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One Light in the Darkness


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Lesaberisa
08.05.2013 , 12:06 AM | #21
After we returned the Trandoshan tablet to Zash, I spent the better part of three days doing research at the various libraries scattered throughout the Sith Sanctum. I was thrown out of the first when Khem attempted to consume one of the librarians, and found my research no better off even in those I was allowed to remain in. As on Korriban, there were endless tomes of information on interrogation, torture, and how to most efficiently inflict pain on one’s enemies; there was little more than scraps for describing anything even remotely related to healing. The Sith viewed others as tools to be used and discarded, I wanted to be something more with the time I had.

Still, my frustration was building. I would have thrown my hands up and done my best to entertain myself otherwise, but Zash was still using her intelligence apparatus to track down the location of the experimental device we would use against Skotia, and there was simply nothing else to do. I had not wished to remain on Zash’s leash any longer than I had to, but I could already see that that the hope of freedom of action was a false one. So foolish, to believe you would be granted any kind of power or ability to shape events in a meaningful way.

Finally, after the third day of fruitless searching, I decided to recognize the futility of what I was doing and took a break. It was a risk to bring Khem to a bar frequented by Force users, but I was not in the mood for sightseeing. We found a booth located with easy access to both the secondary exit and kitchen, in case some other patron caused trouble. I had Khem attend to our drinks so I could sneak a few minutes of Holonet access.

I couldn’t search for Ayrs directly, of course, not with the strict monitoring of all information travelling in and out of Dromund Kaas. I can, however, search for information on Republic deployments and information on certain Republic families with substantial financial holdings.

There wasn’t much at all of interest about the Martells on Kuat. They had never been an important part of my life, but –apart from Ayrs – they were all the family I had. The news we received in the Empire was heavily censored, though, so there was little to take in apart from some carefully worded editorials outlining supposed corrupt business practices by Demetrius Martell. Similarly, I was unable to find anything even briefly mentioning Ayrs. It’d been so long since he left Ithaca for the academy, and I had hoped he might have managed to find his way into a notable position.

Then again, perhaps he’s simply in some kind of special position, in intelligence or special operations.

I hurriedly turned the display off as Khem wandered over. He slid a goblet of Alderaanian wine across the table to me, while he began consuming what looked to be some kind of ale from within a large bucket. He sounded almost like a dog as he lapped it up. An ugly, murderous, dog. I decided to be as sociable as possible.

“Khem, what do you think of Lord Zash?”

He glared at me from over the tip of his bucket. <She is a Sith like any other. She pales in comparison to Tulak Hord, greatest Sith of any time.> He paused to drink another gulp of alcohol. <I do not trust her, though. She hides something behind her smiles.>

I nodded. “You are more perceptive than you seem. I agree, though. She is too eager to be my friend, particularly for a Sith master. I do not know what her game is, but we must uncover it before we are caught in some trap.”

He was about to respond when my comm beeped an alert. I shushed him with a hand motion and activated it, expecting to hear Zash’s voice. Instead, a robotic voice told me to review a message on my data pad. An odd request, but perhaps Zash had realized I might be somewhere where unwanted ears might overhear something they shouldn’t. I shrugged at Khem and removed my pad from my pack, carefully aiming its screen away from the other patrons in the bar. The message displayed was written in a Sith dialect she must have known I had studied in my spare time.

Apprentice, I realize this message might reach you where you cannot speak. My agents have located the device that will assist us in disrupting the cybernetic implants Darth Skotia has, making him far less of a danger to you. To us.

A rogue Sith Lord named Grathan has a compound to the southwest of Kaas City. He has been engaged in a protracted…power struggle…with various rivals he has within the Sith hierarchy. Grathan is a mad scientist type, researching all sorts of nefarious weapons and technologies, including ergonomic chairs. You are to report to Captain Sarnova at the Wall, she will brief you further and provide assistance.


The datapad’s screen shifted from text to cascading colors. I recognized a memory wipe in progress, and took another sip of wine. The message hadn’t been particularly detailed, but it seemed this Lord Grathan must have been involved in the development of the anti-cybernetic technology; I only hoped it would be worth my time. The speeder trip to the Imperial garrison at the Wall was a long one, taking winding paths through the jungles that seemed more appropriate for a tourist trap than transportation meant to get passengers to and from locations as quickly as possible.

We disembarked and made our way to the command post to look for Captain Sarnova. She proved to be a surprise – a pleasant-looking woman that spoke in measured tones and even offered a slight, but very warm, smile when she saw us. It is always a pleasant surprise to run into an Imperial that didn’t seem like a caricature of a holovid villain.

