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Mordecai allowed himself to laugh. She was learning quickly. Perhaps she was worthy of teaching. The threat of real violence seemed to have spurred her on. He planted his feet as she began her offensive. Her second attack was wide, and he deftly blocked it with his lightsaber, the clash searing the air with heat and their ears with the shrill bark of plasma-on-plasma. He kept his movements tight, pushing her second blow wide. He chuckled.


Her hand connected with his wrist, and with a burst of strength and speed, he twisted it, sweeping her feet from under her with his leg, causing her to slam into the dirt, as he kicked her lightsaber away. Impressive. Injury need not be her punishment this time.


"Impressive, but only given your prior performance. Perhaps Lord Valinor was not mistaken. You may not be quite the waste of time I suspect. Still, I don't need an apprentice who dies the first time anyone with a modicum of skill fights back. Retrieve your weapon. Ready yourself. Whether or not you survive this part is up to you."


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Their attackers were large, red, and bulbous. The dim light did not much allow Aziza to determine further details, the viciousness of their attack leaving little room for what other observations she could glean.


Blasterfire lit up the interior, and she added her own to the mix. Their enemies’ thick hides allowed them to shrug off all but the most accurate hits, at least until multiple deadly beams of energy had soaked through. Trusting the mercenaries to handle the front line, Aziza focused on those who had been toward the back of the group, firing as quickly as she could. One she managed to hit in the eye, and it fell immediately, but the others took more time. The blaster sizzled in her hands, threatening to overheat, but she couldn’t afford to stop. 


And then the creatures reached their perimeter. Aziza ducked behind her barricade as a new stream of blasterfire targeted her, ducking out to resume fire only when she heard a pause. Briefly, she glimpsed one of the Arkanians go down. For the moment, they were holding their ground, but she knew that if the fight was not finished in the next few minutes, they could not hope to prevail.  


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'Impressive' he called as she stood, dusting herself of the soil. Her pride once again tried showing itself but she forced it down. This wasn't a moment of pride, not yet. As she was told, there was still much room to improve. And improvement, she would strive for. Kahla paced towards her weapon, her eyes locked on the Sith, waiting for him to try and catch her off guard. He was strong and cunning, more-so than herself. He would make a worthy teacher, and she would willingly become his instrument. Forged in the fierce fires of battle, she would become a ferocious soldier. With the cunning of fleet operation, she would become a master stratigist. She recovered her Saber, leaving it extinguished in wait.


"I am ready.." the words she spoke were soft, calculated and deliberate. She needed more to convince herself, than him.

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"You are not. You doubt yourself. Good. Arrogance leads to an early death. But keep your doubts to yourself. Do not display them as you do for all to see or they become an even more potent weakness. Regardless, you will either earn the right to be called Sith here, or you will die. It does not matter to me which- the Sith empire gains new acolytes every day."


He stepped forwards, raising his blade in an aggressive stance. He would hold back- she had no chance of surviving a lord's assault, regardless of her potential. He swung with un-augmented strength, once, twice, three times. The first swing was downwards towards her left arm. The second, an attempt to sever her legs. For the third, he ignited his second lightsaber, swinging to her right shoulder. She would need to watch for such trickery, she would learn.


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While she had let her self-doubt show, she held onto her confidence. The threat of death still spilled from the Sith's lips, but she would earn her place. She will call him master, and someday, he will call her equal. She ignited her blade as he had, holding it towards the dirt.


His first swing came quickly, and she raised her saber to meet his. The weapons screeched as they made contact, and Kahla could feel the strength of the swing bare down on her. It pushed her off balance, she had to move. The second swing came low, and she jumped back. The scent of burnt leather filled the air, his saber had melted the cuff of her boots. Then, the unmistakable sound of another ignition. She had hardly flicked her wrist in time as the plasma burned into her shoulder. She let out a scream of pain as she leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding the rest of the blade.


Her arm burned, the pain coursed through her, emboldening her strength. She bore her teeth and prepared for her next teaching.

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Good enough.


She had much room to improve. The smell of her burning flesh would teach her the lesson he intended. But to continue would be foolish. That she still stood with her wounds was surprising in itself. He frowned. A slave approached him- one he recognized. Ah. Her. The one from his own trials. It seems she had survived. Good. She hesitated for a moment before kneeling.


"My lord. The battle for Corellia has begun."


He could see the sneer on her face- another Sith must have instructed her to inform him. Valinore, maybe. It mattered not. She was here, and kneeling. It deemed a response.


"Good. Return to your quarters. Obey the other Lords. I'll discuss my plans for you when I return."


He turned back to his new apprentice. "Behold, the penance of failure. Slavery is a lenient sentence- I was foolish and swayed by mercy when I issued it. Your own crew member awaits the same fate. Decide what you will do with him, and then we depart to Corellia. Your first true battle awaits.


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Her heart rate slowed as her wounds caught up to her, but she had survived, she was successful. Now her last surviving crew member's life was once again in her hands with the order of her teacher.


"Yes, my master."


Kahla bowed her head before turning her attention to the unconscious man in the dirt. With heavy steps she stalked over to him. With a swift kick to the ribs, he awoke screaming in pain. She pressed her boot to his throat, cutting his plea for mercy short.


"Silence. That I should spare your life once, you should be grateful, but to beg for a second, third chance? You will serve the rest of your life here, wishing I had shown the mercy of killing you. Here you will be taught true understanding of servitude!"


She grabbed him by the throat, her flesh still burning, and cast him into the dirt to be hauled away. As he was lifted she shouted once more "Know that I show you no mercy, and should I see you again I will make you beg for the release of death!"


