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The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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04.12.2012 , 07:43 PM | #121
Chapter Two

The Lone Eagle exited hyperspace above the hot and tropical planet of Shanxi. Only one settlement stood amid the great jungles and seas – a large trading post and spaceport.

“So,” Targon turned to Rick in the pilot’s chair. “What are we doing all the way out here?”

Rick turned to him. “I need money, Targon. Our little ventures are costing a fortune in ship repairs and everything. There’s a friend of mine on Shanxi that has offered me a job opportunity.”

“What kind?”

“Don’t look at me like that,” Rick frowned. “I’ve gone straight. This isn’t anything criminal, I assure you.”

“If you say so,” Targon shrugged.

Rick shook his head and sighed. “It’s also a way to lay low for a bit. What with all that has been going on…I think we could use a few easier days.”

“That’s true,” Targon nodded.

The Lone Eagle sent its landing codes to the docking station…but there was only static in reply.

Rick frowned. “That’s odd.”

“Is there anyone even here?” Targon asked, concerned.

“Of course there are people,” Rick answered. “They’re just…all getting coffee…at the same time.”

They waited a little longer, but still there was no reply. Targon started to get a dark and brooding feeling that grew the longer they remained there.

“I don’t like this,” he stated.

“Me neither,” Rick nodded. “We should land and take a look.”

“Did you just say what I thought you said?” Targon asked, shocked.

“I know, I know,” Rick sighed. “But this is serious…the whole colony’s gone dark. I can’t detect any chatter on the channels…and the scanners don’t detect anything. This is big…we need to find out what’s going on.”

“I agree,” Targon nodded. “I just didn’t expect it to be coming from you.”

The Lone Eagle descended over the planet and made its way down to the single settlement. Looking out the window, none of the crew liked what they saw.

“It’s deserted,” Valens stated.

“Worse than deserted,” Greyhawk shook his head. “It’s been ravaged.”

Indeed, dozens of buildings lay in ruins, rubble and debris littered the tightly packed streets, and a haze of smoke hung over the city.

But there were no bodies.

The ship landed and the ramp lowered. The crew exited with weapons in their hands. They walked slowly, studying everything around them…though there was little to find.

“Not a sound,” Sorgal observed. “Not a creature noise from the forests…or even the rustle of the trees.”

“Even the wind is still,” Xana nodded. “There is a dark essence about this place.”

“What do you think happened?” Valens asked. “What could do something like this?”

“Well, if we find anyone, we’ll be sure to ask,” Gabrielle answered.

They kept moving, searching all around, yet there was not a soul – or corpse – to be seen anywhere. The silence was the worst of all…not a breeze, not a voice, not even the ground beneath them made a sound with their footsteps.

Moving down several streets, they were slowly making their way to the town center. A large tower stood as the governor’s manse and spaceport security. It was empty and derelict, from what they could tell outside.

And there was something coating it.

“What is that?” Rick asked no one in particular.

“Looks like vines have overgrown it,” Greyhawk observed.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Sorgal frowned. “This place looks like it was only abandoned recently. There’s no way that vines could grow that fast…”

“No,” Targon stated simply as they got closer. “Look…it’s not green and it’s not vegetation. It’s…red.”

The light was dim from cloud cover, but when the sun peeked through the clouds for a brief moment, the strange strands covering the tower appeared to glow a dull ruddy color.

“What is it?” Gabrielle asked.

“Is it…alive?” Xana added.

They were at the foot of the tower, getting a close view of the odd stuff. Sorgal stepped forward and touched it.

“No, it’s not alive,” he stated.

“It is organic, though,” Rick pointed out.

“That doesn’t mean it’s alive,” the Sith growled.

“Quiet, both of you!” Greyhawk barked harshly. He had his blaster pistol ready to fire, and he looked like he was planning to grab his cannon strapped to his back.

“What is it?” Targon asked. And then he saw.

The strange “vines” on the tower twitched.

Looking up, the group saw something moving above.

The strands were parting a ways up and something was…coming out.

A horrid shriek filled the air, shattering the silence in a terrifying fury. The object flew from the opening and plunged down towards them.

It was a large insect, the size of a man, but unlike anything ever seen before. Its carapace was red and streaked with black markings. Its eyes were black coals, and its several legs were covered in claws and spikes and other sharp growths.

Rick nearly screamed, but instead, he let his blaster make the noise. The others joined it, firing up at the creature.

But the insect was quick, dodging their bolts and drawing nearer. It opened a mouth full of fangs dripping with venom. Out of its throat came another monstrous howl.

It landed among them, slashing at them and shrieking.

A few blaster bolts hit it, but the hard skin seemed unaffected.

The creature went for the closest person – Sorgal – and raised its claws. It flew at him, ready to rip the Sith to shreds.

Sorgal leaped back and drew his red saber. He hacked at its arms that came his way, but they didn’t seem to do anything. The hide was too tough.

Then it grabbed him and flung him at the wall. He crashed into the tower’s base with a grunt and struggled to get up.

The monster wasn’t going to wait for him. It leapt at him, with fangs ready to dig into him – armor and flesh.

Sorgal roared as he faced the creature, raised his fingers, and hurled bolts of lightning into it.

The power of his attack flung the monster back, slamming it onto the ground. Sorgal stood then, fuming with dark rage.

Struggling, the creature was trying to rise. The others blasted it with their guns, though still it seemed to no effect.

Sorgal had an idea though, and he didn’t wait to ask anyone’s permission.

Nearby was a large piece of a structure that appeared to have burned down. With a wave of his hand, Sorgal lifted the piece and slammed it down on the shrieking insect.

The planet went silent again.

“What the frell?” Rick gasped at length.

“Something evil is afoot,” Targon stated. “I felt a horrible dark presence in that…creature. But I sensed…it was once a person…”

“The Sorceress’ work?” Greyhawk suggested.

“It doesn’t feel that way,” Targon shook his head. “I sense…Sith sorcery.”
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04.12.2012 , 07:46 PM | #122
Chapter Three

Yoren was the most boring planet that Joan had ever been to. And she had been here three days.

Three days ago, the Ministry had dispatched her here to look into any…strange happenings…that the Dark Council suspected might be happening here. She didn’t like assignments from the Sith…but the Ministry ordered her here.

There was nothing going on at all, as far as she could tell. The Imperial delegation was being run around in circles by the Yorenese government officials.

Yoren wasn’t happy about their senator’s death…but they weren’t eager to just renounce the Republic. They said they weren’t ready for such a drastic measure yet.

Joan had rolled her eyes at that. She knew what was really going on here. They were trying to see how much they could squeeze out of the negotiations before they signed any deal. They were out for money, influence, and prestige.

They would be lucky if the Empire didn’t just decide to destroy them instead. Other worlds had suffered such fates, for lesser defiance.

Of course, there was no way to get the ambassadors to see things that way. These fat men hardly deserved to be called Imperial. They were politicians…and they didn’t care how long the negotiations were taking. After all, they were being pampered nicely as they waited.

Other than that annoyance, she couldn’t see anything else going on. And certainly nothing that seemed to warrant the Dark Council’s suspicion.

Those Sith Lords were being paranoid, she figured.

She was sitting restlessly on a bench in one of the grand hallways of Yoren’s Palace of the Congress, when she saw Nul Thess, one of the Empire’s ambassadors, walking her way with the planet’s Speaker for the House, Representative Biko.

They were deep in simple-minded conversation when she stood to greet them.

“Representative Biko, Ambassador Thess,” she saluted them both. “I request to speak with you.”

“This is hardly the time,” Thess stated sourly. “We have important business…”

The Yorenese raised a hand. “Let the pretty lady talk. What is it you wish to say? Please be brief, we do have lots at hand…”

Joan nodded. “Representative, I have been here for three days without getting anywhere with my assignment. It appears all my business here has been for naught and I beg your leave to depart.”

“You have not been assigned off this world,” Thess growled. “You should speak to me…”

“This is my world,” Biko stated. “The woman is right to come to me. No one comes or goes from Yoren without a signed visa from one of our planetary officials. But why come to me?”

“You are the highest authority on this world, sir,” Joan stated. “I would like to depart quickly to see to other matters of the Empire.” Really, though, she just wanted to get off this boring planet as quickly as possible.

Biko nodded. “I understand. You are busy too, no doubt. I’m very sorry that you were not able to accomplish what you came for.”

Joan withheld a scoff. He should be sorry that this has been a major waste of my time, she thought to herself. Him and the Dark Council.

“Well, I’ll be sure to let the Ministry know of your departure,” Thess frowned.

“I’ll tell them myself, thank you, ambassador,” Joan nodded politely, though in her mind she was thinking all sorts of profane things to call him. She was a cipher agent, and well above him in the chain of command. And she was one who actually cared how the Empire and its people fared.

All he cared about were the luxuries he had in his visit to this worthless world.

Just then, a man came bolting down the hall – a Yorenese security officer.

“Representative!” he called. “Come and see! Quick!”

“What’s the matter?” Biko asked.

“Come and see! Come and see! There are ships descending over the planet! And people are dropping lifeless in the street!”


Biko followed the officer, Thess and Joan quickly behind him. They came out to a great balcony and saw what the man meant.

