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Exodus

Korriban

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Roshan grinned underneath his mask. He had gotten the woman to drop her charade, if only for a second. Of course, he was impressed by her knowledge when she spoke. But he had perhaps poked a spot of irritation and he was interested in poking it a little more as she seemed determined to continue to use her animal euphemisms.

 

"... the Iron Knights of old where a race known as Shards were placed within Droids, including their Force Sensitives."

"Well I'll be a monkey's uncle," Roshan muttered to Aliss, feigning shock.

He spoke just loud enough that the Sith woman could possibly hear him but he directed the comment to the girl beside him. Aliss frowned a little at him, unfamiliar with the phrase. She then shock her head before looking back at the woman.

 

"One was even told of having been defeated by the infamous General Grevious during the Clone Wars."

"Yup. Lord Primate Kitten is my new name," he mumbled for what good lowering one's voice did inside these enclosed walls of stone.

His "Lord Primate Kitten" comment actually got a little bit of a chuckle out of Aliss before she rolled her eyes at Roshan and again shook her head. Whether Lady Sirena was phased by his chatter or not, the woman added what Roshan assumed was the "hint" of a threat as she concluded her history lecture.

 

"But enough of the History Lessons. I have not lied. I came to see your mettle against Darth Helios's task and to see your potential, to understand your passions, your sins. And if you want to know how I know him, you can ask him yourselves, and then ask him why one of my arms is a prosthetic."

"Let me guess. You aren't just a pretty face. You'll have to forgive me, your Sithness. Obscure races and an obscure orders of Knights that existed a long time ago are not my specialty. General Grievous I'm somewhat familiar with. He was the famous jedi killing droid, right? Droid history never really interested me and the rise of the Empire was well before my time so I only know the general facts and major battles of that time period. I did study a little bit extra on Darth Sidious and Darth Vader and their inquisitors because such Sith wisdom and brilliance and subject matters like that do interested me. But I imagine you have access to much better archives than that of Darth Hel or Kamino or the scraps on Ishvara. I look forward to perusing them. I truly do," Roshan paused just long enough to attempt to read her expression but short enough to cut of anyone else before they interrupted him. 

"That said, it would seem I was not entirely wrong that you've been following us for some time. That adds up. And you are correct, of course. It is a Shard. It is Force Sensitive. And it is a weapon of the darkside. Plucked from among a pile of useless ones and given new purpose."

Truth be told, Roshan wanted to verbally joust a bit further with the woman. Perhaps he was just bored, but he was curious to see what she could do. With his Sith armor on, she might ruin his cape but he doubted that this "wicked flame" could penetrate his armor any easier than ordinary fire. He might get burned but he doubted he'd end up like Darth Vader unless she lit the whole room on fire or something. Of course, maybe it was called "the wicked flame" for more reasons than simply melodramatic sensationalism.

But then again, Sith weren't above melodramatic sensationalism. Some would argue that they thrived on it. After all, how would it look if a fellow student was like, "Hey! Look at this awesome lightning I can now shoot from my fingers and strike down a room full of enemies, droids and fleshlings alike! Amazing right!" and you are like, "Well, well... I... I can shoot flames... and turn into smoke! So... so... ha!" Recruitment for passing on your teachings might be slim.

Roshan chuckled to himself a little as he entertained the thought, his eyes slightly glazing over but his subconscious still attentive to the woman's movements. He was ready to snap back into action at a moments notice if he needed to. He still did not believe her to be entirely friendly or trustworthy.

Of course, as Roshan finished speaking, Aliss looked to Solus and then to the Sith lady. She was a bit surprised that Solus was so quiet. He normally talked new people's ears off. She wasn't surprised by Roshan's responses, though. She was used to his wordy and often invective manner. But she was determined to use this sudden break in Lord Roshan's latest "harangue" to ask the question she had been wondering since the woman first introduced herself.

"So does that mean you can teach us how to use the holy croms and unlock the powers inside like Lord Roshan and Darth Helios have?"

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Edited by Durose Roshan

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Solus wasn’t too insulted at being referred to as an it. Truth be told, he barely understood gender already. But he was a little insulted that he was being described without being spoken to directly. Still, his master was making talk. 

 

And some of the talk was enlightening. Talk of shards and iron knights. So there were others like him who were ascended. And they fought. Why else would one be struck down by a ‘General Grievous’? 

 

Then Roshan made another comment. 

 

“Plucked from among a pile of useless ones and given new purpose”

 

Solus turned and stared coldly at his master.

 

What others? He wanted to ask this, cold and harsh. Were they his family that had turned him out so long ago? Were they the ones that had cut him off? Where were they? Did Roshan have them with him? Or were they still in that world they had left?  

 

Solus desperately wanted to ask, but did not. He dared not be rude to the two ‘adults’ in the room. Still, he did not break his gaze from his master. And his gaze, artificial but not lifeless, did not betray him and ask these questions either.

 

 He was studying his master again, this time going over all that he carried, analizing all the potential hiding spots. Where could he possibly keep his siblings and parents? Perhaps in a pocket, or a bag back on the ship. Or maybe in his own weapon, like the lady mentioned.  Or maybe Aliss…

 

"So does that mean you can teach us how to use the holy croms and unlock the powers inside like Lord Roshan and Darth Helios have?"

 

Solus turned his sensor back to Aliss and studied her in the same light. Where would she keep such crystals. Did she know Roshan had the crystals? Of course she would, she was there at his ascension. So then why didn’t Roshan tell him that he had been found with others? Where could they be? In her pockets? 