She turned away in search of a place to mend her wounds, and to find an outfit more fitting of an apprentice. Many moments passed before she returned to her master. Adorning robes benefiting, her weapons proudly displayed over her crimson robes. She still wore her issued boots, melted and damaged. A reminder to be prepared and absolute in her actions. That the smallest slip could cost her more than her appearance. Her hood would remain down, as she wished for her enemies to know her face should they meet her more than once.


"What is thy bidding, Master?" she keeled before her lord, awaiting instruction.

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They say that the dark abyss is nothingness, void and black, sucking away everything surrounding it like a black hole in space. In a sense, Sirena knew this to be true, the darkness consuming and corrupting absolutely. And if one was to gaze upon it while looking for something, they would inevitably find nothing looking back. But for Sirena, she knew the truth of gazing into it while looking for nothing and eventually finding something. Such was the way of the world.


As the currents of the darkside pulled her soul along, sweeping her across countless worlds and through countless lives, she could feel its pull upon her toward something. Much like training to use it, it had a way of using you. And this she enjoyed very much, her lust for power and knowledge driving her. To the others outside, her form would appear to convulse and arch, as if possessed by demonic entities or souls of the darkside. But for her, it was the ride of a lifetime, stuck between life an death, flowing upon the course of the River Styx.


And like every voyage down such currents, a price must be paid. She could feel her body age, time slowly being siphoned away from her life even as her soul soared. In the outside world, it wouldn't be as noticeable, minutes turning to hours of her life even as the blue tone faded away. But the knowledge and understanding gained was worth it. And there was her answer, her gaze falling upon her homeworld.


For far too long had the Hapan Cluster sat in tranquility, unbridled by the outside influences of the war raging around it. She could feel the unrest aching to be achieved, the civility aching to be broken. And at this she smiled. It was time for her to return home, to bring chaos to its order. She had longed prayed for this day. And with these three Apprentices, perhaps it would be poetically beautiful. Only time would truly tell.


Sirena gasped as she opened her eyes, her head arched toward the roof of the makeshift hut as her smile crept widely before falling upon these three before her. Wiping the sweat from her brow along with the concoction, she sat completely up, deep exhaustive breaths echoing her excitement as the blood rushed through her chilled form in order to warm her back up. She said not a word, but watched the others as they too began to wake.


It was time to progress.


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A crackling sizzle uprooted from where Hyperion stood. The natural element rose from nowhere and wreathed itself around the man, fervently electrifying the alchemical metal that sheathed his powerful forearms. Lightning danced off of his body in whiplashes of electric white as the Sith Lord centered his weight and launched himself towards the fallen Arkanian mercenary. 


There was a breach in their hold. The abominations spoke no clear dialect, but their nasty growling between their slobbering on flesh came off as loud and famished. Blood crept into the air as an iron stench. Their approach was starved, and ravenous. The brutish creatures were sinewy and red, strapping to the tooth and fearsome in presence alone. This team would perish quickly, and the killing was a clear sign of this. 


The Arkanian fell and found a mighty laceration across his chest, tearing him into shreds, and opening his chest cavity without effort. Geldalem Zer was no more. The shock alone was stifling, but the darkness made the room drunken with fear. He did not scream, and the muscles in his hand worked the pistol once more, managing to fire at nothing. Hyperion intercepted the beast as a harpoon would strike, nailing the Massassi Sithspawn high into the wall with a pointed fist. Lightning carried forward and ate into the skin of the red beast, slashing it’’s hardened flesh from bone, and burning the life from it’s core. The beast roared against the backdrop of battle within the ship confines, droning out the clashings of blaster fire and wrestling on metal. 


Aziza had opened fire, and to their fortune, managed to sharpen a shot to the head of another, falling the creature immediately in it’s tracks. Fhysar Wax slung his hammer loosely, fending the opposition of three, butchering the adrenaline-filled monsters with smiteful heaves of his weapon. Izi did not make it, and perhaps, that is why Mr. Wax fought with such reckless abandon. The two had only just met for this job alone, but he had summoned a likeness for the woman and her toothy smile. That smile had faded into terror as she lay there lifeless, unable to survive the 300-lb weight of a crushing boot against her windpipe. 


Hyperion was there now, he moved in quaint flashes that seemed to ignite the darkness. The abominations were falling too, but they had more to fight with, and less to lose. A beast fell upon the Sith Lord from above, Hyperion was unsure of how it had held itself there for so long, but caught the creature before it could split him in two. Amadeus au Raa had barely reached for his whip and used the handle to deflect the descending blade of an ax. Reflexively, the length of the beast-whip uncoiled and whisked into the fiendish face of the Massassi horror, dividing the soft tissue from it’s powerful bone structure. With another bullwhip, he latched the lengthy cord around the neck of the now reeling beast, and yank him forward. As the two converged, Hyperion buried a smooth blade into the scalp of the beast, leveraging his skull and tearing until he felt the slack of death consume the abomination.


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((TLDR: Roshan had an almost out of body vision/dream/experience? of the past... then he woke up. The End.))



Consumed by the darkness, Roshan slowly lost all sense of smell, slight, and lastly feel. As if his body was completely numb, floating in an empty void of nothingness, Roshan soon lost all sense of time. Left with only his thoughts, he pondered his life and his past and what would become of his future. He had no answer but it seemed like each time he reached for one with his mind, he was pulled closer and closer to reality. 

