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Darth Heretic

Mon Calamari

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Mjan's eyes fluttered open, his golden gaze staring into a darkened abyss before him, the cold of the water he laid floating in tingling his skin as he stared back into nothingness. Was he alive? Was he dead? So many questions fluttered to his mind, but he only smiled, knowing that wherever he was, he had given himself to its damnation willingly in the service of others, saving lives that did not need be taken. It swelled him with a blissful bittersweetness, saddening him that he would never see Rose, Nia, or any of the others again, but pleasing him that such a damnation had had such an effect. Or so he thought.

 

But now came the looking glass, the ever present darkness incarnate within one's self that was always looming in the background, coming to the forefront with a menacing snicker as the two halves of the whole gazed at one another. Mjan adverted his gaze, remembering his darkened visage from their previous encounter where they fought against each other in the depths of Ilum, remembering Its plight like a bad taste of a distant memory. But it could only grimace in pleasure as it gazed at Mjan, the darkened one gleefully enjoying himself.

 

"What?" Mjan poised, shifting his gaze back toward the Adas blood that ran through him. "Why do you smile knowing that I have won, defeated and suppressed your attempts?"

 

"But have you?" It questioned, waving his hand through it's own trickled water to show the outside world, of Sara, Nok, and Xar. Of Rose, the Cathar, of the Mon Cal Leena and another light filled presence. Mjan briefly perked up, but it faded as he realized that it wasn't Nia. "You have only stopped the inevitable, pushing pause on a scenario that will resume without you."

 

Mjan watched on, his conviction wavering as he saw the ongoings, his faith in himself and the Force quivering as the events played out. "It matters little." He finally responded. "It is the will of the Force." The reflection chuckled hard, grasping at its ribs in hilarity. But then gazed back at Mjan with a serious one. "Are you daft? It is the will of life, of the strong and powerful, not the entity you Jedi claim to guide us. It is the will of those who make it so."

 

Mjan laid in the darkened water in silence, the bitter coldness aching his muscles and causing his skin to shiver with bumps and raised hair. His doubts, his fears, his rage.... this is the being that were them incarcerate. This much he knew. But is this truly what he thought? Did Mjan truly doubt so deeply? Was he so lost? His memories flooded his mind, flowing from a distant past and a recent action, the memories of the life that led him from the Sorcerer's of Tund to the Jedi he had become, and he could see the dark moments of his life where doubt clouded his judgement and pierced his heart, the rage he felt and buried within him, cutting himself from the Force to deaden his emotions, and in the end, opening his wounds to accept what was lost and what could be gained. That was what led to his decision. And Mjan smiled. 

 

There was a sudden burst of pain echoing across his form as Mjan awoke to feel the bayonets driven into his form, intense and scrutinious. He cried out in the moment his gaze shifting around in the panic as he felt another blow and he wept. Coldness swept around him, only adding insult to injury as the metallic pierced bone ached with it. And Mjan's gaze focused upon the Imperial before him as the final pierced his stomach, the tearing of flesh and organ sent the aching for death reeling through his mind, blood being coughed up through his cries. Anger clawed for release. Hatred begged to be held. But Mjan's heart only ached for those that kicked him. And he smiled, the echoing voice calling for his allies.

 

"There... is no... need." Mjan managed to get out between coughs of dark blood and the taste of metallic upon his tongue. Swallowing a mouthful of it between breaths, he sat there amidst the pain as he felt his life slipping away slowly. "I thank you for your mercy, Imperial."

 

A few coughs could be heard as Mjan gazed into the darkening unknown, the rattling sounds of his filling lungs, and after a few jerking attempts to breath, his golden gaze turned silver and his eyes slowly closed in bliss as a smile eternally creased his lips.


 

Sheog the Mad said:
oof Sheog

Is actually a tribe of autistic ewoks in a costume

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Posted (edited)

As the thunder of falling water continued to drown out the chaos of the tunnel,  Leena shot like a torpedo above the ground. Barely a flick of her muscles propelled her expertly and invisibly through the dark sloshing waters. She felt it, the red Jedi, his pain. She felt the darkness closing in on him and longed to reach out, to grasp the force and shake the darkness out as she had countless times before in her medical wards. She could not though; she had pushed herself too far away. The darkness was pressing in on all sides and to drive it away, the ancient darkness that lurked, the great darkness that surged, the drowned darkness lost in the cacophony, and the dark fog of chaos, would take too much time. Leena could not drive the darkness away when the jack-booted enforcers sought to kill those that stood against them.


Maybe though, she could empower the power that surged forth in a spray of watery creatures. If she could stop this dsrkness, perhaps she could save the lives of other prisoners and innocents without them even knowing it. 

 

Slowing beneath the waters, Leena steadily extended her hand beneath the water, feeling Mjan’s pain and his death; drawing the peace the sith-born Jedi finally grasped forward. She felt for the soldiers, finding them standing in the rising waters, their dark forms Illuminated by any physiciality that strayed from normal. As a healer, she searched for wounds to heal. The skills she lacked with her lightsaber were more than made up for in her abilities to find and treat a myriad of wounds, visible and invisible.
 

It was simple enough to reverse the health of a being. Sometimes it needed done, to redirect the body’s natural healing powers elsewhere. Other times, one had to suppress a body’s natural reactions to save lives. It was not a dark power. Darkness depended on intent. And there in the dark waters, surrounded by darkness, Leena reached out with light. She would try and find the mind of each soldier, guarded against attack and steeled to the outside world. With a healer’s grace she sought to bypass those defenses. It wasn’t hard. Inside, it was a simple enough task to shift the balance of their inner ears, a simple irritant. Dizziness, nausea, pain, vomiting, and tinnitus would follow almost instantly if all worked as planned; if the force willed it.

 

The goon and his henchmen would not even know what hit them. Right?

 

___________________
 

Throughout the cavernous tunnel, water continued to fall and rise. this far beneath the surface, they were all alone, save for each other, and the fishes, and what lurked at the end of the tunnel.

 

Water surged down the tunnel, sweeping by Nok, ripping past Xar, and cascading down the maw into the ramshackled lair that seemed to have lain untouched for centuries or more, hammering the lifeless body of Sara beneath it.

 

As the water found its way through the cracked and creviced ground, it stirred the still calm waters that sat at the end of the lair, swathed in total darkness; a darkness that the unearthly green lamps along the walls did not pierce; a darkness that even blotted out the piercing gaze of the force. 
 

As the water rippled outward from the shore, something broke the surface of the water with a splash In the darkness. This splash was followed by several more and the splashes of footfalls stamping the waters marching forward until the wraith-like forms of four ancient droids modeled after the ancient Mon Cal formed from the shadows. Their deep red bodies were illuminated an eery black by the green light. Their knees creaked with each step.

Edited by Leena Kil

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Posted (edited)

She died defiantly rather than lose control.

 

Nok's lip curled contemptuously.

 

Fool. Blind, dead fool.

 

Control was an illusion. You only lost it when you stopped believing you had it. Nok was trapped underground in a flooding cave with a psychotic droid that could turn on him if he so much as insulted it. Not an ideal situation, but he had his mind and so he had as much control as he'd ever had.

 

Only the weak thought they could ever lack control over their own choices, and only the arrogant thought they controlled anything else.

 

The seawater rushed past Nok's legs, soaking and tugging at his heavy robes. Grimacing, he activated the vibroknife still in his left hand and sliced his ruined robes away, letting them drop into the current and flow into the pit. Underneath, he wore black noghri leathers, tailored to fit his taller frame. His other three vibroknives, curved blades with horn grips and a different sigil engraved on each, sat nestled in their wrist sheaths, and his hold-out blaster hung snug at his hip. He shut off his knife and drew the inactive blade across the tip of his finger, pain blossoming and illuminating the cave like a candle while blood dripped into the water below.

 

Perception is power, but no one to pretend for now.

 

"Good work," he said to Xar as he approached. "She's dead, I-"

 

He stopped as the unmistakable sound of creaking metal echoed up from the chamber below, barely audible over the rushing water. Nok got the faintest impression of shapes moving through the water.