Up in the skies, six Imperial dreadnaughts loomed like immense storm clouds. Several smaller ships surrounded them…and something that Joan couldn’t recognize at all. It looked like a giant sphere, nearly as large as one of the Star Destroyers.

“What is the meaning of this?” Biko whirled around, his face nearly purple with rage, shoving a finger into Thess’ chest. “How dare the Empire invade Yoren!”

“Representative…” the ambassador blubbered. “I…I don’t know what’s going on…I know nothing of an invasion…”

“Lies!” Biko spat in his face. “Lies! The Empire is full of lies!”

Joan shook her head. He didn’t know the half of it.

“Arrest him!” Biko ordered the security officer. “Arrest them both!”

“Sir,” the guard protested. “What about the invasion? What shall we do?”

“What can you do?” Joan shrugged.

“I’ll see you both dead for this treachery!” Biko roared.

But then the city was bursting into flames. Lasers showered from the ships above, destroying buildings, and crumbling the gleaming spires of the Palace.

Screaming rose like the sea over the city – the screams of panic, distress…and something else…

Suddenly, Biko, Thess, and the security officer grabbed their skulls and wailed in pain. They then dropped limp to the ground.

Joan heard it then, a screeching and a horrible voice speaking incoherently in her mind. Pain racked through her body and she felt her world spin as the floor rose to meet her face.

She fought against it, as hard as she could. All around, past the shrieking, she could hear the similar wailing of the people throughout the city. Throughout the planet even.

In the sky, the small ships spewed forth thousands of small fighters that descended over the city.

No…she realized. They weren’t fighters.

A loud buzzing filled the air, like a million insects swarming towards her. When the flying objects drew closer, she realized that they were insects. Countless hundreds…even thousands.

The bombardment stopped, though fires still raged across the landscape. The swarm of insects descended into the city, and rose again with limp, unconscious people in their claws.

They were flying this way…towards the palace.

Above, the ships were descending too. The shadow of the warships loomed over the city, darkening the burning streets. And the sphere…

It was preparing to land atop the palace, its bottom seemed to open up as if to consume the entire building. Inside, she saw only darkness.

Actually, that may have appeared so because her strength had given out on her. The shrieking in her head was too much. Her whole body went limp and numb, she couldn’t feel anything anymore. She couldn’t move at all.

Then she saw the ground shrink away from her. The last thing she saw was the hideous insectoid creature gripping her lifeless body and carrying her into the air.

And then everything went out.
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04.12.2012 , 07:51 PM | #123
Chapter Four

The crew of the Lone Eagle decided to give the tower a wide berth after what had just happened. It may have been the source of what had happened, they figured, but they weren’t going to take any more chances if more of those things emerged.

Instead, they started searching around for any signs of survivors or at least signs of what might have happened. For several hours, they found nothing at all.

But then, just as they were about to give up on looking for anyone, they heard a faint noise a ways off, muffled beneath the wreckage of a structure.

Targon rushed over to the source and commenced to lift the wreckage up one block at a time. Xana and Sorgal joined in, and soon, they had uncovered a single man, battered and moaning weakly.

They rushed to the man’s side and studied him. It didn’t look like there were any broken ribs…this man was extremely fortunate.

Lifting him out of the rubble, they laid him down carefully on the street. They searched in vain for anything soft to put under his head, but the man didn’t look like he cared if he was comfortable at all.

The man had a hard face, pale skin, and his eyes told that he hadn’t slept for ages. Scars, some recent, others much older, adorned his skin all over, especially one over his right eye. The back of his head had been bleeding, mixing red with his navy blue hair.

He groaned and looked up at them.

“It’s alright,” Targon said softly. “You’re safe now.”

The man simply groaned painfully in response.

“Can you tell us what happened here?” Sorgal asked.

Xana frowned at him. “Can’t you see he’s hurt? He probably can hardly talk…”

“I can talk just fine,” the man stated weakly. “I’m not dead yet.”

Everyone glanced down at him. His blue eyes stared back at them – they looked strong, despite the rest of his body’s condition.

“Who are you?” Targon asked.

“My name is Yohon…Onoma.”

“Do you know what happened?” Rick asked.

The man nodded. “Imperial ships…they came from nowhere. They attacked without warning…and then everyone dropped dead.”

“Dropped dead?” Gabrielle’s eyes widened.

“Or unconscious, I don’t know,” the man shrugged.

“Do you know what it was that caused it?” Greyhawk asked. “Gas? Poison?”

“Something…in the mind…” Yohon replied. “I heard it…shrieking…and a foul voice…”

“Then what?” Sorgal asked impatiently.

Yohon paused for a moment, and then continued. “Then…this thing…descended over the tower. It was a giant…spheroid…an egg, I thought it looked like. Hundreds of these…creatures…picked up the bodies and took them into the object. It was like their hive or something.”

“What did they do with them?” Targon asked.

“I don’t know…” the man replied. “The rubble collapsed on me during the attack. That’s why the bugs didn’t find me. I just listened… There were countless screams from within that thing. Then shrieking…and then silence.”

“Where’s this…sphere…now?” Rick asked. “We just came from the tower. There wasn’t anything there but vines…and one of those bugs.”

“Must have left it behind,” Yohon groaned. “To find me…the voice in my head…it knew I was still here.”

“What was the voice?”

“A Sith,” the man replied. “I don’t know how, but I know it was a Sith. It spoke like one…it laughed and jeered like one. It told me that this place was an easy test subject…it needed a better one.”

“What? Do you know where whoever did this went?”

“I’m not sure,” the man shook his head. “I thought I heard…Yoren. That’s a world not too far away.”

“That’s probably where we’ll find it,” Targon stated.

“And what?” Rick asked. “We’re just going to follow it? Seek it out? Are you nuts?”

“Whatever it is, it needs to be stopped,” Targon countered. “There’s no time to relax now. We have to stop this before more worlds are attacked. Whatever this thing is…whatever it wants…we need to stop it.”

“Can’t the Republic stop it?” Valens asked. “Why should we get involved?”

“Oh, right,” Sorgal smirked. “I forgot you haven’t been with us very long. This is the sort of thing we do.”

“The Republic is busy fighting the Empire,” Targon sighed. “We should find out what this thing is…then we can tell the Republic. But we need to know what it is and how it can be stopped.”

Rick groaned. “You know, I went straight to have a normal life. Not to chase after apocalyptic dangers to the galaxy.”

“That’s what you get for bringing a Jedi on your ship,” Greyhawk stated.

“Don’t remind me.”

“Well, we can’t just leave him here,” Xana stated. But when they glanced down at Yohon, they were shocked to see that he had disappeared.

“What the…?!” Valens gasped.

“Did he just become…what is with the Force?” Rick asked.

Targon frowned and shook his head. “No…he’s just…gone.”


“It doesn’t matter,” Sorgal growled. “It’s one less mouth to feed. Come on, let’s go after this doomsday situation. Yoren is where we’re headed, I guess.”

It was a quick trip back to the ship. They were cautious, though, keeping their weapons ready in case any more things might jump out at them. But it appeared that wouldn’t be the case here. They were alone on this world once again.

Boarding the ship, they hurried to get off-world. The Lone Eagle’s engines revved to life and the vessel rose into the sky.

Clouds gave way to stars as they ascended. Once they were free of the atmosphere, Rick punched in the coordinates to Yoren. He did so slowly.

“I don’t like this one bit,” he scowled.

“Neither do I,” Targon sighed. “I would have liked a few easy days…but that doesn’t seem to be our path.”

“Maybe we just need to get off the one we’re on and go find it.”

“Would that I could,” Targon smiled. “But it is a Jedi’s duty to protect the galaxy and the Republic.”

“Yeah, well, only two people on this ship are Jedi,” Rick pointed out.

“Are you going to quit?” Targon asked, concerned.

“Did I say that?” Rick countered.

“You never know what someone leaves unspoken.”

“Wise words,” Rick nodded. “Where’d you hear that? I never said it.”

“My master, Tieru,” Targon replied.

Rick nodded. “Ah, well, I’ll try not to bring up bad memories for you. Well, off we go…”

He pushed the lever and the stars turned to lines. They shot into hyperspace, leaving Shanxi well behind.

But only for a moment.

The ship jolted violently and dropped out of hyperspace. Everyone was thrown about crudely. Rick and Targon slammed into the dashboard, but luckily didn’t break their noses.

“What was that?!” Greyhawk’s voice bellowed through the ship.

Rick glanced out the window. There was nothing but stars about.

“We were yanked out of light speed,” he stated.

“I gathered that,” Valens’ voice joined Greyhawk’s resounding through the halls. “Why? Are we attacked by pirates?”

Rick frowned. “Scanners don’t detect any other ships…”

“Why are we shouting across the ship to each other?” Gabrielle asked.

Targon felt a shudder through the Force. “Someone is here…”


“I don’t know…but it’s familiar.”

Rick stood. “I’ll check security feeds to see if there’s anything wrong with the ship’s exterior…or if we suffered damage.”

Just then a strange sound echoed through the ship.

It was the sound of someone knocking on the airlock.
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04.13.2012 , 11:59 AM | #124
Chapter Five

One of the Blackguard entered into Moff Taan’s office without knocking. He saluted silently as the Chiss looked up with his glittering red eyes.

