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Coruscant - Galactic Throne


Exodus
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Anan shook his head with a slight grin. "None at all. A magnificent presentation, which also goes to show why the Sith prefer hiring contractors such as yourself to handle infrastructure needs. My people will be in touch with your people to negotiate the legalese of the final contract and to authorize funding. Of course, you understand that the Sith hold domain over everything they consider to be their property, and while your structures exist on their worlds and you manage them, they are their property. This means that you will be protected, but also potentially subject to their whim. Then again, they also tend to ignore things that fly under their radar, so I'm sure there's nothing to worry about."

Anansi pursed his lips a bit, turning away, mulling over whether or not he'd continue with the next part. After a few seconds however, he decided it would be necessary and spoke up once more.

"I do have a private concern. You see, a large part of my background involves working rather successfully as a defense attorney. I've worked with all kinds of people, but criminals especially. I have noticed your familial ties, and I must ask...this will not come back to be a blight upon my better judgement, will it? While I fail to see any potential significant risks for the Sith in these plans, it does not meant they don't exist, and I'd rather our relationship didn't end in, well...unpleasantness."

Anan read him closely while saying all this, especially the end, looking for any tell on the man's face. At this point Tuulah would have felt some tension and trepidation coming from Anan, but only in the slightest amounts. This was high risk sabaac, winner take all, and one needed nerves of steel.

"And given your occupation, one final request for a custom droid for myself, though it's more of a personal order and I'm sure you have people to handle those things."

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Kane was not surprised to hear mention of his father, having fielded such concerns many times before.

"It is a perfectly reasonable concern. My Father betrayed everyone he ever knew, myself included. And though I was raised almost entirely by my Mother, I retain his name as my own. You can rest assured that I do not follow his footsteps, and my business is entirely legitimate. My father would break the law to take what he wanted. Me, I know that it is much more efficient to use the law to take I want. No matter where you go, the law exists to benefit the wealthiest and most cunning. In business, as in life, the strong dominate the weak."

Tuulah took a step forward, adding a clarification.

"We have dominated many weaker businessmen to achieve our position--Much as the Sith have conquered inferior forces to achieve theirs. But we have done so playing by the rules that they themselves set, on both galactic and planetary scales, because at the end of the day, having the Law protecting your wealth is vastly preferable to having the Law trying to take it back. As such we are very transparent about our dealings, and are prepared to let you review our ledgers should you want to verify the legitimacy of the Wartide corporation yourself."

Kane nodded in agreement, adding "The name Wartide is just a bit of calculated marketing, nothing more or less. Evoking the menace that was Ronin Wartide makes for good branding when it comes to guns."

Kane took out his Datacomm and made a few taps on his screen to transmit an encrypted message to the datapad Tuulah had given Anansi.

"You have just been given the private channel for our droid R&D team. Specify what sort of droid you're looking for, and I will personally ensure that your needs are met. Our team is extremely capable, and I am sure we will be able to exceed your expectations."

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For the first time that day, or rather, for a while, Anansi smiled. A genuine smile. Tuulah would feel mostly satisfaction emanating from the Chiss, but mixed with just a touch of intrigue. Almost as if the Chiss were excited at the prospect of being interested in something again. He held out his hand across the desk, offering to shake Kane's hand

"You surprise me, Mr. Wartide. In a good way, of course. Keep in mind though that I do not share the Sith's outlook that everything is an obstacle to overcome or destroy, so no need to trump up your business acumen. But as someone who has dealt with the law their entire life, it certainly is refreshing to hear someone in your position understand how important it is to use the law to one's advantage rather than attempting to bypass it entirely. I think you and I are going to have a long and...interesting relationship."

Once the discussion concluded and Kane made his closing remarks, Anansi pressed a button on his datapad, summoning the trooper escort back into the room to allow them to leave at their leisure.

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"Likewise." Kane said with a thin smile, taking Anansi's hand for a firm shake.

"I think you and I are going to get along famously. You have my comm frequency, I will be anticipating your contact when you're ready to begin. For now, I must go oversee preparations. Good day, sir. "

Kane made a slight bow, then turned and signaled his droid to follow him as he left the conference room. Once Tuulah and Kane were safely on their shuttle Tuulah offered her reassurance.

"That went well. I think we sincerely convinced him." She said.

Kane grinned, wiggling his fingers before starting up the prelaunch sequence.

"Oh yes. I think so too. I had a low bar for success coming here. Any interaction with the Sith Empire where we don't get thrown in prison or murdered is a resounding success to me. I was expecting them to say 'No thanks, the Sith like the radiation.' But no, he was quite a bit more agreeable than I would have expected out of the Empire."

 

The shuttle took off and exited the hangar, heading outside of the planet's gravity shadow through the mess of space debris.

"We're gonna save this world and we're going to make a fortune doing it. It's not often you get to look like a savior while raking in mountains of Credits. Usually you get one or the other, not both. Our greatest deal has just begun." Kane Mused, then kicked on the hyperdrive and disappeared into space.

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After Kane departed, Anansi began working on getting the ball rolling. For many contractors that worked with the Sith, that usually meant weeks of red tape as the proper paperwork moved through the burgeoning bureaucracy that had sprung up to necessitate the governmental proceedings of the Sith Empire. Every level of that treatment also tended to take their pound of flesh from the transaction, as the Sith valued greed. Greed was something that could be controlled. But at the level the Sith had brought Anan in at, he had the authority to direct public funds directly from a preexisting budget.

 

Within a couple hours, Kane began to receive several messages putting him in contact with important people across the Sith Empire, as well as giving him control over a fat spending account to invest as he saw fit. And boys and girls reading at home, governmental sized spending accounts are the best kind of all. 

And the best part? It was completely legal. Simply because the Sith said it was.

Back in his office, Anan began to brew a fresh cup of tea as he found among his things the contact information Kane had given him to requisition a custom droid. The funds he could divert from an expense account meant for elites among the Sith, a small group had tried to disguise it as a committee slush fund, but Anan already had dirt on a majority of the committee to include the chair based on information he'd acquired from various sources among his contacts. He needed a bodyguard, some muscle to back up his keen mental prowess. He'd come this far, and in the big leagues opponents didn't play nice, especially among the Sith. But now he didn't need to worry as the voice on the other end of his comm picked up the line.

"Yes...I was given this contact by a Mr. Kane Wartide who said I would be able to acquire a...customized droid. Yes, I might need to require a secure line to discuss the details. No, money is no object."

He was beginning to enjoy his new position.

Edited by Ary the Grey

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 A message came in to Anansi.

 Be advised, construction fleet inbound. Alert Sith fleet of non-hostile intent. Anticipated Arrival in 16 hours.

 When the specified time struck, ships started jumping out of hyperspace at such a rate that, at a glance, one might have mistaken it for the rebel fleet. It was a heterogeneous fleet from many different worlds: Zeltros, Yag'Dhul, Csilla, Firefist, Omwat, Neimoidia, Hypori, Devaron and more. They came from all directions and continued to appear for hours, each stopping at the far edge of the system and transmitting clearance to the Sith fleet before approaching the planet. The largest of the ships were specialized hauling transports that carried massive repulsor platforms up to a kilometer in length. Paths through the debris field had to be cut with laser canons to even approach the planet without incurring damage to oversized payloads.

