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03.24.2012 , 06:49 PM | #4
Chapter Three: Meetings

Day one of training. Korriban. Exterior. Midday. Pretty damn hot. Eight students of the Academy stood shoulder to shoulder, awaiting the arrival of their new master. They stood in a clearing atop the peak of one of the many mountains and ridges that surrounded the Sith Academy. Wind gently brushed the orange dirt beneath their feet, revealing intricate symbols and carvings lost to time. The eight prospects found themselves standing, unknowingly, near the boundaries of an ancient ring of battle, where tests of might were held during the Golden Age of the Sith.

Surrounded by steep cliffs, the disastrous falls they entailed, and subject to the intense scolding of the Korriban sun, the students waited, eyeing the singular return path back toward the Academy. And so the eight of them stood, resolved to show not a single ounce of weakness. Each warrior beside their inquisitor, arms folded behind their backs.

Lorrik stood furthest to the right, facing the Academy. As much as the acolyte despised outdoor activity when there was a perfectly good institution to accommodate them, he did take solace in the face that he and his fellow inquisitors were garbed in the traditional, two-layered, dark gray robes. While not the most suitable clothes for the occasion, they were certainly more comfortable without the black cloaks the warriors were sporting.

Jresh stood to his partner’s left, possessing the same stern face as before. At least this time he seemed to possess less notions of impatience and irritation than he did when he was scouting the Academy forum for an inquisitor. Subtle hints did suggest that the Sith did miss the act of leaning against a wall. But given the warrior’s nature, he most likely preferred the proving task of standing under the sun for an indeterminate amount of time.

Arlia was the inquisitor on Jresh’s other side. A female Twi’lek, her skin was a muted violet, free of any secondary markings. Instead, her lekku, that reached her mid-back, were wrapped in a dark cloth that encircled the twin head-tails from tip to base, culminating in a headband. Arlia belonged to a similar class as Lorrik’s, and possessed similar aptitude scores. Ever ambitious, she was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. And as an attractive Twi’lek woman, there were few who would deny her. But woe to the man who suggested her robes could stand to bare more midriff.

Isorr was the warrior next to her. His hood since lowered, it could be seen that the lecturer from the forum before was in fact a male Zabrak, possessing a deep brown skin tone. Hairless, his head was instead topped with a crown a stubby horns, and his face was marked by black, thin-lined tattoos he received early in his life. An ardent follower of the teachings of the Sith, a ruthless fighter, and an equally intelligent thinker. It is unknown if he chose Arlia as his companion in spite of, or because of her manipulative nature.

Vurt was the next inquisitor. A male Nikto, he stood out from the others of his class in both looks and demeanor. His leathery skin was of a red-orange hue, and he lacked a traditional nose, instead bearing only a flat membrane of flesh between his eyes and mouth. Adjacent to each eye, three tiny horns jutted outward, accompanied by a similar pair of horns on his chin, and yet another at the base of his ridged forehead. Though somewhat muffled by his robes, a set of small organic respiratory tubes could be seen on both sides of his neck. Cold and brutal, he earned the reputation of a brutal sadist in classes he didn’t even belong to.

Nesk was Vurt’s partner, the towering cloaked warrior from before, now revealed to be a sandy-brown scaled Trandoshan male. Without the swarm of potential students crowding him, it could be seen that his robes ended their wrap just below the acolyte’s knees, allowing his clawed feet to bare themselves against the Korriban surface. A natural warrior, known for his fiery temper. Brash, combative, and a credit to his species, if not for the fact that he has all but replaced any semblance of Trandoshan culture with that of the Sith.

Ryloh was the male Twi’lek almost basking in the Trandoshan’s shadow. His skin possessed a light blue hue and his lekku were adorned with natural dark blue markings. An astute inquisitor, and a capable fighter, Ryloh was talented, but never possessed the raw determination to rise above his peers. Always willing to take the distanced route, rather the direct approach. His classmates could never decide whether he was simply a coward, or a brilliant calculator, always knowing the perfect way to hide his handsome face from a crowd. Yet something made him willing to fight his way into companionship of a warrior.

Kar’ai was that warrior, and a female Rattataki. Hairless, her pale white skin bared a series of intricate markings. Black cultural tattoos marked the entirety of her face and continued down to her body. Long lines of barbed tribal circles and barbed patterns wrapped around her torso and limbs, all hidden beneath her student robes. Aggressive and always looking forward to the thrill of battle. She believed there wasn’t a single conflict or quarrel that could not be decided by way of a duel. One of the top swordswomen in her class, she found weakness and quickly eliminated it.

“You know, now that you mention it, I’m kind of glad I don’t have to wear the cloak,” Lorrik said, breaking the silence.

“What are you talking about? No one mentioned anything,” Jresh sternly replied.

“Oh, you know, just making conversation,” Lorrik stated.

“Jresh, do try and keep your Human under control,” Isorr advised with a deep voice. Lorrik leaned forward from his far right position and examined the lineup before returning to his straight-standing stance.

“Hmm. It seems I am the only Human here. Not very Imperial of us,” Lorrik said to himself, before taking another look at the gathered students. “It would also seem that we are the only pair with any hair on their scalps so… go team. That’s one-zero. We’re already in the lead.”

“You certainly win the award for most annoying student,” Arlia stated, her sensuous voice riddled with annoyance.

“A victory’s a victory. That’s two-zero,” Lorrik countered.

“Do be quiet, I’d like to go one night without worrying about you being murdered in your sleep,” Jresh stated, his tone more tired than angry.