“There had best be a reason for this disturbance,” Taan stated as he stood from his desk, smoothing his stark white uniform.

The armored soldier nodded and stepped aside. “You have a visitor.”

“It had better be an important visit,” Taan growled.

A man entered the office, chuckling. His red and violet robes flowed around him, and his face was hidden behind an expressionless mask.

“My visits are always important,” Lord Mortis said.

“To you, perhaps,” Taan pointed to a seat he deigned to offer the Sith Lord. “They are getting to be quite a nuisance of late. Viruul would not be pleased to know of my conversations with you.”

Mortis waved his hand as he sat, causing the guard to leave and the door to close after him. “Does he know?”

Taan frowned. “You wouldn’t be here – alive – if he did.”

Mortis laughed at that. “The fact you haven’t told him is good news indeed. I knew you wouldn’t, though.”

“Did you now, indeed?”

The Sith nodded. “You were an admiral not too long ago, until Viruul raised you to Moff. You’ve had a taste of power, and it has inflamed your ambition.”

“What would you know of my ambition?” Taan sat and folded his arms, staring at the Sith from across the desk.

“Plenty…enough…what does it matter?” Mortis shrugged. “I know well enough that you groan under Viruul’s heel. You do his bidding, and endure his anger at your failings. But they’re not your failings, are they?”

Taan shook his head. “I see your spies are busy.”

“I have no spies,” Mortis waved his hand. “I know all. I am Sith.”

“Viruul is a Sith too,” Taan pointed out. “Yet he does not know of our exchange.”

Mortis chuckled. “Viruul is a fool. A blind fool that has outlived his usefulness to the Empire. As have many others.”

“To you,” Taan corrected. “They’re useless to you.”

“And I am the Empire,” Mortis laced his fingers. “Or I will be, soon enough. Viruul has few friends on the Council, fewer still in the rest of the Empire. And the others…they are sheep ready to follow my lead.”

“Don’t let them hear you say that,” Taan pointed a harsh finger at him.

“They know nothing,” Mortis shrugged. “And they can do nothing. My plans have already been put to motion, and my servants and allies are fulfilling their parts. Very soon, the Empire will be mine.”

“Yours? What of the Moffs? The Emperor?”

“The Emperor stays hidden, and cares nothing for day to day affairs. He will remain where he is…aloof. As for the Moffs, well, those that aren’t weak are too stupid to remain in their position.”

“Is that so?”

“But not you,” Mortis laughed. “I know of your ambition, your prowess in command, and your ability to maintain control. The only reason you aren’t higher in position is that you are stuck beneath Viruul’s boot.”

“I’m a Moff,” Taan stated. “There is no higher position…”

“What about Grand Moff?”

Taan cut short, his eyes flashed with rare shock. “What did you say?”

“The old regime is soon to be gone,” Mortis stated. “Viruul with his folly, Jadus with his silence, and Kilran with his charisma. People are going to have to replace them. How about you, Taan? How does Grand Moff of the Empire sound?”

Taan sat back and tapped his chin. “This is a unique offer, something unlike any you’ve offered before.”

“Of course,” Mortis nodded. “That’s because the clock is ticking. The tide is coming in, and it will wash away everything that cannot stand against it.”

“And Viruul can’t stand against you?” Taan cocked an eyebrow.

“If you believed there was even the remotest chance of his triumph, you wouldn’t be talking with me, Taan. I know you well enough to verify that.”

“He may not be liked in the Ministry…or the military, for the most part…but he has his apprentice. She’s a monster. And he has friends among bounty hunters.”

“Bounty hunters are friends to no one,” Mortis shook his head.

“Viruul has money,” Taan countered. “That’s all the mercenaries need.”

“But that can be changed. You know his mercenary…friends, as you call them…You can arrange for their removal. He also believes he has you under his control. Imagine what would happen if his own shield turned into an enemy’s blade? There is nothing he could do.”

Taan frowned. “You talk and scheme carelessly, as though this is all a game to you.”

“But it is a game,” Mortis stood. “A game of thrones – it’s the way of the Sith. Viruul is losing, and if you lose, you die.”

Taan stood, staring at the faceless mask of the Sith. “Your plan is bold, but it will not succeed without my support.”

“That is likely true,” Mortis nodded. “Do I have it?”

He held out his hand.

“Sith deals are always double-edged…”

“But they are worth the risk, if you’re strong enough. Are you?”

Taan reached across the desk and shook Mortis’ hand.


Joan awoke in darkness. Slowly, a faint light started up…but it was still too dim to see anything.

She groaned and tried to rub her forehead. But then she found she couldn’t move her arms. She tried again, and still no success. She couldn’t move her arms, her legs, or any part of her.

It was even hard to breathe. It felt like something was constricting her lungs.

The air was warm and moist, far too humid for comfort.

Slowly, her senses were returning to her. She could smell foulness in the air. She could hear the constant droning of insect wings. She could feel an immense pulse emanating from the walls.

Her eyesight was improving, as well. She saw why she was unable to move – she was bound tight by some cords against the wall. But these were no cords, or ropes, or vines. These were strands of red…something…and it seemed almost alive.

Looking around, she saw others. Thousands of people, tied up in the same fashion as her. There were the Yorenese people, and the ambassadors.

It was a massive chamber they were in – perhaps the Palace, perhaps the sphere…she thought it might be both.

Those insect creatures zipped by and occasionally freed one of the people, carrying them off into the gloom. They were even more hideous up close. And they stunk like this mucky place she was in.

She could hear screaming in the distance. Horrid shrieks of terror and pain. Human cries…and inhuman as well. Despite her conditioning, Joan could not help but feel horrified and anxious about her situation.

Several times, she tried to break free of her bonds. But the more she struggled, the tighter they seemed to hold to her. When she relaxed, they loosened. At least, enough for her to breathe again.

It seemed that hours passed. Periodically, the insects took another of the captives. And then she would hear more screaming and wailing. And then the bugs would return.

One by one, people were disappearing. Representative Biko was gone. So was Ambassador Thess.

More hours passed, and then she heard footsteps drawing near. And voices.

All of a sudden, she was lowered from the wall, though the strands still bound her. She was set on the floor. Two people were standing over her.

“So, an Imperial Agent,” a voice hissed. “This was a surprise.”

“What shall we do with her, master?” the second voice asked.

“We should see what she knows,” the first person answered.

Joan looked up at the pair with disgust. They looked no better than the insects that swarmed the area.

The first was an insectoid person. His carapace was black, though, and his eyes were bright orbs of changing light. He was hunched over, keeping his four arms tucked close to his chest. His mandibles twitched as it studied her.

The other was a Zabrak woman…or at least, she had once been a Zabrak. Her skin was pale, but bloody streaks ran down her arms and torso. Strange growths jutted from her shoulders, elbows, and knees, tearing through what remained of her clothing. Her horns were longer than normal Zabraks, and her hair was ratty and filthy.

“Who are you?” the woman hissed.

“The name’s Snipes,” Joan answered simply.

“A nickname,” the bug growled. “All agents have silly code aliases.”

“I happen to like mine, thank you,” Joan spat at him.

The Zabrak kicked her. “Watch your tone, mongrel,” she hissed.

“Mongrel?” Joan ignored the slight trickle of blood from where her blow had landed. “That’s funny…coming from a Sith.”

“You know that we are Sith?” the insect-man peered at her.

“I can always tell a rotten Sith…even if they look like a bug.”

The Zabrak slapped her viciously.

“Arachne, enough!” the insect ordered. “This one has spirit and strength.”

“I’ll break that out of her,” the Zabrak snarled.

“No,” the insect shook his head. “She will make an excellent test subject. Lord Mortis will want to see what we can do with her.”

Joan frowned, confused. “Mortis? Of the Dark Council? What’s he got to do with your disgusting show?”

Arachne smiled. “She doesn’t know anything,” she stated.

“Unfortunately,” the other Sith nodded.

“Who are you?” Joan asked as she was being lifted up against the wall.

“I am Lord Arawn,” the bug replied. “And with Lord Mortis, we are bringing a new age to this galaxy.”
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04.13.2012 , 12:03 PM | #125
Chapter Six

The knocking kept ringing through the ship. The whole crew had gathered, their weapons ready and their nerves tingling with caution.

There had been nothing seen on the security cameras outside. There was nothing to see – it was all just fuzzy static. Sensors reported that there was nothing at all.

The knocking suggested otherwise.

“What should we do?” Greyhawk asked. “We can’t just sit here, we need to get going.”

“If we open the airlock, we’ll space ourselves,” Valens countered.

“It’s considered rude to not answer the door,” Gabrielle shrugged.

Sorgal scoffed. “We could also say that it’s rude to pull someone out of hyperspace so abruptly.”

Targon sighed. “We won’t get any answers just sitting here. I’m opening the door.”

“No!” Valens shouted. “I won’t let myself be killed just because you’re curious, Jedi.”

Targon ignored the protests and moved towards the airlock. Looking through the window, he saw nothing but complete blackness. He reached tentatively towards the control panel…and pushed the button.

Immediately, he leapt back with saber drawn and activated.

