force, just people who refused to accept the road that the Force all herded them onto. Some of them were wicked, but others rebelled against Force’s indifference to the cruelty and humiliation that they had been subjected to throughout their lives. Apathy was not a resolution or a balm to the wounds of the victimized, and in time the wounds festered.

 

The Force had gone all in on this noble notion of universal harmony and togetherness, using its agents to crush anyone that opposed it. How many lives were broken or erased, worlds shattered and spoiled, just to uphold this status quo? Peace is a lie, she understood this now beyond just the ideas of inner peace or political peace. If Heaven was the sacrifice of self to bolster a shared lie that in the end nothing truly mattered as long as you agreed to ignore the wrongs done to you, then the Force wasn’t just misguided about the nature of evil, it was complicit. 

 

There needed to be a cost.

 

There needed to be punishment.

 

There needed to be vengeance.

 

There needed to be a devil to balance the scales and suffer the self righteous and the hypocritical.

 

It was a pleasant fiction, the dream that the Force was trying to lull everyone into, but her eyes were open. She could not stand idly by as the galaxy was abandoned to moral equivocation by both the mortal and the divine. She would be the villain that the weak and the wounded needed. She would rebel.

 

She tore herself away from the embrace of the Light, from comfort and joy, and severed herself from its touch. Her chains were broken. In her more feverish and frenzied thoughts she had dreamed of arriving at this place, of becoming a righteous devil. She knew that it in many ways meant self annihilation, leaving behind both old desires and the foolish belief that she could maintain absolute control over her course through existence. 

 

She screamed wordlessly at the infinite prime sprawled out before her, an expression of rage, abandonment, and misery. It didn’t seem to notice her. She wondered if the Force even could understand those emotions. It would be made to understand them.

 

Turning back towards the physical world, she saw a field of indigo stars peppering a white void, dark beacons of discontent that called out to her. Time and distance fluctuated with the inconsistency of dream logic, until she found herself walking upon familiar ground that she had never been to. She had no body, but she still tread forward on the muddy earth into the marsh water, following the siren song of regret. There was a seed planted here. 

 

Beneath the frigid, stagnant swamp, the muck and the mire had claimed many bodies. This was once a dumping ground for discarded dolls and other toys that used to belong to unsavory men. Men who did things, unspeakable things, to the people they lured away from family and home. She laid down in someone else’s grave and made it her own. She wrapped the bones in the memories of flesh and sinew, weaving a simulacra of life so that she could find some measure of function from the remains. It felt like wearing a vacsuit that somebody else had just taken off, unfamiliar and off putting. She forced herself upwards, ploughing through the cool wet mud and silt until it gave way to colder bog water. Temperature was a thing that she was aware of on some level, but it no longer carried with it the same urgency as when she was alive. 

 

She didn’t really know what she was now. She certainly wasn’t alive, but she also far too present to be dead. It was as if she had renounced the whole business of living and dying altogether, and had come back to the physical plane as something that simply ticked the box next to the word “other”. There was another presence inside of her, the tattered spiritual remnants of her new ride’s former owner. On the marshy bank, Darth Nyrys vomited up the water and filth inside of her, and looked at her reflection in the water. It was hideous, a mess of bone, deteriorated flesh, and severed muscle. That wouldn’t do at all.

 

She plucked a memory from the wraith’s echoes, and put it on like a mask. She was prettying herself up in the shuttle’s refresher room, about to meet the man of her dreams. It had taken all of her savings to book the trip, but she had been assured that she would be taken care of when she arrived. No more stupid traditions or rituals, just partying and living an actual life in a real city.

 

Sorry it didn’t work out for you, girlie.

 

The earnest stupidity of young love made for quite the exceptional face. Even better, she was a cathar again. She headed towards the lights of a nearby city and the opportunities that it promised. It was his city, and as damaging to her pride as it would be, she needed to report the circumstances of her failure to the Sith. What she encountered was unlike anything that her training had prepared her for, a rabid Jedi with the power to burn away the darkness. 

 

She also found herself thinking about Ca’aran. Her own experience with death had revealed how seductive the idea of final resolution could be, and she realized that he hadn’t been slighting her with what he had said. He ought to know that heaven was bullshit and that he was way better off alive. She carried some ghosts of her own, and…

 

She hadn’t reached the city limits yet, but a walled building loomed before her, despite being partially submerged in the swamp. It spoke to her with a strange kind of decrepit majesty, whispers from the rot and the ruin of misery, betrayal, and rage. Kindred spirits. She crept inside, moving quietly more so that she could observe the place without her presence disturbing it than any sort of fear. The raw, bloody emotions that she felt here were so much more genuine than what had been paraded in front of her when she had died.  

 

The mansion had clearly once belonged to a family of great importance, and was adorned with finery, elegant baubles, and other trappings of wealth and power, or at least the rotted and tarnished remnants of them. She let the place wash over her, permeating her bones with dismal energy, until it was a part of her. The pathos here was so intoxicating that her body wanted to writhe as the thick syrupy vibes washed over her in unctuous waves that sent tremors through her. Following the wisps of abandoned memories, she headed to the daughter’s suite in the upper east wing of the home, feeling the weight of eyes that she could not see upon her. The dead that clung to this place did not seem to know what to make of her. They would learn in time.

 

There was enough here in the mildewed closet to assemble a workable if rather outdated outfit. She sat down at a dust sheathed vanity and looked at the monster in the mirror. There was a time that this face would have outraged her, but she didn’t need to submit to misfortune anymore. She tugged on pieces of memory soaked into the vanity and its mirror until she had pried enough strands loose to weave them into a glamour, reinforcing what she had already made to conceal herself with. There was power in the way that we remembered the dead, and like any other power, it could be seized for one’s own use. 

 

She didn’t make herself look beautiful though, that wasn’t part of the plan that was forming in her head. She made herself look hungry, desperate, and manic, the kind of broken that scared off the sensible ones. The kind of sensual crazy that was often found in stories about demons and witches that drove men who thought that they were above knowing better into ruin. She went on to start threading the manor with the same energy.

 

Houses were a lot like people, with their own identities and personalities. Houses remembered, houses ached, and sometimes houses wept. But houses also craved to used, to fulfill their purpose even if they were too sick and insane to properly care for the people within them. To that end, just like people, houses could lie. They could pretend to be stable, and warm, and clean. They could whisper anything in your ear if they thought it would get you to pass through their threshold, to stay a little while longer. Of course the lies could only be sustained for so long, but first impressions and all that.

