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One Light in the Darkness


bright_ephemera's Avatar


bright_ephemera
07.13.2013 , 07:00 PM | #11
Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
[spoiler]For once, Ffon had no pithy comment in response; I liked him better already.
Fantastic reaction.
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Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
07.16.2013 , 02:38 PM | #12
Spoiler


He came at me, roaring again as he did. I reached out with the Force to slow his advanced, but this creature was a good deal stronger than Ffon Althe and – somehow – even uglier. He brushed my blade aside, not reacting to the wound across his arm, and reached back with his right arm to deliver a blow. I attempted to dodge it, but he caught me across the shoulder, sending my flying backwards and into an inconveniently placed pillar.

I shook away the stars and crawled to my feet, rolling out of the way of his headlong charge. Fortunately, he had not anticipated my quick recovery, so he crashed into the pillar at full speed, dazing him long enough for me to recover my sword and roll away some distance. I studied him closely with the moment I had bought myself; close combat would be suicide, and he appeared to have some kind of resistance to the Force. Not the most helpful combination for me.

<You are weak, Sith.> His voice was guttural, almost a growl, but beneath the raw rage I could sense something almost like regret. <I will consume you, I will escape from this prison, and I shall again serve the will of Tulak Hord.>

He came at me again, but this time I was ready. With the assistance of a carefully timed push with the Force, I used his unsubtle approach to throw him off balance and into another pillar, powered almost entirely by his own inertia. I decided to use the opportunity to make my pitch.

“That…” my voice trailed off as I wiped away blood from a cut on my lip. “That sounds quite lovely, only I don’t plan to die, at least not here. Not now. If you aren’t stupid, you don’t need to, either. There is a way for us to work out a mutually beneficial resolution.”

I could not claim to know Khem Val well, but I was still shocked by his reaction; he laughed.

<You are amusing, little creature.> His eyes positively glowed. <I do what I must. For Tulak Hord and the Sith.>

He suddenly lurched forward, catching me by surprise. This time, I had no chance – Force-assisted or not – to evade his blow, which sent me flying across parts of the chamber I hadn’t even noticed existed. He watched, with expectant eyes, as I slowly pushed myself to my hands and knees. Both of my legs were in bad shape – I could feel the pain easily through my attempts to numb my body with the Force. The cut on my lip had opened further and something bad had happened on my forehead, judging from the blood I could feel on my face. My left wrist felt broken, as well, but the pain was manageable.

<Give up, little human. I do not need you to suffer, I only need your energy.>

I laughed, which seemed to surprise him.

“Did that pick-up line work in the days of Tulak Hord, Khem?” He seemed confused. “Can I call you Khem? I do feel like once someone has broken several of your bones it’s entirely appropriate to be familiar with them.”

<What is this game?> Unbidden, the mental image of Khem Val scratching his head in confusion appeared.

“You say you serve the Sith.” I spoke slowly, deliberately. I needed the time to mend the wounds I could; the academy had done little to teach us of healing techniques, but I had made a point of studying them in my spare time. “I am a Sith. I am the strongest of my class. I will become a Sith Lord’s apprentice, and when I do I will need servants just as Tulak Hord did. You will have a place then, a place where you can reclaim your rightful place in the galaxy.” I tried to clench my left hand into a fist to punctuate my recruitment speech, but the pain from my wrist was too great.

<I do not think you are strong enough, human. I have bested you already, you simply do not know it.>

He was still talking, though, not attacking. I could feel the refreshing coolness of the Force flow through the bruised and broken parts of my body, like a cold, refreshing shower on a hot day. I need but a few more moments. Luckily, I was always the charming one of the family.

“You say that I am beaten, but I do not and cannot agree with your analysis. I do not sound beaten. I do not feel beaten. Perhaps you have overestimated the level of your success to some degree, perhaps your centuries of solitary torment wondering about the final fate of your fallen idol’s legacy has altered your facility for appropriate analysis, I am not certain.” Almost ready now, almost ready. “What I am certain of is that in this long, rambling, speech, I have yet to demonstrate any interest in arriving at a firm point. In fact one might argue that I am merely speaking at such length in order to arrive at a particular point of time at which point I will be proven right.”

Khem shook his head in frustration. <What do these words mean, human?>

I smiled toothily at him. “That you missed your chance.”

He charged again, but this time I was ready and the Force was fully with me. I sprinted out of the way and listened with great joy as I heard him crash into a pile of rubble. Roaring, he came back at me, swinging his arms as if to claw my head from my neck. With the aid of the Force, I dodged his blows easily, then pushed him away with a burst of energy. He managed to partially resist the first wave, but the second caught him firmly and threw him against the wall.

I could see the efforts he had already made had taxed him greatly; he was breathing more heavily than a Hutt attempting to move its head, and I could sense his frustration despite his efforts to mask it.

<You are not a true warrior, human. You speak and talk but you cannot fight. How can I serve someone I cannot respect on the battlefield?>

“Perhaps you are right, and I am no true warrior. Does a Sith need to be a true warrior to be strong? I think not, my mind is my weapon.” I lightened my tone. “I say again, Khem Val, you need not be my enemy, you do not want to be my enemy. Swear yourself to my service and let us end this.”

He considered that for a moment.

<I am a warrior, I know only the scent and thrill of battle. Your mind will not satisfy my hunger for war.>

As soon as he finished speaking, I knew I had won. Khem Val would never win a battle of the mind. An outright fight would have been winnable for me, but at great cost. I could sense that Khem could be a powerful tool – even ally – if I was intelligent about how I used him. His presence in the Force was as dark as any Sith I had encountered, but his single-minded nature about battle could be redirected if I was careful.

