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Raxus Prime - Sith Temple


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Xae-Lin Ardel checked over everything in her pack one last time. She was only partially finished with her indexing project, but the comms that had come across the Jedi channels more than proved her attention was needed elsewhere instead of surveying the damage this Morthos Cult had done to the Sith knowledge repository.

 

Sighing, she shouldered the bag as one of Emily's servants brought her a packet containing food for a few days. If they were pleased with her decision to leave, they made no indication. True to the word of their mistress they'd provided gracious hosts to their unusual house guest.

 

The Jedi Knight nodded her thanks to the Noughri and walked past the creature, heading toward the hangar.

 

Emily had left her with full access to the facility and its assets -- an act of trust Xae had to admire. The ships were varied from A-Wings to various other star fighters, none of which Xae had extensive experience with.

 

Finally she settled on a Lambda-class shuttle that reminded her of the one she'd shared with her first master, Kyp Durron.

 

Pushing aside her nostalgia, she set the computer to calculating a course for Onderon, flipping the switch once she was past the planet’s gravity well and hurtling off through hyperspace.

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Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

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  • 3 years later...

Mordecai stood on the bridge of his command ship, observing the yawning blackness of space with a sharpened mind. In the months since their departure from Korriban, his people had healed, more had joined his cause, and now he gazed upon a new fleet of warships in the making. The salvage world of Raxus had been a good place to find scrapped destroyers and capitol ships that the Sith Empire had deemed useless, scrap, and without value. Most didn't see the value in these hunks of metal that he did. Most of them were barely space worthy, to be repaired and refit at their first destination. In the mean time, they were filling with skeleton crews and droids.

 

His Sith allies had been healing after the incident in the hangar, and his apprentice had spent time recovering from her defeat. He had much still to teach her about the philosophy of the Sith, but her martial prowess was improving. That she'd even singed him with her saber was a sign of that. Perhaps in time she could rival him, maybe surpass him. He would need to remain vigilant, and continue to hone his own skills to make sure that didn't happen.

 

Soon they would depart for Geonosis, but for now, it was a waiting game, as it had been for months. Waiting for the last of the ruined ships to be dragged out of the scrap planet below and made space worthy once more. The fleet that was being built here had fought the Old Republic for decades, and would again see service against the forces of the Jedi and their allies under his command. Once more, they would conquer worlds and darken suns in a brutal and glorious campaign.

 

And his silent vigil continued as he closed his eyes. There was fear around him. Anxiety. Nothing like right before a large battle, but it was there, lingering, fermenting. War was on the horizon, a fact that they would all feel soon.

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A darkened cry echoed across the Force as Sirena opened her blood glazed eyes within the bacta tank of Mordecai's ship, the Sith Mistress gurgling on the fluids that attempted to fill her throat and lungs as her form kicked and squirmed toward than tank's surface. Reaching above her, her pulled her form up from the potential watery grave and smirked as she spit the bacta from her mouth, the blood glazing her eyes receding as she blinked. It was time for her to reveal herself, far too long studying the Darkness on Korriban. Lunging over the edge, she landed in a perch before rising, the pain of her formed bones rushing through her like pleasurable tingles.

 

Reaching out through the Force, she beckoned her pupils and alerted Mordecai to her awakening. With that done, she reached over and grabbed her clothes, and began redressing her nude form.

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ROSHAN:

Roshan bit his lip as the woman spoke her final words in that godsforsaken realm. Her sin was Hatred, or as she might call it "Wrath." Her wrath tested his patience, even now. She was a useful and necessary vessel for their further training. But in her own arrogance, she had turned to her own false worship of the gods of “Progression, Evolution, and Advancement” in the place of the Sith grandmasters that had paved the way for her to put on such elaborately vain displays of her power.

 

The irony was not lost on him that they had found themselves on a Dejarik board. Dejarik, after all, was little more than the Jedi’s attempt at burlesque trolling of the far more sophisticated war game Dejarik was derived from. 

 

In similar fashion, Roshan felt that she had mocked his religion only to replace it with another form of self-idolatry. It took all his inner strength not to challenge the woman. Nevertheless, he feared that her own beliefs would continue to make her unstable and weaker than she truly was, weak enough that even he could have slain her and taken her mantle not that long ago. Of course, weakness itself was not a sin that Roshan had never seen or experienced before. He had made a much similar mistake in the past, but for much different reasons. No, Lady Sirena seemed content to think that she was acting of her own volition when in reality it was the hands of the Darkside and Chaos that moved her around like a piece on a board.

 

Moebius, Dejarik, Chess. They were all little more than inferior variations of the same age-old strategy game. It was not unlike the real life game that the Jedi and Sith opposed each other in. Two sides, one light and one dark, both seeking victory but only one attaining it at any given point in time. 

 

With the fall of the old gods, that game was over. It did not matter who was left. Of that she was correct. But she had blinded herself with so much hate for her assigned role that she now refused to understand the truth about the game that they were all still active participants in. 

 

Like the Old Republic and the Empire and the New Republic and the Chaos gods after them, the demesne may have changed. New Imperators may have been chosen by each side. But that eternal war in the stars -- the intergalactic game of chess played out by the wills of the Force -- that game never truly ended. As soon as one game finished, the board was reset and the game simply started over again anew. What Roshan believed Lady Sirena saw as a fool's errand and vain idolatry, the Cathar saw as the most important piece of the puzzle. 

 

She was right. Their life was all that they had. And they knew the penalty that came with death. So why willingly make oneself an oblivious pawn? Why limit your own success by refusing to acknowledge the differences in value and importance between a horse and a queen or the Beast and the Knight? Why limit yourself by failing to revere, study, and learn from the grandmasters of the Darkside and the strategies and tactics they used in previous iterations of the Game?

 

If the old gods had failed to protect their Imperator, then they deserved their fate. But one does not become a grandmaster simply through their own intuition, “evolution,” and a strong dose of luck. Advancement, evolution, and progress were all the end results of knowledge, study, and hard work. To expect results without studying and respecting the genius of the past grandmasters was irresponsible at best. Likewise, not learning from their mistakes was a sure recipe for repeating those errors in judgement and ending up removed from the demesne of the Force with little more than a whimper and a forgotten legacy.

 

No. Like learning to use the Force and mastering the Game required intense study. Even rightly deserved veneration of the grandmasters was in order for those who sought to master the Game’s intricate strategies, movements, and nuisances. Not all pieces were created equal, after all. And while Lady Sirena may have been content with the freedom but limited movement that her philosophy gave her, Roshan had little interest in being the Knight on Imperator Exodus' game board. There were so many more interesting pieces. The Beast, the Dowager, the Counselor, or even the Vizier. All limited in their own ways but all superior in advancement when compared to the Sirena’s philosophy. Or at least, that was Lord Roshan’s opinion on the matter.

 

There was a reason why he had called his students the “Knights of Roshan.” Just like the Knights of the Game, they were given only enough training to move two steps at a time, but were still deadly in any direction he sent them. Combined with their training, prowess, and effectiveness, a short leash was most desirable for the fulfilling of their designed purpose. But for a Sith Master, Roshan considered such a role as the least of all the major pieces.

 

Roshan, of course, had no delusions of grandeur when it came to mastery of this game. He had studied the old grandmasters of Chaos and revered their accomplishments but it would seem that even they had fallen to a new Champion of the Darkside. However, he worried about the future of this particular Imperator. 

 

Thus far, Roshan would argue that all he had seen were Knight. A board full of one type of piece would surely not overcome a skilled opponent that could bring all the varied special abilities of all his varied game pieces to bear! The Counselor, the Dowager, the Craft, the Vizier, the Counselor, the Beast! Where were they? Or had they already been removed in his absence and replaced by more Knights pretending they were other pieces?