 

No, she wasn’t that important. Or was she? Solus again looked back at Roshan. Where would he keep Solus’ family? His cursed, ignorant, hurtful family? Was she better then him? No, they were equals...weren’t they?

 

Solus had an idea.

 

“Yes great Lady Sirena!” he exclaimed loudly, almost out of the blue. “Surely if you are able to produce energy from your...lovely hands…” As Solus spoke this he lowered himself as if to study Sirena better. His serpentine body coiled more and more, clinking in that dark room, as his right hand extended out in invitation. 

 

“...then you must be great enough to train one of us! Provided you found us worthy, yes? I hope our trial of restraint that evolved into a trial of combat  proved that at least one of us are worthy of apprenticeship? "

 

If he could get Lady Sirena to show approval of Solus over Aliss, then perhaps Roshan would look more kindly on Solus and reveal where he kept the other crystals.  Or even let him carry the crystals. How great it would be to have power over those who had wounded him so. 

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Kuat had been a test on Mordecai. His body had been tried on the battlefield, facing the Imperial Knight who had embarrassed him before, reclaiming some of his wounded pride. She had still escaped, but just as battered and bloodied as he. And while her escape infuriated him, he drew on that well to fuel him, to drive him to lengths he hadn't thought possible. His mind and spirit had been tested next, as he battled his fatigue and his feelings to remain collected, commanding his forces to the best of his ability. It was here that he was more disappointed- Only one ship. His only claim to glory. He would have to do better.

 

His leader's silence had worn on him, however. It was clear that the losses of two potent lords had been too far, and he'd returned to his master before judgement could be mustered. If the Sith Master wanted him dead, he'd put up a fight. Build his forces. A power-base. If not, then it would do him well regardless. His thoughts of legacy and legend had been left behind. They had been half-baked and hardly thought of. A fool's motivation. It didn't matter to him anymore. Instead, he was concerned only for his own strength. The wish fora mighty legacy still lingered, a stubborn and frustrating ember that he'd found impossible to stomp out, but it could be addressed later.

 

He returned alone, his forces left under command of the Captain. If the opportunity arose, Mordecai would return for them. If it didn't, they would continue Quala's campaign, waging war for the Sith empire.

 

As his shuttle approached where he had originally landed all those years ago, he was greeted by an almost familiar sight. An imperial craft, though larger than his had been, and a line of crewmen. This was new, though he was aware of what fates would soon befall them. Save the one who seemed to stand off to the side. An officer. He recognized the uniform. Not even a captain. But then... where was the captain? Already dead, perhaps? Maybe they were prisoners. He disembarked, waiting patiently. His master would see to him when she was finished with these mongrels.


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A shuddering breath brought the scent of someone long unlooked for and it brought a dark smile to the hidden lips of Valinor. But when the hidden masquerade looked back upon the small Imperial crew, the smile turned quickly to a frown of disgust. Valinor took a step back and surveyed them. 

 

Some stood with fear, others with pride, but in what Valinor could not tell. For how could deserters have pride? Cowardice begot desertion, and if they believed that they would have fan fare for their ‘valiant return to the empire’ they could not have been more wrong. 

 

She looked down the long line then raised her hand, stopping all of the idle chatter from troops and deserters alike. She held the hand open, a lightsabre pommel laying unlit across the outstretched palm. The darkness that surrounded the Sith Lord began to grow, like a web shaped by a spider. Sliding across the ground and through the air. And when the voice came it was terrible. 

 

Deserters deserve nothing less than death. And those that do not follow my instructions deserve a worse fate. You see the Sith are not a welcoming order. We accept only the Strongest

 

The lightsabre came on, a pale orange blade fighting and sputtering against the darkness. Valinor tossed it up into the air, where it would land at the feet of the crew. 

 

The one who survives may join our order

 

Laughter bellowed from the troops surrounding the Unwavering Pursuit, and like a lightswitch being flipped, darkness surrounded the deserters. Leaving them to slaughter each other like gladiators in some ancient arena. 

 


Commander Valinor - Sith Lord

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Admiral 3rd Felix Legions

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The words echoed in the crew's head, and with only a moment of hesitation, an officer pounced for the hilt that lay before them. The time he spent in the air he recollected his thoughts, memories of the things they've done to survive. This would be no different, he knew he would have to fight hard not only against the others but against himself, force himself to forget what they had done for each other. The palm of his hand only glanced the ancient weapon before it was ripped away from him and he fell to the ground.

 

In an instant his hope for survival, his craving for life was shattered. Whoever got it first would surely slay him before he'd even finished tumbling. His heart skipped a beat, but his anticipation bore no fruit. With the moment of terror gone from his mind he gazed upward. The rest of the crew were equally in shock, all of them locking eyes with Kahla.

 

Deep breaths she thought to herself, disconnecting her mind from her actions. She inhaled, holding the dark air in her longs. She lit the blade in her hand as she exhaled, Opening her eyes she met the stare of the crew. The elegance of the Sabre she gripped fed her, she could feel the power she could take. This is how it had to be, that to reach her potential, she had to win.

 

The grin she now wore betrayed her intent, while most stood in shock, three of the security crew charged her. She showed no hesitation, and relished in the first to fall on her new blade. He dropped to the ground, cut open across the chest, the arm she severed followed him. The next two flanked her either side, both lounging towards her, to try to rip her new found power away. She bounded forward and turned about, using her momentum to swing with ferocity.