First came back his sense of smell. There was something ancient to the place where he now found himself in. A mixture of old lore and modern technology. Then came sight, the blurring brightness shocked his eyeballs, forcing him to recoil and close his eyes to diminish their pain. And lastly came sound. Roshan sat alone in silence for only a moment. His eyes were closed but he chose not to open them as he tried to calm himself and steady his uneasy stomach. Even when he heard the patter of feet approaching, he remained motionless.

“You are early, Cathar.” 

The voice was almost immediately recognizable. Roshan did not need to open his eyes to know that the petite woman with raven hair and bright blue eyes was standing before him. As he slowly opened his eyes, he watched her lithe figure as she casually approached him.

“Well, this is an unexpected surprise.”

Of course, there was something different about his former master. The ageless woman seemed to be younger somehow. The way the darkness swirled around her made it seem almost as if her powers were more raw and unrefined.

“This is where it happens, you know.”

“Where what happens? Where are we?”

“Cardia, you fool!”

As Roshan rose to his feet, he looked around in confusion at her words. He did, indeed, seem to be far from Korriban. This was definitely no place he had ever been but with the occasional noises and voices that echoed off the walls, it was clear that this place served as some sort of hub for something.

“Cardia? What is this place?”

“Königreich des Teufels,” the woman replied proudly.

Roshan frowned. The name sounded familiar. He thought he remembered reading about such a place during his research. It was an old Sith Academy if he remembered correctly, in fact.

“You must be mistaken. The academy you speak of should be in ruins and this place is far from that.”

“No, you must be mistaken.”

Roshan features contorted into a mixture of confusion and irritation, “Why am I here, Master?”

“I am not Dominique and I am not your master. She has yet to arrive but she will play her role when she does.”

“Wah... what? Then why do you look like Dominique?”

“A familiar face tends to make the transition a bit easier, child.”

“Okay. Then who are you?”

The woman flashed him a coy smile as she cryptically replied, “Gods only know. But who I am or who I am not is of little consequence. After all, you are not even you.”

Roshan ground his teeth a little and he sighed. He hated cryptic answers, riddles, and puzzle games. They were such painful wastes of one’s time.

“What does that mean?! Who am I? Where am I? When am I? Why am I here?! Is this a memory from Dominique’s past? A vision of old events? An echo in the Force? Some wild hallucination?”

The lady grinned as she began to walk away, “Perhaps it is all. Or perhaps it is one. Or perhaps it is none. All that matter is that you are here now and you have a call to answer and a job to do.”

“What do you--”

He..l..p me.. plea..se

Roshan stirred a little, looking behind himself but seeing nothing. The voice was so clear, almost too clear for it to have been spoken out loud. Seeing no one, Roshan turned back to Dominique only to see an empty hallway. The mysterious figure, however it was, had vanished into thin air. Roshan debated his options. It would seem that this vision quest of his had a role for him to play and he’d likely not be released until he had completed it. This call, in fact, might be his first clue. Hoping he was on the right track, Roshan hurriedly moved through the compound, following the call through the Force as if he was chasing an echo. 

As he narrowed down the call’s point of original and neared the location, however, Roshan could see that he was not the only one to hear it. Stepping out of the way, the Cathar decided it was better not to reveal himself and get involved until he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. As he watched a rather tall human stumbled down the ramp of the ship in front of him, the man mumbled words that Roshan could only partially hear.

 "I left it there, my first saber. I must... .... ..."

The almost equally tall humanoid with him seemed irritated at the fallen man’s response, although Roshan had no idea why. In fact, there was a definite chill between the imposing figure and the much smaller woman that stood not far from him. Roshan could tell that the three of them had history but the details escaped him. Nevertheless, the small woman was strikingly beautiful for a human, even with her cold demeanor. The Cathar moved to cautiously approach the group and get a better look at what was going on. As he did, the large Sith whispered something into the downed man’s ear.

"So Dominique has his saber,” the woman began with a chilling tone. “That's typical.

Roshan was confused. None of this was making any sense.

Perhaps my quest is to retrieve the saber?

"Surely you can feel how his soul is split. If your lover is going to gloat that she has his weapon... part of his soul, it shows how little she respects any of her fellow sith."

As the violet eyed beauty commed from a medical team, Roshan’s own eyes grew wide as his comm device went off. Looking down at the comm unit at his side and then back upwards towards the ground, he jumped a little as he found the woman’s piercing eyes staring at him. Roshan froze in place, unsure of what her reaction would be. Up until this point he had been unsure whether this vision was one where he would be an observer or an active participant. But the way she looked at him, he was clear now that she clearly saw him.

“Medic! Over here! Get this man to the medical wing.”

A look of bemusement played across Roshan as he stared at the woman. She must have confused him with someone else. But looking down again at his uniform, her mistake was likely logical. In fact, it was only now that he realized that he was wearing an odd uniform, one perhaps even consistent with his mistaken identity. Of course, her glower was intense enough at this point that Roshan didn't dare contradict her. Simply nodding, he hurried over to the injured Sith.

“Yes, ma’am. Coming, ma’am.”

Taking out his medical equipment, Roshan looked over the fallen man and tried to look as busy as possible until the rest of the medical team showed up, if for no other reason than to attract her ire. Whatever was going on, she didn’t seem like someone he wanted to be on the bad side of. After the rest of the team arrived, they carefully moved the man onto a gurney and began heading for the medical wing.

Almost the whole way to the medical wing, Roshan could feel the woman’s glare. He was relieved, of course, when she broke off to handle other business and gave him and the rest of the team some room to breath.

For now, Roshan decided that he would play doctor and act like he knew what he was doing. As far as he could tell, he was someone in charge and short of having to perform surgery, telling others what to do seemed easy enough. If “gods know who” wanted him to play this game, he might as well see it through. 