 

Roshan shuddered to think that he might be the Outcast on this demesne. The Outcast was such an enigma. It was often considered the most expendable of pieces, normally only able to move one space forward at any given time. Its only saving grace being that it could leap up to three spaces in any direction as long as there was an adjacent piece for it to make its leap over. This allowed the Outcast to occasionally move across the board with surprising speed, especially under the control of a well-studied and clever player. 

Greatlier, if the Outcast ended its move in a spot with an enemy’s piece, the Outcast could take that piece, removing both pieces and replacing itself with the same type as the piece as the one it took. No longer the Outcast, if it could survive long enough, it could take on a more permanent role as something else. That’s why some players called it the Shapeshifter. 

 

The problem, of course, was that few players knew how to properly navigate the Outcast across the board without losing the piece in the process, especially since the Outcast posed a greater threat to its opponent the longer it remained in play. In Roshan’s limited experience, far too often the Outcast was perhaps the most targeted and/or expendable of the 9 pieces. More importantly, “expendable” was not a role Lord Roshan had any interest in partaking in.

Not now. Not ever.  

 

Shuddering awake, the Cathar found himself longing to play the Game in physical form. His board had been one of the things taken from him when his commune was ransacked but he still kept a digital copy of it among his things. Now that Aliss was to join the ranks of the Blessed, perhaps it was time that he taught her the Game as well. 

 

As Lord Roshan glanced at the medical equipment surrounding him, he felt Lady Sirena’s call, signaling to him that she was close by. He would grin and bear this situation for now. He was in no position to train the girl in his current state. Sure, Lady Sirena seemed determined to undo his teachings and his narrative. Perhaps she saw her former master in the Cathar and that intensified her need to prove him wrong and knock him down from his “pedestal.” He was sure this would not be the last time that their philosophies butted heads. Ultimately, what could a Sith Master hope to learn from an old Cathar? So for the time being, he’d allow her to feel like she was in control. He’d still watch Siren closely, of course, less her seductive ideologies infect someone as impressionable as young Aliss. But for the time being he would relent in any efforts to convert her to his way of thinking.

 

At the end of the day, Roshan realized that he might have to approach things from a different angle when dealing with Lady Sirena. If she could not be persuaded or converted by conventional means, perhaps he would teach her the Game and she’d manage to take away something of value from that exercise. Maybe it could be a way in which they could someday bond and she could come to the same realizations that he had long ago. It had been a long while since he had taught the Game to anyone else and he was confident Lady Sirena would make a worthy opponent. But at this point, only time would tell.

 

Removing the monitoring devices from around him, Roshan slowly rolled out of the bed. His wounds had healed nicely and most of the equipment around him was probably there simply to make sure that he didn’t fall into a coma or suffer any further brain swelling or damage for his head injury. 

 

Personally, the large Cathar felt fine. Perhaps even a little refreshed after his nice long “cat nap.” How long had he been out? Of that Roshan was actually uncertain. But he decided that his next logical course of action would be to track down and check in on Lady Sirena. 

 

As the Cathar found his personal items and began re-dressing, a goo-soaked Aliss stumbled into the room. The look on the wild child’s face was one of disheveled confusion if Roshan were to attempt to describe it into words. Roshan, however, casually continued with what he was doing, paying the girl little mind. They had work to do but he wasn’t going anywhere without his gear.



*** *** ***



ALISS:


When Aliss answered Sirena’s call from within the darkness of her mind, she had unexpectedly found herself hurled into the midst of her two teachers. But what she expected to be a long, drawn-out philosophical debate quickly descended into an even greater form of anarchy.

 

Her lord spoke cryptically to her while agreeing with Lady Sirena. In fact, he even apologized openly. Aliss was bewildered. 

 

Is this another vision? How can this feel so surreal... yet their presence... I can feel it... as real as if we were all standing in the hangar bay right now. But this is different. So different! What is this?!

 

Roshan spoke of sheltering and withholding and demesnes. Sirena spoke of curses and evolution and false gods. Aliss was quick to accept whatever it was that they were offering if it gave her the powers necessary to save her mother. She would figure out the rest later. In time, she was sure she’d fully understand what she had gotten herself into.

 

For now, there wasn’t time to overanalyze the bazare scene that had taken place in whatever magical dream world this checkered floor of marble had been plucked out of. In fact, she barely had enough time to process everything that she was seeing and hearing before being shocked back to reality. Rushed back to full consciousness, the girl awoke to find herself trapped inside a vat of strange almost goo-like liquid. It reminded her of the vats that they had seen inside the lab of the last Sith’s lair she and Roshan had visited before leaving Ishvara behind.

 

With no desire to become Darth Mavanger’s new science experiment, Aliss ripped and tugged at the apparatus around her face. It was only once she had torn it off her head that she realized her folly. Bacta began to fill her throat as she tried to scream, unaccustomed to the sensation of this terrifying new experience. Large bodies of water where she grew up were scarce and Roshan seemed to make it a habit of avoiding them. There was the occasional commune fisherman or hunter that might venture to one and see what offerings the gods might provide them, but such pools of water were often deemed more dangerous than they were worth thanks to foul beasts that they regularly attracted. Of course, whatever her or Roshan’s reasoning may have been for him and his Knights staying away from such places, the inescapable truth was that Aliss never learned how to swim. 

 

Flailing her arms rapidly, she could see light coming from above her. If she could just flap her arms upwards and lift off like a bird, Aliss was sure she could escape this infernal trap. But even as she saw a medical droid begin to scurry across the room to a nearby console, terror of a much more ominous realization hung in the girl’s mind.

 

What if this is how all those creatures in those jars died?! Drown lab rats to be displayed as trophies for generations of other Sith to examine and gock at! Is this because I failed the test?!

 

As a metal arm began to descend into the water, Aliss could feel the asphyxiation setting in. Her foolhardy attempt to scream for help had only hastened her condition and she had never been trained on how to hold her breath underwater either. As panic turned to desperation, the girl swatted at the metal apparatus, instead bracing her hands against the tube’s clear walls. As she pressed against them, her mind raced back to Lady Sirena’s words and the feeling she had felt in that hangar bay.


You have that connection, just as I do, just as Roshan and Mavanger. And no artifact or holocron will make you stronger. Only you can do that... My job is to teach you the path to walk, to show you the power within you and your connection to the Force. But only you can find your limits.


The feeling of drowning sent a surge of adrenaline through her body as she reached out and felt the Force within the liquid and the walls around her. With all the pain and rage and fear she could muster, the girl screamed and released it, pushing against the tube of goo with her own physical hands and those of the mysterious Force Lady Sirena had claimed she was connected to.


A few seconds later, Aliss found herself coughing and gasping for air as she laid atop broken glass and the goey liquid that she had sent pouring into the bacta tank room. As the medical droid approached her check on Aliss, the girl slipped and slid across the floor as she tried to scramble to her feet.


“Stay back! I’m warning you! Back!” she yelled at it.


When the droid stopped in its tracks, Aliss darted out of the room. She was in a small section of some sort of laboratory, likely where Darth Mavanger and Lady Sirena sent failed experiments and defeated specimens.

 

Where am I? Is this some sort of experimentation room? Or maybe this is where the Sith actually get their powers?

 

The girl’s wet feet pattered against the medbay floor as she tried to pick up a good pace without slipping and falling on her butt. She was sure there had to be an exit nearby. As she felt the panic begin to creap back over her again, Aliss stopped for a moment and leaned against a nearby wall to catch her breath.


She thought back to all the recent conversations Lord Roshan and Lady Sirena had had. If Lord Roshan had withheld the truth about a gift like this from her, what else might he have been withholding? She trusted him, almost implicitly so, because that was all she had known and been taught. But what if Lady Sirena was right? What if Sirena had the real truth? What if she had the answers to all the girl’s prayers? 


What if the gods were a lie? Roshan is a lie? My whole existence is a lie?!


The thought chilled her to her very core but she had to press on. Resuming her search, the soused girl soon stumbled into the room where her Cathar lord was halfway through equipping his Sith armor.

