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Solus relaxed his body slightly when he didn’t receive a rebuking for not knowing his own sin. He didn’t realize he had become tense even. He had spent some of his energy just worrying what his master and what Lady Sirena thought of him. 


When Lady Sirena mentioned lust being her greatest sin, Solus nodded instinctually. It wasn’t that he was agreeing with her, but that he was acknowledging her statement. Course, it did make sense. While Solus had very little to go on what was attractive to people and what wasn’t, her power and her arm did seem appealing. Course, so did Darth Helios’ burn marks.
    
 "You're to mark yourselves and lay down, you especially Solus as you have to mark the Shard within your true form.”

 

Solus shivered at the thought. His own shard? That was his brain. His soul. He was to expose it and rub this strange substance on it? 


    “Yes, Lady Sirena…” Solus said nervously, a warble in his synthesized voice. With ease, Solus sent a command through his body. His chest plating, and the small gears beneath it, whirred and spun slowly. Vertically down the center, a line formed where the plates met and began to open up. With the claw marks that Tear had left on Solus and the glinting of the light, it looked like two deathly hands opening up to reveal some terrible treasure. 


A small red glow came from inside the mess of wires and gears. Some of the inner workings moved so that way there was a clear view of the Shard inside. White beams of light danced wildly within the crystal, slamming into the wires that connected the shard to the robot chassis. When the plates stopped moving, the lights slowed down and danced slower and more gracefully.


For the first time in his life, Solus felt embarrassed. This was the first time he had consciously showed someone his Shard self.  While he didn’t doubt that Lord Roshan had seen it during his ascension, Solus couldn’t be sure if Sir Aliss had, and Lady Sirena certainly had no way of seeing this before. But here he was, exposing his mind, his soul, and in all practical terms, his reproductive organ to everyone. It seemed so small, compared to the chassis it inhabited. The words Lord Roshan spoke about Solus didn’t ease the Shard’s embarrassment. He right now just wished that everyone would not pay attention to him.  But he also wanted to make Roshan and Lady Sirena proud.


“Hopefully, er, the size doesn’t matter much?” Solus asked, not knowing what else to say. As he spoke the lines inside danced a bit more energetically. If one took enough time and had good enough eyesight, they could probably identify when certain movements of the lines indicated. 


As the others spoke, Solus reached and took up a glob of goop. Feeling it in his fingers and letting it dribble slowly down his hand, Solus enjoyed the texture it gave off.  The thought that it was made from something that came out of the blood of a dead beast made him doubly interested. And Roshan calling it a potion? Even more so. 


Solus offered the glob to Tear, who sniffed and sneezed and turned away. Solus shrugged and, silently, trying to avoid the attention of Lady Sirena and Roshan, reached into his own chest and gently smeared some of the goop over his crystal. Where the stuff touched was where the lines inside the shard suddenly concentrated on. Split between motor functions and trying to touch whatever this stuff was, the lines frantically jumped back and forth like madmen. 


Solus coiled himself again and leaned against a wall and waited, watching the others, and looking away when they glanced at him. 

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Dark eyes under a darker cowl watched the young acolyte. There was such confidence there, such a delight for violence, an untempered rage that shone through every pore. It was nauseating, And so the Sith Master reached out a hand and slapped the boy across the left cheek. Not hard, not enough to spin him around or snap his neck, but enough to rattle his jaw and emphasise the point. 

 

“Violence does not beget power.” The hand stayed raised, then settled back into the darkness of the cloak. "The Emperor does not need another untempered blade to be used and thrown away. I will not waste my time on such a thing. Power is the threat of violence. And the knowledge of when to apply it. That is your first lesson.” 

 

“Now tell me, boy. What you will do with your power.” 

 

((try to draw this post out longer. Give description, and decrease your font size)) 

 

The eyes looked up to Fynn and the hand came out again, beckoning him forward. 

 

“And you, you are not young, and a dormant power lies within you. What is your story?”

Commander Valinor - Sith Lord

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Admiral 3rd Felix Legions

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"He has a soul, does he not?" She poised to Roshan with a grin, his arrogance quite amusing to her. Whilst he may have inhabited the form of a droid, he still possessed life, a sentient soul that wasn't manufactured. "It will work."

 

Her gaze shot to Solus, taking in the Shard's fear and embarrassment as he did as she asked, her eyes locked upon Solus' inner workings between both he and his machina. It was truly a sight to behold, especially given most of what she knew was read. With a smile, she reassured him. "Do not worry Solus. The only size that matters is the size of the heart." And she guessed him to possess more heart than any of those in the makeshift shelter.

 

She watched as each marked themselves in unison, Sirena crossing her legs and opening herself to the Force and to the currents that flowed through each of them, binding its will to her own. Only Roshan's words broke her concentration briefly, causing a singular eye to peer in his direction. "It brings different things to different beings. Some it causes visions, others fits of rage. But at its Core is the Darkside, corrupting and malicious. It will find what darkness resides in your soul, and begin to fester and feed it. Whether you see visions or simply feel it take hold depends on you."

 

Closing her eyes, she refocused herself. She was curious as to what darkness truly resides in each of them and what would empower them.

