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Walking Penumbral


Vesaniae's Avatar


Vesaniae
01.21.2013 , 03:44 PM | #1
Well, here we go again.

This is the sequel to Afterimages. It will contain spoilers for the SI and IA storylines, with possibly the occasional SW spoiler here and there.

Now that that's settled...welcome back! Please fasten your seatbelts and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. And now, off we go!


Prologue
Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
19 ATC



Vorin Janeth smashed the fallen cyborg’s head with his electrostaff, sending sparks flying from the crushed electronics. He bashed it again just to make certain it was dead—Jadus’ minions were frustratingly hard to kill—then turned to look for his next opponent.

He saw Darth Jadus near the center of the room. None of the Guardsmen seemed to be able to hold their own against him, and he was steadily making his way towards the Emperor. He was sorely tempted to charge the Sith Lord himself, do his part to delay him. That was all they could hope to do.

Suddenly, a small red figure appeared in the entrance to the chamber. The Wrath surveyed the scene for a moment, then leaped through the room to land directly in front of Jadus, drawing her lightsabers.

Janeth started towards them, feeling a faint wisp of hope.

“Wrath,” Jadus said. “You should not stand in my way.”

“You should not challenge our master,” the Wrath snapped. She leveled her lightsabers at him. “The punishment for treason is death.”

Jadus shook his head. “Continue to follow the Emperor, and it is you who will die.”

To Janeth’s surprise and confusion, the Wrath smiled grimly. “You think I don’t know?”

“Then you are as blinded as the rest,” Jadus responded coldly.

“Not blinded. Simply past caring.”

“Then why do you fight?”

The Wrath regarded him with an expression of grim determination. “Because it’s my duty.”

The two Sith began to fight. Janeth hesitated, then decided that intervening at that point would do more harm than good.

Movement flickered in his peripheral vision, and he dodged out of the way as a cyborg’s vibrosword sliced through the space where he had been standing. Janeth’s eyes widened as he got a good look at it. This one was already injured, the cybernetics on its face dented and smoking.

He’d seen that blow dealt. This one had killed Arden.

Janeth clenched his jaw, rage surging through him, and attacked. The cyborg met every one of his blows squarely, but he pressed forward. The Imperial Guard taught that vengeance was the province of the Sith, but to hell with that. This…thing…had killed his partner, his friend. It would pay.

“You are strong,” Jadus said to the Wrath as Janeth exchanged blows with the cyborg. “You could have been a formidable ally. But your insistence on defending this self-destructive regime has made you a liability.”

“Was Nox a liability too?” the Wrath demanded. “Is that why she disappeared?”

“She was too dangerous to be permitted to live.”

Janeth caught the cyborg’s vibrosword on his electrostaff, hooking the weapon out of the creature’s hand. It flew across the room and landed close to where Jadus and the Wrath were circling each other.

“When I kill you,” the Wrath hissed, “it will be for her.”

Janeth smashed the cyborg on the head. It stumbled, then tried to flee. He started to pursue, then stopped short as it staggered close to the battle between the two Sith, then collapsed as its cybernetics shorted out. The Wrath tried to maneuver to use the obstruction to her benefit, but Jadus simply stepped over the corpse, unruffled.

“You do not mask your feelings well, Wrath,” he said as he continued to attack. “You feed upon your own pain. It strengthens you, for the moment.”

“That’s time enough to end you,” the Wrath retorted, slashing viciously towards him.

Janeth took a quick look around. His fellow Guardsmen were holding their own. He returned his attention to Jadus and the Wrath and waited for an opening.

Jadus deflected the Wrath’s attack with apparent ease. “In time, the power will move full circle, and expend itself upon its source. Like a serpent devouring its own tail, you will destroy yourself.”

She dodged his riposte. “Do I look like I give a damn?”

“No,” he said coldly. “And that is why you will fall.”

He disengaged his lightsaber from hers, leaping away from her, and lifted his free hand to throw lightning in her direction. She caught it on the cross of her blades and started walking towards him.

Janeth frowned worriedly. The Wrath was strong, but so was Jadus. He could only hope that with the Emperor’s favor, she would prevail.

