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Vengeance Through Shadows


HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:54 AM | #1
Below is the novel length fan fiction I've been writing. This is also a guild back story for the RP PST guild, Shades of Serroth. Enjoy.
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:55 AM | #2
Prologue

Darth Serroth glided effortlessly across the cold, metal floor. His midnight robes twisted and flowed around his feet like a black cloud in a stormy sea. He crept between the rustic shipping containers with the dark grace of a serpentine predator. Serroth ignited his lightsabre and a low hum filled the otherwise silent room. His face was illuminated by the sinister violet light that radiated from his sabre.

The Sith Lord's face was corpse white and gave off a semblance to a bleached skull. Black, almost tribal markings curled across his face and brow. His face contorted into a sneer and his face twisted like an ink blot poster to accommodate his expression. Serroth's charred hood was pulled over his head to conceal his bald head and pitch eyes.

The Dark Lord brushed past a lone T3 droid. The droid whirred a quick whine of discomfort before retreating underneath a disorderly pile of scrap metal. Serroth ignored its presence while he slid past. He reached out to the force to allow himself to peer into the dimly lit pathways before him.

Serroth sank his mind deeper into the force and felt what he was searching for. His prey gave off a force signature that even the youngest Sith apprentice could not ignore. Serroth dug deep into the disturbance and studied its contents thoughtfully. The man nearby was no doubt a Jedi. There was a purity to the presence. However, when the Sith dug deeper he was able to locate many flaws in the Jedi's character. Doubt, pride, anger, fear. All of these things were the path to the Dark Side. Even in a minute form, they could be used to twist and corrupt any entity.

Serroth halted in a clearing within the warehouse. His robes continued to shift around his lean body despite his ended movement. The Sith hissed in the darkness, the only sound heard beneath the constant throb of his sabre.

Serroth spoke softly, yet his menacing voice was heard easily in the dank warehouse.

“I did not expect to face a Jedi in this cesspool.” His voice carried up into the rafters above him.

“The Jedi have never come close to mastering the art of stealth. I find it ironic, considering who you've chosen to ally with. Truly though, you must not have expected to catch a Sith Lord by surprise.” Serroth hissed venomously.

Before he had finished speaking, Serroth launched a stream of lightning from his fingertips. The rafters overhead exploded with dark energy. The dim, overhanging lights sparked and fell to the ground along side figure robed in brown cloth. The man ignited his viridian lightsaber in free fall. He landed perched on the ground on all fours like graceful, wild cat.

The two men did not exchange words or taunts. They charged at one-another with their sabres slicing through the stale air in order to reach their opposite. The corrupted Sith and the calm Jedi faced each other in a dance of death. Their blades flowed around them as though they were not a weapon, but an extension of their body. The Rattataki fought with a vicious style that the Jedi had never seen in combat. The human fought with a common style among Jedi. Nevertheless, he had mastered the style and was able to hold his own against the Sith.

Serroth pulled back his free hand in order to release another torrent of lightning from his hands. The Jedi was unprepared and his body was flung backwards over a tall container. Serroth used the force to augment his leap onto the roof of the container. He glanced down to where the Jedi had fallen. The man had already retreated into the winding pathways of the warehouse. Serroth hissed once more and called out to his victim.

“Why do you run Jedi? Does your precious order teach you the style of flight?” the Sith mocked.

“You will not leave this building Sith. I swear it!” the Jedi shouted from behind a crate. He dived for cover moments before another shard of lightning sped across the room towards him.

“If they couldn't end my life all those years age what made you believe you could possibly stop me!” Serroth spat further lightning from his finger tips.

“The treaty with the Empire is unravelling at its seams. The galaxy can't sustain itself if a threat comes from you as well as the coming war. I've seen what you're planning. Serroth you'll destroy the balnce of everything!” The Jedi cried out from the rafters.

“Why do you plead to me Jedi? I am the only true master of the Dark Side. You are weak. Both the Jedi and Dark Council are in need of reformation! No one will hinder me from my revenge or the power I deserve.” Serroth hissed and spat his words uncontrollably in rage.

The Jedi leaped out from behind a container and made a desperate stab at Serroth. The Sith Lord parried his sabre with minimal effort and sent a swift,brutal kick to the man's midsection, knocking the breath out of him. The Jedi stumbled backwards and gasped for air. Serroth took advantage of the moment to release the full power of the Dark Side.

Lightning streaked out from every pore on the Rattataki's body towards the stunned man. Like snakes the individual bolts swerved towards the Jedi and lifted him into the air. The man's blood curdling screams were ignored entirely by Darth Serroth. The Jedi's skin blackened and charred in front of Serroth.

Serroth released his hold on the man. The Jedi toppled to the ground in a undignified heap. Smoke and steam rose of his body in clouds of pain. The man made the effort to raise his eyes to meet Serroth's gaze. He opened his mouth to speak but his blackened tongue couldn't form a comprehensible language. Serroth spoke to him in a quiet voice that carried the weight of a thousand storms.

“I promise you. You have failed. Everyone that came before you failed. Everyone that comes after you will fail. I have planned for years to achieve my goals. No entity in the galaxy will prevent me from gaining my revenge. If the universe has to burn. Then I'll be the one to light the first fire.”

Sparks began to crackle between Serroth's hands. Primal arcs of lightning began to whip uncontrollably from his body.

“Now burn!”



By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:56 AM | #3
Chapter 1

3652 BBY

An Imperial class cruiser drifted across the starry landscape of space. It's long, sleek underbelly thundered through the pitch black space with surprising grace. Communication arrays and cylindrical gun towers protruded from the base of the majestic ship. The shape of the vessel was akin to a smooth dagger slicing through the tapestry of space. Situated between two massive anti-air turrets was the bridge of the cruiser. The windows of the bridge were tinted with a neon red glow. Thick blast shields hung alertly over the fragile windows; a line of defence should anything threaten the men and women inside the glass cage.

On board the bridge, men and women dressed in full Imperial attire efficiently moved to and from the deck's various stations. Luminous buttons and lights flashed on the numerous holo-computers that decorated the room. Holo-pads were passed between navigation officers and studied. Despite the hectic movements of the individual crew members, every task was completed on time and in seemingly perfect synchronization.

The crew operated in a fashion not dissimilar to the carefully oiled servos of a machine. Captain Horrison took immense pride in that fact. He stood flawlessly upright in the centre of the room on an elevated platform. He clasped both of his smooth turquoise hands behind his back in an iron grasp. His pointed chin jutted straight into the air with a military elegance. Scarlet eyes darted back and forth over the corners of the bridge. He made certain to absorb every detail of the events on his ship, no matter how insignificant they seemed.

A young woman approached the captain. Her ginger hair was tied behind her head in a professional bun. She saluted Horrison before speaking.

“At ease.” the captain ordered.

“Captain, we're picking up a small frigate on our long range scanners.”

“What's its ship ID? Is it one of ours? Civilian?”

The captain's body tensed up at the thought of a Republic frigate in Imperial space. The treaty of Coroscant had only recently been signed and put into effect. He didn't relish the idea of dealing with the Republic in any way.

“No sir. We ran a check on the ship right after we discovered it. The ship's ID isn't registered in Imperial databanks. As far as we can tell, the ship has no history.” the woman rattled off her report.

Captain Horrison stroked his black goatee thoughtfully. He took a moment to consider the information available and decide on a suitable course of action. Horrison cleared his throat and fired off his orders.

“Hail them for communications. If they make a move open fire on their engines. I want to know why a nonexistent ship is floating around in Imperial space.”

“Yes sir.” the woman responded.

She saluted the captain and returned to her post, relaying orders as she went. The captain placed his palms onto the silver railing and leaned forward. He stared intently out the window at the approaching ship. Sweat began to trickle down his brow and was caught in the strands of his beard. Horrison removed one hand from the railing in order to slick back his black hair. He had a bad feeling about the frigate. He'd learned to trust his feelings over the years. Nevertheless, he hoped his intuition was wrong this time.

“Sir they're responding to our ping.” a communications officer informed Horrison.

“Open comms.” the captain said.

A short static buzzing came through the bridge's on deck speakers. The buzzing was cut short with a loud static cracking. A nervous voice came through the speakers.

“This is Imperial Agent 6504. Requesting permission to come aboard.” The man on the frigate spoke with the proper military lingo. Yet, his voice was frantic and unsteady.

“Why are you contacting me? What are you doing out here 6504?” the captain phrased his questions firmly.

“I'd rather speak in person. What I have to say isn't for all ears.” the man subtly hinted.

“How many men are aboard your ship?”

“I'm the only one.” the agent assured the captain.

“You're cleared for boarding, but I'm warning you; if you don't answer my questions you'll be given a first class star ship cruise to the brig.” Horrison threatened the man before cutting communications.

The captain ordered the crew to prepare the ship for boarding and have an armed envoy waiting for the agent in the docking bay. The captain pushed back from the railing and rubbed his temple with worry. He despised dealing with Imperial agents, especially the unnamed ones. Everything they did was as classified as a Hutt's insides. They brought heaps of need-to-know trouble wherever they went. Despite Horrison's feelings, he respected what they did. It takes a special kind of man to stray that far from the man they were born as. An agent would do anything to keep their cover.

Once again Horrison couldn't help but worry about what kind of agent would show up, seemingly at random, in the middle of Imperial space; and with the composure of a newborn Gizka. Horrison sighed and turned towards the door. He relieved command of the bridge and barked a few final orders before exiting the room. He was accompanied by two men, that struggled to keep with his pace, holding holo-pads.

The trio marched down the corridors of the ship towards the docking bay. The two crew members fed data to the captain while they walked. Horrison ran different scenarios through his head and planed different ways of dealing with the agent. He supposed it was possible the agent wasn't going to upset the balance of his ship, but he doubted it.

The three men halted in front of the door to the docking bay. They waited while the door slid open with a mechanical hiss. The captain led the way into the hanger before the door had fully opened. The agent's sleek, black ship was firmly planted on the hanger floor. A docking officer was completing a thorough scan of the ship when Horrison approached him.

“Where is the envoy I sent? They should have been here by now. They'll be on military rations for the next week!” the captain shouted.

The crew member turned to the captain with a bewildered expression painting his face.

“Sir, the agent has already been apprehended. The Sith led him to the brig.”

Horrison cursed under his breath. He swivelled to face the door and re-initiated his march. He ordered his two escorts to return to the bridge. He needed proper tact to deal with the Sith. Horrison hated having a Sith aboard his ship. In the Empire the Sith were at the highest point of the Imperial hierarchy. Essentially the lowest of Sith still retained authority over Captain Horrison.

When the captain had been informed that a Sith would be assigned to his ship; he had been furious. The captain believed that because he was a Chiss captain, he wasn't assured the same level of trust as more orthodox captains. Despite the work the Chiss did for the Empire, in the eyes of the average Imperial citizen, they were just dogs for the Empire to use. Either way, having a Sith aboard was any captain's worst nightmare. The statistics on captains, that survived, working under a Sith were not favourable.

Horrison disliked the Sith, on his ship, the moment he met him. The Sith questioned his every move and had killed three of his officers for various degrees of “disrespect.” Horrison cared for his crew, although he'd never let them know that, and he didn't enjoy having to put up with the Sith's disregard for the lives of his crew. The captain was forced to accept the situation, however, because no one questioned a Sith.

Horrison turned the last corner before the brig and found himself face to face with the stoic Sith. Darth Brutax loomed over the captain with an aura of dark authority. His face was tinted with the colour of coagulated blood. His rigid jaw protruded out from beneath his mouth. Brutax's dark scarlet hair was slicked back above his brow. His demonic golden eyes bore deep into Horrison's red globules. A black hood was comfortably resting behind the man's muscular neck. He showcased teeth that were sharpened into razor points.

The Sith Pure-blood towered over the captain in sadistically majestic armour. His cuirass was gunmetal grey and bore the scars of lightsabre burns. The leggings were lightly built and had sharp spines connected to the knee joints. The shoulder armour could be described as a mountainous terrain of metallic spires and crags. A flowing black cape billowed in waves behind the Sith. His war boots were spiked at the toe in a medieval fashion.

The captain was speechless when confronted by such an intimidating figure. He struggled to force his tongue to form words, yet the only sound he could produce was a slight cough. The Sith bared his teeth menacingly at Horrison. The captain fought to keep his composure while the Sith sneered.

“Why did you not inform me of our guest? Did you believe I would not notice an Imperial stealth ship in the docking bay?” Darth Brutax spoke with a threatening tone. “Need I remind you, Captain,” he spoke Horrison's title with disgust, “that I am here to oversee this ship. I should be alerted immediately when there are guests aboard the ship!”

The captain grimaced before speaking to Brutax. Despite his misgivings with the Sith, he had no intention of dying for pointless pride. He wasn't sure if Brutax was a high enough Darth to get away with killing an Imperial captain. Nevertheless he didn't plan on taking the risk.

“My lord, I didn't think I should trouble you with such trivial matters.” The captain reasoned.

“Don't lie to me, Captain, it's most unbecoming.” the Pure-blood subtly threatened.

“Why have you brought the agent to the brig? He's an Imperial agent. Forgive me, my lord, but shouldn't we inform Imperial Intelligence?” Horrison questioned.

“I'll decide what is to be done about our guest. Return to the bridge. This matter no longer concerns you.”

“With all due respect, my lord...” the captain began to argue.

Darth Brutax stared directly into the eyes of the Chiss and let loose a low growl. His ******* face was the only thing in Horrison's line of sight. The Sith released a loud roar akin to a savage battle cry. The captain backed away, unaccustomed to such ferocious dealings.

“Return to the bridge, Horrison, before I decide you're questioning my superiority.” Brutax growled.

“Yes.. my lord...” the captain stammered.

“Get out of my sight!” the Sith yelled and specks of spit flashed from his yellow fangs.

Horrison sped down the corridors of the cruiser with as much dignity as he could muster. The frantic patter of his shoes echoed through the halls while he ran. Horrison was courageous and loyal as a kath hound when facing the Republic. However he understood why the galaxy at large feared the dark lords of the force.

* * *

Darth Brutax strode into the interrogation cell with proud savagery. His cape unfurled behind him like a banner of death and destruction. He neared the centrepiece of the room: a rugged man leaning forward from a metal bench. The man's hair was dirty and tangled as a nest of wiring. His jacket was surprisingly clean considering the grime that caked his face and palms. The agent's fingernail's were smothered with dirt and dried blood. A wild, scraggly beard dangled from scruff of his face. He looked up and sighed when Brutax entered the room.

“My lord, I'm so glad you're here.” the ragged man gasped in relief. “I need to speak to Darth Howl immediately, it's important to the security of the Empire.” he rambled.

“What is so important that it needs to be brought to the attention of the Dark Council?” the Pure-blood pondered.

“My lord, I am not at the liberty to divulge that information to you. I apologize, but my news is for Darth Howl, alone.” the agent explained.

The Sith leaned over the table and gnashed is pointed teeth menacingly. He snarled like a wild hound intimidating it's prey before the kill. The agent couldn't hold back an involuntary flinch in the presence of Darth Brutax.

“I'm quite certain I can deliver the information to Howl, myself. Wouldn't he prefer to deal with a fellow Sith? He frowns upon unwarranted interruptions...” the Sith let his voice trail off in order to feed the agent's imagination.

The agent gulped and boldly stood his ground against the red-faced man.

“I cannot give you the information. If lord Howl chooses to share the data with you, then that's his prerogative.” the agent tried to hold his scraggly head high while he spoke.

“You dare to speak to a Sith in such an insulting tone? Do your superiors not let you know your place in this Empire?” The Sith backed away with a mock look of surprise. “Don't worry. You're going to tell me what I want to know, whether you want to or not.”

The Pure-blood smiled a mischievous grin and raised his gloved hand into the air. He was intrigued by this Imperial agent. Any news that was meant for a Dark Council member, he reasoned, could easily raise him from the low-levelled Darth that he was. Like all Sith, he dreamed of true power; and like all Sith, he was willing to complete morally objectionable tasks to obtain it.