 After entering the atmosphere, the repulsor platforms took up a position in low orbit, stabilizing on their own power before the hauling ships that brought them detached and retreated from the Coruscant airspace. Nearly a hundred platforms began to coalesce as engineering teams set about the careful task of linking them together with extendable bridges and tractor beams. Eventually the seemingly random shapes combined to form one massive island, floating untethered in the sky and onto it landed a vast numbers of ships carrying stores of building materials, components and droids.

 Kane emerged from a shuttle, surrounded on both sizes by an Omwati and Given. They stared at their datacomms as they feverishly discuss logistics and tracked the progress for several minutes before splitting in different directions to oversee their individual tasks. Kane took a few moments to look out over the platform with barely contained glee. The broad empty platform didn't look like much but a giant landing platform at the moment, but for him it was a beautiful canvas upon which he could already envision his masterpiece taking shape. Raising the datacomm to the side of his head he resumed his communications with the construction teams. He navigated ships with open cargo ports, noting K0 droids and Protocol droids filing out in absurd numbers before scattering to begin their tasks. H4 Astromech orbs flocked about like migratory birds, sweeping down on different areas to perform jobs and then swarming to the next.

 Meanwhile on the surface the ships that didn't land on the platform washed over the planet, dropping off P0 droids with tectonic survey equipment at strategic points to scan the land. H4 droids dropped out of the back of moving ships like rain, scattering through the ruins to gather data about every building for the purpose of constructing a precise image of the the conditions on the ground. Their task was massive, and though the surface droids grew to number in the millions, it would take them weeks to complete their survey.
 

 In space work was beginning as well, automated drone haulers going about the laborious task of synchronizing velocity with space debris so that they could safely capture it piece by piece. Their focus was on clearing a path to get interstellar traffic through without having worry as much about getting dashed upon the rocks, yet even that seemingly manageable goal would take constant effort for a long time to accomplish

 Kane took a seat in a temporary command center that had been erected while the Midnight office building underwent construction, tracking progress on a variety of screens and holograms as he continued his perpetual meeting via comm.

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Anansi sent Kane back a quick thank you, forwarding the relevant information to various Sith officers throughout the forces assembled at Coruscant. One thing Anan had to say for the Sith, they were brutally efficient. In many other governments or corporations it would be difficult to begin finding the information of who to contact, but the Sith streamlined that process as much as possible. Many of the narcissistic types the Sith attracted had difficulty working together anyways, so it made sense for certain other efficiencies to counteract those tendencies.

 

Compiling most of the information over the course of the next few hours, Anan developed and sent a report on progress to the Dark Lord. Lord Exodus should be relatively pleased with the business arrangement Kane had brought to the table, though the timetables had yet to prove themselves. Still, with all the movement on the construction side of things that Kane had certainly begun to make good on, it was absolutely an impressive start.

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The last few data points from the tectonic survey rolled in, prompting a Geologist, male Besalisk, to join the holo conference.

"Hoh der', yeh foundation is all mucked up. 'At aint up to code. Yeh gonna need to fix 'at before we can start constructin' on it." He said, hiking up his pants. Kane sighed, motioning for him to wait while he got Anansi in the conference.

Kane observed the hologram of the planet peel back a layer, revealing a layout of the planet's tectonic plates, the same image appeared in Anansi's office. One of the plates had been shifted dramatically by Hesperidium's impact. "Yuh, 'at's a big problem. Yah see ow' is folded up along the next one over? Yuuuuuge Earthquake waitin' to happun. We gotta fix 'at first."

Kane cut off the Besalisk's audio to speak directly to Anansi.

"We had anticipated this issue with the planets tectonic plates. What we'll need to do is deploy baradium charges. Unfortunately, they will need to be deployed from the surface via drill, and my security teams are ill equipped to handle possible hostile activity without the risk of getting wiped out and leaving baradium charges in the hands of savage underdwellers.  I have some specialized drilling equipment earmarked for the task, but I'm going to need the Sith to oversee the deployment. I'm sending you the coordinates for the detonators, along with a ship full of drills. Once all the charges are in place, you'll need to have the Sith evacuate the surface over that plate. It's going to cause an earthquake, but doing so will relieve the pressure and make it safe to build on."

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Anan suppressed letting out a large sigh at the news as he listened to the conference call, wanting to remain professional. He was a little irritated Kane wanted to use more of the resources of the Sith than they had agreed to, but he also made a very important point: this was a larger operation that required a bit of military muscle and precision. Not to mention, the Sith actually valued their contractors. Part of their ruthless efficiency included wanting the best man for every job, doubly true with civilians contracted for specific functions. At that moment, there was nobody who could match Kane's drive and intellect when it came to a massive undertaking such as this one, which made him and his men especially valuable, not trifles to be lost to the savages and other hazards on the surface. Of course, Anansi would also never tell Kane this explicitly...such was simply the nature of barter and bargaining.

"Very well. My people will be in touch with you in the next few hours to update you with a timeline of operations once they get back to me."

Anansi went to close the call, but hesitated as a thought hit him, and he continued. "Do me a favor, however, prepare a private observation deck. This kind of thing doesn't exactly happen often, and I'd imagine it'd be visible from orbit. I think selling tickets to specific high-paying clientele for something they could likely only expect to see once in their lives might help offset our costs here a bit. Reserve ten for me, to include one for myself. Perhaps we can take care of two birds with one stone here."

Without explaining himself further, Anan hung up the call with a slight smile. It was high time he began using his position for what he intended. The next person he reached out to was the operations officer onboard the Scarab, notifying him to start planning for the large operation involving the evacuation of the area as well as combat engineers to place the baradium charges precisely. They would reach out to Kane themselves, and execute the plan per his request. The wheels were already in motion, and they would certainly continue turning for a bit without Anan's watchful red eyes.

Next, however, he contacted his man in Sith intelligence. There were four special operations he needed to happen immediately. Though Anansi had never seen them in person, he'd done his homework, and knew that Sith special forces were above and beyond capable of getting the job done that he needed them to. For nearly an hour afterwards he sat at his desk, staring at four pictures on his terminal, memorizing every detail. One of them knew about his son, or at least something that could lead him to his son's murderer, and what better occasion than with a bang and fireworks to get started on on this great endeavor. Fitting that this part of his journey would begin with a momentous occasion, because it would all end with tears and agony until the man he hunted felt every last bit of horror he'd exercised upon Canan'ans'iitthral's family.

Edited by Ary the Grey

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Kane observed the formation of the Baradium teams from feeds sent by a series of H4 Droids that had been packaged along side the warheads. He felt satisfied that the situation was under control. A message came in on his holomonitor from one of many protocol droids tasked with acting as construction foremen.

"I have a progress report. The Refineries are operational, and we have already begun to receive shipments of recyclables from the surface. We should have raw materials ready by the end of the day. Weapons factories are at 25.2% Completion, on schedule. The Shipyard is at 12.7% completion, ahead of schedule. Droid Factories are at 64% Completion, some production lines are starting preliminary tests. Midnight Spire Is at 40% completion, with your new office ready for your use."

Kane stood up from his desk.

"Excellent. I'll be relocating immediately. Notify the crews."

Kane walked out the temporary command station, K0 construction droids tromping up and surrounding it. In moments after clearing the doorway the walls were torn down and swarms of H4 ball droids were picking it clean of equipment. A speeder pulled up in front of him, opening its door automatically for Kane to enter. An H4 docked inside whistled a greeting, then shut the door and began to lift off. The building he had just left had already vanished, its pieces being dragged off by dozens of droids.

