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There are over 80 locations currently represented in the RP as topics, but not every planet that might serve as the setting of a story requires a dedicated topic, planetary signature, and representation on the Galaxy Map. This topic will serve to encapsulate such circumstances.


For the sake of clarity, use of your post's subject field or an OOC note is recommended so that it will be easy to tell what is happening on a given world.

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  • 9 months later...



Nok covered his mouth with his sleeve. To call this place a graveyard would be flattery.


This place was dead. Undignified, without ceremony, stark dead. Something thick and sticky hung in the air, acrid and biting on his tongue. As the wealthy mogul resisted the urge to gag he wondered if his other senses had heightened as a result of his blindness. No, the air was just that foul.


This is the smell of rot. The miasma of a corpse of a world.


Nok sensed no pain, no negative emotions. Not even the fear of tiny animals stirred the fabric of the Force.


It's like a pool cut off from a stream. It's still deep, but stagnant and still.


So this is what the Jedi leave in their wake when they want something truly dead.


According to historical records, the Jedi of the Republic razed this world to destroy a splinter order of Jedi, the Order of the Terrible Glare. That this was what was left of their mission was telling.


What did they fear so much that they'd leave a vibrant, Force-rich world as bones and choking mist to hide it? What did this Order accomplish?


If the rumors his agent had uncovered were to be believed...soul manipulation.


Nok smiled and sucked in a breath of fumes, refusing to choke. His ravaged eyes watered, the puckered skin where the bacta pack had been hours ago stung like needles, but he did not flinch.


If this Order had learned how to manipulate souls, then he would learn that secret too. Nok had been a student in ownership since childhood. He'd learned as a grub that the one who owned the food commanded loyalty. He'd learned as a business man that the one who owned the money commanded influence. And as his financial empire had grown, and he'd changed from businessman to magnate, he'd learned that the one who owned a life commanded power.


What would he gain if he learned to own a soul?


Enough, you're getting as philosophical as those holocrons idiot. Focus.


Nok turned back to his ship.


"Bring them out!"


With a series of clanks, the 10 OOM-model security battle droids he picked for this mission escorted five shuffling forms down the ramp. As they descended, they began to cough, and Nok began to see. The pain they felt from mist on their lungs echoed in the Force, sending out waves that washed over every object and creature around them, waves that Nok could sense. Like some ugly, deep sea fish he let the ripples flow over him and show him the slaves.


Five wookiees, two adults and three children, all fitted with shock collars. The droids held blasters to them, but Nok doubted that was even necessary. The five radiated no anger or hate, and none of the bestial rage the wookiees were known for. They had been hollowed out, their spirits broken. Only a trickle of fear complemented the pain.


Nok sighed. Not enough. I should have specified fresh slaves. They'd be so terrified they'd act like flares for me. Still, I suppose that why I brought this. Nok fished the remote for the shock collars out of his robes and flicked it on for a second.


The result was instant. Each wookiee screamed, the deeper bellows of the adults mingling with the higher pitched wails of the children. Their combined pain turned from ripples to waves, sending the Force undulating and showing Nok everything for a hundred feet in every direction with stark clarity.


I think we can make this work.


Nok opened his thoughts to Snake. Are you coming serpent?

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Snake could taste the sulfurous air before the ship had even touched down and the airlocks opened. It managed to permeate through every miniscule crack and fissure of the exquisite vessel; and exquisite it was. The mighty serpent had spent most of the journey coiled safely aboard one of the warmer power diverters in the engineering bay. No one bothered him, in fact, no one even came seeking him, or they were too poor to have looked there for him. The devilish viper had crawled back through the air ducts for just long enough to realize that the lavishness that coated the ship from stem to stern was like countless others he had seen and positions himself to strike at in the dead of night. This green skinned fellow and his mental manipulations had been nothing compared to his own, just as they who played at power knew nothing of the true taste of it.


After the ship’s doors had opened, even the microscrubbers in the ship seemed unable to keep up with the noxious fumes as they spread their invisible tendrils up and into the fresh air of the ship. Whatever had happened here, whatever lived on this world, Snake knew, instinctually, that any who so willingly chose to live and prosper in this was worthy to be hunted. The walking pillar of green slime had little chance at finding whatever it was he sought here without him. Snake would have been content to leave the planet as soon as they had touched down. He could not care any less for whatever it was that Nok was seeking; but Snake was a king, a visiting dignitary upon an unspoiled kingdom awaiting his conquest.


And then he could sense the desire of Nok Morliss, questioning Snake’s presence. The serpent hissed and flashed his fangs at no one in particular. That fool thought that he was his to command.


Yes, Snake would go. He would feast upon whatever thought it crowned itself master of this world. Whatever it was that the green two-legged desired could wait; he, the serpent of nightmares, desired to hunt.


Unwinding himself from his perch, the gigantic predator slithered forward out the doorway designed for they that desired command but could not take it by any other means and down the finely decorated, vomit-inducing if Snake was honest, hallways of the ship. If Snake appreciated anything, it was that the ship’s owner kept the temperatures at what seemed to be what should have been an uncomfortably warm temperature. Snake was thankful, he hated the cold, but he would never tell anyone that. As far as the outside world was concerned he was an invincible master of all that he laid his eyes upon.


Slithering through the ship, his belly hissing across the deck plating with a near silent hiss, Snake found his way to the landing ramp and slithered down into the thick yellow fog towards the hazy outline of Nok Morliss, his serving machines, and five pathetic hairy beings.


Snake’s tongue naturally lashed the sour air. He hated the taste, but each pass of his tongue in and out of his lipless mouth filled his mouth and by that his mind with more information than the sightless snack could possibly glean. There, with his head along the ground and his body twisting behind him, he swished his head from the left to the right. He could hear something, but not with his ears. Whatever it was, echoed across space and time deep into his very mind and Snake could not help but allow the corners of his mouth to twist upwards in a terrifyingly menacing smile. The fear that radiated out from Nok’s hairy two-legged carpets seemed to not just echo through the air waves, but to illicit a response from something unknown, something ancient, something unnatural.


Trying to capture the idea of the silent screams that echoed in what Snake did not know was The Force, he pushed Nok’s mind, That. Is that what you have brought me to hunt? His excitement at such a different challenge coursing like static electricity along the thoughts he pressed towards his travelling companion.

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Nok's lip curled up in a smile, a gesture he was certain looked horrifying on his scarred face, and one he doubted Snake would understand.


Yes...there is something here. I sense it too. he sent back to the serpent's mind in impressions and images. We hunt something unknown and very, very old. I do not know its shape or its size, but it must be hardy and powerful to linger here for so long. Surely you can feel how old this place is?


What we hunt here, serpent, is power and knowledge. To share between us of course. And if we find neither... Nok turned back to the wookiee slaves. ...I've heard wookiees make good sport when properly motivated, and this should prove an interesting hunting ground.


Oh, and there is no point for deception between us I think. You've seen in my mind, you know what kind of creature I am. If you betray me, then you'll be stranded on this rock for all time. Unless you can pilot my ship. Rest assured I have no intention of betraying you. I'd rather have you at my side then my back or neck. So long as we're both useful to each other, I think we can make this work.


"March," Nok said, as much to the slaves as the droids.




Nok found he liked this planet. Despite first impressions and a literal bad taste in his mouth, the dead world was growing on him. Not for it's majesty though. Even if Nok could see, he doubted this world had looked anything close to majestic in millennia. No, he liked it for the quiet. True, with no life the ripples of dark emotion he relied on to see were absent, but that also meant the Force itself did not stir. No sense of life itched at the back of his mind, no tiny lives clamored for his attention. Silence, perfect and pure. He could hear himself think, and for the first time he realized how distracting the constant pressure of the living Force had been to him, even before his discovery of his Force sensitivity. It was like a muscle that had been clamped for years had finally relaxed. Nok sighed, and began mentally calculating the cost to build a home here. He certainly wouldn't have to worry about neighbors.


Of course, the sight issue was still a problem. As he thought about it, he absentmindedly pressed the shock button again. To their credit, the wookiees didn't collapse this time, though they did stumble as they whined pitiably. If Nok was being honest with himself, he hardly needed to shock them anymore. The wookiees had come out of their emotionless stupor after a few "encouragements" and a long, unexplained hike into the wilds of a dead, creepy planet. Their fear lit the way for Nok now, and he only randomly shocked them to keep them guessing and scared. Every now and then, Nok would swear the ripples of their terror took on a cadence that reminded him of words. He would have to research that. Reading minds would certainly be useful.


"Master," OOM-11's tinny voice came from ahead. "Ruins ahead."


Nok had selected OOM-11 as the vanguard and commander of the troop of battle droids. Not for any particular reason. Battle droids were all the same, and Nok liked OOM-11 because he'd required the least maintenance out of his ship guard. He liked to think that meant the droid was hardier than its fellows, but he knew it was just chance.


"Take us to the entrance."


The group approached, and halted as OOM-11 stopped in front of an opening in a sheer, smooth slab. Not a door, it looked more like a collapsed part of a wall. But Nok couldn't see it clearly...


He sniffed in irritation. The wookiees had let their awe over whatever they were seeing overwhelm their fear. Nok shocked them, and held the button so that he could see what all the fuss was about.


A massive structure rose above him and stretched to either side. Even with the combined agony of five wookiees, he couldn't see where it ended. However, he did see in sharp relief the engravings on the side of the wall, and remembered them from his studies.


"...Jedi markings..." This must be one of the Order of the Terrible Glare's sanctums. From what he remembered, they'd favored towers and temples like those on Coruscant.


"We're in the right place. That info was good after all." Nok would have to remember to tell BD to tip the agent who'd reported it.


Now...how did that trick work again?" Nok reached out with his mind, touching the Force and letting himself feel beyond the pseudo sonar he'd developed.


What is that? Nok couldn't identify what he sensed, but he could tell what it wasn't. It was nothing natural. It writhed in the Force like a worm on a hook, yet paradoxically it held perfectly still, frozen yet in motion in a way Nok couldn't describe. No living thing affected the Force like that...did it? And there were...many of 'it'.


As Nok's senses reached further and further, he sensed more of the things. Potent, concentrated, and chaotic, Nok swore they responded to his light touch. They reached for him. He reached back.










Nok's snatched his mind back like a burnt finger. His breath came fast, sweat coated his palms, and he'd dropped to one knee. When had that happened? He could see clearly, but it was his own fear that showed him the walls and the hallway in front of him.


This was something more than he'd expected. And yet...


The Order of the Terrible Glare supposedly learned how to bind souls


Yes, that's what this was. It had to be. And Nok wouldn't be scared off by a few whispers. Let them plead and scream. They were his now.