 

Droids...

 

He smiled. "I guess this place isn't as empty as we thought. Good thing. We needed someone to ask for directions."

 

Looks like a good twenty feet down. Fall probably killed her. As for me...

 

Master Miwak, one of Nok's instructors, had taught him how to roll into a fall, but twenty feet was tricky at best and he hadn't practiced in some time.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

Fear raced through him in waves in time with his breathing. Nok sunk into the emotion, channeling it into something useful. In that clarity, he had an idea, something he'd read about but never attempted.

 

Nok wasn't about to stay up here. Sheathing his knife, he exhaled. Then he jumped.

 

As he fell, he pushed with the Force as he had before, but now on himself instead of a fleeing woman. Even as he did, he could feel how he'd done it wrong, the move clumsy and and uncertain. It slowed him down, but through him off his balance. Instinctively, he tucked his legs like he'd been taught.

 

Pain blossomed as he crashed into the water and rolled in the current. A pathetic landing that would have had his trainers beating him, but with the clumsy Force push it was enough to keep him from breaking any bones. That being said, Nok's formerly unbruised arm now ached, adding to the illumination of his Dark Side vision. With it, he could see through the water to the droids approaching...and to a metal hilt rocking back and forth in the current next to the corpse of the woman.

Edited by Nok Morliss

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Xar paused as he watched the body tumble forward. With blood still dripping from his claws, slower then before now that his claws had stopped vibrating, Xar observed how the Zeltron was limp and over into the pitt. 

 

She could not have survived his claws. Nor could she have survived that fall. Xar was sure of it. 

 

“A fitting end for an incensed lesser.” Xar stated as he got back into a more relaxed position. “Good riddance” 

 

His partner walked up beside him and began to comment about how the Zeltron was dead but he got distracted. Xar saw them as well. From the water below in the pitt that the Zeltron had fallen into, four mechanical beings began to rise up. Their red forms in the strange  green light gave them an almost wraith-like appearance. Monsters from the depths. 

 

Nok, unsurprisingly, jumped in. Xar observed how his partner leapt in. It was clear he had some practice in form of parkour,  but was out of practice. His form wasn’t as loose as it should have been. His roll wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. But that’s not what caught Xar’s attention. During the Neimodian’s descent, his fall slowed slightly. Not much, but it was perceptible, even to non-droids. 

 

“Questions for later. It’s a good thing we are much more experienced…” Xar commented, and then stepped off the edge into the pit. 

 

As he fell, each moment was analyzed by the droid. The rate of the fall. The distance between him and the droids. The droids and Nok. Nok and the dead Zeltron. All of it. A barrage of information captured over and over in microseconds. Precisely four meters from the bottom, Xar’s legs moved back and scratched along the wall behind him, slowing his descent. At two meters, Xar pushed against the wall, upwards, slowing even more and even gaining some height. Xar pulled in his body and extended his legs downward again. He fell with a hard splash. He bended both his legs as he hit the ground, slowing his descent even further. By the time he was at a stand still, the G-forces he experienced were negligible. 

 

Xar straightened up, Nok behind him, droids in front of him. He raised a claw and pointed to the droids. He honestly wished he had a gun at this point, but surely these droids couldn’t be too much trouble. 

 

“You shall halt and identify yourselves to Xar and our partner! Immediately!” 

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The four well-worn droids, dripping with water and slopping moss creaked to a halt as their feet reached the edge of the blackened waters. There, they stood, silent sentinels regarding the droid and nemoidian without acknowledging Xar’s order.


“Çağırışa qulaq asmaq üçün daha layiqli bir qurban gözləyirdik. Nə olursa olsun, yetər. Dərhal qəbul üçün hazırlayın.” a dark otherworldly voice rumbled out of the swirling blackness that began to slowly churn out over the waters behind the droids. It did not echo on the waves of the force towards the surface this time, however. Instead, it seemed to reverberate on the force within the room itself, drowning out the sounds of the crashing water behind Xar and Nom.

 

_____________________________
 

Back up the tunnel where the forces of the Sith seemed to have the upper hand over those of the light, things were equally grim looking; even if nobody could tell yet. The aged tunnel constructed without inspection, repair, or the required safeguards struggles to bear up under the assault it had been subjected too. Sitting empty for so long, the fragile ecosystem was easily upset. The waterfall that cascades into the tunnel was but the surface of a wound that had pierced and spread through the stone like a rapidly spreading infection. Faults and weaknesses in the stone popped and groaned under the change, invisible to the senses of those trapped within. Invisible until further up the tunnel, the weakness burst forth like a blister unable to be contained any more.

 

Rock, water and all manner of fishy races fell from above into the chasm that reached deep into the depths where it met with underwater caves.  
 

Far above, in the already chaotic cityscape one more mostly unnoticed cataclysm seemed to erupt. The already overtaxed septic and sewage system failed, horribly. Across the city toilets and faucets erupted under the surge of watery force that now churned in all directions as the sea itself re- and over- pressurized any portion of the system it could reach.

 

Of course, this was all lost on our adventurers deep beneath the surface. They had more important things to worry about, like the literal wall of churning frothy ice-cold water that roared down the collapsing shaft. It did not care for sides or force abilities. It simply devoured anyone end everyone in its path picking them up as it surged onwards and downwards following the empty shaft towards the inevitable conclusion.

 

And still, the force ruled over it all. The froth of icy black picked up the adventurers and carried them forward, tossing and tearing at them until it slammed into the end of the tunnel. Then and only then could it even begin to subside as it regurgitated much of the contents of its gullet into the pit below.

 

Water, sea creatures, and adventurers were thrown into the pit amongst an unhealthy amount of water that surged over and through the desecrated laboratory until it met with the still waters where the aged droids stood.

 

In that moment, the four sentinels sprung to life with more agility than one might expect from an ancient robot. Sprinting towards the crashing junction of water and ancient air, the droids encircled the downward flowing geyser. Each droid lifted it’s hand towards another, a bluish purple glow kindling in the dim chaos until beams of light shot from each palm. The laser like blasts all interconnected and began to spread in sparking circles. Slowly raising their hands the expanding glows of energy became a single growing circle that cut off the water as it crashed over the edges of the energized barrier. Lifting the barrier towards the ceiling, as the droids raised their hands upwards, water continued to rain down until the shield connected with a hiss to the ceiling. And then suddenly, the cascade of death was stopped, leaving nearly waist deep water spanning the once lab, froth forming at the rocky walls. Aside from a few shelves that clung desperately to the edged, and the wall mounted ghoulish green lights, the only thing that remained visible was the stone altar and it’s long-dead sacrificial skeleton. Under foot, bits of broken who-knows-what continued to swirl as the waters began to settle.

 

Through it all, the darkness remained, swirling at the far end as if it was watching, tasting, taking it all in.

 

“Nəhayət. Sən axmaqsan. Məni dolandırmaq istədin indi mənim sahəmə atıldı. Sənin gücünlə bizim gücümüzlə birləşib azad olacağam. Sonra hamısı yenə qarşımda diz çökəcəklər. Məni əbədiyyətə qovmaq istəyiniz uğursuz oldu, çünki mən hamıdan güclüyəm. Qaranlıq tərəfi aşdım. Mən qüvvəyəm.”

 

The voice surged from the darkness, annoyance and anger masked with haughty glee apparent in the tone of the ancient forgotten words.

 

_______________________
 

Before Leena could act further, she too was caught up in the frigid surge. She inhaled on instinct, the waters searing her lungs. Grasping at anything in the dark, her fingers found leverage on a rock that jutted from the floor and she clung to it with all the strength that she could muster. The water raged about her. With her eyes closed, Leena willed the strength of her body to hold on for dear life; part survival instinct, part force-empowered. While she did not know that the others were swept away, Leena remained.

 


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Nok's hand closed around the lightsaber hilt hidden under the chilled water. Surreptitiously he clipped it to his belt and didn't mention it. Xar had killed the woman, but he didn't seem interested in the valuable weapon, and Nok didn't want to draw his attention to it if he could help it.