“I think we’ll be okay,” Lorrik said. “The only one I think we have to worry about is the Trandoshan. And so long as he doesn’t get snarly I think we should-”

“Make quiet, soft thing!” Nesk snarled in a hissy, debased form of Basic, not breaking his stance. The Human complied.

“If you all are finished… perhaps we can begin in earnest,” a mysterious voice spoke up from behind the lineup. The acolytes turned around to find their new master standing on the edge of the cliff, looking out across the vista with his back toward his students. The alien humanoid possessed a dark cloak much as the warriors did, hood lowered, but too far away for any discernible details to be seen. Though now turned around, no student dared approach the Sith Lord further without expressed permission. They did however, make passing glances to the surrounding area, looking for methods the Lord might have used to get behind them. They saw none.

The dark figure turn and walked toward his students revealing the armored garb beneath his open cloak. Chest plate, greaves, heavy boots and gauntlets, all there. Black plating, with red highlights, it was the outfit of a not just a warrior, but a soldier. Spots and lines of gray detailed the blaster marks and saber strikes endured during the Great War. But even with all the armor, the Lord did not cover his face.

Syrosk now stood only a few meters from his students. The alien male was of a species unfamiliar to Imperials and Sith. His entire visage was comprise of harsh features. His orange skin was rough and leathery, burdened by the additional wear and tear wrought though battle. Dual down-curved horns emerged from his cranium. Doubling the width of his head, they came down to a point under his chin, hovering a short distance in front of his chest. He stared down his students with a harsh visage.

“So these are the four chosen. I pray that you had not chosen them as mere trophies or pets. They will be your other half for your discernible future. Vital to your continued tutelage under myself,” Syrosk began, in a drawn out, raspy voice. The Sith Lord began pacing between the ends of the acolyte line up as he continued his speech.

“From this day forth, your training begins. You are my students. I am your master. However, do not be mistaken. You are not my apprentices. No. Not yet. Apprenticeship must be earned. From this day forth, you all are null. Whatever statistics, accomplishments, and feats you have attained or performed during your miserable attendance of this Academy is hereby forgotten and rendered inert.”

“I care not how high your class scores were. How many victories you obtained in your various practice bouts. How many arbitrary measurements of your inane actions that you believed to make you something more than the rest of the filth occupying this school. You were nothing. You are nothing. And from nothing I will create something of greatness. I will forge a greater Sith from the excuse for raw materials you call talent. And should the fires burned too hot, too bright. Should you begin to crack, and warp. I will toss you into the garbage and spit on the disgrace who bothered to waste my time.”

“Once you have proven yourself… then maybe you will have earned the right to call yourself my apprentice. Earned the right to take up a lightsaber. Earned the right to leave this Academy once and for all and prove your worth to the galaxy. If you are lucky, you might earn the privilege to call yourself my apprentice in as little as one year.” Making his way to the left flank of the lineup he addressed each acolyte, one by one. “Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, m’Lord,” Kar’ai answered with a bow of her head.

“Yes, my Lord,” Ryloh echoed.

“Yess, Masster,” Nesk replied.

Vurt offered a brief, but dutiful nod.

“Yes, Lord Syrosk,” Isorr declared.

“Of course, Master,” Arlia followed.

“Aye, Lord Syrosk,” Jresh stated.

“Did you mean a standard year or a Korriban year?” Lorrik asked. Suddenly the acolyte felt sixteen eyes figuratively searing his flesh. Though it certainly was possible one pair was literally doing so. “I mean… Yes, Lord Master Syrosk.”

The Sith Lord removed himself from the stare down and returned to his position in front of the lineup’s center. Syrosk closed his eyes and took a deep breath as the students looked onward in anticipation. A short exhale later and the alien was ready to continue.

“As my students you have already proven yourselves as better than those who would surround you not hours ago. Though you are still worth nothing in my eyes, the other acolytes are worth even less. You have all received new private quarters to accommodate your new status of ‘nothing’. Gather your things and talk to the quartermaster. He will provide you each with the keys to your new dwellings. Also speak with the weapons master. You will each receive a personal training saber. You are to treat it as a lightsaber, having it with you at all times and knowing that the consequences for losing it are just as dire. Know that me having provided you with this much means that your life is now worth less than your possessions.“

“I have but a single task to give you all, then you are dismissed until we reconvene at this exact spot, at this exact time tomorrow. Find whatever trinket or valuable you hold most dear, and give it to your companion, symbolizing the completed bond of your new partnership. Return tomorrow with your shared items. Dismissed,” Syrosk ended, turning his back toward his students and staring toward the distant horizon in silence.”

Each of the acolytes slowly bowed their heads toward their new master, before turning back toward the return patch down the mountain. The eight students made their way back to the Academy in near silence.

Jresh passed his gaze over his new partner before returned it to the path ahead. “Lorrik, do try to not get Force-choked by our new Lord.

“Yes, if I hear the Lord brutally killed you, I’d like the story to be one of mystery and intrigue, not your inability to hold your tongue,” Arlia offered.

“Inability to hold my tongue? What about you? We have certainly shared a conversation or two. We keep talking like this and your partner might think were conspiring against him,” Lorrik joked.

“No offense Jresh, but I doubt your partner is even capable of conspiracy,” Isorr coldly stated.

The Human’s face scrunched as he offered a quick glare toward the Zabrak. “You know, I’m right here. I’d rather not have disparaging remarks filtered through Jresh.”

“Pay them no attention, Lorrik. They will see the true nature of their egregious underestimations in time,” Jresh stated.

“That’s showing your Sith pride,” Lorrik said with a clenched fist. The eight continued to walk along the narrow and winding path back toward the Academy halls. “You know, it’s going to be awkward making the entire trip back in one large group like this.”