Flying above, he could see shuttles full of debris lining up to dump material in the south. The city below was absolutely crawling with droids, with shuttles still landing and leaving more behind. The landscape was a jungle of bare building frames, lit welding sparks and shadowed by plumes of smoke. Things were shaping up quickly. Soon his speeder closed in on the tallest structure in the city, a massive spire in the skyhook's center. It was mostly covered in transparasteel windows now, with hints of the internal structure peeking out from the edges.

 

The speeder touched down on an isolated landing pad at the top of the tower, letting Kane off and flying away almost immediately after he stepped foot on its surface. Once he had cleared the doorway a large blast door sealed behind him and the platform itself collapsed and folded into the building. Inside he found his office, sparsely furnished but outfitted with an array of holoprojectors and cameras from which he could continue supervising the progress of his city's construction. He sat down in big black nerf leather chair which stood lonely in the massive room with only a nearby desk and the Holo equipment in it. Kane slotted his datacomm into a port on the surface of the desk, prompting the holograms to kick on and bring up his data feed from the project. He resumed group communication with the many supervisors overseeing various parts of the construction, silencing most of them temporarily while he contacted his press secretary.

"Get ready to transmit to holonet. It's time for my keynote presentation."

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Hours later, Anan got the message that the special operations teams had successfully secured their objectives. He had no doubt they would, the targets were nobody special in their societies, they had no extra protections, they had no idea that someone like Anansi would even remotely be interested in them. The element of surprise was a beautiful thing, and Anansi knew how to use it expertly on those who were caught in his spider's web and didn't even know it. Everything was proceeding according to plan.

Anan began reviewing the progress of the evacuation as he walked towards the shuttle bay, noting several reports of hostile entities or other people who were unwilling to be evacuated. Some were deemed higher priority and were forced by squads of stormtroopers to evacuate, while others were simply left to their own fate. Most of the affected areas were seeing evacuation with no resistance, however, many of them being people just trying to survive who were unable to secure evacuation when Hesperidium struck and the Mandalorians attacked. Those people were more than thankful to see the Sith offer aid and shelter, but at that point they would have taken any port in their personal storms.

Meanwhile, all but two of the combat engineer teams had finished drilling to the designated points and were in the process of setting up the baradium charges. The two that had lagged behind had hit pockets of denser bedrock and required extra time to see their sites up and running. It took only a few swipes of his datapad to transmit that information to Kane, notifying him of an expected delay of around thirty minutes to an hour.

As Anansi's shuttle departed the Scarab, he made a point to stop working and watch out the viewport. Space travel was one of the few things he had experienced very few times in his youth, and it always filled him with a small sense of thrill to marvel at the technology that allowed them to traverse vast distances of absolute vacuum. The stars, the beauty of the now diminished orbital debris field, every minute detail caught in his gaze added to the wonder. And yet, this was all simply another part of the plan. Coruscant represented an opportunity, and he couldn't allow his personal feelings to get in the way. He knew the playbooks of past clients very well, and it was high time he began taking pages for himself.

He issued more instructions to the special operations teams, but as the shuttle neared Coruscant it was ordered to take up a high geosynchrounous orbit above the still-in-construction Midnight City. Kane's people had not relayed that the observation deck Anansi had requested was ready, so he would wait in a makeshift one until then.

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Kane concluded recording his presentation for Holonet, and informed his press secretary that it should be presented as though it was live while the remaining details of the keynote were filled out. Looking over his progress reports, he noted that the observation platform that Anansi had requested was completed, and docked right outside the door. He had relevant data transmitted to Anan, then pulled his datacomm from the port on his desk and took off to board it. He wasn't terribly enthusiastic about the prospect of schmoozing when there was so much work to do, but he couldn't pass on an opportunity to make more business contacts.

The observation deck was a large repulsor platform, notable for its thick transparent floor. Already aboard were several of Kane's most trusted advisors, including his lawyer Tuulah. An Omwati and a Given were conversing in the corner near a large catering table covered in hors d'oeuvres. Nearby, a bartender droid cleans glasses while awaiting an order.

Kane signaled for the platform to ascend and it immediately disconnected from the Midnight Corporation Spire, ascending rapidly ant taking up position high above the continent that was to undergo the tectonic shift. Anansi's shuttle appeared in the distance, and was given the signal to dock on the platform.

Kane glanced down at the planet from the rather dizzying view beneath his feat. Tuulah joined him with a Martini in each hand, handing one to Kane.

"Should be a good show right?" Tuulah asked before sipping her drink.

"Perhaps" Kane muttered, still staring down through the transparasteel floor. "Assuming Anansi's associates aren't susceptible to vertigo."

Kane closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "Lets just go ahead and dim that until it starts."

Kane walked to the edge of the room as the clear floor turned black, breathing a small sigh of relief. Ever since is father's demise he had been leery of extreme heights.

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Boris Threl. Arrug'il Mo'tiki. Fringo Reeds. Desdemona Foucault. Four people with histories that almost never touched, who had no idea why they had won some sweepstakes to come witness the reopening of Coruscant. They likely also had no idea who Anansi was, and why he was present on the observation deck, watching them closely as they entered along with all the other guests. They were all professional speeder drivers at one point, and Anansi had narrowed it down to one of these four having been the one to deliver his son to his death.

Anan walked over near Kane, fidgeting with his datapad. "This is absolutely a marvelous setup, you should be proud of this crowning achievement you've reached by securing funding from the Sith. It's set to make you a very rich man. Funny, isn't it, how the threads of fate wave so, why if you'd never had this raw ambition, then we never would have met."

The last sentence almost didn't seem to be for Kane, as Anansi watched the four guests as one by one they read a message he had just sent them. Looks of shock and panic followed by paranoid gazes. It was simple, really, he'd simply taken someone they each loved, until they decided to give him the information he needed. A wife, a niece, a son, a father. Each of the abducted family members was on a live feed broadcast discreetly to the new holocomms they had received prior to the party. Each of the abducted family members were in stasis chambers, with a readout behind the chamber that listed the location being aboard a shuttlecraft on the surface of Coruscant, directly in the danger zone for what was about to happen. If they sent the anonymous kidnapper the information he wanted about who they were working for during a specific time frame, they would be set free.

Three of the four panicked, as expected. The fourth, Fringo, simply stared at the live feed for a long time before sending a message, but not to Anansi's anonymized contact listing. Anansi watched as each typed to each other, having backdoored his own software onto their holocomms to enact a man-in-the-middle attack on the communication.

}> Fring_R: I've got a problem. Someone knows. They have my son.
}> 3nnrJ6: Who is this?
}> Fring_R: Reeds. The Nar Shaddaa job.

}> 3nnrJ6: ...

}> 3nnrJ6: This is unauthorized contact over an unsecure line. The penalty for misappropriation of emergency lines is at least excommunication, and at most termination.
}> Fring_R: This IS an emergency, spast it, they have my SON.

}> 3nnrJ6: The penalty for misappropriation of emergency lines is at least excommunication, and at most termination.
}> Fring_R: AREN'T YOU LISTENING? I've worked for you lot for too long not to be owed this!
}> 3nnrJ6: ...

}> 3nnrJ6: Very well. Things will be taken care of. Your son is in no real danger. Say nothing. Meet at your designated rally point Epsilon when able.