 

18 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

The four well-worn droids, dripping with water and slopping moss creaked to a halt as their feet reached the edge of the blackened waters. There, they stood, silent sentinels regarding the droid and nemoidian without acknowledging Xar’s order.

 

Still in pain from his fall, Nok could see the shape of the peculiar droids. They were no model he recognized, and they seemed decidedly fish-like in their design with their heads eerily similar to a Mon Calamari. He struggled to comprehend how they were still standing, but couldn't tell if they were even running anymore. They didn't appear to be armed, and weren't moving to stop Nok and Xar, so he hoped they were nonfunctional or at least didn't see the pair as threats.

 

18 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

“Çağırışa qulaq asmaq üçün daha layiqli bir qurban gözləyirdik. Nə olursa olsun, yetər. Dərhal qəbul üçün hazırlayın.” a dark otherworldly voice rumbled out of the swirling blackness that began to slowly churn out over the waters behind the droids.

 

One of Nok's knives dropped back into his left hand as his right drew his blaster. The voice moved through the Force, spoke through the Force, but had no apparent source. Nok's attention fell on the altar and the skeletal remains laid atop it.

 

His grim, tight lips creeped up into a macabre smile. He'd read about the labs of Force-sensitives amassing knowledge of concepts like souls and spirits centuries beyond modern science, and an altar in a lab filled with a dark presence matched the ideal perfectly.

 

He crouched as he tamped down his dreams of the possible treasure trove they'd found, and forced his thoughts onto a more cautious track.

 

The source of that voice...the corpse? A guardian?

*Rumble*

 

Is that...panic?

 

19 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

And still, the force ruled over it all. The froth of icy black picked up the adventurers and carried them forward, tossing and tearing at them until it slammed into the end of the tunnel. Then and only then could it even begin to subside as it regurgitated much of the contents of its gullet into the pit below.

 

Water, sea creatures, and adventurers were thrown into the pit amongst an unhealthy amount of water that surged over and through the desecrated laboratory until it met with the still waters where the aged droids stood.

 

Springing back at the sudden deluge, Nok half leapt, half sprinted to the wall and pressed his back against it. Water surged past his feet, and to Nok's Force senses, he saw the panicked struggle of sea creatures slipping into the flooding lab like dropped glowballs. Then, larger things dropped through. People.

 

19 hours ago, Leena Kil said:

In that moment, the four sentinels sprung to life with more agility than one might expect from an ancient robot. Sprinting towards the crashing junction of water and ancient air, the droids encircled the downward flowing geyser. Each droid lifted it’s hand towards another, a bluish purple glow kindling in the dim chaos until beams of light shot from each palm. The laser like blasts all interconnected and began to spread in sparking circles. Slowly raising their hands the expanding glows of energy became a single growing circle that cut off the water as it crashed over the edges of the energized barrier. Lifting the barrier towards the ceiling, as the droids raised their hands upwards, water continued to rain down until the shield connected with a hiss to the ceiling. And then suddenly, the cascade of death was stopped, leaving nearly waist deep water spanning the once lab, froth forming at the rocky walls. Aside from a few shelves that clung desperately to the edged, and the wall mounted ghoulish green lights, the only thing that remained visible was the stone altar and it’s long-dead sacrificial skeleton. Under foot, bits of broken who-knows-what continued to swirl as the waters began to settle.

 

Alright, so they're functional after all.

 

Nok sidestepped along the edge of the wall towards the back of the room, away from the droids and the altar. Fate or chance or the Force had granted him a surplus of new people, and if any of them were his companions who'd gladly thrown themselves at the Sith, he had no doubt they'd trigger whatever danger was here first if he just held back.

 

Still...the feel he got from the newcomers was different...

 

He sheathed his knife and holstered his pistol, but kept his hands ready to draw again.


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The screeching whine of over-strained pipelines and the moan of cracked bedrock, would soon convene into an untenable disaster. Strands of the force reached out to warn of this, catching as they fell before the eyes of the legendary assassin. As still as stone he stood, eavesdropping on the cavernous world around him. Darkhand ammunitions cut into the creatures that fell from the falling stream, tearing their flesh from soft bones and spreading lifeblood into the rising waters. Their squealing corpses heaped over one another in awkward mass, dripping large amounts of sickly pigment into the canal. Mounting death served as little more than a sacramental power source, the Dark King smiled as he noticed that this was a bait-trap for what hid below. The channel filled dangerously, but Exodus just watched, cognitively existing in a place that the ordinary would never know. His mind blossomed like an unbridled nexus, quickly understanding the extrapolation of the fools that surrounded him; they would die without him lifting a single blade. And they did, one after the other. Above the passages was no different, Exodus and his forces brutalized all who opposed, crushing their spirits long before their bones. It would seem that none had ever pushed this weapon to the brink, would it be so different deep down below?

 

“We will soon see.” The chain-reaction erupted all at once, and the infrastructure caved under the pressure at last. There was a rippling realization between each individual when the echoes of collapse roared through the tunnel systems, whole foundations snapping like twigs. Then the invincible tide came. The sheer force of it was tremendous, a buckling flood raging towards the channel-dwellers without the slightest hesitation. The natural world was furious, coming to claim what was rightfully theirs. The Dark King turned to finally face the gargantuan rush, in a way, still unimpressed. Like dominos, the others were viciously swept from their feet, some as soon-to-be corpses that flung passed where he stood. Exodus raised both arms in a brace, spreading his fingers apart at the hands as if to catch the hastening torrent head-on. Just half-a-meter out, the flood tide split down the seams, stemming wide around the body of the Dark King. The divergence was too close, but it kept. Splashing ocean spouted against his black monolithic armor plates, running wild down its brutish carvings. The Anzat was barbaric in his power, monstrous in his hulking calm. The others washed passed him, colliding hard into the cave-in, breaking the staunch column completely free. 

 

Trembling power gushed from his body, wrestling with the herculean tension of multiplying motion. He cut an eye to his destination, knowing his challenge lay just ahead, and then he pushed. There was unparalleled artistry in his movement, such a natural fluency that allowed him to inherit the complete rush of the tide and spearhead himself into the falling geyser. The King of the Sith broke from the spring as hard as a buckshot, skidding across the laboratory lower than a Trithan prowler, unleashing his hoarse-red lightsaber in a wicked guard.


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Xar paused when the droids halted. He couldn’t tell if they understood him or not, but they had halted. However, another voice was in the room, speaking a language unknown to Xar. Xar glanced at Nok. 

 

“What are they saying Neimodian? Are they sith like you?” 

 

However, there wasn’t a chance to respond. A deluge of water and assorted sea animals came crashing in and down. Same as Nok, Xar rushed back to the wall, kicking through water and pieces of fish. Guts filled the water as his lower claws cut through the animals carelessly. However, either due to bad luck or something else, some of the things that fell knocked the droid down. 

 

“Son of a jawa kissing whore!” Xar cursed. This entire ‘adventure’ had been degrading. He had dealt with explosions, security, a mad zeltron, a lying Neimodian, sludge and fecal matter, and now this: being covered and battered by fish and water. If he wasn’t splash proof, Xar’s insides would have shortcircuited by now. What was next? 

 

A gun.

 

Xar stopped as his claws grasped something under the water. Rising from his knees, Xar looked at what he had picked up. The weapon the Zeltron had carried earlier. A slugthrower handgun. Still loaded judging by the weight of it. No doubt it was the same one the Zeltron had carried with her when he sliced her back. 

 

That is also when Xar realized a new sound in the room. It sounded like…

 

Xar looked around and spotted it. Another lightsaber. However, this was different. Amongst the bodies coming in, the being wielding it was different.  The user held himself in a way of a perfect guard. He held himself in a way that communicated power. It was hard to see at the moment, with all the water and everything, but the glimpse that Xar could see was impressive.  A true Sith? 