 

*** *** ***



BOTH:


“Lord Roshan,” the girl began as she caught her breath. “Where are we! Where is Lady Sirena! Why didn’t you come for me! I almost died just now!”

 

A little confused, the Cathar turned to the girl to realize that she was sopping wet with little more than a soggy diaper and bandages across her chest for clothing. Puzzled, Roshan shook his head before taking on a rather acrimonious tone.

 

“Where in the galaxy are your clothes, girl?! You look like a soaking, gooey mess!”

 

Aliss repeated herself, “I said I almost died just now. I barely escaped!”

 

From where, girl! We are in the ship’s medical facility!” the Cathar snorted back, having little patience for her games. “Enough with this melodramatic silliness.”

 

Aliss paused and then frowned, “How am I supposed to know that! The ship we flew to Korriban had nothing like this! And that still doesn’t give them an excuse for making me into one of their science experiments!”

 

Roshan stood up, shaking his head as he strapped on the last few pieces of his armor, “Judging by the looks of you, I highly doubt anyone was experimenting on you, girl. If anything, they were saving your life. You reek of bacta!”

 

“I don’t even know what that is!” Aliss retorted indignantly.

 

Roshan sighed. Having raised her on a backwater world in a confined community such as they had, it was easy to forget just how much Aliss did not know about the world she was stepping into. Roshan had lived a life or at least had memories of a life as an active and well-traveled member of the bustling intergalactic infrastructure that most of the Core worlds were built on. The commune, on the other hand, had limited technology and medicine and only certain levels of interaction with the outside world. Truth be told, while she often just went along with most things and tried to present like she wasn’t in a constant state of wonderment, the girl might as well have been a medieval peasant hurled centuries into the future.

 

“You know the juice from the Yullitus leaves...”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“The ones your mother uses for making ointments."

 

“I said, ‘Yeah.’”

 

“It’s similar to that. Only far more powerful and you must soak in it to allow your body to absorb it and heal itself.”

 

“O-kay... but that still doesn’t--”

 

Straightening out his cape, the Cathar interrupted the girl before she could finish her thought.

 

Enough! If you wish to read more about it, I’m sure I can find you a datapad with the ship specs and all that silliness. Right now, we need to head to the Recovery Room and find Lady Sirena.

 

“Where’s that?” Aliss asked as Roshan moved past her.

 

“Where you were supposed to go when you exited your bacta tank.”

 

“O...kay,” the girl replied as she scampered after Roshan, leaving a long trail of dripping bacta in her wake. 

 

Looking back only momentarily to shake his head at the soggy diapered messmaker, the Cathar headed for where he had sensed Lady Sirena’s call, this time being sure to place his mask over his face for added protection. He had grown rather leery about entrusting his health and safety to the likes of these two after the events that had transpired so far over the course of this trip. He was aptly reminded of the age-old proverb, “Better safe than sorry.”
 

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When Aliss and Roshan entered, Sirena coyfully began the finishing touches of buttoning up her blouse, allowing the two a brief moment to revel in her nude form before she cut them off, most notably the scar across her ribs. Throwing her silk robe over her leathered armor, she stood, outstretching her gloved hand to reveal two sashes.

 

"To understand the darkness, one must know it." Sirena spoke with a stern and yet playful tone. "From now until our next lesson, I want you two to know the world around you in utter darkness. Wear these blindfolds until I say otherwise, and use your other senses to get around, even if we encounter combat before then."

 

"Learn to accept the insight of complete darkness, and you will understand it for the better."

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Roshan acted casually as they interrupted Lady Sirena and the finishing touches of her buttoning her blouse. He almost felt that she had purposely waited for someone to arrive before she did it, whether that someone turned out to be Roshan, Darth Mavanger, or someone else. She enjoyed feeling sexy and playing the part of the tease.

Of course, Roshan was still hung up on her height. He had a dislike for short alien creatures as it was. And the fact that she almost looked like a well-endowed human child or midget did her sex appeal little favors in his opinion. But more than all of that, he had grown a rather healthy distain for standard humans over his years on Ishvara. This was quite the departure from his original "programming." The "Durose Roshan line" generally had an unhealthy obsession with the furless, circular-pupiled bipeds. He had once even inevitably shared such deviancy. He may have even been awed by her notable human beauty if they had met a decade or two earlier. But many long years among the feudal, ignorant, and dirty humans of Ishvara had largely cured him of such absurd proclivities.

By the time Lord Roshan had left Ishvara and set course for Korriban, the Cathar longed for the day when he'd meet a lovely traveler or even a remotely sexual being that didn't hurt his nasal sensibilities with the unsettling and unmistakable scent of "human." But perhaps it was just as well that he likely would not meet such a diversion any time soon. He didn't have time for such distractions right now. But to be sure, being stuck in a side of the galaxy so overpopulated by humans for so very long had made him miss the scents and smells of home more than ever.

For a race of being where scents and pheromones played an important role in greetings, the marking of territory, and even telling the difference between one's family, relatives, and clan, such an acute sense of smell made scents, in and of themselves, an unspoken language of their own among the Cathar. Unfortunately, this "language" often meant that spending time in the close proximity to humans was akin to standing in the middle of a crowd of foul mouth protestors hurling profanities at him. Even when spending time with seemingly "clean" humans, that rarely took the "human" out of them. There were simply some scents and pheromones that they couldn't smell but also help but give off.  While he might have once found those to be exotic, unusual, or fascinating, his time spent among the Ishvarans had cured him of such delusions.

 

To be fair, though, Lady Sirena's scent wasn't quite as appalling as a standard Ishvaran. Neither was Aliss. They both had a unique scent that was a notable variation of the standard human stench. Neither was quite the same. It was always hard to explain such a sensitivity to oblivious humanoids that lacked the same sensory sensitivities as a Cathar. But he had learned over time that their sense of taste was fairly adequate. In fact, humans could occasionally "taste" a strong smell according to Aliss' mother, Rose. With that in mind, Roshan once explained it to Rose, "In human terms, if a standard human's scent was like the flavor of oxidized iron being blown in your face, your scent is more the flavor of you biting down on a spicy Ishvaran jalleeno pepper while only half as much rust powder is being blown in your face."


Of course, he hadn't quite nailed down the difference in Lady Sirena's scent "flavor." She was the first Hapan that he could remember ever meeting. He was rather sure he'd have remembered if he had ran into another race of flirty midget humans. But her scent, illustratively reminded him of a heady bergamot flavor mixed with hints of blueberry juice. The iron oxide was still there, but only maybe half as strong as that of a standard human. Granted, Roshan was rather positive that Lady Sirena attempted to mask her humanoid odor by other means as well as, so he couldn't be sure whether what he was detecting was the smell of a Hapan or a Hapan's pheromones mixed with some sort of elaborate designer fragrance designed to enhance her natural allure.

 

Whatever the truth may have been, now finding himself on ship full of mostly mundane humans, Lord Roshan was quite happy to have brought his mask (and the installed filtration system within). Lady Sirena's "exercise", of course, would complicate thing.

"To understand the darkness, one must know it. From now until our next lesson, I want you two to know the world around you in utter darkness. Wear these blindfolds until I say otherwise, and use your other senses to get around, even if we encounter combat before then."

Removing his mask, Roshan held his breath for a brief second before inhaling the pungent odor of the bacta around him. It wasn't that the scent of bacta was particularly loathsome or unbearable. But when you had been through enough scrape and near death experiences as Lord Roshan -- or at least the progenitor of the bulk of his memories had -- the smell of bacta had come to be associated with a very negative and unpleasant set of memories. More often than not, it was the smell that accompanied significant pain and/or catastrophic failure. When given the opportunity, Lord Roshan much preferred to heal naturally. After all, the Cathar races already healed far more efficiently than the delicate humans that populated this universe. If a Cathar was in needed a bacta bath, the chance that they were nearly dead was extremely high.