So. It was Reeds. Anansi had already strongly suspected him, but had no real proof until now. The other three had their feeds shifted, swiveling to look out the main viewport in each of the shuttles, showing the real location as being in orbit above Coruscant. One by one, each of his other guests breathed a sigh of relief. Fringo's son was also in orbit in a similar manner, but Anansi wanted to watch the man stew. At the least, at the outset of things, it was the first twist of the dagger Anansi had planned.

Smiling slightly, Canan'ans'iitthral turned back to Kane. "You think it's about time we got the main event started? No rush, of course."
 

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Kane eyed Anansi's guests suspiciously, sizing them up. He Tapped a button on his glasses to scan their faces and find records on them. His mouth curled with disappointment.

"Not a useful one among them. The 'High Paying Clientele' all appear to be... well... not even wealthy enough to afford tonight's bar tab." Kane whispered to Tuulah, slinging back his martini.

"They're also terrified out of their wits. I'm not sure what Anansi's doing to them but... They all seem to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown." Tuulah replied back. Her empathic senses were clearly making this a rather miserable party for her as well. Her drink had already been destroyed

 

Kane went over to the bartender and instructed him to keep the good hooch sealed, grabbing another round for himself and his lawyer. He was not in the habit of asking questions about situations like this. He knew better than to stick his nose too deep into Sith Business, but he could glean a bit of what was happening even without trying. When Anansi asked him to start the main event, Kane eager to oblige.

"Yes, lets get this over with." Kane agreed, grabbing a spoon and tapping his glass. "Attention everyone. Today is a momentous occasion, for today we take the first major step toward bringing too life to this dead world. Coruscant is damaged, nearly irreparably so. Its very foundations have been twisted by the failures of those who came before us. But tonight, we will begin the arduous process of correcting the wrong that has been done here. And quite entertainingly, we will do so with a show of force."

Kane gestured to have the floor made transparent again, no doubt startling the guests as it suddenly appeared as though they were floating high above the planet.

"On your mark, Anansi."

Kane drifted toward the back of the room, trying to keep his eyes up to avoid vertigo, but listening for Anansi to call in the detonation. As badly as it made him dizzy to look down, he still didn't want to miss the event.

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Anansi nodded, sending a quick message to the engineer teams on the surface, and a 30 second countdown timer overlaid over several nearby screens. Frankly, he was unconcerned in monitoring his "guests" further, he already had what he needed. 

As the timer reached zero, several white-hot blasts visible from orbit uniformly detonated down the fault line at the same time, followed immediately by an enormous line of dust cloud as the entire tectonic plate shifted almost visibly. As the dust started clearing, the celebration continued, drinks were poured, the floor returned to a comfortably opaque state, and a few cheers came from the assembled crowd. Anansi turned to Kane, a satisfied look on his face.

"This marks a new era of growth for the Sith Empire and its citizens. You should be proud. I am retiring back to my quarters for the time being, but If you wish to use the opportunity to rub elbows with the financial elite I understand. Please bill all charges to my office under the construction costs."

With a slight nod to Kane and his lawyer, Anansi turned smartly, exiting the party without fanfare. He had a different game to play. Fringo Reeds was about to become an interesting node in his woven web.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The observation platform descended back to Midnight City, the guests departing without incident. Kane also retired for the evening, his enthusiasm for continuing the celebration dulled by a rapidly worsening migraine. He ended up in his penthouse in the Midnight City Spire, a seemingly lavish penthouse connected to, and in a similar state to his office: constructed but virtually unfurnished. He closed the curtains on his his half constructed city and went to sleep. Tomorrow would be an even bigger day.

When Kane awoke the next day, he opened his curtains to view an entirely different skyline. Gone were bare girders and empty window frames, and in their place was a fully formed metropolis. He sleepily smirked at the accomplishment, rubbing his eyes. It was Dark now, as it would be in perpetuity. Now that the city had begun its continuous orbit over the surface of Coruscant, taking a constant position on a part of the globe where the the local time was Midnight, never to see the light of the nearby star again.

The traffic around Midnight was already swarming with ships, a constant stream of aircraft flowing in and out. Businesses were starting to move into their newly constructed shops, bringing in merchandise and equipment for virtually every conceivable product or service one could ask for. Huge haulers were bringing salvage from the surface and atmosphere to deposit at the forgeworks. This material was likewise flowing out of the city at a breakneck pace, freshly recycled durasteel, transparasteel and permacrete being shipped to construction sites all over the planet.

Now that the foundation of Coruscant was repaired, the wreckage was being scraped down to the planet's long forgotten surface. Construction of a new planetary irrigation system had become the top priority. Unlike the previous system, which involved central irrigation hubs at the poles, the new systems would be distributed along the surface at numerous locations. They would work in series to transport water all across the ecumenopolis, and were fitted with extremely powerful filtration systems to begin to separate the toxic waste and radiation from the largely contaminated groundwater. Moving upward from those surface level facilities and stretching to what would in the future be the highest spires of the city, were gigantic atmospheric scrubbers, which would take in the planets air and filter it in much the same way, producing clean air to sustain its inhabitants. These facilities would also be able to control the planet's weather patterns entirely. Once completed, it would still take many months of constant operation before the pollution reached a completely safe level, and so getting these online was the highest priority.

Built adjacent to these elaborate climate control systems were elaborate hydroponic and aeroponic gardens. Built with the planet's historical dependence on other worlds for survival in mind, these gigantic greenhouse spires were designed to be able to sustain a massive population with produce grown with the freshly cleaned air and water. Combined with the slum housing that would start to crop up on the lowest levels of the city, Kane believed that these installations would calm the unrest among the wastelanders on the surface faster than anything the the Imperial army could accomplish. At minimum, it would be almost as effective as decimating their population with a massive earthquake had been.

Kane continued to watch out his window as the City began to pass near Ground Zero. Midnight began lockdown procedures, deploying atmospheric shields and shepherding the organics to interior spaces. The atmosphere was growing thin, and for a few hours it wouldn't be safe to be outside without an EVA suit. In the distance he could see the still the unfathomably huge smoldering crater from where the moon had impacted. It served as a reminder of the work ahead of him and a personal challenge to show just how much he could change this world. The stars were growing brighter as the sky itself grew thinner, and the floating sea of stones became faintly visible high above.

"Alright, back to work..."

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Capitalism!

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  • 1 month later...

The droid-controlled, cargo vessel existed hyperspace, and re-oriented for entry into Coruscant’s atmosphere.  After obtaining landing coordinates from Coruscant Traffic Control, the droid pilot did as instructed.  The craft landed with barely a jolt.

 

“Wow, droids really are decent pilots.” Temana commented.  “I barely felt anything at all.”

 

As the airlock hissed open to allow the dock inspectors in to verify the manifest, Temana and BD-D edged around the hull of the cargo bay towards the doors.  In a hurry to get out, Temana almost walked directly into one guard at the exit hatch.

 

“That was kriffing close!” he thought to himself.  “DeeDee, how are we going to get past this guy?”  The droid warbled a quiet, noncommittal reply.  “Yeah, he would see you no matter which direction you went.”

 

Temana thought that if he could just get the guard to go with the inspectors for even just a few minutes, he could get out, and down the connecting walkway without being seen.  But how?  “Go away.  They’re calling you.  Can’t you hear them?”  he thought.  Nothing.  In frustration, he pounded his fist onto the hull before even thinking about it.  The guard turned in his direction, causing Temana to crouch down silently cursing his stupidity.  “It was nothing.  You didn’t hear anything.  They’re calling you, damnit!  THEY’RE CALLING YOU!”