“Good to see you, Apprentice. Lord Zash informed me that you would be arriving, so I prepared some additional material for your purview. We’ve lost most of our scouts that we sent for intelligence on Lord Grathan’s compound, so I cannot say much beyond what is on this data pad.” She paused and handed it over to me. Clearly, she had something else on her mind as well.

“Is there something else I can assist you with, Captain? I would be glad to provide any assistance I can while I am here.” I waved away the mild grumbling I heard from Khem, especially after I saw the revealing wince from the captain.

“Actually…some of my men have gone missing and I was wondering if…perhaps…you might be able to locate them within Lord Grathan’s compound. It would mean a…a great deal to me.” I didn’t need the Force to feel the woman’s pain. “If you find them, tell them….their Duchess is waiting for them.”

I had the impulse to reach out to comfort the woman, who feared she had lost her family the same way I had lost mine. Khem huffed loudly, but I ignored him. “Consider it done, Captain.” I decided I need not inquire about the Duchess moniker – most likely it was a nickname her men would understand. Beyond that…it was no matter to me. Khem offered the captain a half-bow, which seemed almost-sincere. I dipped my own head and we returned back to the camp.

The almost-pleasant atmosphere was shattered by a shrill voice. “You! What are you doing here?!” I recognized the voice, and felt almost nauseous because of it.

Malicineve. Baras’ rabid dog.

“Fancy meeting you here, Malicineve,” I called out with faux joviality. “I was so hoping we could renew our acquaintance. It has been far too long.” I executed a perfect mocking bow, which had Khem huffing strangely. “Hello, Vette.”

The Sith’s saner half smiled slightly and waved once she was sure that Malicineve couldn’t see her. More steam erupted from the pureblood’s ears , regardless, so I decided to defuse the situation.

“Since we will apparently be operating within the same area, shall we try to at least be civil? There is no need to waste energy demonstrating how foolish you are when we can direct that effort at Lord Grathan and his servants.” The insult seemed to fly over her head. “We should combine efforts to get to our respective objectives, then we can go in our separate ways.”

Malicineve regarded me with the look a wild animal gets when they are considering whether to launch another attack on their prey, but then relaxed. “Fine. Just don’t get in my way, slave.” I flinched at the word, but nodded. I did notice that she and Vette fell into line behind Khem and me, rather than attempting to take the lead.

Lord Grathan’s compound was embarrassingly easy to infiltrate; we were slowed far more by Malicineve’s murderous antics than the actual security. Every time we encountered the smallest patrol, she insisted on wiping it out to the last man or droid, a disgusting display that had even Khem grumbling after not too long; none were Force users, so he could not even feed off of them as she did her dirty work. It took some persuading from Vette, but we finally persuaded her to stop about halfway to the building where Sarnova’s men’s signal was coming from.

The place turned out to be some sort of research facility, judging from the large number of frightened men, women and aliens of indeterminate gender in white coats that fled for the door as we entered, reacting to the screams of their now-dead protectors. After cutting our way past the last few members of the garrison, I took stock of our situation and sent a pulse over Sarnova’s appointed frequency to track the transmitter. It proved to be up two levels up, requiring a trip up on a cramped elevator. There was nothing quite as unpleasant as being trapped by a psychopathic Sith on one side and Khem Val’s midriff on the other. I thanked the Force and every deity I could remember when the doors opened to let us out on the third floor.

Tracking the signal proved more difficult, as the area was darkened and the staff had apparently evacuated at the first report of trouble. As I wandered the research areas, I heard a robotic voice call out.

“Authorization…authorization.” It cut out for a moment, then returned with a more lifelike intonation. “Wait, please do not go.” I used the Force to trace the sound to an odd looking droid strapped into a table I had seen far too often; the hybrid sort used alternatively for medical procedures and torture. In some cases, both. The droid’s eyes lit up as I approached. “Processing…processing. Arrrrrrrgh. Wait! I am Ensign Alistair Booker. Operating number…” I heard some clicking noises and the droid fell silent.

“Are you…” I cut myself off; there was no point in asking questions that I already had the answers to. “The Duchess sent me, to find you and the other missing soldiers.” I glanced around the room, not seeing any prisoners. “Are they still here?” I felt tendrils of dread creeping up my spine.

“Processing…processing. Mental subroutines at….” Alistair, the droid, whatever he is shook his head again. “They performed experiments on us, implanted us intro droid bodies. Please! Send the override signal from the console. Set us free!”

I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I looked over and saw a command console nestled into an alcove. Another Sith atrocity to place on the scale, another weight on my shoulders that I might never remove. I cupped the droid’s cheek, useless though the gesture was. “I will set you free, do not fear.” I turned quickly, before I risked further displays of weakness, and walked over to the console to begin inputting the override protocols.

“Wait!” The shrill voice was back. “What are you doing?”

I had to use all of the calming techniques my father had taught me to control my response. “I’m releasing this man and his compatriots from a terrible existence that makes a mockery of the very word.”