"Learn to accept the insight of complete darkness, and you will understand it for the better."

Frowning at the cloth Lady Sirena had offered, Roshan took it with a sigh. There was a decent chance that with his better than human ability to see in darkened conditions, if the cloth wasn't too thick he might still be able to see hints of objects or the movement of light and motion as it crossed the blindfold. To be sure, he understood that the design of this exercise was probably something much different. Seeing through the Force was a valuable tool.  As might be expect, though, it was not the only way to get around the impairment of losing one's eyesight. What Lady Sirena's actual goal with this exercise was, Roshan remained uncertain. But for the time being, he took a deep breath --that he immediately regretted-- before tying the blindfold around his eyes and standing at attention for the next portion of this "game" Sirena wanted them to play.

Meanwhile, Aliss went about looking for a towel to wipe herself off with. Grabbing one, she next proceeded to see if she could figure out which locker or bin might contain her normal clothes.

"Just give me a second..."

Once she finally found them -- freshly cleaned and folded at that -- she turned her back to Lady Sirena and the blindfolded Roshan, holding them up with a smile.

"Found um! Don't look."

"Don't worry. I definitely won't," Roshan replied as he rolled his eyes underneath his blindfold. "Hurry up, girl! The Sith master and I are waiting on you."

Aliss proceed to rip off the diaper and bandages that had been currently restraining her sopping form. After that, the girl quickly grabbed the towel and rubbed the gunk off her nude body before jumping into her undergarments and throwing on her shirt and pants. Using the towel to wipe off the bacta still in her hair and ears, Aliss slowly walked back towards Lady Sirena.

"Okay. Like... let's say I put on this blindfold. How do I know that you or Darth Maverick or whatever don't try to turn me into a jar experiment trophy again?"

From behind his blindfold, Lord Roshan growled, "Aliss! I thought we were done with that nonsense."

Aliss looked back and Roshan as she took the blindfold but stopped short of putting it on. She looked back at Lady Sirena skeptically.

"What? That's a reasonable question! I almost died earlier!" She grumbled back at Roshan before glaring at Lady Sirena, "You could be trying to kidnap me again or something. What's the point of not being able to see? If this was some meditation exercise, we could simply close our eyes. I just want to know what we are actually doing this time so I don't end up in the tank of failed apprentice experimentation again."

Roshan sighed, a little embarrassed by the girl's insistent and stubborn ignorance. Although he had to admit that the fact that she hadn't take his previous explanation as gospel was a bit new. Perhaps she was simply looking for an opportunity to act out. Over the years, Lord Roshan had found that human teenagers were known to become increasingly problematic and irrational at her age, most likely because of the unfortunately problematic and inferior nature of their hormonal make-up.

Humans.

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Edited by Durose Roshan
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Sirena had to admit that there was something attractive about Aliss' rugged form, her eyes unable to tear themselves away as the girl got undressed and redressed, a tingling sensation creeping across her skin. She chuckled in silence to herself. This would be interesting indeed.

 

"The purpose of this exercise is simple. The first was to find your sin. The second to empower your sin." Sirena spoke coyfully, her eyes fluttering playfully. "Now I'm requesting you to trust your sin, explore the darkness for what it is and know it both through your sin and through yourself."

 

Sirena sits down on the table where her things resides. "If you want the power that I'm offering to teach you, the skills buried within your psyche that you have yet to unlock, then this is the path you must walk." Sirena waved her hand for Aliss to place the blindfold on.

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Aliss stared at the woman in confusion. After a pause of a few second, she finally spoke up.

"But that doesn't make any--"

"Just put on the blindfold already, girl! The longer this takes, the longer this exercise is going to drag out."

Scrunching her face and sticking her tongue out at the blindfolded lion-like alien, Aliss finally complied. It wasn't necessarily that she was scared of wearing the blindfold. She just felt that Lady Sirena was making no sense.

I don't even remember what my sin is! Being mad, right? How am I supposed to trust being mad by wearing a blindfold? By realizing this is stupid and taking it off!?

With the blindfold firmly secure, it now hid most of Rose's indignation. The truth was, not every one of the Roshan's "Knights" were the same. Some children needed more rules than other. Other children needed more space than rest. Ultimately, each child had their own set of strengths and weaknesses. This girl's strengths, however, were reinforced by a certain level of structure and direction.  She always hated it when adults acted mysterious to make themselves seem and feel smarter. Aliss was someone who preferred straightforward and clear directions, explanations, and goals.

Instead, Lady Sirena had giving her yet another vague task that could end up with her floating around in one of Darth Mavanger's petri tubes again. Folding her arms, the girl stood there in a brief silence, careful not to presume or guess at what her master had planned for them to next.

"... Okay. So... now what?"

Roshan also nodded, "Indeed. Are we to follow you somewhere or are we waiting on someone?"
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Onlooking as the two briefly conversed, and watching as Aliss placed the blindfold upon her face, Sirena chuckled as a smirk rose across her face. It seemed the young girl still grasped at what little understanding she could, but Roshan was keeping her at bay. This wouldn't bold well for the girl as she progressed. After all, knowledge was power.

 

"It's a simple task, Aliss." Sirena spoke after observing the two and Roshan poised his question. "The blinfold blinds the sense of your sight and makes your other senses adapt because of this. This allows you to adapt in two forms: First learning to focus your other senses to see without sight, and allows you to see the darkness with you as it reveal its self."

 

Sirena stands and approaches the two.

 

"When I first adapted this method of training, I spent months in darkness. Sure, I could use the Force to see as so many do, but that wasn't the purpose I designed it for." Sirena's tone is soft and understanding, the echo of her voice barely carrying its self across the room. "I designed it so that I could understand the darkness its self and why it was impossible to see without the aid of the Force. That is where I discovered the truth. I could hear everything around me and within me. I could smell everything around me and myself. And I was one with the darkness, becoming a piece of it just as I accepted the darkness within me."

 

"The Darkness you see behind the blindfold is the very darkness the universe was born from, absent of light. And yet, life was birthed from it and thrives in it despite the odds. That is the truth of it's Primordial Core." Sirena spoke, walking around the two, letting the clatter of her small feet echo through the chamber over her calm voice. "This is the purpose of this exercise. To learn to live in the darkness around you and learn the primordial truth of your existence."

Edited by Chaotic Tranquility

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Mordecai felt Sirena wake. She did little to hide it. It wouldn't surprise him if she'd let him know intentionally. They had much to discuss, after all. Months of planning and gathering forces had passed since her... incident. Their numbers had nearly doubled- after their losses at Corellia, it seemed that there were many Sith, both of the empire and the order, who were seeking redemption in another front, Good. They had something to prove- they would fight all the harder. But he would need to keep an eye out for the ones that wanted a name for themselves. He didn't need wanna-be war heroes and martyrs in his ranks. He needed people who would fight to their best abilities, but not lose everything they had in the process. People like Sirena, who knew wanted to prove... something to her apprentices, clearly, but had a level enough head on her shoulders to not kill herself doing so. he had to hope that she had intentionally left herself on the brink of death, and that it wasn't gross miscalculation that had landed her in the bacta tanks.

 

He turned, nodding to the captain. "The bridge is yours until I return, Captain."

 

He stalked off the bridge. It was curious- his own apprentice should be here now. Where had she gone? Was she bitter for her loss? Likely. But was that what kept her away? Or had her recovery truly taken so long? He would need to excise more restraint, himself, if that were the case. It was only a matter of weeks until they departed for the outer rim at this point, and he needed his people at the best of their abilities. He pulled out his communicator. He had calls to make.

 

First, he contacted his apprentice. "Kahla, your time to sulk is over. Meet Lady Sirena and myself in the medical facility."

 

Next was an old associate who had joined them shortly after arriving on Raxus. "Lord Xahl, it's time you meet the rest of our associates. I would appreciate it if you would meet me at the medical facility when you can."