A strange mist entered through the door, and then a shape emerged.

A person.

He was covered in a tight-fit body suit of Krayt Dragon scales. A double-bladed lightsaber hung at his side. An unsettling smile was on his familiar face.

“Master Karr!” Rick hissed.

“That’s not Minos Karr,” Sorgal stated.

The man laughed, his red reptilian eyes gleaming, his voice different than the Jedi Shadow’s had been.

“No, I am not Minos Karr,” he stated. “I greet you all cordially…as Lord Draco.”

Xana gasped, Targon raised an eyebrow of confusion, and Rick blurted, “You’re dead.”

“Who is he supposed to be?” Valens asked. “And why is he supposed to be dead?”

“Lord Draco is the man that took Kronos with him into the abyss,” Targon replied. “How?”

“Come now, Targon Karashi,” the man sighed. “You know I’m alive, you saw me in your vision.”

“You’re the one that killed Navor?!” Rick roared, raising his pistols. The others raised their weapons as well.

Draco shook his head, his smile disappeared. “I didn’t kill Navor. He killed himself in his rage. I released him from his dark prison.”

“I don’t like that rationale,” Greyhawk growled.

“Wait!” Xana stood between them and Draco. Her presence caused the men to hesitate, but not for very long.

“Move aside, girl!” Greyhawk ordered. “This man is a Sith, and a murderer.”

Xana did not budge. “He is…he was…my master.”

“Well,” Draco nodded. “It’s good to see not the entire crew is unhappy to see me.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Rick stated. “One of us will push her out of the way while the rest gun you down.”

“No,” Targon stepped forward. “We should learn why he has come here.”

“Are you crazy?” Sorgal hissed. “Draco is one of the Dark Covenant.”

“Was,” Draco corrected. “And so were you, if I recall.”

“That’s different,” Sorgal glared at him.

“Is it? I disagree.”

“Hold on, hold on,” Valens stepped forward. “I think some explanation is in order.” He looked towards Draco. “Okay, pal, how the frell did you get here? From outside?”

Draco smiled. “Ah, well, I suppose I had better explain that by being honest. I have not come here alone.”

“Who else is coming through?” Rick asked.

Another figure stepped through the airlock, followed closely by another. The first was a tall woman, with long golden hair and brilliant blue eyes. It was her voice, and her companion, that let them know who it was.

“Greetings again,” Selendis smiled.

Everyone raised their weapons, even Targon. The shock of fear was palpable in the air. Fear and outrage, that is.

At the Sorceress’ side was a blue skinned creature with a face recognizable despite the immense alterations. It was once Anna-sa Kyja.

Greyhawk was about to waste no time pulling the trigger, and Rick and Gabrielle were about to follow.

Draco raised his arms in protest. “Hold, I beg you,” he pleaded. “We are not here to harm you.”

“Forgive us if we are deaf to your lies,” Rick hissed.

“They are not lies,” Selendis stated. “We have come to seek an alliance with you.”

That caused a major pause. Silence filled the ship.

“What sort of trickery is this?” Sorgal asked harshly.

“No trick,” Draco shook his head. “The hour is late, the situation desperate. You are on your way to Yoren to seek out this new threat. You do not realize what you are walking into.”

“And I suppose you do?” Rick asked.

Selendis nodded. “Yes.”

Targon lowered his saber. “If we believe you…and that’s a mighty big if…what is your angle? Why side with us? What is this danger to you?”

“We have come aboard from my ship, though it is no longer space-worthy,” Draco stated. “Our presence was masked from all…but we had to find you, to join you. This swarm that stripped Shanxi of life…”

“…It has befallen several other worlds as well,” Selendis finished for him. “The Sith have learned a corrupted form of my power, and they have unleashed it on the galaxy. My children…”

“They were destroyed,” Draco concluded. “Destroyed by this new power.” He gestured to Anna-sa. “This is the last.”

“The Empire defeated you?” Greyhawk scoffed.

“Not the Empire,” Selendis shook her head. “The Sith…particularly one called Darth Arawn.”

Targon’s eyes widened. He remembered that name…and the insect form it went with. Of all the Sith on Korriban, Arawn was the one Targon had most feared. And he knew who also served him…

“Is he a rogue?” Xana asked.

“No,” Draco replied. “He serves another master, a powerful Sith Lord that is making his power play. Together, they are using Sith sorcery to strip worlds of life…twisting the souls and bodies of their victims into horrid monsters.”

“But they are preparing something much worse,” Selendis continued. “They are prepared to destroy the balance of the galaxy. The conflict of Republic and Empire, Jedi and Sith…it will mean nothing.”

“And we are just supposed to believe your claims?” Rick asked. “From you, both that are not Jedi or Sith yourselves?”

“We do not forget that you both have tried to kill us,” Greyhawk growled.

“Kill you?” Draco chuckled. “I don’t recall either of us trying to kill you. We have both saved you. That I do remember.”

“I want you off my ship,” Rick barked. “Off! Or we’ll kill you.”

“That would be unwise,” Selendis peered at him with her piercing blue eyes. “We need you, and you need us. This enemy is a common foe, and we need to work together.”

“I would rather die!” Greyhawk spat.

“Then you will,” Draco sighed. “We will all die if we do not align against this abominable evil.”

Targon deactivated his lightsaber and sighed. All eyes turned to him.

“He is right,” Targon said softly. “I can feel the darkness…the immensity of this evil. They are not lying. We need each other.”

“You can’t be serious, Targon!” Rick growled.

“You know who they are as well as us!” Gabrielle concurred. “They’re evil!”

Targon shook his head. “No more than we are to others, I am sure. And they are no threat compared to something that can strip worlds of life. I remember Kronos, I fought him and watched him kill my master.”

“This is folly,” Sorgal hissed.

Targon took a deep breath. “We’ve gone from one folly to another in saving the galaxy from threats. This is no different.”

Draco and Selendis both smiled and nodded at him.

“Then we are allies in this,” Draco said.

“A foolish and dangerous alliance if ever I saw one,” Rick resigned reluctantly.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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04.13.2012 , 12:06 PM | #126
Chapter Seven

Viruul’s cloak billowed behind him like a trail of black smoke as he glided down the corridor. His hands had clenched into furious fists, and his eyes glowed with a burning anger.

He had just had a report from Lord Hades’ informants. Yoren had gone dark, and there were no signs of life left.

Ships that had been heading there had either turned around or had disappeared. There was nothing on the holonet, no reports from the ambassadors, delegation, or even the agents sent there.

Just nothing.

To him, it meant only one thing – the threat was growing with each new strike. Those other worlds had been lightly populated or relatively remote. But Yoren was populous, influential, and renowned. To have been wiped out in a single moment…this threat was larger than anticipated.

For some reason, Viruul suspected Mortis’ hand in it. There was no proof, he knew, but he had his instincts. Lord Scorpius led the fight against the Republic. Neither side could see what was happening nor were they able to do anything about it.

It was too convenient. Too much of an open opportunity for Viruul to suppose that Mortis was not acting now.

If that stupid fool was going to strike, Viruul needed to be ready. Mortis had allies – and more than just supportive voices on the Council. True, Lord Marr and Howl were closer to him than to most…but they weren’t going to make a move unless Mortis was sure to win.

No. Mortis would look to allies, servants, vassals…anyone that he could get control over and utilize to Viruul’s fall.

So he had to muster his forces as well.

The bounty hunters were far…too far to be of assistance. Besides, they had their own task to take care of.

Viruul knew he had no friends in the Ministry. He didn’t care for that sorry lot anyway. The military was closed to him…almost. He still did have Moff Taan and Commander Gerald. But still, soldiers meant little in conflicts between Sith.

There was Lord Hades, but Viruul didn’t trust that old man. He was strong, insightful, and respected on the Council…but he was devious, flattering, and uncouth. He couldn’t count on him for aid. He could, however, count on him not fighting against him.

Not many of his allies and underlings in the Sith remained, Viruul knew. Tiburon was dead, and Zelos had been a traitor that died a while ago. Hellion was dead…though he was Hades’ man, not his. Vinitar was gone, and also not under Viruul’s direct command.

There was really only Succuba. And she was untested. She was powerful, certainly, but she was new to the field…and she was often busy with her own…appetites…

He was just starting to suppose that he really didn’t have many allies at all when he entered a large and empty courtyard. No one was about, and the air was still.

The peacefulness was what perked his attention. Something felt out of place…

He kept walking. He had come to the center of the courtyard when he realized he was not alone. All around, he saw nearly a dozen of the Blackguard appear. He knew them as the faceless and elite soldiers under Moff Taan. He knew their presence quite well…though it was odd that they were here.

“Where is your commander?” Viruul asked.

There was no reply. The soldiers simply stood still and silent.

“I asked you a question,” he growled angrily. “Where is Taan?”

“Taan has left with the Apocrypha and his forces, my lord,” one of the Blackguards finally answered.

“Left to where?”

“He didn’t say,” the man replied. “But he gave us strict orders.”

Viruul didn’t need to ask what those orders were. He could sense the disturbance in the Force as the soldiers drew closer and raised their weapons.

“Traitors,” he spat with a calm yet terrible fury.

