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Darth Heretic

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Haphaestus watched the slave exert her will for one of the first times in her pitiful life. The shatterpoint shifted and cracked as possible paths were eliminated and others grew wider. It would take time for it to collapse, but these next few moments would decide in large part who this bloodstained Twi'lek girl would be for the rest of her life.


The man under his boot coughed. "Who the kriff are you?" he said weakly.


The Sith Master pressed down with his foot, forcing the air out of the man's lungs and causing him to wheeze and gasp to breathe through great pain, unable to get free. He kept his attention on the slave girl. "Pass judgment on this man," he said to her. His voice, his presence, was the only steady thing in the mine. All around was death and weakness and pain, slaves quivering in the darkness in confusion and uncertainty. "A slave you are no longer. Great power is available to you, but you must take it."


The Twi'lek male continued to struggle for air. Haphaestus let up just a bit so he wouldn't lose consciousness. "I was... just..." the man wheezed, now begging for his life.

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"They said they would be the liberators," she whispered, her skin's vibrant blue turned ashen. "They said they would bring us to the light. Slaves no longer, like you said."


Kitaara scanned the mask for any movement, any sign of emotion, but detected nothing but cold indifference. Obediently, she moved slowly, almost mechanically, to kneel beside the insurgent who was now working very hard not to inhale the Devaronian's pooling blood. The sticky, red liquid coated her knees and legs. She plunged her hand into it to retrieve the knife she had dropped, and when she lifted her hand from the puddle, the dark red of Utunavi's blood turned her skin a vibrant purple.


Pass judgment on him, the being had said. This Twi'lek had led the riot, an arm of the Free Ryloth movement. This cloaked and masked interloper was an alien, an outsider, who could not possibly understand the struggles of Kitaara and the rest of the slaves who hung back in the darkness, waiting for the call to flee. But as she looked up at him, studying the impassive face, something occurred to her: even if she begged alongside this Twi'lek for his life, and they were released, she would still have nothing. No home, no credits, no strength, no skills useful in any honest profession, no family. If she were to take her vengeance, she would need a weapon stronger than a knife.


Whatever this power the being had mentioned, she had seen it embodied in the way he entered, in the movement of his staff, in the impervious tide that followed behind him.


She leaned down, resting her forehead on the side of the Twi'lek's head, her mouth even with his ear nub. "I am tired of need," she said in a strained voice. "I will never be indebted to another."


Rocking back on her heels, she pressed the point of the knife into his windpipe, then smacked her fist with her empty hand, driving the weapon through like a hammer hitting a tent peg. As she pulled it out, a fresh wave of blood spurted forth to splash on her arms, this time, the deep blue of her species'.


She tried to stand, but failed, slipping in the growing pool of blood. The shock was beginning to take over Kitaara's body, and she couldn't stop the trembling. She wrapped her free hand around the opposite arm as though she could physically hold herself together, and warily looked up once more. When she spoke, her voice threatened to give way. "Who are you, and what do you want with me?"


Kitaara held the knife clutched firmly in her hand, resolved to plunge it through her own heart if there were any indication she would be made to serve a new master.


For when devils do the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows...

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The slave taking the other Twi'lek's life had been one path Haphaestus had not been at all certain she would take. He had been willing to honor whatever decision she made. And she had many more before her.


"I am Haphaestus," he answered her. "I am here to empower you. In the Force I have seen the great destiny that you might someday achieve, if you can find the conviction within yourself to aspire to it."


She had no training, just a life of fear and pain. He could read her. He could not claim lordship over this one. Thankfully he had little interest in such things, for he was far from a typical Sith. This one had an open mind, one that knew nothing of the Sith Order, the dark side, the wider galaxy. All that it would take for him to shape her view of the universe was to have her agree to travel with him, accept him as a mentor.


"What is your name? Your next decision is upon you. Those slaves that these so-called rescuers did not kill -- what shall become of them? I can free all of them from this place, but all paths come with consequences, and some of them will die on the outside that might have lived if they remained here."


Meanwhile he had no interest in her passing out or going fully into shock. He removed his outer cloak and offered it to her, then gently with the Force bolstered her. It was true that the way the Sith drew upon the dark side was not conducive to healing, but he knew the biological workings of her body with the perfection of an accomplished surgeon. He could keep her awake and alert until they got back to the ship.