I spoke carefully, but firmly. He appreciated strength, and apparently even recognized the value of mental and psychological prowess, so I had to avoid coming across as patronizing. Oh, how I would have loved to see Harkun deal with him.

“We are not completely alike, Khem Val, but we share many of the same desires. I wish to bring down those that have wrong me, as do you. I seek revenge and retribution for crimes committed against those I held dear, and so do you. I am no warrior, but you most definitely are, and if you join me today, I shall ensure you do not go hungry for as long as I live.” I met his eyes with a firm gaze and dropped my mask slightly to let him sense the fire beneath the surface. “My path is not the same as Tulak Hord's, but you will find it more than fruitful. Swear yourself to me and I swear that to you.”

He was silent for a long time, which satisfied me regardless of his decision. If he chose to refuse my offer, my wounds were sufficiently attended to that I could fight, and I knew how to deal with him. If not, I had a very strange new friend.

<I will follow you, human, as long as you do as you promise. Too long have I slumbered here in the dark, while the enemies of Tulak Hord run rampant. Too long have I allowed my master’s enemies to move unchecked. My blade will run red with the blood of our enemies, my hunger will be sated by those that stand in our way!>

“Yes. Of course. Very good, Khem.” I wondered if it might be possible to put him on some sort of leash. “Are there any other artifacts in this chamber, Khem? Anything that might be of value in our quest?”

He thought on that for a moment. <There is a device within my prison chamber, it is a map of Sith artifacts. I never cared for such things, I care only for war. I served Tulak Hord at Yn and Chabosh.>

I nodded sagely. “Be a dear and pick it up, I believe Lord Zash may have use of it.” He began moving in that direction. “Oh, and Khem?” He turned to face me. “Do adjust your loincloth.”
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
07.16.2013 , 04:42 PM | #13
Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
“Oh, and Khem?” He turned to face me. “Do adjust your loincloth.”
Bahahahahahaha!
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress

alaurin's Avatar


alaurin
07.17.2013 , 03:32 PM | #14
Quote: Originally Posted by Lesaberisa View Post
“Oh, and Khem?” He turned to face me. “Do adjust your loincloth.”
GAH!!!!! I think I may need to bleach my mind now.....

Oh, and I am totally loving Veresia's story!

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
07.18.2013 , 11:16 PM | #15
Luckily I have extra bleach lying around! Actually, the loincloth was one of those things my weird mind always wondered about - it's always in perfect condition, even after all those years. Why can't my laundry be the same?

--------------------

I gave up the façade of strength as we headed back towards the entrance, slowing down and allowing myself to limp rather than forcing myself to grit through the pain. I wondered how I would explain Ffon Althe’s death, to say nothing of the gigantic monster I had with me, particularly one that wore nothing more than a blade and a graying loincloth. We walked in silence; I was too busy trying to direct my limited Force healing at my injuries to even attempt to talk. Khem, I had decided, simply wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

He made a sound that might have been a chuckle as we passed Ffon Althe’s body, but I did not feel it was prudent to ask for clarification. We passed the corpse of Yashia’s acolyte friend, reminding me that I would have to pass along some unfortunate news as well. For a moment, I considered asking Khem to carry the body out with us, but I worried he would simply eat the corpse instead. The few archaeologists and other scholars that had been in the tomb when I first arrived had cleared out, so our presence went undetected until we reached the entrance and stepped back out into the hostile Korriban atmosphere.

Yashia’s eyes grew as big as saucers when she saw Khem emerge from the archway, and she made no effort to hide her unease, shifting from one foot to the other. Her right arm slipped into place on her rifle, but her fear made the gesture far too obvious.

<Little human, may I eat this one?> Khem sounded almost plaintive. <She is weak, and I hunger for sustenance.>

I frowned at him. “You will do no such thing; Yashia is my friend. Had you considered more carefully, you would have realized the pureblood corpse in the tomb was a better choice.” I turned to Yashia. “I am sorry, but your friend did not survive the trip into the tomb. We found his body inside, but it was not safe enough to take with us.”

Yashia didn’t say anything, looking down at the ground to hide the tears I had already seen; her sadness was impossible to miss with the Force too, even within the cacophony of terrible emotion let loose on Korriban. Khem remained where he stood, awkwardly staring at Yashia and awaiting a command. I suppose it’s a blessing he didn’t kill her. I moved next to her, wrapping my arm around her shoulder to offer what comfort I could.

“I brought his medallion back with me. Is there someone at the academy I can return it to. Or, perhaps, did you want….?"

She looked up, brushing away the tears. “His father…his father commands the guard outside the chambers of the Dark Council. If you could return the medallion, maybe...” Her voice trailed off as her eyes gazed off into nothing. “I would greatly appreciate it.”

I nodded, and pat her gently on the shoulder, motioning with my head to Khem that it was time to move on. Lady Zash would be waiting, and there was nothing more I could do for Yashia. There never was anything I could do. For her, for Kory, for anyone. I grimaced and pushed on, trying my best to ignore the gawkers that lined the path back to the academy. One would almost think they had never seen a giant monster wearing a loincloth and wielding a massive blade before.

Hopefully Lord Zash and Harkun could be dispensed with quickly, as the wave of nausea that I had successfully held back for so long was testing the limits of my healing abilities. I would need time to rest, recuperate, and research; if a single Dashade could pose such a threat, I would obviously be in way over my head if I tried anything drastic soon.

You will need to live like a Sith, learn to think like one, find ways to turn their strengths into weaknesses and your weaknesses into strengths. The enormity of my weakness was daunting, but there was little I could do about it now. No – I needed to play the dutiful apprentice, and wait for my opportunities.