A flash of lightning lit the courtyard under the dark sky of Dromund Kaas. The rumble of thunder soon followed.

That was when they opened fire.

Viruul’s saber flew to his hand. The crimson blade sprung to life, and soon it became a blur of red against of storm of lasers. The smell of ozone filled the air, and the sounds of saber hums and blaster bolts echoed through the courtyard.

One of the bolts was reflected back to its owner. The man grunted as the laser struck his leg, but the armor was thick and he didn’t go down.

Viruul decided to do the job himself. He leapt towards the man, slashing him along the neck with his saber. Then he spun around as the gunmen followed his movements.

There were two men relatively close to him. One on the left and one on the right. Easy pickings.

With a swipe of his hand, he flung the man on the left into the air, and threw him into the other man. Then he sent a ball of lightning from his hands after them.

Despite such a small burst, the explosive power was immense and both men were fried within their armor.

The loss of concentration was a problem, however. The other men kept shooting, and soon Viruul was desperate to keep his defense up.

One man shot a cable from his wrist. The line wrapped around Viruul’s legs and yanked them out from under him.

Viruul struck the ground with a roar of anger. He cut the cable off of his legs and moved to get up. But the soldiers were closing in around him. Their guns were ready to fire at once, pumping his body with a dozen blaster bolts at once.

This wasn’t right, Viruul thought. This is not the way a Sith dies…betrayed by his own men and helpless on the ground. The rage within him was ready to burst out…

…But something happened before it could.

Something zipped by two of the soldiers, and suddenly, they fell apart into pieces. The others turned about to fire wantonly at the new threat, but they couldn’t see anything.

Blaster bolts flew wildly across the courtyard. Lightning continued to flash up in the stormy clouds. And a wicked laughter filled the air.

Three more men went down, somehow their bodily functions lost control and their guns turned on each other.

Viruul smiled at the scene, and took the time to get up. Most of the men had their backs turned on him. The perfect time to strike back at these traitorous dogs.

He raised his hands and let forth a giant burst of lightning into the lot. They flew into the air, howling and screaming in pain.

Then he ceased the lightning and simply held them all up with the Force. He clenched his fists, and their black armor crumpled in on them, crushing their bodies underneath.

Viruul opened his fists and grinned as the broken, crushed bodies clattered to the ground in a sickening sound. He felt the presence at his side and turned to face it.

“Well done, my apprentice,” Viruul nodded at the woman.

“It was odd to see you so taken by surprise,” Succuba smirked. “I would have thought you never surprised.”

“We have been betrayed,” Viruul growled, ignoring the insolent comment. “Taan…how dare he? I raised him up to his position. I am the reason he has such power…how could he betray me?”

“Perhaps your enemies could offer him more?” Succuba shrugged.

Viruul nodded, a sick feeling building in his stomach. “Mortis.” The word was like bile in his mouth.

“What shall we do, master?”

Viruul turned to the bodies of the Blackguard. “See if you can find one still alive,” he ordered. “We’ll see what we can get out of him.”

Succuba went to work, searching the bodies for any sign of life. However, the job had been done too well. None remained alive.

Viruul sighed and folded his arms. A dead end…for now.

Just then, his comlink beeped. He grabbed it and watched as the image of Shazzar appeared.

“You son of a murglak!” the bounty hunter roared.

Viruul was taken aback. “What are you talking about?”

“They took my wife!”

“Who? What?”

Shazzar was fuming. “I just got a desperate call from Shili. The Blackguard broke into my house and took my wife and friend. The BLACKGUARD!”

Viruul’s nostrils flared. He could see what was going on. Taan was turning his remaining allies against him.

“Shazzar, I assure you,” Viruul said as coolly as possible, “I had nothing to do with your wife’s kidnapping. I myself have been betrayed by the Chiss. It would appear he has signed on with my enemies.”

That didn’t seem to appease the bounty hunter. “My wife is missing, Viruul. She is the most important thing in my life. Credits, jobs, you… they don’t mean a damn thing next to her. I will not do any more work for you – or anyone – until I get her back.”

That was not what Viruul wanted to hear. It almost made him cringe. If Shazzar didn’t work for him…

He sighed. “You have my word, Shazzar, I will find your wife and bring her back to you. And I will punish those responsible.”

“If she dies because of a power game between you and another Sith…” Shazzar warned. He left it at that and then the hologram flickered out.

Succuba glanced up at Viruul with her fiery eyes. “He’s a handsome man,” she stated.

“And effective,” Viruul nodded. “And one of my best mercenaries…and he’s also taken.”

“Well, master,” Succuba licked some blood off her lips. “What do you intend to do to keep your word?”

Viruul didn’t let himself wonder where that blood had come from. It wasn’t hers…

“Yoren,” he stated. “We’ll see what’s going on here. Mortis and Taan have probably gone that way by now. I am quite certain they have joined forces. We’ll find them…and then we’ll have some fun with them.”

Succuba grinned. “I can’t wait, master.”

Viruul nodded. “Find me Commander Gerald. Hopefully, he hasn’t gotten the stupid notion of betraying me as well.”
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04.13.2012 , 12:08 PM | #127
Chapter Eight

Rick had demanded that the “guests” were to remain in the cargo hold for the entirety of the trip, and they were to be kept under close watch. He had assigned Greyhawk to the task of guarding them, making sure they didn’t try anything.

The old soldier was finding the watch rather boring. None of the newcomers were doing anything. Really.

The Sorceress was skulking in the corner of the hold. The light was dim, but Greyhawk could have sworn there were tears trickling from her eyes.

Draco, on the other hand, was in the center of the chamber. Meditating. He spoke a few times to the old soldier, but Greyhawk simply grunted and kept replies minimal.

Guards weren’t supposed to converse with prisoners.

But then, that made him wonder…were they prisoners? Were they enemies that needed to be watched and guarded from doing anything against the crew? That was how Sorgal and Rick saw it, for certain.

He wanted to see it that way too. The Sorceress was a monstrous creature that had consumed worlds. Draco had killed Navor. And as for the creature that often cuddled with Selendis like a friendly dog to its master…he knew what she was before.

She was an Imperial Agent, and one that had been part of a massive betrayal that cost countless soldiers and Jedi their lives. She was the enemy. And now that she was a mindless beast, it made her all the more dangerous and detestable.

Xana Kalar was at the door to the cargo hold. Greyhawk turned to regard her, keeping a wary eye on the others.

“What are you doing here?” Greyhawk asked. “The captain ordered no one to consort with them.”

The Falleen frowned. “I think I have a right to speak to my master,” she stated.

“I don’t want to have to deal with a hostage situation…or a manipulation.”

Xana rolled her eyes. “You think I am helpless? Draco won’t hurt me…and he won’t hurt you. He’s not what you think he is.”

Greyhawk shook his head. “I don’t even know what to think of that one. But it’s the Sorceress I’m worried about. She could turn you into one of those…things.”

Draco stood from his meditative state. “Don’t worry, sir. I won’t let things get out of your hands. I’ll come up to speak.”

With that, Draco walked towards the door. Greyhawk kept his hand ready to pull out his gun if the need arose. But there was no hostile air in the man’s gait. That didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous, though.

Xana bowed to Draco. “Master, I…I can hardly believe you’re alive…”

Draco sighed. “Xana, my dear, I am not your master. You surpassed my training.”

“How could I? You have come back from the dead.”

The man smiled. “When I say I cannot teach you more, it does not mean that you don’t have more to learn.”

“I don’t understand…”

“When I found you, lost and confused and thinking of joining the Sith,” Draco answered, “I took you under my guidance and onto a different path. Your time under my wing is passed. Now you must find your own path.”

“But I was lost when you were gone,” Xana said. “I didn’t know where to go or how I was supposed to survive.”

“You found you new master,” Draco pointed out.

“I thought you were dead,” Xana shook her head. “But you’re alive now…”


“Master,” Xana bowed to him. “You are my life, I am alive because of you. I am ignorant and you are knowledge…”

“Please don’t,” Draco shook his head sternly. “Don’t start playing the child now, Xana. You are a woman grown, and fully capable of making your own decisions.”

“All I ever wanted was you,” Xana blurted. She was suddenly shocked at what had slipped from her mouth.

Draco sighed. “Is that so? Truly?”


Greyhawk stepped in. “I think that’s enough. This is what I was worried about, Xana. Seeing him is distressing your mind. You should go and rest.”

“No time for rest,” Draco shook his head. “We’re here.”

Just then, Gabrielle walked up. “We’ve arrived at Yoren,” she stated.

The Lone Eagle entered the planet’s orbit. A large expanse of urban area stretched across the surface of the world…but it seemed darker, and the lights of large fires could still be seen. Even from this distance.

Everyone met in the main hold, around a table emitting a holoprojection of the planet. Draco stepped forward to speak.

“From what Selendis and I saw on the other worlds,” he began, “the Sith concentration is at the planet’s population center. Here.”

He pointed out a section of the city. It opened up to a large structure…with some sort of unnatural growth.

“This is the Palace of the Congress on Yoren,” he continued.

“It doesn’t look like the pictures I’ve seen,” Valens frowned.