 

His tone had shifted between calls, of course. His apprentice was still below him. Still weak, even if she was growing stronger. She would still learn, nurture her emotions for use in battle. Lord Xahl, on the other hand, was a veteran of the war he'd battled beside on the shipyards of Kuat. A sorcerer, incredibly knowledgeable on the ways of the dark side. The last in their trifecta of specialties. Other than Sirena, he was the only other Sith that Mordecai had made contact with himself to recruit. A man he had great respect for- he'd witnessed the man's power in his battle with Cassandra, the power of a storm at his fingertips. 

 

When he arrived to the facility, it was as Aliss and roshan were donning their blindfolds. Lord Xahl was only a minute behind.

 

"Lady Sirena, I would introduce you to Lord Xahl. A veteran sorcerer whom I've fought beside in a previous conflict. His knowledge of the Force should prove invaluable, bot in training and in battle."

 

Lord Xahl gave a curt bow. A man of few words, he said only a brief welcome.

 

"You've all missed much in your time here. A briefing is long overdue, and then I need to speak with Lord Xahl and Lady Sirena in private."

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Her quarters were empty of personal items, save for the glaive she'd mounted to the wall. Useless to her, but a pleasant reminder of her victory over Correlia. She had spent quite a bit of time here, studying a holocron she was granted from her master; although it had taken some convincing for him to let her see it, let alone study it. When she wasn't in her room studying and meditating she would make her way to a training room, where she'd put her studies to the test. She was teaching herself more in the ways of combat than before, learning to bend the force, use it to bolster her strikes, and to be the foundation of her defense.

 

Mordecai would seldom come to visit Kahla, often very briefly to teach her on his philosophy. In her meditation she learned to think it a blessing, that perhaps after their spar, even though she'd lost, she had proven her skill in combat enough for him to trust her to train on her own. Thus his philosophy was welcomed, a chance to slow down for a while seriously consider her purpose.

 

Kahla's recovery was much shorter than the others, she had spent maybe a week in the med bay, a broken nose and two ribs, the latter a reminder of how outmatched she was in her duel against Mordecai. The next couple weeks she was on light duties, finding more often than not she was bored mindless in her wait to fully recover. She had started to feel forgotten in those weeks, her master focusing all his time on the fleet he was digging from their grave.

 

Alone she would sit in her room, Tidy and lifeless. All of her lessons shown to her on a screen. You'll make for a great Imperial officer one day they'd tell her. You won't learn from going out to Play! they'd yell. She was raised on the ideal of perfection, that there was only one path to success, that she wouldn't be as meaningful as the street rats below them if she tried going her own way. She resented their teaching, resented the academy, but pushed on thinking there was no other way.

 

The rush came over her again, the liberating freedom she felt crashing like a tidal wave when she addressed the crew of the corvette. Finally her path could be her own, be damned whoever stood in her way now.

 

She sat, unstartled by the communicator on her bedside. "Kahla, your time to sulk is over. Meet Lady Sirena and myself in the medical facility." She let out a long sigh and gathered her equipment.

 

The door slid open and immediately she was met with the chemical smell of the room. She winced slightly before stepping in, the apprentices adorning blindfolds; perhaps they lacked the discipline to simply keep their eyes shut. But that surprise paled in comparison to the new face. She quickly read his body language, stoic and quiet, his purpose clear, standing as if to say he belonged there. She didn't want to make assumptions, instead keeping her conclusion to herself. She bowed her head in a long nod.

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"...This allows you to adapt in two forms: First learning to focus your other senses to see without sight, and allows you to see the darkness with you as it reveal itself."

The roll of Roshan's eyes was neatly hidden beneath the cloth eye dressings Lady Sirena had handed out just moments ago. Roshan had met the likes of her before; holistic soothsayers trying to sell you their latest Krayt skin oil. Some of their concoctions worked and others were nothing more than cheaply brewed placebos, but for those that actually got real results, the chances were that their shamans actually mixed in something with real medicinal value and just upcharged you for it by a healthy three or four hundred percent. At this point, Lord Roshan felt that he had good reason to expect the same from her "teachings and interpretations" of the Force. Perhaps there was a bit of jealousy brewing in his heart as the woman attempted to lead Aliss astray, but whatever the case, Lord Roshan was not buying into her dogma by any stretch of the imagination.

 

"When I first adapted this method of training, I spent months in darkness..."

 

And clearly enjoyed it so much you decided to remain in darkness.

 

"...That is where I discovered the truth. I could hear everything around me and within me. I could smell everything around me and myself. And I was one with the darkness, becoming a piece of it just as I accepted the darkness within me."

 

If it takes her being blinded to pay more attention to her other senses, she really must have been born with a silver spoon. I... er... my "template" and I myself would have been long dead if we didn't avail ourselves of all of those long ago. I can’t even imagine trying to go on a blood hunt, much less bounty hunting or cache raiding without a thorough use of all my senses.

 

"The Darkness you see behind the blindfold is the very darkness the universe was born from, absent of light...”

Who says the universe didn’t begin as pure light and it was the addition of shadow that brought breath, depth, and shape to the light?

"...This is the purpose of this exercise. To learn to live in the darkness around you and learn the primordial truth of your existence."

So in other words, I overestimated this exercise. It is not to learn a useful skill like Force Sight. It is to explore some primordial pseudo-intellectual religious philosophy masquerading as factual Force truths? Lady Sirena. You truly put me to shame. Selling physical darkness as a metaphysical Force experience? Even I have not tried to sell that quality of Krayt skin oil.


Aliss, meanwhile, listened closely to Lady Sirena’s words. The Sith wasn’t wrong. The darkness did help Aliss focus and tap into her other senses. The drone of the ship and the beeps of the consoles -- which normally were drowned out into the background static-- played around her like the room's very own soundtrack of sorts. She also picked out more of the verbal cues and tonal shifts in the Sith Master’s voice as she spoke. The girl could even hear the clapping of feet against the ground as multiple figures approached. Each figure swayed with their own unique stride, telling a little about themselves as they drew near.


"Lady Sirena, I would introduce you to Lord Xahl. A veteran sorcerer whom I've fought beside in a previous conflict. His knowledge of the Force should prove invaluable, both in training and in battle."

 

Aliss listened for Sirena’s posture to shift and address their new guests before she raised one side of her blindfold and curiously peeked at their new arrival. It was another man. Oh boy.

He seems largely unremarkable. He is a veteran, though, which means he survived at least his last conflict. I guess that’s probably a good thing.

As the Sith lord rose from his bow, Aliss quickly dropped her blindfold and stood back at attention. She wasn’t sure if anyone had caught her but it wouldn't surprise her if Darth Maverick had. Of course, she wasn't too worried about him. She already knew he was a jerk anyways. At least now she’d know if he was a tattletale, too.
 

Clearing his throat a little, Lord Roshan bowed slightly in the direction of the new arrivals. Despite him cooking up rebuttals to Lady Sirena's guidance in his head, the Cathar was not going to openly engage Lady Sirena on whether or not literal darkness was a quite illustrious metaphysical example of the crippling effects of ignorance or how the term “darkside” was the real lie.

After all, there is no darkness for those who understand the true depths of the Force. Only enlightenment waiting to be found. The Jedi do not have a monopoly on light because they want to quantify the Force with imaginary moral boundaries and dogmatic, high sounding color palettes. The Real world is no more black and white than the Force is light and dark.


As Roshan’s mind began to wander off onto creating his next existential “counter-sermon,” the fact that there was a third figure approaching brought him back to the present. The footsteps were light, disbursing themselves across a smaller area than the previous two figures. Smaller feet most likely. In fact, the pattern and sound fit that of a female. Roshan guessed her weight was somewhere around 120 to 160 lbs in total. And there was definitely a familiar aura about her that only grew stronger the closer she got. Roshan was confident that she was a Force user as well. And last but not least came an all too familiar odor. She was definitely a human. Her arrival now brought the total of Force users in the room up to four, not counting himself and Aliss.