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Snake’s head raised upwards until it was at a level where he was face to face with the eyeless Nok. His tongue flicked out across the scarred face of the Neimoidian as his lipless mouth twisted into a sickening evil smile. I can feel it. It is old. I shall enjoy devouring it. You can seek your knowledge and power. If you leave me here, I shall become the master of this world as well. Then I will seek you across the stars and destroy you. Betray me at your own risk. I am a fearsome predator. You are not. Let us see who finds this


As the Neimoidian and his entourage set forth, the lengthy serpent settled to the jagged surface and set off in nearly the opposite direction, intent on circling about a distance behind and angled away from the others. Whatever voice was calling through the fog not to their ears but to their hearts, minds, and souls, Snake knew better than to follow the marching, howling retinue. They would be the first to fall to whatever ancient beast had assuredly been alerted to their arrival. Whoever, whatever it was that he was to hunt here, Snake hoped that his companion as weak and sniveling as he may be, survived. The taste of this planet, while palpable, was less than pleasant. He would rather rule over a world like Kuat than this stench of a planet. Still, if Nok Morliss fell, he would still emerge victorious, having sunk his venomous fangs into the neck of the ancient power as it rendered Nok. There was no shred of doubt in Snake’s mind that he would win. The thought of defeat did not even cross his mind; nor did the idea that what they hunted was beyond the physical world.

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Nok looked, surprised Snake hadn't commented on the presence of the strange...things.


His surprise only compounded when he realized the serpent wasn't there.


Where did that thing go? he wondered, more fear tinging his thoughts than he wanted to admit. He tamped down on the emotion. The creature needed him, and he'd glimpsed its mind. It was savage, focused, and primal, but it wasn't mad.


Fine. Into the depths then. The stench of burning fur wafted past, and he realized he still held the shock button for the wookiees down. He let go. The wookiees gasped as the pain began to subside, looking to Nok's senses like a dying glow.


"Move. Inside." The spike of fear from the slaves made up for the diminishing pain, sending the Force into undulating waves that painted the labyrinthine hallways to Nok's sixth sense.


Fifth sense now I suppose.


As the group moved in, Nok found himself wishing he could see color. This Force sense was useful, even more useful than sight in ways, allowing him to "see" in all directions at once. He'd noticed though that if he didn't pay particular attention to something, and if it didn't move, he could still miss things, but nothing was perfect. Right then though he missed color. The walls surrounding them bore what looked like the flaking remains of paintings, yet to Nok's senses they only seemed to be thin smooth coatings on a wall. He would never see what others saw when they looked at them. Even the wookiee slaves, broken things that they were, could see what the artist had intended millennia ago, but Nok couldn't. He was blind, and in the dark.


...in the dark.


Why does...


Nok's thoughts snapped back, a response more instinctual than anything conscious. He'd been close, dangerously close to touch the raw wound Snake's mental attack had left in his mind. He wouldn't touch that. Not now. Best not to think about it. Focus on something else.


He considered extending his thoughts back to the strange presences in the Force, presences that they were getting closer to. No, enduring their screeching would serve no one. Not that Nok was afraid of them. He truly wasn't. His body didn't even radiate fear like the wookiees did. He was irritated, almost angry, but not afraid.


The entourage of droids, slaves, and the single neimoidian exited out of the passage way into a massive chamber. At the center, barely visible at the edge of Nok's range of "vision" towered a single dead tree, branches curled inwards like a hag's deathly claw. And around the base...


There they are


The presences were objects, crystalline in structure and about eight inches in diameter. The party froze, and the tree came more and more into focus. Nok realized the terror from the wookiees was building. Then he realized why.


He could hear the crystals talking.


Not with the Force, not in his mind, but with his ears, he could hear them.










The whispers barely reached them, faint as a breeze. They had the sing-song monotone of rote and memorization. How long had these crystals begged an empty temple for death. We're they even aware anymore of happened around them?


The crystals had been arranged delicately, even artistically. A complex spiral pattern that reversed on itself surrounded the dead tree, the crystals half sunk in dirt long turned to dust. This had been a place of reverence and of worship. What sort of worship entailed these things as part of the pomp and ceremony?


Nok approached...

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Winding his way through the chokingly thick fog, Snake’s shimmering leathery scales carved a furrow through the broken rock and ashy soil. The massive serpent’s tongue thrashed the air with every twist of his hulking form. His sidewinding motion catapulted Snake’s body forward at an unnatural stealthy speed. Every flick of his tongue contributed to his growing frustration. Whatever it was they hunted seemed to elude him, even as Nok and his duo had long since vanished from sight.


The swirling fog and numerous solitary dead trees all began to look alike and Snake, though he would never admit it, was lost. All he could taste was the putridness of aged ancient death and something sulfuric he could not quite put his mind to; something that was as old as the air itself and as mysterious as this world was different from Kuat. Pressing onwards, Snake’s eyes darted from side to side, his tongue raked the air, and his mind reached out; every sense he had was tensed and alert, ready to strike as soon as he could find a target. He would not call for help. He would not face defeat. He would not fall on this accursed planet. He would arise from tis foggy hellscape a victorious master deity of yet another world.


If only he could find this accursed ancientness that the green two-legged coward needed his help for. If Snake struggled to find it, there was no hope for Nok Morliss.

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Above the thick yellow mists suddenly appeared the old transport ship. Ficcabin looked out the window and remained silent. Normally what he would do when arriving on a completely new world would be to give a quick scan over the area, register the planet in his data pad, and record as much information for future study. However, whether it was because Ficcabin wasn't in his personal ship or because of the recent training he had with Frond, Ficcabin simply looked in slight horror. This world was so dead. He didn't need a scan to tell that.


Ficcabin could vaguely see the shapes of dead trees, stretching their old dry limbs into the sky as if pleading for help or trying to grasp at the last bits of oxygen. The fog caked the ground, occasionally giving glances of a cracked rocky surface. Ficcabin hoped to see some sign of life: perhaps a dashing of a helpless animal, or a leaf clinging desperately to survive, or maybe a pool of dirty water or filthy mud. But Ficcabin only could see a dry carcass of a world long gone.


But what was worse was the chilling presence. Ficcabin couldn't be sure if it was the Force or just his own imaginings, but the world felt something akin to stale, arid, and cold.


Frond you really know how to pick places. Ficcabin muttered as he began to scan, finally falling back into his habits. There were two things that caught his attention. There seemed to be some kind of structure on the planet. While he needed more time to be sure, it appeared to be an abandoned structure. The other thing was a ship, a distance away from the ruins. Ficcabin focused his attention on the ship: the droids gave an initial readout: a luxury liner. As they read an approximate of the model, Ficcabin grew more puzzled. Such a ship had no place being here.


Was this the darkness Frond was worrying about?


But even at this question, Ficcabin felt that the ruins held what Frond was looking for. He couldn't explain it. It just felt like Frond was supposed to go there.


"Frond" Ficcabin stated over the intercom. "I'm making a landing now, so brace yourself. There seems to be some ruins there, so I figure we could start there."


As the ship landed, Ficcabin could see the silhouettes and outlines of ruins in the distance. The ship was further away off to their right, invisible in the fog, but Ficcabin marked it on his data pad, now downloaded with a scan of the planet. He rushed to Frond at the entrance, double-checking that he had everything: his blaster at his side, his personal tow cable, and his data pad.


Ficcabin looked up at the tree, trying to hide the fact that he was uncomfortable with this place already. "Well Frond, shall we?"

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As the ship jarred under his feet, Frond felt something stir in his soul. It was something he did not expect or fully recognize; but still it radiated with something familiar. As the landing ramp creaked ground ward eerily landing with a clang and plumes of long undisturbed dust, Frond felt the wave wash over him just as the yellow fog rose up to greet him. Olfactory senses were not something plants were gifted with, so the odor was lost on Frond; although the taste upon his leafy head and cloaked form was bitter if one were to put a word to its description. Hesitatingly, Frond stepped forward, his cloak hissing along the gangplank behind him. Yes, it was an oddity. In a galaxy where the darkness was washing across it like a river whose banks had dissipated beneath the surge, here was an island of desert, mostly untouched by the darkness; but baked in the light.


Frond paused as his rooted feet touched the dead dusty soil of the planet. Whereas his nasal abilities were lacking, he far surpassed his fauna-based brethren when it came to taking in the natural world around him. This world was dead; but it was more than that. This world was devastated by the scorching of the light. There had been no shadow left to seek solace in.


Frond stood, taking in all that the deathly hallowed soil could tell him, rising up through his rooted feet and through his sap filled innards along with the small bits of nourishment that could be found. Even the light that filtered down through the lifeless fog was perverted. The very atmosphere of the world had been poisoned by whatever it was had happened here. Still, he and Ficcabin were not here to seek the answers to such ancient lost questions. They were here for something else, to find and stop the great worm and rescue those that screamed. At the moment, all was silent and still. In the distance, Frond knew that there were ruins, their almost invisible outline barely visible through the less dense pockets of fog. Closing his eyes, as had long since become habit, Frond stretched out with his mind, searching for something, something he did not know. Given the deathly stillness of the world, Frond searched for any sign of wavering in The Force to indicate a presence. Maybe the vision had already come and gone? Hardly likely, the death here was not of the darkness. Perhaps they had arrived before the worm; before the screaming. If that was the case, they would be forced to settle in and wait. Something Frond was at ease with, despite the planet itself; but not something he was sure Ficcabin was quite ready for. Perhaps, they could continue their learning. Surely this planet had something to teach them both.



As Ficcabin Yule joined him at the base of the platform, Frond spoke without opening his eyes,


”it you feel do brother? Of the death stillness. Is The Force that. The unlike galaxy, this darkness is of the tidal death not. Of is the it light.”


His words were absent any happiness or levity. The wooden hollow words rang with a seriousness that even Frond did not normally embrace in his strange vernacular. With his eyes still closed Frond allowed The Force to flow through him, even on this vast empty world. With each moment, he stretched his mind further, allowing The Force to become more while he became less; and in each moment, the vision of his mind’s eye inched outwards, upwards, and downwards, radiating in all directions seeking to feel something on this barren hellscape.


Then, Frond opened his eyes, and pointed away from the ruins, with a single wispy knotted finger,


”That way. Is not this there is of world. Of worm the dragon we slay may perhaps seek or it is the we. A radiates it darkness.”


Frond had found the residual touches of Nok and Snake aboard The Bleeding Edge. His finger directed Ficcabin Yule in that direction. He did not know what would be there, but whatever it was did not radiate as if it were an active threat of darkness; only that darkness had touched it deeply.


”Word a caution of. The amongst prowls sands a hunger. What can you find. The Force remember.”