 

Suddenly, the guard turned back towards the inner cargo area.  “Jas, did you call me?  What do you need?  Jas?  Jas…?”  When the guard got no answer, he turned and walked farther into the cargo hold.  Knowing this was his only chance, Temana ran out the doorway, scooping up BD-D on his way out.  He was 4 blocks away before he slowed and ran into the nearest alleyway.

 

“We did it, DeeDee!  We made it!” he said joyously to the droid.

 

He looked upwards to the dizzying heights of the skyline before bringing his gaze down the alleyway.  About twenty meters away, a group of beings appeared to be in mid-robbery of a building.  One of them was pointing in his direction.

 

“You gotta be kidding me!” he said as he turned back into the main thoroughfare being chased by six thugs.

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  • 9 months later...

The elderly man shook his head, drawing the last of the smoke from the glass piping of the deathstick. The patron next to him at the long bartop silently counted down the seconds before he exhaled before he continued his story. 

 

“You see that? They went after bloody Falleen, what did they even do to upset the Empire that much? They bombarded the kriffing city.” 

 

His eyes flicked up to the scantily dressed girl who was pouring another long shot of bourbon. She gave him a reproving frown. And turned to the next customer, her long thin finger slipping up to cover her lips as a silent warning. 

 

“What do you say man? We are looking for more guys, you said you were a vet…”

 

The dour looking human nodded and tossed the stick into the bartops trash receptacle. He briefly considered taking another one from his jackets pocket but left the case where it was. He was trying to cut back after all, and one needed a relatively clear mind for a conversation like this. 

 

“I served. Thirty-third ordnance disposal. Imperial Remnant Marines. Forcibly retired when my homeworld was burned to the kriffing ground.”

 

The other man could not hide his grin.

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NPCs for boardwides and small stories on request

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  • 11 months later...

A small fleet of shuttles broke away from the singular surviving pirating Sith cultists’ massive gun-bristling warship as it hung high up in the noxious thin atmosphere of the devastated once-galactic capital. At their lead, the Eternus cut a sharp shadow against the sky. aboard, the undead form of Inmortos sat at the helm, an unusual spot for the god-king to take; but these were unusual times.

 

Crowded aboard his usually desolate craft, were a strike team of linworms, alive . . .

 

. . . and breathing.

 

It was a courtesy to Lord Akheron. These were his men, for now, and the Sith Lord had been most accommodating to the Necromancer’s mysterious ways; even if both he and his apprentice had been struck down against their opponents upon the surface of Nar Shaddaa. It was only the Baptism of Blood that had kept them from being destroyed outright. The fact that Inmortos had to himself descend to the planet to pull his two comrades to safety was a sickening sacrifice to these mortal inadequacies. Yet, now, here they were, descending into the most dangerous area of the devastated planet.
 

Whispers from beyond the grave, dark messages spoken about in hushed tones to those with the knowledge and power to listen. From Naboo to Falleen, Lehon to Coruscant itself, lost secrets taken to the grave were given new life in Inmortos’ ear. It was only fitting that the brain-oozing body sent to him by Solus contained just enough to tie things together, to carry them here. It was unfortunate that their fleet had to pay the price for a shadowy ruse. Maybe some day, Inmortos would return to reclaim what remained of his fallen crew.

 

In the dark shadows of the crater, the fleet of shuttles touched down. Plumes of cracked and compacted dust billowed into the air only to be engulfed in a fireball as flames shot forth from a variety of fissures in the rubble-strewn ground.

 

Sensors were red-lined, heat and toxins were at lethal levels. Only time would tell if the heat would drop to a more acceptable level before flames erupted again roasting anyone too close.

 

With the press of a button, the landing ramp descended to the baked battered earth. Heat rushed up to meet him like a foul wind, tearing at robes and melting the flesh that still hung from his skeletal form. Inmortos paused, extending his arms wide as he was washed over by not just the destructive power that still radiated from this place, but by the sheer amounts of death that hung in the burnt air. Elsewhere, the planet might be slowly rebuilding, ruled in fear by Mandalorian warlords; but not here. Here, death and destruction still reigned as gods. Inhaling deeply, Inmortos allowed the fiery air to crisp his lungs in painful glory. The voices and secrets of the dead coalescing into one, somewhere near this place. 

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A separate shuttle pod landed on the baked ground of Corescant, sending pieces of dried and cooked particles everywhere. With the landing ramp extended, and the door opened, Solus was the first individual to exit onto the planet. 

 

Solus made strides forward, his legs much better controlled then earlier. It seemed the time spent between his reawakening and arrival on Coruscant was enough to become acquainted with his newest chassis. It’s flat feet were deceptively sturdy and quick, and with his spindly arms longer in comparison to his legs, Solus appeared strange to say the least. 

 

Still, as a shard with a droid body, he didn’t seem to mind the heat or the thin layer of oxygen. But it didn’t escape his notice. 

 

“It is strange…” Solus commented to anyone who would listen while glancing at the necromancer who’s very flesh was melting. “I never realized how I don’t feel what you beings feel. The heat, or the lack of it… my previous chassis never could feel those. But I know that it feels like something. It’s just… strange”

 

Solus looked away and focused on the Impossible Geometries. After a moment, he turned to his master. 

 

“And here I believed that Naboo’s destruction was bad. But here, the Dark Side is still swirling. And the death’s happened at least four years ago. Fascinating to say the least, wouldn’t you agree wax man?”

 

“...wax man?” Solus echo came out, followed by a mocking laughter aimed at the necromancer. Despite all the troubles the Sith had gone through, it seemed the Shard still had some kind of twisted humor. 
 

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Akheron adjusted the sealed protective suit he had since placed over his robes, as best he was able. His mask was the only component exposed, as he had elected to use the in-built breather. He did somewhat Envy Solus and Inmortos for being able to last without such a need for such equipment to stay breathing like himself and the Linnorms with them. The air in the crater proving toxic to those not prepared.

 

Yet he could also feel the death, pain and suffering of the long dead. A Wound of the Force created from the destruction wrought of the moon crashing down near this spot, he heard his apprentice and answered in reply to his fascination.

 

 "As I told you on Naboo my apprentice, Wounds of the Force, especially those created from the Darkness are long lasting and never truly fade. Such a Wound leaves a mark that cannot be undone, no matter how hard the Jedi might try. Such a place becomes as a Nexus of the Dark energy the Fanged God provides, a fulcrum that can be used to our advantage or any of sufficient skill in the Dark arts. A Master or Dark Lord. Such a Nexus or Wound have been known to last millennia such is the case of Malachor V which suffered a similar fate as this desolate place. Come, let us go deeper...I feel something. 

 

Something string in the Darkness below. But what the source is I do not yet know. Perhaps this is why Krath Inmortos brought us here, to seek yet another Dark treasure. Perhaps one that could be just as rewarding as previous. We shall see, however remain cautious even then, such treasures are likely well guarded."

 

Just as he was about to move, he noted a group of three who were not part of their group or the Linnorms, approaching over the top of the crater. 