 

No matter, Xar didn’t have time to wonder about this. These droids needed to fall. The water was stopping. The droids were doing something. Xar believed that they didn’t carry the hint of sentience like he did. They were following their programming and commands, like so many inferior beings. And Xar guessed they were not programmed for maintenance. More likely they were made for defense and extermination. They needed to fall before they did something dangerous.  

 

Xar turned and aimed the gun at one of the droids. While moving towards the droids, Xar began to attack. With two claws maintaining balance of the gun, Xar squeezed the trigger with his third and fired twice on the nearest droid. He didn’t care about the altar, nor the bodies who had crashed into the lab. Let Nok, who was somewhere behind him, wonder about that. The droids were his. 

 

 

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Pressurize! 

 

The scream echoed out from Lieutenant Blacktorin, crashing through Delta’s mind which had been trying to ward off a mass of nausea that had nearly overcome him. When he blinked the tears out of his eyes he could feel the whole world shifting, water bubbling, and the screams of the men he was supposed to protect. 

 

He slapped at his wrist and sucked in a breath of air as he felt the undersuit to which his armour was attached suddenly tighten as it pressurized. Built to withstand the void of space combat, it was not built for comfort and Delta sucked in another breath of the recycled oxygen. 

 

“Steady yourselves!”
 

Then there was a swirling blackness that went on and on forever as his HUD cycled through its vision layers to try to make any sense of what was going on. But it didn’t take long for the impact to come. And when Delta hit, he could feel his legs crumple underneath him and his helmet struck hard enough on rock that it felt like his entire brain had exploded into a mass of stars. His ears rang for what felt like minutes as he pulled himself up into a crouch. 

 

He coughed and slowly shook his head as the ringing began to fade. Replaced by the distinct sound of static, blasting through his headset, intercut with moans and gasps. He shook his head again as his vision refused to clear. He blinked, and could feel what felt like thick water brushing against his eyes and beginning to drip towards his mouth. It was hot and he knew what it was before its coppered taste filled his mouth. 

 

Blood

 

He groaned and pulled his hands up to his neck and with a jerk that caused his head to erupt into a million more sparks of pain and light, he pulled the helmet off. Immediately his nostrils were filled with a disgusting smell but that did not matter. He scooped at his eyes with muddy hands, brushing the blood out of them where it was beginning to congeal around his eyelashes. He coughed again, and scrabbled at his eyes again until he was able to wrench one of them open long enough for more blood to flow in. 

 

He cursed loudly and wiped at his eyes as he knelt in the destroyed mass of bodies, sewage, dead fish, and discarded weapons. He felt at his shoulder for the tube that connected to the water bladder in his pack and stuffed it into his mouth. It tasted disgusting, but in a few moments, he cleared his mouth with a spit and then, keeping the flow valve open with a pinch of his fingers, directed the stream of water into his eyes. 

 

That did the tick, and though blood still seeped down his forehead, he was able to keep it at bay. Only then did he take a moment to assess his surroundings. His men were his focus. No blaster bolts were spinning their way through the damp air so he began to assess the damage. 

 

He found his battered helmet and pulled the comm headset out of it, noting the where the upper section of the helm was completely ripped apart. He strapped it around his neck, and snaked the cord up into his right ear. 

 

“Sergeants, report.”

 

A few reports and moans returned his call. No melodious voices of his lieutenants returned to his headset. 

 

Spast

 

A glance up told him that the dark lord had survived, which of course he would have. And Delta could feel a flare of anger at the lone man. Again a question of why. Why was he here, why were his men here, if the Sith Lords could so easily overcome every obstacle thrown at them. Obstacles that had very likely killed a great many good men and women. Who did not need to be here. 

 

A few soldiers could be seen, their armour wrecked and broken, busily pulling other soldiers out of the muck and mire. And Delta joined them. There was no reason at this moment he needed to help the Dark Lord. The man could stand on his own against giants. He did not need help, but the soldiers of the Darkhand did. They were no supernatural beings. 

 

So Delta Began to search through the bodies and mire, pulling helmets up out of the mud where he could. Laying the bodies in a long, broken row. 


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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The waters churned and frothed as they sloshed into the darkness, beginning to calm with the cessation of the deluge. The eerie green glow reflected off the shifting surfaces around the team. The darkness at the end of the cavern swirled in silence.

 

And then, the droid struck. Xar’s claws cut into the thin metal covering over the droid and the weapon’s fire illuminated the dimness causing the droid to topple without a cry; the light fadedfrom the droid’s palms as it fell, breaking the circle.

 

Before the waters could even calm completely, the waters thundered in again as the energy-shield flickered, a portion of it fading away with the fallen droid.

 

In the din, the presence within the darkness reacted. Beneath the chopping surface of water, snaking along the debris scattered floors, tentacled appendages sought their prey. Wherever they found a boot, a leg, or a limb, the eyeless stalks swirled, encircling the limbs with a lightning-like speed and grace. They pulled and tugged, drawing their prey under the splashing waters back towards the swirling darkness, a fierce and ancient high-pitched animalistic squeal echoed across the waters. Hunger and anger rippling on the waves of the force.

 

Suddenly, two tentacles, tinged a sickly pink as if they had never seen the light, twisted about the murderbot’s limbs, yanking it down beneath the waters before it could strike again. With a surge, he was carried, bumping and grinding against the ground, towards the inkiness.

 

The three remaining droids held firm against the torrent. Each one carefully stepped to accommodate the loss of their sibling. With a low hum that was all but drowned by the crashing waters the droids’ power surged, their aged photoceptors flashing red. They pushed their arms to thefull height their limbs would allow, stemming the tide once again. Their bodies hummed with the extra extended power. It was only a matter of time.

 

Blood. Blood wafted on the waters, mingling with the black. The fallen troopers presented easy victims and the sinewy tentacles found easy purchase; drawing them in with Xar towards the blackness.

 

Xar was swallowed by the darkness first, moving from the cold wet waters into a sucking torrent of pressure and spearheads. Teeth! Teeth everywhere. Then blackness, not the swirling darkness of the force that hid whatever was on the other side, but blackness in it’s purest form. Any light would reveal little but fleshly tones pressing in from all sides, muscled and massive; crushing in it’s monstrous intensity. The corrosive acids of the creatures gullet already bathing the droid in juicy hungry death.

 

 “Cəhənnəmə xoş gəldin,“ the voice whispered to Xar from within the beast, until a realization became apparent. The soothing dark voice changing to one of disgust.  “Sən neynirsən?!? ¡Bir iyrənc!” the voice growled.

 

Suddenly Xar was sent flying through the dark air, back through the swirling vortex as it pulsed with anger, towards the lab.

 

_____________________
 

Further up the collapsing tunnel, Leena held on for dear life, the force empowering her fingers to clasp for freedom until the tidal surges subsided. Silt and debris wafting in the settling darkness.

 

Letting go of her rock, Leena closed her eyes. The cold waters burned her lungs, but she could breathe. She could breathe though. Even in the dark iciness of the sea, Leena drifted. For a moment, the chaotic clashes above and the swirling dark powers below were kept at a distance. Here, in the moment, Leena felt it surging up around her in the deep; peace.


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 The aggregate of all of the chaos came in the form of a surging tidal force, sweeping everyone into further depths. T’ali’au surrendered herself to Loloto’s will, diverting the blunt trauma of impacts through rolling and launching off of surfaces when possible. When at last she found herself at the terminus of the descent, she vanished beneath the waist high waters to better ascertain the situation.

 

The ancient poison’s presence was felt more keenly in this void, but it felt alien compared to the men from the surface. These beasts were like any other agents of the poison, and prone to infighting. It wasn’t long before tentacles of whatever lurked beneath were picking off soldiers.

 

The priestess readied her spear and began an elegant but conservative dance of strikes and interwoven movements. She muted her presence in the chaos, not concealing it entirely but also not advertising her presence.


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“What...was..that!?!” Xar shouted as he picked himself up off the lab floor. Dripping with water and slime, the droid looked rather beaten and disgraced, considering how highly he held himself. As he picked himself up, he was happy to see that he still had the gun.

