Jasin stood in the sand-blasted canyon on Geonosis and tried not to fall over. He'd removed all the plates of armor he usually wore to keep him cooler, dressing instead in the traditional browns-and-tans of the Jedi Order. The loose-fitting tunics were ideal for desert work.
Pulling out his GSI macrobinoculars, he zoomed in on the face of the cliff above him. He winced and took a step back as a hot wind nearly knocked him over. He pulled the binocs away from his face, wiped sand away with the back of his glove, and pulled his hood up.
"This is a waste of time," Scourge grumbled. "We should be done here and get back to the fight."
"You really want to fight your Empire?" Jasin asked.
He grunted as the wind smacked him again. Finally he reached into his belt, pulled out a strip of fabric, and wrapped it around his nose and mouth. A sandstorm was coming, and he didn't want to choke to death.
"I want to fight the Emperor," Scourge replied harshly.
"He's dead," Jasin said flatly.
"You don't know that any more than I do," Scourge hissed. "He could still be out there somewhere...I believe he is."
"Sounds to me like you're just getting used to the Republic," Jasin mocked.
"Never." Scourge sneered. "Let's finish here quickly."
Jasin sighed and pulled the binoculars back in front of his eyes. If reports were correct, the ship should have come down somewhere around...
"There!" he said, pointing.
"I see it," Scourge said.
"Kira!" Jasin said into his comlink. "We found it. Have Doc fly the Defender over here. We'll need him to lift us out."
"Roger that, Master," she replied.
Jasin stuffed the comlink in his belt and glanced back at Scourge.
"Ready?" he asked.
Scourge leapt and grabbed an outcropping on the canyon wall. Jasin gave a grunt of protest and followed. Scourge climbed swiftly up to the crashed ship and clambered inside. Jasin panted as he reached the top a moment later.
"Scourge?" he called. No answer. "Scourge?"
There was the sound of an igniting lightsaber. Alarmed, Jasin drew his own blade and charged into the ship–which, he realized, was not a small freighter as it had appeared on the outside, but was at least the size of a frigate; the rest of it was just buried inside the mountain. Rounding a corner, he found Scourge face to face with a local masiff beast. The animal growled and leapt at Scourge. Jasin hurled his lightsaber; the blade caught the masiff in the belly and cut it cleanly in half.
"I had it settled," Scourge grumbled.
"I'm sure you did."
Jasin stepped farther into the corridor and glanced around. The furnishings were odd–not Imperial, and certainly not Republic. There were black symbols on each door, in the shape of a stylized star. Jasin entered the first room...
And found corpses.
"The masiffs were here," he observed.
Jasin knelt by one corpse. It had black armor with the same star design, this time in gold, emblazoned on the chest and shoulders. He frowned. He'd seen this symbol before; he knew he had.
"This is enough," he said. "Let's get back to the Defender."
"And to the war?"
Jasin nodded wearily. "Yes, Scourge. And to the war."
* * *
Darth Nox nodded grimly to himself and pulled out another Dread Seed. He'd recovered the things recently from the clutches of the Dread Masters, and was now using them to great effect. He stepped toward the acolyte chained to the wall.
"No!" the acolyte screamed. "Please, my lord. No, no–no!"
As the seed grew into his neck, Nox stood back and admired his work. The apprentice flailed in agony, tearing the restraints. As he leapt for Nox, Nox blasted him with Force lightning. The seeded acolyte shrieked and fell, dead.
"Well," Nox muttered, "looks like I'll need another test subject."