“That’s because Arawn has turned it into a hive cluster. Some large spheroid travels with the Sith fleet and plants itself within the city. There, it becomes the central headquarters. What purposes it serves…we don’t know.”

Gabrielle frowned. “It looks like a giant egg.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Rick pleaded. “Please.”


“Because it might end up actually being a giant egg.”

“Not likely,” Sorgal shook his head. “More like a mobile base and source of the twisted power.”

“That is possible,” Selendis nodded.

“So,” Targon raised an eyebrow. “That is the source of your power?”

“No, Targon,” the Sorceress shook her head. “I am the source. Arawn is not me…in order to replicate my ability, he needs a large source of power. And it is probably that.”

“Okay, before we go any further,” Valens butted in. “We need to address something. Those bugs weren’t hurt by lightsaber or blaster. So how are we supposed to…?”

He was cut off when the ship suddenly rocked and jolted. Alarms blared.

Rick bolted to the cockpit.

“Aw crap,” he cursed.

“What is it?” Gabrielle entered the cockpit behind him.

“Imperial warships,” Rick answered. “They’ve spotted us.”

“How come we didn’t see them before?”

Rick took to the controls. “Sensors were crippled from some sort of emanations from the planet. I couldn’t tell there were ships in orbit.”

“So take us down now,” Gabrielle growled.

“That’s what I’m doing!” Rick nearly shouted.

The ship descended quickly into the atmosphere, outrunning the warships. But once into the planet’s sky, things didn’t get better.

Swarms of insects converged on the ship, battering themselves against the hull of the ship.

“Someone get on the guns!” Rick shouted. But it was too late for that. The insects were starting to burrow holes through the hull and entering the ship.

Blasters were firing, lightsabers were swinging, people were shouting, and the bugs were shrieking.

The bugs weren’t going down, but they didn’t seem like they were looking to kill. Instead, they started grabbing people.

Valens was kicking and cursing as one of them laid its claws on him. He kept trying to shoot it, hit it, and even bite it. But nothing was working. Then the bug bit him with its nasty, dripping fangs and Valens went limp.

Xana fell to the attackers next, and then Sorgal. Gabrielle joined the fight, and an insect grabbed her too.

A loud shriek filled the ship, but it wasn’t the bugs. It was a woman’s voice, and it was the sound of command.

Everyone covered their ears and the insects retreated as Selendis howled at them with an unnatural scream. The insects fled with captives in hand.

And then the ship was left alone to plow into a wide river.
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04.13.2012 , 07:51 PM | #128
Chapter Nine

Xana awoke dizzy and sick. She found that she wasn’t able to move.

Her eyes darted all over the dim chamber, with walls that pulsed with life and countless people were trapped in strands of red vines.

She tried to break free, but found that the bonds that held her only tightened.

“You’d better quit that,” a voice told her. “It only makes it worse.”

Xana looked around for the source of the voice. Next to her was a woman dressed all in black, and also as tied up as she was.

“Who are you?” Xana asked.

“The name’s Snipes,” the woman replied.

“Snipes?” Gabrielle’s voice called out. “You mean that Imperial Agent from Telos?”

The woman’s eyes widened and she frowned. “Oh, it’s you lot is it?”

“How is it you guys seem to know people wherever you go?” Valens asked.

Xana soon saw that their group was all bunched together in the same area.

All around, insects buzzed back and forth, taking captives away into the darkness. Screams resounded through the humid, dank air. It sent chills up Xana’s spine.

“Where are the others?” Xana asked.

“The rest of your crew?” the woman called Snipes asked. “They’re not here. You were the only ones brought in. I did hear talk of a ship crashing into a river.”

Xana gasped and then tried to struggle free again. Her efforts were in vain.

“I told you to stop that,” the woman barked.

“Forgive me if I don’t heed your orders, Imperial,” Xana spat back at her.

“Just giving you a suggestion to stay alive,” the agent shrugged.

Footsteps drew near, and the group was brought to the ground by the cords. Standing above them was a horrid insect, not like the others. His shell and skin was black, his eyes glowing, and his mandibles clicking.

“So, you’re the intruders, eh?” he hissed, studying them.

“Ah, good to see a familiar face,” Sorgal groaned, glaring at the Sith.

The insect leaned close to him. “I remember you,” he hissed. “You and that Jedi were on Korriban.”

“Guilty as charged,” Sorgal smiled sardonically at him.

“Who are you?” Valens asked.

“I am Lord Arawn,” the bug replied. “And you are mine now.”

Gabrielle growled. “People had better stop claiming ownership over me or I’m going to start killing them.”

“Your defiance is inconsequential,” Arawn clicked his mandibles together. “The venom runs in you already. The process will be complete in a few hours.”

“Process?” Valens’ eyes widened in horror.

“You’re turning us into bugs?!” Sorgal roared.

“Bastard!” Gabrielle spat.

“Lewd remarks mean little and less to me,” Arawn shrugged. “Scream all you like, you’ll be screaming worse when it goes into full. But then you will serve me.”

“I’ll kill you for this!” Sorgal said, baring his teeth.

“You’ll need to get in line,” Snipes told him.

The bugger Sith chuckled. “Amusing,” he said. “I’ll enjoy watching you all writhe in agony and beg for the mercy of death.”

More footsteps approached.

“Master,” Arachne called out. “The Undying Fury has arrived.”

Arawn turned around to face her. “Mortis?”

“He is here,” the Zabrak nodded. “And another ship – the Apocrypha.”

“That is Moff Taan’s flagship,” Arawn wrung his claws together. “I suppose he has joined our cause.”

“They are coming in a shuttle,” Arachne stated. “Mortis expects your presence.”

“Yes, yes,” the hideous Sith nodded. “And he’ll have quite the show to see. Is all ready for the final stage?”

“Yes, master.”

“Good. Let’s not keep his lordship waiting.”

Xana and the others were yanked back up against the wall. They were left alone in the darkness, listening to the screaming, the buzzing, and the pulsing within the walls.

And then they felt something…growing…inside them.

Xana screamed and fought for freedom, yet still, she fought in vain.


The shuttle landed within the large spheroid that opened up to allow it access. Awaiting its arrival, Arawn and Arachne stood in a large open chamber, wide enough to fit a small cruiser.

With a hiss, the shuttle’s landing gear struck the surface and the ramp lowered. Several soldiers clad completely in black emerged. Behind them, Lord Mortis descended, followed by a Chiss in a white uniform.

Arawn and Arachne bowed to the Dark Lord as he approached.

“Welcome, my lord,” Arawn greeted. “We have been expecting you.”

Mortis stood tall, but Moff Taan was taller. Both said nothing for a while. The Chiss’ face could hardly contain his disgust at the scene he found himself in.

“Is all prepared?” Mortis asked at length, his voice full of command.

“It is, Lord Mortis,” Arawn nodded. “I was only awaiting your arrival. It would not do to perform the final act in your absence.”

“No, it wouldn’t,” Mortis nodded.

“And what is this final act?” Taan asked.

“You shall see soon enough,” Arawn replied. “Come, let us get on with it.”

They walked on, the guards following. Oddly, they brought a prisoner with them.

Arachne stopped and glanced at this unexpected accompaniment. “Who is this?” she asked, pointing to the fearful Togruta held by two Blackguards.

Taan didn’t bother to glance at the girl. “A prisoner,” he stated simply. “Insurance.”
“And perhaps a new test subject,” Mortis suggested.

“We shall need more,” Arawn nodded. “The final process will consume many of the specimens.”

“There will be more to be had,” Mortis waved a disinterested hand. “An entire galaxy awaits…should we be successful.”

“Oh, we shall, my lord,” Arawn stated confidently. “I have studied the alchemical arts for many, many years.”

“But few things have been done to such a scale,” Mortis pointed out. “We had best not be reaching past your capabilities, Arawn.”

“We aren’t, I assure you.”

“Then let us begin.”

They entered into a large chamber, within the very center of the sphere. Thousands of insects and prisoners were brought in and were bound to a massive web of vines. In the center of it all was a single space open.

Arawn turned to Taan and his guards. “You may want to excuse yourselves. The process is dangerous to obsevers…and we wouldn’t want your prisoner trying to escape in the commotion, now would we?”

“We will stay,” Taan stated.

“Go,” Mortis commanded.

“I have the authority to stay as I please,” Taan countered harshly.

“So be it,” Mortis shrugged and turned back around to the web.

Arawn stepped forward and spread out his four clawed hands. Dark shadows formed within his palms, flickering and crackling like flames.

His apprentice was lifted into the air silently. She glided over to the center of the web and was placed within. A wicked grin was on her face, and her eyes were closed. She seemed as though she were dreaming.

Arawn began to twirl his arms in the air, as though he were performing some odd dance. The shadows grew, and soon became a large pool of darkness that swirled before him.

The insects shuddered, the prisoners wailed. And then they all dropped lifelessly to the ground. Floating above them were bright lights that were their very essence.

Arawn waved his hands and the lights responded to his commands. They began to coalesce together, converging on Arachne.

Her back arched and her mouth opened to utter a howl. It was nothing like any humanoid could utter.

The lights turned to darkness. They swirled and flashed around her, consuming her in a large black void.

On the ground, the bodies began to vaporize, turning into molecular pieces of the matter they were. Then they too flew to the vortex.