Jadus dropped his lightsaber, bringing both hands up to increase the intensity of the lightning. Even at his distance, the energies set Janeth’s teeth on edge. He wasn’t Force-sensitive, but on some level he could feel the icy darkness emanating outward from the battle between the two Sith.

The Wrath pushed forward, one step at a time, but Jadus remained steadfast. Then the lightning suddenly faded away.

The hell is he doing? Janeth wondered.

The Wrath dove forward. Jadus dodged her first lightsaber, then ducked inside her guard to grab her by the throat. She stabbed at him as he lifted her off the ground. The first blade went through his shoulder, and the second left a red-hot scorch mark across his mask, but failed to penetrate the metal.

Janeth cursed under his breath and tightened his grip on his electrostaff, trying vainly to spot an opening. He couldn’t just stand there—

Jadus threw the Wrath to the ground with a blast of lightning, then reached towards the corpse of the cyborg that had fallen near them and summoned the creature’s vibrosword to his hand with the Force.

Why not his lightsaber? a small, detached part of Janeth’s mind wondered. He started to run forward.

The Wrath twisted partway to her feet, too slow. Jadus whirled around and drove the vibrosword through her body and into the stone beneath, impaling her neatly against the floor.

“No,” Janeth whispered. “Stars, no.”

Jadus nodded towards the stricken Wrath in a seemingly respectful gesture, then walked towards the center of the room. The darkness reached out with smoke-like tendrils and tried to devour him, but to no avail. Violet light lashed out and strangled the tendrils, burning through the shadows with a deeper, colder darkness of its own. Lightning made tracks of blinding white through the stygian clouds that boiled around the tall, implacable figure.

Janeth tore his eyes away from the Force battle and ran to the Wrath’s side. She had removed the vibrosword from her body and lay still upon the floor, blood running freely from her wound. Her eyes were closed, and her face had settled into an expression that could have almost been a smile.

“My lord,” Janeth whispered. He laid a hand on the side of her neck and realized that she could no longer hear him. Damn it. Damn it all.

Suddenly, the whole room shook, and cracks spidered outward across the floor from the center of the chamber. The darkness started to retreat into itself, forming a compact cloud that completely obscured the Emperor’s dais. Lightning flickered dimly on the inside of the cloud.

A shiver ran down Janeth’s spine as he watched. He could feel tension building in the air, like a string stretched tighter and tighter until it seemed inevitable that it would snap.

A few moments later, it did.

The wave of energy that blasted outwards from the center of the chamber knocked everyone in the room to the floor. Even Janeth, already on his knees, was sent sprawling. He narrowly managed to avoid falling on top of the Wrath’s body.

When the energy receded, the room became utterly silent.

Slowly, he raised his head, trying to push back sudden feelings of trepidation.

Darth Jadus stood in the center of the room. No shadows, no lights, no visible signs of power surrounded him. But as Janeth looked at him, he felt suddenly, inexplicably cold.

With the cold came pure fear.

The mask turned towards the nearest Guardsmen. Gloved hands lifted, and lightning tore through the air and into red-armored bodies.

Vorin Janeth was not a coward, but he knew when a situation was hopeless. Dying at Jadus’ hands would be a waste. Someone had to escape, to bear the news to those who stood a better chance of destroying this usurper.

He was close to the exit. Jadus’ attention was diverted. Instinct prompted him to pick up the Wrath’s lightsabers before springing to his feet. Glancing behind him one last time, he clutched the lightsabers tightly and ran for his life.
Force Lightning: The solution to every problem. Every. Problem.
Afterimages * Walking Penumbral * Like Moths to the Flame
Forever Shenanigans!

MilaniGrey's Avatar


MilaniGrey
01.21.2013 , 04:15 PM | #2
ohmygawd, yes.
The Islingr LegacyShatter the Darkness
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The Ebon Hawk Server
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bright_ephemera
01.21.2013 , 04:20 PM | #3
*hem* Tell me I'm not the only one who would gladly follow a Darth Jadus Crushes Everything fic. Even though that's probably not where this is going

Love it, Ves.
the Short Fic Weekly Challenge - 70+ authors to date. 1900+ stories. New prompts weekly!
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Forever Shenanigans!
Ceterum autem censeo, Malavai esse delendam.