And with that, Frond closed his eyes again and took several slow Force-led steps forwards, in a direction away from where he had pointed, towards the ruins. Soon enough, as his mind grasped and evaluated each bit of new real estate, Frond discovered that there was another being present, several beings in fact seemed to be prowling the ruins and then he felt it. More so, he heard it, not as a noise, but within his very heart; cries for release from a place of eternal torment, a prison of eternal binding lost from the truth of The Force. These were the screams of his vision. Whatever dark presence had come, the worm, was already wreaking some form of torture on the owners of those pains.


Frond released a ragged breath, not from his mouth, but from his very pores that caused the glistening black leaves atop his head and hanging down his back enshrouding his wooden form to hiss and shiver and swish. Whatever was being done here was being done not to the beings of this fanciful plain, but to the very soul essences of beings like he, trapped here, but free in The Force.


And these were not beings of darkness. Lost as they seemed to be in The Force, they too glimmered with the light that had seemed to sweep this world barren. Powerful allies in the fight to drive back the darkness.


The darkness, that was the anomaly. Turning his focus back from the crying sources of invisible pain, Frond focused on the being of shimmering darkness amongst the ruins. The dark worm?


And then, in that moment, Frond opted to do what he did best. He stood. With a flash of golden light that reflected from the yellow fog, and a twisting and cracking of branches and leaves, Frond’s elongated form thickened out, shooting upwards into the sky and downwards into the dark dry earth. Within moments, standing where the humanoid had just shuffled was a mighty tree, it’s limbs spread out in all directions, a shadow cast down upon the soil beneath his shimmering black leaves.


It seemed that the small band were making their way his direction; all Frond had to do know was wait.

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Ficcabin looked at Frond curiously, not sure how the atmosphere was interacting with such a strange species. He himself had to hold back a gag after breathing in some of the air. Judging by the smell and slight taste, the yellow fog seemed to be composed of some sulfur, a toxic element if Ficcabin had to say. No wonder the dead trees around seemed to stretch their limbs to the sky like beggars. But with Frond he seemed to bare no ill effects. Yet.


At his first question, Ficcabin looked at the landscape. No doubt Frond was talking about what he felt with the Force and not what his physical body felt. But Ficcabin wasn't as eager to explore this place with his new sense as Frond seemed to be. He didn't need the Force to tell him that this place was of death. However, his words surprised him.


How can such a place be of the light? Or dark for that matter? Perhaps this is just a natural thing. A leak of gases from the planet's core could easily cause....this Ficcabin gestured to the fog around them. However in his heart he knew this was wrong. Something about this place felt very unnatural. This barren landscape wasn't artificial, but altered in some magnificent, but horrible way. If Ficcabin was a braver soul, he would have insisted on studying the planet further. But something about the way the fog clung to the dead trees chilled him. But if Frond was correct, that meant the light could be just as destructive as the dark.


When Frond pointed in the direction where the other ship was, Ficcabin was surprised. He hadn't told Frond yet where the ship was. He planned on it, but his friend had beaten him to it.


"Ya, the droids think it’s a luxury liner of some kind. It might be a halfway decent idea to investigate it, though that would mean splitting us up and given you are a tree and these trees are already dead and if that ship radiates darkness then that means I could be in danger going there and besides I'm just a little young to be going alone so perhaps we could stick together...


Ficcabin stopped himself, realizing he was on the point of babbling, something he did when he was nervous. Why was he nervous?


"You're right of course. You investigate the temple or whatever, and I'll investigate the ship. Just, um...don't die alright?


Parting ways with Frond, Ficcabin began to walk towards where the other ship awaited. After a few steps Ficcabin had to stop, choking on the air again. What was that stuff? He had to refocus himself. Thankfully, he had one distinct advantage over this environment.


Like flexing a muscle, Ficcabin moved the membrane inside his skeletal system, causing it to make a seal around his organs. Having evolved on a planet that had places vacuum, the Givin developed a membrane that sealed their inner organs from the outside environment. The cold vacuum of space couldn't suck the organs out, and now, the gases of Garn couldn't infest his lungs. While some Givin chose to continually keep this inner membrane sealed at all times except during eating and when needed to breathe, Ficcabin found that having it open at all times until necessary made him more comfortable, while sealing it made him more focused. This explained why he ate so much at Felucia. During his time in Beyond Shadows, he had instinctively sealed his membrane, forcing his physical body to consume what fat he had inside his exoskeleton.


Now sealed and breathless, Ficcabin walked forward through the fog. He stumbled a bit, the craggy and broken ground throwing him for a loop, but he made good time. But as he traveled, his thoughts remained back with Frond.


I wonder if he will suffer from whatever this fog is? The chances of him dying here from a short exposure of, say, an hour would probably only...be Ficcabin tapped the back of his neck. Eh, negligible.


About 20 minutes into the walk, Ficcabin had to stop, hearing a crunch and a slight hiss under his feet. Looking down, he found that he had stepped on something. It was not rock. It was white. Almost like a...


Ficcabin fell backwards in surprise and then bolted upright. He approached the ancient skeleton carefully, examining it only by sight and not touch. It was humanoid, though the skull had a slightly larger cranium then usual. All of its teeth were still intact, but the rest of the bones seemed to have deep brown and black splotches on them. The splotches looked like to have bubbles of a translucent membrane. Poking at the bones once, Ficcabin made another discovery. The splotches on the bone suddenly hissed as some of the bubbles burst open. A slightly darker gas escaped and dissipated, mixing with the fog.


Seeds... Ah! This must be a fungus, and this skeleton's bone marrow was a nutrient source. How the bone marrow lasted this long is beyond me though. When I get back, Frond and I are getting cleansing showers


Ficcabin stood up. In the distance the fog became much thicker. It was as if the entire area was covered with the fungus. But how? With no living matter...


Ficcabin received his answer. A few more steps forward and he heard another crunch and hiss. He had accidentally stepped on another skeleton. And a bit further on he could see another. To the side there were a few more. And back the way he came he saw he had missed a few. The animated skeleton looked about him franticly, his hands shaking a bit. He was in a literal graveyard.


Alright, focus Ficcabin, there’s nothing to worry about here. After all, I'm not breathing so I can't inhale the fungus, and I doubt it would kill me....immediately. My bones are perfectly in tact so it can't eat at my marrow. Just have to keep going forward. Just... forward.


Ficcabin kept on, hesitantly. With each step he had to navigate over some more bones, and occasionally he would hear them hiss at the slightest touch or even on their own, feeding the thick fog around. This psychological torment was maddening to say the least. Ficcabin was tempted multiple times to turn back and retreat to the safety of his own ship. However, one thought kept him going.


The Force is life. The Force is death. The force is life. The force is death. The mantra Frond gave to Ficcabin was a strange comfort. Even among these bones and fungi, the Force was still here. True it had taken on a very ugly shape, but knowing that this was still part of the force made him a bit more at rest, or at least brave enough to take another step.


Finally, Ficcabin emerged from the thickest parts of the fog and could see the outline of a ship ahead.

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Nok held up the crystal. For a long moment, he desperately wished his eyes worked. The object pulsed under his hand. Fever hot, it almost felt like it was breathing.


"Rrrurorooorurr" one of the wookiee slaves mewled quietly. Fear, deep and chilling, radiated from them as they stared at the crystal. Nok shivered as the Force moved, shaking the dust from it like a slumbering beast stirring.


This moment is mine. Mine.


"What do you see?" Nok whispered, reverent. The wookiees didn't respond. The ruins kept quiet. The world long dead held its breath.


Nok raised the crystal to his sightless eyes, as if all he needed was a closer look. The scar deep in his mind withdrew. It had no place here.




"...I don't know...I don't know anymore..." he whispered so quietly he could barely hear his voice. A smile creased his lips. "It's wonderful."


Nok tucked the crystal under one arm. "You!" Nok said louder than necessary, pushing back the oppressive silence for a moment. He pointed at four of his droids. "Starting taking these back to the ship. The rest of you follow me."


Let's see what else this world holds for me.


Nok led the way out of the chamber, and into another room. He held the remote in his hand, half forgotten. The slaves were so saturated with fear they were like glow-lamps to Nok. A sharp, crescendo of fear that refused to break. When Nok had time, he'd experiment and learn to cultivate this particular strain of emotion. It suited his needs.


The next chamber could barely be called that. A crumbled ruin, the roof had caved in and dirt blanketed the floor. The walls lay strewn on the ground, a few weathered shards sticking up like splintered bones. And in the center...a tree.


A living tree.


Nok cocked his head, staring. Leaves hung from the tree, and the bark was unscarred, but stranger than that, the tree muffled the waves of fear from the slaves that washed over it. No, that wasn't quite right. It drank the fear. The disturbance created by their terror settled as it touched the plant, like snow trapping sound. It made the tree indistinct to Nok, a blur against the clear sense of the dead soil around it.


"What are you?"

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Nothingness as far as the eye could see; which in this case, was not that far. Snake’s elongated body swam through the sand as easily and smoothly as a rope drug through calm waters. The only difference with this was that the wake he left as rumples in the sand remained after he passed.


In the acidic air, Snake’s tongue continued to lash the stillness, seeking out anything out of the ordinary on this anything but ordinary world. Where was Nok Morliss? He is surely dead by now. His kind were not made to survive the wilds.


A low rumble filled the air for a moment. The serpent instantly recognized the sound. Ships landed and took off from his homeworld of Kuat all the time. This sound was a ship and it was landing. Nok Morliss had not departed, but someone had arrived. Lost in the swirling fogs and mists, someone or something had arrived. Was this that which was to be hunted?


Soon enough, Snake found himself traversing from the empty sands of Garn punctuated by sharp crags of angled stone into an open field of sand punctured instead by jutting bones and half buried skulls. Snake paused, taking in the smells and sight of the barren field of death. Here, even death was palpable. Snake enjoyed the taste of death, aged and static as it was. Carefully, he began to slither forwards again; his trunked body slinking left and right around the protrusions of ancient bones.


Even amongst the death, there was something else here. Snake could not only sense it, but he could hear it.






What is that?


Cautiously, Snake crept forward, his body sinking into the sands as it weaved back and forth. Whatever was here, he wound find it.




His body brushed by one of the bones and his body lurched back in startled shock at the bursting of a spore sack spewing forth its seeds into the air. This world was barren but still presented dangers aplenty. Dangers that Snake would come to rule over in time.


As he continued onwards, carefully and quietly, his body occasionally brushed over a spore sack sending a pop and hiss echoing through the deathly stillness. There it was, somewhere in the cloudy yellow, Snake could feel it; he could taste it, fresh and live. FEAR! Fresh fear, not the fear of the long dead. Whatever walked here amongst the bones still lived. For now . . .


And then he saw it. Stumbling and winding through the bones, radiating worrisome fear, was something Snake had never seen, something that Snake had never seen before. Something he had not thought was possible. Amongst the long dead bodies covered in fuzzy growths walked a single upright skeletal being. Upon this world, it seemed, the dead walked in life.