Darth Brutax called upon the awed power of the force. He felt it flow through his veins and snake up his nerves. The Sith focused his power into one thought and directed it toward his goal. He thickly layered his voice with the seductive nature of the force and spoke to the grimy agent.

“You will tell me what you discovered. You believe it is wise to tell me the details of what you discovered. I can inform Howl for you.” Darth Brutax tempted the agent with the false security of his voice.

“I will tell you the details of what I discovered. You can inform Howl for me.” the man replied with a dreamy tone and glassy eyes.

“What is the data you were talking about? What is so important that Howl would need to know instantly?” the Sith greedily asked.

“I found the records of the Midnight Spine. I know what happened to it.” the agent pursed his lips.

“What is the Midnight Spine? Out with it!” Darth Brutax struggled to keep his patience with the mesmerized agent.

“The Midnight Spine is a ship that disappeared twenty four years ago. Not just any ship though. It was a dreadnaught, one of the largest ships in the Imperial Navy.”

“Why have I never heard of this ship? If was one of our largest vessels, surely I would've heard of it.”

“That is one of the reasons Howl would be interested in the dreadnaught. Many ships were lost in the great war, but all dreadnaughts should have been accounted for. It's rather difficult to misplace a vehicle of that magnitude.” Even in a disoriented state, the man managed a hint of sarcasm.

“I still don't understand why a missing ship is so important. What was on the ship?” the Sith's curiosity bubbled dangerously near the surface.

“I honestly don't know. Maybe the ship was transporting an ancient Sith artifact, maybe it had experimental weapons technology, or maybe there wasn't anything interesting on the ship and Howl is just a glorified historian.” it seemed that while mesmerized the agent lost his nervous nature. “It doesn't matter why Howl wants it. It only matters that he wants it. No one questions the Dark Council.” the man stated matter-of-factly.

Darth Brutax brought his clawed hands to his face and thoughtfully stroked his chin. The great sin of greed polluted his mind. He was certain now, more than ever, that whatever was on the lost dreadnaught could drastically increase his power. If he could find what Howl had been searching for, he'd have the influence of a Sith Lord. He was sure of it.

“You said you found the logs of the ship. What did they entail?” he probed the agent.

The agent snapped out of the trance and desperately bit his lip. He fought a mental sparring match against the powers of the force. The agent coughed blood from his throat. The sticky red liquid splashed against the steel table. His eyes darted back and forth in panic.

“You believe you can resist the force?” the Sith mocked. “You have a stronger mind than I anticipated, but resistance is futile.” The Sith squeezed more energy into his manipulative voice. “You will tell me what data you recovered.

“I will tell you what data I recovered.” the agent displayed his blood stained teeth with a goofy expression.

“What did you learn from the logs.”

“The logs were mostly illegible. The only piece of information I was able to find was the ships last known coordinates.” Blood flowed freely from the man's open nostrils. “I stored the data in a holo-pad.”

Darth Brutax could hardly contain his excitement. “Where is the holo-pad.”

“I stashed the device in my ship. It's inside the hidden compartment underneath the copilot seat.” a vein on the man's temple throbbed vigorously.

Darth Brutax released his hold on the man's consciousness. He smirked at the Imperial agent. The agent struggled to piece together his damaged mind. He stared straight into the face of the Pure-blood and drooled blood down his jacket.

“Now you've given me all the information I needed. That wasn't too difficult.” The Sith calmly spoke. “Still, I can't have you running off to Darth Howl after the indecencies I've performed on your fragile mind.” The Sith casually reached underneath his cloak for his spine coated lightsabre. “You can go to your grave knowing you aided a future Sith Lord.”

With his final statement, Brutax ignited his sabre. He swiftly extended his body across the table and plunged his weapon into the agent's chest. He held the blade inside the man for a moment. The agent let out a last, involuntary gasp of pain when the lightsabre was wrenched from his gut. The man clawed at the open air for a few seconds; before collapsing against the hard surface of the table.

Darth Brutax smiled at his handiwork and turned to leave the room. He found Horrison waiting outside the room with a look of contempt spread across his face. Darth Brutax tried to push past the Chiss but he was stopped by the man's blue palm.

“Do you think it wise to detain me?” Brutax said.

“You killed that agent! I saw it all on the surveillance. How do you justify what you did?” the captain's face turned scarlet with fury.

“Do you forget you are speaking with a Sith? Perhaps I should remind you.”

Darth Brutax thrust his fist into the air. The captain felt the airways in his throat begin to tighten. He fell to his knees and dug his nails into his larynx in a desperate attempt to free himself from invisible cords. He coughed and sputtered gibberish from his voice box. Brutax lowered his fist and the captain fell to the floor in sync. He gulped the ship's recycled air in drastic helpings.

“I trust you have learned your lesson. Do not trifle with me. Besides...” the Sith grinned. “He was a republic spy.” He grabbed the captain by the cusp of his collar and dragged him to his feet. “I need to retrieve something from the spy's ship. I expect to see you on the bridge in ten minutes. We have a new objective and new coordinates.” Darth Brutax turned his back on the battered captain. His greed spread rampantly in his mind while he walked towards the docking bay.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:57 AM | #4
Chapter 2

Darth Brutax approached the Imperial shuttle before him. An Imperial pilot was running system checks and prepping the vessel for launch. The pilot wore an Imperial standard issue, grey flight suit. He tapped his index finger meaningfully on his holopad. Darth Brutax stopped beside the pilot and the pilot instantly turned and bowed to the Sith.

“Is my shuttle ready for launch?” Brutax questioned.

“Yes, my lord, I'll take you down to the planet as soon as you're ready.”

“Then start the thrusters. I want to be planet-side within the hour.”

The pilot ascended the smooth, metal ramp into the interior of the shuttle. Darth Brutax followed closely behind him and let his cloak flow freely behind him. If the pilot showed discomfort with his passenger, he hid it well. Darth Brutax seated himself in one of the many seats in the transport section of the shuttle. The pilot continued into the cockpit and strapped himself into the pilot's chair.

The interior of the shuttle was polished and clean. Despite the fact that the shuttle was a generic Imperial transport, the pilot kept even the cosmetic functions in working order. The shuttle was divided into two rooms: the cockpit and the passenger section. The passenger section of the ship had eight seats on the two parallel sides of the room. Large passenger restraints aligned the walls in case of an emergency. The cockpit was tight around the pilot's chair. Among the levers, buttons, and flashing lights it was hard to picture a copilot aboard the ship.

There was silence between the pilot and the Sith. There was simply nothing to be said between two people from opposite ends of the Imperial spectrum. The shuttle rose into the air with a synthetic grace. It's pair of metal wings unfolded from their landing position and provided balance to the shuttle's momentum. The pilot rotated the vessel towards the hanger and expertly soared the ship through the portal on the side of the cruiser.

The shuttle quickly moved away from the Imperial cruiser that orbited the planet. The shuttle was dwarfed by the sheer size of the cruiser. The planet appeared in the pilot's view screen and it's cold magnificence awed the pilot. Darth Brutax stepped away from his seat in order to appreciate the planet's atmosphere.

When the shuttle penetrated the storm clouds, hovering over the planet, Darth Brutax was hit with the dark image of the surface below him. The terrain was mountainous and uneven. Razor sharp spires of rock jutted into the sky, seemingly at random. Some of the jagged rock faces towered higher than any mountain Brutax had seen in his travels. The primary aspect of the world that imprinted itself in the retinas of the Sith was the colour. The entire world was blacker than the Emperor’s robes. The world looked as if it had been burned to a crisp, and then only the ashes were left to cover the world. It would be a surprise that enough sunlight came through for the pilot to see the ground and safely land.

Darth Brutax suddenly stiffened like a man frozen in carbonite. He felt a disturbance in the force. The aura of the dark side seemed to flow from the surface of the planet. Brutax was stunned by the magnitude of the disturbance. He shouldn't have been able to detect something so far from a recognizable source. Brutax confirmed the artifact on this planet must be powerful indeed. He greedily anticipated the power he was about to discover.

“My lord, I can't bring the ship down at the coordinates you specified. The storm is too strong there and I can't find a level spot, with the sensors, to land.” the pilot informed Brutax.

“Land the ship at the closest location.” Brutax ordered.

The pilot altered his course for the levelled location closest to the original coordinates. He expertly manoeuvred the shuttle through the powerful force of the lightning storm surrounding the shuttle. More than once, he was barely able to dodge one of the shadowy spires that appeared in front of him. Darth Brutax struggled to steel his balance and gripped an overhanging metal bar for support. Eventually a ovular clearing was displayed on the shuttle's view screen. The clearing was surrounded by massive rocky outcroppings. Although this was the most level spot near the objective, the ground was still dangerously uneven.

The pilot turned his head around and spoke to Brutax. “I'm going to take her down. Hold on to something, my lord.” the pilot reached for the landing controls while he spoke. He fought with the controls of the shuttle as though wrestling with a withering snake. The shuttle buckled and shook underneath the pressure of the storm winds. Despite the objections made by the shuttle's groaning metal, the pilot was able to drop the shuttle onto the ground with minimal impact damage.

Darth Brutax turned away from the cockpit and walked towards the shuttle ramp. The pilot lowered the ramp and shut down the shuttle's engines. Darth Brutax stared at the slow moving ramp. The pilot called to him from the cockpit.

“My lord, are you sure you want to go out there? On foot?” the pilot stammered. An odd demeanour to come from a battle hardened pilot.

“Do not question me. Stay with the shuttle. I will return when I am finished here.” Darth Brutax said.

Brutax descended the shuttle's ramp and planted his first steps on the rocky ground of the planet. The texture of the stony ground was crushed beneath his metallic boots. The shuttle's ramp rose behind him like a drawbridge into salvation. He walked forwards a few more steps before the full force of the planet smashed his mental aura. The disturbance that he had felt before was dwarfed by the buzzing energy inside his brain. A Jedi would be driven mad by the potency of the Dark Side here; yet a Sith could tap into the energy to become immensely powerful.

Darth Brutax allowed the energy to flow through him like a river of shadows. The energy amplified his power and strengthened his anger and drive. The energy continued to pour into Brutax and he started to hear screams inside his brain. Screeching noises of banshees in the force threatened to drive him insane. Brutax fought a mental battle inside his mind. He struggled to close the figurative pipes that poured dark waters into the reservoir that was his mind.

Darth Brutax collapsed to his knees and shuddered. He clutched his forehead with vigor and desperation. He looked like he was trying to dig into his brain and remove his ailment by physical force. He spun and flopped on the ground like a fish out of water. Finally the soulless screams, that plagued his mind, were silent. The Sith remained motionless for a time. His mind begged for a moment to rest and heal.

However, the Sith would not allow a period of weakness. He climbed to his feat with new found strength and determination. Brutax faced the direction the coordinates lay in. He peered across the mountainous landscape and studied the scenery. What he saw on the horizon was a majestic sight that caused the Sith to pause in awe.

In the distance there was a mountain that climbed high into the stormy skies. The mountain was coated in needle tipped spires of stone. Lightning flashed ominously and illuminated the landmark atop the mountain. The peak of the mountain was decorated with the skeletal remains of an Imperial dreadnaught. The body of the front half of the wreckage had managed to keep its general shape intact during whatever disaster had crippled it. There were gaping holes and tears in the vessel's armour and multiple earthen blades had pierced the ship's hull. Pieces of metal and debris littered the mountain's faces. Some of the larger components groaned under the pressure of ancient rock slides.

The back half of the ship had been torn into three pieces. Two were discernible as two divisions of the massive, tubular engines. The third piece was a warped picture of metal and circuitry. The three parts were a quarter way to the peak, where the front of the ship was situated. The wreckage on the peak was only held in place by the many rocks that impaled it.

Darth Brutax gazed upon the wreckage and gasped. He felt the frigid air for the first time. The dark side seemed to influence the temperature and climate of the entire world. Brutax searched the mountain's face for a visible pathway to the peak. Seeing only vague etchings between the rocks, Darth Brutax sighed. He'd need to pick his own way through the treacherous terrain.

Darth Brutax walked in the direction of the Midnight Spine. His cape trailed behind him in the wind. The Sith passed between two shuttle sized boulders and began his ascent. He refused to look back. He would find the source of the power he felt. He would find it and he would take it.

* * *

Darth Brutax had been climbing for hours. The exact time had been lost to the winds that beat down upon him. Presently, he was shimmying along a ledge no wider than the length of his index finger. He gripped the sharp handholds in the side of the cliff. Pieces of rock shred holes in his armour and his newly exposed skin. Blood ran from his palms and wet his grasp on the mountain. Despite the impossibility of the climb, Brutax had risen to the challenge.

Darth Brutax was nearing the tip of the great stone fang. He only needed to make it to the end of the cliff face. If he finished this last leg of his climb, there was a relatively short and safe path to the dreadnaught.

Brutax's right foot slipped off the ledge and swung into the empty air. The Sith dug his gauntlet hands into the rock. He opened fresh wounds in his palms and a shard of stone came terrifyingly close to his wrist. Sweat dripped from his brow onto his armour. His cape hung, in tatters, loosely below him.

Brutax swallowed after an what seemed like an eternity. He heaved his right leg onto the ledge in one quick motion. The Sith paused to catch his breath before resuming his shuffle across the ledge. The rest of the passage, along the ledge, was uneventful. Finally Darth Brutax reached the landing before the peak.

Only now was Brutax capable of appreciating the sheer magnitude of the dreadnaught's ruined forward half. The piece of wreckage was easily ten kilometres long at it's longest point. The torn end of the ship was a mess of cables, twisted metal, and warped circuitry. Darth Brutax hiked towards the gaping hole in the back of the vessel.

Upon reaching the entrance, he studied the mesh of metal for a suitable ladder into the ship. Hanging above him was a bundle of thick cords. The widest cord had a diameter of four feet. Darth Brutax crouched to the ground and allowed energy to build up. He used the force to power his leap into the air. He flailed his powerful limbs in the air and latched onto one of the hanging cables.

Darth Brutax clung to the cord and waited for the erratic motions to cease. Once the cable was close enough to stillness, he started to climb. He wrapped his legs around the cord and hoisted his body up, inch by inch. Eventually the pureblood reached the floor of the dreadnaught and tossed himself inside.

Darth Brutax rose to his full height and examined his surroundings. The hallway before him stretched deep into the vessel. The turbo lifts obviously had no power; so it would take Brutax an hour or two to reach the bridge at walking speed. The only lighting inside the dreadnaught was the occasional flicker of lightning through the rips and tears in the wreckage. The walls were grey and coated in varying degrees of grime. Darth Brutax finished examining his surroundings and began his journey towards the bridge.

* * *

In the blackest heart of the ruined dreadnaught, two dark soulless eyes were opened.

* * *

Darth Brutax cautiously approached the door to the bridge. Every step he took towards the door was a battle with his own soul. The closer he got to the bridge, the more potent the dark aura of the planet had become. Whatever the source of the immense power, it seemed to lie in the heart of this wreckage. Brutax was barely able to stand while he moved forwards. The door seemed eons away from him when it should have been reached in seconds. The atmosphere threatened to choke the life from the Sith's body and mind.

Darth Brutax was carried forward by sheer force of will. The fact that he was a Sith, and had dabbled with the dark side, allowed more reprise than a normal individual. He knew now that whatever power was contained here was probably too much for him to control. The power he felt at the centrepiece of the planet was exponentially larger than anything the Dark Council had ever possessed. It was possibly enough to rival the Emperor's power. Despite his doubts, Brutax would not be stopped now, as much as the dark side seemed to repel him, it also drew him in like a black hole.

Darth Brutax reached for his sabre. He grasped the metal hilt in his red hands. He intended to ignite his sabre and slice through the door to the bridge. Then, and only then, would he discover what was behind the door, and see if he was capable of mastering it. Before he could activate his lightsabre, he heard a sickly hissing exeunt from behind him.