 

Those that did not cower in fear had swiftly turned on one another. With a gouged out eye, one chocked the life out of her victim after firmly planting her knee in his stomach. Another had weaponized his belt to serve him, quickly he hung one of the shorter men with the strength in his shoulder.

 

Kahla had little care for the ones that showed no fight in them, and she turned to face the girl with only one eye. The one who stood slowly, dazed at the monstrous way she'd dispatched her former colleague. Kahla's hand wrapped around her neck as she drove the Lightsaber into her back. She locked eyes with taller gentleman, who'd just let down his subordinate, who lifelessly fell to the unforgiving ground. 

 

Kahla could hear herself cackle in amusement, Nobody that still stood could stand a chance against her onslaught. In that thought he made his play, wrapping his waist belt around the wrist she held her winning chance in, and snapped her elbow with a knee. In pain she screamed at him. "You Dare Richard?!" He did not pause, he had seen what she did, had seen her pride, and would not let her progress. His boot landed hard against her chest, and with the unmistakable gasp for air he charged her. With her off hand she tried to reach out in the force once again, but had little luck in merely making the now derelict weapon roll.

 

With all the might he could muster he struck her chin, knocking her aback once more. For a moment she had thought herself unable to defeat him. That moment of shattered pride, the fury she held for him, the pain she felt, something inside her snapped, and like a failing damn she shoved him; throwing him back with the force. His skull cracked against the Durrasteel of the Unwavering Pursuit, and his body slumped heavily.

 

Deep breaths she repeated to herself, her arm now hanging uselessly at her side. She stalked over to the hilt once more. She summoned the weapon to her hand and burned a glare down upon the cowered who stayed himself, that shrunk down to the ground like a child crying for their mother. Her second in command, had she known he could be reduced to such a low so easily, she would have turned on him much sooner.

 

She let out her final deep breath as she dispelled the pale orange hue of the lightsaber, it's sound being the only echo she heard in her mind. Her shoulders rolled back, her spine cracked and snapped as she stood tall, turning to the dark lord with an unsympathetic gaze. She lifted her chin, and stood at attention, awaiting her next order.

"He did not follow your instructions, my lady; may his punishment supersede death."

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Sirena smiled at Roshan, his sin obvious and evident. Pride was a mediocre Sin, a passion to be the best of the best, but very few ever made it reality. So what would it be for the Cathar? Would it empower him? Or would it be his downfall like numerous other's before him? Sirena had not yet seen his fate, but she suspected the latter. A momentarily thought did cross her mind of a villain giving away his plans for world domination just before the Heros came in and saved the day. But perhaps his chatter could be backed up with more than words. "The Cathar thinks me pretty? Perhaps I should rub his belly later?"

 

Next her eyes turn to Aliss, the daughter, having watched her attentively. Her Sin seemed to be Greed. It was typically well rounded amongst the new Apprentices, a passion for grabbing as much power as they could before the others could. It was a stable sin, and one that could sustain one almost indefinitely. Her smile left her face. An average student at best, but at least willing to learn and not so much at inflation of the ego. "Holocrons are mere tools for recording teachings and philosophy. What I can teach you is the power to open them without setting their security feature off and you not end up dead."

 

And finally, Sirena looked at Solus, a heartily chuckle erupting from her voice as she extended her hand into his. The Shard's Sin was still undetermined, his innocence still present. But she did rather enjoy his personality. To corrupt such innocence would be invigorating. "Yes." She replied to Solus, her gaze shifting between all three. "I can impart my knowledge to all three of you, but only you can do what you will with it. It's up to each one of you how powerful of Apprentices you become."

 

But which one would truly be powerful? That was the question that truly sat upon her mind.


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Mordecai scoffed at the Imperials. So quickly they turned on eachother, not even hesitating to pounce on one another like animals. Was this the famed Imperial Navy? No. This was a lowly pack of deserters. The irony in this thought given his own past did not escape him, and he shook his head. He was disappointed. This is what had awaited him had he not joined the Sith. He would have gladly killed them himself had Lord Valinor commanded it. But she had other plans, and he would not get in her way. He had not stakes in this. Even if she was seeking to replace him like the Sith of old, his competition was... lacking.

 

When the battle was over only two remained. A force sensitive woman, her pride stubbornly holding her up despite her bloodied state. Pride in what? Betrayal?In supposedly administering the Sith Lord's justice? And a broken and battered man, unconcious but alive, who had sought to win through treachery and guile rather than through the blade and his own mettle. Both equally undeserving. False Imperial filth. But if Valinor was intent on training one, he would put his bets on the victor. There was something there, at least, to work with.

 

He knelt before his master. "Lord Valinor, my task is complete, and I return with my report. After I landed on Dark Sun, I engaged a Jedi in one of the hangars. I defeated her, though her allies arrive before I could claim her life. Instead, I took on of her arms, and her lightsaber. I was enlisted to aid Lady Darksong in the Dark Lord's plan, and... I suffered the indignity of defeat over Borleais at the hands of two Imperial Masters. After my recovery, I was taken to Corellia, to establish a beachhead for Lady Darksong's invasion. The enemy struck Kuat before we could land, however, and we moved to defend it.

 

There I encountered one of the Masters that left me as you see me, and in the assistance of two Lords, I evened the score. She lives yet, but she will have scars to match my own. After we drove the rebels off, I returned here, to Korriban. I have massacred rebels in the Sith name, and have grown more powerful than I could have imagined when I left the false Empire."