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Abominations trampled into the fractured transport, their footfalls loud and heavy-set, banging against the metals as if hands pounded against war drums. The nest of Sithspawn exceeded seven feet apiece, with a carrying weight that would hit harder than hover-trains. Red was not just their blood, but their skin and presence exuded the color in a rich abundance. These creatures were hulking monstrosities that breathed as harshly as the ravaging winds of Korriban, moved as if colossal stone itself ran frantically, and searched with a hunger for destruction.

 

Fhysar Wax from the northern barricade and Shi Bere from the southern barricade, fired their RSKF-44 heavy blasters, blindly into the dark and the dark howled back. Each of them were loosely equipped with their own measures to defend themselves in the heat of a confrontational encounter, but these creatures were of might and magic. What seemed like three furious Massassi Abominations, rushed into the Nikto and Arkanian as if they were ten. Mr. Wax held back the brunt of the forward rush, shoving his own weight against the force and cracking his knuckles fiercely into the rib-cage of the cruel-spawn. Shots rang out everywhere at once now, whether by desperation and panic, or efficiency and skill. When the pandemonium hit a climax, it was impossible to discern the truth of it. 

 

A marked abomination barrelled through Shi Bere and one of the pilots from the South, hounding towards Aziza with full force.
 

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On the ground Solus coiled. His body rested backwards against the makeshift hut, preparing himself for whatever was coming.  Lady Sirena’s words cured his embarrassment slightly , but only that.  


So Solus waited. While he could not ‘feel’ the goop laying against his shard core, he could feel something beginning to happen. To the observing eye, they could tell an effect was slowly occurring as well. Specks of black seemed to penetrate the crystalline thing, as if it was no more then water. The white lines of electricity dancing inside seemed to avoid the specks, seemingly knowing there was something wrong with it.


Solus felt a rise of energy somewhere. Even as his lines sought to not touch the specks, they dashed closer and closer to the specks, almost kissing them. The goop seeped in more and more. At first the specks were few and far in between, but now they were floating inside the solid object in larger amounts.  Floating like ash in water, but in a very solid crystal. 


Solus’ body jerked once. A line of energy touched a speck. Solus’ neck twitched and glanced to the left then right. A slowly rising fear was settling in. Solus raised an arm and looked at his hand. It was shaking. No, was it shaking? Or was his sensor? Or perhaps the entire world was beginning to shake? Was there a sound? A sound of beating drums and plucking strings?  


Solus looked down at Tear next to him and tried to activate his voice box. But static silently emerged like a shushed cry that only the shard could hear. Desperate and frightened, Solus tried again. The silent static was louder, deafeningly quiet. Tear’s body seemed to tense, sensing the approach of something. Something wicked. Slowly, like a shadow of an echo, the hound turned its head and faced its master. 


Solus wanted to flinch back and jump away. Tear was different. Before his eyes glowed with red fire atop a bony skull with black hair growing below its snout and behind its horns. But where there were supposed to be eyes was instead empty space. An endless void of darkness with dying stars slowly flickering in and out of existence. As Solus watched the stars, Tear bared his teeth revealing vile disgusting green worm-like tendrils. Each tendril screamed with the sound of hollow flutes, in perfect and pure agony. In an endless wave they crawled out and over Tear’s horns and hair, piercing his body and slipping underneath his dry hide and bursting out someplace else. 


Solus tried to move. He commanded his body to leap away to a safe distance.. To uncoil and launch himself out of the hutt. But his tail refused to listen. His chest failed to close itself, hissing in defiance. His metal hands fell uselessly into his lap. Solus wanted to scream in terror at the loss of his body. All Solus could do was turn his neck and head. To the others it would appear there was nothing wrong with him. But those who were attuned could sense the fear rising up inside. And more importantly, curiosity. 


Yes...curiosity. There was a curiosity in Solus. More then the fear that threatened to consume him, there was a powerful curiosity. To dive deeper. To drive this madness forward and to take him to its destination. 


Solus looked at Lady Sirena. Her lovely gaze had become different. There was a hunger there. No, not hunger. Her smooth skin had become energetic. Her arm had become a solid energy of flickering and crackling blue energy, which dashed up her smooth skin to her eyes, and then raced back down again, skipping along the skin to her prosthetic fingertips. With each jump of electricity, her skin pulsed softly and became smoother, until it was nothing more then a blank canvas with flashes of blue painting something fascinating. Her shape was there, but it was nothing more than lines of blue on milky white. 


Solus looked at Roshan and Sir Aliss. The air between them began to swirl slightly in Solus’ eye. The dust below them was trying to seperate the two, but forces unseen were pushing them together. Completely still they were, but being effortlessly shoved together. Solus almost wanted to warn the two. Warn them of their collision. But he was too late. As the two bodies touched, an explosion of red and purple light occurred between the two of them.  Solus watched, and as the light faded away, where there were two creatures was instead one. An amalgam of flesh and fur, of blood and skin. Vile black organs loosely rolled out of bulbous sores. Yellow puss oozed from cuts that formed and disappeared randomly. And the mouths...when the lips of Roshan and Aliss moved, there were screams and moans of pleasurable pain.


All three of these monsters before Solus amazed and terrified him. Was this the Dark Side? Was this the Force?