 

She found an old barely functional comm unit, state of the art for its time but laughably archaic by today’s standards, in the study where it took up an entire wall. She paid no mind to the desiccated body hanging in the corner of the room as she sent her message. He would most likely come, after all she had vouched for him when the Dark Lord was ready to express his displeasure.

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The elderly Y-Wing bomber’s engines sputtered for a moment as a long string of green energy impacted the starboard nacelle that held the engines firmly to the battered chassis. Hands played fitfully over the controls as the bomber began to loose power but not its forward momentum. The starboard engine was not reacting to any commands, and the central power core itself was beginning to go out. Likely coolant lines cut by the TIE fighter’s aggressive blast. 

 

“R3, get me a full diagnostic.” 

 

But the grey metallic surface was looming closer. How many seconds before they impacted to the side of the trench? Ten? Five? There was a whistle and the controls beneath her hands began to react, though sluggish, she was able to slowly pulled the stricken Y-Wing out of its suicidal low arc. Feeling the controls buck horribly against her hands. The blasted thing was falling apart. But without engine power she was still less maneuverable than a lambada shuttle…

 

“Can you cut power from weapons to the engine repair?” 

 

DING

 

What the...

 

“R3?” 

 

DING

 

Oh 

 

DING

 

“Halt simulation.” 

 

The Y-wing fuzzed into nothingness and the “Y-Wing Death Star Assault” logo appeared over where the Y-Wing had been. She blinked once, then twice and it all faded away. She was staring at a stone ceiling and laying in bed. She brought a hand up and disconnected the thick cable that was pinned into her cybernetic unit. Twist then pull, then she snapped shut the cable and charging inputs before she sat up. 

 

DING

 

It was the comm unit that Dad always kept on the table. She jumped out of bed and ran to the unit, slapping the ‘acknowledge’ button as soon as she got to the comm. The words were mostly lost in the low bandwidth but as they repeated again she cocked her head to the side and let the automation take over. A few dials were turned and the message came in clearer. It was a distress signal! Her fingers flew over the keyboard, letting the comm unit do its own triangulation to give an approximate location. Many miles away. 

 

“MO34?” It took a few seconds for the nanny droid to respond in its usual huffy tone. “I can’t get a hold of Dad on his personal comm? Is he still on a mission?” She could have just checked the military archive, but it seemed better to ask before she used Dad’s codes again. 

 

“Yes he will not get back until 1400 tomorrow according to the secretary AI.”  

 

An Idea began to blossom in her head. A dangerous idea. An idea that would make him proud. An idea that her programming fought against with every tooth and nail. But after all what was ‘personal choice/responsibility’ really for if you never disobeyed your programming? That shut the little protesting voices up and Æthe let a slow smile crawl across her face. She took a step back from the comm after she typed a quick response. MO34 turned her pale yellow photoreceptors on Æthe and let out a little robotic gasp. 

 

“Misstress Æthe, surely you don’t intend to go after this woman!” The red haired girl simply smiled and walked towards one of the locked closets where her Dad kept his armoury. The droid hurried to intervene, placing itself between the girl and the armoury door. “Æthe 43391!” Why did she use those numbers? The sound of them caused a flash of anger and she paused for a moment before firmly kicking the robot in its padded chest. The droid spun on its repulsors and crashed into doors, crashing through them before coming to a sputtering stop. Its yellow receptors fading to black as Æthe stepped over her into the expansive closet armoury. 

 

She selected one of the large DC-15 pistols that her father had kept on the wall, along with the harded kydex holster that went along with it. She threaded it through her belt and grabbed a poncho and cap that had the dark crimson star of black sun on them. Both were too large but at least the cap covered the bulky cybernetic unit. Which Æthe was glad for. She grabbed a medical kit and stuffed it into her backpack before she retreated to her own room to get fully dressed. 

 

Sitting down on her bed, she slipped on the heavy leather boots she had gotten for her lifeday then plugged an automation cable back into her head. 

 

“Computer. Full emergency medical download.” Her eyelids fluttered and she could sense a large amount of the virtual memory she kept blank get suddenly filled with a large amount of data. It was an addicting feeling. She considered accessing the battle mechanics and training that were heavily restricted but decided against it. She would get enough trouble for battering down Nanny. No reason to get in even more trouble. It wasn’t like the forests of Onderon were that dangerous. She withdrew the cable and tucked it back into its wall slot. She double checked the signal location before she walked into the attached garage. 

 

She selected one of the two seater swoops that her dad kept and slipped her datacard into its ignition slot. 

 

“IS THIS AN EMERGENCY?”

 

“Yes!” She yelled in frustration. And the swoop roared to life under her. No doubt it would send a ping to dad, but there was not much she could do to help that. His friend needed a rescue. He couldn’t be mad about that right? The garage rolled open and she accelerated slowly out into the dirt roads behind the barracks. She let the automation direct her movements and before she knew it she was closing in on the abandoned suburbs of Iziz. 

 

That caused her to slow as soon the overgrowth was lashing endlessly at the bottom of the swoop. Scratching it’s bright white paint to a dull grey. She took another few turns and soon she was mostly surrounded by gnarled trees and the long shadows cast by the setting sun. Everything here was so overgrown. Abandoned. A creepy feeling shot up her spine as she pulled the swoop up fifty meters short of the triangulated SOS. The woods were thick now, and very little light penetrated the overhanging branches. There was little or no sign of life.

 

She pulled a glowrod from her backpack and snapped it on. The pale blue light illuminating the looming old manse, half drowned in a swamp of mud and roots. It had likely once belonged to a great princely house. Now long destroyed, but its elegance still clung to the grounds like a mist. She gulped down a mouthful of water and shone the glowrod on the house itself as she began to walk towards it. Slowly wading through the mud as she neared the entrance. 

 

“Hello?” She called in a voice that echoed dully off the overgrown walls.

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Ryu found himself in a dark room, laying on the floor in the fetal position. It was unclear how long he had been there, but it felt like weeks. His eye stared unblinking into inky blackness, his mind filled with an equally empty catatonic void.

In the distance he spotted a man who seemed to appear under a freshly activated spotlight. Ryu recognized him, though he was  covered in a mask and black robes.immediately as Exodus.

"Exodus..." Ryu croaked with a dry voice, a vague sense of hopefulness in the name.

He got up slowly, and began approach the lone man, when two more lights clicked on near him. Under them were two more men, One was white White haired in, in the robes of the Krath, the other in plate armor.

"Dagon... And Tethyn!"

Ryu quickened his pace, though it did not seem to make his approach any faster. More lights kicked on, revealing more black robed figures.

"Abaddon... Jareth... Raynuk... Karma... Furion..."