Brutax slowly turned to face the source of the hissing sound. He was unprepared for the sight, to say the least. Standing twenty feet from Darth Brutax was a disturbing man. The Ratataki's body was frail and scrawny. The man looked like he hadn't eaten a decent meal in over a decade. Despite his skinny build, the man looked like he was capable of moving with intense speed, if necessary.

The man's skin was as white as the bleached bone concealed underneath it. Black markings twitched up and down his face like midnight snakes. He wore remnants of, once flowing, pitch robes. The tatters of his clothing hung loosely and showcased his malnourished body in various holes and tears. He wore no shoes of any kind; his bony feet gripped the metal floor like talons. His bald head was unblemished, despite his state of disrepair.

The part that struck Brutax, the centre of the disturbed features, was the Ratataki's eyes. His eyes were the darkest black that Brutax had ever seen. They appeared to Brutax as an empty space, a universe void of life and hope. Malice poured from the man's dark orbs. There was no iris, there was no pupil, there were only shadows in the man's sockets. Darth Brutax struggled to keep his composure in the presence of the eyes.

He felt the dark side of the force radiate from the Ratataki. Brutax felt the frigid touch of the dark side poison his mind and soul. He didn't understand the situation he was in. He was a Sith, they were supposed to be able to harness the dark side. He wasn't a weak Jedi, why was this happening.

“So you are the mighty assassin he sent for me. He believes you can defeat me? I suppose it was too much to hope he'd come in person.” The Ratataki ranted. It was gibberish to Brutax's ears.

“I don't understand?” Brutax gasped through the invisible clouds of darkness that surrounded him.

“You don't understand?” the Ratataki mocked. “Your master sent you here unprepared. I will enlighten you.” The man's lips pulled back from his teeth into a snarl. “After fourteen years of waiting, Darth Serroth will not be meet his end at the hands of a would be assassin!” he screamed into the halls of the ship.

Darth Serroth flashed four lightning fast bolts of energy at a confused Darth Brutax. The pureblood was only able to save himself because he already held his sabre in his hand. He quickly ignited the blade and absorbed the four bolts into his weapon with surprising speed. Nevertheless, before he had finished, Serroth had already ignited a his own lightsabre and leaped across the hallway at Darth Brutax.

Brutax brought his blade to bear milliseconds before the black lightsabre would've decapitated him. The lights of Brutax's scarlet sabre flashed alongside the twilight of Serroth's blade. The black sabre was akin to the darkness that protruded from Serroth's eyes. Both inspired fear in those that did not believe themselves capable of feeling terror. Serroth's black blade was a design that Brutax had never experienced before. The uncommon colour of the sabre was difficult to see in the dimly lit corridor.

Darth Brutax expertly twisted his large frame beneath the arcing swing of Serroth's sabre. Serroth flipped backwards over Brutax's humming response. Serroth landed like a jungle cat with one hand on the floor to stabilize himself. Darth Brutax charged at Serroth but was denied his target. The Sith Lord blasted tears of lightning into the pureblood's chest. The unsuspecting Brutax was propelled into the roof of the corridor. He fell to the ground with significantly less grace.

The pair whipped around one another like a whirlwind of lightning and energy. The humming of sabres was only interrupted by the rash sounds they made upon connecting with each other. Darth Brutax struggled every second to keep up with the unnatural stamina of the twisted Sith. The aura of the planet was taking its toll on the pureblood. Serroth seemed not only unaffected, but revitalized by the planet.

Darth Brutax slammed his lightsabre into Serroth's blade. The two blades hovered dangerously between the two Sith. Each one of them forced all of their weight behind their blade. Serroth grinned maniacally when Darth Brutax began to give way. Brutax slammed his head into Serroth's face and stunned the Sith Lord.

Darth Brutax prepared to grind his sabre into the Serroth's twisted heart. A wave of energy erupted from the Ratatki. Brutax fought against the waves of energy. The maelstrom of force lightning was too much for the pureblood. He was brought to his knees. The combination of the planet's darkness and Serroth's skills were too much for the battered Sith.

Brutax's lightsabre deactivated and fell to the floor beside his knees. Serroth strode to his fallen prey. He delivered a brutally cruel kick to Brutax's face. The pureblood was tossed to his back by the assualt. He stared upwards at the Ratatki.

“You are not an assassin. You are a fool, but you are not a servant of my enemy.” Darth Serroth deactivated his lightsabre and raised his hands into the air.

Lightning rose from his outstretched arms. The hanging cables conducted the energy and fed it throughout the ruined dreadnaught. Doors opened and closed violently throughout the ship. In the air of the planet, the storm reached a new height. The lightning from Serroth's body met with the storm of the planet. His robes flared dramatically around him.

“This planet obeys me! I control the dark side at its peak. I will have my revenge for the years I have spent on this world!”

Darth Brutax felt the dark side aura in the ship, the planet, and in Darth Serroth. It threatened to consume everything. Darth Brutax, a man who lived to inspire fear, felt true horror for the first time.

“You have much to learn, fool. I will teach you the path that the world refuses to see.” Darth Serroth screeched his offer over the sound of the storm. “I will destroy! I will conquer! I will have revenge!”

Darth Brutax felt the darkness take him. The last thing he saw was the cold, determined malice inside the petrifying eyes of Darth Serroth.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:58 AM | #5
Chapter 3


Twenty four years ago...

Darth Serroth sat in a slouching position. His makeshift, metallic throne was perched at higher elevation than the rest of the bridge. He leaned to one side of the chair and placed the weight of his arm onto the cold armrest. His hood hung loosely, behind his neck, and dissolved into his flowing robes.

Serroth sat aboard the bridge of the majestic Midnight Spine. The ship was one of the largest vessels in the Imperial Navy. It was a sleek, twenty one kilometre long dreadnaught. The ship was yet to see battles in the Great War and its hull was unblemished. The magnitude of the ship would've been enough to cause certain Republic planets to surrender, outright.

Crew members efficiently moved to complete their designated tasks. They all performed their objectives flawlessly. The crew had no intention of invoking Serroth's wrath. Close to three hundred thousand people were required to smoothly operate the Midnight Spine. The collective group of men and woman worked tirelessly to ensure the ship remained one of the most dangerous devices in the known galaxy.

Darth Serroth's armed regiment of guards stood, next to him, at attention. Each and every one of them was a Rattataki, like their master. The most loyal of his followers were Rattataki. Serroth had commanded great loyalty amongst his followers on Rattatak, long before Darth Vich came and assimilated the Rattataki into his army.

Serroth had, for a short time, been Darth Vich's apprentice. However Darth Serroth had quickly ascertained a intricate knowledge of the Dark Side and abandoned his teacher. Darth Serroth never intended to operate below another. To Darth Serroth, it was impalpable to see another as his equal.

Darth Serroth eyed the communications alert with anticipation. His eyelids blinked across his silver irises. The light before him was dull and empty. The flashing red light, that would alert Serroth of an incoming transmission, was yet to appear.

Serroth rapped his fingers against the arm rest in a drumming motion. He was awaiting a call from a fellow Sith lord. Darth Serroth didn't have any trust for man he was dealing with. Nevertheless, if he was to reach his goal at a more desirable time frame, he would have to make a few less preferable gambles.

Darth Serroth had spent the majority of his life dabbling with the dark side of the force. He had experimented with the force before he knew what it was. Serroth had garnered a following of fanatical soldiers and priests on his home world of Rattatak. The Shades, as they were called, had been the most dangerous group on Rattatak before the Empire came. With the coming of the Empire, Serroth had been forced to disband his Shades. However many still remained loyal and saw him as the dark sorcerer from their home.

Once Serroth had seen the galaxy as a whole, through the twisted eyes of the Empire, he set his sight on the mountainous peaks of power. Many men and women in the Empire would commit unspeakable acts for a seat on the Dark Council. The men and woman that planned everything from the beginning, the men and women that calculated events years ahead, those were the ones that would earn a seat on the Dark Council. Darth Serroth was one of these men.

By the end of the Great War, Darth Serroth believed he would have a seat on the Dark Council. His knowledge of the dark side was insurmountable. He had surpassed his teacher within mere weeks. The Sith Lord had already positioned himself on the new super weapon in the Imperial fleet. There were always obstacles on the stairway to power. Today, he hoped to remove one of those obstacles.

* * *

A small stealth spacecraft sped across space towards the Midnight Spine. The ship was similar in design to the X-7OB Phantom. The stealth field generator, aboard the ship, provided a suitable cover against the prying eyes from within the Imperial dreadnaught. The shimmer of the stealth field was the only evidence of the ship's existence.

The only occupants of the ship were a team of Imperial agents. Six agents, sat in the interior of the vessel, and maintained their blasters and scatter guns. Each of them was dedicated to their designated mission. Their steely eyes hid any nervousness or second thoughts they might have had.

Orto Vosk was the leader of this temporary squad of Imperial agents. He had a small tire track of black hair beneath his lower lip. His skin was lightly tanned (something he had to work to achieve) and still retained the texture of youth. He wore dark grey armour from his neck down. Orto's black hair stood straight upward in a classic military hairstyle and ended in a flattop.

Orto was, like every agent aboard the ship, not an average man. The highest group of Imperial agents were the deadly Cipher agents. These highly qualified men were above the Cipher agents. They didn't serve the Empire, but rather a specific Sith within the Empire. They were here to complete what would likely be the deadliest undertaking of their career. Orto lived for that kind of thrill.

Orto peered past the pilot and through the view screen of the ship. The Midnight Spine loomed in space and in orbit around a planet. The planet was a lush, green, jungle world filled with wild mountains. Orto wondered for a moment what sort of creatures might live on that planet. He didn't overly care, but he was looking for a way to pass the time.

He studied the dreadnaught of Darth Serroth with interest. Vosk searched the hull of the ship for a suitable point of entry. His mission involved infiltrating the dreadnaught. It wasn't a mission a man expected to come back from. It didn't matter, he was loyal to his master, he would complete the objective.

“I need you to set the ship down at these coordinates, by the engines.” Orto ordered the pilot while handing him a holopad.

“Yes, sir.” the reply was swift.

Orto turned back to address his squad mates. They knew the mission they had been given, yet Orto still felt the need to speak with them before they plunged into the fire. He'd only served with this group in training simulations, he didn't really know how they'd react under pressure. He himself had never had to complete a objective of this magnitude before.

“Alright, listen up.” Orto spoke and all the agents in the room snapped to attention. They deposited their weapons in their holsters. The agents brought their eyes to Orto and awaited orders. “We're about to get dropped into the back side of an Imperial dreadnaught. Not just any dreadnaught, but probably the most dangerous device in service to our great Emperor.” Orto held his breath. “And we're going to blow the ship sky high.”

* * *

An Imperial officer walked down the corridors of the Midnight Spine. His military boots clanged against the metallic floor of the hallway. The man paused for a moment upon hearing a crackling noise from above him. The man slowly craned his neck so he could look above him. Sparks were buzzing forth from the roof in a circular pattern. The man stared at the red-hot circle appearing on the roof. He was barely able to pull an expression of surprise before the circular plate landed on his head and knocked him unconscious.

Orto was the first to drop through the freshly opened hole. His squad of agents silently landed beside him, one by one. Orto surveyed the corridor they were in. He compared his visuals to the map that shone from his wrist holopad. Orto made a hand gesture to his companions, signalling them to follow him to the engine room.

The six men silently ran down the hallways towards their objective. Their portable stealth field generators allowed them to bypass security cameras and personnel. The group turned every corner and sprinted down every corner in near perfect synchronization. Orto stopped at the large, mechanical entrance to the engine room.

One of the men started to expertly hack the key code lock. Beads of sweat dripped down his cheeks while he worked. Orto stood guard at one of the entrances to the corridor, while another agent covered another entrance. One of the agents crouched in a corner near the door. He activated his wrist computer and started bypassing the ship's firewalls. He pulled up the bridge security feed and sent it to every agent's wrist computer. Orto studied the footage with his peripheral vision.

* * *

Darth Serroth reached his pale, slender hand towards the flashing button. He rapped his index finger against the button and accepted the communications ping. Instantly a large hologram filled the bridge in front of Serroth. The blue, fizzling image of a Sith Lord appeared in the room. Serroth leaned forwards in his chair and examined the man.

The hologram had no discernible colours, only lighter and darker shades of blue. The man wore a shiny, metal mask with almost skeletal features. He did not wear traditional robes. Instead his garments were tighter to his body and behind his head, the clothing rose into a triangular spire. His mask held a gaze of cold, cryptic nature.

“Darth Serroth, I have come to you with a message.” the masked man spoke in a monotone voice.

“And what, per say, is it you wish to convey to me? I have little time for you if you cannot give me what I need.” Darth Serroth hissed his threat to the masked man.

“What I have to tell you will be the most important piece of information in your life.” the masked lord implied.

* * *

The door opened with a mechanical hiss. Orto and the other guarding agent backed up towards the engine room. The rest of the agents piled into the room alongside Orto. Green coolant lights flashed awkwardly around the squad. Orto brought his scatter gun to bear and blasted two maintenance workers with the business end of his rifle. Pieces of shrapnel tore their chests apart and the two men were forced against a nearby pipe.

Orto ordered his agents to complete a sweep of the room. He stayed with a saboteur while the other agents disappeared around the various corners and pipes. The saboteur knelt next to the engine coolant system and propped his backpack against a nearby pipe. The man removed a powerful explosive from within the satchel.

Orto watched his demolitions expert work. Orto was fine with explosives, but he didn't like being close to anything of this magnitude. The saboteur scrambled around the room carrying a open bag over his shoulder. He slapped the explosives onto the different corners of the room, seemingly at random. All the while, he muttered to himself the various codes and frequencies for the explosives.

Orto flipped between the surveillance cameras with his wrist computer. He switched between barracks, munitions, maintenance and other rooms. Finally he settled on the long corridor they had boarded at. He grimaced at the scene that greeted him. A dozen Imperial troopers, clad in black armour, were circled around the hole in the ceiling. Orto's pilot was being manhandled, out of the camera's field of view, by a pair of Imperial soldiers.

“We're going to need a new escape route. Examine camera thirty four.” he breathed into his communications link.

The demolitions expert finished priming the final explosive device. He backed away from the explosive and examined his work with pride. Once he was satisfied he faced Orto and delivered two thumbs up.

“These explosives are primed and ready to blow on your command.” the agent informed Orto.

“Then let's get a move on. Squad, form up.”

* * *

Darth Serroth ground his teeth in impatience. The Sith Lord before him seemed to be wasting his time. Serroth had been certain to stay off the radar for the past week. To his knowledge, no one knew the current location of the Midnight Spine, save the men and women on the bridge.

“What is this important news you have for me? I want to get down to business. We need to discuss my plans.” Serroth spoke with a whispered drawl.

“I am going to tell you this because there is nothing you can do to stop it.” the Sith Lord stuck to his monotone demeanour.

Darth Serroth leaned forward in his metal throne. His silver eyes narrowed in suspicion. Something was not quite right with the current situation. Serroth's fingers twitched across the armrest out of agitation. He opened his mouth to speak but was silenced by the cold, emotionless voice of the holographic Sith.

“You and I think alike in certain regards. Both you and I were and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to advance our influence and power.” The Sith Lord spoke with a inciting voice. “We both have realized that the journey to a Dark Council seat is a long one. It is an undertaking that must be planned out and carefully calculated from the beginning.”

Darth Serroth's mind screamed warnings to him while the Sith spoke. He studied the pieces of the dejarik board around him. The Rattataki warriors fidgeted nervously upon sensing their lord's discomfort.

“Every obstacle in the way must be eliminated, swiftly and efficiently. No evidence can be left behind.” The masked lord's voice seemed to grow colder and more imposing. “When the opportunity, to destroy a future obstacle, presents itself... You must seize the moment and strike.” It was impossible to tell, but Darth Serroth would have sworn the Sith Lord smiled behind his mask.

Alarms began to blare and wail around the bridge. Crew members scrambled and stumbled around the room, desperate for order. One crew member tried to run for the exit, but tripped over the panicking officers. The Rattataki warriors fought to keep the men and women from abandoning their posts or reaching Darth Serroth.