At least, he might as well do so for now. So far it wasn’t so bad. Glancing over the patient’s vitals, it would seem that this fellow was stable for the time being. As for souls and what Dominique had to do with all this, Roshan doubted he’d find his answer here. Nevertheless, Roshan deemed reviewing the patient’s file prudent and as Roshan glanced over the file, another wounded Sith “warrior” soon arrived. Stepping out of the first patient’s room, Roshan left to see what all the commotion was about. Truth be told, this dark haired woman looked like she had seen better days.

I swear that the Sith of this academy must either be into self-masochism or are made of papier-mâché.

The staff hurriedly set up a bed for the new arrival. As the staff helped the woman onto a bed, Lady Traya addressed Roshan.

“Give her whatever she needs, doctor.”

Roshan looked over the woman and shook his head. He didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that her arm might not be an easy fix.

“Yes, ma’am! I’m just not sure that her arm... you know. I mean, I can’t give you a full assessment until I unwrap it and properly examine it but--” Roshan motioned in the direction of the injured woman.

“If you can save it, great. But if you have to, give her a synthetic one! Get her back on her feet as soon as you can, doctor. You know the drill.”

Roshan nodded, “Yes, ma’am.”

Setting down the file on Draken, Roshan pulled up the file on his newest arrival. This was looking like it was going to be a long day. 

“Malyss Slayde. It seems you have been a naughty girl. But don’t worry. We should have you back up and running soon enough.”

Roshan glanced over at the other medic that had just entered the room. Roshan could have sworn that the young man had to have been freshly graduated medical school with as young as he looked. In fact, were it not for his doctor’s attire, Roshan would have guessed he was a nurse or intern or orderly of some sort.

“Over here, doctor. Grab the team. We have our work cut out for us.”

The man sighed, “Yeah. Sure looks like it. But what about our other patient?”

“He’s stable for now. Go send one of those nurse slaves over to make sure nothing crazy happens.”

“Yes sir.”

As Roshan began to examine the woman, he was surprised by how easy and comfortable the whole thing was. It felt as if he had done it a thousand times. And judging by what he had gathered of this place so far, Roshan was sure the medics here probably had. Removing the makeshift bandages, Roshan was greeted by a gnarly sight of exposed muscle and tendons. He could treat the arm for now but it would likely need extensive surgery if they were to save it. The other doctor had a worried look on his face as he examined the rest of her injuries.

“I don’t know, man. I know Lady Traya wants us to save the arm if we can...”

But? I feel a ‘but’ coming on...”

“But, I mean,” the man began as he motioned demonstratively towards it. “Look at it! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to find out what happens to us if we don’t pull off another miracle. But good gods.”

Roshan shrugged. He had seen worse. And there were worse things than a prosthetic limb. 

“We will try to do what we can but at least she will most likely survive. Let’s rally the staff and begin prepping for surgery,” Roshan ordered calmly.

The other man nodded as he left the room and Roshan began looking for the proper change of attire. Of course, he was only half way done changing when he heard some commotion coming from a different room.

“You dare to stop me in my quest. This single act has condemned you to die by my hand. "

“What in the...” Roshan sighed as he hopped around awkwardly in an attempt to get into the legs of his surgical pants. Before he could finish, one of the nurses barged in. 


“What is it now, nurse?”

“The slave we had watching the other patient...” the woman began in a distraught tone.

“What about him?”

“He’s dead!” She exclaimed. “His throat was completely crushed and the patient is gone!”

“They don’t pay me enough for this,” Roshan grumbled before sighing.

Of course, there was still the matter of the surgery itself. Perhaps this was a perfect out for him. 

Then again, would I really prefer chasing down an “escaped” patient that moonlights as a windpipe crushing madman?

“Was that all, nurse?”

She sheepishly dropped her eyes to the ground and nodded. Roshan rubbed his own eyelids in frustration.

“Very well. Please have the body properly disposed of. Clearly that psychopath doesn’t need any more medical attention so I’m going to focus on the one that actually does. You are dismissed nurse,” Roshan finished as he waved his hand irritatedly. 

He was beginning to enjoy his time here less and less with each passing moment. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing or why he was doing it at this point but he felt unusually confident in his medical abilities and if he failed, he figured this wasn’t real so he likely couldn’t hurt much. Of course, by the time he was all suited up and the medical team was all ready to begin, the same nurse appeared once again.

“Um... Doctor...”

“What is it now, nurse!”

The woman looked at him nervously as she replied, “We have an influx of slaves arriving for treatment. What would you like me to do with them?”

“Specify influx?”

“I don’t know. Like a study flow?” she replied almost wincing.

“I swear,” Roshan sighed. “We can’t go five minutes without someone being tragically injured around here! What happened now? Landslide? Mine collapse? Someone forgot to use the proper pronouns when addressing a Sith Lord?”

The nurse glanced obsequiously downward before locking eyes with Roshan as he scowled in frustration, “Maybe... you... You should see for yourself, doctor.”

Pulling off his gloves, Roshan slams them on the tray next to him, “Fine! Lead the way, nurse!”

Several minutes later, Roshan found himself in the small medic break room. Close by, the other young doctor was sitting down, sipping his drink. Roshan’s rather disturbing examination of the arriving slaves had lead him to this pause in his activities to vent to the only “familiar face” he knew at this point.

“For the love of the Force! Their balls, man! And they were lucky if that was all! I’ve never seen anything like this. At least not to those you intend on keeping alive! Do these Sith have no decency?!”