Nok Morliss was wise to have brought me to this world. He will not survive. Most assuredly, this is what Nok Morliss came to hunt, the power of life over death. A power even he, Snake, did not have . . . yet. Perhaps Nok Morliss will still be of some use after this.


Carefully, with long practiced twists of his massive body, Snake vanished beneath the sand; buried by the long dead soil. There, just beneath the surface, only his eyes and the top of his triangular head visible beneath the fog, Snake began to creep forward. The moment had come, Snake transitioned from searching and hunting to stalking his prey.


Quietly, cautiously, Snake crept closer and closer to the skeletal creature picking its way forward. There, in the distance, against the backdrop of fog, materialized the outline of Nok Morliss’ ship, The Bleeding Edge.


Beneath the sands, Snake’s lipless mouth crept upwards into a smile. The beast was walking right into Snake’s newfound lair. All he had to do was keep him there for Nok Morliss to do with it as he pleased. And if Nok Morliss was not enough, as he assuredly would not be, Snake would be there to deliver the final strike.


Sinking beneath the sands, Snake slithered underground; bumping into the buried bits of bones, causing spores to pop and hiss seemingly at random releasing their toxic spawn into the air. Snake made his way towards the ship, his body angling away from the skeleton, but his mind following the tasty signature of fear.


Yes, it will be mine . . .


Carefully, quickly, and quietly, Snake returned to the open vent beneath the ship he had used to enter The Bleeding Edge once before. Bursting from the sand and disappearing down the shaft in a single leap; Snake’s body flashed a glint of deep dark blue before the nearly 15 feet of serpent vanished into the depths of the ship.


Here, within the bowels of the craft, Snake would watch and wait. As the Givin came aboard, Snake’s joy was palpable in the air,


You will be mine, his mind hissed with the wordless desire, subconsciously projecting the thought out into the ether by way of The Force.

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Minutes later, the dark presence and an entourage of defeated beings and mechanized abominations materialized in the desecrated room.


Even in his treelike form, Frond could ‘see’ that this was the dark presence he had felt in his vision. The Force echoed that feeling crystalline clear. Whatever the vision had intended by showing itself to Frond, it had brought him to this moment. And then the robed worm spoke and Frond’s heart responded; his calm center radiating with joy. Now Frond did not have to chase after and stop this dark worm, it had stopped to interact with him.


”Stop the am breaker to onslaught of wave that I darkness come your tidal has. Will here stop you. Will here no further go you. Of not the minority shall you light subject.”


Frond’s voice echoed forth, not from his mouth, but audibly echoing out from his very treelike form as his outstretched limbs hissed and shook their leaves.


All around them, the air was still, but a swirling presence seemed to descend upon the room as darkness and light and calm clashed together as one in that which was The Force.

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Nok was not scared.


In truth, he hadn't really been scared since...well since the fight with Snake now that he thought about it. He'd balled up his fear and hidden it away as he'd done so often before, but now that wall was iron and scar tissue. It would not break, no matter how much his nightmares strained to seep out.


That being said, Nok was startled as all hell!


His skin seemed to jump off his bones, and the wookiees roared in surprise. Heart pounding, Nok tried to identify the speaker, his brain rapidly processing the last few seconds.




Wait, what did it say?


All Nok had heard was a jumble of words. Stop the am breaker...something...darkness...minority light something?


Some kind of guardian, that's what this was. It made sense. Why else would it be here? It didn't look the looting type. Though how could a tree look the looting type? Heck, how was a kriffing tree talking!? And why did it absorb the fear and pain of the wookiees like that? Even with their sudden spike in fear, the tree looked like an oil painting on water someone had shaken.


But it was more than that. Nok could sense something else. He called up his hate as Akheron had taught him, dredging up images of those little annoyances who interfered with his work and his swelling financial empire. He stirred and stewed the hatred into a thick soup and poured it over his brain, letting it seep down the inside of his skull and trickle to his heart where it burned pleasantly. It felt like the peculiar combination of the heat of a fever and a warm summer day on Cato Neimoidia.


As the emotion tinged his thoughts, he reached out to the Force and looked through it. Drawn to him by the cultured hatred he let simmer, the Force let him see it in a broader sense then his newfound sight. He saw how the Force moved around the tree.


Powerful. This tree is powerful. Yet not like Akheron. Not as intense, and none of the rage. It's peaceful, like looking at...well a tree. No, more like snow. Quiet, cold, and muffling. If Akheron was fire, and that serpent was a yawning pit, then this tree is snow.


"What do you want with me? Are you here to protect this place?"

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Frond sighed, the motionless wind rustling his leaf coated branches in an audible sign of frustrated disappointment.


Younglings. Caught in fads always up new, even they know to do how communicate not.


Frond knew, without even having to ponder it that if he could not communicate with this measly green being, than there was little hope in trying to convert him away from the darkness towards the cause of the light. In the back of what would be his mind, had he had one in the traditional sense, Frond wondered if this vision was more than it appeared on the surface. Back at the temple on Felucia, Frond had been confident that the vision had been nothing more than a darkness seeking to overwhelm the locals; something a show of light side resistance would easily dissuade. Now here with his feet rooted deep into the earth of this far off foreign world, Frond doubted that his mere presence would be enough. Maybe he was not immersed enough in the light. It was clear that Ficcabin Yule was not. Ficcabin was like a young Frond, torn between the light and the dark, a ship tossed in a storm he did not even know existed. Given time, Frond hoped to guide the young skeletal being along the paths of truth. What The Force needed right now was not another balanced being. What The Force needed was a surge of light to drive back the darkness.


As his tall trunk-like form stood there being stared down by the entourage of beings who trespassed on the surface of Garn along with Frond, Frond exhaled again, his leaves rustling yet again, though this time, the aura of frustration was decidedly absent. As he exhaled, Frond allowed his concerns and frustration to flow from his sappy wooden core, out through his limbs, rustling and rattling into the still air with every leafy twitch.


”One am I for purpose here.”


Frond spoke, his voice booming through the ruins about them. His words were simple and as clear as he could make them in his own way. He knew that he could not explain things to the simpletons before him. The Jedi, The Sith, The Sarlacc Enforcers, even the Voss Mystics and countless other force-based organizations that did not know the entirety of the truth all had their point of no return. That point when words failed and The Force required actions instead of speaking. It was something that Mind Walkers believed that they were beyond. It was something that Frond knew he had transcended centuries and centuries before. Still, he knew the truth and the truth required him to act. More so, something called to him, something deep within Frond’s very core echoed with an unfaltering desire to cut down those that stood before him.


In that moment, a crack of yellow light illuminated the fog around them, reflecting off the very air. In that blinding flash, Frond’s body cracked, invisible wooden joints popped and snapped, and he began to morph. His branched branches pulled inwards and downwards as his rooted feet erupted upwards back towards the surface of the planet as his body twisted about, the leafy canopy congregating itself atop the branchy top of his head and along his back, flowing down past and around his shoulders in a shimmering black cloak of inky leaves.


As the flash of light faded, where the tree had stood now stood the roughly eight foot tall hunched form of an unidentified humanoid. Raising his head up, Frond stared, his dark brown eyes pierced through the thin yellow haze between him and the mottled green limbed-worm.


Smoothly, with all the calm that possessed Frond’s every movement, the Neti brought one hand inward towards his own chest. At the same time, a knothole twisted and warped open within Frond’s very chest, just as his fingers reached where the cobbled bark would have been. There, nestled at the bottom of the knothole protruded a single branch. It was a branch like a piece of green firewood that had been laid there and forgotten to the mists of time but still full of the subtle signs of life. Each end appeared to have been hewn from the greater form of the tree limb it had come from, a length of approximately 4 handholds. The entirety of the thing free from knot or defect, but for the natural waves of the bark that ran along it.


Grasping the log in his viney knotted hand, Frond’s tendrilled fingers encircled the round piece entirely. It felt almost natural in his hands, and so it ought; for it was formed from his own flesh and body. Yet still, something called to him. He could feel it radiating from the chunk in his hand. The faintest desire for destruction called out on the very edges of Frond’s Force-based periphery. That feeling drove Frond, and as it called, Frond opened himself up further to the glow of the light. The dark hunger served only as a balance to the blinding rays that Frond now embraced.

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Nok stepped back as the tree, the creature, shifted form. It contracted, limbs creaking as if straining under a wind, it's body taking shape as a massive figure, cloaked in a carpet of leaves draping its back. The thing reminded Nok of old stories he'd seen, fairy tales of woodland specters that carted off children to eat them or turn them into shoes or some nonsense. Looking at its hulking outline, still blurry, Nok almost believed he was in one of those stories. There had been a moment where the creature had given off a single ripple of anger, but it had been so faint it barely passed for irritation, and certainly not enough for Nok to see by.


He took another step back as the creature's chest opened and it pulled out something. A club? Too small, at least relative to its hands.


Around him, the wookiees whimpered and shuffled.


"Droids, target the tree but keep guns lowered and hold fire unless I'm threated," he said in neimoidian. Nok wished he could claim he'd come up with the idea to have battle droids respond to neimoidian, but it was an old trick among wily tycoons. As traders and businessmen, all neimoidians learned common along with a few other useful languages. As such, no one bothered to learn their language. That made it handy for passing along instructions.


The tree monster had spoken. "One am I for purpose here." That Nok understood, and drawing a weapon only confirmed his suspicion. Except Nok couldn't be sure that thing was a weapon. And better to not pick a fight with something that large. Something like that probably wouldn't die easy, and Nok wasn't at 100%.


"And what purpose is that? I don't wish to fight you. It's pointless. If we can avoid any unpleasantness, I think that's good for all of us. Right?"

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This darkness spoke and it was cowardly. Even as the darkness grew on this plane, the truth of the darkness presented itself. Light or dark, one without the other was always found lacking.


Frond stared at the being before him who spoke in a foreign tongue to the abominations behind him. While it was clear that he would not be able to explain to this peasantly being before him, maybe the truth was that his vision had been correct. Maybe this cowardly servant of the dark side just needed a bigger show of force, by The Force. The Force flowed through him as he relaxed, his moment of hesitation awash in the realization that The Force’s truth was right. It was always right. How could he have doubted it? The Force had led him here. Whatever followed next, The Force would guide him through it.


Frond knew combat was upon him even as the robed being before him did not make any moves to strike. He had scuffled before, but never had he engaged in open hand-to-hand combat. This weak servant of darkness must be purged. Inside the haft of wood that he still held in his hands, Frond could feel the two crystals, the power and the tainted light intermingled with the thirsting desire for destruction. They called. They desired. He could feel that desire and in that moment, the desire for destruction and his desire for balance coalesced as one.