The Rattataki Sith Lord remained oblivious to the chaos that had erupted around him. He did not focus on the monitor footage of the captured pilot. He ignored the crew man screaming about blaster fire originating from the engine room. He paid no attention to the woman shouting, about escape pods, into the intercom. Darth Serroth only had eyes and ears for the Cryptic Lord.

“You are just one of many obstacles in my way. Albeit, a powerful one.”

Darth Serroth launched himself from his chair. His robes whipped around his legs in a frenzy. The Rattataki Sith Lord barred his teeth in an absolute fury. Serroth sneered and his features twisted into a horrific display of supreme hatred.

“What have you done? You have betrayed me! What is this treachery?” Serroth spat into the volume of the hologram.

“I have removed the obstacle in my way. You will be the first piece to fall. Perhaps only a master of the game would understand this is one of the most important moves I will make.”

“You cannot end me. I am more powerful than you can comprehend!” Darth Serroth screamed above the anarchy in the bridge.

“The door to the bridge has been sealed remotely, the escape pods have been effectively sabotaged, you are too far away from the hanger bay, and a series of powerful explosives have been planted on your engines.” A electronic device appeared in the hologram's hand.

A group of crew members had abandoned their posts and were trying to blast the bridge doors open. Their available weapons did not provide any level of damage against the blast doors. Some of the collapsed to the ground and wept. Others continued to beat against the doors in vain. The Rattataki warriors were the only ones in the room that were yet to go to pieces. Although the warriors were beginning to falter in their resolve.

“I will survive this! I will survive everything! I refuse to die! I will return for my revenge on you!” Serroth screeched death threats into the heart of the hologram.

“I sincerely doubt that.” The Cryptic Lord fingered the electronic detonator in his hand. “Goodbye, Serroth.” he pressed the button and the hologram dissipated.

“No! Damn you Jadus!” Serroth's voice was dampened by the sound of a sudden explosion.

The crew was thrown against the wall as the ship began to careen towards the lush planet below. Serroth snatched a banister in his pale hands for support. The emergency lights continued to flash and rebound against the walls of the bridge. Sounds of alarm echoed around the corners of the room.

Darth Serroth pulled himself to his feet and glared at the ruins of his bridge. He scoffed at the snivelling officers and soldiers. Serroth refused to give his betrayer the satisfaction of his misery.

“I refuse to die!” he screamed before unleashing an unknown power into the bridge.

Darth Serroth unfolded his arms from his body and allowed them to hang from his body at a upward angle. He took the position of a dark preacher, stretching towards the starry sky. Slowly, violet sparks began to fizzle from his fingers. He poured his hatred and his malice, his determination and his lust for vengeance, into his power. The trickle of sparks exploded into a rapidly flowing stream of purple energy.

The cables of dark energy stretched away from their source and streaked towards their prey. The various crew members stared in petrified awe at the net of lightning that was cast across the room. The whips of energy lashed down upon their victims and latched on, like alien leeches.

The crew members released blood curdling screams while they felt their essence brutally wrenched from their bodies. The men and women stumbled around the room and clawed at the air while their bodies decomposed. Within seconds the crew members deteriorated from healthy specimens into skeletons with leathery skin clinging to their bones.

Darth Serroth felt the life force, of his Rattataki bodyguards and the bridge crew, flow into him. His body buckled under the sudden introduction of power and invigoration. More tendrils syphoning lightning broke free from his body in various locations. He seemed to be releasing snakes of energy from every pore of his body.

The energy snakes wormed their way through the air vents, cracks, and underneath the blast doors. They lashed out throughout the hallways and corridors of the ship, searching for more sustenance. Darth Serroth felt his feet leave the floor; he was held aloft by the uplifting force of stolen life, pouring into his veins. Serroth yelled intelligible sounds while black lines spread across his eyes like spiderwebs.

* * *

Orto Vosk was thrown off by recent events, to say the least. He had lost one of his agents to a rapid fire fight with some Imperial troopers. He had lost another of his operatives in one of the premature explosions. The squad now consisted of Orto and three other highly trained agents. However, the resolve of the group was fading quickly.

“I thought the engines weren’t supposed to blow until after we'd escaped?” an agent shouted over the alarms.

The four men sprinted down the hallways with their blasters drawn. Disgruntled troopers attempted to bring their rifles to bear in time. They were quickly dispatched by the charging operatives.

“I don't know what happened. The only one who could have detonated them was our master.” the demolitions expert exclaimed.

“It doesn't matter why the explosives activated. All that matters is that we reach the hanger bay before this ship smashes into the planet's surface.” Orto proved to be the voice of reason.

The men nodded in agreement and continued their dash of desperation. They rounded numerous sharp corners and their boots skidded against the metal floor. Orto lead the charge with a augmented finesse. His eyes darted back and forth between the road ahead of him and the flashing map on his wrist computer.

The group heard estranged screams and hollers from the adjoining rooms. Orto and his men involuntarily halted their dash in the middle of the hallway's fork. The inhuman sounds of pain and anguish echoed throughout the hallway. The four men closed their formation into a tight circle. They could hear the sound of crackling energy in the distance.

“Why is everyone screaming? What's that sound?” one of the men hesitantly asked.

Orto squinted down the left hallway and tried to spot the source. The crackling sound grew louder, like a rushing river growing ever closer. He raised his weapon with his squad mates and pointed it down the tunnel.

Suddenly, massive waves of energy came barrelling down the hallway. The streams of energy whipped random troopers and officers from the nearby rooms and tossed them into the air. The screams of the troopers lasted until their voice boxes decomposed. The streams of energy blasted mercilessly towards the squad of four agents. Orto spun around one hundred eighty degrees.

“Run!” he shouted over the screams and sparking energy syphons.

The three agents tried to turn and join their commander. However they did not move with the necessary speed to escape the tentacles of energy. Each of them was in turn snatched by the violet streams and dragged into the air. Their life force was drained from their bodies and their weathered corpses were disrespectfully discarded. One of the three men unloaded rounds of blaster fire into the energy. He vainly fought against an unliving foe before he was destroyed.

Orto continued to sprint down the hallways and corridors. He forced the thoughts of his fallen comrades to the back of his mind. The dark tendrils, that chased him, inspired fear into the depths of his soul. This fear pumped adrenaline into his circulation. The adrenaline kept him running and kept him alive.

Orto sprinted down the winding corridors towards the hanger bay. His heart pumped in and out of his chest, like the system of a frightened rodent. The snakes of energy lashed out from the walls all around the Imperial agent. The tendrils whipped out from adjoining rooms and nearby ventilation shafts. The swarmed around the interior of the dreadnaught like vile vines.

Orto dived underneath attacking streams of energy in a deadly game of limbo. He twisted his body into stretched positions while he dashed. He was running a marathon through a maze of dark energy. Wretched screams emitted from the ship's hull while he ran. Fear clouded Orto's vision, but he ran onward.

After what seemed like an eternity of dodging shards of lightning. Orto broke into the hanger bay and took in the sights. The massive room was filled with intense webs of lightning. Innocent crew men were flung from the open cockpits of nearby fighters. Their cries and pleas rebounded off the hanger's gargantuan walls.

Despite the improbable odds, Orto continued to charge towards a nearby fighter. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an entire transport lifted into the air by the tendrils. The lightning snakes tried to rip the shuttle apart to gain access to its more sensitive contents.

Orto pulled himself aboard an Imperial fighter. He swore profusely while he tried to start the ship's engines. Tears of horror dropped from his eyes when he saw the tendrils of energy turn to target him. He smashed the ignition out of frustration and feeble hope. The vines of darkness whirled towards the exposed fighter. The agent slammed into the ignition one last time and the engines roared into life.

Orto wanted to laugh in relief and surprise. He had no time for a momentary respite, if he escaped he could laugh later. The small fighter rose into the air and moved towards the gaping hole that was the hanger exit. Metre thick strands of energy tried to engulf the fighter while it flew. Orto was only barely able to navigate around the violent ropes of lightning.

The fighter was only a second of flight time away from the exit. The cockpit was a millimetre away from closing. The situation was an opportune moment for one of the smaller streams of energy to strike. In the split second, before the cockpit closed and the fighter escaped from the hanger and into space, the strand of energy squeezed through the tiny crack and leeched onto the back of Orto's neck.

The result was instantaneous and surprising. Orto felt a singing moment of complete and utter agony before the lightning was severed from it's source. Once the ship had broken free of the dreadnaught's pull, the piece of energy had no where else to go, so it buried itself inside the agent's neck. Orto revealed a animal cry of pain. He released the controls of the ship and tried to dig into the back of his neck.

Then Orto's consciousness was invaded by images of the bridge, images of Darth Serroth, and images of Darth Jadus. The agent saw deep into Serroth's mind, although what he saw was distorted into flashes and pieces. He saw the malice concealed inside Serroth's heart, he saw the dangerous ambitions that Serroth harboured, he saw Serroth's determination fuelled by a primal need for vengeance, and he saw the evil soul of Darth Serroth. The flashes lasted less than a second, but Orto was sufficiently traumatized.

He turned to look at the mighty dreadnaught behind him. The vessel slowly sank beneath the atmosphere of the jungle planet. The dark energy syphons had twisted to form a deadly, netted cage around the Midnight Spine. Unpredictable surges of energy spiked from the dreadnaught at random intervals. The Midnight Spine had transformed into a dark anomaly, that should never be discovered.

After viewing Serroth's mind, Orto had realized a few things. There were many definitions of evil, but Serroth had an entire page devoted to him. He also knew that Serroth would survive the wreckage of the Midnight Spine. Serroth should never be allowed to escape from that world. To Orto's knowledge, no one knew that the planet below existed. He would do his best to make sure it stayed that way.

Darth Jadus, no doubt, assumed Orto was dead. Nevertheless, Orto would need to make a new name for himself. Jadus was a powerful Sith and Orto fully believed he would end up on the Dark Council one day. The agent would have to abandon the war effort to effectively avoid his former master. He had a few possible aliases he could use. Verex, Grondon, Retallic, Nezbelthar, the list went on and on. Orto looked at the dreadnaught one last time before leaving. He scratched at the growing black scar on his neck.

“If you were dangerous before, Jadus has just released your inner monster... And I cannot allow you to return. My duty is to the Empire.” with those final words, Orto initiated the hyperdrive.

* * *

Darth Serroth floated in the air like a dark messiah and the energy from the crew continued to feed him. White, milky fluids seeped from his eyes like pale tears. The fluids were quickly replaced with a black, tar substance. The silver eyes of the Sith lord had been transformed into black pits, void of compassion and mercy. The lives of three hundred thousand men and woman continued to feed the dark lord, as he and his ship descended to the mountaintop below.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 06:59 AM | #6
Chapter Four

Now

Darth Brutax felt like he'd been hit with an asteroid. His head throbbed with a painfully repetitive drum beat. His eyelids were clenched tightly across his golden eyes. Brutax could hear the harsh winds blowing around him while they crashed into the jagged rocks. He forced his eyes to open, despite his body's screaming protests.

Brutax was lying on the blackened, uneven ground of the mountainside. He lay spreadeagled, on his back, and stared into the raging storm above him. The lightning flashes danced across his vision and the black clouds twisted in anguish. Darth Brutax dug his nails into the ground for leverage. He pushed against the disfigured surface and propelled himself to his feet. His head spun and swam in a sea of vertigo. Darth Brutax fought to right himself and leaned against a nearby rock face for support.

Serroth sat cross legged on a nearby boulder. His black eyes mirrored the discoloured atmosphere of the planet. He kept his eyesight trained on the armoured Pure-blood. He studied every movement the Sith made while trying to regain full consciousness. Darth Serroth's robes fluttered in the wind and wrapped around the tip of the boulder. The Rattataki ignored the inane weather patterns and continued to stare.

Darth Brutax finished clearing his vision and noticed Darth Serroth perching on the boulder. He instinctively reached for his lightsabre. His hand found only empty air at his armour's belt. Darth Serroth produced Brutax's lightsabre from his robes. He waved it lazily through the air as if to taunt the Pure-blood.

“Are you looking for this?” Darth Serroth rolled the lightsabre across his palm.

“Give me my lightsabre.” Darth Brutax growled.

“I don't think that's a good idea. You might hurt yourself.” Darth Serroth spoke in a menacing tone. “You are lucky I've decided to spare you. I was never known for my mercy.” Serroth dropped down from atop the boulder with silent grace. “I've been trapped on this world for twenty four years. I've been trapped with nothing but my own thoughts for an extended period of time.” Serroth slowly walked towards Brutax. “I need to leave this world and you have the means to do so.”

Darth Brutax contemplated interrupting the Rattataki, but thought better of it. Serroth examined the lightsabre in his hands with feigned interest. “You are going to take me off this world using whatever means allowed you to arrive here. I have decided that you will serve as my apprentice.” the pale man stated.

“Why should I accept? I already serve a Sith.” Darth Brutax scoffed.

Darth Serroth chuckled at the naivety of the Pure-blood. “You speak as though you are being offered a choice. Very well, I will explain the situation to you. I control this entire world, this stone heart of the dark side. I can destroy you in an instant. I have more power at my fingertips than some of the Sith masters of old.” Serroth's boasted. “You serve, what is no doubt, a second rate Sith that has delusions of grandeur. You have potential, but it will never be realized under service to any of the fools in the Empire.” Serroth now stood six feet from Brutax.

“If I should accept, you would teach me?” Darth Brutax questioned. He was determined to maintain his standing in appearance. He had witnessed the power Serroth commanded; he knew he didn't stand a chance against Serroth. However, he couldn't show weakness in front of a true Sith.

“You continue to act as though you have a choice. I will teach you things Jedi and Sith alike cannot imagine.” Serroth's black eyes continued to stare. “I tire of this prattle. We have no time for it. Where is your ship.” Serroth displayed his annoyance. “If we don't leave now, you'll experience your own eternity of solitude.”

“What do you mean?” Darth Brutax asked.

“Your cruiser is going to leave you here.” Darth Serroth hissed.

“Impossible.”

“I assure you, if we don't leave now, there will be no second chances. Now lead the way to your ship.”

Darth Brutax pondered the honesty and integrity of Serroth's claims. Realizing he had nothing to gain by waiting for a isolated Sith lord to kill him; Brutax nodded. Darth Serroth's face turned into a grin that could make a Hutt grimace. He lightly tossed the lightsabre back to its owner.

“Onward, my apprentice.”

* * *

Captain Horrison was rubbing his bruised throat when the communications alert came in. He wondered what other mysterious calls could possibly come into his ears. The Chiss tapped his finger onto the accept call button. He glanced at the information flashing across the communications view screen. According to the data flashing across Horrison's eyes; the channel was coming with the highest possible security clearance a man could have without being a Sith.

The call, that came through, was not a holographic message. Instead a gruff voice spread over the bridge's intercom.

“I need to speak with the captain of this vessel. What I have to say is for his ears only.” the unnamed man said.

“This is Captain Horrison. I'm patching you through to my headset now.” Horrison placed an outdated headset onto his turquoise head. “All right go ahead, what do you have to say.”

“I am aware you received an Imperial agent aboard your ship recently.” the man stated.

“We did. How did you know that? Who are you?” Horrison asked in disbelief.

“Imperial Intelligence is capable of obtaining any information. You may call me agent Verex if you need to, although that is not my real name. What is the status of this agent?” the man sidestepped the question and returned with his own.

Captain Horrison gulped nervously. He tugged against the cusp of his collar with a touch of anxiety. Sweat pooled on his blue forehead. Droplets sunk into his ruby eyes and stung is retinas.

“That man is dead. The Sith assigned to this ship killed him.”

“That is somewhat reassuring.” the man's tinge of relief surprised and confused Horrison. “Where is the Sith now? I would like to speak with him.”

“He's commandeered this cruiser to investigate a dead planet.” Horrison didn’t bother to hide the contempt in his voice.