Arawn was straining. His hands kept waving, but it seemed to take more effort than he supposed to keep everything together. He was groaning and hissing in pain and stress.

Mortis watched him for a few moments, shaking his head and sighing with contempt.

“It’s too much for you, isn’t it?” he said, unsurprised.

Arawn did not reply, but the scene spoke for itself.

So the Dark Lord stepped forward and raised his hands. From his fingertips, assorted colors of lightning shot into the oblivion. Red and blue and violet. It soon became a massive storm within the void.

Both were straining now. The blackness was growing wider. The fell screams of thousands began to resound through the chamber.

The Togruta woman screamed and tried to flee. Taan commanded his men to stop her, but then he decided that they all should take a step outside of this phenomenon.

Finally, the black void dissipated into the walls of the chamber. Arawn and Mortis both sighed with tire and relief when it was done. They were sore all over.

There was a moment of silence. But only a moment.

The wall began to heave and tear apart. A loud roar deafened everyone and everything. In place of the walls, giant serpentine coils were forming.

Mortis laughed in triumph.

“At last!” he cried. “After centuries! A Sith Leviathan born again!”
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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04.13.2012 , 07:57 PM | #129
Chapter Ten

Greyhawk was gasping for air. Targon was with him. He was trying to hold the soldier up, but the old man’s armor was weighing them both down.

Struggling, Targon kept trying to swim upward to the surface of the river. But the weight was too much and soon both were going down to the bottom.

Greyhawk was pushing Targon away, gesturing to the surface. Targon knew what he was trying to say, but he wasn’t going to have any of it. They would both make it to the surface, or they would both drown.

His lungs were screaming, and his vision was starting to fail. He was about to give in to the abyss when he felt something grab both of them and yank them up to the surface and placed them on the ground.

Targon coughed up water and gasped, sucking in the wonderful air. His relief was shaken when he realized that what had pulled them out were Selendis’ coils.

Greyhawk was up in an instant, his knife in hand. Targon got to his feet as well, fear in his eyes.

“It’s alright,” the Sorceress sighed. “I’ve done nothing to you.”

“That’s a load of bantha fodder!” Greyhawk spat, still coughing up water as he said it. “Anything you touch is as good as dead!”

Selendis gave him a sad look with those blue eyes. “Is that what you think I am? A disease? That anything I touch is contaminated?”

“We haven’t seen proof to the contrary,” Targon stated.

“I am proof,” Draco said. He was suddenly at the Sorceress’s side. “If you’re quite done, we have much to do now.”

No one said anything more on the issue.

Rick was at the bank of the river, wailing like a child. His arms were outstretched towards his ship, still sinking into the river.

“Why?!” he cried. “Why?!”

Greyhawk came over to his side.

“I’m sorry Rick,” he said softly.

Tears were trickling down Rick’s cheeks. “She…she was…”

“She was your baby, your darling, your life, I know,” Greyhawk nodded.

Rick sniffed. He looked around at the others, the empty city that spread about, and the large sphere a little ways off that swarmed with Sith created insects.

“No,” he said softly. “She was…just a ship. My darling, my baby, is in there.”

With that, he stood and shook the water out of his hair. “I’m going to need a big flyswatter.”

“How do we fight them?” Targon asked. “Valens was right. We can’t hit them.”

“We can try,” Greyhawk growled.

“Let’s not waste any time,” Draco proposed. And with that, they were off, heading for the sphere that towered over the empty and devastated city.

They noticed that there weren’t any insects intercepting them. It was simply just one big empty trek to the city center.

But then a bellowing roar thundered over the city.

Being only a thousand yards from the sphere, they were deafened. They dropped to the ground, gripping their ears and wondering what foul creature made such a sound.

They soon found out.

The immense sphere was trembling and distorting. And then the sides of it burst open. Something was wriggling within…something massive.

A giant head rose up, with a mouth full of teeth and black eyes.

“Oh save us,” Rick gasped. “What is that thing?!”

“A Leviathan!” Draco roared. “An ancient evil created by Sith ages ago!”

The creature seemed to see them and gave a mighty roar. The shockwave sent them to the ground and crumbled the weaker buildings.

“How do we fight something like that?” Rick asked, his voice quaking in terror.

“Split up!” Greyhawk yelled as a massive tale emerged from the sphere and flung at them. Then the jaws of the creature soon followed.

Everyone leapt away in various directions. The ground shook as the tail slammed back against the earth.

Targon hid behind a stronger structure that was still standing. He was breathing hard, reaching for his saber.

Then a hand grabbed him.

He looked and saw Draco next to him.

“There isn’t much time,” Draco said. “The leviathan draws its strength on the souls used to create it and the fear of those bound to it. You need to get in there and break the remaining prisoners from its hold.”

“What of the rest of you?” Targon asked.

“We’ll hold its attention,” Draco replied.

Leaving it at that, Draco ran off, igniting his double-bladed saber and shouting at the monster. Targon watched him go off, and then he started running for the broken sphere.

Blaster bolts flew up and struck the skin of the immense beast. The laser blasts seemed insignificant against the size of the monster, and they seemed to have no effect against its hide.

The beast searched the streets for the pests that attacked it, but they were quick and fled into the rubble before it could snatch them up.

Draco leapt at it swiftly, striking it with his saber, and then bolting off just as quick. Greyhawk fired grenades from his cannon at the beast, and then found cover. Rick ran about, firing flurries, but then running again for long periods.

The leviathan saw him and made to attack, to devour him in one swipe of its jaws. But before it arrived, a large piece of debris struck it. The creature crashed into a few buildings, crushing them under its weight.

It raised its head to see what had hit it. But then, another part of a building smashed into its face.

Hoisting itself up, it saw Selendis down below, lifting rubble easily through the Force and flinging them at it.

It roared and made its way towards her, and then it found itself crashing to the ground as a bit of rubble struck the back of its head.

Draco wasted no time in sending another chunk at the monster while it was down.

Greyhawk attacked then, firing several grenades at the creature. The explosions were tiny against the creature’s mass, but it got the leviathan’s attention.

It rose again, roaring at the old soldier. In its eyes, it seemed to bear direct hatred towards him.

Greyhawk figured it might not have been the best idea to get the attention on him. But that was what happened, so he made do.

He fired again, and again, trying to hit some part of the creature that would have an effect. There didn’t seem to be any.

The creature drew nearer, its jaws drooling with a foul slime from its mouth. It kept its eyes right on the old soldier, but it didn’t strike.

Not with its front end, anyway.

Too late, Greyhawk heard the whooshing sound of the leviathan’s tail coming from the side. He ran, but he was not quick enough.

The tail slammed into the structure next to him. The ground shook with a terrible tremor under the force. Greyhawk was thrown into the air, crashing and rolling on the ground when he came down.

But then came the worst part – the falling debris. Giant chunks of concrete, stone, and metal came raining down. Many of the pieces were as large as speeder bikes or even transports.

The sky grew dark as a massive piece of rubble was headed straight for him. There was no chance of getting away in time. Greyhawk could only watch as it drew closer.

He suddenly felt something push him out of the way with tremendous force. He barely cleared the rock’s path as it smashed into the ground and flew back into the air to roll onto other buildings and wreckage.

Greyhawk coughed in the enormous cloud of dust that followed. When he found the strength, he stood. The cloud was thick, but it was starting to lighten. It was enough for him to see a person’s form lying where he had once been.

“Oh no,” he gasped. “Don’t let it be Rick…”

He ran over to the body. It wasn’t Rick, though.

It was the former Anna-sa Kyja.

She was still breathing, but barely. Greyhawk could see the broken bones and blood that covered much of the ground. He knelt over her, trying to see how bad it was and if there was any chance she might be alright.

Her eyes opened slowly and frailly, as though she had no strength left to even do such a task. Most of her features were still recognizable in her face. She had that soft and sterile expression in the eyes.

Kyja opened her mouth and blood poured out from it and ran down her chin and neck. But something else came out too.


Greyhawk’s eyes widened. “You speak? You know me?”

Kyja nodded. “Marc…Avis…Greyhawk…” Her voice was weak and raspy, but it was her voice.

“I thought…” he stuttered. “I thought your mind was lost…as all victims of the Sorceress?”

“No…I am…Anna…”

“Could you always speak? Did you know me the whole time?”

Kyja gave a brief nod.

“You saved me,” Greyhawk found that was all he could say. “A betrayer, an enemy agent, a monster…and yet you saved me.”

“You…friend…” Anna gasped for breath that wouldn’t satisfy.

“Easy, easy,” the old soldier soothed. He cradled her head and tried to keep her breathing steady. It was all he could do. She was not going to live.

He sighed. “A long time I wondered why you would rather be ensnared by the Sorceress than face Navor’s blade.”

Kyja said nothing, only stared at him.

“I thought you would rather die than live a slave…to her or to your guilt. But I was wrong. You wanted to live. You wanted a new start…forgiveness.”

Anna’s eye started to glisten with a…tear. That was most shocking of all.

“You were a friend,” Greyhawk acknowledged. “A friend from the opposite camp. I see now…you were doing your duty…following orders.”

He paused and tried to stifle one of his own tears.