 


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Valinor watched as the old apprentice approached. He had very obviously grown in stature and in power, her nose could tell her that. His aura was enticing, powerful, and had grown to the noontide of its power. She watched him as he approached and listened as he talked of his deeds. And she could feel the pride burning like a fever on his forehead. She lifted her hand as he finished and the area fell quiet. 

 

“Your power is strong but swift. You burn with power, but it will consume you. You will not see grey upon your head. At least....” Her voice turned soft, kind, and distant. “...You will die beautiful.”  

 

She let her hand drop. 

 

“But you have made me proud, and you will become a great lord before you stumble. I name thee Darth Mavanger, take these deserters and mould them to your will.” 

 

She turned, and with nothing further, walked into the lonely halls of Korriban.


Commander Valinor - Sith Lord

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Admiral 3rd Felix Legions

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Posted (edited)

Roshan watched the Shard curiously out of the corner of his eye. It was clearly thinking about something. The way it seemed to be moving, one might even mistake it for thinking hard.


"The Cathar thinks me pretty? Perhaps I should rub his belly later?"


Perhaps surprisingly, Lord Roshan didn't have a clever reply or witty retort for the woman this time around. Nevertheless, he was mostly unphased and content with what he had said so far and how they conversation and developed, at least until Aliss spoke up. Lord Roshan couldn't help but catch his forehead with the palm of his hand and shake it a little. He felt like red-skinned child's comments made their group all look rather amateurish. But then again, he could only expect so much from a girl that had yet to even see her 16th birthday. Not to mention that she was not supposed to be his prized pupil. No, little Aliss was never supposed to be a possessor of such knowledge. She had fate to thank this sudden opportunity. Perhaps the Force knew something he didn't, and perhaps that is what worried Roshan the most about this whole situation. The Force was something to be subdued, not allowed to run wild, and surely not something to guide destinies and be trusted farther than you could throw your enemies with it.


"Holocrons are mere tools for recording teachings and philosophy. What I can teach you is the power to open them without setting their security feature off and you not end up dead."
 

Roshan sighed a little as he nodded at her response. She wasn't saying anything entirely clever but she wasn't wrong either. Roshan's train of thought, of course, was broken when Solus suddenly spoke up out of nowhere.

 

“Yes great Lady Sirena! Surely if you are able to produce energy from your...lovely hands...then you must be great enough to train one of us! Provided you found us worthy, yes? I hope our trial of restraint that evolved into a trial of combat proved that at least one of us are worthy of apprenticeship? "


Roshan could see Aliss glaring at the Shardbot. Lord Roshan was actually impressed, of course.

Was the weapon of Roshan showing a touch of ambition?
 

"Yes. I can impart my knowledge to all three of you, but only you can do what you will with it. It's up to each one of you how powerful of Apprentices you become."


Roshan nodded at the woman, satisfied with her reply.


"Very well, Lady Sirena. You see to check out. Would you like to teach us these things now or is there somewhere you'd like us to meet you in the morning? I'm not thrilled to be sleeping her but we all have to rest sooner or later."

 

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Edited by Durose Roshan

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With those words, Mordecai inhaled sharply. It was done, then. He was a true Sith. Nothing seemed to change, as he thought it would have. Perhaps, in reality, it was but a rank. But with it came privilege. Privilege to command lesser Sith, to fight his own battles, and to mold these two as he deemed fit. He rose as his former master left, not shaken by her predictions of his early death. At worst, it meant he would die as Lord Fahren had, on the cusp of greatness. At best, it was an expectation to be shattered like glass as he rose above it. And this would be his first step.

 

He turned to the two survivors, one still unconscious.

 

"Interesting. It seems that you are mine. And through the fire of battle I shall temper you into a weapon, one that shall slay Jedi and Imperials alike. But first... you must survive. You stand with false pride- you have not slain fighters, but crewmen, with a weapon unearned and undeserving for one of your station. You will attack me, or you will kneel, but either way I will see such falsities banished from your mind."

 

He glanced at the injured crewman. there would be... other uses for him. Though weak in the force and in body, perhaps there was a chance for his mind. And iff not, then he would fall like the rest of his allies. Turning back to the upstart before him, he ignited his own blade, the cyan blade reflecting eerily off of Korriban's crimson sands, his second still hanging from his waist.

 

"Which will it be, pretender?"


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His sharpened words pierced her sense of triumph. He was right though, the crew, or the savages they turned into. They weren't a true test of strength. Her pride drifted out of her mind just as the smile from her lips, now a burning desire to prove her worth, to reach her potential. She would need this Darth Mavanger to teach her the ways of the Sith. But to kneel? Put up no fight? She couldn't show that kind of weakness.

 

Her arm was still pulsating in pain, bruises starting to show and the taste of blood filled her mouth as the adrenaline wore off, she knew there was no way she could put up a worthy fight.

 

"I will be yours, and I will serve you with great devotion. But..." Her body still writhing in pain, she drew the saber at her side. "I certainly can't pass up my first opportunity."

 

Her foot slid back as she raised her blade, taking her stance and preparing herself.

 

In his head he could feel his pulse, beating him with pain like a drum. He could only muster the strength to lazily open his eye. Hazily, he could see Kahla, stood before someone, something different. Both of them wielded weapons he'd only heard of in folktale. Bodies still strewn among the dirt, he feared himself forgotten, left to die on this wretched planet. He wouldn't be so lucky, as he had survived the conflict and knew he would recover from his wounds. He allowed himself to drift once more, laid on the ground amid the dead.

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"Disappointing."