The communications line was silent for a moment. Horrison held the earpiece closer to his head, as though he could hear the silence better. The cartilage bent against his sweaty skin. Finally the man spoke again. He was abrupt and to the point.

“The Sith is a traitor to the Empire. You are to turn your ship around and leave at once. Resume your previous assignment and speak conversation to no one.”

“Sir?” Horrison blanked in surprise.

“Do you have a problem with your orders? Is your loyalty to this Sith over the Emperor?” the man threatened.

“Not at all.” Horrison quickly assured the man. “However wouldn't it be more efficient to send someone down to eliminate him? Or we could have him killed once he returns to the ship.” Horrison happily pondered ways to execute Darth Brutax. “I'd bombard him from orbit, but I don't know his exact location on the planet.”

“Letting him leave the planet, or sending anyone down to him is the last thing you want to do. Obey your orders and leave at once.”

“I will obey your orders. However, I don't understand. Darth Brutax is powerful, surely, but he's not dangerous enough that he needs to be quarantined. Why is this necessary?” Horrison made one last attempt to understand the situation.

“Questioning superiors is not the best way to make your career. Leave the system immediately or the Empire will brand you a traitor and a fool. This is the end of this conversation.”

The communications were cut and Horrison was left holding a dead ear piece. The crew looked at him out of the corners of their eyes. They tried to decipher what was going on in their captain's head. Horrison deposited the headset in it's compartment and addressed the bridge.

“Initiate hyperspace and don't question my orders. This comes from the top. I want to be as far away from here as soon as possible.” Horrison rubbed his neck and then clasped his hands behind his back. He had a very bad feeling.

* * *

The shuttle sped across the starry canvas towards the Imperial cruiser. It was running it's engines at full power and the shuttle threatened to buckle under the dangerous speed. The vessel was racing well past it's recommended settings. The ship streaked through space like a frightened gizka using death sticks.

“They've initiated hyperspace.” the pilot informed his two passengers.

“I warn you, pilot, if you fail to land aboard that ship; you will taste the painful nature of the dark side.” Darth Serroth threatened.

Why can't Sith ever try to motivate with pay raises? The pilot thought to himself. He wasn't entirely certain how to deal with Darth Serroth. When Darth Brutax had approached the shuttle, with what was clearly another Sith in tow, the pilot didn't know how to react. He decided on the same notion he usually took with Sith affairs: shut up and don't ask questions.

However, there was something about Serroth that separated him from most Sith. The pilot could feel a chilling aura, around the Rattataki, that froze his spinal cord in carbonite. Every Sith had a caused a feeling of dread in those untouched by the force. The discomfort Serroth caused was to the average Sith what a dreadnaught was to a shuttle. The pilot felt very small when he sat near the Rattataki. The man had managed to avoid looking into Serroth's eyes thus far. He hoped he'd never have to; those twisted orbs seemed like the cause of all that was wrong in the galaxy.

“Pilot, can you make it?” Darth Brutax leaned over the pilot's shoulder and growled.

“It'll be tight, my lord. I'd hold on to something.” the pilot warned.

The pilot reached for a lever on the control table. He grasped it in his gloved hands and paused for a moment. You better hold together. He thought to himself. The man swung the lever down into the table with forced vigour. He held a silent prayer that he, and his ship would pull this off.

The cruisers hyperdrive hummed deep within the vessel. The shuttle zoomed towards the docking bay. The docking bay doors slid across the opening in front of the shuttle. The pilot drove the vehicle to its limits and tried to force it through the rapidly shrinking opening. The cruiser's engines glowed a radiant blue and prepared to fire.

“Come on, come on.” the pilot whispered to the shuttle.

At the last possible moment, when there was barely enough room for the shuttle to squeeze through, the pilot forced the shuttle through the small opening that remained. The shuttle smashed through the opening and lost both of it's wings on the entry. The body of the shuttle narrowly slid through the opening while the grinding metal screeched around it. The flightless vessel slammed into the hanger's floor and skidded along a quarter of the rooms distance before coming to a complete stop.

The inside of the shuttle was a mangled mess. The walls of the shuttle had been bent into a concave shape. The remains of the vessel were slanted on a downward angle. Sparks flashed from damaged control panels and excess wires hung loosely from the ceiling. The pilot was unconscious and blood trickled from a slight cut on his forehead. Darth Serroth and Brutax were unharmed and fully operational.

Serroth eyed the twisted metal of the loading ramp. Outside, a group of Imperial troopers had formed a semicircle facing the loading ramp. They held their blaster rifles at the ready and waited for the ramp to lower. They would shoot on sight, as per Horrison's orders. Those, that knew Brutax was aboard the shuttle, held grim expressions underneath their black and red helmets.

Suddenly, the mangled metal flew outwards from the wreckage with surprising speed. Propelled by the force, the door slammed into three of the troopers. The heavy metal door crushed them against a nearby fighter. The remaining troopers retained their steely stances and stared at the opening. Darth Serroth stood in the opening; Darth Brutax hovered behind him. The troopers opened fire upon the pair of Sith.

Darth Brutax ignited his lightsabre and flipped over Serroth to reach his assailants. Serroth didn't bring his own lightsabre to bear. Instead, the Sith lord stood still and studied the battle with interest. He took note of every move the Pure-blood made against the troopers. He focused on Brutax's style of fighting. While the troopers fell in unison; Serroth evaluated his possible apprentice's performance.

Only when the last trooper fell, did Serroth descend from the ruins of the shuttle. Brutax sheathed his lightsabre and watched the Rattataki. Serroth clapped with mock enthusiasm. Brutax was surprised by the dismissive attitude of the Sith.

“You do have potential. However, I didn't see anything in your fighting style to separate you from the countless others that will beg for my teachings. Most disappointing...” Serroth nonchalantly commented. He waited for a retort from the Pure-blood. When no rebuttal was given, he continued. “Perhaps you wonder why I don't kill you now? If I truly think you useless? Ah, yes. I've struck your thoughts on the matter.” Serroth paused to examine a wounded trooper. The man was crawling towards another soldier's communications device. “Perhaps I see something in you? Something I can use.” The trooper was an inch from the device. He desperately reached for it. “That must be the case. After all...” Serroth spat lightning from his fingertips and charred the soldier into an agonizing death. “I destroy what I cannot use.”

* * *

Horrison ran down the hallways alongside the Imperial troopers. Once he knew that Darth Brutax had made it aboard the cruiser; he had donned his own armour and rallied the troopers to attack the Sith. It hadn't been easy to convince the crew to turn on the Sith. He had been required to show the authenticity of the call he'd received before they would act. Most captains wouldn't charge headlong into battle with the troopers. Horrison's loyalty to the crew had helped the situation along.

When he'd received intel from the bridge Horrison had been somewhat confused. There was a Rattataki man with Brutax. The man was wearing tattered robes and certainly hadn't been on the cruiser before. Therefore Brutax had picked up the man on the planet. Horrison didn't fully understand the situation, not even close, but he knew the Rattataki had something to do with the mysterious call from Imperial Intelligence.

Horrison and his squadron of soldiers stopped facing a door near the hanger. They'd set up a choke point where they'd have the best chance against a Sith. Horrison's entire plan was in theory; something that didn't settle well with any sane mind. If the Rattataki was a Sith as well, things became even more complicated. There were three hallways facing the door. Troopers were positioned in all three hallways. They stood silently and faced the door, fully unaware what the last group's fate had been.

Horrison was positioned in the centre hallway. He could hear sounds of battle from all around him. He focused on the door and cursed the acoustics of the metal hallways. Screams and blaster fire continued to echo throughout the hallway. Horrison held his hand in the air to signal his men to hold their ground. Still, the sounds of fighting continued. The troopers, around Horrison, held their ground. Finally, there was silence.

Horrison waited for any activity to come from the door. He was disappointed after waiting a few minutes and receiving no movement. He reached for his communications and spoke to the trooper leaders in the other two hallways.

“I want everyone ready to move up. They're not going to come in here. We're gonna have to go to them” he waited for a response and was greeted with silence. He tried the device again. “Respond groups leaders. What is your status? Are you ready?” Again, he heard nothing.

Horrison cursed the troopers for their ignorance. He promised to have them severely dealt with if he survived this. The captain signalled his soldiers to stay put while he checked the other hallways. The captain turned the corner and peered into the first hallway. The sight was not a pleasant one, nor a fortunate one. The entire squad of troopers lay dead around the hallway in various positions and (in some cases) pieces.

Horrison turned to the ceiling and saw a neat, circular hole cut through the metal and wires. Realization dawned upon the captain. He didn't need to check the other hallway to know they had met the same fate. He ran back around the corner to his squad. He screamed into the mike while he ran.

“They came through the ventilation system. They're already on our s...” Horrison stopped in mid sentence. There wasn't much point anymore. Darth Brutax stood over the dead bodies of the troopers. His scarlet lightsabre was glowing dangerously.

The door opened behind Horrison and the captain whipped around. He found himself between a furious Pure-blood and a beaming Rattataki. Horrison flinched from the icy, black eyes of Darth Serroth. He turned back to face Brutax.

“Well this is delightful. From your expression and glowing aura of rage; I can safely assume this is the Captain. Well, kill him and be done with it.” Serroth's tone was laced with twisted joy.

“I will not beg. I served the Empire. Imperial Intelligence has branded you a traitor. The force of the Empire will...” Horrison was quickly interrupted.

“You have been duped. That wasn't Imperial Intelligence. He was an old...” Serroth paused and racked his brain for an adequate word. “...acquaintance of mine. Now kill him Brutax. He doesn't have any entertainment value if he won't beg.”

Before Horrison could open his mouth with a rebuttal, Brutax decapitated the Chiss. His head rolled into a corner, almost comically. His body fell to its knees and collapsed into a lifeless lump. Brutax shut down his lightsabre and holstered it on his belt. He turned to his new master for support and orders. He didn't see any way out of service after killing an Imperial Captain and assaulting a cruiser.

“What do we do now?” Brutax asked.

“We don't do anything. You are going to take control of this ship. I am going to leave on the Imperial agent's ship.” Darth Serroth walked back towards the hanger.

“Master, how do I gain control of the ship?” he questioned. “They think I am a traitor.

“It shouldn't be too difficult to convince them Horrison was in the wrong. Any call he received can be proved false if enough time is spent on it. Besides, an Imperial's duty is to the Sith. It's engraved into their minds at birth.” Serroth explained.

“Where are you going?” Darth Brutax asked for his final question.

“To deal with an old acquaintance. I believe he goes by Nezbelthar now.” With that final statement, the door closed behind Serroth, and Brutax was left standing in the hallway, amidst the deceased Imperials.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 07:00 AM | #7
Chapter Five

Darth Serroth gingerly walked towards the orange lights. The flashing neon beams acted as strobes within the depths of Nar Shaddaa. The Desolate Glove was a seedy cantina in one of the less favourable sectors of the moon. The moon itself wasn't a preferable place of business unless you were a Hutt. Grime and space dust clung to the rusted walls of the building. The only well kept piece of the establishment was the flashing sign. It continued to draw unsuspecting travellers into the cesspool not dissimilar to an arachnid's ploy.

A drunken Trandoshans stumbled past the Rattataki. He pushed through a group of Bith and grasped a railing in his clawed hands. The reptile vomited profusely over the edge of the railing and spat blood. Two more of the reptilian species surged from the cantina and targeted the sick lizard. Each of them grabbed one of his arms and hurled the pleading alien over the railing. He would fall for a few levels before he hit the metal floor and died. The two reptiles reentered the bar without a second glance over their shoulders.

Serroth shook his head and sighed. He never approved of the prospect of Trandoshans. Short tempered lizards that were given blaster rifles. In what universe could that have been a good idea? Sweeping the disorderly event from his memory, the Rattataki entered the Desolate Glove.

The cantina itself wasn't very large; although there was likely a large smuggling or spice operation hidden beneath the patrons. Nevertheless, the cantina housed a large assortment of species and personalities. A pair of Rodians slurped their drinks through puckered mouths while a small Chadra-Fan expertly picked their pockets. A cliche band of Bith played cantina music in a corner. Their oblong heads swayed back and forth with their instruments.

The bar didn't have enough income for more than one real Twi'lek dancer. The dancer was accompanied by prerecorded holo dancers in the centre of the room. The coloured cantina lights flashed from blue to purple to red and illuminated the entertainment. The holograms were virtually ignored in favour of the one, flesh and blood, dancer. Smugglers and bounty hunters tossed their credits at the girl and her swinging lekku.

Serroth studied every aspect of the room and scene. He was attentive and did not allow a single piece of information to slip past him. He noticed the pair of Trandoshans from before. The pair of them were watching Serroth closely. Despite Serroth's disdain toward the reptilian species, he recognized them as competent bouncers. They had seen through Serroth's attempt to blend into the crowd. They wouldn't bother him until he acted; but they were watching him nonetheless.

The Sith used the force to locate his query in the sea of slime. He brought his black eyes to the corner bar and smiled inwardly. The purpose for his being here was slumped in a bar stool and waved drunkenly at the bartender. The man was human and Caucasian. He had long scraggly hair, twisted into a birds nest of black grit, and a beard to match it. His clothing was tattered and torn, like Serroth's robes. The difference was Serroth looked like a fallen sorcerer and the man looked like one of the many homeless living in Nar Shaddaa.

Serroth decided to study the man's actions before approaching him. The Zabrak bartender placed a glass of Corellian whisky in front of the man's drooped head. The human raised his hand, halfheartedly, in acknowledgement before raising his head. He leaned back in his chair and swirled the liquid around the glass with his wrist.

Darth Serroth sat down beside the man and placed his arms on the bar table. The man noticed the Sith but continued swirling his whiskey and tried to ignore him. Serroth waited patiently for the man to become bored with his drink. The human raised his glass to his lips and took a small sip. He deposited the glass back on the table and sighed.

“So, you found me. That didn't take very long.” the man spoke in a gruff tone. He waited for the Sith to speak. When there was no response he asked. “What happens now?”

“Now we have a little chat.” Serroth whispered.

“The almighty Serroth wants to have a chat?” the man placed air quotes around the last word and chuckled. “Well? What do you want to talk about? Do you want to ask me how I stopped the Empire or Republic from ever finding you? Do you want to know how I hid from Jadus for twenty four years? Do you want to know why I'm sitting in a bar and drinking away my failures. Do you want to ask me why I never came back to try and kill you? Or do you just want to know why I tried to keep you trapped for all eternity?” the man shouted over the music.

A few of the cantina's patrons turned to watch the two men. Some of the more violent customers contemplated teaching the drunkard a lesson for interrupting the atmosphere. The cantina as a whole decided the man wasn't worth its time.

“You expertly hacked into both the Empire's and Republic's data files. Although data in the Republic's archives was already sketchy, you deleted all record of my existence. Darth Jadus already thought I was dead and you faked your own death to avoid detection. The reason you are here is self explanatory. You sought to drown yourself in liquor before you died. It is a common course of action for people that think they are going to die. You never came to try to kill me because I terrify you. The images you received, while you escaped the Midnight Spine, still haunt you when you sleep.” The Rattataki fired a barrage of answers to the broken man. “You wanted to keep me trapped because you foolishly believed I would be the end of the Empire.” Serroth held his voice at lower decibels while he spoke.

“How did you know all that? How do you even know the state of the galaxy? You were isolated for twenty four years.” the man asked in confusion. He subconsciously rubbed the twisted black scar on the back of his neck.”

“Because you told me, Orto.” Serroth grinned his sickly smile.

Orto's face twisted into one of rage and contempt. He launched himself from his seat with his arms outstretched. He clawed for Serroth's throat; his absolute fear was replaced with synthetic bravery supplied by watered alcohol. The bald alien easily side stepped the drunken assault and let his tattered robes slip through Orto's fingers. The ex Imperial agent landed on his shoulder and the pain shot up his arm like a unsterilized injection.

The dangerous balance of the cantina had been upset. Orto could see the various pieces of footwear shuffle around him. He lay on the ground for a moment and the greasy floor rubbed against his cheek. Putrid smells of the unwashed surface drifted into his nostrils. The man felt two vise like grips on his shoulders and his stomach lurched as he was hauled to his feet.