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irishfino
01.21.2013 , 06:36 PM | #4
omg squee!
I'll probably die if you group with me, but I'll go out with both lightsabers drawn stabbing someone in the face. Probably you, but it's cool. Forever Shenanigans!!

iamthehoyden's Avatar


iamthehoyden
01.22.2013 , 09:34 AM | #5
Really cool to see this scene from a different perspective!
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
---------------
Fan Fiction: My Name is Solomon Crae The Man in the Box

Vesaniae's Avatar


Vesaniae
01.26.2013 , 06:48 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by bright_ephemera View Post
*hem* Tell me I'm not the only one who would gladly follow a Darth Jadus Crushes Everything fic. Even though that's probably not where this is going
Careful, Bright, you're going to give me ideas...

One - Stormclouds
Red Light District, Nar Shaddaa
19 ATC



“Ah, you’re back,” the Nemoidian forger warbled. “Right on time.”

“In my business, it pays not to be late,” Vesania Serence responded coolly in a flawless Republic accent. “You have it?”

“As promised,” the forger said. He reached into the depths of his jacket and pulled out an identicard. “See?”

She leaned forward and examined the card carefully with a practiced eye. The Nemoidian lived up to his reputation; the facsimile was flawless.

She started to reach for the card.

“Oh, no,” the Nemoidian said, pulling his hand away. “You give me the money, I give you the card. That was the deal.”

Vesania shrugged. “Unfortunately, I seem to be a bit short on cash at the moment. Be a dear and hand it over for free, will you?”

The Nemoidian’s indignant reply cut off with a gurgle as his neck twisted sharply around with a loud snapping noise. She kicked the corpse over and plucked the fake identicard from the hand that had clenched reflexively around it.

“Now that’s the way to do business,” Vesania murmured with a smirk. She tucked the identicard into a pocket, then turned and walked casually out of the alley.


*****


Aboard Imperial warship Machaera
19 ATC


Janeth concluded his story, then looked at the two Sith Lords who stood watching him silently. Darth Marr was, as always, masked and inscrutable. Darth Ravage looked thoughtful.

A large contingent of Sith and military had managed to escape Dromund Kaas before Jadus’ forces could seize complete control of the planet. Gathering their allies, they had assembled just outside Imperial territory in the Unknown Regions. The Machaera was Darth Marr’s flagship; Janeth had been sent there to rest, recuperate, and tell the Sith Lords what he had seen.

It was the fifth time they’d had him recount the events that had occurred in the Emperor’s chamber. He was starting to wonder what the point was.

Marr’s mask turned towards Ravage. Ravage looked at Marr.

“You are dismissed, Guardsman,” the former said after a moment.

Janeth bowed and quickly departed the room.

“That,” Ravage said flatly once the door had closed, “was utterly pointless.”

“The information bore repeating,” Marr said.

Ravage frowned. “What more is there to say? Jadus used his absence to consolidate his plans, become even more powerful than we had thought possible.”

Marr shook his head. “Jadus may have defeated the Emperor, but he is not the Emperor himself. He can be killed, and he will fall.”

“And who is going to handle that, hm?” Ravage demanded. “Us? Last I checked, we were a little busy running for our lives.”

“As the only surviving members of the Dark Council, it falls to us to lead those still loyal to the true Empire in this time of crisis.”

“Lead them in what? Marr, we are cowering like womp-rats in the sand. This can’t continue.”

“You have not been particularly forthcoming with suggestions on what course of action to take.”

Ravage glared at him. “Don’t try to pin this on me. You’ve hardly been helpful either.”

“You are on my ship,” Marr said coolly.

“Yes, and when we’re finished here I will go back to my ship.”

“And continue to do nothing.”

“I am not doing nothing!”

Marr snickered quietly. “Your dalliances hardly count as productive activity.”