Ryu stopped as the motionless figures seemed to surround him. Suddenly furious disdainful voice erupted from behind Exodus's mask.

"TRAITOR."

Ryu hesitated, trying to recall the events that had brought him here. It was hazy now. He could barely remember anything after boarding the Goliath.

"FAILURE." Echoed Dagon's voice.

"DESERTER." Added Tethyn.

"PATHETIC."
"NAIVE"
"WEAKLING."
"INCOMPETENT"
"FOOL."

Each figure added recrimination to fray. Ryu clutched his head, trying to process the guilt he felt. Armiena appeared just next to Exodus adding her own judgement.

"Monster."

Finally, they all cried out once more, in unison.

"BETRAYER"

And with that, they all burst into flames. He watched the robes on the figures around him be peeled away by fire, exposing charred flesh which quickly erodeded their bodies. They repeated, chanting now.
 

"BETRAYER. BETRAYER. BETRAYER. BETRAYER."

Exodus stepped forward, extending a hand with apparent intent to choke Ryu out, but by the time it reached his neck, they were just blackened bones that gripped him.

"Betrayer...."

------

Ryu woke up on an operating table, his arms and legs tied down, with a medical droid elbow deep in his open gaping chest cavity. It's droning mechanical voice gave kurt instructions.

"Remain calm. You have not been authorized for anesthesia. Increases to your heart rate will accelerate your bleeding out."

Ryu screamed in horror as he felt the mechanical arms digging through his intestines and applying crude patches to his exposed organs. He tried to break free, but found himself helpless to do anything but watch as minutes turned into hours, as droid rearranged his insides and shot cauterizing lasers at internal wounds. When it finished with his body cavity, it went on to probe his limbs, stabbing him with narrow mechanical claws, which reemerged seconds layer holding pieces of shrapnel, sealing the wound again before dropping the piece into an alarming full tray.

When the droid went for the final piece, it stabbed directly toward his heart, sinking between his ribs. He felt the mechanical glance his heart, a sickening pain that made him nearly vomit. When it emerged, it dropped a silver crystal above the pile. Between his screams he stared at the jagged blood covered crystal, watching as instead of landing atop the other bits of shrapnel, it flew into his palm. He gripped it tightly as the last wound was sealed, and the droid said its final report.

"Five Major hemorrhages sealed. Twenty-seven minor hemorrhages sealed. Seventeen broken bones fused. Thirty fractures patched. Seventy pieces of shrapnel extracted, most apparently from old injuries. One stock mechanical arm installed. Arkanian life form stabilized. You will live."

The droid hovered into a corner, then was sucked down a chute to disappear from the room. The restraints released, leaving Ryu to shrink into the fetal position while quivering in pain. He wanted to get off the table, but he lacked the strength to. Instead he stared into the crystal, washed in maddening agony. In his mind he could still hear Exodus's voice, echoing his nightmare.

Betrayer...

 

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It was not like Delta to knock. Nyrys didn’t have any weapons on her, and this puppet that she had fashioned for herself didn’t have the raw physical power of her previous bodies. It certainly wasn’t frail, but its speed could best be described as languid, and its strength was tenuous. Her connection to the Dark Side however crackled with unmitigated intensity and intimacy. She favored her second mask, it resonated strongly with this place and it was something disarming that would give her time to develop a plan of attack. This was a Sith world, but then again, this was a Sith world, and it’s not like this place would be getting visitors still. 

 

She heard a child’s voice tentatively prodding at the darkness. Peculiar. A deceit? She probed back. No, definitely a child, or at least someone at that messy point between being a child and an adult. Alone... possibly? She didn’t sense any other living people. She reached out with the Force and opened the grand doors of the foyer. The first floor was still flooded up to the waist with murky water, a fact that no reasonable expenditure of power could conceal, so Nyrys didn’t bother trying. From the balcony along the grand staircase on the second floor she watched the intruder enter her newfound abode.

 

Despite being generally unremarkable, there was still something strangely familiar about the girl. She had the same pretty colored mane as Nyrys’s prior host body, but there was something else, something deeper that resonated about her.

 

“This is a dark place, little one. I have no cause to eject you from here, I have as little honest claim to this place as you presumably do, but tread carefully in these shadows, their whispers tell me of hunger and longing. I won’t begrudge you if you choose to leave, but should you decide to linger, praytell what is your name and what brings you here? I have some time before my… companion arrives, and perhaps you might entertain me in the meantime.”

 

The words felt alien compared to her normal way of speaking, but the mask brought with it its own idiosyncrasies. Not to mention that her voice was doing that thing that ghost voices did in the horror holovids that made it sound ethereal and otherworldly. The words seemed to come from the house itself, rather than from her mouth. The house wanted to add the girl to its collection, she could feel as much through her newly formed connection, but the strange sense of familiarity urged her to hold it back. There would be others, she promised it silently. In time, both would come to prosper from their dark pact.

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It was so dark and dank in the building that it caused a shiver of disgust to tingle up her spine. Diagnostics thundered their reports in the back of her head as she stepped through the front door that she had pushed open. Immediately she could feel the sucking mire clinging to her boots and calves but nothing in the diagnostics explained the sudden howl of fear that peaked in her stomach. It was an easy thing to suppress, the cybernetic unit helped overcome the fear with a quick suppression of her nervous system but that also came with a dulling of her other senses. Immediately the smell of rot faded as did the sour taste in her mouth. The air still felt oppressive, but she couldn't figure out if it was some kind of humidity trapped within the old walls or some other danger sense. 

 

Still she couldn’t be afraid right? She let her eyes trace up the grand staircase until they settled on a young woman in a slightly outdated dress from the imperial era of Onderon. Was it unusual? Not really, Dad had kept all kinds of old uniforms, some of them from the republic of all eras but this woman carried with her a tragic elegance that Æthe knew that she could never hope to compare. She had a beauty in all things, like a faded rose she carried herself with grace and sadness. Or was it sadness. Æthe couldn’t tell but the voice caused another impulsive shiver up her spine that the cybernetic unit could not suppress. 

 

She took a step forward and the mire sucked up to her calf. She grimaced then pulled off the cap she had taken from her father’s armoury. She tucked it into her belt and gave a half bow that was more manners programming that anything she could identify. It felt like it fit the situation though, and she found herself half wishing for such a pretty dress…

 

“I am Æthe.” But it was incomplete. Did she even have a surname? She thought for a second before continuing. Settling what she perceived to be her dad’s last name, though she did not know the Mandoa’ that would have made it intelligible.  “Æthe uhhhh Aran. I came because my dad got a distress signal….” A little bit of doubt began to creep into her mind and her side of the conversation stuttered out. How could she say that she just up and came because he was busy? Was this even the person who had called? Programming told her nothing. And she was at a loss for words so her confidence slipped. But she did take another step forward. Almost involuntarily. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Darth Nyrys examined the girl with dead eyes and could feel that in some ways she too was broken. Not by Delta’s hand, but she had been born ill-fated. Delta had been a relatively new part of the foundling’s life, before then she had been… adrift. How peculiar.