“I’ve seen too many people die in my years,” he said sadly. “All of them much younger and more promising than me.”

Greyhawk leaned over and kissed her forehead.

“I forgive you,” he whispered to her.

For a moment, he could have sworn that she smiled.

“You…leave…me…?” Kyja rasped.

Greyhawk shook his head. “No, friend. I’m going to stay with you.”

And so he remained there. Right to the end.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi

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04.13.2012 , 08:08 PM | #130
Chapter Eleven

Targon found the inside of the hive rather disgusting. The walls were wet and organic. The air stunk of a rotten dankness, and the floor squished lightly under his feet.

Worst of all, it was a maze. Large chambers became narrow, winding paths that led to more large chambers…that looked exactly the same.

Oddly enough, there was nothing that he found to bar his passage. No insects tried to stop him. No walls closed up suddenly on him. And none of the strands seemed to have life in them to grab him.

It appeared all the life had gone with the leviathan.

Finally, he found the remaining prisoners. There weren’t many left, he noted. Most lay limp and still, others writhed as they seemed to transform into more of those hideous bugs.

Among them, he heard the cries of familiar voices. Gabrielle, Xana, Sorgal, and Valens.

He found them bunched together a few meters up one of the walls. They were howling in agony, and they were held tightly by their bonds.

Targon could feel something wrong. There was a poison growing in them…that was going to turn them into the bugs as well.

That wasn’t going to fly, Targon resolved. Reaching out with the Force, he tapped into the essence of their bodies.

He could hear the blood pumping in their veins, their breathing, and he could see the cells trying desperately to fight against the foreign bodies in the system.

With a thought, he focused himself to help the cells push back the invaders. A bit at a time, they drove the poison back. He became relieved when his friends’ bodies became more relaxed and felt returning to normal.

Targon activated his lightsaber and flung it up at their bonds. Unlike the insects’ armor, these strands cut apart easily with his saber.

One by one, they came tumbling down. He reached out with the Force to keep them from crashing into the ground. He set them down easily and checked them for any other problems.

They were all fine, it appeared. Though their bodies seemed to be still in a bit of shock from the venom, and the quick curing.

Xana was the last down. Targon knelt over her and checked her as he had the others. Her eyes opened slowly.

“Draco?” she whimpered.

“No, it’s me,” Targon replied. “I’m getting you out of here.”

“Wh-what happened?”

“There isn’t time to explain. I see that they left you with your weapons. Are you feeling strong enough to walk?”

“I…think so…” she tried to stand, but then fell. “Maybe in a few moments.”

“Okay,” Targon nodded. “Just take it easy.”

“Hey!” a voice called down to him. “How about getting the rest of us down?”

Targon glanced up at the speaker. He recognized the agent.

“You again?”

“Don’t act so happy to see me,” the agent smirked at him.

“Why would they take you? You’re Imperial.”

“They’re Sith,” Snipes replied. “That’s another term for traitorous, nuts, and stupid.”

Targon wasn’t too keen in letting her down. He remembered all too well that it was she who killed a Jedi right in front of him.

But after reaching out through the Force, he saw that the remaining prisoners were being fed off of by the leviathan. He had to free them all.

He set to work, cutting down all the remaining people. Some were almost dead, others howling from pain and mutations that had already taken place. A few seemed almost afraid of him as though he were an insect come to take them away.

Finally, he freed the last one that he could find. Straightaway, a thunderous roar filled the air.

“Well,” Targon sighed. “Looks like it noticed its power supply was unplugged.”

Only a moment later, the wall of the chamber ripped away. Bright light filled the area, blinding the prisoners that had been so long in the gloom.

The ravenous face of the leviathan glared at Targon. It seemed completely unscathed from his allies’ attacks from outside. But it did seem weaker…as though it had slowly been drained of energy.

Not enough, obviously.

It opened its jaws and roared again. The prisoners were screaming, and many tried to flee. The leviathan was unconcerned with them. Instead, it prepared to lunge at Targon. Stinking saliva drooled from its mouth, and its hot breath reeked of rot.

Targon raised his saber, preparing to defend himself. Truthfully, he realized that he wouldn’t stand long man to man against it. He would probably be devoured in its first attack.

But then he caught something out of the corner of his eye.

Snipes had her rifle in her hands, and she was peering down the scope towards the monster’s head.

“Let’s hope you weakened it enough to be vulnerable,” she said as she prepared the gun.

Targon knew what he needed to do – stand his ground and keep the beast’s attention on him. That wasn’t hard. It seemed to have an intense hatred in its eyes for him.

Quick as a snake, it struck. The massive head shot towards him, its throat a black, foul abyss ready to consume him.

The agent pulled the trigger. The gun let off a loud scream, and a bright laser burst from its barrel.

Time seemed to slow as the creature drew nearer and the bolt let fly. Targon could hear his heartbeat. It was deafening in his ears.

The bolt struck true, straight into the monster’s eye. But it didn’t stop there. It was a high-power shot, and it zipped through the eye and into the leviathan’s brain.

With a horrifying howl, the beast recoiled and yowled in pain. It thrashed about, destroying outside structures and the walls of the sphere itself. It grew wilder and wilder, and smoke seemed to emanate from its jaws, nostrils, and the hole where one of its eyes had been.

“Now that was a shot worthy of my skill,” the agent smiled in satisfaction.

The monster suddenly burst into flames. The smell was horrid, but the sight was relieving. Ghostly voices filled the air, the souls of those used to create the monster. They sounded almost…rejoicing.

There wasn’t time to celebrate, however. Targon heard another sound, a furious roar, coming towards him.

He turned in time to catch Arawn’s blade against his own. The eyes of the insectoid Sith were burning with rage and hatred.

“Jedi filth!” he shrieked. He attacked again, flailing is saber in one hand, and his claws from the other three.

Targon parried against his assault. It was sloppy, but it was fierce and dangerous nonetheless. He was continually pushed back by the Sith’s advance.

The agent joined in, firing her rifle at the insect. She shouted some curses at him as she did so.

But Arawn didn’t seem to acknowledge her as a threat. He simply turned one of his claws toward her and shot a bolt of lightning that sent her sprawling against the wall.

However, getting rid of one enemy proved unsuccessful – as three others joined the fight.

Valens and Gabrielle peppered him with blaster bolts. And Sorgal’s blade was alive in his hands.

Arawn suddenly realized he was outmatched and began preparing to make an escape. But a single turn allowed a blaster shot to get through to his side. He twitched violently at the pain. Then another hit him and another.

He howled and tried to run, but Sorgal caught up to him and ran his saber through him.

“I should have done this a long time ago,” he spat at the bug as it shrieked.

Then he withdrew the blade and let Arawn fall limp to the ground.

The sound of many footsteps approaching caused an alarm.

“The rest are coming!” Targon shouted. “Quickly! We need to get out of here!”

“What about the others?” Gabrielle asked, gesturing to the other prisoners.

“Leave them,” Valens suggested, heading for the nearest exit.

“The boy’s right,” Sorgal agreed. “Let’s go.”

Targon hesitated glancing at all the others around. Some were still unable to move. He deactivated his lightsaber.

“What am I supposed to do?” he asked himself.

“Go,” a voice said from behind.

Targon turned and found Draco and Selendis standing behind him. Draco had his saber out.

“I will hold them off,” he told the young Jedi. “Take your friends and go. The others will escape or die according to their own decision. It’s not yours to make now.”

Targon hurried over to Xana. She was still too weak to stand, so he lifted her up in his arms. Then he turned back to Draco.

“Master,” Xana groaned.

Draco sighed, walking over to place a hand on Xana’s shoulder. “Child, your heart does not yearn for me. No more than you need to be my apprentice anymore. You have a new master now, Xana.”


Draco shook his head and looked up to Targon. “Take her and teach her well.”

Targon nodded. “I will die for her.”

“I am glad to hear that, though I hope you won’t have to prove your words.”

The footsteps drew closer. It was the sound of armored soldiers.

“Go,” Selendis urged them. “Go now!”

Targon gave them both a bow and headed off, with Xana cradled in his arms. He heard the sound of shouting, blasters firing, and a lightsaber igniting from behind. There was a moment he wanted to stop and aid them.

“No,” the Sorceress’ voice said in his mind. “Go now! We will be fine. Take your friends to the river, to where the ship sank. I’ve left Rick a gift of good will. Go!”

Targon obeyed, taking Xana and exiting the structure. He was glad to be out of that mess and back into the streets of the city.

They rejoined the rest of the crew. Together, they followed Targon down through the streets toward the river. From the corner of his eye, Targon noticed the unconscious form of Arachne lying in the charred remains of the leviathan. He paid her no heed.

Finally, they arrived at the river. To their astonishment, the Lone Eagle was waiting for them along the bank of the river – repaired and ready to fly.

They wasted no time in getting aboard and taking off. People were put in the medical bay or in their bunks.

Rick was at the helm, still amazed that his ship was alive and well.

They worried about the ships in orbit, but that fear was put aside when they exited the atmosphere. The ships were engaged with a massive Imperial fleet…and they were losing.

Kissing the world goodbye, Rick engaged the hyperdrive.
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The Imperial Inquisition and The Voyages of Targon Karashi