Zash and Harkun were standing over the latter’s desk when we returned to the chamber. Harkun’s face was red with anger, and his complexion was not helped by his reaction to seeing me, let alone by the fearful look he could not hide when Khem Val entered the room. Zash had a knowing smile, but like all of her smiles it was as sincere as everything else on this planet. There was something dangerous lurking below the surface of that woman, though I knew I could not hope to know what. Someone to watch, though. Perhaps she might be an ally, perhaps an avenue for advancement…or simply a particularly adept opponent.

“You, slave! Why are you here? Lord Zash commanded you to return only when you completed her task, and I know you could not possibly have done so.” He paused, then pointed a quaking finger at Khem. “And you bring this…creature…before us. It is an outrage!” The spittle forming at the corners of his mouth was almost as amusing as his newfound subservience to Zash.

She looked at me for a long moment, causing an involuntary shudder to pass through me. For whatever reason, her gaze made me feel like a piece of meat being judged by a butcher, and I did not like the experience. After she was satisfied, she nodded to let me know I could speak.

“In fact, Harkun, I completed her task and recovered this Dashade warrior, who now serves me as he once served Tulak Hord.”

He sputtered. “T-that is impossible. Only Ffon could possibly be talented enough to accomplish that.”

I frowned disingenuously at him, pretending to wipe away a tear. “Sadly, Ffon Althe’s excursion to the tomb did not end so well. I imagine the broken neck will be problematic for any future career as a Sith.” My frown twisted into a smile that was – perhaps – a touch more feral and vicious than I had intended, judging from the way Harkun stepped unsteadily backwards.

“She has admitted to murdering another acolyte. That is sacrilege!” His cheeks were as read as his tattoo. No doubt, his ugly Sith grandmother would have cherished the resemblance to her, as well.

Zash silenced him with a slash of her hand. “Nonsense. She has outlined the failure of Ffon Althe, your chosen acolyte, who you chose to favor for no reason other than your own blind prejudices.” For a moment, it seemed as if Harkun might summon the suicidal courage to challenge her, but his jaw snapped shut. “Did you think I had not noticed the way his competition was left conveniently vulnerable and ended up dead whenever it might pose a challenge. Every one of his rivals….save one.” Her eyes tracked back to me. I felt that uncomfortable ripple up my spine again, and had to force myself to remain still. After a moment that felt like forever, she looked away. “Leave us, Overseer. I have business to attend to. I will need some privacy to speak with my new apprentice.”

He bowed in her direction, and left in a huff. I did not trust Zash – could not trust her – but some part of me could not help but like her. I stepped forward and took the seat she offered.

“You have done well….Veresia, I believe it is.” It was entirely forced - I wondered if she realized how transparent she was being. Still, I did not need to provoke her, so I nodded. “You have impressed me throughout your time here at the academy. You have overcome the obstacles in place for every student, you even managed to best an overseer and his prized pupil. All in all, a very impressive display of skill and intelligence. I must also commend you for your performance on this last task – not only did you secure the map that I requested, you also managed to acquire your own Dashade warrior.”

I waved away her praise, feeling dangerously close to appreciating it. “It was nothing, Lord Zash. I simply set my mind to the task at hand and accomplished it as efficiently as possible.” I winced as my legs and wrist ached in concert.

“Still, it is an impressive show of determination, especially after the….unfortunate death of your friend.” I grit my teeth at the mention of Kory, but said nothing. “What is it that drives you? Why is it that you find a way to succeed when failure is so much more likely?”

There was only one answer I could give, though I could not give it without risking so much more, if I wasn’t careful.

“There are debts to be paid, and people that must pay them. Nothing more, nothing less. I have my reasons.”

Zash stroked her chin, mulling that over. “Yes, I do sense your anger. You do well to hide it, but there is something more to it.” For a moment, I feared that everything would come undone, but she seemed satisfied with that superficial understanding. “No matter. I have accepted you as my apprentice and notified the Dark Council of my intentions to train you further in the Dark Side of the Force. Do you accept this position?”

It was not a question, really. Not unless I have a death wish. I rose from the chair, but chose not to kneel. I knew it was expected, customary for a new apprentice, but I would give no Sith the satisfaction of bending the knee to them. That, and I am not entirely sure that my knees are capable of bending. Zash did not seem to notice, anyway. “I accept, my lord. I am ready to learn, anything and everything you have to teach me.”

She nodded. “For the time being, you need to rest. I can sense your pain, though you try to hide it. Use that time to study further and to learn more of your new servant.” She cleared her throat. “He is a dangerous creature, but also quite useful. Do not let his talents go to waste, the prowess of the Dashade is legendary.”

I nodded, not trusting my suddenly dry throat or unsteady nerves.

“When you have sufficiently recovered, join me on Dromund Kaas. We have a great deal of work to do.” Her eyes hardened, flinty steel where before there had been only faux warmth. “Do make sure to recover quickly. I do not wish to have my time wasted.”

Not seeing any point in discussing it further, I nodded again and began limping for the door.

I was now a Sith apprentice. One step closer to where I needed to be. One step closer to damnation.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
07.21.2013 , 07:50 PM | #16
Minor note: Appearance by my SW, no real spoilers.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I remained on Korriban for a week, to ensure proper recuperation from my injuries and complete as much study of healing techniques as I could. Unsurprisingly, the texts within the library were more focused on techniques for causing pain in others, even one’s own family and friends. There was even significant study of an ability that would steal almost the entirety of someone’s life energy and give it to the caster. The incantation, labeled simply as “Sacrifice” had notes that stated the source had to be a trusting companion, the implications of which were disturbing to me.