Something began to rise from the ground beneath Lady Sirena. Solus could see something desperate emerged themselves out of the dirt below. Ethereal hands mixed with dust and ash emerged, humanoid in shape, but with no mass nor weight. Ghosts of an ancient eon, long forgotten. The figures rose, made of swirling mists and churning orange sand, eager to escape the hell they were bound to. Before they could fly away though, crimson chains, somehow bleeding and dripping, formed on their wrists and legs, and bound them to the ground. Unable to flee their horrid fate, the spirits' mouths of red magma spurned out hot thick smoke with a moan, consuming the makeshift hutt in a fog. The walls disappeared. The ground disappeared. The spirits hid in the fog, their chains barely visible. Only the creatures that had mutated before his sensor could Solus see.


“Spirits...sacrifices long forgotten?” Solus guessed silently.


Then the final figure rose. A cloaked shadow, no more substance then those of the spirits, but infinitely more powerful. The air around it quaked and trembled. Its hands, if the tendrils of mutated, oily flesh could be called that, emerged from the shadows of itself and rested them on Tear’s worm-covered body, clutching tightly at something ethereal, readying to drag the beast away into the fog. 


“Mine…” Solus growled. He didn’t know where this came from. The sound came not from his voicebox, but it felt so audible to him. It rippled through the air to the floating being, and pushed it back ever so slightly. 


This shade, stunned momentarily by Solus’ word, looked at the shard. While he could see no eyes, Solus felt its gaze. It called to him. It felt familiar to him, and yet as foriegn as a tree to a rock. Like the presence of a long forgotten relative, but one who bore no bloodline. 

 

“N'ghftdrnn mgepog ph'nglui c' ah'legeth… 
mg uh'enahh ymg' ah, l' mgepuaaah ah'mglw'nafh”

 

With each syllable that came from the shade, it shuddered and echoed randomly through the air. Solus could see the sound approach him, in ripples. Some of them slowed down and danced, while others would speed up. As each word touched Solus’ crystalline shard, he instinctively understood them.

 

Monsters deep inside all lie
And slave you are, made to die

 

The shade moved on, and began to rest its hands on Lady Sirena. The blue energy that made up her figure suddenly began to jump to the shade, her life being sucked away.

 

“Mine!” Solus shouted as loud as a whisper could be. The shade stopped again, raised a tendril to block the words from striking it,  and then turned its gaze back on the shard.

 

“Sin ymg' ah, l' ahuaaah ngnah mgr'luh... ah'n'ghaor, uaaahnythor, hnah mgephaiagl”

 

Sin is yours, to use and behold
Weapon, tool, child of old. 

 

Again the shade moved on, gently caressing the form of the monster that was Lord Roshan and Sir Aliss. Solus could see the chains that had bound the other spirits rise up from the ground. Their intention was clear. To bind Lord Roshan and Sir Aliss.


“They are also Mine! They are all mine!!!” Solus shouted. “They are my family and they are mine!” 


    Solus words, rimmed with power from the envy and fear Solus had of loosing his loved ones, shot forward and shoved the shade away. The chains dropped to the ground and sunk into the sand. The shade turned its gaze again, like an angry parent studying its child.

 

“Cahff hnahh, ymg' l' ahuaaah? Nafl l', nafl l'.  Ymg' zhro r’se.“

 

These things hmm? Yours to use? 

Not so, not so. End that Ruse.

 

Finally the shade moved towards Solus. Solus felt sick. He felt vile and putrid. The energy in him was sluggish and slow, with no hope of speeding back up. His shard felt heavy. The goop inside was mixing in deeply now, connecting Solus completely with the dark side of the planet around him. A pounding of stops echoed somewhere. The screaming of winds. The buzzing of insects. The sucking of leeches. The growling of monsters.

 

"Yog luln c' n'ghftdrnn, loeoe f' na'ah'ehye. Ng ph'nglui yar lw'nafhnah uh'enah, ymg''ll gralhn friggm’fy"
 
The shade floated in front of Solus and began to wrap its tendril hands around Solus’ head. Solus felt himself being lifted up, being drawn into the essence of this thing. It was pulling him. Pulling him into itself, to reveal something.

 

Draw out our monsters, loose them free.
And in time young slave, you'll have family


A world of lights and colors impossible flooded Solus’ senses. Ultraviolet, infrared, gamma and many more flashed before him in a panorama of impossible geometry. A dizzying world of worlds merging and collapsing in on itself, only to expand again and again. The world was becoming one and touching all. The force was everywhere. All things connected to the Force. And the Force connected all things to each other. 

Inside Solus’ chassis, the shard turned black. The lines inside made their perfect circle like he had done before when he screamed into the void, and again when he screamed into the force momentarily with Sir Aliss on the surface. 

 

“Wgah'n force, little ehye. l’ke gnaiih ai, ya lyett’le gnaiigof'n.  Prrvt Force, ng ahhai cahf. friggm’fy ymg' ah, oh gof'n ot ehyenah”

 

Control the Force, stupid one...like father says, my little son.
Pervert the Force, and when that done...family be yours, oh child of none.

 

    The world of impossible colors suddenly collapsed in on itself. Blackness overtook Solus’ mind and spirit. He tried to stop it, but it was like stopping the ocean with a breeze. Solus’ sensor went dead. His body fell over forwards, lifelessly.

 

A few moments later, Solus began to power back on. How much time had passed since he fainted? How many days, or was it just minutes?  What about the vision? It felt like it had been both years but also nanoseconds. 

 

Solus, now fully recovered of his body, flickered on his sensor and made a groaning sound. He had no words for what had just happened. That vision was not like anything he had ever experienced. He had had visions before his ascension, which led to his separation from his family, but they were nothing like that. His visions before were of times and places he had no business of knowing. This...it was like a deathly visitor from the past invade his very soul. Perhaps Sir Aliss’ comments about Force Ghosts had weight after all. Or maybe it was just an elaborate illusion.  