”Repent. Your turn dark from way. Free damnation your dark from the eternal soul shall I.”


And in that moment, Frond grasped his chunk of kindling with his second hand mere inches below his first. Then, without movement or signal, aside from the mingling of his soul’s will and that of The Force, a leaping flame exploded outwards from the limb. It raced upwards until it vanished in a haze of heat, smoke, and the vague smell of burnt wood above Frond’s branchy scalp. Erupting from the core of the heat and flame a single unwavering beam of golden light burst forth. Eight-and-a-half feet of glowing sun-kissed yellowed gold pulsed and hummed, even as the flame that gave birth to it vanished. A stray bolt of lightning-esque electricity coursed up the blade from hilt to end, crackling into nothingness.


Standing there for a moment, consumed in awe at the sight of the blade, Frond took it in, forgetting in that moment the turmoil of the dead world around him, of Ficcabin, of his foe, of the misbalance of The Force, of all but the blade shimmering before him. Then it hit him. What before had just been a longing whisper of dark hunger now erupted in full glory along with the sunlit blade. It was now a full cacophony of growling waves of desire; a desire to consume all that would dare stand before it, a dark desire of power that craved the fulfillment the population of the universe could not grant.


Frond felt the wave crash over him, a tidal wave of force that drew the breath from his very pores, leaving him feeling as if he was suffocating – an altogether foreign and uncomfortable feeling for a tree that had been able to freely breathe since his first days as a sprout emerging from the soil. Where a lesser being may have been overwhelmed and obliged to give into the powerful urging of dark desire and other minds may have been overwhelmed into a jittering heap of mentally uncontrollable quivering; Frond stood, an aged oak tree amongst the gathering storm. Where the darkness thrashed about with a hurricane’s passion, Frond stood, a resolute pillar of immovably cold iron, bending but not breaking before the surge.


The very air currents swirled about the Neti Force-wielder, whipping his shimmering cloak of blackened leaves, billowing it out behind him. The currents blasted forth in every direction from the dark force-manipulated callings of the duel crystals within his blade. Tearing his eyes from the majestic blade of pure pulsating energy, Frond steeled his mind in The Force, finding the calm center that he had immersed himself in for so many years. It was not of pure light, but of pure peace. He was a meditative monk along the front lines of a war that would not revere the sanctity of his holy studies.


With the blade before him, Frond squared himself up before the Neimoidian, and just like he had when he dueled Kel back on Felucia, he held the blade in both his hands, the tip of the great saber pointed squarely towards the chest of Nok Morliss.


”Draw the darkness us let forth, a pus from like wound.”

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A slight chill went up Ficcabin's spine again as he suddenly turned around, thinking he heard something. It was almost like a voice, but as he looked around there were no living things around.


Just a play on my imagination. Yes, that's it. I found a ship and expected someone to be here so I thought I heard someone. Ficcabin mentally reassured himself. But the feeling wasn't easily shaken off. There were eyes in the ground, and not just the bones. He could feel it in his being.


No matter, he had a mission. Well, less of a mission and more of recon. As Ficcabin got closer to the ship, he could identify it as a Personal Luxury Yacht 3000. Ficcabin gave a slight shaking of the head, regarding the ship as nothing more then just a fancy transport. Pirates in deep space would have eagerly loved to get their hands on it only for the suggestion of what cargo would lay inside: important potential hostages. But Ficcabin wasn't a pirate.


Still, what kind of businessman or aristocracy comes all the way out here, the middle of nowhere, with just a yacht? This question puzzled the young scientist for a bit. However, Frond indicated that the darkness or the residue of the darkness was on board. And if that was true, Ficcabin didn't want to get discovered easily. Still, the front door seemed the way t...


"HALT!" a robotic voice shouted as Ficcabin started to step into the ship. Ficcabin recognized the droid model instantly. A well-polished OOM battle droid hefted its blaster towards the young scientist. These kind of battle droids weren't widely used anymore, if Ficcabin recalled correctly. Only a few antique collectors and maybe some Hutts would keep them around if Ficcabin recalled correctly. That or perhaps a Nemodian. But that raised another question. Why would any of those kind of beings be here?


"HALT UH, SKELETON THING. DROP YOUR WEAPON" the battle droid commanded again. Ficcabin looked down at his hand, not realizing he had pulled his gun from the holster.


Well, if there’s a darkness inside, I probably don't want to be taken prisoner Ficcabin reasoned as he quickly brought the pistol up and fired without hesitation. The blast hit the droid in the chest. At such close range and weak armor, the droid stood no chance and fell down, giving a dying buzz of a scream. Ficcabin could hear metal footsteps come from deeper in the ship. With their comrade dead, they would not hesitate to open fire.


Ficcabin dashed out of the entry way and along the side of the ship, an idea in his head. As he did, he holstered his pistol and grabbed the personal tow cable on his belt to unwind it. Personal Yachts like these often had a viewing area on the stern of the ship. The tow cable was often used in space to attach himself to the ship when he had to perform exterior repairs. However, Ficcabin discovered that with the magnetization hook on the end, it was possible to pull drifting debris towards himself, or himself towards his ship.


Sure enough, the ship held an observation deck, complete with railings. Ficcabin inwardly smiled as he swung the cable and threw it up, praying it would catch. The droids were coming off the ship now, trying to see if they could find the intruder. The fog disoriented them for a bit, but Ficcabin knew they would be at the back soon enough.


Under Zero... Ficcabin mentally cursed as the cable fell back to the ground, unable to make a solid connection with the ship. He gathered again and threw. A sound of a clink and a buzz as the hook activated, attaching itself to the hull of the ship.


Ficcabin didn't have a chance to celebrate as a droid spotted him and began to open fire. A blaster bolt went past Ficcabin as he clicked a button on the box at his side. The box began to recoil the cable line and hoisted the young Givin up towards the observation deck. The droids below opened fire again and again, each shot missing but getting closer to their target. Just as Ficcabin hoisted himself over the edge of the ship, a shot sailed past where he his head was a moment before.


Now he was safe....momentarily. Ficcabin stood and dashed into the ship, blaster in hand again, trying to ignore that dark presence he swore was just his imagination.

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Nok's breath came quicker as he heard the sound. He couldn't see what the tree's weapon had done, but he didn't need to. Every person who'd ever watched old news footage of the clone wars, who'd imagined themselves as one of those warrior monks, who'd dreamed of holding one of those storied blades knew that sound. That hiss and hum was a lightsaber.


The Force moved around the blade, as if it was a oar parting the current of a river. Nok couldn't see it, not ever with his new sight, but he could sense it. It had a pressure to it, and a heat that prickled along his skin. It was the uneasy sense Nok had when someone crept up behind him, when someone stared daggers at him from where he couldn't see, when one of his trainers was thinking about attacking him. It was the intent to destroy, personified in a blade.


Nok swallowed, yet did not feel afraid. Why?


Free my soul? Draw the darkness forth?


This isn't a guardian. It's a missionary.


A Jedi.


The wind whirled around the tree thing, and the Force moved with it, kicking up dust and dirt. There was power in this thing. Power and peace. Even now, the raw fear of the wookiees did little to illuminate the creature beyond a watery outline.


Nok lifted the crystal in one hand, interposing it between him and the saber, holding it out like he was casually offering a man a drink.


"Do you want this? Do you understand this? You're not a Sith. No, you're a Jedi, aren't you? I studied your ways before I went to the Sith. I found them...limited. Ignorant. But you judge me? You want to purify me, like you know better than me? Then prove it. Tell me what this is.


Can you?"

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In the pitch blackness of the ship’s ventilation system, Snake crept onwards with confidence. His tongue lashed the circulating air. Even his joy was palpable. Moving along, Snake made his way along the route he knew would carry him to the slotted ‘viewport’ that overlooked the entryway area of the luxurious vessel; a nest befitting a king. A nest that Snake still could not understand how Nok Morliss had come to control it.


Now all he had to do was wait. By his predatory senses, the undead being should be entering momentarily. It was then, however, that things took an unexpected turn. The sound of metal feet whump whumping down the carpeted hall was followed by the appearance of several skeletal type droids that Snake knew to be tasteless shock-inducing wanna-be killers that failed horrendously on the last of those descriptors. The venomous creature’s forked tongue rubbed heavily against the ribbed top of his mouth as he remembered the last time he had split one of those spindly droids in half between his unhinged crushing jaws.


Klaxons began to blare and red lights bathed the corridors of the vessel in their candy bloodied glow. Automatically, the ship sent out notifications to all nearby transceivers alerting their holders to the fact that intruders were within a set proximity of the ship and security forces were moving to engage.


Snake was not pleased by this situation, his joy turned to disappointment. He hoped that the skeleton would be able to handle the spindly mechanized mass-murderers. If he could, maybe he would be a half-way worthy challenger. If not, why would Snake even bother?




The answer saddened and excited Snake. Even if the skeletal being was no match for him, Snake knew that Nok Morliss needed the bony being alive for whatever machinations he had.


With an angry hiss of rage, Snake’s head, enshrouded in a bubble of Force-based energy slammed into the ventilation grate, sending it clattering to the ground. The clatter lost amongst the blaring klaxons and the heavy thudding of coils as they fell one by one from the hole in the vent to the carpeted floor.


Raising his head upwards, Snake’s tongue lashed the air as his blinkingless eyes scanned the acid yellow air seeping into the ship,


All he would have to do is follow the droids. Follow them and stop them.

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”Petty not I want talisman do your. No Sith am mere or Jedi I. A ancient way of am follower I the Je’daii. Petty could to hope . . .


And there, mid thought, Frond paused. What was the use? Why explain himself to this petty weak mind? The crystal the blind Sithling held before him like a talisman caught Frond’s attention as the clear jewel pierced through the yellow air. Through the stillness of the air, Frond could feel the painful calling as it echoed forth. The invisible cries form his vision, one of those echoed forth from this nondescript stone held in the hand of the very worm that he had come to liberate it from.


As he felt the call of the lost soul ensnared within the crystal, Frond’s peaceful soul was stirred. Even as his saber ached for the cleaving of flesh and bone, Frond’s heart of hearts twisted. In his peaceful calm, a new urge emerged. He had come here with the intention of liberating the light that was being oppressed, it was the Jedi way; but as he had just admitted, Frond was no Jedi. The Force had called him forth from his peaceful meditations not to protect those who could not protect themselves. The Force had called him out unto the mythical plane his soul’s prison now existed on to serve The Force itself. He was to return the balance. The Force too had granted him the very saber held in his hands, cleaved from his very wooden form. The Force had called him and prepared him. Frond was confident. He was a servant of The Force and he would follow The Force’s direction.