 

Tourists it looked like and a local hillbilly guide. A old looking local human who had survived the moon's fall and been taking extreme travellers for a fair price to see the crater for the last few years. But never had he expected to see the group below or know the danger he was now in. Knowing they might draw unwanted suspicion, Akheron signalled to Solus to dispose of the guide himself and the female beside him. Akheron would deal with the other two himself.

 

Focusing within the Darkness, Akheron proceeded to loosen the area they were standing upon, sending a bald male tumbling into a lava vent, frying him almost in a instant as his suit caught aflame and the red hot fire spread up his body. His screams only made Akheron want more. The other he pulled towards himself before impaling the unfortunate young adult from Kuat upon his lightsaber, allowing the tourists to know the truth of what faced them. That the Sith were here and they were as nothing to them. Nothing but another sacrifice to the Fanged and and the Darkness. Another fallen to the might of the Sith.

 

 

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"The universe started in darkness at a time when light didn't exist, and that is how it will end. Chaos and suffering is what brings us together. In chaos a man or woman will show who he or she really is and in suffering they will speak the truth. We are darkness incarnate, we are the evil. This cannot be denied, even by me. But without us there is no redemption, passion or order." - Darth Akheron

 

I survived the Great JNet Outage of 2012

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Fivefang listened.

 

Fivefang was good at listening. Its why Fivefang had found prey before the others did when it was a whelp. That had made it strong. And now that Fivefang was strong, it could make others of its kind do what it wanted, like give Fivefang first pick at the food. That made it stronger. Now Fivefang could kill any other who challenged it. Now Fivefang could have territory, and only the biggest and the strongest of its kind had territory.

 

Fivefang had the best territory.

 

Fivefang had the Silent Place as territory. This made Fivefang best of all.

 

But somewhere deep in its primordial, hungry, savage brain, Fivefang understood. Fivefang was strong...because Fivefang knew how to listen.

 

Fivefang had listened to prey. It listened to them walk the tunnels. It listened to them scavenge on the surface. It listened to them scream "Cthon!" when they saw Fivefang and others of its kind. It listened to the sounds of their weapons, to the clicks and hisses that sent death through the air to kill Fivefang's kind. It listened to their screams as Fivefang and its kind ate the dead and their attackers alike.

 

And it listened to the Silent Place.

 

The Silent Place made it hungry. The Silent Place made it angry. The Silent Place made it kill.

 

Fivefang wasn't in the Silent Place right now. It was in a pipe. Outside, everything was hot. Other Cthon had died, screaming and melting, when the hot metal dropped on them. But this pipe was safe. The heat couldn't get in. And by listening, Fivefang could hear the prey walking over a dozen meters above his head. They walked in the crater, where death had come from the sky. That death had shaken the world. Tunnels had fallen apart. Heat killed many. But the Silent Place was safe. The Silent Place had saved them. And now the Silent Place was protected by Fivefang, so that it would continue to protect the Cthon. But the Silent Place needed food. The Silent Place needed death.

 

That's why Fivefang was listening.

 

He heard the soft, barely audible scrabble of other Cthon creeping up behind him. Fivefang turned and hissed, and the smaller Cthon backed away from where they clung to the pipe's sides. Then Fivefang chittered, and they understood.

 

New prey was above. It would come down.

 

Set traps. Take prey.

 

Feed the Silent Place.

 

The others scuttled off into the darkness, chittering and tapping the metal as they did. The message would spread. Other Cthon would come.

 

Fivefang would please the Silent Place today.

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Hundreds of feet below, the remains of an ancient chemical warehouse groaned as the supports imperceptibly shifted. The nearby Cthon skittered away, frightened. The warehouse hadn't made a sound in their lifetimes.

 

At the center, a vaguely humanoid shape covered in carbonite jutted up out of the wreckage and the carefully arranged piles of bones and skulls of a thousand species.

 

Inside, a mind began to stir. Not fully awake, but lost in timeless dreams.

 

Inside, she sensed something approach.

 

She called out.

 

"...Here..."

 

The Dark Side rippled, like a pebble dropped in a pond.

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Wax man . . . 

 

Inmortos left the words to hang in the heavy air without retort. They were words of a tortured soul, one uniformed of the ways of the galaxy. And why should he not be tortured? Did he not throw his life needlessly in the funeral pyre of the self-proclaimed dark lord on Nar Shaddaa alongside his master? And for what? Fortune and glory? A brief moment of recognition? Such a waste of good substance. Such ignorance, if only the saber crystal might kowtow before the god-king himself, perhaps he could receive truth and knowledge unfettered.

 

Meanwhile, the stone’s master, his handler, found joy in sending fool hearty adventurers to their death. For what reason? To exude one’s sense of power over those weaker and unworthy? Such a worthless sacrifice to none but one’s own vain glory. Such a death wasted the power of the life. Retrieving a crystalline vail from his belt, Inmortos held it aloft to view the contents, a half white milky substance that crystallized within against the heat outside. He canted it towards the burning sacrifices of Akheron and unstoppered the flask, dark deep words rumbling from his parched frozen lips to call the souls of those worthlessly thrown away to him; to ensnare that of them which was eternal for his own devices. Regarding the new as it mingled with the spilled of Nar Shaddaa and Aaris III, a smile teisted across the morphing features of the necro-shade. Satisfied, he stoppered the vial and replaced it.

 

”Very fascinating.” He finally responded to the droid-Sith’s musing. “But nothing like the devastations we wrought upon Aaris III. Sacrifices for a cause, to harness absolute power from beyond. Not this, the mere machinations of chaos and destruction for temporary enjoyment. Remember this young crystal; waste not. Want not.”

 

Scanning the devastated crater with its noxious gases and fissured pathways, the necromancer gestured his fellow Sith Lord. They had already wasted enough time on the surface. To dally further would result in more unneeded deaths, including their own. “Lord Akheron, that which we seek is beyond the surface. A dark presence beckons us onwards. Unleash your blade and lead the decent into the abyss, the tenth layer of the Corellian Hells. The blood of the damned cries out to me from beyond the grave.” The words the necromancer spoke were true, mostly. It was not the damned of Coruscant that spoke to him, their blood long since boiled to ash. It was the whispers of the dead from dozens of worlds giving up their grave-held secrets. Somewhere here, unearthed by the cataclysmic chaos of a fellow Sith, was a presence barely whispered about in shadowy crevices of society. Beasts that preyed upon the weak and foolhearty, guarding a prize that could survive even the collapse of a world civilization sandwiched by a exploding moon. And so, he bid Lord Akheron to proceed first, his linnorms a worthy sacrifice for whatever dark beast lay below. A chance to attain that violent glory all warriors seemed to crave. The prize that lay beyond drew the necromancer like the pooling blood of a freshly slain battlefield. Whatever sacrifices were made upon the way, so they too might be welcomed into the god-king’s harem of dark purgatory.

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The order to to dispose of the locals was a welcome one. Even as Akheron took care of his share, Solus charged into action. Momentum carried him too quickly however, and at one point he fell forwards. A cry of startlement started to escape his voice box when suddenly he adjusted. His arms went forward and caught grip with the ground. His leg joints bent almost unnaturally far, farther then any organic kneecap would allow.  

 

Solus, a piece of cobbled together machinery, skitterred along the ground almost like some kind of rapid insect. Somewhere between instict and thought, the Shard maneuvered his body with rapid movements, crawling and dashing wildly. His neck twisted slightly, giving him a better view of his targets. The guide looked horrified. The woman had already broken into a mad sprint for safety from the horrifying thing. 