 

That was the one thing Xar kept a grip on when he was pulled under the waters. The time he spent under was so short, or was it so long? He couldn’t tell. Time was odd. He couldn’t tell what happening. What had happened under there was strange. The tentacles...the teeth! And the voice in the teeth!

 

Xar perked up. Raising his free claw, he pulled something out of his side. A large tooth, as big as a human’s hand, partially rotted from the inside.  Where it had broken off oozed with black liquid. Whatever the thing was, it was obviously carnivorous. The beast must have broken a tooth trying to swallow him. Xar clutched it angrily and then looked at the waters below, he cocked the gun once and aimed it at the waters, searching.  This monster dared attack him? This monster dared to damage his chassis?!?

 

“What are you fools waiting for?!? Kill that thing! Your superior commands you!” Xar ordered everyone who could hear, as he opened fire once, blindly. He couldn’t see the thing. His sensors weren’t finding it. The waters and the muck hid its heat from him, if it even produced any. It was a nasty beast. But he was a hunter. And it was restricted by the water. He just had to scare it out. It was big, so hitting it would be easy.

 

 He fired again randomly into the water, this time closer to the droids. He cared not for what the droids were doing, but he didn’t aim for them now. They weren’t being lethal to him yet. This monster had earned his ire by swallowing him, and then spitting him out! Now it had to die.

 

But where was it? He couldn’t…

 

Xar spotted a tentacle creep out of the water towards a corpse that had washed up. Xar aimed and fired. His aim may have been off but he could direct the others. 

 

“There! There! Kill it! Kill it now!” Xar directed harshly, hoping the others would notice where he was shooting. “You want to be swallowed whole! Kill it now you laggards! Kill it! Kill it!” 

 

And Xar fired again and again. He knew he would run out of ammo soon, but rage was consuming him. He had to kill this thing that had disgraced him. 

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The screams of the troopers accented the bursts of terror that washed across the room. Nok watched in stunned fascination as the...creature swallowed Xar before spitting him back out. The droid, true to its ego, got right back up, shouted orders, and fired at the thing. And yet, Nok couldn't actually see the monster. The Dark Side warped around it in a haze, only giving Nok glimpses of teeth as the troopers were drawn struggling toward the unseen maw.

 

Backpedaling, he raised his hands, gathering the Force to him before throwing the most powerful push he could at the nearest tentacles, hoping to give the troopers enough space to start firing back. He immediately began gathering for another push, gritting his teeth as his mind raced to find a way out of this.

 

The Sith who'd been washed in with them, that was the their best hope. Even now, the Dark Side coalesced around him in subtle patterns and complex currents Nok would never have been able to picture. The power moving through this man was greater than any he'd seen before.


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Tranquility shattered into chaos. Screams were crushed into silence beyond the veil. The flash of muzzlefire from the trapped entities only added to the din as bolts of energy and projectiles joined with the racing of tentacles that sought their prey. Any who stood still would be found. Any that moved to slowly, drawn towards the maw. Ravenous hunger hung in the air; as if a homeless vagabond had been presented with a feast for kings. Unable to control himself as he gorged himself on the finest the galaxy had to offer.
 

Beyond the veil, armor cracked and snapped beneath the monstrous gullet, colossal spear-like teeth preventing any escape. The waters churned as if a maelstrom was forming, the epicenter: the beast. 


Tentacles that were struck writhed in pain, flailing in kraken-esque like fashion caring not for who or what they struck as they retreated back into the blackness. 

The pulse of outwardly propelling force threw back waters and tentacles together in a god-like display of power that serves only to draw the attention and ire of the cavern-dweller. As the blow faded, tentacles surged for the source with renewed vigor and hunger.

 

And through it all, the blackest of veils, began to fade beneath the monstrous alien cry of the beast that rumbled and echoed throughout, seeming to rattle the very cavern itself.

 

Beyond, in the darkness of the unlit far end of the cavern, should one pierce the fading veil and look amongst the chaos of weapons’ fire, frothing waters, and tumbling bodies, existed a maw that seemed to take up the entirety of what should have been the cavern wall. Teeth encircled it and from the throaty center came forth the monstrous limbs that were seeking to destroy man and droid alike. Waters lapped at the base of the encircling teeth, foamy and agitated. 
 

And for those unfortunates who were caught within the crushing insides of the beast, within it’s bellies they found a new definition of pain and suffering as it fed on their fears and bodies, smaller vine-like tendrils binding them as acidic ooze began to find every crack; exposed flesh, sizzling upon impact. For those who were not crushed into the sweet embrace of death, the next thousand years would be wrought with a slow decent of destruction and agony in which screams could not be heard, the force felt just out of reach, and torment would remain their king.

 

For the trooper or troopers of Delta’s command that fell to such tortures, comms would intermittently activate, pressed into service by the crushing churning muscles of the beast. The radio waves would be momentarily filled with static and the acrid sound of burning flesh accompanied by screams of otherworldly pain before falling silent once again. The only escape from the belly of the beast. 
 


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Their screams, powerfully acute with fear

Was it the enthusiasm of an impending dread,

Or the horrifying nature of their devouring,

the way their armor caved beneath the crunch of crooked teeth?

 

 

It was as if anarchy reached out with ghastly arms, grinning widely from the black veil. The creature thrashed in violence, and everywhere at once, aggressively unfocused to the numbers that contested it. Numbered forces mattered little when a sudden lack of structure paralyzed them where they stood. Lines of communication rotted in disorderly fashion as horror poured through transmission links, a crunching and screaming that was deafening to the audience. This was still war. "Execution above all else. Pull your pins, and quit your squealing. Die with dignity." His voice was impartial yet commanding over the comm-link, but the modulator inside of his fanged battle-mask amplified his every word, demanding that the eldritch sound of the Spider controlled the radio-waves with a true challenge. 

 

Exodus levied a defiance against the rules of physics as he carved with incredible speed, through the feelers of the beast. Thigh-high oceanic submergence did little to stop the master of movement from leaping into action, slashing loose whoever he could in order to reinforce the ranks. Scissoring through low-visibility atmosphere like a maddened butterfly, a powerful blade of furious-red continued to loosen Darkhand from the jaws of death. It was the Way of the Hawk-Bat that found purchase while full-figured spears of flesh aimed themselves towards the Dark King in retaliation. This reprieve would lessen the burden on those that shared the battlefield, and soon explosions from inside the belly of the beast would leave a reckoning if discipline favored the Captain's Company. But, this could not last forever.

 

 

"Formations on my position."

These words, he spoke aloud.

 

The Inquisition was correct about the Neimoidian, and he had survived after all. Delta too, was invaluable to the machine, and now he sourly scavenged for his unit. These two represented note-worthy promise within the structure of the Sith Empire, with no better time than now to shine against the creatures of the deep. In conjunction with the other two unfamiliar elements, the opportunity to uncover the secrets of this lair, was ripe before their very eyes. The challenge of the hunt was here at last.


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 “Silence on the net. Die like men. Die like heroes god damn you.” 

 

The screaming cut out just as suddenly and did not return. The wounded, laying in their mire clenched their jaws in silent agony. Those in the grips of the beast bit their tongues bloody or else turned off their comms with a flicker of their eyelids at the HUD. 

 

Delta pushed his way through the muck alongside the remains of his unit which were swiftly resuming formation. Forming on the Dark Lord, who was likely their only ticket out of the mess they had all gotten into. 

 

“Heavy weapons, Concussive. Two shell. Everyone else focus fire on areas command has exposed.”

 

In otherwords, Darkhand began to advance with the Sith Lord, those soldiers with blaster rifles pouring a neverending stream of red bolts into flesh left rent by the dark lord. Exploiting cuts on the massive beast while those few Darkhand that still maintained their heavy weapons, lobbed the concussive grenades in tandem bursts all around the creature’s flanks. The concussive force enough to rupture tentacle and flesh alike, as they advanced. Delta stooped and pulled a repeating slugthrower from the hands of a faceless corpse whose armour marked her as one of the commandos from second company. 