 

He wouldn't kill her. But he would humiliate her. His stance remained relaxed. He wasn't threatened by this woman, not yet.

 

"Your stance is sloppy. Your grip on your weapon, too tight. You're telegraphing your moves. I know you'll attack by the way you've positioned yourself. If I were a Jedi, or an Imperial Knight, you would die before you completed your first strike."

 

He began to circle her, inspecting. Sloppy. Untrained. Her assets, unused. Disappointing.

 

"You shouldn't feel pride, you should feel shame. I don't even warrant you to be threatening enough to bother killing you, even though you intend to attack. I've faced down Knights and Masters, other apprentices and swarms of troopers. I've spilled more blood that your entire crew combined, and this is what you meet me with? Strike me! Give me a reason to train you! Strike me, and prove to Lord Valinor that allowing you to live was not a mistake! Strike me, and prove to me that I shouldn't correct that mistake!"

 

As he spoke, his voice raised, shouting at the woman. She showed inaction. Unwillingness. No sincerity. He needed to fix that. If she was going to fight for the Sith Empire, she'd need to show conviction. It infuriated him. Did she even have a plan? He could feel the pull of the Force, beckoning for him to give into his emotions. His disappointment, and his anger. His contempt for the turncoat. He shouted once more, the Force booming through his voice.

 

"Strike me!"


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As Solus held the lady’s hand in his own hand briefly, he was surprised. He was expecting currents of electricity and waves of power. While there was a small current of energy, no doubt helping power the prosthetic arm and reacting to Sirena’s thoughts, it wasn’t overflowing like he expected. He didn’t get a taste of the surging energy that he witnessed in the battle. Still, he did get a sense of the arm. The inner workings, how each part connected with each other. It wasn’t what he expected, but it interested him. 

 

After the momentary study of the hand and arm, Solus released the hand and bowed slightly. It wasn’t the answer he was hoping for. He was hoping to be praised or singled out for approval. Oh well, Solus would get his chance later to prove his own worth. 

 

Backing up while his master spoke, Solus now fully realized that his own pet was beginning to wake up. Still listening to the conversation, Solus slithered his way to Tear, who growled his usual growl at the robotic being.  Solus growled back in a similar fashion, hoping it could be some kind of greeting. 

 

Tear bared his teeth in response. Solus stopped and thought. He couldn’t do that. So instead he reached forward and flicked one the sith hound’s small, still growing tendril-like extensions from it’s head. The hound flinched but growled again.  

 

“Interesting” Solus muttered. Tear could feel through his head-tendrils? The other hounds on Ishvara had no such tendrils but hardened horns. Maybe they would developed into those? Or maybe they would simply extend and allow Tear to have more perception of his surroundings? Questions for later. 

 

Solus turned back around to face the group, eager to hear Lady Sirena’s decision. He wasn’t eager to wait here either. Perhaps she would take them to a better place where he could impress her more, or where he could tend to Tear’s wounds better. 

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An unfamiliar sense of inspiration came over her, she felt herself tense up, her grip on her weapon tightening. Focus she told herself, her sholders dropped as she allowed herself to loosen. If she wanted to be swift she couldn't use her whole body in the attack, but at the same time she needed the strength, the power to carry her blade through. The fury she felt towards this Sith burned into her stomach, She hated the lack of recognition, the overwhelming sense of being cast to the wind like dust.

 

Her face contorted into an expression of anger foreign to her. She flicked her wrist out, took a step forward, and with a twist in her elbow struck low towards him. Quickly she followed up, using the momentum in her arm to swing high, slashing her blade towards his shoulder. With her weight on her forward foot now she took a step to the side, still carrying her Saber in tight arcs. She slashed once more at the opposite shoulder.

 

She had let herself fall into a trance, allowing her body to flow naturally, guided by her instincts and not her focused mind. She had always made herself think, to plan her attacks with purpose. This feeling was different, this fluidity was uncomfortable to her. Her last strike she snapped herself out, falling back again on strategy.

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Aziza grimaced at the lack of a stimpack, but accepted the fabric Amadeus offered. She knelt down and bound her ankle tightly, noting that it was likely broken and not just sprained. The world was becoming clearer, though it was still spinning, but that concerned her less than her master's alert nervousness. His enemies were close. How he knew it, she was unsure, but she trusted he knew their habits. 

 

She had just risen again when several others appeared from the wreckage. She was immediately on guard, but a second quick glance at their dirty and bedraggled appearance showed that they were crew. There were two Arkanians, a Nikto, and a towering brown-furred Selonian. In their wake came the butler droid she had spoken with earlier. The Selonian growled out a question, and Aziza blinked, blaming her concussion on what she thought she had heard the female say. Kill who? Me? That isn't right, is it?

 

She pushed the disquiet aside. "It's important for us to be prepared for when your enemies arrive," she stated quietly, attempting to think through the dizziness. "What type of forces are arrayed against us? What would give us the tactical advantage?"


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Sirena nodded her head to the Cathar, and then to Aliss and Solus. It wasn't her first time in this chamber, and as she stood and neared the rear wall, she laid a resounding hit with her prosthetic fist upon a singular stone, the stone sliding back and revealing a secondary entrance. Or exit in this case.

 

"It isnt used much, so the gears tend to stick a bit." Sirena spoke, shaking the dust from her fist. "As for your training, rest tonight. Tomorrow will be long and exhausting. Meet me in the Valley of the Sith Lords."