“You act like this is your first day here or something,” the man responded with a tepid laugh. “They are Sith. Sith! Darkside and all. What do you expect?! We just need to get back to that Sith girl with the jacked up arm before Lady Traya adds us to her growing list of eunuchs.”

Roshan shook his head in exasperation, “I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I’ve had it up to here, I tell you. Here,” Roshan replied as he raised his hand to neck level. “I’ve really had it with all this wanton waste and disrespect for life! They act like all of us are their little play things. It’s time someone had a talk with them or did something!”

The other doctor gave Roshan a blank stare. He then paused for a second before suddenly bursting into laughter.

“You really had me going there for a second,” he replied with a hearty laugh. “You think being turned into a eunuch is bad? If any one of us confronted one of them we’d wish all we were turned into was a eunuch!”

Roshan scrunched his face into a light grimace. The man was probably right. 

Perhaps poisoning them to death slowly over time would be a much more prudent strategy.

The Cathar was less than enthused about helping nurse another one of these maniacs back to health. He contemplated how long he could stall her recovery without making Lady Traya mad. Of course, his train of thought was broken by a forceful knock on the break room door. Roshan moved to the door, opening it as he spoke with a twinge of irritation in his voice.

“What?!” he exclaimed before he even saw who was there.

Sure enough, it was the same nurse as before. She timidly stared at her feet and fidgeted before replying.

“Doctor... Lady Traya... she headed this way and she looks very unhappy.”

As he leaned against the doorpost, Roshan sighed and rubbed his face partly out of exhaustion and partly out of frustration. Stepping out of the room, he motioned for the other doctor to stay put.

“Thank you, nurse. I’ll handle this. Lead the way.”

Lady Traya was mad as advertised. And She was now making the outrageous demand that they move Malyss even though she was currently in the middle of surgery prep. Roshan rubbed his temples as he tried to calm himself.

“No, ma’am. I’m not personally handling the surgery because doctor Linsrom is more than capable and I had to take care of the sudden influx of slaves that arrived dismembered. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?”


For a second, Roshan almost flinched. That look in her eye told him that he was seconds away from suffering some sort of terrible fate. In fact, if it wasn’t for his usefulness in his capacity as a medical professional, he probably would have already suffered said fate. The Sith might have been sadistic but they seemed to recognize the foolishness of harming the skilled help, at least for now.

Motioning to a group of slaves and other medics nearby, Roshan ordered, “You heard the Lady! Inform the surgery team that there has been a change in plans. You three, you’re with me. We need to grab the medical supplies and a gurney. We’ll be on this right away, Lady Traya.”

With that, the group scurried around like their life depended on it as Alora disappeared out of the medical wing. When he was absolutely certain she was gone, Roshan wiped some sweat from off his brow.

Yup. I am living in a nightmare that just doesn’t end.

As the group jogged towards the location they had been given for the collection of the wounded remains of Mr. Draken “Throat Crusher” Insano Jr. the Third, the medical team suddenly heard the thundering voice of Lady Traya ahead in the distance, “How dare you girl! Your abuse of power and lack of respect for your fellow sith will see you punished!”

One of the medics put out his hand the rest of the group stopped. He hesitantly looked to Roshan.

“Perhaps we should wait a few minutes. It sounds like they are in the middle of something. What do you think, doc?”

Roshan looked to the man and then back in the direction of the screaming. The Cathar scratched the back of his head a little before sighing, “Perhaps we take the scenic route?”

“Scenic route. Copy that,” the medic replied with a relieved grin.

There was only so much stalling a group of medics could do in a place like this but by the time the group arrived, Roshan was “treated” to the startling sight of a smoldering Dominique and a wounded Draken. While he didn’t show it in his face, internally Roshan smiled at this turn of events. 

Perhaps this psychopath will now have to think twice before running off with a leg wound like that. Serves him right. 

As Lady Traya ordered the medics around, Roshan kept eyeing the body of the smoldering girl and the giant of a man beside her. She clearly needed medical attention. Those burns were serious by anyone’s standards and every second was crucial. But at the same time, he did not want to end up like Dominique either. Carefully lifting Draken onto the gurney, the rest of the medics helped secure him and began moving the ever wounded Sith to the medical wing once again.

As the group led the way out of the room and walked briskly towards the medical wing, Roshan glanced back at Lady Traya. He tried to hide his disgust but it was growing harder and harder by the second. He grabbed at his first aid kit. He had snuck a knife into it for protection purposes before they had left the medical wing. But he was starting to get the nerve up to use it for more proactive purposes after her latest outburst. Maybe his judgement was being clouded by the fact that he knew the “future” Dominique but this other woman was clearly a menace that cared nothing for others, friends or foe. She was a liability and someone had to stop her, even if it cost him his life. Perhaps that was his job. Perhaps that was why he was here. 

Fumbling for and finding the knife, he gripped it tightly. But as he turned once again to eye the woman, he noticed motion behind her. It was the giant.


“Your first mistake; Interference. Your second; My Child, and lastly your third; My apprentice.”

Out of nowhere, a brilliant display of supercharged energy sprung from the Sith’s hands and blasted the woman, immediately sending her crash to the ground! The display was so powerful and frightening that the medical team was thrown into disarray. Some ran, some tried to push the gurney away faster, Roshan himself found the nearest piece of furniture and dove for cover. He wanted no part of the wrath coming Lady Traya’s way. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air as the woman tried to talk the Sith Lord down. As the sparks continued to fly and she undoubtedly grew weaker, she must have known that her end was near as she spoke her final words.

“What are you waiting for? Finish the job, Exodus."