Interesting. I knew Darth Mavanger wouldn’t let us down. It would seem he has gathered us quite the collection of “talent.”

Roshan grinned contently as the others spoke. He was less concerned with what they were actually saying and more focused on seeing them and this room through the Force. He was content to “play blind” for Lady Sirena’s amusement but he refused to "play the fool."

Of course, if he was being honest, Roshan had to admit that Lady Sirena’s exercise had challenged him to tap into something that he hadn’t used since before the attack on his commune. Force Sight was a useful talent when exploring Sith caches, perhaps even essential as many of the boobytraps left behind were designed to snare the Lessers that might believe their ordinary sight and ambitious greed was enough to deem them worthy of looting a Sith tomb.

But ever since donning this armor, Roshan had strayed away from using many powers that had previously come to him as if second nature. It was an unsettling and uneasy feeling to struggle at doing things that he once had taken for granted. He felt like an invalid relearning to walk again. While he’d never openly admit it, it was a humbling experience and perhaps that’s why he hated it and avoided it as much as he could. Needless to say, he now had little else in the way of options.

Reaching out through the Force, he struggled to distinguish the other organic and inorganic objects in the room. He could make out faint auras of colors around the other Sith but the colors blurred in ways that made them hard to read. He was clearly much more than "out of practice" at this point. No, he was back at the beginning.

Roshan clenched his teeth in frustration. At least he could make out the basic figures enough to know their relative positions in the room. But even with his keen sense of smell, he could have probably guessed about as much. The fact that such Sight was no longer combat functional meant that he had a lot of work and practice ahead of him.

To that end, he begrudgingly gave Lady Sirena a small amount of credit. Whether he loved or hated her methods or theology, Roshan had to admit that Lady Sirena’s silly tests and her pushing and prodding was forcing him to flex his Force muscles again, in spite of the embarrassment he felt about the current state of his Force powers.

Perhaps there is a method to her madness, after all. Probably not. But perhaps.
 

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Sirena's gaze shifted toward Mordecai as he walked into the hangar, another following him a moment after, the significance of power flowing between them granting her all the knowledge she wished to know at the moment. They were in tune with one another, harmonic. Her smirk widened to a grin as she bowed with the other, flashing a wink at Mordecai briefly as his own Apprentice made her appearence.

 

"Forgive me, Lord Mavanger." Sirena spoke, her tone cynical with sarcasm as her gaze shifted to Roshan despite the smile she flashed at Aliss. "My Apprentices needed a demonstration on the importance of broadening one's horizon. I'm afraid only one may have actually learned something from it, however."

 

Offering a welcoming hand to both Mordecai and Xahl to proceed, Sirena stepped beside Roshan and Aliss, a stern voice whispering before the two presences could. "Learn from the Darkness and know yourselves. To weild the Force is one thing. To know it another."

 

With that said, Sirena drew quiet and honed into the words about to be spoken.

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Mordecai nodded to Lady Sirena as she apologized. He understood this much, of course. They were still apprentices, after all, and had much training to do. He waited only for Kahla to arrive before he spoke.

 


"Lord Xahl, this is Lady Sirena. She's a teacher who's taking a brief stint away from Korriban to assist in our efforts. The other two are her apprentices. The Cathar is Roshan, and the young woman's name is Aliss. My own apprentice, there, is Kahla."

 

"I'll begin now that we're all here. Since your... incident, Lady Sirena, I've been busy. We're over Raxus Prime, a junk world with a large Sith presence. We came to find ships to refurbish- I do not wish to draw from the war efforts in the core. We succeeded. We have enough ships, weapons and other supplies now to last for a lengthy campaign. As far as personnel, we've nearly doubled in strength. Our ranks have swelled with not only enlisted and officers, but also proper Sith. We will be ready to begin very soon."

 

He placed his hands behind his back, continuing.

 

"The plan is simple. Our base camp so to speak will be Geonosis- It was a manufacturing powerhouse during the Clone Wars, responsible for almost all of the weaponry that was used against the Old Republic. Its population has been wiped out for some time, but most of its manufacturing power should still be up to our standards if my reports are to be believed. From there we'll strike out. I'll divide our forces among the three of us, and we'll lead a three-pronged attack on the neutral worlds in the sector. If possible, I'd like to take as many worlds as possible without bloodshed. We'll be spread thin- I can't risk our forces being wiped out on a few backwater worlds for the sake of genocide."

 

He paused for a moment before moving on.

 

"Our goal in the early stages will be to secure a large foothold in the Outer Rim. Take as many neutral worlds as we can, to bait out the rebels into an open conflict. We'll pick off as many of their stragglers and strongholds in the outer rim. Then, comes the true purpose of this invasion. Bothawui. A rather minor world, but it's in a perfect position ot strike the rebel stronghold of Nar Shaddaa from. This is where we should expect the most opposition- we'll regroup and strike together. If we lose, then our goal becomes to hold onto the worlds in the Outer Rim we have claimed against any counter offensives. We'll present ourselves as a clear and present threat, and keep as many of their forces occupied as we can for the other fronts of the war. If we succeed, then I'll send lord to the Dark Lord of our success, and we will learn the best way to capitalize on our advantage."

 

He crossed his arms in front of him, looking around the room. "Questions are now welcome, as well as any critiques or concerns. You are my war council- speak freely here,  and with respect, and there shall be no repercussions."

Edited by Mavanger

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Hwyfar, tied her auburn hair back with a strap of studded leather, tying a tangle of her bangs into a braid that fell loose down her freckled face. She stared into the swirling matrix of hyperspace through the viewscreen of Le Morte d’ShadowFett, watching her reflection. She looked tired, and like she had been since meeting her Master, hungry beyond imagination.

 

She was not starving, but she felt empty. Drained. Insatiable for an energy that was neither her own, nor accessible to her. A small beeping drew her attention from her self-reflection. Raxius Prime was close. She opened her pale lips to speak, but a touch upon her soul gave her an acknowledgement to what she had not spoken. The touch pulsed, filling her with a fiery warmth. A thank you of sorts from the Sith Master. Hwyfar curled up in the pilot’s seat, setting in landing coordinates to the Sith Temple for the ship’s AI to follow in course before closing her eyes.

 

The girl focused on the fire that was blossoming within, settling her breathing around its pulses. She had never felt such power.

 

….........

 

As Le Morte d’ShadowFett landed, the great Hutt disembarked. He had disguised himself in the traditional robes of the Monks of Hildago, bright baby-blues with pink highlights, and a tonsured headdress of feathers and beads. His multi-lidded eyes blinked at the bewildered Sith troopers that rushed to investigate the new ship, flashing the human officer a grotesquely innocent smile that made her immediately cringe. He held back his presence in the Force to a sputting candle, buffeted by inner turmoil.

 

<<I was told by an Iberagian Soothsayer that I was… What was the word… FORCE ALLERGIC? Or was it… Force Intolerant? No… Sensative that’s it.>>

 

The officer sputtered out a reply that was lost in the noxious winds of Raxus Prime.

 

<<Fantastic! Take me to your temple so I might donate to the monks that live here. Do you have a gift shop?>>

 

He brushed aside their queries and pushed his bulk into the temple, leaning on his ornamental staff. Behind him, Hwyfar stepped gingerly, her dual blaster pistols holstered on her sides in a cross-draw fashion.

 

The Hutt breathed in a breath of the noxious air, complimenting its acidic qualities and phosphorescentness. He paid the landing fee with a showering of Old Republic Credits and followed the Trooper’s directions to the security processing line, which he avoided in a somewhat blustering appeal to the lack of handicap access. it wasn't long until he had talked and bribed his way onto one of the supply shuttles that was resupplying the orbital vessel. It was a cramped flight, but the troopers took it well due to the constant shower of credits and old war stories of his time serving under Jassic Terabet on the battle of Haroou IVX, a commander, a battle, and a world that had never existed. 