 

As Sirena finished, she turned and exited, Helios' presence sending chills down her exposed spine and rose the hair on her skin. She chuckled and continued up the stairs and back into the light of day. The old coot was always watching and spying, but he was powerful and dangerous nonetheless. Not someone she would consciously cross unless there was no other option.

 

Once back at the Academy, she registered the three with the Imperial Registar before settling in for the night. Tomorrow brought great promise, and possible disappointment. But for now, she would settle herself in for the night and rise early for the mild trek to the Valley of the Sith Lords, a common beginning for so many Apprentices.


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“The Valley of the Sith Lords…” Solus whispered, with a slight warble in his voice. He reached up and folded his hands together, making a slight grinding noise as they pressed and slid over each other. The name of the location was ominous to say the least. The foreboding insinuation Solus took from it was obvious. He didn’t even say goodbye to Lady Sirena as she left. 

 

“Well Lord Roshan, it seems we got what we came for here, yes? We wanted a teacher, yes? Now we have not one but potentially two to choose from! Darth Helios, while very, er, would strict be the right word? Whatever the word, his burns are certainly fascinating, and a teacher in pain I suspect he is. What knowledge he might hold! Yes, yes... he has offered to train us. But there is now also Lady Sirena!  How lovely she is. Her prosthetic arm, her feminine looks… Is that the right wording? Anyways, she also has power. That energy...so godlike!”

 

As Solus spoke he did the serpentine form of pacing, slithering back and forth in one spot. His hands kept grinding softly as he did. Tear on the floor growled softly as he laid his head down, knowing that the danger had passed.  

 

“Yes, yes...this is truly good, yes? Having options? And this place!”

 

Solus stopped moving and gestured around himself, indicating more than just the room.

 

“This place is magnificent! Those people out there are suspicious, except that lovely being with the voice….oooh what a voice. I could listen to that voice for a long time...and there is so much available for us! Perhaps there is more information to get from here…”

 

Solus stopped suddenly and turned to face everyone.

 

“But Lord Roshan...who are we to follow? Lady Sirena at the Valley of the Sith Lords? Or Darth Helios tomorrow? Sir Aliss, what do you think?”  
 

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“Well Lord Roshan, it seems we got what we came for here, yes? We wanted a teacher, yes? Now we have not one but potentially two to choose from! Darth Helios, while very, er, would strict be the right word? Whatever the word, his burns are certainly fascinating, and a teacher in pain I suspect he is. What knowledge he might hold! Yes, yes... he has offered to train us. But there is now also Lady Sirena!  How lovely she is. Her prosthetic arm, her feminine looks… Is that the right wording? Anyways, she also has power. That energy...so godlike!”


Roshan nodded in reply, still in silent contemplation. Lady Sirena intrigued him. His previous master was a female Sith Lord. He was not opposed to serving another. The fact that neither Sith Lord seemed very successful at keeping themselves in one piece worried Roshan a little. But his primary focus was on expanding his abilities. He wasn't going to press the issue or claim the status of Sith Lord for himself. He would hid among the apprentices and bide his time. It had been well over a decade since his original training and the life he had subsequently made on Ishvara. The galaxy had passed him by in that time and the great Sith Lords of his day that he once knew were had now passed into legend. He did not know much about this new leadership, their objectives, or their teachings.

This was a whole new Sith Empire and Lord Roshan had decided shortly after his arrival planetside that the best way to learn about these masters and how this generation of Sith operated was to keep his head down and draw as little attention to himself as possible. Having Solus and Aliss with him made it rather easy. They both seemed so eager to hog the spotlight that he'd have little trouble remaining an afterthought. Whether he would decided to adopt this generation's philosophies and truly call this place home remained to be seen. But at least this was a start.

 

“Yes, yes...this is truly good, yes? Having options? And this place!”
 

"Sure. Options can be nice. And I guess--"

 

“This place is magnificent! Those people out there are suspicious, except that lovely being with the voice….oooh what a voice. I could listen to that voice for a long time...and there is so much available for us! Perhaps there is more information to get from here…”

 

Roshan chuckled a little at Solus excitement.

 

"I mean... I don't know if I'd go that far. I've seen better.

 

“But Lord Roshan...who are we to follow? Lady Sirena at the Valley of the Sith Lords? Or Darth Helios tomorrow? Sir Aliss, what do you think?”

 

Roshan paused at the question. He thought for a second while Aliss replied.

"Just know that next time you try to tackle me with your oversized metal frame I will cut it in half," retorted in a grumpy manner as she laid against the cold ground and curled up into a ball.

Roshan rolled his eyes, "Aliss Rose Roshan! If you do not let this go this instant..."

 

"Maybe if he apologizes!" She whined back.

"Apologizes?! You are the one who disobeyed and tried to steal the artifact even though we were directly told not to! Soulless was the only one actually following directions!"

Aliss crossed her arms as she continued to rest against her side, "Fine."
 

Roshan shook his head.

Children. He would end up stuck with this one.

 

"Where were we again? ..." Roshan sighed and paused for a second before remembering his original train of thought.

 

"Oh! Yes. Were we supposed to meet Helios tomorrow? That is right, isn't it. Do you remember when and where? To be honest, all this excitement had me a little distracted. I don't see why we can't visit with them both. Helios might have more knowledge to share but Lady Sirena seems like she might be better suited for beginners and a bit easier on the eyes. If you have a preference, we'll follow your lead, Soulless. It's time to let you make some executive decisions, as any good Knight of Roshan eventually must."