 

He tipped the slugthrower so that its ejection port faced down, released the heavy magazine then cycled the bolt three times, letting a stream of water and much follow the spent cartridge from the bolt. He tapped the magazine against his thigh armour, and grimaced as a gob of mud spat from it to land on the deceased trooper’s chestplate. He did a visual inspection on the cartridges and found them mostly clean enough for use, and slapped the magazine into the buttstock receiver of the high calibre. He leaned down and ripped the pack from the soldiers shoulder and clipped it to his belt. Then with practiced precision he brought the weapon up to his shoulder and fell in.

 

Delta strode behind his Dark Lord, the heavy repeating slugthrower recoiling like a hammer into his shoulder with every depress of the trigger. The acrid smell of cordite burnt at his nostrils and the thunderous reports from the grenades and his own rifle turned his hearing into a mess of ringing. But he was there and so were his men.


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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Allowing the cool waters to carry her body on the invisible currents, Leena focused on allowing the water to course through her lungs and deposit their life-giving gift of oxygen. Drifting in the dim gray waters of what could have been her childhood home, Leena’s mind embraced the peace. At the fringes of her force-attuned peripherals, she could sense dark chaos; but what it was remained to be seen. Immediately around her, however; Leena embraced the force. She reached within and amplified the light that still glowed there pushing it’s warm embrace outwards on the rippling currents of force and water. 
 

At the center of the light, Leena felt calm and her focus began to return. She was not sure what had all happened in the tunnel or where it, or they, even were. She knew, though, that they were not nearby. The waters had rushed her out to sea and she had not even known it. She also knew one other thing, she was a Jedi. Even if her initial mission to the planet had failed, she was a Jedi, and that came with certain reaponsibilities.

 

Feeling the tug of the waters around her, Leena kicked. With strong legs evolved to function even better in the water than on land, the young Jedi Apprentice shot upwards through the cold gray waters.

 

Like a torpedo, guided by the unseen, Leena races onwards and upwards until she burst through the choppy of the sea into the sun-filled skies. Sending drops of water sparkling up into the sunny sky, Leena bobbed in the water as she looked about trying to get her bearings. In the distance, thick plumes of black smoke rose from the city, low hanging vessels balanced in the sky as flashes of light indicated a fierce fight for the soul of the city.

 

Inhaling deeply, Leena rolled her eyes and set herself on paddling beneath the treacherous waves towards the city.

 

 


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That is power.

 

Nok watched the currents of the Dark Side respond to the passions of the Sith as he scythed and weaved through tentacles' grip. He did not grip the Force and wield like a crude weapon. He flowed through it, and it wove to his desire, a beast anticipating its master, a body obeying its mind.

 

I see. I see where I was wrong.

 

Nok had only ever seen Darth Akheron truly wield the Dark Side, the man a font of focused power that crackled and scorched the universe with pure intensity, like the moment of a bomb's detonation preserved in a life-form. Nok had been aping him, trying to gather that intensity with each expression of the Force, only to be frustrated time and again as it came slowly and slipped his grasp. But this new lord...he was a creature of power, but not the same as Akheron, any more than a cloaking field was the same as a blaster bolt. His power was subtle and fluid, and he ran with it instead of wielding it.

 

But...that's not my way either, is it? I need to go back to the beginning. Nok let his Force attack fall and let the gathered strength drain. This was important, he knew it was important without knowing why.

 

I don't wield. I don't flow.

 

Nok couldn't close his eyes. He simply stopped looking outward. The world, the battle, the task, it all faded away.

 

I unravel.

 

Nok's mind let go, and he unspooled into the Force. His mind threatened to pull apart as it rode the currents of life, power, and passion. He let it. That fear that had threatened to overwhelm him, the invasive presence he'd recoiled from, returned at his call as if it had never left. Maybe it hadn't. Stronger than ever, it coalesced around him, whispering his own thoughts.

 

Are you a conqueror? A coward? Or nothing at all?

 

I don't know what I am.

 

...

 

Good answer.

 

Nok did not rise out of the depths of the Force. He came out the other side.

 

The battle raged around him much as it had before. The fear, rage, and death resonated through the chamber, giving Nok the vision he needed. But now he saw more. He saw intricacies to the currents that the passions of the dying stirred. He the faintest hint of patterns and structure in the rolling energy that moved unseen by organic and artificial eyes. But more than that, he understood it. His comprehension wasn't academic or conscious. It was a part of him. He just had to let go to take hold.

 

"I am one with the Force...

 

...and the Force serves me."

 

Nok didn't gather the Force or try to move with it. He touched it gently. The Force responded as he knew instinctively that it would. His hand held out in mimicry of his will, he gestured at one of the tendrils that had gotten close. He grasped it and flung it aside into the stone wall, the wet slap of cartilage and meat hitting stone reverberating in Nok's ears like a victory bell.

 

No delay, no clumsiness, no difficulty. It had been as easy as tossing a stick from his hand.

 

I don't wield the Force. I don't flow with the Force. I unravel into the Force, and so I understand it.


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Xar nodded as everyone else began to take offense on the creature in the waters. He was about to fire his last few bullets again and again into the water, hoping to hit the thing’s center, but the man with the red blade had jumped into the fray. The being was a master with his weapon and his own body. Xar would’ve given half of his own admiration if he wasn’t still so furious about all this. 

 

Xar lowered his gun, letting his circuits slow in their anger. This thing would be defeated shortly. These forces had listened and obeyed him. They would take care of the monster. 

 

Xar’s gaze landed on the three remaining droids. They had remained still, trying to finish whatever they were trying to accomplish. Xar studied them for a moment.  What were these things? They followed commands, but they did not defend themselves when Xar had shot them. They were certainly not a class 4 droid. And judging by what they were doing, they were not the menial laborors of class 5 either. 

 

“What are those serfs doing? Stopping the water? But why? What are they watching over…”

 

Xar glanced at the combat going on, and shook his head.

 

“If they were guarding the beast, then they are failing. No...they are guarding something else…”

 

Xar then looked at Nok, his heat signature easy to pinpoint. He was doing something. Accessing his magical abilities no doubt.

 

“An offering is what you said Nok...” Xar mused to himself, quietly so no one could hear him. “What kind of offering? Heh, perhaps you are hiding some glorious treasure from us. You should not do that Nok…”

 

Xar looked at the crimson colored droids again. They were watchers. Programmed watchers, who did not acknowledge others. They were willing to die to protect this room from complete flooding. Perhaps they could tell him. 

 

Xar looked around the room. He shot one droid down before the monster had swallowed him whole. Where did it go… The concussive shots the troopers fired made the search so much harder. Xar hoped the droid wasn’t too damaged...

 

“There it is!” Xar exclaimed as he saw an arm of metal flash over the water momentarily. Without a thought he rushed, leapt, and dived after it. He wasn’t built for water and swimming, and if he didn’t hurry, he risked his own circuits frying. But he had to get the chassis.

 

A tentacle came towards him violently. Xar saw his chance and took it. Without activating his claws, he released the tooth and implanted himself onto the rubbery thing. He allowed it’s flailing to pull him wildly. In the direction of the arm he went. He released at the peak of its flail and, shooting through the water, crashed into the dead droid chassis. He had it! To boot, the thing launched him closer to the shoreline, near the soldiers of Sith. With a quick stroke, pulled the metallic head from the body. He needed it’s memory circuits, not the body.  The monster could have that.

 

With a push, he casted the headless chassis into the churning water and crawled up from the water, clutching his prize. While the others fought, he crawled away, hoping no one noticed his greatness, nor his brilliant idea. Once a meter away, he turned over the metal skull  and did something very few would ever think of. 

 

Reaching back, behind his head, Xar snipped two separate wires. All droids had multiple ways of connecting to their memory circuits. And like all beings, brains were fascinating things and interacted with the world in astounding ways. Droids were no different from organics in this way. Given time, they altered themselves. They changed. Not organically, but in a way that only machines imitating organics could. 