Even now, Frond was calm and in control. He could feel the energy of his saber as it pulsated in his hands. The dark desires clashing with the calm he had learned as he had sprouted forth and grown into the mighty timber that now stood planted atop Garn’s dead soil. As the darkness and light flashed and crashed, red tendrils of energy crackled up and down the golden yellow beam of sunlight radiating from Frond’s hands.


The time had come. Words were of no value here. Knowledge was what Frond had gained over the course of his lifetime. That knowledge had begotten wisdom and in that wisdom was The Force. The Force had orchestrated all things to plant the aged Neti here before this eyeless legged lizard and to place into his hands not Frond’s means of salvation, but The Force’s means of pruning the excess that had overgrown its potted bounds in this world.


”It The Force wills.”


He breathed to himself as his wooden expressionless face hardened with determination. The will of The Force and the desires of the crystals within his saber were not merging into one, for that would require that they were separate. No, this weapon was the will of The Force and by it; Frond would carry forth The Force’s will upon any that thought that they knew better than that of ultimate truth. Frond was the hand of judgment The Force had brought forth upon this plane.


And in that moment, as The Force’s guidance swirled about his calm centered core, Frond knew exactly what must be done. With absolute certainty, the Neti took one massive step forward, his rooted feet splayed out in the dust, sending plumes of death and ash billowing upwards as he struck. The blade of seemingly molten sunlight drove forwards. It ignored the crystal, the entourage, the strange sense of death coated in the light, and plunged towards Frond’s target; the very soul of the worm before him.


The Force had willed it.



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The feeling that ran up Nok's spine and tingled in the back of his skull was a familiar one. It was an itch he'd felt before every blow Master Rakha had rained down had rattled his brain. At the time Nok had thought it was dread anticipation. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was the Force.


As the tree stepped forward, the crystal dropped from Nok's fingers. He dodged to the side, the blade sizzling in his ear as it cut the air where he'd been standing a moment ago. The thrust hadn't been one of the graceful, precise motions of Master Rakha or Mistress Kida, but that reach! That tree's blade could have felled a forest glade with a step or two. Nok couldn't outrun it, and unfortunately it didn't seem to have a speed issue. It would skewer him if he made the wrong move.


Huh...so this is what it's like to be the short one.


"Fire fire FIRE!" he screamed, though he didn't need to. This certainly counted as "threatened."


Nok's own hand snatched out his sporting blaster from inside his robes as he backpedaled. Hopefully the tree would be distracted by the droids, even if he doubted their blasters would kill something like this. As he squeezed off shot after shot, not bothering to do more than aim at the center of the blurry mass of his opponent, his droids followed suit.


"Idiot! You're an idiot! You came here to kill me? Someone not high on their 'ancient ways' would have attacked my ship and then bombarded me from orbit instead of this pathetic show of 'honor'. But you decide to fight me and my droids head on? Announce yourself? No wonder the Jedi are near extinct!"


At that moment, Nok's comlink beeped a very specific rhythm.


Intruder on the ship!? Kriff it all!!!


Nok kept his cool, running away from his droids and rounding towards the rear of the tree thing. Split his focus and then his body. Like a log. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised. You insecure sword-toting types are all the same, begging for a glorious death in the name of whatever cause you serve. You exist to be used and discarded by people like me! Let me show you!"


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Now having just entered the ship, Ficcabin glanced around and stopped. This room that could only be described as an observation suite, glowed with riches. Vibrant red carpets and curtains with gold and black trim barely revealing the outside world gave the room a distinct blue-blooded look. The fancy plates of silver that sat on the glossy kriin-wood tables, the soft couches of the finest materials, ranging from furs to synthetic fibers, the perfectly clean untainted glasses, the low small, but extravagant golden lights, the faceless edgeless statue in the corner; all of these spoke a roaring sound of aristocracy.


Someone is quite sure of himself Ficcabin chuckled to himself. Still, he couldn't help but admire and even be a little jealous of the extravagance of the ship. The contents of this room were more than what Ficcabin could earn in a lifetime as a pilot, or even in a governmental position on Yag'Dhul. Still, the colors made him a bit nervous. It reminded him of the slow oozing blood of a wound.


However, the danger of the situation cut Ficcabin's nervousness short. No doubt the battle droids were rushing up here. He looked around for a hiding place. He was half tempted to try to hide under the couches or behind the cooler in the corner, but he saw that next to the hallway door was another doorway. Expecting a closet, Ficcabin rushed in and pressed the keypad behind him. The sound of the door whishing shut was followed by a blaster shot at the control panel, rending the door locked and shut down. It would take a little bit of time for the droids to open it back up.


Having found a safe moment, Ficcabin turned his attention to the contents of the room. It wasn't a closet as he expected; it was a bedroom. The enormous bed of silk, complete with the same trim as the observation suite, made that clear enough. The floor had a darker shade of red to it, while the walls were decorated with woven tapestries of expressionism work. The ceiling had a chandelier, made especially small to fit the room. On a pedestal near a window sat a pristine, white, humanoid skull.


As Ficcabin stepped further in, he saw that on one wall were numerous shelves of assorted objects. Artistic shards of crystalline material intermingled with small objects of wood and metal. Ficcabin picked a spherical object up, turning it over. He recognized the worn markings of Jedi symbols. Was this person an eccentric collector or possibly a searcher like Ficcabin was on Illum?


Ficcabin put the object down and turned away. He looked at the skull on the other side of the room and shivered. It felt like the skull was looking at him, smiling at some unknown secret. One would think that a Givin would be used to seeing skeletons, but after the experience outside with the bones and fungus, the pristine whiteness of this skull felt out of place and wrong. Ficcabin couldn't help but start to walk over and turned it slightly.


However he stopped. Ficcabin noticed a control panel for the hologram projector set in with the chandelier. Turning it on, Ficcabin found that whoever used it last had set it to read some audio and began where it left off.


"The Order of the Terrible Glare seemed to had been destroyed by a mixture of orbital bombardment and ground troops, most likely led by the Jedi Order. However, evidence indicates that the plant life was already in the process of being changed before the destruction of the splinter group. It is unclear whether or not the world was changing naturally or as a result of what the Order of the Terrible Glare unique attempts at Force Manipulation, including those of binding souls...."


The Order of the Terrible Glare? A splinter group of the Jedi? Binding souls? Ficcabin wondered. It was at this moment he realized there was so much of the Jedi he didn't know about. Their history, their central beliefs and their moral codes were all unknown to him still. Ficcabin made a mental note to ask Frond about this later.


However, another question came to Ficcabin. What kind of person was this, to collect Jedi objects, to fly a luxury yacht to a dead world and to have research about the Order of the Terrible Glare?


Ficcabin tapped the control panel a few times. The room darkened as a holographic image formed around the now black chandelier. The planet Garn. Data came up alongside the image, reading what Ficcabin was hearing already. Ficcabin tapped a few times and pulled up the list of files on the ship's computer, looking for an indication of who exactly this ship belonged to.


One file caught his eye. A business report, entitled to a Nok Morliss. Ficcabin opened it up and almost whistled. Nok was a rich Nemodian. A very rich Nemodian. While Ficcabin didn't fully understand all the business expenditures and profits, he recognized a greedy tycoon when he saw one. Back on Yag'Dhul, Givins had a running joke for Nemodians.


A Nemodian is so greedy, he would sell you a bottle of air and ask for the bottle back. Ficcabin imagined his friends saying.


Still, there was a lot on his computer, too much for Ficcabin to go over at the moment. The droids were already beginning to bang on the doorway, as futile as it was. They would need to hotwire the ship's doorway itself, which would take time.


Ficcabin brought out his own data pad and connected it with the control panel. What he would do is try to copy some of the most important information, such as the report on Garn, the ship's flying codes and previous piloting destinations, and a small section of the business report. Perhaps with this information, Ficcabin could do some private investigating of this Nok.


However, three other files caught the young scientist's eye.


Jedi Meditations and Midi-chlorian Test were the first two he opened.


The first wasn't anything special, but Ficcabin couldn't help but admire. The holograph before him showed a robed individual practicing the very things Frond had shown, as well as some other techniques. This definitely was something to be copied into the data pad.


The test on the other hand interested Ficcabin's scientific brain. It appeared there was a direct correlation between these organisms and the force, from what the data was saying. Ficcabin wondered if this was something that he himself should test. Judging by the results, this Nok was a force sensitive, just like the young Givin.


Ficcabin added this file to be copied and finally opened the last file.


The Code of the Sith


It was a short file. Only a few lines long. However, as the hologram carved them out in the air like a bloody knife, the computer read these aloud.


"Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

The Force shall free me."


Ficcabin's hands shook. Something about all of this felt so wrong. What Frond had taught was knowledge and power, but through peacefulness and serenity. He knew the force as life and death. This code spoke of passion and broken chains. A code for violence.


A Nemodian, with a greedy appetite. A searcher of Jedi relics, but with a connection to the Force. And a follower of this Sith Code...


Ficcabin had to get off this cursed planet. His very being was screaming at him to get off this planet. He and Frond should not be here, on a planet of a dead Jedi sect who intended to bind a being's soul. No doubt, this Nok was the worm that Frond talked about.


And Frond went off to find him... Ficcabin coldly realized in horror. He looked at the skull on the pedestal. In his mind, Ficcabin swore it smiled at his fear for his friend.

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As Frond’s lightsaber buzzed through empty air, he heard the man’s voice cry out and felt the flow of the being’s emotions as they lashed against his own emanating core of unfathomable calmness. At that same moment, the robed being took off using his dodge to begin working around Frond. In that same instance, the accompanying group of battle droids opened fire. Before he could even bring his blade back from the extended stab he had attempted, his barky body was being pinged by red jets of blaster fire. Each bolt that did not fly wide, battle droids were not renowned for their accuracy, hissed and sizzled as they vanished into his body, burning through the bark and into the wood beneath. Each blast was an echo of pain that coursed along the sappy veins of Frond’s solid innards. One advantage, however, of his plantlike existence was the lack of any true organs; each cellulose contained cell, a completeness of Frond’s being strung out through his entire body.


Opening his mouth, the sound that emanated from the tree’s maw was nothing animalistic by any stretch of the imagination. The sound that echoed out, bouncing off the swirling fog, as it mingled at one with The Force, was one that could only be described as the groaning of a mighty ageless tree as it creaked, a long slow deep crack, right before it toppled to the ground in an empty forest. And in that moment, just before the inevitable crash that should have followed, Frond moved. He could feel around him with The Force. He could feel the emotionless droids, creations of blasphemy.