Orto was slammed against the bar table with vigorous force. His spine halted his movement against the table and his head whipped backwards from the impact. His head was brought into an upright position just in time for him to see the scaly fist. Orto tried to move out of the way; but he was held in place by the Trandoshan's other hand. He managed to move enough that he only took a glancing blow. Be that as it may, a glancing blow from a Trandoshan was still a painful encounter.

He frantically searched the room, in the time provided, between the blows he received. The pale faced Sith was nowhere to be seen. The man seemed to have vanished like a ghost. His words still echoed in Orto's head. You told me, Orto. Suddenly the ex agent reached up and caught the Trandoshan's fist. The lizard looked down in surprise.

“My name isn't Orto anymore...”

He drew a serrated vibroblade from underneath the bar table. He'd hidden the blade in the concealed nook a few months ago. It was his ace in the hole if any of his dealings ever went sour. The motion of the blade stopped mere centimetres from the Trandoshan's throat. The reptile stood petrified and held back bated breath. The other bouncer pulled out a blaster rifle and aimed it at the grizzled man.

“...And I would never betray the Empire.”

The second Trandoshan fired his rifle directly at the spot Orto was standing in. However, by the time he pulled the trigger, the bearded man had dropped low to the ground. The blaster shot sailed over Orto and nailed the surprised Lizard in the shoulder. The force of impact spun him around like a top, directly into an outstretched vibroblade. Before the surviving reptile could assess the scenario, he found himself impaled on the rapid blade. This all happened in two point five seconds.

The armed patrons of the bar had no allegiance to the Trandoshan bouncers. Most of them decided to return to their drinks. A few drunken Gran thought they could best the man who'd ruined their favourite bar table with dead Trandoshan stink. They were, of course, wrong. Their bodies quickly piled atop the bouncers.

Orto decided now would be a good time to leave the cantina. Whether or not the patrons could stop him didn't change the fact they didn't want him in their bar. It was often wiser not to pick fights when it wasn't necessary. Darth Serroth was nowhere to be seen and Orto had no logical reason to stay in the establishment. He was emotional when drunk, not an idiot; or so he told himself.

* * *

The key card slipped out of Orto's twitching fingers and clattered to the metal floor. He bent over to retrieve it. A reminder of his earlier beating throbbed across his spine. He winced and rose back to a slouched posture. The key card whisked through the electronic lock and the mechanism buzzed a friendly greeting.

The apartment room was shrouded in an unwelcoming darkness. Orto cursed violently and groped for the light's activation box. He clumsily smashed his knee on a metal table below him. Once again, cursing ensued. You can wipe the floor with a pair of Trandoshans; but you can't navigate your own apartment. He scolded himself.

After a few incidents, with the various pieces of furniture, the man stopped. He had located the smooth leather surface of his couch. Rather than press on for the bedroom; Orto collapsed onto the couch. The bloated cushions crunched beneath the weight of his body and the force of his descent. Once the bearded man had found a comfortable position, he allowed himself to forget about the Sith, and sleep.

* * *

The aroma of freshly brewed caffa filled Orto's nostrils. The sweet scent stirred the man's senses and he allowed himself to wake. He opened his eyes a fraction and peered through the slits. There was a cylindrical glass of caffa, sitting on the table, a foot from his nose. The smell mingled with the steam the rose from the rim of the glass.

Orto sat up and stared, at the glass of caffa, in confusion. He stroked his beard thoughtfully and stared around the room. The bright apartment lights had been switched on and illuminated the room. The luminous fixtures stabbed lasers into Orto's sensitive eyes. The ex agent cursed and instinctively reached for the glareshades sitting next to the caffa cup. He didn't bother to question their convenient placement.

Darth Serroth sat in the black, leather armchair across from Orto. He leaned backwards into the crevices of the cushion and relaxed. His hands were curled into one another and he slowly drummed his fingertips across their opposite knuckles. The Rattataki patiently waited for Orto to come to terms with his surroundings.

A somewhat sobered Orto noticed Serroth for the first time. He instantly swung his arm underneath the couch in search of one of his many holdout blasters. His fingers fumbled for the weapon that should be there. When Orto found nothing to grasp, he froze in surprise and anticipation.

“All of your weapons have been removed. We can't have a civil conversation if you're constantly trying to vaporize me.” Serroth drawled. “I should've realized you wouldn't be in any state to talk to me last night. I was somewhat impatient.” Serroth shrugged dismissively.

“That's a load of bantha fodder. You wanted to feck with me.” Orto had taken the situation in fairly quickly. His senses were pumped to their maximum alert levels. Every single bend of Serroth's fingers was taken in and analyzed. The cocky and relaxed demeanour of the Sith provided contrast to Orto's edgy and alert state.

“I take no pleasure in your suffering.” Serroth lied through his grotesque grin. “Are you going to drink your caffa?”

“I don't know if I'm more surprised that you're here or that you made caffa.” Orto doubted the likelihood of poison. Nevertheless, he didn't drink the caffa.

“I didn't make the caffa. I appropriated that woman to do it for me.” The Rattataki nodded his head in the direction of a snivelling Rodian girl. Orto dropped his shield for a moment to drop his jaw in confused disgust. “Stop whining. You can go now, ungrateful wretch. You should be happy for work.” The Rodian bolted out of the apartment with her head ridge covered in goosebumps. Orto stared at Serroth with continued surprise. “Sith don't make caffa.” Darth Serroth nonchalantly explained.

“Why did you come here, if not to kill me? I've certainly given you reason to do so.” Orto asked.

“Now, now, now, well talk about that later. First, what have you been up to all these years. I've never had a chance to talk with you face to face. Yet, I feel as if I've known you for quite some time.” The evil smile never left Serroth's face. “Your wonderful abode doesn't match the lifestyle I witnessed last night.”

“An ex Imperial agent can make a lot of creds. If you're not worried about breaking a few laws the world can be your bank. I can spend my money and live my life however I damn well please.” Orto was terrified of Serroth. Despite that, his hatred outweighed his fear in conversation.

“You feel like a failure. You were thrown into a situation that you didn't want through an act of chance. You fill the role of the ungrateful patriot. I feel for you truly.” Serroth mocked the beaten man.

“You were a danger to the Empire. I saw it in your eyes. You would've come back with a vendetta. The Empire wouldn't survive the power I witnessed.”

“You prattle on like a broken holotape. You were scared Orto. You were weak.”

“Don't call me that!” The man lost his cool and shouted. However, this time he did not attack. “You call me by my name, Nezbelthar. You know so much? Then you know that's my new name. Use it.”

“Hmmm...” Serroth stopped drumming his fingers for a moment. “You believe your new name brings you bravado? There is power in names. Erasing your old name will not erase your fear, despite what you may think. It is one of the tactics used by the Sith. They try to erase their past. It is an effective tool of indoctrination.” Serroth considered the name. “Very well, I will use the title you wish, Nezbelthar.”

There was a silence for a few minutes. Serroth allowed his unwilling host to calm himself. Nezbelthar's beard hid his facial contortions. Eventually, he spoke.

“What did you mean when you said I told you.” This was the question that Nezbelthar had been dreading. He didn't want to hear the answer. Serroth's feelings on the question were vastly different.

“Ah, yes. I was hoping you would ask me that. It's a most delicious story.” Serroth licked his lips to emphasize his words. “Do you remember the events that transpired in the fall of the Midnight Spine?”

“Yes.” Nezbelthar relived those events every time he closed his eyes. The screams of the three hundred thousand people haunted him in his sleep. For the second time in the last twenty four hours; he rubbed the black scar on the back of his neck.

“You escaped. The Midnight Spine and all its life crumbled behind you while you ran. But you didn't escape untouched.” Nezbelthar cringed at Serroth's words. He shuddered from the grinding pain starting on his neck. “I stole the lives from every man and woman aboard that ship. Except for you. You...” Serroth chuckled and gestured his hand at Nezbelthar's face. Black lines spread across his face like spidery veins. The man shook uncontrollably from the pain in his splitting skull. “You took something from me.”

“Many force users, Jedi and Sith alike, are able to read minds. The power is limited and requires significant concentration.” Serroth continued to speak to Nezbelthar's convulsing body. “They try to unlock a door that is sealed with the most powerful of locks. The quality is based on the willpower of the person. I don't need to pick your lock, as complicated as it is.” Serroth leaned forward in the chair. “I have a skeleton key to every single door in your noggin.” Serroth watched his victim squirm for a moment. He allowed himself some pleasure for this innovative torture. After all, the man had assisted in Serroth's downfall.

Growing bored with Nezbelthar's suffering, he released the rugged man. Nezbelthar fell into the cushions of the couch. He attempted the cranial equivalent of gasping for breath. The man was speechless. There was no rebuttal to the mental violation he had received.

“Now that you understand the gravity of the situation we can return to your earlier question. Why do I want you alive? Why haven't I exacted revenge. How do you simple sentient beings say it? You are small time. I want the man who sentenced me to my twenty four years of solitude.”

“You mean Jadus? He's a member of the Dark Council now.”

“What part of your brain did you think was safe from me? I told you I know everything about the current state of the world through your own knowledge. An ex agent has a very detailed data bank.” Serroth reiterated.

“He's one of the most powerful Sith in the galaxy. He's the head of Imperial Intelligence. His network is infallible.” Nezbelthar rambled.

“All the more reason to keep you alive. You used to work for him. You've spent the last twenty four years spying on him and his network. I assure you I would've had my revenge on you by now if you didn't provide a gateway to Jadus.”

“Even if I would help you, which I won't, Jadus has more power than you ever will. He's probably the most powerful member of the Dark Council.”

Then something unexpected happened. Darth Serroth lost his calm, collected visage. The Sith leaped from his chair and raised both his hands into the air. He called upon the energy of the force and allowed his fury to feed it. He stabbed his arms into the direction of various aspects of the room and used the force to contort them. The metal table slammed through the windows and off the balcony, kitchen appliances smashed against the ground, and a small mouse droid squealed while it barrel rolled across the room. Amidst the whirlwind of force energy Serroth screamed.

“Jadus is nothing compared to me! He and the rest of the Dark Council have yet to see the true power of the force. The Emperor himself will beg for my teachings!” Nezbelthar held onto the couch's arm for an anchor. “I will have my revenge. Jadus will plead for forgiveness and he will find no mercy.”

The Sith dropped his arms to either side of his body and closed his black eyes. The miniature cyclone stopped its rampage and the various clutter found places on the floor. Nezbelthar sat on the ground next to his overturned couch. Serroth resumed his sinisterly calm stance.

“And you will serve me. There is no range to my power over you. You will be broken like a kath hound, because that's all you are. I have a ship docked nearby. You will be there tomorrow.” Serroth clenched Nezbelthar's brain in a mental vise while he spoke. Nezbelthar spastically choked on his own breath. Serroth released him after he was sure he'd made his point. The pale alien turned and exited the twisted room. His soft footsteps slid across the hallway.

Nezbelthar sat in the newly created filth for over an hour. Some of the decay was physical; some on a psychological level. The man pulled a bottle of whiskey from underneath a smashed refrigeration system. He studied the bottle in his hands and contemplated opening it. The bottle sailed from his hands and shattered against the wall. Nezbelthar would not be a slave to the bottle. His new master was far more destructive than the poison dripping down the walls.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 07:02 AM | #8
Chapter 6

Then

The forested mountaintop quickly rushed to meet the descending dreadnaught. The Midnight Spine's hull twisted and convulsed in torment. Explosions laced with fire merged, with ripples of lightning, around the vessel. The pillars of fire launched metal plates into the burning atmosphere. The metallic framework screeched and wailed in protest while the gravitational forces bore into the dreadnaught.

The connecting metal plates and wires snapped under the insurmountable pressure. Each individual fibre, connecting the engine remnants to the rest of the ship, began to break like metal twigs. Within seconds the back quarter was hanging by mere flaps of debris. With a wrenching roar, the back of the dreadnaught flew backwards into the spastic winds. The multiple pieces of the ship started to break off the decaying vessel. The numerous components plummeted to the jungle peak below.

In the exotic plant life below, the various animals and insects found themselves shrouded in darkness. The crackling metal beast, above them, easily blotted out the sun and brought a shadow to the mountain. Fist-sized, flaming pieces of debris collided with the ground like the start of a meteor shower. The wildlife scattered and clambered, over the razor sharp rocks, in search of refuge. The trees and bushes caught fire from the lashing lightning bolts. Their fires called the metallic monolith down to it's grave.

* * *

The bridge's view port had been shattered by the destructive whirlwind. Anything that wasn't bolted down, and a few things that had been, was flushed out of the room via the mangled window. The lightning concentration was at its peak in the bridge. The complex next of crackling energy was the only thing anchoring Serroth to the room.

Darth Serroth was at the centre of the lightning corona. His eyesight heaved and flashed into a incomprehensible streak. He felt complete and utter agony coupled with rejuvenating youth at the same time. The life forces wanted to tear him apart and feed him in unison. The dark lord faced the gaping hole and screamed out to the galaxy beyond.

Suddenly, the coursing flow of lightning halted. The tendrils, that snaked outwards from the crashing ship, froze for a millisecond. Then, with a sudden change of direction, the lightning rapidly retreated into the ship and towards its black heart. The streams retracted along the corridors towards their source of origin. They whipped backwards like a kath hound on a chain.

The Rattataki's mind became a haven for chaos. The sudden introduction of energy should have fried his mind into a smoking crisp. Only his vast knowledge of the dark side kept him alive. Despite this, the energy could be seen crackling and glowing underneath his bone-white skin. The life forces danced along his tongue and his vital organs. He tried to breath and was met only with suffocating energy. The energy that could save his life, would kill him. Throughout it all, the man's eyes grew blacker still. Those dark eyes became a testament to the black holes of the galaxy. Then the ship hit the mountain.

* * *

The ship did not connect with the ground in any graceful manner. The underside of the vessel brutally ground into the peak. It slid, across the massive mountain top, and scraped the grass and trees into the air. The sheer force of the descent ripped large chunks of rock from the mountain. Avalanches of stone and dirt plummeted downwards. Animals and plants were crushed underneath the screeching metal. Their bones cracked and splintered before the weight of the jagged wreckage.

The ship finally stopped its violating slide across the mountain. The bottom of the dreadnaught was sliced, with crisscross patterns, from the sharpened rocks. The Midnight Spine sat, frozen, atop the damaged peak. Slowly at first, cracks began to spread across the mountain. The spread increased into a rapidly spinning web of cracked stone. Suddenly, the mountain began to shift. Large chunks of earth fell away from the mountain and joined the rubble below. Soon, the Midnight Spine was left teetering atop a needled spire. The weight distribution was too much for the vessel. The dreadnaught's centre slid down around the scalpel like peak. The tip of the disfigured mountain soon impaled the bridge. With the ship anchored, by numerous burning spires, the descent was finally halted.

* * *

The interior of the ship shook like a Jawa in an earthquake. Serroth desperately clawed at his eyes in terror. He had lost control of the situation, of the life energy, of the force. He dug his nails into the side of his face. Black blood poured from his self inflicted gashes. The sickly substance splashed across the floor amidst the carnage. Energy spikes zapped outwards from the screaming Sith. The man wanted to vomit, cry, scream, and die. There was no feeling in the universe that could compare to Serroth's pain.

The Sith lord was held in place by the lightning surges. They zipped around his feet and dug into the floor like tiny electric ropes. Serroth couldn't breath. He couldn't see. He could only feel the pain. Somehow, the Rattataki still lived. The Rattataki tried to wrench his feet from the floor. He spat electrified blood onto his frozen feet.

Then, the razorback tip of the needle struck the bridge. The tip of the spire was stripped of all life and comfort. With enough force, the edges of the stone could slice a man neatly in half. The great stone anomaly had surfaced directly behind the Sith lord. It had destroyed Serroth's metal throne out of synthetic spite.