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Her fingers clutched feebly at the outer hem of the cloak as he draped it around her. "Kitaara Shiri is my name," she said. "As for the others, I want them released. They might survive down here, but what kind of a life is this?"


She looked around once more at the familiar walls of the cavernous cell block. The shuddering had somehow subsided, and for reasons she couldn't explain, a resurgence of strength began to creep into her limbs. The rhetorical question gave her the next moment to consider Haphaestus' statement, which sounded strangely like an offer, though of what, she wasn't quite sure. She avoided the masked gaze a moment more, staring out into the darkness. I am here to empower you, he had said.


"No one's ever told me I was worth anything before," she mused absently. Somewhat unwillingly, she glanced back up into the void of the mask. "What is the Force? Is that the power you speak of?"


For when devils do the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows...

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"As you say, released they shall be," he said, beginning to lead the way back out of the tunnel along the same path by which he'd entered.


"No one has told you of your worth because they have not been able to see you as I can," he said. "The Force is power and freedom, a vast energy field that bestows untold abilities upon those with the talent and dedication to command it. You have great potential, Kitaara Shiri. There is much to discuss, but this is not the place to do it."


The former Dark Lord had already secured the path on his way in, so they picked their way over and around the bodies unmolested. There was still the possibility that backup would be arriving, but the operation had been quick. Meanwhile the shatterpoint was converging on a small subset of the original pathways, the future cracking and splintering in new ways around this seemingly innocuous Twi'lek. He pushed on, senses outstretched for incoming danger. It would be a pity if she were to die now due to negligence from him.


Rapidly they came back upon the hangar. The wreckage of three ships cluttered the area, including the one upon which Haphaestus had arrived. He cared not for it. Now he chose one of the other parked ships, triggering the boarding ramp's interior release with the Force. He led the whole group of slaves on board, and as they began to strap in and otherwise become situated, he surveyed them briefly. The lot of them were in various states of undress that he knew would not serve them well if they hoped to maintain their freedom for long, especially when combined with their utter lack of resources. He began to consider solutions as he headed to the cockpit to defeat whatever other security the company vessel had, indicating for Kitaara to accompany him. She was not to associate with them too closely.


Reaching the center console, Haphaestus put a hand on it. Between his sensors and the schematic he was able to instantly call up on the holonet, he mapped the security system, then applied the Force and broke a critical circuit, disabling the countermeasures that would otherwise be deployed against an unauthorized agent initiating startup. His hands then flew over the controls, bypassing noncritical parts of the launch sequence and taking them into the air, then guiding the vessel up the tunnel. Two more similar ships came racing along the cavern towards them, but not suspecting what was happening, they bypassed the ship full of their precious slaves in a hurry to get into the ryll mines.


Flying casually, the Sith Master flew the vessel to the nearest city, but then bypassed it and headed for space. "You and the others can never return to Ryloth," he said. The ship headed for orbit and eventually jumped into hyperspace....

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  • 11 months later...

Chess took a deep breath and let the scents and sounds of Ryloth wash over them. There was a brief scent of wild, before the blast doors slammed shut. They blinked twice, getting accustomed to the dimmer lights. Ryloth’s underground city was large and spacious, but the Cathar couldn’t help but shudder at the niggling feeling that they couldn’t get out.


They brushed past a chatting group of Twi’leks and perused the street signs. The mechanical district was close. Chess could smell the engine grease and a waft of hot plasteel.


The first two shops were too large and flashy; probably selling the latest models for binary translators and mechanical valets. Chess didn’t like those kinds of places. The shopkeepers were overly friendly, and always asked for too much. The Cathar walked past the first two shops, and the next two shops, and the next. When the streets branched off into little capillaries of alleyways, Chess started really paying attention to the signs.


There was one shop, second-to-last down a winding alley, that didn’t look incredibly broken down and had a well-maintained sign. The Cathar gave a whiff and smelled dust and grease, but little else. Chess pushed the door open, to be met with a friendly chime and a small greeting from an old-but-gleaming secretary droid.


“Welcome, honoured customer. The master will be with you in a minute.” The droid resumed whatever sort of record-keeping it was doing, leaving Chess free to browse the merchandise. Most of the droids appeared to be in sleep mode, and none of them wore restraining bolts. A good sign.