 

The revenant descended the steps with inhuman grace, walking across the surface of the mire as if it were ultra dense gelatin. She could feel the longing, the fear calling out from the girl’s broken heart, in spite of Delta’s efforts to tape it back together. There was so much power here, ready to be plucked like a ripe fruit. It roiled over her like waves of intimately remembered mortality. She could just reach out and take it…

 

But Delta would surely figure out what happened, and that would complicate the whole getting laid thing. Instead she brushed the girl’s cheek with a gesture resembling affection soiled with underlying yearning. She had never been a paragon of restraint to begin with, and she knew that she had come back even more broken than usual. Although truth be told, she had been unraveling even before she died, this was just a new kind of strung out. Her life had a rhythm of extremes, heightened once she joined the Sith, ever swinging between sour depression and manic overindulgence.

 

“How adorable, coming to my rescue just like your father. He’s a better man than he gives himself credit for being. But there is no point in staying here a second longer. Would you do me one more kindness and conduct me back to Iziz? This is the kind of place that eats up sweet little girls like you, and I would not wish such a fate upon my gallant hero. We can talk about cute guys on the way to Ca’aran’s place.”

 

Even for her short time here, leaving this place felt like leaving the safety and comfort of her family’s home. But she had obligations to attend to, and needs to satisfy. She would be back soon, she promised.

 

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How long has it been since recovery operations? Sixteen hours? Twenty? Delta couldn’t know, sure he could have looked at the multiple data packet reports that were waiting on his datapad, or he could even ask his team who all looked about as tired as he felt. His clear blue eyes flicked around the helmetless faces in the shuttle and settled on Lieutenant Hensi’s exhausted face. Like many of the old guard of Hellkite, Darkhand, and Lima One before it, she had come from the upper echelon of the Black Sun commandos. They had a long and storied history together but even her grey eyes told him nothing of her thoughts. 

 

The Dark Lord had been very badly hurt in the Corellian campaign, and beside it all Delta could only feel that it was his own fault. Didn’t everyone? If he had only been there. Her eyes narrowed for a second and she blinked away her tiredness. 

 

“Don’t think of it that way.” 

 

He tapped the barrel of his E-22 in return, feeling the heat warped metal through the thin pressure gloves he was wearing. 

 

“I can’t help it Sigrid.” 

 

There was a snapping sound, like someone had just snapped their fingers in front of his face and the smiling face of Blacktorin leaned in beside him. 

 

“She means it, it’s not your fault he took a fight like that. He and we will know for next time. THe Empire survives.” 

 

Another snapping sound and Sigrid wiped a stream of black blood away from the corners of her mouth with the back of her glove. Redheaded Blacktorin tucked a lock behind a blood drained pale ear and smiled. The gums showing white and bloodless at the base of her white teeth. Snap! And he was pushed violently sideways, his head smacking into the bulkhead with enough force that a flash of lights overcame his vision. He furiously rubbed the posts out of his eyes and saw the very concerned face of Langraf leaning over him. 

 

“Be quiet or you will scare the men. We are all tired, but do not speak to ghosts right now. Please.” 

 

Oh. That was right of course. They were dead. Sigrid against that blasted Jedi, and Blacktorin back on Mon Calamari. He gripped Landgraf’s hand fiercely and hauled himself back into his seat. The men and Women of Darkhand pretended not to notice. Their eyes avoiding his gaze. 

 

“Your datapad is firing on all cylinders Ca’Aran.” She whispered, indicating the blinking lights on his arm’s armour. A priority message from The Nanny bot that normally cared for Æthe.

 

“Spast.” 

 

_____________________________

 

The Swoop bike hummed delightfully as the pair zipped over the receding swamplands. The roar of passing air was like a hurricane in her ears, but Æthe didn’t much care. She had a friend now after all, even if her appearance was bizarre, and her attachment to her Father even more so. 

 

But as they neared the barracks she started to slow down, The shuttles were back, and the sight of the blonde man standing in grey armour at the garage door, brought her hopes for something new and interesting crashing down. Even his arms were folded. She sighed and brought the bike to a skidding halt in front of Ca’Aran a flush already building behind her freckles. 

 

But he wasn’t angry. 

 

______________________________

 

“Æthe!” Delta shouted, the extreme tiredness now beginning to return to his voice with the newfound relief of seeing her alive and well. And who was that behind her? He strode out to the two of them and hugged his daughter before reaching out to the waif-like woman who was her companion. He let a smile flicker across his face. A sad smile of relief.


“I did not know I would see you again so soon Ailbasí“ And he gave the bow expected of a soldier to a Sith Master. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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“Give us a full name check Talia. I’ll take it from here. We’ll see if the bastard knows anything.” 

 

The overconfident officer of the Sith Security Bureau clicked off her ear mic before she walked through the doors to where the wounded unknown lay. She would trust the two behind the reflective screen to feed her data should she need it. But she was just as good at extracting information as a computer.  She grabbed a cup of water from the cistern beside the wall and strode confidently towards the subject. Sure the water actually contained some Quinuclidinyl benzilate and some sweetener. But it was always a gesture that Jedi or Rebels found disarming. 

 

__________________________

 

Inside, the datapad buzzed under fingers as Talia selected the large repository file from the old archival database and dragged it onto the main screen. It was a large file and one marked as encrypted. The Interrogator entered her password and held the scanner up to a grey irised eye. There was an accompanying buzz in her hand which marked the file as able to be opened. 

 

Old files began to populate, marked by the old Imperial and old Sith Empire symbol, the last of the files entered more than a decade before by the now defunct Galactic Alliance Security Bureau. She frowned and looked at the other officer in the room who was in turn looking at the junior officer who stood beside the subject.

 

“Are you sure the DNA we scanned was the subjects?” 

 

The Arkanian turned a very tired eye towards her and simply nodded. 

 

“Can’t fake cerebral spinal fluid Talia. You know that.” 

 

She nodded, cowed for a moment, before she looked back to her screen. 

 

“Spast.” 

 

She flipped the red switch on the wall and the arkanian jumped up from his seat. 

 

“Force user?” She nodded and set the datapad down. 