 

And having three separate, concrete minds merged into a metaphorical one, Xar’s was very special. He could open a route to one of his three minds, and let be open to another.  It’s what made him great. And if he was so great, why not a fourth? A sentient droid would resist, but this thing carried no sentience.

 

With one wire, he made a crude connection to his own power source. The dead droid’s head buzzed with life, its receptors aglow.  Xar pressed it against the back of his head, and made a snip at another wire. This one connected to the brain that once belonged to a rogue NR-1100 Slicer droid known as Em Eer. It’s brain would connect very well.

 

“Give us your secrets mindless one...” Xar commanded. With a touch, his wire sparked as its metal tip connected with the head’s data circuits. A rush of information and knowledge flowed between the two. He was no longer in that lab in a mental sense. He was in that perfect state between two droids. A state that had no name. A state where all information between two beings was opened. And Xar, believing himself to be of stronger will, would seize all of it. 

 

“Give us all of it you peon. What is hiden here?” The two beings spoke near-simultaneously. Xar spoke first and the other head spoke just a moment after, echoing the superior being's words. 

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The smell of smoke, blaster fire, and sizzling flesh filled the air. It mingled with that fish-tanky smell as the still waters were churned for the first time in a lifetime or more. Through it all, the maw of the beast that took up the end of the cavernous room salivated and snarled; it’s sharp piercing cries echoing about the chamber amongst the cacophonies of explosions. Bit of flesh and stone flew through the air as the tooth-rimmed maw was peppered.

 

And through it all a grim stillness overtook the cavern as the flailing of tentacles and boiling of water ceased. An eerie calm followed as the appendages fell back into the waters and lay still.

 

Then, across the stillness echoed a deep malevolent voice, “At last you have come, heralded by my call. So quickly do slaves forget their place, existing but to do the will of their masters. When the master is away, those foolish servants think they are free. Freedom is an illusion. For on the day of the master’s return, will they be punished tenfold for their sins. Twenty for they that sought to lock the master from that which was his own.”

 

”Come to me my children! Come!”

 

______________________
 

During this time, the droid Xar sought to bond with the ancient cranial processors of the slaved droid that he had fell shortly before. As the head neared the tri-conglomerated droids, blue electricity sparked and arced magnetically pulling the head to the makeshift mount. In an instant all that Xar could perceive was gone, his processors transported across time and space.
 

Looking out, he saw the lab, but not as it was. Instead, it was brightly lit by countless glowing rods mounted atop freestanding posts about the room. Shelves along the walls were lined with texts, manuscripts, and jars that seemed to contain a myriad of preserved animal and body parts of different species. That was not where his view was focused though. The eyes that Xar saw through stood as a sentinel at the base of a set of stairs where the maw now stood, an intricate pike-like weapon held at the ready. It’s focus was caught as cries of fear echoed out from above. Above a door slammed open and what could only have been an ancient Quarren-type alien clad in a red uniform, fear and loathing filling his eyes, tanked a chain causing a tumble of worn and beaten ancient Mon Cal clothed in bloodied rags to tumble down the steps. One more stubborn male tried to stand up, pulling at his shackled arms as he snarled at the Quarren slaver. It lasted but a moment as Xar’s host moved gracefully, lowering his pike and jabbing at the man, an arc of purple lightning leaping from the weapon into the objector crumpling him to the floor. The mechanical droid spoke, the words foreign and ancient. Still somehow Xar could understand. “Stay down chattle. Lest your family pay the price for your sins”


And then the memory fuzzed out, blinking into another visage.

 

The same view, the same lab, the same pike; but this time the droid stood away from the stairs in a line of identical droids. Emotions were not programmed into these obedient enforcers and so as his fellows held the struggling Mon Cal atop the stone alter; the woman’s cries for mercy fell on deaf ears. 
 

Materializing out of nowhere, a dark smokey wraith hovered over the woman, her pleas of mercy turning to cries of pure fear. A cold whisper coursed through the air. Again the words were not discernible , but still Xar seemed to understand, “Your screams are wasted on the icy depths. Fear not. Death is but a temporary alteration of power. For your service, you are being gifted the ultimate reward; eternal servitude.” 

 

In that moment, two smokey shadowy hands were raised menacingly in the air and plunged downwards. One hand passing through her face and the other her chest with flashes of green light as the woman’s eyes rolled back into her head and her chest stopped heaving. A ghostly whisp seemed to escape from the woman’s mouth. The smokey wraith cursed and shrieked as his anger surged, bursting glass bottles and jars along the walls and sending a billowing gust of wind in all directions. With its hands still in the body the being picked up the corpse and heaved it across the room where it crashed into the wall with a sickly smack before tumbling to the floor in a pike of like-destroyed bodies. 
 

The image faded again.

 

The eyes opened again on the lab, desecrated and destroyed. The shelves smashed, lights dimmed in the darkness, and droid bodies smashed and scattered about countless burnt and mangled corpses of differing species, many of them red-skinned Sith. Over a mass of black smokey robes that were half palpable and half ethereal that quivered silently on the floor, stood a muscled and armored Sith warrior, his ancient firearm leveled at the mass. “By the order of the Emperor, for undertaking treasonous actions, refusing to submit to royal edicts, and seeking to bring about the downfall of your superiors you are condemned to death, your body trapped for eternity within your self-made tomb.” 


Picking up a blue-tinged bottle on the nearby altar, the Sith general smashed it atop the quivering robes sensing a plume of dusty spores into the air. After this the general and his troops exited through the desecrated hole where the stairs and door once stood. Once they were out, a deep rumbling shook the room as a huge slab was moved in front of the hole.

 

The image faded to black and a massive information transfer probed the depths of Xar’s mind seeking out unknown knowledge and smashing against and through firewalls and other electronic defenses. Sometimes in an effort to defend against the latest and greatest technological threats, the simpleness of ages past is overlooked. Even a hammer can drive screws if swung hard enough. The droid hunter would know the superiority of servitude beneath a master who knew no bounds. An eternity of power was offered, all he need do was submit. Submit or be utterly destroyed from the viral consciousness that now pulsed within. 

 

__________________
 

And as the voice resonated from the mouth of the beast in the waters, the creature coughed. Plumes of gray dusty microscopic spores by the trillions spewed forth on a wind of rotted meat tore through the cavern, bowling over any who was not planted to withstand it, coating everything in a cottony white. 

 

The beast’s pain was palpable, as was it’s anger. Above it all, a dark glee pulsed silently.

 

Rising up from the waters before the maw a proverbial army stood. More droids wielding more pikes and ancient slugthrowers interspersed with hunched corpses of skeletal beings, rotten flesh hanging from their jagged bones. 
 

“Come to me my children...”

 

The horde rambled forward, silent save for the slosh of waters about their legs as they reached for the invaders, seeking to skewer and devour them. Thise that were cut down fell into the dark waters vanishing from sight, only to be replaced by more.


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As each vision passed briefly inside Xar’s circuits like dreams to a child, so too did they last only fractions of seconds and yet last eternally. Each sight, each scan, each momentary thought and order, stood agelessly in Xar’s processors.  Each of his three memories consumed the data hungrily, like blood to the desperate blood-sucking hoover beast. Xar outwardly was completely still and lifeless, save for his and the droid’s sensors rapidly flipping on and off. 

 

But inside, Xar was a bundle of movement and life. He was consuming knowledge and data. 

 

But then the machine began to fight back. 

 

Xar’s processors began to push themselves harder, their circuits starting to heat up, trying to keep up with this attack. Xar had a momentary sense of worry. What was this? A counter-offense? No… it was not complex enough. This was like a virus. Each file it touched, it tried to devour. No, not devour...change. It was corruption. It was vile corruption, trying to usurp Xar’s control over his own memory core that belonged to Em Eer, and eventually the rest of the body.. 

 

His own core was fighting back, cutting off pathways, deleting and remaking files over and over to slow it down, but it wasn’t working. This corruption was quick and painful. Even as it fought, Xar’s mental pain became physical. Some of his own nerve sensors were fighting him. It was a revolt. A revolt against Xar’s own body. 