 

The guide was the first to die. Solus didn’t waste time with his blade. The guide’s back was turned, and made it easy for Solus to right himself onto his feet, leap forward, and stab through the chest cavity. Blood stuck his rusty arm like sticky grease. 

 

The woman was much farther away. Solus sighed and reached out with the bloody arm and focused. This place, with all the darkness and death, made the Impossible Geometries sluggish and murky. The woman’s bright, pulsating shapes were simple to pinpoint. A reach through the shapes. A wrapping of anger and envy around the woman’s shapes. She fell forwards, and screamed as she was dragged back to where the shard was. 

 

If Solus could have, he would have grinned. He needed this. He needed some catharsis after his defeat on Nar Shaddaa, even if it was just a helpless innocent. 

Now, the woman was at his feet. With one foot planted firmly on the back, Solus reached down and plunged one of his gripping hands into her eye. True, he didn’t have his scomp link, but he had learned that he needed to think outside the box with such matters. Surely he could drain the information he wanted without that crude instrument, even above the woman’s screamings of pain and agony. 

 

Solus came back to the group, this time on two legs instead of four. 

 

“It seems that there have been disappearances here…” Solus commented. As he spoke, he shook his head slightly, as if sorting through a variety of images on a datapad. “People here have been vanishing. People wander here to see the crater, and never come back. That woman hired the guide to find a loved one. And I felt something…”

 

Solus stopped. He looked at the necromancer then back at Akheron. “I think we all felt it. There’s something powerful here. Something…. Grand. Ooh ho ho, master I feel excited. I haven’t felt something like this since my ascension. Or when you took me as your apprentice. Something powerful beckons. Perhaps the Fanged God brought us here for something more then what we expected. 

 

“Master, may I search ahead? I have developed far more than what I was in Naboo’s waters. Let me prove myself to both of you and explore a path.”   

 

"A path..."

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As his apprentice finished off the interlopers, he felt a presence, one born of Darkness call out to them. One that felt ancient, timeless and unrelenting, yet dormant and awaiting a awakening. A spark to ignite the fire. But from just who or what it came from he did not yet know, he thought perhaps the necromancer might know. Most likely he did. 

 

He would soon see just what it was they sought. Another weapon perhaps for the Sith to wield and let them become stronger. He spoke, musing at Inmortos assertion, laughing at his description. To think that this was the same as the Realm of Chaos. He had been there...had seen it with his own eyes several times, the veil beyond death could not be described. At least not properly, he found it was more than just fire, more than ice. He found it to be both. A place where for every soul there was no rest, tortured constantly and forced to fight for survival against the wraith's who never rested, wraith's that when they caught you left a scarred the soul and left it's mark ever more. 

 

 "Amusing that you think this describes the Realm Of Chaos, Kraft Inmortos. There is no comparison, believe me. I have seen it many times, witnessed its horrors and suffered first-hand at the wraith's of the damned that forever torment that place. In Death I found new meaning and purpose upon my rebirth by serving the Fanged God. It is both fire and ice I have found, fuelled by the rage and vengeance of those who refuse to submit, and the souls of those lost to build its structures. A place where there is no sleep, where your suffering and that of those around you are is endless. Only the strongest survive, those with the will to break through all seven gates.

 

But I can see why you may make such a comparison, and I can feel it too. Someone or something calls to us from below. We shall soon see if that is for good or ill."

 

 By the tone of his voice, it was clear he spoke from experience and was relaying his personal incite into what he had witnessed. he wondered what his apprentice thought of it even as he spoke from truth, one that spoke of having walked the path of the dead and returned. Turning to Solus, he spoke more.

 

 "We shall see, proceed my apprentice but be on your guard. Where there is lack of light, use your other senses. Use the Darkness to illuminate the way, to lead you through and bring fear to any who resist and block our approach."

 

With that he motioned for Solus to advance ahead of them, scouting a path. And in a way acting as bait to draw out those who might be in wait...he knew his apprentice likely guesses as much himself or hoped so. But he was trained for these situations, to adapt. Focusing his senses, especially his hearing...already naturally highly attuned and further improving upon it via the Force, Akheron listened, even as he looked ahead into the dark of the hole before them, a abyss into which they walking.

 

Igniting his lightsaber, he lit the path in front of him while staying behind his apprentice. Letting him go further ahead.

 

Edited by Karys Narat iv-Adas
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"The universe started in darkness at a time when light didn't exist, and that is how it will end. Chaos and suffering is what brings us together. In chaos a man or woman will show who he or she really is and in suffering they will speak the truth. We are darkness incarnate, we are the evil. This cannot be denied, even by me. But without us there is no redemption, passion or order." - Darth Akheron

 

I survived the Great JNet Outage of 2012

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Solus nodded at his master words and gave the necromancer a glance. “I’ll try to not go too far ahead for your sake man of wax. We’d hate to lose our latest initiate into Clan Bragsanu

 

With that, and a slight chuckle, Solus made his way towards the nearest entrance. 

 

The tunnel, if it could be called that, was tight and claustrophobic to say the least. More than once did Solus have to bend his body to fit forward. Embers and pieces of melting debris littered the tunnels, giving the briefest sparks of light that Solus utilized to see. But sight was not his main sense of perception. 

 

Solus almost chuckled to himself, now using all four limbs for locomotion. This was invigorating. Perhaps it was a carryover from those bystander deaths, but the dark and the tight spaces made him almost joyful. He was being put to a test. He was pausing every now and then, a spindly silhouette of a being, only his yellow sensors betraying his position. Audio sensors listened for the slightest noise. A fall of some debris. A scuttle of miniscule life. A gust of heated gas. Anything. 

 

And then there was the Impossible Geometries. Solus almost shuddered when he thought back to the depths of Naboo. Back then, he was eager to prove himself, but also in a rush. And he paid the price. He had gotten swallowed whole by that thing, that Colo Claw Fish. If it wasn’t for Master Akheron, he would still be in there. No no no, Solus shook his head slightly. He would not make that mistake again. Every so often, he would pause and conjure his envy, and send it out into the Impossible Geometries. Like a piece of Sonar Technology, Solus would not be sur-

 

Solus stopped. The tunnel branched off ahead. The right resulted in a dead end, but the left appeared to open into a cavern. But that wasn’t what made him stop. There was something there. The shapes there revealed life. Life? In this lifeless place? True, the heat had dropped considerably, but still. And the darkness…the shapes there were doing something odd. There was something there, calling him. 

 

Solus focused backwards. He had made a considerable distance between his master and the necromancer. Should he go back? Or should he continue onwards, and see what this was?

 

Curiosity won out. He would not be surprised, and so far there were no dangers to the others. He would report something to his master and the necromancer. So he took the trail to the left and followed it downwards, not realizing that the force, in all of its twisted darkness, had subjected the Shard to a hallucination of its own. The path on the right did not end in a dead end. Even as the Shard moved, the earth churned and the path on the left sealed itself up silently without notice, as if it was never there to begin with. 

 

True, both paths led to the same destination, but the journey would be wildly different. Such was the way in the darkness. 

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On 5/22/2022 at 3:46 PM, Solus said:

Curiosity won out. He would not be surprised, and so far there were no dangers to the others. He would report something to his master and the necromancer. So he took the trail to the left and followed it downwards, not realizing that the force, in all of its twisted darkness, had subjected the Shard to a hallucination of its own. The path on the right did not end in a dead end. Even as the Shard moved, the earth churned and the path on the left sealed itself up silently without notice, as if it was never there to begin with. 