Still, there was a wealth of knowledge to browse through; both enlightening tomes that would expand my ability to heal those around me and dark secrets I now knew to avoid. I now fully understood what lay ahead of me as Zash’s apprentice; it would be neither easy nor pleasant…I would have to compromise myself at times to maintain my cover. I was not ready to confront the Sith that haunted my nightmares – perhaps I never would be – but I might be if I walked that narrow path between temptation and corruption.

For most of that week, I remained sequestered within the archives and libraries. It wasn’t simply that I wanted to focus on the knowledge I was accumulating; I was also afraid to face the rumors that had been spreading in the wake of the death of Ffon Althe – that, I had been at least partially responsible. That alone would not have troubled me, but the salacious details had turned what had been justice into a vile and unspeakable crime. No doubt, the presence of a Dashade servant did little to ease the concerns of those disquieted by the stories.

I could do nothing about those whispers, not yet at least. Though Zash had not appeared to care much, I knew that Harkun and others would pounce on the chance to strike back for what had – technically speaking – been a violation of the academy’s rules. It was almost amusing – how tightly some Sith clung to rules and propriety when it suited them even as they served an order that eagerly sought out destruction and death on a scale unmatched by anyone in history. The sycophants that defended a system that allowed such evil were even more sickening than those that formed it; they should have known better, but blinded themselves to the truth.

On the third day, I had finally worked up enough courage to present the medallion I had from Yashi’a friend to his father; it was the least I could do having given my word. The man had chilled me to my bone, sounding glad to hear of his son’s death and almost hoping to hear it was an inglorious and painful one. He was the sort of man that not only served the Sith, but did so with a smile on his face. It was with great pleasure that I dashed his hopes by regaling him with a story of his son’s bravery – the acolyte that had challenged the most dangerous of Sith tombs and come within a hair’s breadth of succeeding.

The brief respite had had to end, though – Zash did not have infinite patience, and neither did I. I would accomplish nothing by remaining on Korriban any longer than was productive; it would only give my enemies time to plot against me, and I knew they already were. Harkun had seen me in the archives one night and would have certainly attempted to strike me down had he not been so tied down by his precious Sith traditions. Others would be no friendlier, no doubt seeing my death as an opportunity for advancement.

And so it was that I found myself at the landing pad for shuttle departures for the Dromund Kaas, my favorite Dashade hovering around me like an oversized and hideous puppy. A violent one, too.

<I am pleased to be returning to Dromund Kaas. We will find greater challenges there. None that will rival the days of Tulak Hord, but I will trust in you, Little Sith.>

At some point during our would-be honeymoon phase, he had begun referring to me as “Little Sith”, though he refused to clarify whether it was meant to be affectionate, a threat, or simply a reminder that I was not nearly as tall as him. I suspected it was a threat, but I did not have a strong handle on his character yet, only that he seemed sincere in his acceptance of my commands, and as his place as my servant. I frowned at that word; I was not comfortable with having servants, let alone one like Khem Val.

“Rest assured, Khem, when we are through with Zash and her machinations, I will make sure you are kept appropriately challenged.” He gave me a dubious look, so I continued. “Though you do not know of it yet, I have a plan that will see you gorged to your fill…if we don’t die along the way.”

He was silent for a moment.

<I can accept this; it is better to die a glorious death in service to my master than live an eternal existence trapped like I was before. If you fail to deliver on your promises….if you fail to deliver on your promises, I will find a way to break the chain that links us and I will consume you.>

I waved away his threat. “Yes, yes, we’ve been over this before. In your prison, remember?” He looked nonplussed by my response. “If you want to spend your free time studying for ways to free yourself and find another master, by all means, please do. I think you will find you have no reason for complaint about me, however.”

<For your sake, Little Sith, I hope not.>

I yawned and turned away, pleased to hear the whine of the arriving shuttle’s repulsorlifts. Khem was not one for witty banter, and I had been starved for real conversation after Kory…after I had lost Kory. The docents within the libraries had been more than happy to discuss arcane Sith rituals, but they did not understand the needs of the little girl that had lost her family, or the grown woman that desperately wanted friends, anyone, to replace it.

The shuttle landed, an Mandate-class model, if I recognized it correctly. Diomedes would have known; he had a mind for organization and classification, but now he was most likely resting in a shallow grave on Ithaca. I sighed heavily and marched up the ramp to board the ship, sensing Khem behind me. I slid past a crewmember and made my way to the cabin Zash had booked for us. It proved acceptable – a small refresher , a view-screen for entertainment purposes and two beds. They looked a little short for Khem, but he could make do. [i}And even if he couldn’t, it was not my problem.[/i] I sat down on one, claiming it for my own, while Khem sat opposite me, glowering.

Unexpectedly, the door behind us slid open again, revealing an angry looking Sith Pureblood, followed somewhat reluctantly by a blue Twi’lek with a shock collar around her neck. I even recognized the model, as my sympathy went out to girl. No one who had not been a slave could understand how demeaning the collar was, and it was clear the Sith in control of it would never even bother trying.

“What are you doing here, human filth? This is my cabin.” The pureblood was staring at me with piercing yellow eyes. Her presence in the force was wholly unguarded…and uninviting – a black morass of hatred and vile emotions.

“I am Lord Zash’s apprentice. You will show me the respect you choose not to show to your companion.” The Sith glowered at me, then shifted her ire to the Twi’lek as she moved to sit down next to me.

“Vette,” I heard her murmur quietly.