Malcineve’s intentions were clear through the Force even before she made a move. I was already ducking away from her blade as it slid into existence. “You will do no such thing. These droids will be valuable tools for the Empire, even if you are too short sighted to see it. Step away from the console.” She waved her lightsaber in my direction.

“I, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to live like that.” I wondered if Vette’s voice was shaky because of what she’d seen and heard or because her companion was always one step away from a breakdown.

<They would be worthy additions indeed. But an existence such as this is worse than slavery.> It seemed like everyone had an opinion on the matter, though Khem’s was useless like always.

No matter, my mind was already made up.

I sent a burst of Force energy directly at Malicineve. She was so focused on trying to appear threatening that it caught her completely off-guard, throwing her backwards. I used the opening to reach out to the console with the Force, quickly programming in the shutdown code. Alistair’s droid body released a few sparks, then toppled forward to rest against the restraints that held him in place. I could hear a large number of crashes from somewhere downstairs as well.

There was another crash, and more sparks, as Malicineve thrust her saber into a panel. “You stupid, stupid *****!” I knew I should feel at least a little guilty for provoking her so directly, but I could not deny my amusement. “I will report this outrage to Darth Baras himself, and I will be sure to have your head. I will not allow such insolence to go unpunished.” And, with that, she stormed to the elevator, with Vette trailing behind. Once we heard it heading towards the ground floor, Khem and I shared a look.

<I have not felt such emotion since the days of Yn and Chabosh.>

I looked him squarely in the eye. “Khem. Please, just shut up about that already.” I saw an ugly glint in his eye, but he bowed his head. “Let’s make our way to the main compound and acquire the cybernetic disruptor. The sooner we return to Kaas City, the better.”

<Indeed.>

As we left, I saw the room full of the droid bodies of Alistair’s fallen comrades. I hoped they were at peace, wherever they were...whatever they had become.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
08.12.2013 , 07:59 PM | #22
The path to Grathan’s main compound was clear of any opposition, though the mutilated corpses along the way belied the otherwise peaceful feeling; evidently, my favorite Sith had continued her rampage once she left the research facility. Lord Zash’s agent had provided a location for the device that would supposedly assist in dealing with Skotia; one of many vaults. As we entered the building, we could hear the sounds of screams echoing through the hallways. One part of me wondered what, exactly, Malicineve was doing here. As a particularly chilling scream reached my ears, I decided that part of me didn’t matter. Some things were better left unknown.

We passed empty rooms through even emptier corridors; I felt only occasional flickers in the Force from Grathan’s people in the area. I was not sure whether or not Malicineve was to thank for our easy passage, but there was no time for that. From what Captain Sarnova’s intel stated, Lord Grathan was not one to be trifled with, and if his forces managed to regroup I would rather they focused their energies on the raging maniac elsewhere in the compound and not on Khem or me. Well, perhaps Khem could use some of the slavish devotion to Tulak Hord’s memory driven from him. I smiled at the thought of Tulak Hord losing the only fan he still had. Still, we can attend to that another time.

I left Khem at that vault door to cover our escape; I could handle whatever security was left within it, and I did not want him damaging or destroying any potentially valuable material with his clumsiness. The door slid open with a loud snap-tssssssssss, and I strode forward purposefully to find the device within the numerous display cases in the room. I passed what appeared to be tribal masks, torture devices and other electronic items whose purpose I could only guess at. Perhaps it is for the best that I do not recognize everything.

The device I was looking for was easy enough to spot, as it matched Zash’s description perfectly; two generators, elongated handle, and a big enough energy presence to drown out the signatures of basically everything else in the room. I reached out and grabbed it with both hands, cradling it like I would a baby. With nothing else to keep me there, I retraced my steps back to the hallway, where Khem was standing watch. For a moment it sounded as if he was humming a tune, but I decided that the stress from dealing with Malicineve was simply getting to me.

<Have you completed your task, Little Sith?> I nodded, continuing past him and towards the entrance. He realized within moments that I did not intend to have a conversation, so he fell in line behind me. <Your skill is impressive. I believe even Tulak Hord might have found a use for you.>

As always, I wasn’t entirely sure how to ready Khem’s statement, though he seemed about as sincere as I could reasonably expect him to be. Not that it matters; Khem Val is not exactly someone to get friendly with. He probably spends his nights dreaming of the day he can consume you.

Grathan’s compound was much like it had been when we first entered the main building; judging from the eerie quiet, whatever Malicineve was doing was keeping the garrison quite busy. So much the better for me, though some part of me grimaced at the thought of what she was probably doing to the men, women and droids being sent after her. There was nothing I could do for them, though, and it meant that Khem and I were able to return to Captain Sarnova without any incident. It will not make giving her the news any easier.