But Solus could still hold the feeling that the shade brought Solus. A feeling of fear of losing Tear, Lady Sirena, Sir Aliss, and Lord Roshan. A fear that someone, or something, would take them away from him. A jealous, envious feeling, as well as a desire to make those who would leave him forever bound to him


Solus looked at the others, his body now free to move. He slowly forced his chest plate to fold back in on itself, staying quiet the entire time. 
 

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Mordecai let out a deep, guttural laugh at her attacks. They were still sloppy, unplanned. Uncoordinated. He took her push, pushing him out of the range of the follow up attack. From there, all he did was pivot and plant his feet, sliding about a meter back at her second attempt at a force push. He still stood, unharmed and sneering, before grabbing her with the force and forcing her to her knees.

 

"Better, but you are still weak. You're uncoordinated and unplanned in your attacks. You cannot hope to best me if you cannot even best your own impulses."

 

Her failure was a bitter one- her failure as a student was his failure as a teacher. She would learn, whether it took harming her to teach her or simple words would be up to her.

 

"Your strikes should have more purpose than to harm me. They should force me to sacrifice, to retreat. They should lead to a final coup-de-grace. A finishing blow. Try again. Failure this time means more than humiliation."

Edited by Mavanger
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With her knees planted in the dirt again and the taste of defeat in her mouth, her anger surged through her body. This time Kahla stopped. She listened to him, and his words weren't as harsh. She would have to use more than her weapon, and more than instinct. The threat ever present, she stood, formulating her attack. She would use her surroundings, try to catch the Sith off guard. She focused hard on where he stood, his stance, and the places he could go to dodge her attack.

 

Without pause she reached out in the force, gripping the dirt beneath and around him, slamming it up around him before dashing to close the distance. She swung her lightsaber wide to the right while she pushed through the cloud of dust. Her eyes burned as she charged out the far side of the cloud, pushing in as close as she can, now stabbing towards his ribs.

 

The pain still coursing through her arm she reached to grab his wrist, pressing ever forward she would take small slashes with her saber. She planted her feet into the soil with every step, strengthening her stance, and preparing for push-back. Failure was not an option, not again.

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As each of the three became encumbered, Sirena smiled, feeling the darkside around them flow more viciously. Her gaze feel upon Solus, his innocence lost upon the dark tides that festered in his soul, feeling the melancholy ache to turn him. It was already a rare opportunity simply to be able to train such a species as a Shard, but to be the one that led to their corruption and fall, grasping such innocence away, it was almost tantalizing to the senses.

 

Reaching her hand forward, she dipped three fingers into the sludge and pulled them forth, marking her forehead in a symbol known only to her people and using the third to smear through it. With that, she returned to her lotus position and let the currents of the darkside flow through her at will, letting her become swept away in its torrent just as the others began their own journeys, one she had taken many times herself.

 

Sometimes, her journey was through visions of her past. Others, it was dating glare into the future. And then at times, it was simply a passing moment where her powers ran rampant with little to any control. But nevertheless, she always enjoyed delving into the pure abyss of the darkside if only to simply see her truest self, to test her limits, and find her weaknesses and strengths. For Roshan, Aliss, and Solus, this was but an introduction. For her, this was Mastery.

 

And this time, she was simply along for the ride. Sweat beaded down her skin as her body tempt rose into a feverish degree, her breathing shallow and raspy as she delved deeply into the darkside, riding its unbridled currents. Images of dark entities flashed about her psyche like trapped spirits of ages past. And then bitter cold swept her breath, like frost erupting from upon her lips as her paralyzed form fell back upon the skins strewn about. If the others looked upon her, her skin would be a shade of blue similar to that of her eyes, now glazed over in an onyx coating, reminiscent of a devilish appearence.

 

Such was the devotion of the Hapian Princess.

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ALISS:
 

When Aliss opened her eyes, she suddenly found herself back on what she was sure was Ishvara. Aliss could hear the sounds of fighting on all sides as the boots of dozens of men stomped against barren ground, kicking up dirt and dust in their wake. The warm wind wiped the coarse sand against her face as she laid on her back with a dead body pinning her to the ground. It was human and from the markings, the corpse was from the clan of Goreth. Aliss struggled in vain to move the heavier man's armored body. Summoning all her energy into one emphatic push, she startled her own self when she suddenly sent the flopping body hurling through the air and into another section where the fighting was more intense. She looked at her hands. The palms were surprisingly clean but the backs of her hands were still covered in dried blood.

 

There was no time to evaluate how she got here or what was truly going on. She could sense that an enemy combatant was barreling towards her. Rolling to her feet, she turned to face the man and reached for her lightsaber. It was gone. She looked back in the direction of the corpse to see that it was still lodged in the dead man's chest.

 

Not good.

 

Aliss stared into the eyes of the barbarian soldier, the bone claw necklace that adorned his shoulders clattering louder and louder with each step. He had the face paint markings of a berserker of the Goreth Clan, likely hopped up on the same herbal concoctions that gave their berserkers such fearlessness, brutality, and immunity to pain when they went into battle. Short of a killing blow, he would surely not stop coming after her. Of that she was sure.