He was that crashing that followed the crack of the timber that emanated from his physical form; with him, came the crash. Swinging around, Frond’s saber tore through the empty air as his mind wrapped about the advancing droids, enveloping them in The Force as Sandy had taught him. He was no good at subtle manipulation, but subtle manipulation was not what Frond grasped for in The Force. Instead, all he knew was that The Force was his protection, his shield and his master; that shield was what he tried to force into the droids, an invisible wall of power arching out beyond the end of his saber towards each droid individually as he swung about in a single fluid motion as he swung about to meet the Neimoidian at what would have been his back; his saber arcing across the open air towards the just too close Sithling’s chest and outstretched gun arm.


Unlike the droids that he sought to send careening into a heap of crushed bits of metal and mangled blasters, Frond did not seek to use The Force to throw away his foe who he could feel in The Force. This was the dark worm of his vision and he would cleave him in two before this day closed.



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Just as Snake began to slither forth into the cesspit of a dead world following the droids, he was taken aback, when all but two of the droids turned and began to rush back inside. The great serpent did not like the droids, nor did he know if the droids would like him. With a flick of his tail, Snake whipped around. An advantage to being a single cord of muscle wrapped about conjoined spinal bones was his enhanced ability to change directions. His scaled hissing over the metal gangplank, Snake swished his entire body twice and vanished back into the elegant, overly warm vessel. In the entry, Snake coiled, his every muscle tensing and pushing in tandem, propelling him upwards into the air towards the jagged maw of a hole he had gnashed through the ventilation duct. Truly a fearsome sight to behold, a red eyed, fanged serpent, his dark blue scales glittering in the expensive light of the ship, before his upper body lanced into the darkness of the duct. His body quickly pulled the remainder of his body and tail upwards out of sight just as the droid’s made the entrance. He paid no attention though.




He felt it in his very core. His tongue lashed the constantly swirling air of the duct, tasting for the unknown. Bits of the atmosphere from outside that had not been scrubbed away, particles of food, tastes of Nok Morliss, his fear still palpable on the cells wafting in the air, and finally, a new scent, the scent of the skeletal being, It must be him!


Snake could taste the presence of the intruder, even as the new presence began to faintly swirl through the ship. Unrecognized by scrubbers, uninhibited by filters, the scent was not lost by the slit-nosed, slit-eyed, fork-tongued draconic wyrm that snaked through the ventilation system of the luxurious vessel. Even if he did not know what the force was, Snake did know that he was supreme, and that supremacy led him down the pitch black pathways, slotted occasionally by bits of light that splayed through grates where air entered and exited the shafts.


From time to time, the venomous serpent could hear the clanging of the droid’s feet out of sight. Another assurance of his supremely guided will. Within minutes, he found himself staring out of a vent, down upon another ornately decorated room. This one however was different in one key aspect. There, almost directly below him stood the skeletal being, pouring over a shimmering holoscreen; something Snake never understood or bothered with. It did not good in helping him rule. If it kept the undead creature placated for the moment, Snake was content to watch and wait. Nok Morliss would return soon and then, if he desired, would have his way with this strange being that he, the Nightmare of Kuat, had hunted and found. If the skeleton-man proved too much for Nok Morliss, Snake would happily destroy the being to ensure his continued quest to domination.


The very thoughts of engaging such a foreign and clearly powerful foe, made Snake’s entire body ache with a hungering desire of excitement; an excitement that caused his blood to pulse and the venom to flow freely. Watching from his hidden perch, Snake hungered to strike. His maw was open, his tongue testing the air, and a single drop of blackened venom pooled at the end of one of his fangs. Then it fell, dripping to the edge of the grate and tumbling downwards, a single perfectly spherical droplet before it splattered to the tabletop besides the holocomputer the skeleton was working on.



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The droids screamed in tinny, artificial wails as they collapsed to the ground, the sound nearly lost in the roar Nok could only assume came from the Jedi. The bellow sent goosebumps parading across Nok's skin.


Throw droids with its mind. Of course it can do that. Why not?


Nok grimaced, continuing to pump blasts into the creature as he circled, hoping to stay in the tree thing's blind spot. If it had a blind spot. He wasn't sure. But it did have reach.


The massive blade arced around, the hum clearly telling Nok where it was. He'd misjudged the length, and jerked back, but too late. Hissing, he dropped the smoldering, nearly bisected pistol, listening to the blade continue past, having just missed adding amputee to Nok's medical records. Small blessing, the Jedi didn't look nimble. Quick as palming a security ID, two of his vibroknives dropped out of his sleeves into his hands. He thumbed them on and let them fly at the blurry figure of the Jedi. Blasters might not kill this thing, but it might not appreciate two vibrating, hypersharp, 5 inches of durasteel lodged in its wood. Unfortunately, as indistinct as the saber wielder was to Nok's "emotion vision", he couldn't pick out any obvious weak spots.


Forget customs and immigration. I'm not leaving my ship without grenades from now on! Don't need to see for those!


...Actually, it was getting harder to see the tree at all. And the ground. And the walls...


...The slaves!


Nok looked, but he could see the wookiees were still scared, maybe more after the noise from the Jedi. More than that though, they were running away, their emanations of fear getting fainter and less distinct the farther they got. Wookiees could sprint.


"No!" Nok's anger flared, briefly making up for the lack of slave-powered terror showing him the ruins and his enemy. But it wasn't enough. As he saw them run, his anger began to fade, his clinical mind disregarding the "useless" emotion in favor of solving the problem.


The collars!


Nok reached for the remote...and stopped. He'd had the remote in his hand when he entered the ruined chamber, hadn't he? He'd had the crystal in the other hand. So...


When he'd reached for his gun, he'd dropped the remote.


The bottom fell out of Nok's stomach. The ruin was growing more indistinct by the second. He couldn't even see the remote on the ground, and even if he could it was on the other side of the Jedi. A Jedi who was now just a big blur to him.




...Why aren't I scared?



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Frond did not have to see his pulsating blade spark to a glowing red for the moment that it passed through the weapon of his foe. He did not even feel it as the hot plasma blade did its work. He knew, however, that he had destroyed the weapon. The Force had willed it to be so. Yet still, there stood the defiling worm, dancing about his own smashing swings, just waiting to be destroyed.


The black pock marks still smoldered on his body where his dark barky skin had been momentarily illuminated by the laser fire of both the droids and the wormy being before him. The pain radiated with a dull ache through Frond’s body, reminding him, despite his beliefs to the contrary, that he was alive, a mere mortal of a being. Still the bolts had not fell the mighty tree; they had sizzled against his thick heavy flesh, burning the wood and turning the edges of it to ash as the bolts were absorbed and extinguished within his dense sappy form.


But even in the moment as the blaster fire ceased, Frond knew, could sense, this battle was far from over. He did not know how or why such a puny worm could stand against him; but he took confidence in the fact that here, engaged in this holy combat, he was at the center of The Force’s will. So with the destruction-craving hunger of his blade and the pain that wafted through his very body and the emotions of the defiler before him all swirling about him, Frond still stood in his calm assuredness that he was right. In that rightness, he would triumph!


The pause of combat lasted mere fractions of a moment, as quicker than a flash of lightning, his foe launched a new volley of assaults. This time, however, it was not the seemingly ineffectual blaster bolts of the initial barrage. No, this time, Frond could hear the buzz of his foe’s weapons before he could even see them. They were whizzing and humming as they tumbled expertly through the air towards his heavy-set form. Even as he sensed the dead chunks of metal and electronics through the calmness of The Force, he had little choice but to try and turn himself from them so as to avoid their snaking their vibrating blades into his chest and neck. Instead, the two blades found their rest in his shoulder, as he swung about in reaction that was more animalistic than plant. Each sliced into his wooden flesh, cleaving grains and knots until their hilts brought them to stop with a dull duo of thuds against his barky flesh. Still then, he could feel the blades pulsing and vibrating within as they sought to; in their heartless, mindless, lifeless ways devour all that resisted them. It was almost the same desire that emanated from his pulsing sunlit blade, only smaller and less defined; but it was still clear to Frond that the weapons themselves had been immersed within the cravings of a dark mind for far too long, whether they had consciously been imbued with such desire or not.


The hunger of his own blade, though, sung louder. Its hum a constant reminder of the unchanging ways of The Force and the desires cellularly bound to the crystals contained within. They were tools of The Force, and much more so than any man-made weapon of singular planar fantasy could ever be.


Using his momentous swing to dodge the blades and even their dull thudding collisions with his form to his advantage, Frond spun about completely, his body twisting like that of a tree that grew alone upon the wind swept Khoonda plains of Dantooine. Even as doing so brought more of his inner punky wooden flesh into contact with the tirelessly hungering vibroblades, the pain only served to focus Frond even more. The pain did not feed him, but the pain that resonated from his body fed the desires of his weapon to cleave and destroy and brought Frond’s already focused mind into a single pointed focus. He would fulfill the desires of The Force. He would destroy this dark worm before him.


With the momentum of his own body carrying him in a spinning circle and the unwavering assuredness in The Force’s divine guidance, Frond released the lengthy hilt of his saber with the hand of his injured arm, leaping into the air as he reached out even further with the blade held in one hand and slashed wildly at the green face and red robes of the defiler.


”Your free follies me you let.”



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As Ficcabin stared a bit longer at this 'Sith Code', he barely heard the slight splat of a liquid hitting the tabletop beside him. He looked down, slightly started at how a black spot had appeared on the table. Ever the scientist, Ficcabin bent down to examine it closely, careful not to touch it. He couldn't make it out what exactly it was, but had the membrane not sealed his nasal senses, he would have sworn it smelled of death.


Ficcabin felt a chill overflow him again. It was the same as outside. Even as new to the Force as he was, he felt a twisted coldness around him. He could only compare it to the feeling of being watched by something primal; a slight numbing tingle at the back of the neck that slowly worked its way down to the legs, dancing lightly at the stomach. Something both similar and vastly different to what he felt at the Font of Power. There the presence was a dominating, overwhelming presence of dominance at the Font. Here it was subtler, like that of a creature who lived its whole life hunting in the darkness. The Wookies of Kashyyyk had a description for it. It felt like when a predator was reading to strike.


Ficcabin had to get out now.


The date now downloaded, Ficcabin retrieved his data pad. The droids banged on the door again, shouting for Ficcabin's surrender. That way was not possible for him now, especially since he had sealed the door. Looking about the room, Ficcabin silently wondered if the owner had the idea to put in a secret escape hatch or something similar.


Let's see, hatch, hatch, maybe a hatch... Ficcabin thought as he looked under the bed and in the closet full of extravagant clothing. After a few moments he cursed himself for sealing the door behind him. He should have tried to led the droids on a wild goose chase or something.


Ficcabin stopped. Perhaps he still could...


Back at the computer, Ficcabin began to type madly. The droids had stopped banging. Ficcabin was sure that they were now attempting to hot wire the door directly. After a few commands, the ship began to emit several klaxon sounds, issuing a warning, specifically one of a fire. Ficcabin couldn't help but smile as a few rooms, including the one outside and one near the entrance, began to emit a fire suppressant and the air vents kicked into high gear. The droids outside screamed slightly in surprise and no doubt began to investigate where the fires were supposedly occurring.