 

“Get the on duty officer here now. We have a class three force user in containment.” 

 

The Arkanian nodded and slapped another button on his own datapad as she gulped down her fear looked through the one way glass at the curled up homeless looking individual. A ghost of the old galaxy. A member of the old ruling order. And someone that could crush the two of them without a thought. It was time to summon those specialized in containing force users. Even if this one turned out to be friendly. But the interrogators would do what they could to contain the threat as they waited. For now, the officer inside, was utterly alone. So she straightened her uniform and set the glass of water beside the subject before sitting down on the stool beside the operating table. 

 

“So tell us what happened.” 

 

_____________

 

A kilometer away Delta’s Comm flashed a bright red, and a soft siren again flared over the barracks. 

Commander Valinor - Sith Lord

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“I wish that it could have been under different circumstances, but it’s definitely a relief that you recognize me this time. I ran into something… unnatural out there, something that my training hadn’t prepared me for. It was like a Jedi, but feral, rabid in its devotion to the eradication of darkness. It could attack the darkness directly, and after it bested me it destroyed all of my gear and amulets. Total kath move. But also an opportunity to leave behind what was holding me back.

 

I found a place beyond the city walls, steeped in the Dark Side. I think that I am going to use it to further my studies and delve into sorcery. When I was walking the path of the warrior, I always felt in control of the powers that I was calling upon, but I don’t think that any power that I can fully control will be enough in the end.”

 

Delta’s comm began to beep urgently, calling him away. But one of the advantages of being a Darth was that she could largely move about the base as she wished, so Ca’aran would have an extra ghost haunting him today.

 

“Sounds like they’re playing our song, care to show a girl a good time?”

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“And just what was holding you back?” 

 

The flashing red light and siren blasted any good attempt of conversation away and left Delta with little room to talk. A quick glance at his comm and attached datapad told him it was from the medical hospital about a kilometer away from the barracks. And As he considered the opening move, the majority of his strike team came boiling into ranks in front of him and miss Zirtani. He gave her a wary and friendly smile before dismissing Æthe with a glance and a quick hug. Then he looked out at the tired mass of men and women. 

 

“All right we have a possible containment breech of a high level force user. Possible Jedi Knight or Corrupted Sith Lord. Whatever was on that spasted star destroyer, looks like we brought it back with us. Medics, administer Medperanazine. As per protocol.” He gave his men an apologetic look and mimicked a shrug. “Sorry for the letdown tonight lads, nothing else we can do after a 20 hour deployment. Drink water and get into the transports. When we get home we will have a party and work off the drugs okay?” 

 

They all saluted. Armoured arms crashing across their chests in a melody of noise. 

 

“Surround the hospital and prepare strike teams. Myself and our Sith Companion here will make first entry and discern the danger. You know those Sec boys, They are notoriously jumpy.” 

 

And as a unit they moved to the short hop transports. Delta escorting the lovely Sith Lord. When they were seated for the less than a minute flight he held out his arm so that she could see the screen of the datapad that was mounted there. 

 

“Kakuto Ryu. If you know the name it means the hammer is right behind it. There’s a statue of him on Korriban you know. One of the old trinity at the battle of Gala. When the music starts its a damn tune to dance to.” 

 

So he was either an ally, or a very dangerous enemy. But he found himself grinning at her despite it all. Whichever way this went it was good to see her again. 

 

And the shuttle touched down outside the hospital with a flurry of blown dust and small branches. 

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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P A R A N O I A

 


The examination slab was bitter to his flesh, uncompromisingly cold and level. “...Where am I?” the thought escaped him, asking no one and nothing in particular. From all around him, there were sounds and words, shouts or maybe even screams judging by the pronounced urgency of chatter nearby. He could see nothing, but everything happened in a long and irritable slur. The largest sounds drowned out, muffled to an extremely suppressed low-hum, as if he had returned beneath the raging sea-waters of Mon Calamari and listened swimmingly to the cries of suffocating men. His eyes felt heavy. The lids on them would not part ways, yet neither would his lips to bare his teeth in displeasure. Natural senses slowly escaped him as even the barest motor functions did not work the way they used to, but panic did not seep in where control was lost. His mind was only describable as muddied; dragging and sluggish in the way his thoughts scattered far from any logic and burned with a psychedelic stupor. Even his body had betrayed him.

 

“...Indawo Yokufa?” The words echoed boldly in his mind as if it were his Utata that had spoken them. The noble class within Anzat used phrases such as these to refer to a place of unrest and much death, a place of darkness in which remained inaccessible to the living. It was the void in simpler words, and he was here again, where darkness reigned supreme. 

 

His shapely sinewed chest heaved up and down, rising with the entire weight of a galaxy-spanning Empire, and falling softly as if this vulnerability had finally offered him some measure of peace from the conquering. Hardened sun-touched skin peaked through the cracked shell of his armor plate, showing swollen veins unnaturally glowing an iridescent white-purple. They traced upwards from his exposed abdomen, underneath his torn coverings and surged thickly at the base of his neck, shimmering as though each vein-stalk contained bottled lightning. Open wounds bled, but energy and life transitioned through his body in a kaleidoscopic burst of fuschia. All with eyes wide shut, Exodus sheepishly tried to peer into a world that was both present but nowhere to be found. 

 

"Death has not found you, trespasser." Her voice was eerily unfamiliar, slick with curiosity and venom. Every pronunciation labored slowly, as if each of her words were carefully selected to emphasize the importance of her message. "Then what is this? And who might you be?" Impatience settled at the tail-end of his tongue, and it was then, that he noticed he could speak. He worked his jaw loose, biting against his teeth and feeling the tension behind his cheeks, then releasing. It felt real, but because he was without sight, this felt as if it were another dream.

 

It was more than a few breaths before a response actually came, drawing upon an awkward suspense. "You are here, and I am me of course." Giggling, the hoarse voice began to cackle at the silliness of their predicament. It wasn't pretty, the way her humor echoed in the ugly way that it did. Her laughter was nothing short of dry-heaves, slobbering and a coo of mania. Worse even, was that she believed it to be an enlightening answer. 

 

Exodus could hear movement around him as the other voices had suddenly drawn quiet. He hadn't noticed when they had stopped, and if they were just the voices in his head. Her feet shuffled quickly over the plated floors, tickling the metal as if her two feet were instead a dainty six, scratching the metal as she approached. "Did it work?" He wondered, "Did my sacrifice return Kakuto to the Sith? Did it free him from the Je'daii?" He had placed a lot at risk, but for his brothers, there was no cost too high.

 

No cost too high..
“..Would they do the same?”