She heard us come in and snapped to attention. I waved away the formal pretenses; being a Sith did not make me superior to her in any way, and I wanted her to know and understand that I felt more than perfunctory pity for her.
“I’m glad to see you’ve returned safely. Have you – have you discovered anything about my missing soldiers?” Her expression was a mixture of hope and dread, the kind that people seem to always have when asking a question they know they might not want the answer to. I decide to be as circumspect as possible; the news would be hard enough for her to take without revealing all of the unpleasant details.

I placed my hand gently on her shoulder, a gesture that seemed to surprise her as much as my reasonableness had earlier. “I’m sorry, Captain, there was nothing I could do. Grathan had been performing experiments on them.. They are at peace now.” I eyed her cautiously, to see if my story was accepted. I certainly hope they are at peace, after all that Grathan put them through. I shuddered slightly at the mental imagery, then took a moment to control myself. The last thing she needed was to realize that even a terrible Sith had been disturbed by the sights inside. “Rest assured, Grathan will pay for what he did.”

The light in her eyes dimmed slightly, and she looked far less lively than she had only moments before. “I had…I had hoped for better news.” Her professional veneer slipped for a moment, as her head lowered. She propped it up slightly in one hand, then shook herself before facing me again. “Regardless, I appreciate the time and effort you expended on checking for me. It means a great deal to me.” She eyed me warily. “For military purposes, of course.”

I had forgotten my hand was already on her shoulder, but squeezed slightly once I did. “You need not be ashamed. Caring for one’s soldiers, for one’s people is a greater strength than being able to terrorize them with technology or the Force. I just wish I had brought better news.” I withdrew the hand and let it dangle awkwardly beside me. “Unfortunately, I have other matters to attend to for the moment, but should you ever require assistance in the future, you should know you can always ask it of me.” A largely empty promise, most likely, but one that she deserves.

She smiled tremuously, then saluted as I offered a slight bow.

Khem was silent on the trip to Kaas City. In fact, he hadn’t said anything at all since we left Grathan’s compound. Normally, I would accept this as a blessing – no pithy comments about what a weak and unworthy Sith I was, no rambling stories about the glories of Tulak Hord. I wondered if he was plotting against me somehow, perhaps seeking a more brutal master.

Zash was waiting for me at her office; really more of an alcove within the complex. Skotia’s other subordinates had been granted much larger quarters, which suggested that Zash was as much in her master’s crosshairs as I was. I wasn’t quite sure if that was an opportunity or not, but I did know it scared me. Sith power struggles were rather famous for their collateral damage. Zash herself was hardly any more impressive than her office – her robes were fraying and she looked gaunt, almost as if her skin were drawn too tightly around her skeleton.

“My apprentice, it is good to see you.” Her smile looked warm, but there was no genuine emotion behind it. “I received a message from Captain Sarnova after you left; she was quite impressed with your work. As am I.”
I knew I should bow at least a little, but I would be damned before I bowed willingly to a Sith. Instead, I gave a curt nod of my head. “Indeed. I was able to resolve a situation for her while still acquiring the device you desired from Lord Grathan’s compound.”

She grimaced slightly. “Yes, she was very grateful for your assistance in ascertaining the fate of her men. A generous gesture, yes, but one that put you at great risk from what I understand. What if the situation had proven dangerous, or Darth Baras’ mad dog had been willing to resort to violence? You should not risk yourself like that, you are too valuable – to the Empire and to me.”

Something about the way she said that raised goose bumps on my arms, but I could not say what. Instead – wisely, I think – I kept quiet.

Zash rose from her chair, standing somewhat unsteadily as she stretched her arms out to either side of her. Her normally handsome features were definitely not at their best, and she moved as though she were a much older woman than she really was. “Never mind that. Darth Baras will deal with his apprentice, and she should no longer prove a concern to you.”

“She is a concern to anyone that might get in her way, my Lord.” I frowned at her lack of understanding. “Even if she does not target either of us directly, her destructiveness could easily prove to be a great obstacle.”

She dismissed my concerns with a haughty wave of her hand. “We can deal with any such obstacles if and when they are presented. For now, we must focus on the enemy at hand, Skotia.” She motioned towards the chair across the desk from her, so I pulled it out and sat down. Its magenta seat smelled old, almost musty. I wondered how old it was. “Skotia spends his days in his office, guarded by his Trandoshan servants. With the tablet you acquired from his bunker, you should be able to break through their conditioning and use them against him. Then, you can use Grathan’s device against Skotia and strike him down.”

Zash offered me a sly smile that made me feel slightly uneasy. Something else struck me as odd about what she had said.

“And where will you be, my Lord?” I raised an eyebrow.