 

The madman whipped his scimitar for the girl’s throat, Aliss managing to lean back just enough to miss his slice but still feel a cool rush of air tickle across her neck. A spike of adrenaline immediately brought her back to her senses as the Echani training that Roshan gave all his Knights began to kick in. Even as he frantically attempted to murder her, Aliss center herself and concentrated on reading his body movements. He was armed and stronger than her, but his drugged state mixed with his aggression to make him sloppy and easily readable. But what he may have given up in finesse and surprise, he more than made up for in relentlessness.

 

No sooner had she dodged or weaved or rolled than she found her attacker back up on her ready to deliver another strike. Wearing him out would be impossible and the density of the fighting around her made attempting to retrieve her lightsaber a tall order at this point.

 

Eyeing the ground around her in between dodges, her eyes suddenly stopped on the glint of a sword lying in the dirt next to where she had been trapped only moments before. She had finally found her path to salvation but her inexorable assailant continued to deny her any hope of deliverance, jabbing and swinging and swiping with every breath and grunt and scream. 

 

Like a choreographed dance, Aliss followed her opponent's lead, allowing her body to effortlessly move to the rhythm of his blade. But every time she attempted to reposition herself and take the lead, the madman aggressively reasserted his dominance. He obviously must have also known that her lifeline lay behind him. It was the only answer.

Refocusing her attention on finding an opening in her opponent's stance, Aliss watched almost in slow motion as he anchored his feet and flailed his arms with each swing. Taking out his knees would be extremely challenging without also getting hit in the process. He had plenty of reach on her and even if she was able to get in tight and catch his arm, it was doubtful that any of her techniques would phase him in his altered mental state. She couldn't rely on the sudden shock of pain to stun him or give her an opening to momentarily overpower him. And if his more than healthy musculature guaranteed her anything, it was that this man was more than capable of overpowering her if he managed to lock her in a grapple. No, she would need to use her environment to her advantage if she wanted to escape this altercation alive.

 

Waiting for his next swing at her neck, Aliss curved her body backwards into the shape of an upside down “U” before completing the flip and landing back on her feet. At a glance, Aliss had done nothing more than find a fancy way to exhaust further energy. The berserker's wild eyes flashed with sadistic amusement as he laughed at the girl before rushing to close the gap again. 

 

But what the madman had failed to notice was that she had actually completed the flip with only the strength of her right hand. In that brief moment she had used her left hand to dig her nails into the loose dirt and uproot a handful for herself. When the berserker predictably charged, he was suddenly met with a blinding splash of dirt and sand that exploded in a vaporous dust cloud that stung his eyes and obscured his vision. 

 

Diving his left to avoid his wild swings, Aliss looked almost feline as she gracefully maneuvered herself out of harm's way. Quickly finding her way to her feet, she neglected to stand upright, instead cutting through the hot summer air with her back and head arched like an arrow as she ran. In a matter of seconds, she had gone from defenseless to possessing the sword that had previously been resting upon this blood soaked battlefield. 

 

And without a moment of hesitation, Aliss turned and hurled it through the air with all her might. The warrior, who had no choice but to pause and clear out his eyes, had only enough time to angrily turn and yell before his body was jerked back! The blow from the sword lodging itself in his chest was so forceful, in fact, that it swept his legs out from underneath him and sent his body thudding to the ground in short order. A cloud of dust spit out around him as he landed, almost as if Aliss was watching his soul depart from his body in real time.

 

Served him right.

 

But as she now had the chance to catch her breath and survey the battlefield in hopes of getting her bearings, she finally could see where she was. The her section of the battlefield was on a hill overlooking a valley. And in the valley was a shining white stage. On the stage, stood a woman tied to a black pillar. She was adorned in white, which vividly contrasted with her olive colored skin and red hair. There was kindling of some sort at her feet and a man -- undoubtedly the leader of the Goreth clan, the one who’s name Lord Roshan cursed and swore never to speak until that man breathed his last breath -- was holding a torch in the air just above the collection of flammables. There was no question in Aliss’ mind. The woman in white was her mother! The aged yet strikingly beautiful Rose Morra Kiss was impossible to miss. Aliss had to get to that stage!

 

Looking frantically at the fighting taking place in her immediate vicinity, Aliss did not know who the warriors were that were fighting against Clan Goreth. Whoever they were, they seemed more than capable of keeping the majority of the Goreth warriors occupied for now. Her more pressing concern was making her way down the hill and towards the stage in as efficient a manner as possible. 

 

Analyzing the battlefield leading up to the stage, Aliss could see what looked to be Lord Roshan below, cutting, chopping, and wading his way through the Goreth soldiers like appetizers. His determination could be clearly seen in the trail of body parts and death he was leaving in his wake. But the trail of death behind him was not the only one. About 25 to 50 yards to his left there was another trail of the dead that had also almost advanced itself all the way to the stage. And from the slender feature of this trail’s blazer, Aliss could tell that the architect of this congoline of the dead was a woman. Unfortunately, her black attire and dark hood obscured her features almost completely from this distance.
Fearing for her mother’s safety, Aliss decided that she wouldn’t leave her fate up to Lord Roshan, much less a stranger. As a wave of panic washed over her, Aliss could hear her lightsaber call for her and she instinctively and commandingly answered the call, suddenly looking down to see the powered off weapon resting in her hand. 

 

There was no time to waste or figure out what had just happened. The two figures had already almost reached the stage!