 

As he moved through the halls of the Sith's paltry flagship, he began to smell the all too familiar sensations of other Force Wielders, a smell he had scarcely detected since his departure from the arms of the Maw. He kept his force signature in check, frightfully small for such large a frame, and burst into the meeting of the Sith Lords, his multicolored robes a whirl of light. His jovial eyes stared into those of Mordecai.

 

<<Do you know where I can buy scented candles? This boat has a delightful salty smell that would pair just wonderfully with a white Snevrian wine!>>

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King Kheldar vos Correlli said:
Sheog, I have to ask, overkill much?
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"Forgive me, Lord Mavanger. My Apprentices needed a demonstration on the importance of broadening one's horizon. I'm afraid only one may have actually learned something from it, however."
 

Roshan thought about making excuses for Aliss but realized that such would only further embarrass the girl. Lady Sirena was asking much from someone with no proper training in the Force. The girl would come around in time. Sirena simply needed to show some patience.
 

"Learn from the Darkness and know yourselves. To wield the Force is one thing. To know it another."


Roshan nodded. When she wasn’t spewing nonsense, Lady Sirena had a habit of saying a lot with very few words. It was a gift that Roshan did not possess, nor had he any desire of cultivating. Detail was far too important to him. Plus, what was the point of standing at 6'11 if he wasn't going to use the attention his height naturally drew to him to hold his audience hostage? Still, he had slowly grown to appreciated the contrasting style of Lady Sirena, perhaps even finding it somewhat fitting that someone half his size would have so little to say when passing along her wisdom.

"Lord Xahl, this is Lady Sirena. She's a teacher who's taking a brief stint away from Korriban to assist in our efforts. The other two are her apprentices. The Cathar is Roshan, and the young woman's name is Aliss. My own apprentice, there, is Kahla."

Roshan and Aliss nodded to the new arrivals with a slight bow of acknowledgement. It was rather irritating to the Cathar that he could not put a face to the names of these new allies because of Lady Sirena’s silly and poorly timed stipulation. He was particularly interested in Darth Mavanger’s apprentice. It was unsurprising that a human of Mavanger’s demeanor would figuratively “beget” another human in the ways of the Force. It was unoriginal but very human of him. It was realistically why humans continued to dominate the ranks of the Sith and Jedi to this day. However, for a Sith Master with such a contradictory set of codes and principles -- from Roshan’ perspective -- the apprentice of such a man was bound to be quite the fascinating enigma.

What I wouldn’t give to pick her undoubtedly jumbled brain.

"I'll begin now that we're all here...”

As they listened to Darth Mavanger speak, Roshan mapped the battle plan in his head. Lady Dominique had taught him to be a student of history and the war of the clones and the fall of the Empire had especially been points of interests during his studies. They were not perhaps as amusing as the destruction of Kamino or the rise of the Chaos gods, but he appreciated the tactical brilliance of the Grandmaster known simply as “The Emperor.”

From the sound of it, this war would be much more crude. There was no haranguing of politicians or slyly manipulating greedy power players. They were to show up and intimidate as many worlds as possible into submission. From the size of their forces and Darth Mavanger's leadership style, Roshan believed the task to be possible. However, Lord Roshan knew that he would need some time to study up on the Jedi and their escapades in the years since the Cathar had taken up full-time residence on Ishvara. He had only looked in on galactic events intermittently over the years and it was clear from his earlier discussions with Lady Sirena that he had missed a lot.

The one news item that he had stumbled upon, of course, on his way to Korriban was the Holonet report about the near complete destruction of Coruscant. He found it extremely amusing that the New Republic or Rebels or whatever they were calling themselves now had failed to protect the most populous world in the galaxy from a bunch of armor clad Lessers. Perhaps that’s why the Sith had become so bold in recent months. If the Jedi and their allies couldn’t protect the Core Worlds, how could they expect to protect the worlds of the Outer Rim?!

Momentarily, Lord Roshan’s thoughts wandered to Durose. The last he knew, that Roshan clone had been assigned to work with the Link on Coruscant. Had he survived? Or had the number of Roshan duplicates dwindled following the latest Battle of Coruscant? Lord Roshan took some glee in the thought that there was one less imposter of him flying around the galaxy. He would one day become the only one to bear this name and face, at least if he had his way. But for now, he clearly had more important matters to attend to.

"Questions are now welcome, as well as any critiques or concerns. You are my war council- speak freely here,  and with respect, and there shall be no repercussions."

Roshan paused at Darth Mavanger’s statement. There was one question that had come to mind early on. It was a silly ask but of historical interest for someone who had been away from the larger galactic scene for so long. Waiting for his moment to interject, Roshan cleared his throat before opening his mouth.

Darth Mavanger, you will have to excuse my lack of knowledge regarding current events. I have been away from the larger galactic scene for some time. When you say “Rebels,” are you simply mocking the New Republic or has the New Republic formed and now finds itself fighting a Rebel faction within its own ranks? And for that matter, is their force we are opposing supported by the Jedi or are they fractured as well? That would explain the tactical ineptitude of some of the latest holonews reports that I had the chance to browse over briefly while in transit to Korriban. But all the same, I just wanted to get a better idea on who exactly we expect to be fighting.”
 

Roshan was content with his question. The Cathar spoke derisively of the self-proclaimed “good guys,” per usual, but he otherwise kept an unusually even tone to his questions. He did not want his questions to come off as silly or for them to make him seem foolish or clueless. 


Nevertheless, he realized that if they did, then so be it. He was preparing for war. And if he’d learned one thing over the decades, it was that only a fool rushed into battle willing to be blindsided and defeated by his own inaccurate assumptions. Roshan had little interest in making easily avoidable errors in his preparation for the battles and threats to come. From the sound of it, they would not be able to rely simply on overwhelming numbers, which meant making use of every possible advantage mattered.

Of course, when more unexpected guests burst into the room and commented on the smell of the humans gathered, the Cathar chuckled to himself. Darth Mavanger had definitely assembled quite the group. Roshan shook his head a little as he silently contemplated the new guest's comments.

Snevrian white wine, eh? Never heard of it Does that dull the senses of smell? Perhaps I'll have to try that one.

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Edited by Durose Roshan
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For the first time since they had began, Lady Sirena remained in silence. It was a solid plan, and one that had little to no chance of falter. So instead, she chose to close her lips and pay attention, allowing the youth a chance to speak, even as the Hutt made his entrance.

 

"This should be interesting." She thought to herself as her azura gaze met that of the Hutt momentarily, his presence almost vacant and his stature reminding her of an old Master she had once heard of. She couldn't be sure, but if it was he, then things were certainly about to get chaotic and this filled her lust immensely. 

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Lust bloomed like a muja in spring and Sheog blinked his eyes at the sudden influx of the foreign emotion. Lust always made him think of Darla, or the extravagance of Lord Ar-Pharazon. His many-lidded eyes fluttered their way to staring at the Sith Lord, Sirena, who in some way reminded him of innumerable other Sith and Jedi he had met in the galaxy, but at least this one was a beauty. Assassins and their sex-drives were a dozen a credit, and overall exhausting to deal with for any length of time. 

 

In response to the feelings of Lust, the Hutt winked an enormous eye at the Sith, the multiple lids fluttering as if to say “Come to the back and fade to black with me baby

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King Kheldar vos Correlli said:
Sheog, I have to ask, overkill much?
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Mordecai tilted his head at Lady Sirena when her apprentice spoke of his ignorance. Had she not taught him how the galaxy was truly ruled by the Sith now? That the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant were both in shambles? This was a grave failing on her part, he felt. Especially as an assassin, she should have been cultivating their knowledge on the galactic political landscape.