 

 

____

 


Greyscale. He opened his eyes at last, and the room shuddered in hues of black and grey. Color had been drained of this world, and the shadows swayed feverishly in the background. The Abyss was without warmth and without color, this much was clear. Exodus pulled his body from the medical slab and shot an eye to each corner of the room, finding neither the chilling voice nor the sickly visage of a woman that spoke in riddles. There were others. Twisted awkwardly in fits of what could only look like extreme pain, were the bodies of medical personnel dashed across the steel floors. Their faces were expressions of agony, overwrought with surprise and panic. Some had dug their hands and nails so deeply into the corners of their eyes, that they had peeled their own flesh from bone. A deep-rooted hysteria must have taken them, but at what hour and at what cause? Exodus stepped forward, judging the scent of death with his learned instincts, surveying the evident torment of self-mutilation. They had lost their minds inside of this room, and their lives became forfeit.

 

“Your mind wandered loosely while you were under, slumbering King.” The voice, her voice, melted down from the walls that contained this room. Every time she spoke, she punctuated her straggly words with eerie laughter. “The Force inside of you is as sour as poison to those that would try to peek inside that head of yours, blacker even, dangerously so. They only tried to patch your wounds. They were only trying to save you, but your subconscious mind drove them absolutely insane. Their suffering lasted full minutes.” Exodus ignored her incessant teasing, trying his best to pinpoint the origin of her wheezing so that he could ring her neck. The sound of her did not exist in the physical world however, and in this Abyss, the rules escaped him. 

 

Blood was spilling from the wounds of the trained physicians. Their eyes, their ears, their mouths were like yawning ducts of flesh that gushed with expiring life. Color did not exist as brightly here as it did elsewhere. The red of their fatalities oozed as sinisterly as black ink, pooling around their corpses and feeding Exodus with life at a heightened rate. “Their sacrifices are of note.” Coldly his words breathed indifference as he reviewed his mighty frame, examining sealed wounds and radiant skin. “..Hag, tell me of this Abyss.” His steps ended where the enclosed door stood, which flushed with exhaust and opened to reveal an unexpected sight. The surprise nearly stole the sense from Exodus, for what was to be the rest of the Scarab, was instead the dusted entry-way of a tomb centralized around a singular grand sarcophagus. The stone coffin, one of which was in sound condition, was lined vertically among a communion of chairs.

 

The stone coffin was sealed completely shut, large bronzium chains squeezing the design in many overlays. The chains wrapped the casket as if moraband serpents oozed densely from the surface. Slim braziers of grey fire surrounded the sandstone column, lighting up the entire hall, blanketing everything in a shadowy glow. The stained glass windows in the oblique ceiling danced in the flickering neutral light while gargoyles and statues peered down upon the oaken floor and towards the standing King of the Sith. A saffron rug split part of the room in half from the Sarcophagus to midway down the hall while winged banners with burnished tracery dangled gently from the walls. Between each banner sat a shrine-like ornament covered in candles, some of them were lit and in turn illuminated the statuettes of legendary creatures below them. Modest, tinted glass windows were edged by curtains colored the same darkened saffron as the banners. The curtains were adorned with embellished borders and impressive needlework.

 

A grand throne of obsidian and gold sat behind a lavish gate of gilded wood and was adjoined by ten-or-so equally impressive seats. There were figures sitting in them, with the sarcophagus placed smack in the middle of them. The throne itself was covered in nothing but labyrinthine sculptures resembling spiders and darker creatures yet, and fixed on each of the rear legs was a gem encrusted moon of lurid black. The broad pillows were a dark saffron and these too were adorned with embellished corners of animalistic design. Those seeking the wisdom of the one that sat within this throne, could do so on the abundance of rather plain looking granite benches, all of which were perfectly aligned in rows. Those of higher standing could instead take seats in the luxurious mezzanines overlooking the hall, overlooking it all. 

 

On this night, inside of this strange Abyss, these halls were full. The mezzanines crawled with grotesque shapes and sizes, with hundreds and hundreds of hungry eyes pinned to where Exodus stood. He could not make them out as naturally as he could in any other darkness, for this one wholly betrayed his sight. Horrors filled the hall in circumference as best as he could tell, while heavy guttural sounds escaped them like wild animals. The familiar sound of fiends was everywhere. The wretched calls grew louder with every second, but nothing grabbed Exodus’ attention more than what he saw sitting inside of those seats likened to the throne.


Below a creature that sat within one of the seats, were small pieces on a board, chess-pieces resembling assets of a budding Empire. The one known as Kain hoarded over these, grinning wildly as only a menacing machine could manage behind it’s metal face-plate. Keenava sat cross-legged, with a decorative plate balanced in her one hand, while her other toyed with emptied spider carcasses. Inside the hands of Faust, he held what looked like a threadbare doll with a crooked crown, puppeteering and dancing on loosely held strings. Nyrys sat among them with wild eyes, feasting on unclean meat that ran down her lips with putrid blood, unbothered by the thing inside the coffin. Telperion whispered to another that he couldn’t see, a woman he had never met, snickering back and forth between one another. Ca’aran looked at the coffin with disgust, with a blade in hand, his expression wishing nothing more than to plunge the metal into the sandstone cover. Dagon did not sit, he stood imperially. His gingerly features ran wild, with his back turned to the cryptic sarcophagus. Sheogorath filled the spaces of three chairs, with a large chalice in hand, laughing and spilling his mead recklessly over the surface of the coffin. A white-haired Arkanian rose from his seat at the convene, raising his hammer high above his head. Each of them looked now, each of them laughing hysterically now, and then the hammer fell.

 

“Would they do the same?”
Her voice made him stir, and then the demons in the shadows drew closer.
He blinked, and the Abyss was no more.
 

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“Yeah, I’m familiar with the name, he was one of the more conquest oriented Dark Lords, ambitious and deadly, but not needlessly cruel. Overly enthusiastic about violence, perhaps, but not a deviant like Ar-Pharazon. If he has shown up, I wonder if we’ll see others come out of the shadows? I would very much like to speak to a sorcerer like Dagon or Darth Oblivion were they to return. As far as what I was afraid of, well, sorcery involves embracing the Dark Side on a whole other level than being a warrior or an assassin. To a warrior, the Dark Side is a mountain that you climb, your progress largely determined by physical ability, and once you reach the summit you can fortify it and use the position to your advantage against your enemies and in finding new mountains to climb. It’s dangerous, but the dangers are readily apparent, and the terrain is largely unchanging. To an Assassin, the Dark Side is understanding and manipulating psychology and sociology, with the Sith both playing instruments and conducting an orchestra. They leverage small amounts of the Dark Side with precision to create great change, mastering cause and effect to weave nocturnes that can alter the course of empires.