 

Dashing down the hill, she ignited her lightsaber and severed the limbs of any that dared to confront her. The valley looked so close but with every step down the hill it seemed as if it was getting farther and farther away. Retreading the trail that Lord Roshan had made, Aliss rushed to clear out any additional her enemies while making up for as much lost time as possible. The deeper she go into the valley, the more vicious and desperate her strikes began, ruthlessly ending the lives of any fools that attempted to stand in her way. All the while, however, Aliss kept part of her attention on the stage as Roshan and the hooded woman reached the structure and began to climb it.

 

By now, Aliss was close enough to see that the odd glisten and sheen in her mother’s hair and on her skin was not a natural glow of some kind but actually some sort of liquid that had been poured all over her dress and body. Aliss anxiously glanced over at the hooded woman as she dropped her hood to reveal her face. Aliss froze for a moment. She watched as her older self in shock as the duplicate and the masked Lord Roshan stared each other down. The new version of Aliss looked older, a bit more scarred, but unquestionably determined. 

 

At the same time, though, something felt off. Aliss wasn’t sure what was going on but she quickened her pace even more, furiously trying to reach the stage before something tragic took place. 

 

Unfortunately, right as the girl reached the edge of the stage, Goreth soldiers carrying lightsabers stepped forward to block her path. Aliss stopped dead in her tracks. She found herself at the foot of the stage but with no way to reach it. Aliss pivoted and spun, confirming what she already knew. She was completely surrounded. Her breathing started getting increasingly uneven as panic and desperation began to fill her lungs as if she was drowning. And then suddenly came a voice.

 

“You know what you must do, Aliss.”

 

The sheer surprise of the voice she heard immediately pulled her attention away from her current predicament and back to group on stage. The man adorned with the Goreth crown was none other than Master Helios! It was as unbelievable as it was unquestionable! His face might have looked slightly different but the voice was undeniably his! Aliss fell into a stunned daze as she watched her duplicate older self step in front of Lord Roshan’s killing blow and fight him back.

 

“NOOO!!! What are you doing!!! NOOO!!!” she screamed in a blood curdling crescendo as she watched the two fight on.

Terror consumed Aliss’ heart as she charged the warriors blocking her way only to be easily beaten back and disarmed. Kicked to the ground, Aliss could feel her body trembling. Her muscles locked up. Her legs went limp. 


What is happening?! Why is this happening?! Somebody please make this stop!!! 


“Soulless! Sirena! Somebody! Help!!! Please!” she wailed at the top of her lungs. 
 

Looking back up as she caught her breath, Aliss noticed that the fighting had, indeed, stopped. From her view, She saw that her fraudulent older self was standing in front of Roshan and they both were paused, locked in a moment in time. Somebody had just struck the killing blow; she could feel it. But Aliss couldn’t see who actually had landed it with Roshan’s large figure obstructing her view. For a moment, her heart leapt with joy. Lord Roshan had surely saved the day! 
 

But her joy was immediately crushed when she noticed the hole in the back of Lord Roshan’s cape as a chilling gust of wind rolled across the white marble stage. As Roshan dropped to one knee, Aliss could see the woman smirk. Her lightsaber was turned off but it was clear that in Aliss’ moment of distraction and desperating, the vile woman had pierced her lord. Aliss cried out to her teacher, the Cathar that had been her father figure of over a decade.
 

Roshan! Please. Get up! Save, mom! Please! I need you! We need you!


Lord Roshan’s head swiveled just enough to stare into Aliss’ eye as he held his hand over the hole in his sternum. The Aliss imposter grinned with malicious intent as she looked at the dying beast and then to Master Helios. The master grinned contently and nodded back. 

 

“Finish him.”


Before Aliss even knew what was happening, the imposter’s lightsaber reignited and chopped with a rapid flick of the doppelganger's wrist. Roshan’s severed head sailed through the air, bouncing towards Aliss and coming to rest beside her. The eyes of his half shattered mask stared up at her lifelessly. 

The girl screamed in horror but failed to audibly put the horror into words. Fighting with all her might, she got her wobbly legs to move and somehow returned to a standing position.

Meanwhile, Master Helios handed the torch to the Aliss simulacrum. He then stepped aside and clapped his hands twice.


“You know what to do. Finish it.”


The entire battle -- everything -- suddenly stood still. Silence fell upon the whole valley as if all eyes had now turned their attention to the stage. The girl’s pupils grew wide with horror as she watched the fraud inhabiting her future self release the flaming piece of wood above the pile of kindling at her mother’s feet. It seemed to fall in slow motion as Aliss stumbled towards the stage only to be met by one of the Goreth lightsaber wielders and kicked back. She stumbled back and landed on her rear but never took her eyes off her mother.
 

Her older facsimile gleefully watched the girl the entire time, catching the stick only inches away from the ground. With tears streaming down Aliss’ face, she couldn’t even form the words “thank you” as her duplicate tossed the torch a few feet away from where the girl now sat. But even as Aliss struggled to get to her feet one final time, the girl could see that something was off with the way the doppelganger turned to smile at her mother.


It was in that second that she knew what the monster was about to do, even before she did it. A brilliant conflagration of red flowed from the simulacrum’s outstretched hand, hitting her mother’s clothing and causing the woman’s whole body to burst into a giant fireball of flames. 