“Can I help you?"


A gentle voice stirred Chess out of their examination of a tiny probe droid. The Cathar stood up and looked to the counter, where a weathered male Twi’lek stood, looking slightly amused.


“That right there is an excellent model, though I might give it a different paint job if I were you. Appearances, and all that.”


“I appreciate your advice,” said Chess, flashing their canines in a wide smile. They reached out and shook the Twi’lek’s hand. “However, I’m interested in something a little less, shall we say, conspicuous.”


“In that case, may I turn your attention to this little repair droid? An MSE-6, with quite a lot of tricks underneath its little hood.” The shopkeeper selected what had looked like a little black box, and set it down on the counter. Flipping a small switch, he brought the little droid to life.


There were no flashing lights, but a small chittering emerged from the black box, followed by small jerky movements. The MSE-6 maneuvered until what Chess presumed was the front of it faced them, and the droid whistled a greeting.


“Well, hello to you too, my little friend. And what do you call yourself?” The shopkeeper lifted an eyebrow ridge, presumably impressed at Chess’s knowledge of binary. The little droid beeped back.


“MSE-6087? Well, that’s a good a number as any, but how about I call you Mouse?” The MSE tootled an affirmation, and it was only then that Chess returned their attention to the shopkeeper.


“I see you take good care of your droids, sir. And as you can see, I know what my money’s worth. I think we can come to a deal.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chess carried Mouse in a small, discreet box as they strolled through the marketplace. There were still some credits to spare, so the Cathar took the chance to purchase some Twi’lek specialities, including some fruit and the latest edition of a local subscription.


The main news concerned the recent takeover of Nal Hutta. Chess read the details while munching on some pta fruit. It felt kind of eerie, knowing they had visited there not too long ago.


The entertainment section mentioned a gala being hosted by some heads of state in Coruscant. Chess opened the Holonet article and read the description of the treaty.


The article promised a new list of trade regulations and nothing good for the Black Sun. Perhaps it was time to cut their losses and find a new source of employment. Chess stroked their chin, revealing in the few-days stubble they’d managed to grow. It had been a while since they’d grown a beard; now was a good a time as any. Entering a new circle of people called for a change in appearance anyways.


The difficulty was getting into the gala. Chess ruminated on it as they returned to their hangar bay. Greeting BB-05’s chirrups with an absent minded wave, Chess slid the data pad back into its holster and began to unpack the box.


“Oz, I need you to disable the tracking systems you found back on Onderon. After that, plot a course to Coruscant; speed over subtlety.” A curious beep made the Cathar smile. “Yes, I found us a new friend. Come on out, Mouse.”


MSE-608 rolled out of the box, hesitating before approaching BB-05. Its apparent anxiety betrayed a history of being thrown around from ship to ship, possibly even suffering the neglect of other Imperial droids. BB-05 whistled a few inquiries in binary, and at MSE-608’s replies, rambled off into a wickedly fast string of 0’s and 1’s. Chess let the droids’ conversation fade into background noise as they added the rest of their supplies to the inventory.


The gala was still on their mind. Chess pressed a button and a hatch in the side of the Minx slid open to reveal a small closet. It was filled to the brim with a variety of clothing; a smorgasbord of textures and lengths. All of the pieces shared one common trait; every single item was a shade of black. Chess let the pads of their paw run over the leather, silk and cotton, before resting on a coat of heavy brocade. It bespoke luxury and mystery; exactly what one needed when attempting to attract lower-level dignitaries. The Cathar stroked their chin again, wondering if perhaps there might be enough fur to coax out a little goatee.


When BB-05 returned, MSE-608 was beeping away in another excited flurry of binary. The little astromech had already worked wonders on their new recruit. Chess resolved to get Oz another upgrade the next time the credits flowed their way; she absolutely deserved it. After one final check to ensure that everything was stowed away properly, the Cathar closed up the entry hatch and set about bunking down for the night. First thing tomorrow, they were getting out of this transparisteel glasshouse.

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  • 2 years later...

Sunset, along the winding streets of Lessu, the shadows grew long; amongst them darted a solitary figure. Form shadow to shadow, recessed alcove to balcony overhang the wraithe-like being moved. She was intent on not being seen or tracked by anyone or anyrhing. Only a block further now and her quarry would be within her grasp.