 

Sorcerers though… there’s no barrier between you and the Dark, other than the ritualism of our spells and rites. It’s like being on the surface of an ocean full of sea monsters in a little raft, with storms on every horizon and your legs dipped in the water. It’s far easier to fall into those depths and come out something else entirely. I’ve tried to be careful, to distance myself from the family and friends of my life from before I became Sith so that they wouldn’t suffer from my choices. Some of what we do is toxic, and the only way to protect people from it is exclusion. Sith sorcery though, it takes those attachments and turns them into fuel, into raw power. So to truly excel at the Dark Arts you need to let people in, but also believe in something so hard that you’re willing to destroy those people to achieve it. I mean, yeah, you can bulk sacrifice people to get the same result, but I don’t know if that’s better or worse. 

 

There was a point where I considered walking away from it all, leaving behind the anger and the pain, but when I died on Corellia the peace that was offered to me I could not accept because I could not look the other way and pretend that my suffering and the transgressions against the people I care about never mattered. I can find no peace or bliss in willful denial. I’ve come to the realization that one way or another I’m not going to survive this war, but perhaps my sacrifice can lead to someone else finding a way to end it, or at least finding a greater measure of happiness than was ever possible for people like us. So yeah, I’m going to take my little raft out into the storm, but I’m doing it so that people like your daughter can potentially see the other side of this pfasked up mess.”

 

Nyrys tried to sigh, but realized that she wasn’t actually breathing outside of what was needed to speak. In truth, her raft had already left the dock, and she could see the waves rising. Ca’aran had a new ghost clinging to him too, the woman that had been with him at the gathering feast after Dark Sun Station. Every meeting meant seeing new scars, and this war was like a sarlacc, slowly digesting everyone that was in it.  

 

The shuttle touched down, but Nyrys did not feel the familiar rush of adrenaline or the throbbing of her crystalline heart, yet another thing that the aberration had taken away from her. The disconnect from her own mortality did allow for a more detached, clinical awareness of her situation though. It was a shift from feeling her situation to observing it. The distance made her feel as if she wasn’t even present, numb to the potential mortality of the situation on account of her liminal state of existence. Which was a comfort, if rather cold, given her current lack of weapons or armor. 

 

“If things get rough, prioritize taking the shot over protecting me. Death can claim no grip on me, and I will not see your troops used as fodder over a matter of pride.”


 

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He reached a hand out and lay it softly on the woman’s shoulder. He gave it a slight squeeze before letting it drop. It was a gesture of both trust and good will, if not also thanks and appreciation. She was going through a hell that he could not know, and her journey would take her far into the wall of the storm. For good or ill she had decided her path. 

 

“Thank you Ailbasí.” 

 

He looked off towards the medical facility as the jump hatch pulled back from the shuttle. 

 

“I am sorry for what I did.” 

 

He sighed and pulled his grey helmet back over his head. The Visor remained dark for a moment before it lit up with a dull red glow. Matching the hundreds of other helmets that were now being put on around the facility as the soldiers of the Sith Marines began to surround the army hospital. He turned back to her as they began to walk towards the main entrance. The dead looking ‘T’ visor and synthetic voice portraying little if any of the emotion he actually felt. 

 

“Death is written like a thick ink across both of our faces. Death becomes all that I love. And it had certainly come to you.” He felt a regret instantly at saying it. As if admitting to his guilt somehow made it all the more real. But he plowed on. “Every good work I have done turns to death. Perhaps it is the divine is forcing me to reap the bitter tears I sewed years ago.” Delta’s fingers drummed nervously on the handle of his pistol as he continued. “I made a promise Ailbasí, I promised I would protect you. I promised I would protect you with every ounce of my being and now… look how i have failed you. Failed Him.” 

 

So I am sorry Ailbasí. And I am sorry to your Father for failing you. But I will not do so again.” His helmet looked up at the sky as if looking for a spirit among the spotted clouds. “I have reaped what I have sown. So I must thank you for wading into the storm beside me. Despite my failures.” 

 

The doors opened up before them as medical staff came running out with their hands raised. 

 

“Here is to peace in our time, no matter the cost.”

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Ryu's eye shot open with a gasp, the dull pain of consciousness resuming. He was still on the medical bed, where the droid had left him. His chest still felt like a pincushion. As he moved to get up he heard a loud metallic clank, becoming aware of his new mechanical arm for the first time. As he stabilized himself he moved the new arm, and with it got a sort of "buzzing" in his nerves that traveled up his shoulder and took root in his brain. It was a sort of awful feedback from system that connect it to his nerves, static from something not grounded properly. As he went to move it around he was immediately struck by how sluggishly it responded. It was a bare framed metallic arm, the exposed articulated parts having no synthetic skin or external casing to speak of.

Ryu sneered and slumped his head. This was only vaguely preferable to not having the arm. But at least I can open jars again. He thought.

He stood up slowly, wondering where exactly he was. He had passed out on a ship. Was he still on the Goliath? He recalled feeling the ship enter and exit hyperspace, and seeing a different planet when he had blown a hole in the side of the ship. No doubt the ship had retreated, and he found himself now deep in Sith territory.

He walked toward the door slowly, every step he took radiating waves of pain through his injuries. When he reached the doorway to his room he slumped against the wall, sweating bullets. He thought about Jedi and Sith he had been fighting. The power that overwhelmed him then had subsided now, leaving behind only the fragments of memory that he had gained from his other self, and the bitter knowledge that in the end he had betrayed both sides in his maddened frenzy. No matter who lie beyond that door, it would almost certainly be an enemy, seeking revenge for the blood he had spilled.

He found himself with nothing, no weapons, no clothes except for a hospital gown, and in a weakened state while facing an approaching foe. Again. Armiena had taken pity on him due to his ignorance the first time, but he had ensured that nobody would see him as being innocent this time.

Ryu pressed the button to open the door, and was very shocked to find it slide freely. He really expected to be locked in, given the circumstance. He peeked out into the hallway to find the hall in a state of abandonment and disarray. There was not a soul in sight, and everything seemed dropped in a state mid use, like the inhabitants had made a mad dash to leave.  It was a hospital, he gathered, by the variety of medical tools and sensors he saw laying around. He walked past an overturned food cart, stepping in still warm food. He felt a deep sense of confusion. He noted blue skies out the windows, assuring him that he was indeed on a planet now.