Ficcabin figured he gave himself about 5 more minutes.


Still, those curtains will be ruined no dou... Ficcabin snapped his fingers. That's it!


Ficcabin pulled the curtains in the room aside and praised the prime numbers. The window let in a yellow light from outside onto Ficcabin's face. He had a way and a few minutes. He could blast the window, but no doubt such a material would be blaster proof and too solid for him to break by hand. Perhaps there was a release lever or something...


After a few moments Ficcabin cursed out loud and banged the wall. Normally the manufactures of these luxury liners, Sorosuub, would have an access panel that could be removed by hand, where a release valve to the window would be. Instead this custom liner had it sealed over, only accessible by a droid or with the proper tools. Even the ship's computer wouldn't have access to such a manual system. And given that the owner was a greedy Nemodian, he probably always had a droid with him, including his room. There was no way the young Givin could get at it without the proper tools.


Ficcabin sighed in frustration. This was hopeless. He knew he was doomed to fail here. Soon the droids would return, hotwire the door and kill the scientist. He racked himself over the head a few times, cursing being so stupid.


Ficcabin sat on the floor and looked at the wall. Absentmindedly he slipped his hands into his pockets, and felt the cooling presence of the crystal. The young scientist pulled and stared at it for a moment. Its questioning presence comforted him for a moment, before letting his brain pose a few thoughts.


What would it take to remove the panel? Several hours or a droid input controller. What if he didn't have to pull the panel out? Was there a way to access it? No, it didn't seem likely.


What about with the Force?


Ficcabin looked up. That was an idea. He had moved the crystal earlier without touching it. He knew how the Sorosuub designed their levers. It was just a question of whether he had to see it or not.


Still, he had very few other options.


Ficcabin closed his eyes and internally began to count. As the prime numbers formed in his head, he began to allow the peaceful presence of the force to flow over him, but it was different this time. There was something else there. That chilling presence of a predator, ever so subtle. It troubled Ficcabin, but he ignored it for now. The presence of his crystal was stronger. It overwhelmed the other presence to Ficcabin. The serenity soon began to overtake Ficcabin, to the point that he almost forgot his intention.


Still, he knew what to do. The peacefulness began to open his mind's eye. Beyond the plate he could visualize the wires, the gears, the seal between the glass and the metal. Ficcabin's mind traced the seal, following it down, finding the place where some more metal met the seal. Soon, a lever began to form in his mind. Ficcabin's physical hand gripped tightly into a fist and began to lift up. When nothing happened, Ficcabin wasn't surprised. Last time with Frond he had failed to move the crystal multiple times. It stood to reason that he wouldn't succeed at first.


Again... Ficcabin said, refocusing himself. The crystal in his palm glowed slightly. Ficcabin's mind began to imagine the picture more accurately. The smoothness of the metal. The solidity of the metals mixed into an alloy. The way the gear could slide in one direction. Ficcabin's mind took a sharp breath of pain then refocused as the lever suddenly turned. The glass before him made a loud clunk noise as it was moved out of place and fell forward outside.


Ficcabin opened his eyes as the fog began to sweep in. Ficcabin didn't even look back as he climbed out, attached his towline to the exterior of the ship, climbed down, depowered the towline, and ran off into the fog at full sprint. There was a certain panic in his movements. For as he had focused and pulled the lever, he had a flash of an image of the thing that sat above him in the vents. A predator of primal intent.

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It's not dying. It's coming for me. I can't kill it.


...I'm going to die.


The thought felt dull and muted. Like knocking on a door wrapped in cotton. What should have been sharp and clear was muffled and indistinct.


I'm not afraid. Why? He considered the situation distractedly as the tree jedi turned towards him, fading away with every step of the fleeing slaves.


I should be afraid. But I'm not. Not since...since the serpent.


When it bit me, it scarred me. It flooded me. All the fear I've struggled to keep back got let out in that one burst dam, and I felt it all. I blocked it up, walled it tighter than ever. It's what I wanted. I've wanted to stop being afraid.



(Three years ago)


Nok swung at the vanishing Mistress Rill, gritting his teeth as the noghri disappeared into the mazelike corridors. He tore after her, but she was gone before he'd rounded the corner. Nok stopped to get his bearings, to plan.


She laughed at him, a low chuckle that echoed off the walls of the old, rusted mining complex.




Nok sprinted after the laughter. She wouldn't get away ag-


A sharp pain to his face, and he was on the ground, cheek pressed into the grating.


"Care to tell me what you did wrong?"


"I let you hit me."


"...You let your anger dominate you."


"I can't get angry?" Nok spat in disgust at both the instruction and the blood in his mouth.


"No, by all means get angry. Let it push you. But don't let it control you." Mistress Rill sighed. "You're not a warrior, or some special forces commando. You'll never have control over your emotions in a fight. Let me finish!" She smacked him, cutting him off before he could retort. "So the choice is what emotion you listen to in a fight."


"And what emotion should that be?"


"Fear, Mr. Morliss. Fear."


"You want me to be afraid?!" Nok sputtered.


"Yes. Fear makes you cautious. Fear makes you think. Fear focuses you! Anger might push you, but fear is a survival instinct, and you want to survive! It's why you hired me. People always go on about never being afraid, or conquering their fear, but they're idiots. Temper your fear with thought, and you might have something to learn from me. But be afraid Morliss. Always be afraid."






I could have run. I didn't have to fight this thing. I could have blasted this thing from orbit if I'd run to my ship after the droids attacked. Maybe it would have run me down, but then the fight would have been on a ground of my choosing. But I didn't, because I'm not afraid.


I'm a fool. I didn't join the Sith to stop being afraid.


I joined the Sith for power.


Nok reached into his mind, and brushed against the iron cocoon blocking his fear, pulsing just beneath the surface of his thoughts, a pressure he'd ignored. Before him, the tree crouched.


He pushed on the barrier.


Nothing happened. Nok pressed against it harder. He thought of everything that had terrified him since he was a grub. He imagined nearly dying to the howlrunners. He pictured Snake tearing into him as his last sight. He imagined the commando who'd nearly left him a corpse in a field. He remembered the raw terror that had shot through him when he'd brushed Akheron's form in the Force. Nothing.


Oh for the love of...What do I have to do?! The tree leapt into the air, saber ready to split Nok, and yet he felt no fear.


Is there something I need to say? A kriffing passcode!? Dead in-









"GAAAAA!" Every centimeter of his skin was on fire and frozen! His eyes bulged, his mouth clenched, and his gut churned.


Nok was afraid.


He could sense the end now, the vision he'd had, but now he felt it with clarity. It was his death. A fate that waited for everything. It was the sum of a million variable equations, all adding up to the same null value. A million potential paths, all leading to the same pit. It was the knowledge every sentient being repressed. It was mortality, but where others hid from just the abstract concept, Nok experienced the reality of it constantly! It intruded on his dreams, it rode his thoughts, it consumed him inch by inch. He was going to die. And that terrified him.


Around him, the Force roiled. Not the petty, animal fears of the wookiees. Nok's pure, crystallized terror was a depth charge in the ocean, and the Force boiled where it touched him.


And Nok could see. Not just shapes, but textures. Nok could sense the tiny pebbles that quivered as the Force moved around his singularity of fear. He could sense the two knives in his sleeves. And he could sense the tree. It stood before him in exquisite detail, falling through the air in slow motion, letting him pick out every wood grain, every scratch, every vein in every leaf. Nok saw the tree jedi in its entirety. He even saw its face.


I'm going to die...but I'm going to fight!


Nok leapt back, the blade barely missing him, slicing the hem of his robe. He lifted his arms, barely understanding, the terror driving out any rational thought beyond threat and survival. He felt the Force curl around the knives in his sleeves. In particular, around the knife Mistress Rill had given him after he'd defeated the howlrunners. It was familiar, even through the Force. The Force was like a cybernetic hand he'd just installed, clumsy and unfamiliar, but the hilt of that knife was a part of him. He'd bled for it, bled on it, and had bled his enemies with it. That knife had been sacramented by him a hundredfold. It was his, and that was truth.


Like pulling strings


Nok touched the knife with the Force, and let himself unspool.


The knife tore through the hidden sheath, through the sleeve, and tore straight at the tree jedi with the force of a slug thrower, the point aimed dead center at its face.



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Snake recoiled as his drop of venom splattered on the table, his candy red eyes glowing in the dark of the ventilation shaft as he retreated so as to shroud himself in the warm drafting currents of darkness. There, he could still see some of the room. It was not like the skeletal being could escape as it was. He was watching and the being had apparently sealed himself in against Nok Morliss’ pitiful mechanized terrors.


Suddenly, the dull roar of emergency alerts began to echo throughout the ship and down the ventilation shaft that Snake’s massive corded form was hidden in. A sudden gust of warm air roared into and around the serpent for a moment until the howling ventilation system that was pumping suppressant to the supposedly enflamed areas closed off their inner hinged doors to direct the suppressant and to prevent the spread of any potential flames through the shafts. Then, suddenly, the air was completely still, and Snake’s opaque eyelids were able to flick back to reveal his glowing eyes once more.


Below, it appeared that the skeletal being was more intelligent than first suggested as he somehow managed to send the window crashing to the surface below, allowing the yellowish fog to begin wafting inwards into the room with the ventilation system unable to compensate as it was otherwise distracted.


As his prey scurried out the window, Snake’s anger surged, NO! You will not escape me! his wordless thoughts screeched as he lunged forward, forcing the vent upend and crashing his entire 15 foot form to the carpeted floor below, crushing the computer and desk that had been beneath the vent beneath his hulking muscled coils.


Surging forward, the serpent chased after the quickly escaping limbed being, his head carrying him through the open window as his muscled body lowered him as far down as he could before dropping the rest of the way to the surface, sending up plumed of spores and dust. But that did not stop him, as soon as he was on the ground; his belly was twisting and winding its way through the sands, surging forward in a powerful burst of speed that came from eons of evolution to be able to outpace most running prey. Within moments, he could see the form of the robe skeleton ahead of him, dimly visible through the haze of yellow all around them.


He pressed onwards still, all sense of stealth gone as his body hissed against the sand and bits of jutting bones, sending pops and bursts of spores into the air. When he was close enough, the thickly blue glinting scaled terror slowed minusculy so he could collectively compile himself before launching his form into the air in a single surging airborne strike, his maw open, fangs bared, hunger and hatred radiating from his body.


You shall not escape me! His mind called forth on the silent waves of the force in wordless emotions, Surrender or I will destroy your pitiful form!



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