As Roshan finished, he leaned up against the rock wall behind him and took a seated position. He was ready to get a little rest. The space travel plus the desert trek and then the heat followed by their combat session had left him more than a little bit weary. Tomorrow would probably be even longer.

Turning to Solus, Roshan added, "Do you got like a motion sensor mode or something in that chassis of yours? Perhaps you could set it to wake you up and alarm us if anyone enters? Otherwise, we can take shifts. It doesn't matter to me. We should probably get some rest either way. It would just be wise not to take any chances. That's all."

 

___
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Edited by Durose Roshan

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Solus flinched at the scolding Aliss received. He wanted to help her, rise to her defense, but he had no words. To defend her actions would’ve meat going against Roshan. So he stayed silent. But a small part of him felt glee. Perhaps Solus was the better child of the two, and thus would receive more praise in the future.


The choice then was laid to Solus. The shard nearly had a panic attack at the thought. Him deciding? Was that truly wise? Was this a test of Roshan’s?


“Well, Lord Roshan…” Solus slithered around Tear, who was gently falling asleep. “...Lady Sirena is certainly a fascinating creature. She seemed to like you or something, with all those sayings...“


Solus recalled how Lady Sirena called his master kitty and offered a belly rub. Was that playful banter or something else?


“But something about Darth Helios strikes me as...fascinating. Maybe its that wound of his, or something else, but I feel like power just emanates from him. Like a being who has seen the wonders of this world of worlds, and maybe destroyed a few. But then again, Lady Sirena demonstrated her power, and Helios does not seem to desire Tear…”


Tear growled at being mentioned, but Solus ignored him. Instead he slithered across the room  rubbing his hands together  as he chatterred to himself, trying to make a decision. 


“Technically, we have made no oaths to Lady Sirena, and thus we are not bound to her. Well, you two aren’t at least… she did, after all, help me with that beast earlier. But all three of us have submitted to Helios.  Oh what a cruel decision! Yes, yes, a difficult one.”


Solus snapped his fingers suddenly and swiveled his body to face the others. 


“Ah ha! Since I am bound to Darth Helios, but also owe Lady Sirena our respect, we must satisfy both of them, yes? And since there are three of us, we can do just that! Lord Roshan, you stated that it will be our duty to kill you, yes? Perhaps a separation will enable Sir Aliss and I to do so later. After all, if we all learn the same, then we all know the same and be killed equally.” 


Solus rubbed his hands again, this time with more energy, like a child believing he had a perfect plan that could not be thwarted. “In order to satisfy my debt to Lady Sirena, I choose that Sir Aliss will meet with Lady Sirena. You two are of both similar build and gender, right? Perhaps this will allow you to learn in ways impossible for me. Yes, yes, that will do. Do you agree Sir Aliss? 


“I, however, must keep my word and follow the dreadsome but curious Darth Helios when he comes in the morning. After all, if I broke my word to him, how easy would it be for me to break my oath to you Lord Roshan? And this way, us children will learn in two different ways and become more powerful. That way, whichever person you choose to learn from Lord Roshan, you will have a child training separately from you and thus learn what you will not. Yes, yes…”


Solus looked at Lord Roshan seeking his approval. He felt like this plan was perfect in more ways than one. If Roshan selected to follow Darth Helios, then he would see Solus progress and give Aliss some breathing space from her ‘father’. If he chose to go with Lady Sirena, which would be disappointing, Solus could then surprise Roshan with how quickly he developed under Helios. 


“But we must rest. I will take the first watch. Yes… and Helios will come for us in the morning, according to his words. And you Sir Aliss will find the Valley of the Sith Lords. Yes yes...but now, rest. That is what we must do.”


The Shard, confident in his decision, slithered next to his hound and gently patted its sleeping body. As the two made themselves comfortable, Solus simply watched the doorway, as well as the pyramidal holocron, wondering if it could be activated again later. 

 

The next morning, Solus booted up slowly. His body stretched, his voicebox whistled in excitement. What a joy to be alive again.  And it would soon be morning. Darth Helios should be here soon.  
 

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“Ah ha! Since I am bound to Darth Helios, but also owe Lady Sirena our respect, we must satisfy both of them, yes? And since there are three of us, we can do just that! Lord Roshan, you stated that it will be our duty to kill you, yes? Perhaps a separation will enable Sir Aliss and I to do so later. After all, if we all learn the same, then we all know the same and be killed equally.” 

"Well don't get too excited about the prospect. There is still much time before that day comes and revenge we must take on Ishvara first and foremost. There are debts of blood to be repaid. But yes. In time, that day and my end will likely come. Just be sure that you are strong enough to defeat me in that day. Failures receive no mercy."

“In order to satisfy my debt to Lady Sirena, I choose that Sir Aliss will meet with Lady Sirena. You two are of both similar build and gender, right? Perhaps this will allow you to learn in ways impossible for me. Yes, yes, that will do. Do you agree Sir Aliss?” 

Aliss did not respond. Perhaps she was asleep. Or maybe she was just pretending. But she remained still in the darkness as Solus continued.

“I, however, must keep my word and follow the dreadsome but curious Darth Helios when he comes in the morning. After all, if I broke my word to him, how easy would it be for me to break my oath to you Lord Roshan? And this way, us children will learn in two different ways and become more powerful. That way, whichever person you choose to learn from Lord Roshan, you will have a child training separately from you and thus learn what you will not. Yes, yes…”

Roshan grinned as he listened to the Shardbot's plan.  It was more clever than Lord Roshan had expected. In fact, the Shard's idea had plenty of merit. More interestingly, it would likely show not only who the better pupil was but also who was the more competent master. For probably the first time since originally setting off on this quest, Roshan once again felt a tingle of excitement dance across his shoulders and up his neck. He let out a hearty laugh in the darkness.