 

True, both paths led to the same destination, but the journey would be wildly different. Such was the way in the darkness. 

 

The Dark Side of the Force, cultivated in this place by centuries of sacrifice and pain, was now bloated with the death brought by the moonfall. As the Shard descended, something in its spirit touched the Dark Side and resonated with it. And an echo answered...

 

____________________

 

The chamber that Solus entered was dark and indistinct, even to the precise and cold electronic sensors of its droid chassis. But slowly, it began to come into focus.

 

Solus was in a cave. There had been no point where the metal scrap or the fetid gunk had changed to stone, but now the Shard was surrounded by natural stone, every square foot embedded with glowing crystals.

 

Ahead, the stone of what had once been a cave wall had been cut away, revealing a morbid workshop. Shelves were lined with containers holding preserved creatures from across the galaxy, and some that would have been unrecognizable anywhere but a horror holovid. Desks piled with scrap and droid parts, arranged neatly side by side to the point where they threatened to topple onto the floor, were scattered to the corners of the room. And at the center, cables hung from the ceiling, suspending something large and humanoid.

 

Solus was home.

 

The thing hanging from the ceiling, however, was not his droid chassis.

 

It was a man.

 

Or rather, something like a man. Scarred and stitched in hundreds of places, cables piercing muscle and bone to hold him up, jagged spikes unevenly growing along its arms and legs, it was a grotesque caricature of a monster. Yellow teeth ran in multiple, asymmetrical rows along its jaw, and its wide, dead eyes were clouded sickly yellow with streaks of blood red.

 

Standing over the corpse(?) was a humanoid. Their violet skin marked them out as umbaran, and the clinical way their hands dug through the innards of the thing's open torso spoke of medical skill. Their black robes marked them as something darker than any taxidermist or surgeon.

 

The figure turned. It was a woman. Her features were impossible to grasp. Like a fuzzy memory in real time. But the feeling she evoked was real. A feeling of powerful familiarity.

 

She smiled, something between a mother's warmth and a predator's snarl.

 

"Hello son.

 

Do you know who I am?"

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Akheron proceeded after his apprentice, following close behind, at least until the path he was heading down sealed up and it appeared there was no way to open it again. It was almost as if they were being lead...guided to a certain location deep in the depths. Indeed, as he walked further strange events started to take place as shapes that were not there before, sounds and objects came from nowhere. 

 

As if to tempt or try and confuse him. But the Sith Warrior was not easily fooled, at first he fell for the illusions and begun to hallucinate images of his dead father brought back to life as a undead walking corpse, still sporting the lightsaber cuts he had made when he had been forced to end him. Other images were of the victims who's lives he had ended in his long life as a Sith. All desired to claw their way and try and bury him down  here but he persisted.

 

Initially he attempted to use his lightsaber, striking at the phantom spectre of his past. But finding he could not harm them, instead passing through, Akheron then knew what it was that he saw before his eyes. Illusions. He recalled another time when he had fallen for such tricks of the Force, the experience had taught a valuable lesson. Closing his eyes briefly, he focused within the Darkness of the Force, provided by the Fanged God to attempt to clear his mind and discern reality from the illusions that were before him and continue forwards.

 

He wondered how his apprentice and Inmortos faired, for these illusions appeared potent indeed. It seemed someone or something was after their attention. He smiled, they would soon have it. For now he was intrigued as to what could cause such illusions as he attempted to continue onwards to whatever else awaited. Although despite this, he could feel several others nearby...not of his apprentice or Inmortos, like being watched. Most likely those who called this place home. Yet he knew, whatever it was that waited had no idea of the three terrors before them. They would soon find the truth, that they faced no mere mortals, but the Sith.

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"The universe started in darkness at a time when light didn't exist, and that is how it will end. Chaos and suffering is what brings us together. In chaos a man or woman will show who he or she really is and in suffering they will speak the truth. We are darkness incarnate, we are the evil. This cannot be denied, even by me. But without us there is no redemption, passion or order." - Darth Akheron

 

I survived the Great JNet Outage of 2012

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Solus was unsure where the surfaces changed. He was unsure when the very air itself began to be different from the heavy air of Coruscant to the musky air of his old home. The presence in the Impossible Shapes was still the same, with the chaotic mess being impossible to track. Solus was unsure of a lot of things. 

 

Including how, in the name of all the things that were named, that he was back in the depths of Ishvara. 

 

It almost felt like the crystals in the walls called out to the Shard. Their electrical impulses danced within alluringly, tempting with thought and company. But beyond those, the Shard remained focused on the thing before him. The feminine figure dissecting and mutilating the corpse of the monster, All of the darkness here was focused in this one place. This figure, who radiated with something both unnatural, and familiar. 

 

When she turned and called him ‘son’, Solus stopped. Of all the responses Solus expected, including threats, questions, subtle jabs, snarkyness, of all the responses, this was not expected.   

 

Solus didn’t reply at first. He let the stillness of the air hang for a few moments, the darkness in the Impossible Geometries crawling. 

 

“You are neither a Shard…” Solus started, his right hand gripping the handle of his weapon tightly, readying himself, “...nor Roshan. Who are you?”

 

Who are you… 

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The Shard apprentice had set off in a rush on his own. Soon he was gone, quite literally swallowed up by the very ground itself, the dark side flurrying in a haze of assaultive emotions and foreign thoughts. Wherever the stone had gone, he was on his own, a victim for the force to do with as it willed.

 

Akheron was next, even as Inmortos followed along in his wake. The deadly warrior swung his blade at unseen apparitions, battling the shadows of his own mind. Slowly, the shuffling necromancer fell further and further behind until Akheron too was lost to his blurred vision, the force fogging the very dark air within the heat-gutted lava tubes they moved through.

 

Inmortos felt the force. It heaved as if the cataclysm that had stilled the galactic capitol still roiled within the unseen depths of pain and suffering. His eyes squinted in the darkness, their mortal existence next to worthless. His mind’s eye sought to stare through the force only to be rebuffed at every angle. Whatever was here clouded the very mind even as it sought to assail his consciousness. The force was a subtle riptide beneath the surface. It seemed to tear at anything it could grasp. Wether this was the effect of the necromancer’s heavy robes billowing before him as he moved or the icy stillness that oozed from the core of the Lich was unknown. The tunnels were hot, but with each step, an icy cold radiated on the shifting air currents about the undead walker of the precipice. 
 

Inmortos bore no weapon in his rotted hands. He needn’t one, for even here, clouded by the vortices of unknown power, his connection to the distant Aaris III, to the rift torn there, cut through the chaos like a molecularly bladed knife. From one cataclysm to the other, the Lich bound them together, their distinct shadows mixing as one. The absolute cold of his solitary tower within the wasteland across the cosmos crept from his bones. Death was present all around Inmortos, but moreso, death was present within; so as the hallucinations played havoc upon the living, the walking dead was assailed with blackness; the blackness of his own soul; the blackness of absolute nothingness, still, unrelenting, and eternal. He moved through it slowly, cautiously, a solitary predatory cat, hunting for a kill.

 

A haunting smile played across the shrouded face of the skeletal form. “The dead do not lie.” His hissed joyfully even as he heard the scurrying of unknown living somewhere in the  chasmed grotto he now walked.

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