The giant’s name. Exodus. That was Dominique’s master, right? I never discussed her past much with her. But who was his child? Surely it couldn’t have been Dominique. Hmmm... I wonder...

As the light show stopped, Roshan looked across the way to a nearby medic who was also hiding behind some furniture. Roshan gave her the gesture to look over the object and see what was happening. The female shook her head emphatically in reply, making it very clear that she most certainly would not.

It’s up to me then.

Poking his head slowly up, Roshan could see the woman struggling on the floor. She was holding her neck as she flopped. There was a scary determination in the Sith Lord’s eyes. Roshan wondered if in her final moment the woman had regretted making such a request. Exodus seemed more than happy to oblige her. As he slowly squeezed Lady Traya’s neck until her throat collapsed, Roshan looked back towards the direction where they had left Dominique. 

Dominique needed help. There wasn’t time to waste with the burns she had on her body. Slipping out from behind the furniture, Roshan slowly and carefully walked around Exodus to allow him to finish his execution in peace. Once clear of the scene, the Cathar scurried over to the woman’s burnt body and began to place Bacta patches on the worst areas of burning. What she really needed was a bacta tank but this would at least provide her with a stop gap measure until they could get her there. Trying to move her body himself, Roshan was shocked at how weak he felt and how difficult it was. 

She’s a tiny woman. How could I have lost all my strength?

Scratching his head, he was interrupted by the arrival of the other medic carrying more bacta patches and the giant trailing close behind her. Dominique perked up for a moment as Exodus neared.

“Exodus...” Dominique faintly uttered before completely passing out.

Roshan nervously turned to address Exodus, “Dark Lord, sir, she’s suffered severe burns. I’ve tried to buy her some time but we need to get her to a bacta tank immediately if we want to save her.”

As Exodus held her, Roshan winced a little. “Your Lordship, you really must be careful about touching her. Your skin is super charred and there is infection and whatnot to worry about. This whole process is pretty delicate, honestly. Perhaps we could grab a few others and--”

Exodus stirred, his movement causing Roshan to stop mid-sentence. Despite his cold demeanor, Exodus had no problem rounding up a few passersby to help carefully move the body. Roshan nodded to Exodus and mouthed a “thank you” and they created a makeshift gurney to get her where she needed to be.

“There is a remedial lab nearby that happens to have a few bacta tanks that are on standby. Follow me. This way!” Roshan motioned to his newfound assistants.

When they arrived, Roshan carefully removed the burn clothing and helped prepare her body as much as he could before Exodus helped get her into the tank. With everything hooked up and all the monitoring equipment properly set up, Roshan discussed the situation with the newly arrived relief shift of doctors. Exodus, meanwhile, sat waiting nearby. More than exhausted by this point, mentally and physically, Roshan was relieved that his shift change was here and he could finally catch his breath. 

Nodding to Exodus, he informed him of the news, “The good news, Lord Exodus, is that she will survive. We were able to treat her in time and all is well. I’m off the clock now but the new team replacing me is more than capable to care for the situation. If you need me for anything else, just send one of them to get me, sir.”

Bowing, Roshan backed away and left to find his quarters. He was extremely content that he had saved Dominique. This must have been the event that Dominique simulacrum had spoken of. It had to be the reason he had come here. He could not think of any other reason. 

Simply put, it was not her time to go. She surely had many adventures ahead of her. But more than that, Roshan took some solace in that fact that seemed like perhaps that was some sort of balance in the Force had been struck after all. Perhaps even the Darkside was not devoid of some sense of justice, no matter how brutal.

Entering his room and plopping his head on his pillow, Roshan grinned as he slowly began to fade off to sleep. Of course, he couldn’t shake the feeling of something lingered at the back of his mind. He knew that he was forgetting something. And right as he drifted into slumber it hit him.

Malyss Slayde!

Startled away, Roshan eyes opened back to reality. The Cathar ones again found himself back in the sandy dunes of the present and the bitter smell of Lady Sirena’s poison lofting into the air as it sat on his face.


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Everything was pain and death and red. Aziza lost herself in the battle, firing over and over again. Their enemies seemed endless, and time appeared to cease its relentless march forward. Two Arkanians fell, slaughtered mercilessly by the attackers, and Aziza gritted her teeth. Their chances of survival were falling. 


But Amadeus was wielding a whip with one hand, and lightning with the other. The air crackled with electricity. Her blaster, finally drained of its power, sputtered. Without hesitation, she flicked the setting to overload what was left of the tibanna gas chamber and tossed it overhand into a knot of three abominations. Her improvised bomb exploded with a satisfying jolt, sending pieces of red flesh flying. Instantly, the blade Amadeus had given her was in her hands, as during the pause in her covering fire, one enemy had slipped through the line. 


Its teeth were at her throat, bearing her down as she fought to keep her life. The hot breath on her face stank of all things foul. Repulsed, she rolled and came to a knee, then slashed out. The blade met the soft skin of the neck, and her opponent fell with a gurgle. 


The haze lifted for a moment, and the world snapped back into focus. There were suddenly only three opponents left. The Selonian was engaged with one in hand-to-hand combat, both of their weapons lost in the scuffle, while the other two were hanging back, wary of approaching Amadeus’ whip. As she watched, however, one of those was changing targets, determined to finish off Shi Bere and end the Selonian’s threat. Before he could do so much as take two steps in her direction, however, he fell as Aziza’s thrown blade penetrated his eye socket and lodged itself deep in his brain. 


Aziza was, for the moment, unarmed; she only hoped she had made the right decision and that her allies would be able to finish off the last two opponents.  