“Veresia,” I replied with a slight smile. “I am not as monstrous as your colleague, despite my companion’s appearance." Vette’s eyes went as big as saucers as she took Khem in.

<I recommend we not play sabacc, Twi’lek. I have an excellent sabacc face.>

The Twi’lek eyed him curiously, while the Sith stomped her feet while standing in the doorway. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming from her nostrils, but I could have been wrong. After an awkward pause, Vette finally responded. “Well, there go my evening’s plans.”

Khem nodded along with her. <That was a joke. I hate sabacc.>

“How about pazaak?”

We sat in silence for nearly a minute.

“This is…unacceptable! Darth Baras should have known better than to arrange for my transport on a shuttle where I would have to share a room with the likes of you. It is abhorrent enough that I must walk about with the Twi’lek.”

I glanced over at Vette, who shrugged. “She gets cranky sometimes.”

The Sith was stomping around all over the cabin now, hands curled into fists and nostrils flaring in rage. I had not thought her skin could get any redder, but she had found a way. “This is an outrage. I am Malicineve, servant to Darth Baras. I am not to be trifled with.”

I was getting bored with her antics. “Oh, sit down. It’ s a long trip to Dromund Kaas, and I won’t have the likes of you putting scuff marks on the floor that I’ll be held responsible for. You look ridiculous.”

For a moment, as I felt the anger within her, I wondered if she would attack me then and there. Thankfully - I had no wish to fight - it subsided somewhat, and she sat down next to Khem Val. The two shared an awkward look.

It was going to be a long trip.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
07.25.2013 , 09:44 AM | #17
The voyage to Dromund Kaas might have been almost pleasant had it not been for Malicineve. When she was awake, she ranted endlessly about her future as the greatest Sith of our era, one that would crush the Republic and bring about a new destiny for the Empire. When she was asleep, she drooled on her pillow and snored, filling the cabin with a sound similar to those made by a dying tauntaun. Khem had relinquished his spot on the bed and instead paced furiously in the room and up and down the surrounding area of the ship, no doubt traumatizing anyone he ran into. I hoped he had not eaten any one.

Vette was pleasant enough company, though I didn’t need the Force to sense her fear of her master and her disgust for the collar she was forced to wear. No one who has not been a slave can understand how demeaning the experience was, how it stripped you of your sense of self-worth, how it debased your very existence when you lived only at the pleasure of a master wielding a whip. There was no worse feeling in the galaxy than realizing you are not a person; you are simply property to be disposed of when no longer desired. In the few minutes we were able to speak with Malicineve out of the room, it became clear that Vette felt the same way.

Hearing the pain and sorrow in her voice was more difficult than I would have though. I had to resist the temptation to attempt to strike Malicineve down and remove the collar myself. It will do you no good to give in to such base desires; even if you survive the attempt, Vette will not. I busied myself by spending time on the Holonet, doing what research I could on Zash to better understand the woman I would be working with. I may be her apprentice, but I do not serve her. Not now, not ever.

When we arrived at the spaceport on the Imperial capital, Malicineve stormed off without so much as a second thought, forcing Vette to carry both of their suitcases. I thought of offering to help, but decided not to risk the Sith’s wrath; it would be dangerous to risk angering the apprentice of someone as feared as Darth Baras. Instead, I slung my bag over my shoulder, ignoring Khem’s mute offer of assistance, and made my way to the door.

The spaceport itself was a dull affair, much like a conversation with Khem. There was the usual mix of Imperial functionaries, military personnel, Sith and civilians that looked like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were. I did not blame them – off to one side I could see security personnel detaining an entire family, with one of the guards waving what looked like a shock prod at one of the children. I could feel the anger rising within me, but I had to restrain myself. It will be difficult to mask my intentions if I go after every Sith or Imperial acting against my conscience.

I found myself saying that a lot, but it was far easier to say and a lot harder to actually put into practice; it was also becoming all too easy to use it as an excuse for inaction.

I considered myself fortunate that I did not hear the girl's plaintive, “Daddy” or see her tears, until I was almost out of the main waiting area. Khem and I passed through the first round of security without much difficulty – surprising, given the looks that he was garnering from the various personnel throughout the area. Once we’d crossed past the last checkpoint in the zone, though, we found ourselves confronted by a large cyborg flanked by a pair of large Trandoshans. I decided to take the offensive.

“Khem, I must congratulate you on the success of your efforts. I had no idea you would be this adept at finding an appropriately intimidating chauffer for our stay on Dromund Kaas. You have done well.” I detected a momentary flash of confusion from him, but he nodded along. “A strapping man, if advanced in years, and two lovely Trandoshans, no doubt cultural attaches here for our educational benefit.”

The man was not amused, staring down at me with one human eye and one cyborg. His biological one seemed even colder and inhumane than the mechanical one, somehow. “Amusing. As will be your death if you do not show me the appropriate level of respect.”

I shrugged slightly, then gestured towards him while facing my companion. “Khem, I know you’re on a diet, but perhaps instead of consuming shuttle personnel you can eat him instead.” I punctuated the suggestion with a bright smile at everyone involved in the conversation.

Khem considered the prospect for a moment. <I am sorry, Little Sith. He is twisted, more machine than man now. It would probably cause indigestion.>

I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to know what that would entail, exactly, so I nodded sadly. “It appears I must hear him out, then. Hopefully he is more interesting than your bunkmate from the shuttle.”

The cyborg, whoever he was, seemed to be about ready to burst from pent-up anger. “I am Darth Skotia, child, the master of your master. I know you must view Lady Zash as some paragon of Sith values, but she is an upstart and you are but a toy. A weak, pathetic, toy that destroyed a more worthy apprentice.”