There were a few early patrons already stumbling around outside. It was not hard to flip up and over them in the dark alley-like winding street between tall imposing spires. 

Slipping through the door, the armored spy was inside with her quarry in sight. Her  gray cloak fluttered behind her as she disappeared into the dimly lit cantina. Scanning the facility, the woman overlooked the common rabble until her eyes settled on the teenager behind the bar. “Bingo,” she hissed cheerfully as she lightly stepped and twirled through the crowd. Several twi’leki and humans were already gyrating on the worn stained and all too tiny dance floor. With a cat-like elegance, she slid between them and slid onto a stool at thar bar.


With her brown hair tucked behind her ears and her blue warrior’s tattoos on her face, The Malia was the visage of a huntress of old;  her sleek light Sith inspired armor rimmed with furs beneath her cloak completing the ensemble.


Waving her hand to get the bartenders attention, the warrioress offered a genuinely warm smile. There she was, Serenity Vowler, seventeen year old native of Ryloth who frequently made runs to Corellia. The Malia had been watching her from afar for weeks trying to determine is she was a suitable mark. Finally, she had decided to approach her and make the girl an offer, an offer to change her the course of life, change her story, make a difference in the galaxy and not become a casualty of the looming chaos of Corellia. It all started here, now, with a smile a wave and a drink order.


“Heya stranger, when you get a break I’d love a Corellian tapcafe if you’ve got some. Maybe two. One for you, one for me? I’ll be over there when you find the time.” 

She had all night. She would sit there all night if she had to, to show Serenity how serious she was.


Slipping from her stool, The Malia moved with grace and poise through the cantina to a middle booth along the back wall. Here she could keep an eye on the bar and on the door. Safety first.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Another night in Ryloth..." the girl sighed and murmured to herself, shifting her hazel eyes towards the warrior. A 17 year old named Serenity Vowler glanced suspiciously at the activity around her, checking the time on watch, every now and then. 


Her auburn hair came down over her shoulders, accenting her outfit. Her top consisted of a white, flowing tank top with lace trim at the ends, along with a bright red cardigan worn over it. For bottoms, she wore pants that ripped at the seams, including various holes all over them. Her boots clicked whenever she walked to get a drink for someone; after all, she was the bartender. Her blaster was in her back right pocket, in case she got into trouble, which she usually didn’t on Ryloth. On Corellia, that was a different story. Thugs were surrounding Serenity and the unfamiliar warrior sitting right in front of her, and she blinked twice before talking. “Sorry about that, I space out every now and then. Now then, a Corellian tapcafe, coming up…!!” 


After handing the lady her drink, Serenity finished her shift... a day well done. She looked outside at the sunset, it was a lovely shade of crimson red, blotted with dots of orange and pink, almost like the sky had its own work of art. “I wonder if Corellia has beauty too, outside the part time jobs I have to do.” 

Serenity Vowler walked back in with a huge smile… determined to talk to the warrior face to face. 

Thinking about what to say, she finally started talking to the warrior: “Hello there miss, how can I help you?” Her round, hazel eyes glimmered with hope, waiting for her to start talking.





Edited by Emma
Starting conversation with npc
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Accepting her drink with a warm smile, The Malia took a deep swig. Smiling as she lowered the mug, “I think it is the other way around. How can I help you? You see, Serenity Vowler, there is more to you than appears. Just like,” the woman rolled her lightsaber hilt onto the aged wooden table with clatter, “there is more to me too.” 


Glancing out the window, the mysterious warrioress smiled. The smile dis not reach the woman’s eyes Which were etched with sadness. “Corellia is besieged by the forces of evil. The light falters across the galaxy. It always needs more to reflect the light from their hearts it into the crevices of darkness. Lets go for a walk. The shadows grow long.”


Standing, The Malia left her half-finished drink on the table and scooped her weapon up back into the folds of her cloak in one smooth motion. Pulling her fur robe more tightly about her she gestured to the door.


Outside, the warrioress fell into step with Serenity as they strode seemingly aimlessly through the city towards the dark side of the planet. “It is honorable to earn a pure living; but something tells me that you were made for more than serving drinks and jaunting back and forth from Ryloth to Corellia until darkness falls across the expanse. What stirs deep in your soul little sister? What is it you desire? I have watched you from afar; but tell me who you truly are.” 