Spine-chilling screams that came from her mouth’s throat as the fire rapidly burned through her body ignited something primal and vicious in the girl’s heart. She didn’t know what she was doing or how she was doing it, but she was moving so superhumanly fast that even the warriors with lightsabers could not keep up with her. 
 

And almost as if in the blink of an eye, Aliss found herself now standing on the stage with a row of dead foes face down in the dirt behind her. Her mother’s murderer grinned at Aliss, Rose Morra Kiss already well charred at this point. Master Helios nowhere to be found. It was just the two of them now.

“You will pay for that!” Aliss roared, laboring to breathe between each frown.

“You don’t get it, do you? Your mother? That Cathar? They are nothing but fools who have led you astray and wasted your lineage. You are home, little one.”


Enraged, Aliss charged the woman and she roared in reply, Kark you, Witch! You can take your lineage and go to--”


As Aliss swung at the woman she poofed into a cloud of smoke, causing Aliss to pause mid-sentence and look around in momentary confusion. Of course, her confusion didn’t last long as she suddenly felt the piercing hot blade of a lightsaber sticking out of her chest. 

Aliss felt reflexively like a cough was coming on,  but she choked and gagged instead. The girl could hear the sound of the lightsaber powering off as she, herself, fell to her knees holding her chest.


Aliss could feel the breath of the woman as the witch whispered in her ear, “The rage within your heart cannot be denied any more than the red that adorns your skin or the lineage that flows through your veins. You are born of the darkside. And all that deny this of you must suffer. Only when you will sacrifice everything for power... will you have the power to save everything you love.”
 

As the woman stepped back, Aliss could feel the pressure bunch in her knees as she fell backwards with a gentle thump. Her body felt listless, the last bits of life force slipping from her grasp like sand in an hourglass. But as the girl looked up towards the brilliant sky above in her final moments, the face staring down at her was not that of her older self but that of Lady Sirena.


And then Aliss woke up.

___
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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.))

ROSHAN:

 

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. 


“Doctor!”


“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?”


“I DON’T WANT EXCUSES. GET DRAKEN AND IT DONE, DOCTOR. NOW!”


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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  • 2 weeks later...

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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  • 2 weeks later...

"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."

 

The momentary pause was broken by the synthetic voice of Solus. It was clear to Roshan that whatever it had seen, the Shard had enjoyed his experience. As the Shardbot spoke, Roshan's gaze shifted towards Aliss. There was a cold and calculated look on her face. He had seen it once before. Years ago, one of his students had pulled a prank on her and it had left her feeling humiliated. Needless to say, that boy never made that same mistake again.

...Such is the way how the Force should be, correct Lord Roshan? No, you said the Force is unbridled here...

 

Roshan opened his mouth to reply but Solus continued to ramble on. There was no reason to damper its excitement. Roshan was honestly still processing what he had personally experienced. It seemed like he had lived another lifetime but he was likely asleep no longer than a few minutes, maybe hours at most. He had to give the Sith woman credit. He never experienced something quite like that.

 

"...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?”

Rising to his feet, Roshan finally cut the Shard off.

"I sure hope not. This is a parlor trick. An impressive parlor trick. But it is not the Force. If dreams were effective teachers of the Force, the Sith would spend all their time sleeping. And be slain in their sleep because of it. But rest assured, they do not."

Turning to the woman, Roshan crossed his arms.

"My sin? I saw none. But I did see the sins of the Sith... a purification necessary. And the one who saw what I saw and has the power to do it. An executioner. A giant named 'Exodus' is the one I must find so that I can pick up where Dominique left off. Maybe then..."

"I must kill him," Aliss uttered matter of factly as she started into the nothingness in the distance.

Roshan paused and frowned, "What are you babbling about, girl?"

As Aliss rose to her feet, she stared into Roshan's eyes before resting her wild glare on Lady Sirena.

"I must kill him! He is the evil that threatens everything! It is the only way to save mother. It's the only way to save me and you and Roshan and all of you. It's the only way..."

Edited by Durose Roshan
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Sirena smirk at the Shard's overexcitment, its freshly dipped toes into the darkness it could possess providing a insatiable hunger within. It was good to see. He possessed a trait the other two did not. Perhaps not in strength, but in the Force, the Darkness, strength wasn't everything. His corruptable innocence made his prospective much more tantalizing. She chuckled at his last comment, Roshan stepping back into the picture as guidence.

 

"Roshan is right. Its merely one of the many tools to explore one's darkness, but not how one accesses it entirely. That is the key to your tutelage under my, and each other's wings." Sirena responded after Roshan finished, shortly before Aliss' outburst. "But by touching it like you have, it will help you better understand yourself."

 

As Roshan turned to her and spoke, Aliss' began to speak, causing Sirena's words to Roshan become lost upon her breath, a quizzical look stirring upon the Dsrk Lady's face. Roshan mentioned Dark King Exodus just before, but was Aliss talking about their King, or was her wild gaze shifting to Sirena aimed at another. 

 

"Who is he, child?" Sirena spoke to Aliss, her quizzical expression quickly turning stern and gravely despite her own curiosity. "Who is a danger to your family?"

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Roshan was also confused and somewhat concerned by the girl's words. She was impulsive. It was a fatal flaw that he had never figured out how to break her of. Roshan edged closer to Aliss as Lady Sirena spoke.

 

"Who is he, child? Who is a danger to your family?"

 

Aliss looked to Sirena and then back to Roshan.