Oh, this is precious.

“Do you mean Ffon Althe?” I kept my voice as even and neutral as possible.

“I do indeed. He was the model for Sith perfection.” There was anger in his voice, but also annoyance. He must have plotted with Harkun and others to get his favored apprentice in place for some time. I wondered if he might have been planning for Zash’s demise at Ffon’s hands.

Dead perfection, then.” I smiled viciously at his poorly hidden reaction. “You must have an odd sense of what perfection means. Perhaps you require a new dictionary, I must assume yours would describe Dromund Kaas as pleasant and Darth Baras as thin.”

His dark skin hid most of the flush that took hold over his face, but he could not mask the rage that was threatening to engulf me. Truth be told, I almost felt sorry for the man…if it took so little to cause him to lose his self-control, it was a wonder that he had not been struck down by some rival years ago. “You are lucky that I am in a forgiving mood. Luckier still that I respect the traditions and rules that order me not to strike you down where you stand. Remember that, for next time you will not be so lucky.”

He pushed past me roughly, his spiky armor digging through my robes and into my skin. I bit my tongue to keep from gasping; I would not let him have any satisfaction from our encounter. Once he was safely out of range, I let out a soft gasp. Much to my surprise, Khem reacted instantaneously, reaching my side and putting his hand on my shoulder. His grip was suprisingly gentle.

<Are you injured, Little Sith?>

“Why Khem, who knew you would be my knight in shining armor I always dreamed of?” The sarcasm seemed lost on him, but it was hard to tell because of the whole unreadable Dashade phisiology issue. We stared at each other for a long moment, then made our way towards the exit. After another round of security checks, we found our way to the center for local transportation, a large circular building with multiple ports for speeder taxis.

A few officers were standing about the area, looking like they had jobs they wanted done. I ignored their requests for aid, particularly the imperious-looking one that claimed some beacons had to be reset or the planet would be doomed, and claimed a spot on a speeder heading for Kaas City. Khem was able to frighten a pair of naval officers into giving up their seats for him. The sight of their panicked flight back into the terminal amused me.

“Do you believe that nonsense, Khem? That the Imperial capital might fall because of encroaching beasts?”
Khem let out what I had learned was his version of a laugh. <It is absurd, Little Sith. An Empire that would lose its capital to jungle beasts is no Empire at all. In the days of Tulak Hord we would not have allowed such weakness. When I strode across the battlefields of Yn and…>

“Yes, yes. Glorious victories, one and all.” He attempted to speak again, but I cut him off. “The past is the past, Khem, it is time to look towards your future.”

He fell silent at that, and I was content to let the conversation die there. I did not enjoy spending time with or talking to him, but I had no one else. During the shuttle flight, I had spent hours on the idle fancy of finding some way to contact Ayrs, but – by the end – I had simply become more frustrated. I had no idea where he would be or what he would be doing; the last we had heard from him was a short text message checking in when he was back at the academy. He might be anywhere in the galaxy by now. He might be dead.

I couldn’t think like that. I wouldn’t let myself think like that.

Fortunately, the speeder taxi was arriving at the Sith Citadel, an imposing black building that looked like something from out of my nightmares. I heard whispers from behind us as Khem and I disembarked, no doubt civilians convinced they had survived a brush with death, who would go home to their children and tell them of the Dashade monster they had sat next to on the taxi. Despite my best efforts, a small smile appeared on my face.

Zash’s office was about what I would have expected from a Sith; grandiose artwork, relics from both the Sith and Jedi, and a single man frozen in carbonite, no doubt some fool that had crossed her in the past. You had better watch yourself, lest you become the next ‘fool’. She was seated at her desk and did not look up as I approached, instead motioning me to the chair across from her. I sat down, while Khem hovered awkwardly behind me.

“Apprentice, it is good to see you here. I heard there was some trouble at the spaceport?” She phrased it like a question but spoke it like a statement.

“Yes, Lord Zash. There was a rather rude man with a cybernetics fetish that accosted Khem and me as we were passing through security. It was an inconvenience, nothing more.”

She smiled slightly at that. “That was Darth Skotia. A dangerous man, far more dangerous than your joking tone suggests you believe him to be. He is my superior and fears me, fears my plans for the future. He knows that so long as he is alive I must view him as an obstacle, but he dares not strike against me for fear of retribution. The Dark Council does not look upon power plays too favorably. Unfortunately that also means I cannot move directly against him.” Finally, she looked up, her eyes searching for something within mine.

“It does not mean that someone else cannot, though. An apprentice, perhaps, seeking her master’s approval.”

Zash raised an eyebrow, revealing age lines on her face I had not seen before. “Why, yes. That would be the case, if such apprentice existed. Of course, said apprentice would also need to acquire certain objects to succeed. Rumor has it there is a tablet located within Skotia’s base at the Colossus southeast of here that can be used to control his Trandoshan bodyguards. Rumor also has it that the rebellious Lord Grathan was working on a device that could be used against people with, how should I put it, a sufficiently high amount of cybernetic enhancements.”

I smiled grimly at that. Leave it to a Sith to provide the tools needed to further undermine their own order, all for some power. “Khem and I can certainly find time in our schedules to locate these items. We should begin immediately, at the Colossus. I saw the news report of a slave rebellion there; we cannot risk Skotia moving it to a more secure location.”

Zash nodded absent-mindedly. She reached into the open drawer on her desk and pulled out an elegant wood box, which she opened. She lifted a metal cylinder out of it, carefully holding it in both hands. I recognized it immediately, of course, having seen my father’s so many times as a little girl. “This was my lightsaber when I was an apprentice like you, before I crafted a newer model for myself. I would like you to have it. Consider it a gift, from a master to a most promising of apprentices.”