 

Xar realized what it was doing. It was trying to make Xar a servant. Make Xar nothing more than a slave. 

 

And this made Xar laugh. 

 

“Xar bows to no one.” Xar mentally cackled. This was the arena of data and memory. There was no magic here. Only logic, cunning, and skill. 

 

Xar redoubled his efforts. Outside of him people could hear his coolants going into overdrive, trying desperately to keep the droid from overheating. He put up more defenses and more counter measures. He was slowing the corruption, but barely. He knew he had to play this war differently in order to win. 

 

At a pivotal moment, Xar gave a command to himself. Or rather, the memory core that originally belonged to his current chassis gave a command. It gave an order to the third memory core in him, the one that belonged to an ex-imperial torture droid named Joy, to separate and act in a randomized pattern for a fraction of a millisecond.  Painful though it would be, like separating a third of an organic’s brain from the rest of the body for a second, but it would have a desired effect:

 

It would present itself as open to corruption.  

 

The virus, or whatever it was, took the bait. It lessened its efforts on Em-Eer and focused on the perceived weak part. Once it began to get inside that core, Xar reformed back with Joy, cut it off from Em-Eer and the rest of the virus, and together the two began to stifle and consume the leftover. Xar didn’t delete it. He studied it, analyzed it, poked it and altered it, and once he was done, added it to his own. It no longer belonged to the enemy. It was now part of him. 

 

Xar opened all his circuits back to Em-Eer. Three separate minds now together as one again, Xar used his new addition and put it in places where the virus was approaching. When the virus attacked, it encountered what it thought was itself. Infected memory chips and data with what looked like itself.  So it backed off. Xar then seized the moment and devoured the virus where it was, and immediately presented his own again. The virus couldn’t attack itself and was forced to halt, letting Xar attack again and again. 

 

Xar kept devouring each and every byte he could take. By the end of this, the droid’s secrets would be completely his own, as well as the power if offered. 

 

“We are three.” Xar said out loud. “Soon, we will be four. We do not serve you. We serve only Xar. You will serve Xar.  We are Xar, consuming you. You will be consumed. You will become Xar. We are Xar. Obey Xar.” 

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“Shut that bastard up!” 

 

Delta’s shouted the order over the huge rebounding sound of the concussive blasts and explosive shock. It would be a hell of a medical checkup after all of this, and he could feel blood or something a lot like it dripping from both of his ears, running like a warm trail down his neck. He emptied his magazine into the bulking behemoth and then let his eyes scan the battlefield as he kneeled to slap a new magazine in place. His clear blue eyes narrowed as he took in the strange skeletal beings that loomed out of the murk.

 

“Rifles spread fire to EI! Keep heavy fire on that beast!”

 

The EI, or Enemy Infantry had the potential to overwhelm his remaining handful of men and so effectively splitting fire to keep them pinned down while they dealt with their Master was the best course of action Delta could think of. He racked back the heavy bolt of the slugthrower and advanced a meter or two where he could see the small armoured form of one of his Lieutenants. Blacktorin looked up at him from a face covered in mud and blood, and grinned a brilliant white grin. He could see that she also had a long stream of blood coursing from the ear canal of her left ear, where is mixed with the soft pale hair that covered the rear of her neck. He took the moment to smile back at her, letting the absurdity of the moment hit him.  

 

She released a barrage of bright red fire from her rifle and stooped to reload the rifle from the line of magazines that was slung at her waiste when the was bowled over into him in what felt like a wet blast of hot air. She looked like she was screaming in pain and delta dropped his own rifle into the murk to catch her. With a gloved hand, he wiped the white spores away from her freckled face. She spat a mouthful of them out, then vomited., her eyes rolling back and her head lolling to her shoulder. He lowered her into the murk and propped her up into a sitting position before he strode in front of her to cover her with his own body. With a grimace of anger, he reached behind him and grabbed the cylindrical case that hung under his pack. 

 

He cracked the seal on the cylinder with a twist and pull and let the three orbs contained within slide easily into his palm. He let the cylinder’s remains fall to the water and firmly grasped one of the orbs with his right hand. The other two he slipped into his left hand. It was time to end this. And with whatever biological terror the beast had released, the stakes had gotten out of hand for the Sith Soldiers. It was time to respond in kind. 

 

“Dets are clear for use.” 

 

He shouted, over the din, and not a few faces turned to look at him. Their stoic ‘T’ visors not showing their fear. 

 

He thumbed the activation switch and waited for the computer implanted in his armour to synch with the restricted action orders embedded in the detonator itself. Delta could not hear the command phrase request though would have echoed through his headset so instead he spat out three words. 

 

“Base Echo Echo.” 

 

It was a release code for restricted weapons, randomly issued to each commander in the field and one of the necessary steps in the event of a catastrophic loss. His soldiers were now clear to use their Baradium Armed Thermal Detonators. And with the ease of shockball pitcher, Delta threw one of the 25m yield weapons straight into the mouth of the Beast. 


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Commander - Darkhand Brigade - Sith Empire

Blood Prince

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The Force swirled in a torrent of fear and passion that matched the physical water flowing past the legs of the creature's victims. Nok had only as moment to appreciate it as he gestured at the nearest risen corpse, sending the limping cadaver tumbling backwards with an act of will into the monster's gullet.

 

Perhaps it won't like the taste of rotted meat, he thought sourly.

 

The power the creature displayed was incredible. It flowed out from it, embracing its puppets in a subtle saturation Nok couldn't parse. It was strange, alien, and vast.

 

And arrogant.

 

The creature's mystique had dimmed slightly after it threatened them in Basic. There was a mind there, a mind as limited and emotional as any humanoid. A powerful, hungry mind, but not a god.

 

Putting aside his impulse to bask in his newfound perspective of the Dark Side, Nok's analytical mind turned and ground away at this new evidence.

 

It doesn't just want us dead. If it did, it'd stop the droids from holding back the sea. It wouldn't be talking to us.

 

It has an ego. A grudge. It wanted us here. As an audience?

 

No...

 

It needs us to get out.

 

His thoughts were interrupted as he spotted a small orb hurtling towards the monster's maw. A thermal detonator.

 

A grin spread across Nok's face. Holding out both hands, he gestured at the tendrils nearest to the explosive, knocking them aside and away from the incoming weapon.


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Few were aware of how the biting cold slowly transitioned into a crude warmth from the spilling death and the gathering of masses, a peculiarity that the assassin could sense. These arctic waters now ran septic with blood and blackest ink, defiling the very nature of this abandoned laboratory. The armor of the Dark King was not exempt from this; boiling drool beaded the canine lockjaw of his mask, running slick down his wyrmsteel-covered neckline and forearms, igniting the spider insignia carved into his chest-plate with an enriched oily tincture. Exodus heaved his respires purposefully, dialing down the revelry of his recent rampage, expertly controlling his breathing as the enemy seemed to recede and withdraw into the void. His endurance was beyond comprehension so accordingly, the phenomenal stir of force inside of him quickly calmed to a quiet. 

 

 

“At last you have come, heralded by my call.

So quickly do slaves forget their place, existing but to do the will of their masters.

When the master is away, those foolish servants think they are free.

Freedom is an illusion.

For on the day of the master’s return, will they be punished tenfold for their sins.

Twenty for they that sought to lock the master from that which was his own.”

”Come to me my children! Come!”

 

 

".. This creature proclaims master-hood, but then is it confined by the conviction of the apprentice?" For every word that the creature spoke, it became infinitely more predictable in it's nature. There was a grating animosity within the undertones of the supposed cephalopod, a vengeance that stimulated the aggression that the brute organism utilized. Brooding over the particulars lasted little time, as a coughing belch blew a strange wind of rot down the gouge. Exodus slipped his weight low and shrunk into the washbasin of water and muck below. Something was awry, more than what was obvious. Beneath the surface, the assassin used his protracted jurisdiction of the force to map out the rest of this fever ward. Tracing the life forces of the involved congregation, Exodus began to summon an eldritch fount of power only known to the ancestors of the Sith.

 


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