"Well, Soulless. It would seem that my faith in you was not misplaced at all. I find your suggestion excellent. Before Master Helios arrives, we will explain the situation to the girl and Aliss will leave to meet with Lady Sirena as you suggest. Well done."

With that settled, the rest of the night and their watches seemed to go without incident. By the time some semblance of morning arrived, Roshan was a little tired but rather content. The real training would finally begin. The only question that now remained was whether or not Master Helios would show or instead decided to stand them up. Roshan couldn't help but wonder if Aliss' actions had ruined their chances of training under the grizzled master. If push came to shove, the party could always go and track down Lady Sirena. She seemed competent enough to handle a few beginners. And if it proved to be too much for her, Roshan was confident that he could help when needed.

Granted, Solus' plan seemed like the better option and more advantageous for Roshan's grand master plan and their eventual revenge tour on Ishvara in the months or years to come. Of course, all of that would be figured out in its own time. For now, the mission was simple: find a master, master some teachings, keep learning. 

____
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"It's important for us to be prepared for when your enemies arrive,"

"What type of forces are arrayed against us? What would give us the tactical advantage?"

 

 

 

She was correct, preparation was tantamount to whatever insecurities laid at the feet of the freelancers, and the crew huffed at the realization. Hyperion ignored their irrationality, barely catching the end of the question that Aziza had silenced the others with. His attention was primal now, extrapolating what kind of vermin his rivals would approach with now. "This ship is a bedrock against the disastrous climate, for now. Positioning mostly," With the systems overheated and burnt into submission, an ugly wave of warmth began to creep through the malfunctioning vessel. The skin-tearing sandstorm waged war just outside of their metal cage, and the wolves of past adversaries skulked between the shadows. "At best, they're freelancers hired by Ektei, one of those Massassi shams that cropped up with Darth Akheron awhile back. Worse case, they are the abominations of those Massassi; the hungriest and most fearsome of hunters sent to sweep us from the face of Korriban."

 

The primary lighting system within their perishing means of transport suddenly drew completely dark, now only highlighting small traces of light by way of a small generator. Visibility dampened significantly, casting them as mere shadows against the dark metal around them. The hostile winds outside ate at the hard alloy, rocking the ship back and forth and battering the permanence that held it together in one piece. Abruptly, a knocking sound echoed from the rear of the ship, almost like a hammering as it did not stop. Drilling? The sound of metal punching into metal hummed through the corridors as well, but it felt as if the sound came from elsewhere now, perhaps it was nearest to the cockpit. Hyperion could barely see her features now with an unaided eye, but he withdrew a short blade from a scabbard aligned with his spine, and placed the smaller Sith steel into her hand.

 

"Ten sentient creatures, Aziza. And they are here for blood. Close your eyes, allow your instincts to become feral. Can you see them?"

 

 

 

 


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As the time ticked on by, with each minute, Solus grew more and more nervous. How much time had passed? Minutes? Hours? Days even? Did Solus choose wrong in trusting Darth Helios? Did Helios abandon them?

 

“Oh what torture for us!” Solus suddenly exclaimed loudly, making Tear jerk up in surprise. “We must have displeased Darth Helios by not heeding his words, and as such he refuses to teach us any more! Such sadness for us, for all he showed us was this place.”

 

For a few moments Solus began to wallow in despair, coiling again near the hound and sinking to the floor. But as quickly as he started to cry, it changed to laughter.

 

Ah ha ha! No no no, that’s not bad, that is good! For if he does not hold his deal up, then I am not bound to my oath to him! Yes!” Solus body shot upwards, pumping its arms once in triumph. 

 

“Yes yes! This is good, is it not? Oh how i will miss the chance to study under his wisdom, but Lady Sirena has offered her help, has she not? Yes, this will work. Oh. Oh! I am sorry Master Roshan, Sir Aliss, for not being able to go with my original plan, but it seems we are bound together longer now. Come! Let us find the Valley of the Sith Lords! Haha!”

 

With that, Solus began to lead the way. Out of the room, up the set of stairs, the shard led the group, carrying Tear over his shoulders again. He dared not leave him alone. Once at the shrine above, Solus stopped and glanced around, as if someone else might have been there. Comforted that no one was, Solus led the way further outside, into the alleys and into the streets. 

 

“Oh what a glorious day. Our first day to acquire power! Haha!” Solus boasted as he slithered forward, not aware if Aliss and Roshan were close behind. He was just eager to find the Valley fo the Sith Lords. 

 

Solus only paused once when he reached the marketplace. People were there again, though less so. It was still early morning, and everyone had their places to be besides the market. Still, the musicians were there, each playing their own song to drown out the noises of travel. The notes were long and droning. Each musician dragged his music out as long as possible, indicating the time of day.

 

Solus stopped when he heard the sounds. The music of a nearby bug-eyed rodian, while not beautiful, still caught his attention all the same. The snake-like tail of his began to shiver and coil randomly, and his upper torso began to sway. Solus was enjoying himself, unaware of how many people were looking at him and his precious pet on his shoulders.

 

“Ah...such...majesty. Hmmm...Lord Roshan...Sir Aliss, it just occurred to me, how are we to find the Valley of the Sith Lords? Truth be told, I was just following the path we took yesterday under the guidance of Helios, but now...I'm unsure where to go"
 

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