“I am not dallying—”

“It’s perfectly understandable,” Marr said dryly. “Nox is gone, you’re lonely…”

“Shut up.”

“I seem to have touched a nerve,” Marr noted. “You were quite fond of her, weren’t you?”

“Stop talking about her in the past tense,” Ravage snapped. “She’s not dead.”

“Really.”

“I won’t believe she’s gone until I see a body,” Ravage said grimly.

“It would certainly be easy to find enough men to come to a consensus about its identity.”

“Marr, I have no idea why you think you can provoke me in this way—“

“But I am provoking you,” Marr interrupted. Ravage had the feeling he was smirking behind his mask. “I can feel your anger.”

“You’re imagining things,” Ravage said haughtily.

“It grates on you, doesn’t it?” Marr murmured. “The knowledge that Nox was never truly yours, that there were so many men before you, that if she is still alive she has undoubtedly found others to sate her desires…”

“Enough!”

Marr laughed softly. “I’ve been around longer than you, Ravage. I know what women like her do. I’m only surprised that it took her so many years to ensnare you.”

“If all you’re going to talk about is Nox,” Ravage said flatly, “I see no reason to remain here. I’m going back to my ship.” He started for the door.

“Vaiken,” Marr said abruptly.

Ravage paused. “What?”

“We need to take the Vaiken Spacedock.”

Ravage turned around. “And how do you propose we do that?”

“Jadus has his hands full securing his new Empire.” The last three words were dripping with scorn. “If he has managed to take control of Vaiken, it will be a shaky grip at best. Our forces are sufficient to mount an attack, and no doubt the ships already there will rally to our support.”

“That makes sense,” Ravage said slowly.

“Once we have the station,” Marr continued, “it will be easy to defend, and the resources there will make it an excellent staging area for our resistance.”

“So we’re a resistance, now?”

“Of course,” Marr said coolly. “Jadus cannot be permitted to remain in the Emperor’s seat. We must take back the Empire. Unless there’s something else you’d rather be doing?”

“You have my support.”

“Excellent.” Marr adjusted one of his gloves. “I believe you said you were leaving?”

“I’ve changed my mind,” Ravage muttered, walking away from the door. “I believe we have a strategy to plan.”




According to Google Translate, machaera means saber or blade in Latin. I thought it was fitting, not to mention pretty. In-universe, um, I'm just going to handwave it as being a word in ancient Sith or something.

Nox is referred to as Vesania because she adapts her identity to suit a given situation. It's part of her Cipher training; she essentially lives whatever role she takes on, be it for a mission, or as in this case, other reasons. Right now, as far as anyone knows, she's just a Force-blind hoodlum on Nar Shaddaa, and Darth Nox is dead. She has therefore reverted to her real name.
Force Lightning: The solution to every problem. Every. Problem.
Afterimages * Walking Penumbral * Like Moths to the Flame
Forever Shenanigans!

MilaniGrey's Avatar


MilaniGrey
01.26.2013 , 06:57 PM | #7
om nom nom Nox! <3

*shamelessly joins fanclub*
The Islingr LegacyShatter the Darkness
Astaron, Narithia, Xalkory, Áilleacht
The Ebon Hawk Server
Forever Shenanigans!

irishfino's Avatar


irishfino
01.26.2013 , 07:12 PM | #8
Ravaaaaaaaaage, you're so adorable. Smolder more, Ravage. I love a man who smolders angstily.
I'll probably die if you group with me, but I'll go out with both lightsabers drawn stabbing someone in the face. Probably you, but it's cool. Forever Shenanigans!!

iamthehoyden's Avatar


iamthehoyden
01.28.2013 , 03:33 PM | #9
Ravage and Nox...awesomeness
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
---------------
Fan Fiction: My Name is Solomon Crae The Man in the Box

Vesaniae's Avatar


Vesaniae
01.29.2013 , 05:31 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by MilaniGrey View Post
om nom nom Nox! <3

*shamelessly joins fanclub*
I am the best. *preens*

Quote: Originally Posted by irishfino View Post
Ravaaaaaaaaage, you're so adorable. Smolder more, Ravage. I love a man who smolders angstily.
Quote: Originally Posted by iamthehoyden View Post
Ravage and Nox...awesomeness
At some point, I think I actually stopped thinking of the whole Nox/Ravage ship as a joke and started taking it seriously as an actual pairing with actual feelings involved... I have no idea when that happened.