 

"Durose, that is a question your master should have answered by now. The New Republic and the Imperial Remnant tried their best to defeat us, but both failed miserably. They failed to see us as the threat we truly represented. We face what is left of these forces as rebels, barely able to protect their own worlds, much less any neutral worlds. That is the other side to this campaign. When the galaxy watches us blaze through the Outer Rim like a wildfire, they will see just how powerless the rebels truly are."

 

As the doors hissed open, Mordecai turned to look his eyes meeting that of a large Hutt, the stench of obesity and excess wafting off of him like the smell of dead fish on a hot day. He wrinkled his nose, looking up at the Hutt with his hand on one of his sabers.

 

"You're lost, Hutt. I'm not sure how you got aboard this cruiser, but it is not the place for wines or candles or niceties. We are a warship of the Sith Empire, and so if you are not here to join our ranks, I will have to make sure that you find your way off of this vessel."

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The boy spoke, and his dictatorial words carried the flavor of authoritarianism with it. The Hutt sniffed in a breath through his misshapen nostrils, taking in the man’s essence most fully. He had the corruption of the nightsisters on him, which would make his master either that Nightsong woman, or his own niece Telperian. The hand on the lightsaber was a familiar gesture of the new generation of Sith. What he was at the simplest was a Sith Lord, pushing for his own advancement through conquest. The older generations of Sith would have poured out a snifter of fine whiskey at the least for a potential new recruit. The Master of the Krath gurgled some phlegm from his tongue, seeming to consider the Sith’s words.

 

<<Well then, mister Darkened Lord of the Jedi, I’ve come to train to become your most stealthy assassin…>>

 

If the overlarge slug had eyebrows, they would have waggled with delight at his own jokes and teasing. Instead, several rolls of fat that had built up around his reptilian eyes jostled for dominance in a rather disturbing display of rippling grease. He chortled a bit and pulled out his briarwood pipe, packing the elaborately carved bowl with a well-aged spiced perique blended with newer Corellian Cavendish with the twist of a greasy thumb.

 

<<You don’t mind if I smoke do you? I know it’s bad for you, but well. Hutt and all. Carcinogens be damned I say. Not as bad for you as being a Grey Jedi am I right boys...>>

 

The mountain of filth gave an exaggerated wheezy cough and continued, bringing a lighter to the bowl and taking a small sip from the swirling stem of Blackmorne Briar, talking around the bit as he did so.

 

<<I am your humble apprentice, lead the way and I will follow. What is my first task? If it's killing this horny Sith, I'll do it for free.  Speaking of, what is the pay?>>

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King Kheldar vos Correlli said:
Sheog, I have to ask, overkill much?
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With her communicator buzzing Kahla stepped out of the room only just as the Hutt slimed his way in. A wave of relief fell over her, she couldn't stand the stench for even a moment, let alone occupy the same room. Quite the cast she thought to herself as she wandered down the hall.

 

Quite the cast indeed. Mordecai had massed numerous force users, now a Hutt as well? Perhaps he controlled a portion of the outer rim, allying themselves with him would definitely hasten their campaign. Kahla was impressed with her master, and leaned into the drive to learn.

 

The buzzing became to obnoxious to bare, and she held her communicator fast. "What is it?" She snapped. The voice on the other end was thick with rasp, and each word sounded laboured. "Madam Zendrin, I apologize if I'm interrupting."

 

Kahla calmed, on the line was a scrapper, an old friend of hers from the academy. Harris didn't graduate, and in great debt he wound up in the depths of Raxus. "Sorry, I'm just, a little on edge. How comes the search?" Her voice was softer, more sincere. It's unfortunate he never grasped the academics, as he was a very charismatic young man. But looks aren't worth the passing grade.

 

"Well," He started "We found the model you're looking for, but she's seen better days. We can haul what's left of 'er up, won't fly on 'er own though."

"That's perfectly fine, Harris, Have it brought to the hangar, along with everything else you found."

"Good as done, ma'am."

 

"Thank you.. And, Take care of yourself." Her voice got quiet, sure by now her master knew what she was up to; but she didn't want it to be known she had personal ties.

 

"Don't you go all soppy on me; I'll be comin' up myself so you don't wanna look soft."

 

She let the communicator into her pocket and made her way to the hanger. There was a guilt in her soul, tearing at her from inside. She wished there was something she could do, get him out of the wretched place. Even if he was brought on board as a ship hand, maybe the engine room, or just mechanic. Deep down she knew it wouldn't be enough; the pay, the work; pulling him away from his friends and workforce. And if he were killed aboard one of their ships? Sure, the scrapyard could kill him any day, but to know it was her fault for bringing him aboard? She couldn't bare that blame.

 

She made it to the hanger just in time to see the Tug land. There before her stood the majority of a Fury Class interceptor, Another Sith relic from a bygone age. Her heart raced with excitement, she could almost feel the withered soul of the ship.

 

Harris stepped down from the Beaten Barge. "I'd tell you it's good to see you, but you look worse than that wreck." Kahla grinned, pulling her hood down.

 

He choked out a heavy laugh. "I'm still standing! Ought to count for something I'd say!"

 

She held her chit out for the transfer. It was far from cheap, but an artifact like this was well worth it.

 

"So what's next for the great scrapper of Raxus?" Kahla embellished. "Oh, tomorrow I'm pulling a Lucrehulk out and starting a brand new empire of my own!" The sarcasm dripped from his words and Kahla shook her head. "Isn't there something better you could do? Get off this blasted planet?" Harris smiled wide "What else is there to do? Ain't nothin' takin' a used up old scrapper." Kahla's face turned stern and calculated. The words that poured from her mouth she had no control over, she couldn't stop now. "I'll need a mechanic, and very soon, I'll need a captain. I'll make sure your debt is settled; one way or another." As he listened a fearful complexion found its way to his face. The way she spoke was like a demand more than a suggestion, not an offer but an order. "I-" "Don't care." Kahla interrupted, her words became like venom "Serve aboard my vessel, if Darth Mavanger has anything to say about it he can go through me.

 

The silent pause echoed, deafening them to the roaring engines of the Beaten Barge. "Alright" He spoke, his voice quaking. "Then I will be at your command, Madam." Kahla lifted her chin and waved away the tug. "Good, If you woulddn't mind, I'm not familiar with the workings of this interceptor." She placed a hand on his shoulder and locked her gaze to his. "Welcome aboard."

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Mordecai sneered at the Hutt's flippancy and nonchalant attitude. It was irritating. No, it was beyond that. It was infuriating. Good. It would give him something to work with in battle. He bottled up his fury, storing it to be unleashed on the next poor soul who dared to challenge him, and turned away. He took note of his apprentice's exit, and then of the Hutt's words. He crossed his arms. Lustful sith? He glanced at Lady Sirena. He knew enough about the assassin to know whom the Hutt was referring to, but for the apparently new apprentice to be able to pin a trained assassin's emotions so precisely? He and Lord Xahl shared a glance- good. Xahl had picked up on it too.

 

He moved past the Hutt, Xahl following him as he turned back to address those remaining.

 

"Prepare what you must. We shall surely see combat in the near future. Make sure not to have any more... Incidents." he glared at Sirena, the meaning behind his words clear. He needed his people in fighting shape, not held up in bacta tanks by their own doing for months on end.

 

As they exited, he had two tasks at hand. He turned to Lord Xahl first.

 

"Lord Xahl, you know the archives better than I. See what you can find on this new arrival. I have a feeling he knows more than he's letting on."

 

Xahl nodded, and as he left, Mordecai retrieved his communicator, hailing the good Captain.

 

"Captain, take us to Kuat. We'll touch up our fleet there before the campaign, make sure everything is in working order. Besides, after the last escapade I want to inspect the defenses, make sure they've been improved adequately. This campaign is meaningless if they can just waltz into one of our most important systems and steal from us whenever they wish."

Edited by Mavanger

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