“If the Dark Council believes I was responsible for Darth Skotia’s death, they will strike back against me. Against us. The Dark Council tolerates a great deal from its subordinates, but a naked power play will only provoke a reaction. I must be clearly innocent of moving against Skotia if my plans are to move forward.”

Her plans, I noted. Not ours. “So I shall be the one to strike Skotia down.” I approximated a feral grin that she appeared to accept as genuine. “What shall I do after I finish?”

“Meet me at the Nexus Room Cantina, second level. We’ll have much to discuss.” With that, she pushed past me, pointedly ignoring Khem as she left the room. The Dashade looked at me with a quizzical expression.

<I do not like this plan of Zash, she attempts to keep her hands clean while still claiming the glory of the kill. It is unseemly. The witch is not to be trusted.>

He was probably right, but I was too distracted to care. I had a Dark Lord of the Sith to kill.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
08.15.2013 , 03:25 PM | #23
Minor note: Since there are (I'm guessing) people who read both topics, I am writing the next bit for Ayrs/my trooper, but I was trying to catch Veresia up a bit. Thanks!
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I waited in Zash’s office for half an hour – if her plan required her to be safely in sight of others for an alibi, she would need time to get somewhere public. In any case, challenging a Dark Lord of the Sith was a fair bit different than ambushing the likes of Spindrall or dealing with a preening fool like Ffon Althe. The latter triumph brought a small smile to my lips, but it died after only a moment. It was difficult to feel anything more than a vague sense of satisfaction after what had happened to Kory, especially realizing what else it had cost me.

Khem looked ready so speak, so I forestalled him with a gesture. “No, Khem, we don’t need to base our tactics on what Tulak Hord would have done.” That unwanted and undeserved smile crept back across my lips as he slammed both of his hands down on the table in frustration. “Tut, tut. We can discuss battle tactics another time. Fighting Skotia will require a more subtle approach.”

I activated the dossier that Zash had put together for me; Skotia would be a formidable opponent – skilled with a lightsaber, and proficient in combining that skill with Force powers.

“Khem, I will need you to engage him with your vibrosword – I am not nearly skilled enough with a saber to deal with Skotia. So long as you keep him distracted, though, I can finish him off with a burst of lightning. We need to end the fight quickly, before he has a chance to get comfortable. The dossier states that he is a meticulous planner and pays an unusual amount of attention to detail – if we are too slow, he will formulate a plan and execute it. And us.”

His response wasn’t particularly important.

I slowly rose from my chair and motioned for him to follow as I passed him and entered the hallway outside. We marched in unison, as regimented as the Imperial troopers that regularly paraded through the streets of Kaas City in a transparent reminder of Imperial power…and the potential for Imperial cruelty. Even with the strange-looking artifact in one hand and the electronics device in the other, we encountered no resistance, merely a few cautious looks out of the sides of eyes. I was almost afraid to admit it, but there was something refreshing about being the one that others tread carefully around.
It was certainly more empowering than cowering beneath a whip or cringing at the activation of a collar.

We entered Skotia’s office, ignoring the protests of his secretarial droid. He was seated comfortably behind his desk, flanked on either side of him by his Trandoshan bodyguards. At the sound of my approach, he raised his gaze and gave me an amused look.

“Well, if it isn’t Lord Zash’s newest toy. Come to make a fool out of yourself again?”

His good humor was so obviously forced that even the Trandoshans could not help but shoot him a glance. <What would you have us do, Master?>

There was no mirth in Skotia’s tone when he responded. “Kill her. Now.” His bodyguards nodded, then began to advance.

“Tut, tut. Assaulting a lady is hardly proper behavior.” As Skotia rolled his eyes, I produced the relic before me. “After all, I believe this might mean more to you than your master’s commands do. Former master.” I sensed Khem nodding in approval, which surprised me – I would not have thought him capable of feeling sympathy. “You are free now, to live your own lives.”

Skotia scowled. “Clever girl.”

<We thank you for this, but first there is something we must do.> I sensed what the Trandoshans meant to do before they had even moved. Unfortunately for them, so did Skotia. Even as they charged in, he sent one flying backwards against the wall with the Force, and lifted the other off the ground with his hand, crushing the Trandoshan’s throat as he did so. Skotia loosened his grip, letting the corpse slide down the pillar to collapse in a heap on the floor. The other Trandoshan wasn’t moving, and I couldn’t sense either of them in the Force. So far things were going almost precisely as I expected. Terribly.

The Sith lord leapt at us with a roar.

I rolled away, levitating one of the Trandoshan corpses and using it as cover. I winced as Skotia’s lightsaber sliced through the graying scales, cutting the body in half. “You must be taught a lesson, you impudent whelp. Zash has filled your head with foolish dreams of power. You will be dust, ground beneath my feet.” He was giving off a faint red glow that I did not recognize.

Khem launched himself at Skotia but ran into an invisible wall, then flew backwards as the hulking cyborg casually flicked a wrist. The Dashade shook the blow off, but something was clearly paining him.

The cyborg. You fool.

I looked down at the device we had acquired from Lord Grathan, then pushed the red button. For a moment there was no reaction from anyone or anything, Then, answering the prayers I had not even begun to think of, sparks began to fly from Skotia’s armor. He fell to his knees, convulsing as if he was having a seizure. His lightsaber nearly slipped from his grip before he shook his head to clear what must have been very painful cobwebs. He turned to spear me with a hateful glare.

“You are full of cheap tricks, it is no wonder that Zash is so fond of you. Neither of you would dare face me in combat, so you resort to pathetic games.”

I smiled sweetly at him. “If you were interested in fighting fair, Skotia, you wouldn’t have augmented yourself so thoroughly with cybernetics. Spell me the moralizing; you are like any other Sith, and the galaxy will be a better place with you no longer in it.”

Both Khem and Skotia reacted with somewhat befuddled looks as I moved in towards Skotia; the Dashade recovered quickly enough to mirror my approach from the opposite side. I felt a surge in the Force; it flowed through me with an intensity I had never felt before. Perhaps it was due to the tools Zash’s research and our work had provided me, perhaps it was merely the realization that – underneath all the armor and power – Skotia was simply another pathetic Sith bully. Perhaps you are merely tapping into the darkness around you.

Skotia brought his saber back behind him, then aimed a violent overhand slash at Khem’s head. It would have decapitated my companion had he not slid to his right, dodging the blow and throwing the cyborg off balance. Khem swung his own blade down in a vicious arc; the attack would have decapitated Skotia had he not rolled out of the way to avoid it. Unfortunately for him, the roll also left him completely vulnerable to me. I sent him flying backwards with a blast of Force energy, staggering him and leaving him gasping. It’s not just his cybernetics that were damaged.

Khem came for him, lumbering towards Skotia like an out of control bantha; Skotia saw him coming, and was able to deflect three straight slashes from Khem’s blade, but was helpless against my Force lightning. I sprayed it at him again and again and again, driving him backward until, at last, his legs gave out and he collapsed to the floor, convulsing. I walked slowly over to where he lay sprawled on the ground, enjoying every step.

“You…Zash will betray you too.” His voice was weak, fading. “She will strike you down just as she struck me down.” He reached out for his lightsaber, but the hilt was well beyond his grasp.

“She didn’t kill you. I killed you.” I inverted my lightsaber so the blade was facing down. "I will be glad to be rid of you."

“Why?” He seemed genuinely confused. “For a treacherous master? For your own personal gain? Do you really think you are accomplishing anything?”

I smirked down as I slid my blade through his back and out his stomach. He gave out a small gasp, then was still. “You are a Dark Lord of the Sith. Ridding the galaxy of you is an accomplishment in itself. Now, do us all a favor, and die quickly. I’m to have drinks with a friend at the cantina.”

Thankfully, he did as was asked. I felt him fade into the Force to enter whatever hell the likes of Skotia were sent to. I was shaking slightly, so I took a pair of deep breaths to calm myself. It wasn’t for me. It was for Kory, my friends, my family. For the galaxy. I knew that I would believe it, soon enough.

Zash was on the second floor of the cantina, looking as bored by the nobles and aristocrats around here as I would have been in her shoes. She was sipping on a bright pink drink as Khem and I entered the room, and though she tried to by coy and pretend to only notice me in reaction to the others staring at Khem, I knew she had sensed our arrival long before. Zash directed us to her table with a sharp nod of her head.

“It is good to see you apprentice. Already there are whispers of a shocking death at the Sith Sanctum.” She winked slyly. “Surely you know nothing about that, though.”

I thought back on what Skotia had said about Zash. “Surely not.”

She smiled slightly and took a sip of her drink. “I have one last task for you, apprentice. In the Dark Temple, outside of Kaas City, there are some relics that I have discovered a need for. You are the perfect one to retrieve them. Seek them out and bring them back to my office.”

I frowned. “’Dark Temple’? The Sith seem to have an obsession with overcompensating when naming their buildings. No doubt, next you’ll be sending me to a Temple of Doom.”

A loud beep from her communicator interrupted whatever reply she would have given. She glanced down and I heard a sharp intake of breath. Zash took a moment to compose herself, and then slid a datapad across the table to me. “Review this somewhere secure. Unfortunately, it appears Darth Skotia’s superior noticed your activities as well. I best put my best face forward.”

As I left the room, I glanced over my shoulder and saw her talking to the holo of an old, somewhat imposing-looking man. I gave him a quick look-over, and exited. Khem followed behind, like a faithful pet.

Perhaps he can be the next Sith that will fall before me.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

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Lesaberisa
08.23.2013 , 04:16 PM | #24
Spoiler


As Khem and I traveled west out of the city, I wondered what Zash was saying to Thanaton. There could be no other reason for his call but anger at the news of Skotia’s death, and I did not imagine that Zash would think twice at abandoning even a promising apprentice if it would ensure her own survival. Such was the way of the Sith, after all. I would be ready if the betrayal came, though. At least as ready as one could be if confronted by the wrath of the Dark Council, I suppose. It would be enough to strike as many blows as I could before falling, to rid the galaxy of as many Sith as I could.

Father would not have approved of such thinking , but I doubt there was much about me that Father wouldn’t have found contrary to his beliefs. Of course, Father had never spent several years of his life as an Imperial slave, and he hadn’t lost everything in his life to end up there, either. Just as on Korriban, the entire world radiated Dark Side power but, more than that, there was the overwhelming nature of the emotions powering that strength. Despair, fear, hopelessness; even the citizens of Dromund Kaas lived an existence akin to slavery. It was an evil system, one that needed to be broken, and no Jedi platitudes would change that.

For now, though, I needed to focus. Zash’s information had placed Tulak Hord’s artifact in a small chamber in one of the uppermost levels of the Dark Temple. I had only made cursory studies of the Temple so far, but what I had read suggested it was a dangerous place for the well-prepared, let alone those weighed down by their own personal baggage. Or a particularly onerous traveling partner.

I glared at Khem’s back, trying to determine if I could use the Force to turn my vision into laser beams. We had encountered an Imperial outpost along the way to the Dark Temple, and Khem – against my orders – had eaten the Sith apprentice stationed there. The Imperial troopers at the outpost had meekly accepted her fate, but I knew I would have to bring him to heel. Doing Zash’s bidding would get me in enough trouble as it was, I did not need a homicidal Dashade adding to my troubles. For his part, Khem had expressed no remorse, merely commenting that the apprentice had been ‘satisfying’.

Fortunately, he had managed to restrain himself for the rest of our journey to the temple grounds, despite the temptations presented by the elderly Sith lord and his apprentice at the outermost outpost. There was a strange sense of palpable fear and desperation from the small garrison there, something I did not understand fully until we had passed them on, ignoring their requests for aid with their respective missions. I did not have the time to play the tourist in a temple infested by Sith and the dark side of the Force, nor did I have the inclination to assist those that served the Empire unless they proved they were more than lackeys.

The approach to the Dark Temple proved more treacherous than I imagined, as Khem and I had discovered increasing numbers of corrupted Imperials along the way. Some were Sith who had sought the knowledge hidden within but had failed to understand the steep price that they would have to pay. More troubling were their slaves; already deprived of their freedom, they had now lost everything. A few of them attacked us as we climbed the path, but they were no match for my command of the Force and Khem’s vibrosword. It was distasteful work, only made tolerable by telling myself that I was liberating these people from what was essentially a non-existence.

I wasn’t quite sure if I believed that.

Khem led the way into the temple proper, slashing a couple of mind-controlled archaeologists bearing the mark of Darth Baras. I sensed he was nervous about something, unusually so, though I did not think it was wise to ask him for details. It is not entirely surprising that a rational being would feel some trepidation at playing the tourist in a place like this. Perhaps he also realized the depths of my anger over his consumption of the Sith apprentice and was trying to atone by sparing me the usual stories of his battlefield prowess.

Zash’s intelligence directed us up seemingly endless stairwells, higher and higher up in the temple. I heard all sorts of awful noises coming from the floors we passed, and on at least two occasions I felt the very ground beneath us shake from what sounded and felt like explosions. Even Khem seemed increasingly unsettled by the place, so it was with a palpable sense of relief that we arrived at the level Zash had marked on my data pad. If her information was correct, the relic we were seeking was within a chamber on the far side of the temple, but the little time I had spent here already made me wonder if I wanted to be anywhere near a Sith relic from here.
And, of course, it is Zash that sent you to acquire it rather than doing so herself.

There were no crazed Sith or Imperials around the chamber or the path to it, no strange displays of Force energy or the supernatural, yet I felt frightened all the same. There was a chill in the air; not the chill of a crisp early morning, but the kind of chill that creeps into your bones and drains you of your will to go on. There was something wrong about this place, something terribly wrong, but I could not identify it. Despite Zash’s effusive praise, I knew that my knowledge of places such as this was just enough to get me in trouble.

I noticed graffiti on the door as it slid open at Khem’s touch, written in ancient Sith script, I could not decipher it quickly enough, apart from the word traitor. Normally, I would have chalked it up to the insane residents of the Temple, but there was nothing normal about this place; there was a large altar in the center of the room, covered in cobwebs and radiating Dark Side energy. Around the room were lit candles….and nothing else.