Two - Dark Sunrise
Sith Intelligence Headquarters, Dromund Kaas
19 ATC



Drusilla Ven’rai, better known as Watcher Twenty, kept her head down and her eyes fixed on her console. That was the safe thing to do, the sane thing to do. Too many people had disappeared already. She had no desire to join that number.

She looked at the console without really seeing it. The symbols on the screen blurred in her vision. Numbers, figures, letters. Hard, quantifiable data. She was good with that. Processing it all was simple—too simple. This was busywork, nothing challenging about it. At least it gave her ample opportunity to think.

It occurred to her, as it often had of late, that she could have left. She could have fled the planet while she still had the chance, and joined the Imperials opposing Jadus. Intelligence was working frantically on discovering their location, but they’d had little luck.

Drusilla knew that she could have left, but she had chosen to remain. Frankly, it was easier this way. Life was still routine, even if it was a routine under an even worse tyrant than the Emperor had been, and routine was comfortable.

What makes Jadus worse, anyway? she wondered. What makes him so different?

The difference, when one thought about it, was obvious. The Emperor had ruled from the shadows, entrusting the details to his many-tiered hierarchy of minions. Jadus, as always, preferred a more direct approach.

On the one hand, it meant that the Empire now existed in a new epoch of fear. On the other hand… Sith Intelligence had all the power, now. No more arguing with thick-headed Moffs who wouldn’t know what to do with a field report if it came with illustrated instructions. No more barely civil negotiations with the Ministry of Logistics. When Intelligence gave the word, the rest of the Empire scrambled to obey.

She had to admit, it was rather nice to be on top of the heap, for a change.

“Watcher Twenty.” Keeper’s cool voice broke into her thoughts and nearly made her jump out of her skin.

Focus, she told herself. She turned to face the other woman, snapping to attention. “Sir.”

“Status report,” Keeper said.

Drusilla summarized her activities glibly as she examined her superior. Keeper looked tired. The dark circles under her eyes looked almost like bruises, her eyes were bloodshot, and she seemed even paler than usual. Several strands of silver had appeared in her hair that had not been there a month ago.

“…and that’s all, sir,” Drusilla finished. She hesitated for a moment. “Sir, if I may ask…shouldn’t a Minder be handling this? These are internal affairs, approvals of requisition requests…not really the kind of thing I normally look at.”

Keeper sighed. “I can’t let you work on operations until your clearance has been processed.”

“Lovely,” Drusilla said darkly. “And when might I expect to go back to being useful, sir?”

“I don’t know,” Keeper snapped. “It’s hectic, trying to get everything reorganized, and—“ She snapped her jaw shut.

Probably realized that she was saying too much, Drusilla thought. “Do you really need to redo my clearance? After all, the likelihood of my being disloyal is virtually none, considering—“

Virtually none, Watcher,” Keeper interrupted. “It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility.” Her lip curled ever so slightly. “You have demonstrated…aberrant behavior in the past.”

“What, because I managed to escape Qirren’s clutches with a few shreds of actual personality intact?” Drusilla asked lightly. “Which is more than some people can say…”

“You’re out of line, Watcher,” Keeper snapped.

“I do apologize,” Drusilla murmured. “Sir.”

Keeper’s scornful expression increased in intensity. “Get back to work.”

“Yes, sir,” Drusilla said without a hint of mockery—well, maybe a small hint—and turned back to her console.

Let’s see, what’s next… Request for approval by the Ministry of Logistics to replace all banners in the city so that the Imperial crest is purple instead of red. Stars help me.


In case anyone's forgotten, Drusilla, like Keeper, is the product of genetic manipulation. Qirren refers to the name of the doctor in charge of the project.
Force Lightning: The solution to every problem. Every. Problem.
Afterimages * Walking Penumbral * Like Moths to the Flame
Forever Shenanigans!