The temptation to send a side-eyed glance at her was incredibly difficult to resist, but I did. “Thank you, Lord Zash. I will put it to good use.”

Her smile was enigmatic, fueled by something other than warmth. “Yes, you will.”
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

bright_ephemera's Avatar


bright_ephemera
07.26.2013 , 08:54 AM | #18
Ah, Veresia, your acid tongue is...probably going to get you in a lot of trouble.

I was always disappointed that Khem Val doesn't consider Darth Skotia worth devouring.
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Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
07.30.2013 , 08:05 PM | #19
So sorry for the delay....

Spoiler

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Dromund Kaas was a dismal planet. In theory, the jungles teeming with life should have been more welcome than the barren landscape of Korriban, but there was little about the various gundarks, sleens and other vicious creatures hidden in the shadows to enjoy.

As Khem and I made our way to Darth Skotia’s base, we passed various encampments; military, civilian, archaeological, even some that looked to be populated by slaves and others that had attempted to carve out what little piece of the world they could outside of Sith domination. Freedom that exists only because the Sith decided it was not worth the effort to put them down. Rumors spread amongst the apprentices in the city that there were even compounds of Revanites – Sith heretics that followed teachings ascribed to the legendary Revan.

Khem had little to say during the speeder trip out to the jungle outpost nearest our destination; I imagined it was something of a homecoming for him, though I did not know how to ask without the conversation inevitable becoming awkward. Instead, I let him take in the views around us, even as we disembarked the speeder and moved towards the colossus on foot.

The news reports had mentioned disturbances in the area related to a slave revolt, but had – unsurprisingly – described them as minor setbacks to the process. Our first clear view of the construction site destroyed that pleasant lie in an instant; the various guard posts and checkpoints within the zone were swarming with poorly-clothed slaves, and the nearest Imperial emplacements I could see were at least several miles away.

<Tulak Hord would never have allowed such insolence from slaves, he would have destroyed them at the first sign of resistance. A Sith that allows this to happen is no Sith at all.> He glared up at the towering colossus. <And a Sith that cannot control mere workers does not deserve such a monument.>

“I would say that no Sith deserves such a monument, but perhaps I speak out of turn. I was a slave myself, after all. One might say you are one right now.” Something ugly flashed in his eyes, but he remained silent. “You do not respect weakness, I understand that. But I also understand that the Sith are weak as well, in their own way. They are incapable of sustaining loyalty through means other than fear and violence.”

<Fear and violence are powerful tools. In the end, the galaxy is a harsh place. The strong prevail and thrive, the weak are tossed aside and perish. It is how things are, and the Sith are wise to recognize it.>

I brushed some hair out of my face and shrugged at him. We looked at each other for a moment, then both turned to face forward. I am not likely to have much of a philosophical discussion with the likes of Khem Val.

“According to Lord Zash, we will find Skotia’s base located near the base of the colossus, which will require us to make our way through those slave camps ahead. Can I count on you to behave yourself?”

Khem looked puzzled, but gave a slight nod.

As we approached the first slave encampment, I waved my arms around and raised my voice. “Hello there. I have important matters to discuss with you.” I saw eyes peering suspiciously through the barricade and was nearly overwhelmed by the barely restrained violence I could feel through the Force. “I mean you no harm, I wish only to conduct some personal business.” I thought I heard Khem biting on his tongue, but I could have been wrong; Dashade physiology was not a subject I was well-versed in.

At long last, the barricade opened and three figures came walking toward us. Haggard, wearing torn clothing that clung to their emaciated bodies like the stench of evil does to a Sith, the two men and one woman looked less than pleased to see me. I cannot blame them, if I were any other Sith they would be walking straight into a trap that would end in their painful deaths.

I decided to get the conversation started. “My name is Veresia and I am an apprentice to Lord Zash. We have business at the Imperial complex opposite this area, under the colossus.” I paused, then remembered my manners, gesturing to my right. “This is Khem Val, my faithful companion. Say hello, Khem.”

<Hello> It was like pulling teeth with him, sometimes.

The woman, a green-skinned Twi’lek that looked like she was quite ill, eyed us both suspiciously. “Why should we believe you? And even if we do, why should we let you pass? Why not just kill you instead of helping you with Sith business?”

I bit my lower lip as I pondered how best to make my case. The slaves had no reason to trust or assist me, and I was simply here at the bidding of a Sith lord, hardly something to recommend me to them. Only one thing to do. I rolled up the sleeve of my robe to reveal the brands that had once marked me as property. “Because I was once one of you.”

They huddled around each other, speaking in whispers they must have not realized I could hear anyway with the aid of the Force. After a couple of minutes, the Twi’lek turned back to me and gave a solemn nod. “I will walk with you, so the rest know not to attack.” I nodded, and we walked in silence through the dozens of slave holdouts. At first, she regarded me with suspicion, probably expecting me to do reconnaissance work for the military while I was there. Once she realized I had been truthful, though, she relaxed enough that I no longer felt it necessary to have my hand hovering over the hilt of Zash’s lightsaber.

She stopped walking when we were a couple of hundred feet away from Skotia’s bunker.

“Is that it for the guided tour? Such a shame, Khem seemed to be enjoying it so much.” I offered her a smile, but she failed to react to it or my words.

Instead, her face scrunched up with anger. “Why aren’t you helping us? A Force-user would really help us hold off their raids. And you wouldn’t be helping no karking Sith.”