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As Sirena gazed about, her crystal blue eyes falling upon the three Apprentices, she reveled in what she felt. The Darkside was strong within the hut, its essence permeating from each of those before her. Even the Shard reeked of it, and she found solace in that very fact. Crossing her legs once again, she smirked as she met each of their gazes in turn.


"Good." She began, her voice soft with heavy panting, its echo hindered by the leather and skins that adorned the walls. There was pleasure in her eyes and her heart throbbed with ecstasy. "Each of you touched the darkness within and found its call." Her gaze shifted to Roshan. "Some more than others."


She sighed, out stretching her arm as the flap blew open to the cool outside air, each of their forms finding relief to the breeze flowing in against their sweating forms, save for Solus. But now was the time to find the truth of each. So she poised her question.


"In the depths of the darkness, did you find your sin? Your hunger? Your purpose? Did you hear the call and heed its answer? Did your past define your future? Tell me what your experiences were and how it guided you to its inevitable conclusion."


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Solus looked at the other, pondering what experiences they had. Did they feel something like he felt? Did they have macabre visions of dead things rising from the ground? Did they witness each other change horribly into strange and deadly monstrosities? 

In the depths of the darkness, did you find your sin? Your hunger? Your purpose? Did you hear the call and heed its answer? Did your past define your future? Tell me what your experiences were and how it guided you to its inevitable conclusion."

Solus looked up at Sirena, both relieved and disappointed at how her form was now. While she still carried a fascinating beauty to her, what he saw in his vision far surpassed this current form.  But then again, so was Roshan and Aliss' forms as well. They merged together into something so terrible and unique, that Solus wondered if such a thing was possible to accomplish. 

“Ah, Lady Sirena, what I saw….what i felt…” Solus struggled for the right words. Where to start? The conclusion or the beginning? The images or the thoughts? The words or the actions?

“...desire. Yes, yes….no! It is envy! Yes, we discovered our sin. Heheh, yes, our sin must be envy. A perverted form of desire, yes? Ah, perversion. That is what I saw. What I experienced. Such is the way how the Force should be, correct Lord Roshan? No, you said the Force is unbridled here. Undiluted. That must have been those final images I witnessed! Yes…”

As the Shard spoke, his words became more and more lost in thought. Sure as ever, the being began to ramble, unable to contain himself and what he witnessed. Still, he was surprisingly still during this speech, only moving his left hand to reach and pet his observing hound. A brief memory of the tendrils piercing the hound’s hide made Solus want to never let go.  

“I saw the power of the Force. I saw the monsters that you are. The beautiful and magnificent monsters you are.  Ah Roshan, you and Aliss are truly magnificent. Your horridness and fearsomeness is magnificent together! And Lady Sirena, the power in you...the power…”


I want that was what Solus was about to say, but stopped himself. 

“And the spirits! The dead! Aliss, there are ghosts! The damned, long dead, envy us, the free and living! Only the powerful control others. Yes... the powerful, like that shade. He wanted you, but I wanted you more. My power was enough to make him stop!

“But I learned as well. The dead spoke to me. At least, I think that thing was dead. It wasn’t chained but it wasn’t alive either. It spoke of perversion, of drawing out monsters, and of control.” 

Solus looked down at Tear, who for once didn’t growl at Solus’ gaze. Perhaps, because they were already close together physically and because of the hound’s unique connection to the dark side, it had bonded closer to its master.  

“Yes...control. That is what we do with the Force, yes? Harness it's chaotic and wild power as our own? I believe i saw the Force, in its unbridled form. It was...it was…” Solus sighed and slumped slightly. How could he explain such a phenomenon?

“An impossible spiderweb of sounds and shapes. A connection of madness and control. By my shard, it was...beautiful. And frightening. But so...so beautiful. Unlike anything...”

Solus’ words had become slow and low, with a touch of longing. It was clear that what he saw affected his being in ways that he didn’t fully understand. He looked down at the bubbling goo in the center of the hutt and began to reach forward for another glop.

 "Will we be using this more often, in our quest to control the Force for our own uses? Is this how we connect with the Force? But then  again, how do you three do it without this stuff?”

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The area became a swamp of contention. Blades, blasters and bullets ate at steel and flesh until those that wielded weapons were fewer and fewer. Some lay lifeless, others wailed at the excessiveness of their deep wounds, screaming for a help that would never come. The scene became horror painted in red and black without the transparency of shed light to reveal how dreadful this place had become. Over what felt like hours, just two were all that remained alive. Sensibly, it had been a fraction of that time, and the action erupted immeasurably quick. The brutality spent in mere moments, would stamp itself as a memory of survival for their journey to come. The mercenaries were dead, and the last of the abominations had been put down.


“We must leave.” Hyperion heaved his words laboriously, numbing emotionally from the pain that his injuries racked him with. The red of his tunic was steepened in sweat and blood, but the darkness of the broken ship hid the wear and tear that had overcome him in waves. “If the speeders survived the crash, we can move across the sands and far from this place. "You can walk?” The sand-knotted winds seemed to screech even louder as the question came about.


She reached behind her, picking up a spear-like weapon one of the abominations had been wielding. Using it as a crutch, she struggled to her feet, blood draining from her face and her eyes crossing a little before she gritted her teeth. “I must,” she replied simply. Without hesitation, she reached down and grabbed the blaster rifle from one of the mercenaries’ bodies and slung it over her body, then retrieved the dagger from the corpse of the abomination it had killed.


They made their way towards where the wreckage of the speeder bay would have been and quickly uncovered the bikes. The Force was with them, for only one of them had been damaged, leaving three others that a few flipped switches revealed as operational.