Serroth felt something behind him. It was a small pulse, barely heard behind the pounding hammers in his mind. Nevertheless he felt something infused with the force behind him. It could have been an impression from the many animals on the world. It might have been a message left behind by a Jedi. Maybe it was an ancient holocron. Serroth didn't care.

Something was buried inside the stone scalpel. There was an aura of the force deep inside. It was a miniscule field of energy, not enough to be of use to any force user. That didn't matter at this point. Serroth had found a way to save himself from the all consuming force he had created. The energy within the earth would save the Rattataki, no matter the cost.

Darth Serroth summoned all the strength and power he could muster. He directed every ounce of his willpower into freeing himself for a few seconds. For a slight moment, he felt his electric bounds give way. The man wasted no time before taking action. The Rattataki forced himself backwards into the sharpened stone.

He slammed into the stone and felt the earthen knifes slice into his back. The Sith Lord reached through his body and mind for a grasp on the energies. The ghostly substance tried to slip through his fingers and resume plaguing his mind. Serroth fought against the physical impossibilities. With the energy temporarily under his control; he launched the energy through his wounds and into the stone monolith.

The result was instantaneous and surreal. The massive amounts of excess energy fought through the dark lord and into the force conduit. The life forces, that Serroth couldn't process, whipped around the alien and the blackening stone. Serroth's arms were wrenched behind him to clutch the stone. His bones shattered, at their joints, from the magnetic pull. The man screamed in further agony and in joy. He had saved himself from the consuming power of the corrupted life energies. Even so, Serroth couldn't imagine what would happen because of his actions. Then the room exploded.

The energy buildup surged throughout the stone spire. The violent current of the force followed the spine of the stone to the mountain's foot. Riveting explosions of energy spread across the rocky landscape with frightening vigour. Any plant life, that remained on the rocky slopes, was swiftly obliterated in an electric torrent. The needled mountain crackled and spat like a lightning rod with the Midnight Spine at it's peak.

Darth Serroth was surrounded by a blinding, pulsing light. His body was fused to the spire's tip with the lives of three hundred thousand people. The man had no strength to attempt to free himself. The pain, from containing the energy, had taken its toll on his physique. He closed his corrupted eyes and allowed himself to rest. There was nothing he could do now but sleep.

* * *

The landscape, around the mountain, had entered a state of turmoil. The tropical jungle started to whither and die. The rich soil quickly faded from existence to reveal the stone beneath. The rocky crust of the planet darkened from a light brown to a eclipse of shadow. The lightning surges seemed to poison the very planet. Blackened clouds, filled with erratic lightning, poured freely from the Midnight Spin and into the atmosphere. The radius of darkness was expanding from the centre of sin.

The dark side of the force would effectively kill the planet. The sun would be blocked from the sky out of spite. Plants would collapse from the evil toxins. The razor sharp rocks of the planet would be stained with the blood of sacrifice. The complex ecosystem would collapse before the dark introduction. The edge of the carnivorous circle would spread and cover the planet over the next ten years. All the while, Serroth would suffer.

* * *

Time passes quickly when the mind and body are occupied. When a man is fused to a pillar of dark energy for ten years; time passes painstakingly slowly. It was almost a full year before Serroth regained consciousness. He could see the twisting landscape, spread out, through the shattered view port. He tried to stretch his body and found himself incapable of movement. After a few hours of fighting with the stone magnet; he seized his thrashings and gave up. He watched the world die in front of him. Serroth couldn't help but wonder how much time had passed, and how he still lived.

* * *

Five years passed before Serroth was able to sleep again. His mind was bombarded with countless thoughts and ailments. He wouldn’t be able to eat sleep or drank for half a decade. Left alone, with nothing but his thoughts, he started to lose his grip on reality and his sanity. During first year, he dealt with the affliction of boredom. He used the force to lift a lone metal bolt from the floor. It was the only loose article in the room. The bolt twisted and flipped in the air for its master's amusement. Eventually Serroth flung the bolt, out the window, in a fit of rage. He deeply regretted that action.

Next came the year of regret. Serroth didn't regret harming innocents or his faithful servants. However, his deteriorating mind believed feigned repentance would save him from his own personal hell. He pleaded to the invisible heavens for forgiveness and rescue. His daily exercises ranged from well orchestrated arguments to blubbering tears. By the end of the year, Serroth had decided he was an atheist.

The third year, carrying over into part of the fourth, was perhaps the worst. This was the time period in which Serroth started to engage in conversation. He was the only one around to listen to himself. The addled man would spend every hour of the day and night talking to himself. Worse still, he would respond to his own questions and nonsense.

“Lovely weather we decided to have today. Isn't it?”

“This is the same weather we have every day. Complete darkness illuminated with the occasional flash of lightning.”

“Well there is no need to be disrespectful. I'm a powerful Sith, you know.”

“Pitter patter.”

“Come again?”

“That's the sound it makes when it rains.”

“It never rains here.”

“Exactly.”

That stage didn't so much end as fade. The conversations grew more relevant and happened less often. Nevertheless, Serroth occasionally jumped into a shouting match with himself for old time's sake.

The fifth year was when Serroth's insanity reached its peak. His ramblings and accusations found a renewed purpose. This was the year when Serroth's insanity lifted long enough for him to locate the source of his problems. He focused his fanatical rage against Darth Jadus. He didn't know what position Jadus was in at the time, but he hoped Jadus would survive the war. Serroth wanted the masked man to survive long enough for revenge.

Serroth's mind traversed to dark, obsessive places when he thought about Jadus' ultimate demise. His twisted nature, coupled with a growing insanity, allowed him to imagine brutally intoxicating revenge schemes. All of them were unrealistic and impossible. Nevertheless, they allowed Serroth the drive he needed to survive the last of the five years. Finally, Serroth was allowed to sleep. The dark lord did slumber for the next more years.

* * *

When the Sith Lord opened his eyes again, his mind was cleared. He found himself lying on the metal floor of the bridge. Realization slammed into his consciousness. Serroth was freed from the torturing, magnetic, stone. He pulled himself to his feet and found his bones healed and in their proper positions. Despite his parched throat and pained stomach, the man felt like he could run around the planet with ease. It was an odd combination; the pain of starvation paired with youthful stamina.

Serroth looked out the window and surveyed his handiwork. The planet had been utterly corrupted and changed. There was no indigenous fauna in sight. The planet was shrouded in the darkest night imaginable. Serroth, himself, was sure he could only see because of his new, unexplainable eyesight. Flashes of lightning showcased the landscape for brief intervals. The neatly cropped mountains had been carved and shifted to form more sharpened spires. Their united needles jutted into the sky like a rancor's teeth.

The Rattataki turned away from the window to face the stone. The tip of the bladed rock had changed substantially over the ten years. The rocky shell had peeled away, from the mineral, and dissolved into dust on the floor. What stood underneath the shell was an exciting object. The tip of the spire had become a massive cyrstal, the colour of Serroth's eyes. Spider line cracks of lightning shifted around the interior of the cyrstal. The object pulsed and screamed with the ghosts of the past. It's edges were jagged like the rocks outside. However, this gem was far more elegant in its nature.

Darth Serroth stared at the crystal and understood his destiny. In a heartbeat he understood what he had done to this planet and to himself. The Sith felt every wind and storm that bounded across the planet. The storms increased their intensity upon his command. The entire planet had, through his dark sacrifice, changed into a generator of the dark side. It had become a power source that only he could tap into. It was, more or less, a part of Serroth now. Its storms were his breath and sustenance. The exiled man would use all of his new found power to his disposal. Serroth had created a true umbra. He had forged the darkest core of the shadow. From the Umbra, he would brood and prepare for vengeance.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 07:03 AM | #9
Chapter 7

Now

Darth Brutax was rather disturbed by his current situation. He had regained control of the Imperial cruiser. Any open resistance, to the Sith's authority, had been flushed out the airlock with Horrison's decapitated body. However, the crew followed the Pure-blood with a obvious reluctance. It was apparent the crew had far more loyalty to Horrison than the Sith. They only seemed to obey Brutax out of necessity.

It was an unnerving feeling to understand he only held authority by a thread. Brutax had spent the last few days trying to avoid reporting events to his superiors. The amount of information flow would need to be severely limited. If the greater Empire caught wind of what happened on the desolate planet; Brutax wasn't sure what his fate might be. The situation was expanding too rapidly for Brutax to accurately plan his next move.

Brutax spent most of his free time pondering the identity of the Rattataki Sith lord. Aliens weren't supposed to receive Sith training. The anti-alien policy, of the Empire, wasn't going to evaporate in the near future. The only logical explanation was that Serroth had been one of Darth Vich's acolytes. This only raised more questions. How did the Rattataki acolyte end up trapped on a dead world with only a wreckage for company. Further more, Brutax contemplated the origin of Serroth's power. He refused to believe Serroth was born with a unique trait. If there was a way to learn or steal that power, Brutax would accomplish it.

Brutax was awaiting his new master in the hanger bay. The dead Imperial troopers had been swept away and the smoking shuttle had been jettisoned into open space. The evidence of the fight was still acknowledged by the scorch marks that painted the metal flooring. The outline of a dead trooper was etched into the ground with ash.

The Pure-blood turned his gaze to the approaching vessel, The Imperial stealth ship passed through the energy barrier and hovered near Brutax. The engine's energy signature blasted heat waves into the Sith's face. He stepped back and allowed the craft to land. The sleek, smooth curves of the vessel brought Brutax back to his first encounter with the ship. He wondered what would've happened to Serroth if the agent had reached Darth Howl. It was no longer important to Brutax. The pazzak deck had been dealt. The cards would be played and wagers would be made. He only hoped he would profit from the dark affairs.

Darth Serroth and Nezbelthar exited the ship via the mechanical ramp. Darth Brutax took the time to study the ex agent. Normally a scraggly fellow like Nezbelthar would not attract Brutax's attention. However, Brutax deemed anyone in Serroth's company was worth evaluating. The man walked with a slight slouch and his wiry hair was tangled around his head. Nevertheless, he looked capable of moving with lightning efficiency when necessary. He wore a tacky pair of glare shades over his eyes. The bright lights of the hanger reflected off the lens and into the Pure-blood's eyes.

“Ah, Brutax. So good to see you again. How is business?” Serroth greeted his apprentice while he descended the ramp. He stopped in front of Brutax and introduced his reluctant companion. “This is Nezbelthar. We have done business in the past. Our dealings went sour and he's here to make amends.” The Sith lord chuckled at his joke.

“I trust you will serve faithfully.” Brutax addressed the shorter man.

“Feck off, mate.” Nezbelthar spat on the ground in rebellion.

Darth Brutax roared at the blatant disrespect. He ignited his lightsabre and brought it forward with a savage thrust. The bearded man moved with finesse usually associated with the Jedi order. With a swift dodge to the right; the blade was easily avoided. Brutax turned, to deliver another strike, and quickly encountered an obstacle. Nezbelthar initiated a powerful kick to Brutax's fists. He bypassed the scarlet blade and nailed the Pure-blood's fingers with a well placed attack.

Demonic eyes opened wide in pain and surprise from the kick. The lightsabre flipped out of his red hands and into the air. The blade extinguished and the hilt twirled in the air before landing in Nezbelthar's outstretched hand. The ex agent allowed a mocking smirk to cross his face. Darth Brutax prepared to launch his knowledge of the force at the insolent man.

Suddenly the lightsabre hilt was wrenched from it's prison. The device zipped across the air and landed squarely in Serroth's palm. Both Nezbelthar and Brutax gasped in surprise at the event. Darth Serroth twirled the lightsabre hilt in his hand. He raised a single finger and waved it with a scolding motion.

“Now, now, we can't have infighting. We've only just begun.”

“This man has showed disrespect to a Sith. He has disrespected me!” Brutax growled.

“He'll do far worse than that if you're not careful.” Serroth hissed. The Rattataki sneered mockingly. “You should take better care of your lightsabre. It continues to end up in my hands.” The lightsabre was lightly tossed back to it's master for the second time. Brutax snatched the metal hilt, out of the air, and holstered it.

Nezbelthar watched the scene with disguised interest. His glare shades shielded the erratic movement, of his eyes, from detection. He watched the Pure-blood fight to contain his fiery rage. Eyes darted to study the cold malice of the Rattataki. Nezbelthar smiled beneath his tangled beard. The Pure-blood didn't have any idea how many nerf droppings he'd waded into.

“As for you,” the pale Sith turned to face Nezbelthar. “Your rebellious nature does not prevent or protect you from doing my every whim.” Nezbelthar's smile quickly disappeared.

Brutax contained his rage and placed it in the back of his mind. He would not forget the indecency Nezbelthar caused him. The Pure-blood would have to work with the agent for now. Although Nezbelthar's role in the situation escaped Brutax. He spoke again with a stoic stance.

“My lord, I have a conference room prepared for your arrival.” the Pure-blood bowed. “We should proceed there so you may grace us with your plans.”

“I will speak only to you and Nezbelthar.”

“Of course, my lord.” Brutax turned to lead the pale man to the meeting room.

“But I can assure you, It will be an intriguing conversation.”

* * *

The conference room was relatively barren. It's walls were void of any interesting patterns or designs. The only colour, available to the retina, was a steel grey. In the centre of the room there was a long, shining, rectangular table. It's edges were sharpened into perfectly chiseled points. There were holo computers stationed at each of the twelve seats. A more complex and advanced holo computer was stationed at the head of the table.

Upon entering the room, Serroth promptly sat down behind the table's end. Brutax sat down in the chair adjacent to his master. Nezbelthar bypassed the chairs and found a corner behind the Rattataki. He lay his shoulders into the wall and watched the pale man. Serroth leaned forward in his seat and bent his elbows on the cold surface. He allowed his chin to rest on his bony fists. A detestable smile crept across his face.

“Would you like to know what my ambitions are Brutax?” the Rattataki asked with a sickly sweet tone.

“I believe I would be better suited to your needs if I knew.” Brutax cautiously responded.

“I'm going to kill Darth Jadus.” The smile remained plastered on Serroth's skull.

“How do you intend to do that?” Darth Brutax considered revealing Serroth as a fool. However, the Rattataki had spoken with such impossible conviction. Brutax decided to humour the Sith lord. He didn't believe he could really change the course of events anyway.

“The entirety of my plan will be revealed in time.” Serroth's grin grew abnormally long. “You crave power. I promise you, power shall be your reward. The road to vengeance provides to the seeker of justice.” The irony of the statement caused Nezbelthar to glower behind his glare shades.

“Many of the galaxy's citizens will tell you vengeance is the path to destruction. Self destruction.” The dark lord mused his thoughts aloud. “While it is true that a weak man will find only pain along this path, there are those who fare otherwise. Vengeance is a powerful tool. It is a powerful motivator. The Empire you see today is a product of vengeance.” Nezbelthar fidgeted uncomfortably in his corner.

“The Empire only exists because of a hatred for the Jedi. Without the Jedi; there would be no Empire. Without the Republic; there would be no Dromand Kaas. The Empire did not build and expand out of necessity. It grew out of a burning desire for vengeance. The powers of the Emperor were brought on because of a quest for vengeance.” Throughout his spiel, Serroth continued to smile. “When your cause is vengeance, the galaxy will tremble.”

“You believe vengeance is the catalyst that can bring about power?” Brutax echoed doubtfully.

“I don't believe, I know.”

“Doesn't matter how mad you are. You can't kill Jadus all on your lonesome.” Nezbelthar countered from behind a mask of hair.

“You're right of course. Despite your unorthodox method of delivery. A war will be waged against Jadus. Every war needs soldiers.”

“How do you intend to create an army? The men and woman aboard this ship have no loyalty to you.” Brutax stated in disbelief.

“I don't appreciate doubt in my master plans. Whether or not I reveal every intricacy, to you, should not dispel you from my genius.” Serroth injected a hint of annoyance into his statement. “You will soon understand. Besides, army isn't quite the term I would use.”