A good question, but not one I could quite answer. Particularly not with my favorite Dashade around. “I…I can’t. Not yet, at least. I can do more good once I am properly trained and have more resources to help.”

Her scowl disappeared, but I did not like the ugly smile that replaced it. “Meanwhile, we’ll just get crushed into paste when the Imperial war machine. Save your “I was like you” crap for someone who gives a damn. You’re happy enough being a Sith when it suits your purposes.” She turned and started walking back to where we had started. “Kark you and your Sith monster. Hope the Empire drops a bomb on you both.”

Khem and I watched her retreating form in silence. Him because he did pretty much everything silently, me because I had no response for her words. I knew, deep down, that she was wrong, but for now that proof was just pleasant talk and thought and very little action. She was right – sooner or later, the Imperial military would smash its way through the slave camps and slaughter almost everyone. A few might survive for a while in the jungles, but not for long. And you aren’t helping, you’re just here running an errand for a Sith Lord that would enjoy seeing them all die.

<I could eat her> Khem looked at me thoughtfully.

I shook a clenched fist at him, and we made our way to the bunker’s entrance. It was sealed up tight, no doubt for protection against particularly brave or foolish slaves that might try anything crazy. Fortunately, it was easy enough to climb on the roof with Khem’s assistance and the use of the Force, so we made our way to where Zash’s information noted a side entrance would be. I dropped down to the ground, then levitated Khem to join me. Still no guards in sight, so I sliced through the door with Zash’s saber and we made our way inside.

The map Zash had given us was completely accurate – not necessarily surprising given the love affair the Empire had with standardizing everything, but still quite useful. We would have to disable three monitor stations to bring down the shields to Skotia’s vault, then find our way past whatever security lay inside to acquire the tablet that would allow us to control his Trandoshan bodyguards. I only hoped the task would be as simple as Zash made it sound.

I would have preferred to make things as bloodless as possible, but Khem returned to his favorite complaint about not being fed enough. So ended the lives of a half-dozen Sith apprentices and several acolytes before we arrived at the first station. I had even felt a twinge of pity for the last one, a pasty-faced acolyte that was more boy than man. The battle for the first monitor station proved as one-sided as our other fights; the guard captain and his three-man squad proved no challenge whatsoever.

The second station proved a far different story, as it was protected by a more seasoned-looking pureblood Sith and her human apprentice, a young woman that looked as ill-prepared for combat as the last acolyte we had faced before the first monitor. When the harsh artificial lighting hit her face just right, she even looked a bit like I had just before the attack on Ithaca. Khem took on her master, while the girl and I exchanged blows somewhat half-heartedly. After a few parries, though, her guard slipped and my saber slid through her ribcage and out her back. I grimaced as she fell backwards, feebly reaching out to grab me, as if holding on would keep her from whatever came afterwards.

When I managed to wrench my eyes from her corpse, I realized Khem had also been victorious. He glanced over at the dead girl’s corpse, but I shook my head. In a different time, a different galaxy, she could have been me. Fortunately, any anger on his part was dissipated by arriving at the third station, where we were confronted by a balding, heavyset, man and a pair of young Zabraks in the black cloaks of apprentices.

He drew his lightsaber and ignited its purple blade. “I am Lord Ogathu, right hand of Darth Skotia. I will be the end of you, intruder. You, and your pet.”

I considered his threat for a moment. “What are you going to do, pray tell? Fall on me, and smother me within your rolls of fat?”

Neither he nor his apprentices had time to react as Khem leapt into action, taking full advantage of their distraction. I sent a brief burst of purple lightning at the first apprentice, causing him to jump backwards in shock. Khem advanced steadily on his compatriot while I prepared myself of Ogathu.

He feinted to my right with his saber, and shot a wave of Force energy at me that I sidestepped. Frustrated, he threw his saber at me, but I boosted myself away with a burst of speed to escape it, even as it circled back into his hand. “Fight me, you *****!” I could see his chest heaving somewhat; his girth was clearly hampering his efforts. Behind him, I also saw the first apprentice cut in half by Khem, while the second circled around the Dashade uselessly. I dodged another burst of energy, then cartwheeled past his saber, barely noticing how closely it came to singeing my hair.

“Your master will not have to mourn you for long, Ogathu. I will be sure to praise your loyalty to him before I send him to join you.” Some dark part of me took perverse pleasure in seeing him sputter in reaction, spittle flying from his wormy lips as he tried to concoct a response that did not involve a childish insult.

I would not give him the time to do so.

Repeating my tactic from before, I sent a short burst of lightning in his direction to drive him backwards, then caught him full in the face with a longer cast. As he staggered from the blow, I took a page from his playbook and sent a directed blast of force energy towards him. His bulk doomed his attempts to avoid taking the hit; the wave caught him, lifting him up and throwing him against the wall. I saw Khem slice the second apprentice neatly in half as I stalked my prey. We both moved in, closing off any escape route. He realized it, too.

“W-wait. I will serve you. I will serve Lord Zash. I will be loyal!”

Amusing.

“Like you were to Darth Skotia?” My lips curled into a mocking grin.

Ogathu gave up any pretense at resistance, making a mad dash for freedom. He made it all of five steps before Khem caught him with one hand, lifting him off the ground. Before I could say or do anything, Khem opened his mouth and Ogathu began to scream. In a matter of moments, the scream dwindled to a thin whistle, a horrible sound I hoped I could soon forget. So this is how Khem feeds.

Not wanting to think about it any longer, I waved Khem towards the monitoring station to deactivate the shield. The relic was still waiting, as was whatever else Zash required.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
07.30.2013 , 08:57 PM | #20
Ahem... SQUEE
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress