Here, have another chapter. I've been writing this out of order, so this one's been sitting on my hard drive for months. References are made to the Sith Inquisitor's Corellia storyline, as well as the Inquisitor's chapter three antagonist. It doesn't get too specific so I'm not going to spoilertag this.
Oh, and this chapter also contains a few instances of VMTU (Vesaniae Makes Things Up) for flavor purposes.
Two - A Conversation Over Tea
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
The Overlook Café was named for its location just above one of Kaas City’s spectacular waterfalls. Owned by one of the Empire’s wealthy business families, it was a scenic destination for those Sith prestigious enough to be admitted, the even smaller number of non-Sith who could claim the same honor, and their guests. Due to the volatile nature of the usual clientele, a number of heavy war droids were strategically placed throughout the establishment to enforce the Sith’s good behavior.
Darth A’tro sat back carefully in her chair, one eye on the cliff’s edge less than a meter away. While she had to admit that railings would
have detracted from the overall aesthetic, the lack of them meant that she had to keep an eye on two potential sources of death: the plunging drop, and the woman seated across from her.
Darth Nox smiled. The newest Dark Council member was usually smiling, and the expression could have meant anything. She was human, with ivory-pale skin and carven, angular features; high cheekbones and an elegant nose. She had jet black hair that she kept tied back, and gray eyes like cold mirrors of mist. She always dressed in white robes, a rather blatant defiance of the Sith stereotype. The only color on her person was her bright red lips.
A’tro subtly made sure that both of her lightsabers were within easy reach. She doubted that Nox would try anything in public, but it never hurt to be cautious.
“This is a lovely place,” Nox observed. “Have you been here before?”
A’tro shook her head. “I’ve been busy.”
“I noticed. You seem to be trying to win the war for us single-handedly.”
“I’m the Emperor’s Wrath. Destroying the Empire’s enemies is my job.”
“A job at which you’ve proven to be quite proficient.”
A’tro frowned. “Your point being?”
Nox waved a hand. “No point. An observation only.”
A server approached the table, deposited a tea tray, then bowed deeply and fled.
Nox poured herself a cup and eyed the contents. “Do you think this could be poisoned?”
“The staff know that we’d have their heads if they tried anything, no matter how much one of our rivals might be offering for our demise.”
“It would be difficult for us to take their heads if we were dead.”
A’tro raised a brow-ridge. “Aren’t you practically immortal?”
“In theory,” Nox sighed. “Oh, what the hell.” She reached for the sugar and dumped a prodigious amount into her cup, then stirred thoroughly. She examined the result, shrugged, and took a sip. “Hmm. Not bad.”
A’tro cringed. “How can you drink
that after—“ She gesticulated wordlessly at the sugar bowl.
“You Purebloods have no appreciation for sweet things,” Nox grumbled.
A’tro shook her head and poured herself a cup.
“So,” Nox said after a moment, “You were just on Corellia, right? How are things there?”
“It’s a mess,” A’tro said grimly. “I think we could have taken the planet even with Baras trying to sabotage Vowrawn, but then someone
had to fight a damn Kaggath and send the whole place straight to hell—“
“You can’t blame me for that,” Nox said indignantly. “The whole blasted thing was Thanaton’s idea. I tried
not to screw up the war too badly, but he didn’t leave me much choice.”
“That idiot,” A’tro muttered. “If you hadn’t killed him, I probably would have eventually.”
“I’m sure you would have,” Nox said cheerily. “Unlike him, you seem to have your head on straight.”
“I’m all for Sith traditions, but not at the expense of the Empire as a whole,” A’tro agreed. “As Darth Sathra wrote, “The dark side is an ever-changing paradigm…””
“”Honor the past, but beware: stagnation is the enemy of passion,”” Nox finished.
A’tro blinked in surprise. “I didn’t know you were familiar with Sathra.”
“”The Sith are as tools forged in the fires of the dark,”” Nox quoted. “”It is through strife that we evolve, through blood that we are tempered.””
“I always liked that one,” A’tro said.
“I prefer Darth Xiarre’s Treatise on Darkness
—have you read it?”
“Some of it. It takes more patience that I have to search for something valuable in the midst of Xiarre’s deranged raving.”
“Oh, I think that deranged raving is the best kind of philosophy,” Nox said with a smirk. “It allows a freer range of interpretation.”
“But if the reader’s interpretation is different from the author’s intended meaning, is it still a valid conclusion?” A’tro asked.
“Validity is entirely subjective,” Nox said dismissively. “Besides, I doubt that Xiarre even had an intended meaning half the time. She was
insane, after all.”
“I never would have taken you for the philosophical type, Nox,” A’tro said thoughtfully.
The Sith Lord laughed. “You’re one to talk! When I first heard that the Emperor’s Wrath would be present for my little showdown with Thanaton, I pictured some hulking brute. Instead, I get you.
“Thanks ever so much,” A’tro said dryly.
“Oh, you can be intimidating when you want to be. I saw a recording of your fight with Baras—that was damn impressive.”
“I didn’t know there were cameras in the Dark Council chamber.”
“Apparently there are, and good ones, too.” Nox raised an eyebrow. “You might not look like much, but I would not have wanted to be Baras that day.”
A’tro looked down into her cup. “I was…rather angry.” Angrier than she had ever been in her entire life, in fact. All of the frustration that had been building up inside her since Corellia had come to a boiling point, resolving into pure dark power.
“I could tell.”
A’tro glanced up at Nox. “Baras miscalculated, you see,” she said. “All that time I served him, all those times he tried to have me killed, and he’d never actually seen me fight. He underestimated me.”
Nox grinned. “If you stab your most promising apprentice in the back, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they come back to bite you.”
A’tro nodded. “And if you keep stabbing, it only makes them angrier.
” She was startled by the vehemence in her own voice.
“Precisely,” Nox concluded. She looked appraisingly at A’tro. “I’m surprised you’re not more paranoid, considering how your own master set you up to die—and more than once, if I understand correctly.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” A’tro muttered. Don’t think about Quinn, damn it.
“As for paranoia, well…I just don’t show it. I admit, I’m surprised that there haven’t been any attempts on my life yet.”
Nox looked startled. “There haven’t? I’ve had four so far.”
A’tro shook her head. “None. I can’t imagine why.”
“The whole ‘chosen of the Emperor’ thing probably deters assassins,” Nox drawled. “Not to mention that the other Dark Council members actually like you.”
“Vowrawn supports me because I saved his life on Corellia, and he knows that he owes me. The others either respect my position, or they’re glad I killed Baras. I wouldn’t say they like me.”
Nox rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I think that Ravage can’t decide if it’s worth being rid of Thanaton if he has to put up with me instead. At least two of the assassination attempts came from him, I’m certain of it.”
“I think several of our fellow Sith are somewhat put off by your…origins,” A’tro said carefully. She honestly couldn’t care less if Nox had been a slave; she had proven her worth, and that was what mattered.
Nox sighed and rolled her eyes again. “Then they’re fools,” she said simply. “If they’re going to underestimate me just because I spent a few years wearing a slave collar… Well, it’s their funeral.”
Only ‘a few years'?
That was interesting. A’tro supposed that it made sense, all things considered. After all, how many slaves were familiar with Sith philosophy?
She changed the subject.