"It's him! The one who's name cannot be spoken! I saw it!" Aliss' eyes darted wildly, as if she was still somewhat delirious from coming off of some sort of drug-induced hallucination.

"Get ahold of yourself, girl!"

Ignoring him, a wide-eyed and somewhat panicked Aliss glared at Sirena, "You don't understand! We must kill Helios! Before he kills us all! We must! Or he will kill her. You, too, Roshan!"

With pleading eyes, she looked around to those still present, "Please! I need the power! I must save us! We must hurry... Please! She's in danger! We must find him!"

With Aliss' eyes tearing up a little, Roshan almost expected her to hyperventilate. Looking to Lady Sirena, he raised an eyebrow. He was unconvinced by anything she had to say but this all was Sirena's doing and her mess as far as he was concerned.

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Edited by Durose Roshan
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Solus flinched under Roshan’s criticism and backed away from the central pot instantly. Despite being such a large being, Solus couldn’t help but flinch under the most simplest of words. Surely he would need to work on that? 

 

Listening to Sirena’s words made Solus happy again, especially at the thought of touching the darkness within him. Solus looked down and realized his shard was still  exposed. With a few motions of his hands, Solus carefully closed up his own chassis and felt the outer layers seal themselves once again. 

 

Aliss’ rantings caught the Shard’s attention again. There was a fear coursing throughout her body. Not that Solus could see such an emotion. But he could see the heavy breathing, the beads of sweat, and the wide eyes. Instinctively, Solus knew this was fear. 

 

“Perhaps her sin is not revenge and passion…” Solus thought out loud, “but rather fear? Yes, fear I suspect is a deadly path, no? Course, I have experienced no such thing like you, Sir Aliss. Sir Aliss?”

 

Solus leaned forward to look at his fellow child, studying her reactions. So fascinating. It was a pity he didn’t feel those reactions right now. Why did she get to experience such a consuming emotion of fear?

 

Oh well, best not interrupt Lady Sirena and Lord Roshan Solus mused to himself.   
 

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Sirena heard Aliss' words, taking note of Solus' as well. But rather than speak, she studied the girl deeply. The fear was there, just as her fellow Apprentice pointed out. But there was something else, something that instilled such reaction, primordial and deep. Yet, what was it? Sirena brought her hand up to her chin, remaining silent as minutes passed.

 

First the holocron, now her reaction of this. Solus was born of innocence, of Envy. Roshan was born of ego, of Pride. But this girl, she was something else. Quick to act, to jump to conclusions without thought, brash. Yet, she displayed no true sin. Curious, but delightful. She smirked behind her hand.

 

"I understand, child." Sirena spoke, out stretching her arm and offering up caring eyes. "But he is a Master of the Order, and a respected one. He will not go easily into death, even with our combined power. His flame is too eternal."

 

As Sirena spoke, she calculated, watching the girl's reactions and responses. She wanted to push the girl ever so slightly to see what darkness drove her heart.

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“Perhaps her sin is not revenge and passion… but rather fear? Yes, fear I suspect is a deadly path, no? Course, I have experienced no such thing like you, Sir Aliss...”

"You piece of--" Aliss growled under her breath.

Lady Sirena's response momentarily distracted Aliss and interrupted her train of thought. Nevertheless, it wasn't the answer Aliss wanted to hear. It delayed her reaction to the Shardbot's words for just long enough for her to confirm in her mind that Lady Sirena was scared of Helios.

Shifting her attention back to her rival, Alice stoic stance quickly shifted into one of launching herself at the Shardbot to surprise attack him. He was clearly full of himself. She had had enough of his lip and his attitude. He was always taking subtle jabs at her, trying to undermine her in front of Lord Roshan and Lady Sirena. He might have thought he was so clever but she had definitely noticed. With everything else that she had just witness, she wasn't even completely sure whether she had returned to reality or if she had ever left it but the pain and rage and fire in her heart was certainly real. Of that she was for sure.

All it would take is a step and a bound and she'd be digging her lightsaber into the Shard's chest before he even realized what was happening. Of course, she only managed to just barely lift off into the air when a tug at the back of her collar choked her neck and swept her feet out from under her. She suddenly went from reaching for her lightsaber to flailing her arms as she began to experience a sensation of rapidly falling. The next thing she knew, her head painfully splashed against the ground.

 

Looking up, Aliss saw Roshan's eyes staring angrily down at her. She knew he wasn't going to release her until she stood down and he had her pinned rather easily. It was her fault for not noticing how close he had edged towards her. Clenching her teeth a little, Aliss released her hand from her lightsaber and put her hands up in the air. As she rested there, she made no further attempts to move. After a few seconds, the girl could feel Roshan's firm grip loosen.

 

"Good."

His look of disapproval said it all. As she sat upright she spat in the direction of the robotic menace but made no further attempt to retaliate. Looking over to the Lord and Lady, she could see that Roshan and Sirena were staring at her. Brushing the sand out of her hair and off her face, Aliss gave Sirena a defiant glare.

"Maybe she was right. Maybe you are both nothing but fools who have and will led me astray and waste my lineage. Helios is still a man and all men bleed and die. If you are too cowardly to face him, fine! That's your sin, isn't it? Be that way. Give me the power I need and I'll face him myself. I'll save them all myself! You or your cowardice or this infernal machine won't stop me. Help me or get out of my way!"

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