The Rattataki raised his left arm into the air and beckoned for Nezbelthar. Serroth did not grace the ex agent with a single glance. The bearded man strode to table and grunted defiantly. The pale man gestured to the seat opposite Brutax. Nezbelthar nodded and grudgingly sat down.

“Nezbelthar, open up the Imperial databanks. I want access to external personnel records.”

Nezbelthar thought about a number of things he'd like to do for and to Serroth. His fear combined with a nagging tumour forced him to oblige with his orders. The agent pushed his glare shades further onto the bridge of his nose. The holographic computer opened and illuminated his face.

“I don't care for this fool. There is no scenario that allows this undisciplined individual to hack the Empire's records. This man is obviously exaggerated his skills to you. You have been tricked.” Brutax scoffed at the agent. He wanted to destroy the agent and gain favour with his new master, through doing so.

“I'm in.” Holographic code flashed across the screens in front of the three men.

“You would do well to hold your tongue. It would take a man, far greater than anyone aboard this ship, to deceive me.”

“Of course, my master.” Brutax apologized.

“Hmmmmm.” Serroth massaged his temple thoroughly. “Do you know who was the backbone of the Empire during the war?” Serroth asked. Brutax decided the question was rhetorical. He remained silent and waited for the Rattataki to continue. Nezbelthar did not come to the same conclusion.

“The Imperial citizens were, and still are, the driving power of the Empire. The Sith wouldn't have anything without the loyal population of the Empire.” Nezbelthar proudly proclaimed.

“A rather narrow view of the war. The citizens of the Empire were no more loyal or efficient than the Republic. Both were motivated for different reasons. Nevertheless, they were no more than soldiers in the grand scheme.” Serroth hissed at Nezbelthar. Brutax couldn't help but notice a rivalry of sorts between the two men. He made a mental note to investigate.

“What did the Empire have that spun the war in their favour? They had the bounty hunters.”

“The bounty hunters were a lawless group of lowlifes. They didn't deserve the emperor's attention. Those greedy bastards wouldn't know loyalty if it was shoved down their throats.” Nezbelthar scowled at the idea of the bounty hunter profession.

“They were perfect for those very reasons. Men and women driven by greed. Morals were not a concern for them. They were a ballistic weapon that the Empire was able to aim into the heart of the Republic. Paired with the Mandalorians, there wasn't a force quite like them.” Serroth paused to admire the depravity of the bounty hunters. “The Republic's external counterparts were the various smugglers. A group of space pirates pales in comparison.” Serroth explained his theory of the war.

“The bounty hunters remain in the Empire's pocket. Although it is more accurate to say they have cut a hole in the pocket. The bounty hunters are one of the key to success.” Serroth rapped his fingertips on the table. “I need you to open the database on bounty hunters. I want you to show me all the bounty hunters employed by neither Republic nor Empire.” Nezbelthar displayed a list of names in the holographic screen. “Now narrow it down to Rattataki bounty hunters.” The names flashed for a moment and then changed. Small descriptions and statistics were listed beneath each name.

“How disappointing. No one here will do. This will make things somewhat more difficult.” Serroth hummed disapprovingly. “Change the list to read all nonhuman bounty hunters. Same employment status.” Once again the names flashed. Serroth scanned the list with focused intensity. “Open the Imperial records on Nassani.” The hologram flared and the image was replaced with a Dathomirian Zabrak. Tribal tattoos covered his face and body like a canvas. His pointed horns matched the outline of his needle teeth.

“Nassani. The alien is wanted by both the Empire and the Republic. He is currently under the employ of Yorta the Hutt. The scumbag refused all jobs from the Republic and Empire when he started his bounty hunter career.” Nezbelthar's discontent showed while he spoke. “He served as a Republic trooper for a few years before becoming a criminal. The reason for his discharge isn't in the records. The man has an irrational hatred for both factions. He's a useless waste of space.” Nezbelthar clenched a fist and scowled.

“He's almost perfect. The Zabrak will serve his purpose, I assure you.” Serroth seemed giddy with excitement. “Nezbelthar, I want you to retrieve this bounty hunter. Bring him under my employ.” Serroth commanded.

“He's useless slime. Why would he serve you. You're a Sith, the political face of the Empire. Whether you've defected or not won't convince him to work for you. Besides, how can you afford a high cost hunter? You've only just returned from the dead. I know bantha fodder richer than you.” Nezbelthar rudely argued.

“You will curb your insults and opinions in my presence.” Nezbelthar felt the cold constrictive wires on his mind. He gasped for a moment in surprise. Serroth released him, having made his point. “Nassani will soon find me as his only suitable employer. Bring me the bounty hunter. The vessels of vengeance have been put in motion. This is simply one of the many stops along the space lanes.”

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen

HunterBoris's Avatar


HunterBoris
12.13.2011 , 07:03 AM | #10
Chapter 8

Nassani stared intensely across the vast, twisting gorge. The landscape was barren and filled with rough, ruby red sand. The dune sea before him appeared to be stained with the blood of a history of war and massacre. The gorge was the only piece of elevation that differed from the shifting grains of sand divided amongst the planet.

The bounty hunter estimated the gorge was easily eight thousand feet deep. A trained eye was required to properly observe the contents of the canyon's depths. The walls of the canyon were smooth and almost completely perpendicular to the wasted ground. Millions of years pouring sand down the canyon walls had chiseled the walls into a slick surface. The sand had slowly filled the canyon throughout the planet's history. In another million years there would be no more canyon.

Yellow eyes continued to survey the area with interest. Nassani's teeth were filed to *******ly carnivorous points. He wore a series of short horns on his head like a savage crown. Every square inch of his cracked skin was painted with tribal tattoos. His body was covered with a lime green blanket of ink. Black lines flowed around his face like rivers of ash, parting the green masses between. His eyes had a hardness to them that one only gains through an observation of pain and suffering. Their yellow irises shined with the soul of a keen predator.

The Zabrak wore smooth, metallic armour. The surface was slick, as the canyon's walls, in appearance. A closer inspection of the suit would reveal countless scratches and pits from blaster fire. The metal was depicted as black, with green highlights, to match the painting of the Zabrak's face. The mechanical case was filled to the brim with expensive, technological, equipment. An entire armoury of weapons and explosives was inserted deep into the man's deadly arsenal.

Two metal boots shuffled closer to the canyon's edge. The flowing sands brushed softly against the black armour. Nassani bent over the abyss and stared down towards the bottom. The twisting sands and wind obscured his view. The man hoisted a helmet from the ground and placed it firmly over his forehead. The mechanical latches locked sharply, in place, around his neck.

The helmet bore little resemblance to the Mandalorian armour it matched. The helmet's insides were carved to fit Nassani's horns without altering the dome's shape. The helmet was smooth to match the rest of it's armour. Nevertheless, four, thick breathing tubes connected to a re-breather on the front of the mask. Two rigid spines jutted, away from the face, behind the mask. One more dominant spine protruded straight backwards from the absolute peak of the dome. Two glowing green lights illuminated the eyes of the mask.

Nassani gazed through a fog of data and flashing images portrayed by the armour's interface. Different shades of green were the only variants of colour available to him. He spoke softly inside his helmet and peered, through the blanket of sand, again. The electronic eyes forced the fog into hiding and revealed the scene below.

At the bottom of the canyon there was a small encampment of space pirates. The encampment was a temporary site, likely intended for no more than three days. The tents were primitive by galactic standards. The canvas shelters provided an odd contrast to the advanced weaponry and vehicles in the surrounding area.

Once Nassani was satisfied with his survey, he stood up and walked away from the canyon. After walking ten metres from the cliff face, Nassani turned to face it once more. He consulted his on board computer to calculate his movements. The device spouted warnings from inside Nassani's head. The Zabrak ignored them and placed one leg behind the other in a sprinting position.

The air sped past the Zabrak while he ran. The combined effort of his powerful muscles and the high end machinery propelled him forwards at surreal speeds. Piles of sand were whisked into the air around him throughout momentum. Nassani quickly found himself at the edge of the pit. He slammed his boots into the ground and launched himself into the abyss.

The spinning sand and wind was disrupted by the new element. Nassani showed no sign of discomfort or panic while plummeting towards an all too solid ground. The system's alarm blared inside his skull with a electronic warning. It wailed the calculations were impossible. Nassani shut down the slight annoyance and focused on the rushing ground. He waited until the pirates could have seen him, had they turned skywards. Only then did his jet pack roar to life and spew fire into the sky.

The thrusters, strapped to his back, buckled and groaned while they slowed his descent. A few of the pirates turned their eyes to the sky and shouted in surprise. Before they could draw their weapons Nassani had shot and killed, two of them, with a pair of blasters. The others scrambled to find cover from the blaster fire that rained down upon them. Another pair of men felt their bodies sink into the sand before Nassani's boots connected with the ground.

There were roughly thirty men scattered around the encampment. One of these men was unlucky enough to be standing next to Nassani's landing zone. The fire, from the thrusters, lit the man on fire before they shut down. He rolled around in the sand in a poor attempt to extinguish the fire.

Without missing a beat, Nassani flipped his aim towards the men rushing towards him. They were unable to fire any shots before they joined the body count. The rest of the men had finally been given enough time to open fire on the surprising intruder. Nassani twisted his armoured body and rolled into cover behind an armoured rover. Blaster fire pattered against the metal plates in an endless pattern.

Three men were taking cover behind an overturned table. A deconstructed pazzak deck was strewn in the nearby sand. The men rotated their concentrated fire on Nassani's cover. None of them wanted to be in the open for too long. A soft electronic beeping was heard in repetition between the men. The pirates let out one swift cry of shock before the thermal detonator exploded.

Sand and grit was tossed twelve metres into the air. The shroud of dust covered Nassani while he slid into the nearest tent. He fired four blaster shots before passing into the canvas. Three caught a man squarely in the chest and the fourth struck the blaster from another man's hand.

Nassani found himself face to face with another pirate. This man had been attempting to sneak up on the Zabrak via the tent. The man and Nassani exchanged glances for only a split second before the armoured bounty hunter embraced the pirate with a bone crunching hug. The pair barrelled out the tent's front flap directly into the pirate mob. Nassani slipped a thermal detonator into his captive's pocket before kicking the pirate in the direction of his allies.

The man was caught on both shoulders by two of his colleagues. The pair tried to upright their panicking companion before the familiar beeping was heard. A fine red mist mixed with the sand and resounding explosion.

Nassani launched back into his motions of destruction immediately. He dodged blaster shots and returned his own with deadly accuracy. He twisted and turned like a well oiled machine built with one purpose. There were only twelve pirates left at this point.

“Things are about to go sour for you.” An electronic voice spoke from inside Nassani's helmet.

Nassani turned behind him in surprise. He found himself face to face with the business end of a missle launcher. Someone had been hiding inside an armoured vehicle during the battle. The pirate's tank had Nassani targeted in a shot that no one could miss. Nassani's armour was good. It still wouldn't survive a tank's missiles at this range. Nassani lowered his weapons while the pirates circled him. Nassani allowed himself a moment to curse his oversight. The pirates were speaking to him but he wasn't paying any attention. He was only focused on two things now. The multiple ways he could escape the situation and the man who had hijacked his helmet's communications system.

“I expected better from you, bounty hunter. Well, no, that's a lie. In case you haven't figured it out; I hacked into your helmet. You bounty hunters are all the same. You spend millions of credits on upgrading your armour and weapons. You still can't be bothered to upgrade your electronic security.”

Nassani's security system was by no means easy to crack. He had hired a professional hacker to custom build a system for him. The man on the other end of the line was no amateur. Throughout his speech the pirates grew angrier at Nassani's lack of acknowledgement.

“Now I'd love to leave you to rot. Hell, you probably have some hair brained plan to get out of your mess. Who knows? Maybe it'll actually work. I can't afford to deal with that. I need you to come with me. First we need to get you out of this little mess though don't we. So watch this, you lucky bastard.”

At that point the tank exploded. There was no prediction to that event on Nassani's part. Shrapnel blasted across the battlefield while Nassani rolled towards his opponents. He didn't have time to retrieve his weapons in the current situation. However every good bounty hunter has back up weaponry.

The Zabrak slapped his hands on their opposite wrist computers. A pair of wrist mounted flame throwers roared to life. The bounty hunter sprayed the waves of fire towards his enemies in a sweeping motion. His wrists crossed back and forth over one another. The fire mimicked his motions with a ghost image. The remaining pirates were quickly disposed of by Nassani's extended reach. Finally after Nassani's flame throwers had been disengaged, only one unarmed opponent remained.

The remaining pirate rolled around the sand in a fetal postition. The undignified mess of a man was missing one of his feet. The bloody stump leaked red liquid into the sand with a steady flow. Nassani retrieved his duo of blasters before kneeling beside the man. He held the man's shoulder with one hand and aimed his blaster with the other. The pirate whimpered out of pain and fear.

Nassani found himself surprised for the second time that day. It was the first two times of the month for the bounty hunter. A blaster shot sped across the canyon and buried itself inside the pirate's temple. Nassani dropped the limp body in disgust and annoyance. He had needed one of the pirates alive in order to complete his bounty. Yorta the Hutt would not be pleased with the mission's outcome.

“Do you have any idea how difficult that shot was?” the gruff voice slipped through communications. “Not the crippled pirate, mind you. I mean the rover. I had to shoot past your rather bulbous head to land it. Straight up the launcher and into the missile’s recently opened casket. I doubt any of bounty hunter could achieve that.” The man taunted.

Nassani turned towards the cliff face and aimed his wrist towards it. His armoured wrist launched a high end grappling hook up the side of the canyon. The metal hooks forced themselves into the smooth, stone wall. Nassani tugged on the line to assure its stability. Then the green Zabrak starting his ascent back to his ship.

“You're not very talkative are you? I've got a proposal for you. I'll be waiting for you at the top.”

* * *

It took the bounty hunter the better part of two hours to scale the canyon's walls. When he reached his ship he found the landing ramp had been lowered into the sand. The scraggly agent, known as Nezbelthar, sat cockily on the ramp. He jumped to his feet at the sight of the bounty hunter. Nassani unlatched his helmet and placed in the nook between his arm and chest.

“You've cost me a job.” the Zabrak's voice was calm, yet laced with annoyance.

“Wrong, I've gained you a job. I hate bounty hunters and I want to make that perfectly clear. I'm not dealing with you by choice. Someone wants to meet you though.”

“I don't do Imperial contracts.”

“So, you've guessed I'm Imperial? Yeah, I was once.” Nezbelthar held a tone of longing. “Doesn't matter. The man that wants to see you is as far from the Empire as possible. Killing him would be a great service to the Emperor. Though he doesn't know it. The fecking scum is going to feck up the whole galaxy.” Nezbelthar spat into the sand.

“One should not speak of their superiors with that tone.” Nassani stated.

“You can't even begin to understand the nerf dung I'm caught in. That's besides the point. All you need to do is come to the coordinates I provide and meet this man.”

“Why would I do this? What can I gain. Why shouldn't I leave and return to Hutta?” The bounty hunter cynically replied.

“Because of this. Don't ask how he can afford it. I'll be damned if I know.” The agent tapped his wrist computer and sent a stream of data towards Nassani.

“Are these figures accurate?” the bounty hunter studied his own computer. Numbers flashed into his bulging bank account.

“That's the first half. The next half when you meet Serroth.” Nezbelthar spoke the name with putrid hatred.

“All this just to meet a man?” Nassani continued to hold a cynical view.

“Serroth is not an ordinary man. Accept the offer and come into the ship. I don't have all day.” The agent made no effort to hide his irritation.

The bounty hunter thought over the possible outcomes for a moment. In all likelihood it was a trap. Nevertheless, the nature of the encounter had piqued Nassani's curiosity. The large sum of money had also pushed the scales in favour of the proposal.

“Alright send me the coordinates and I'll meet this Serroth.”

“Of course you will. But if you don't mind, I'll leave on the ship I came in on.” With that statement Nezbelthar entered the bounty hunter's ship.

By: Rogan Lovse
Graath
Shades of the Eternal Void
Serroth
Chosen