Aziza carefully mounted one of the bikes and hit the ignition, running through a quick test of all the systems to ensure there was no invisible damage. “Green lights across the board,” she reported after a moment. “I’m going to have trouble with the altitude controls,” she indicated to the pedals and her mangled foot, now hanging uselessly at a bizarre angle, “but we’ll at least be able to get out of this wreck.”


"Ride slow, ride north. I'll trail in case the winds try to take you." He knew he would have to patch her sooner than later, or her wounds would take her far from her journey. His own were quickly becoming a nuisance; his shoulder had hyper-extended sometime between lashes and spear maneuvering, and there were deep gashes sewn by filthy claws all over his back. The burn of his open flesh stung as he shifted awkwardly between downed bodies, exhaustion tickled his lower back as he perched himself upon the 74-Z, throttling through the systems.


The speeders were rugged, finished in a rude varnish of oily matte-black, and bare bones besides the protective coverings on operational pieces. Visored helmets coated in the same neutral color pallet suspended from above them, hanging from ruptured steel plates in the ceiling of the ship. Hyperion tore them from their binds with his command of the force and rested one into the hands of his apprentice. He moved to lift his own helmet over his head, and found a new injury in the form of his ribs on the left side. Were they broken too? "Check, check." His voice poured through his own embedded communication systems inside of his helmet, sounding raspy and mechanical. They would need coordination to cross these hungry dunes. 


When he looked up, he saw that she was watching him wince with a knowing look in her eye, but she made no comment as she gunned the engine to life. It sputtered for a moment, then settled into a purring roar that was punctuated by a high-pitched squeal as she sped away. 


They traveled for a few hours; the exact time was difficult to tell. The light of the system’s sun filtered only weakly through the sandstorm. The helmets protected their faces from the worst of the scouring, but the sand wormed its way through the joints and crevices nonetheless, leaving both Carajamnian and Arkanian with stinging eyes and dry dusty mouths. Finally, they came to the edge of a crack in the ground, a rough valley of etched sandstone walls carved by a long-extinct river. The descent brought them out of the worst of the storm, and they paused briefly to shake built-up sand out of the engines. 


Aziza glanced up at the dark red sky. “Any chance of telling how long we have until dusk?” she rasped, her vocal cords rough and her mouth dry.  


“Quarter rotation, maybe less” He spoke harshly as he coughed up phlegm, the dryness of his throat bothered his breathing. Exhaustion and dehydration were settling in fast and he tried to distract his mind from that. It could be a few hours until the skies darkened, perhaps less than that, but when it happened, it would happen fast. The shadows would become stretched and hardened, giving freedom to the creatures of the night. Their brief reprieve was a moment to gather. As they did so, Hyperion ran his eyes over his apprentice, understanding now that she would not falter to her wounds and that her strength would be a hallmark in her journey forward. 


“Come. If memory serves, there should be an old observation post nearby.” Hyperion scratched his helmet and throttled the speeder forward, pointing to a small opening barely visible against the long sandstone walls.


Lord and apprentice rushed the quick mile before staying their speed in front of what appeared to be an earthwork of stone. The smooth black-stone finish, was a wall of ten by ten, cut into a large foursquare. Hieroglyphics were narrowly visible, but etched symmetrically across the eternally-polished bulkhead. They were written in High-Sith, more or less coined and carved by the slaves that worked these lands in the past. Hyperion disengaged his speeder, powering down the machine into a sleep-mode of sorts, eyes still locked onto the mysterious wall.


He ran a hand over it smoothly, fumbling to find the words. “I—I’m unfamiliar with the written linguistics,” the pitch in his voice made it obvious that he was less referring to his apprentice, and more surprised that this was something unknown to him. “A soothsayer watched these parts, but how..” As his words trailed, the lines on the onyx slab hummed low, now sizzling with a faint orange glow. A long groan, both earthy and deep, rumbled from beneath their feet. The foursquare shook as it came undone, rocking debris from the arrangement it was installed from, peeling backwards into the recesses of the sandstone walls. A hollow amalgamation of rock and metal greeted them, accompanied by a neutral yawn of sound as life and wind rushed back into the observation post. 


The sight that greeted them went almost unremarked by the two injured, dehydrated, and exhausted humanoids, but enough of their wits remained to make a quick survey. It was laid out like a tower, several stories tall and roughly dodecahedral. The ground floor had a garage for housing transport, and contained one dilapidated landspeeder and some saddles for an unspecified type of pack animal; the rest of the floor was several desks with computer terminals. One whined softly and flickered slowly to life as Aziza turned it on, disturbing a fine layer of dust the same color as the sand outside.  


By unspoken consent they took the turbolift up to the second floor. It contained a small kitchen, stocked with little but water and field rations, but the two castaways eagerly took the opportunity to begin to re-hydrate their bodies. Once they had each downed a liter or so of water, they continued to explore, Aziza munching on a ration pack. They discovered some sleeping quarters, an open padded room used for exercise, and a small medbay--stocked with only the basics, and no medical droid, but it would be enough. 


The third floor contained terminals in charge of a damaged communications array, an armory, and a wide empty room with nothing but an altar in the center with a wide stone bowl on it. The room seemed cold. The ever-present dark stone etched with hieroglyphs that ran throughout the temple was more intricate here, and the number of hieroglyphs increased. 


The entire tour of the tower took only a few minutes, and they found themselves returning to the medbay. Aziza was barely functional, and Amadeus didn’t look much better. They groggily pawed through the medical supplies, found what they needed, and set to work patching each other up. 


Half an hour later, they dropped into the blackness of sleep.


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