The shadows continued to grow longer as the sun set in the distance and the temperatures began to rapidly descend and still, they walked.  

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  • 3 years later...

     The wind howled over the gaping canyon, its cliffs stretching endlessly into the sky above him. The cloaked Quarren was safe, or at least safer in the canyons where the sand didn’t burn his eyes and tear his skin. He knew of a place here, one hidden from the watchful eye of the Sovereign, a place where he could nurture his vision.

    The march had been long, his faith nearly faltered in the days of travel in this desert, but his patience would be rewarded. Through dusted goggles he saw it, the mouth of a cave, carved by a civilization long forgotten to time. A sinking feeling filled his chest, one of fear, excitement, and above all else, anticipation. He drudged forward, his exhausted body fighting his every step, but his commitment to this cause was strong, his faith shielding him from the aching.

    The sun was setting, the cold shadows filled the canyon as he reached his destination, before him lay the gaping entrance to his new home. With determination he stepped forward into the blackness. Inside this place he found nothingness, his footsteps didn’t echo, the wind no longer howled, this darkness had been untouched by light, by adventurer, by local, by anything in at least a hundred years. With a deep breath he lit his torch, the orange glow burned into this place where darkness had held absolute authority for so long. The fires radiance inspired him to push further and further, deeper and deeper, until before him carved into the stone, an ancient city lay dormant.


     With religious purpose he began lighting the sconces along the walls, revealing ancient architecture, places that were once homes, schools, hospitals, and markets. Dried foliage lined the streets, channels that once ran life bringing water stretched alongside the paths. At the city's center a spire reached up towards the ceiling, surrounded by what was once a fountain long since dried up. Behind it stood the imposing church he would appropriate for his following. He ventured in, the stale and heavy air filled his lungs. Stone benches flanked him on both sides of this great room, at its end, raised on a stage stood a wide podium. This is the place he would begin his rituals of fire.


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  • 6 months later...

     The Quarren marched slowly, his gilded black robe gliding across the cobbled path as it dragged gently behind him. He was illuminated brightly by cauldrons of deep orange fire, and candles symbolically on each of his shoulders. Robed figures lined the hall, whispering their chants over a flickering flame held atop a candlestick. He spoke from the back of his throat the Prayers of his burning god over the torch flame he carried reverently.


     “The great flame, the birthplace of civilization…”

    With each step, the roaring crackle of the fires around him grew.

    “The birthplace of the spirit…”


     The chanting became more uniform, many voices becoming one.


     “The birthplace of the mind…”


     Their voice echoed in the chasm, their long silhouette cast their solidified darkness in contrast of the flickering yellows and oranges that illuminated the cavern


     “Around the great flame we gathered, we lived, we loved, we lost…”


     Slowly the echo balanced, becoming one with their resonating voice.


     “Around the great flame we found our souls, longing to be awakened…”


     The sound amplified as it harmonized.


     “Around the great flame we created, learned, studied, and evolved.”


     Before the spire, in the dried fountain, a tower of kindling held aloft the body of the Sith. The one that plagued his nightmares, his ceaseless visions of the woman that would restore order, that would humble the galaxy with their message.


     “With this great flame we call for rebirth. Let us be the instrument of your enlightenment! Bring us the champion of your devouring inferno!”


     He pressed the torches light to the construction of kindling. The fire took and quickly rose up the grave, engulfing the lifeless corpse.


     “Let us burn our path to salvation!”


     The chants rose with the fire toward a great crescendo. The blaze roared, burning its visage into the eyes of all who gazed into it. With a burst akin to a solar flare, sparks and ash rose to the ceiling, depositing a thick black soot above the spire. In that moment there was silence, the powerful gust blew cold each and every fire meticulously placed in keeping with the ritual.

     From the center of the ash coated spire cracked a blinding light, widening to reveal the shadow of a woman. The black form stepped hesitantly forward into the settling ash. Her summoners knelt silently before her radiance. The Quarren turned, behind him an acolyte offered the crown that bound her to this reality on a crimson silken cloth. He took this artifact, turned back to face the woman and kneeled to her.

    “My Queen,”

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