In the distance he heard a few footsteps, and a door seal shut.  He wondered toward it cautiously, clutching his gut with his mechanical arm while bracing himself against the wall with the other. Eerie Silence followed him while he peeked around every corner, into every open and uninhabited room. When he came to the door he though he had heard close, he opened it cautiously, revealing a lift in a transparasteel shaft. From the elevator shaft he had a wide open view of the surrounding area: a large open campus surrounded by other buildings.

When he examined the campus his blood ran cold, He saw a stream of doctors, and nurses running out, escorting or carting out patients to be sorted at a picket of armed soldiers, who dotted the building's perimeter. He saw others who seemed to be closing in on an entrance. He ducked behind the doorway and stood flush against the wall, hyperventilatilating for a moment, cursing his fate.

"...Betrayer..."

Ryu winced, hearing the voice of the demon echo in his head. He began to strategize, desperately trying to imagine a scenario where he survives the strikeforce, and coming up with very little. Only that he needed a weapon, and that if they were below, and that his only option was up. A hospital seemed like a poor place to find a weapon. He began to hobble quickly down the halls, ducking into a patient room to tear the safety rail off of a bed to make a crude cudgel. He stopped at a map and began to study it for a possible escape route. He couldn't take the elevator, he would be spotted immediately in that open transparasteel elevator. He grimaced at the prospect of cornering himself at the top of this building, but he was certain they would have the ground level covered shortly. On the map, he found a staircase on the interior he could climb, and on the roof he found the indication of a landing pad for ambulance speeders. If he was lucky, he hoped, he would find one parked at the top.

Ryu hobbled through the halls to the staircase, then set about climbing upward along the long twisting path to a desperate escape route.

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“You know my father? I mean, I knew that he was involved in the Imperial Science Division, but I didn’t think that he would have crossed paths with you. Even after he retired he was a workaholic, so I imagine that it must have been rather difficult to pry him away from his work back in the day. Regardless, sometimes failing brings the world into clearer focus. I think that my brief stint with mortality opened my eyes to certain truths while also quieting inner doubts. There was a brief moment where I thought that the Light might hold some measure of peace for me, but all I found in the end was apathy and false platitudes. Choices matter, people matter, you matter. I was angry when we had our falling out because it made me feel like I wasn’t enough to save you from your doubts, but now that I’m older and arguably wiser I think that what’s important is that you are important. You may be a clone, but there are no men like you. Trust me, I know from dating half the galaxy. So now I want you to know that if I lost you, it truly would be a loss, not just another soldier fading away into casualty reports and data ledgers.”

 

This wasn’t the time or place, but Nyrys wanted to accentuate her words with a physical connection. She settled on the illusionary sense of her hand on his shoulder, followed by an ethereal slap on his rear, because inappropriate behavior was just part of who she was. 

 

She wasn’t thrilled with her lack of tools to enact change at the given moment, but she was too stubborn to back out now. She wove her fear and her longing into tendrils of ambiguous darkness, her own path still too uncertain to call upon specific spells. For the moment she was wrapped in oil and smoke like a bound devil, the profane energies quivering in anticipation and whispering from the void that she was pulling from.

 

 

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“Now miss Zirtani, those are the kindest words that have been spoken to me since…” What had it been, a decade? Two? He couldn't tell, but all that he felt for the briefest moment was a pure and unadulterated love for the Sith Lord. One that would have shown very obviously on his face if it was not covered by a helmet. It was a lovely feeling, even while fleeting, it made him feel more alive than he had felt for a very long time. He was glad of it, even as fleeting as it might have been. “A very long time at least. If I could somehow take back the things I said, I would. Let us talk more of this after we catch this bastard, Just know if this goes sideways I care very deeply for you.” 

 

Delta tapped the side of his holstered blaster pistol, almost absentmindedly as they walked quickly through the screaming and sprinting hospital staff. His eyes flickering between the seething mass of scared humanity and the Sith Lord beside him. He roughly shoved a male nurse out of the way, sending the man hurtling aside as the soldiers behind began to round the hospital staff up. If the escapee was hiding among the fleeing personnel then Darkhand would find him. It would likely end up with one hell of a lot of dead doctors but that was just the price of doing business. 

 

“I did know your father, I still know him in a way.” He shoved another doctor aside as he cleared the way towards where the Captive was likely heading. “I fought against him in a number of places during the old Red Dawn and Black Dawn era of the Black Sun. Not directly thank the force, but against his forces.” Another shove and another memory bounced up from his mind. “I may have been a very tiny cog in a very large gear at that point in my not so illustrious career, but I knew his name.” He looked back at her as they made their way past the last of the staff. He pointed to one of the Darkhand sergeants and made a sign using the age old hand signals that had been created by Ailbasís own father. The sergeant opened a case and tossed Delta the lightsaber he had taken off the now very much extinct Sith species Jedi Knight. It was a saber spear, unwieldy and completely unusable in regards to reflecting blaster bolts, but it would serve the purpose needed. 

 

“He was a great Sith Master.” Delta looked up towards the vaulted ceiling as they made their way up the stairs, as if the Sith Master would appear as if summoned. “Dagon was his name. The Dark Father of the Krath.”  He left that name hanging in the air and pressed the sabre into her hand. “Perhaps we need a very long conversation if we make it out of this alive.”

 

He could hear movement ahead on the staircase and with a bound up the stairs Delta could see the man ascending. Very likely the target. He did not unholster his blaster. But he kept a hand on it. 

 

"Master Kakuto Ryu., stop! You are needed and I would ask you kindly to stop scaring the staff of this hospital.

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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Ryu's blood ran cold as he heard a man call out from below, accusing him by name of scaring the staff. "Yes, they're running from me, not the armed death squad that surrounded the building."

He wished he had something, anything he could use to slow down the one advancing behind him. Or something to help him ascend faster. All he could do was run toward his uncertain escape. When he finally breached the final door to the roof though, his worst fears were realized. There was no aircraft he could escape with, just an empty landing pad and the perilous fall that surrounded it. Ryu ran toward the edge, looking for any nearby path he could fall to, but saw nowhere he could drop that he could survive. He facepalmed his clunky metal hand for a moment, before turning to face the door he had come in from. He took a deep breath and spread his feet apart, assuming a low stable stance. He was sure that his pursuers could not be far behind, and were likely still in earshot.

"Well, you got me cornered now. But you know what they say about cornered animals. I don't know who you're here to avenge, but consider carefully whether or not you're willing to die to have that vengeance."

Ryu caught a glimpse of the specter of his past self, sitting above the doorway and sharpening a knife. Despite his lack of equipment, he felt certain that if pushed he would succumb to the madness that had driven him on the Goliath.

"I doubt it's worth what it'll cost.."

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