<I do not like this, Little Sith>, Khem intoned. <There is something foul about this place, not darkness, but something worse.>

I shivered and pulled my robe tighter around me, for what little good it did. “Agreed, Khem. The artifact must be in this altar somewhere. Perhaps we should locate it and leave as soon as possible.”

He nodded eagerly and began surveying the area around the altar, while I carefully slid my hands around it searching for a panel or switch, something that must be there to activate whatever mechanism was required to reveal the artifact. I was so caught up in what I was doing that I never heard the silent footsteps; only his voice revealed his presence.

“You! what are you doing here?” I turned, my heart beating a million times a minute as I tried to understand how I could have been so sloppy.

I had only begun to process the ephemeral nature of the speaker when I felt my throat constrict, felt my feet leave the ground. A Force spirit…with the power to manifest its will here. I struggled desperately against it, but I was helpless; even Khem was tossed aside like a ragdoll when he attempted to intervene. Had I any breath, I might have laughed at the sheer absurdity of the situation; to come so far only to fail like this. There were white spots appearing in my vision when I suddenly felt the pressure on my throat relax. I tumbled to the ground, coughing and gasping for air.

“Blood of my blood, you have returned to me.” The spirit seemed strangely…pleased. “Daughter of however many daughters, at last we may have our revenge.”

I glared at the ghost. “Have you ever considered starting your conversations with a simple ‘hello’?” I brushed some dust off my robe and rubbed my throat gingerly as I stood up. “Who is this we, and what do you mean by blood of your blood?”

“You…you do not recognize me? Aloysius Kallig?” The spirit sounded confused. “I am your ancestor, you are the blood of my blood.”

Khem bristled at the name, but remained silent. “That name means nothing to me, and I am not your descendant. I am Veresia Martell, daughter of Montclair and Valeria. My father’s family were Jedi, not Sith and my mother’s family were…” my voice trailed off slightly. “Bankers.” Khem huffed loudly; I suspected it was to cover a laugh. “And soldiers too, for the Republic.” I hoped I didn’t sound as defensive as I felt.

The ghost –Kallig - was silent for a moment. “I do not understand. Has my family fallen so far that it turned to the Republic? To the Jedi?”

I did not like his tone of voice, or its implications. “There is no way to fall any further than being a Sith.”

“And yet…I sense that you are more of a Sith than you want to admit. I feel your anger at a great loss, your desire to strike out for vengeance. Why do you deny that which gives you strength?” He did not give me time to respond. “It does not matter. Your station in life is as much my fault as yours, and you will see the error of your judgment.”

This was all too much. “You still haven’t even told me who you are, save for a name that means nothing to me. Or why I should care about anything you have to say.”

The spirit shifted its weight, a strange gesture for an intangible Force ghost. “I was the greatest general of Tulak Hord, and his closest ally.” He shifted his view to stare directly at Khem. “Until he betrayed me. As his creature will betray you.” He pointed an accusatory finger at my Dashade friend, which I waved aside.

“Rest assured, I am watching Khem as closely as he watches me. He is more of a servant than a friend, anyway.” I turned to see Khem staring angrily at me. “A partner, rather. A junior partner.” The spirit looked mollified. “What would you have me do then, ‘blood of my blood’?” I arched my eyebrow as high as it would go.

“Be wary of the Dashade, daughter of my daughters. Be wary of your master, it is the way of the Sith to betray those they are close to. That is how it was with me, that is how it will be with you if you do not heed my advice. I seek only to preserve my line, to protect you.”

I waved his statements away with my hand. “No, you seek to use me for your own purposes, whatever they might be. There are no Sith that place any value in the lives and dreams of others, only delusional fools that manage to convince themselves as much.”

The spirit sounded almost sad. “What does that make you, blood of my blood?”

I felt sudden heat in my cheeks. I do not need to suffer this any longer. I shook a fist in its direction, for whatever good it would do. “Be gone, spirit. I have no more time to waste on you.” My voice was shaking and uncertain.

Surprisingly, it left without any complaint, though something in the air whispered “I will be watching” as it did so. I shuddered, and drew my robes closer still, warmed only by the absence of the spirit.

<Sith spirits are deceitful and seek only unnatural things, Little Sith. I will destroy it if it appears again.> I would never have thought Khem’s voice could be reassuring, but for a moment it was. <Though this one was not completely useless. It has revealed the location of the artifact, which we may return to the witch.>

I let him pick the object up; it appeared to be a map of some kind. We didn’t speak the entire way back.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

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Lesaberisa
08.28.2013 , 05:19 PM | #25
Spoiler


Zash’s conversation with Thanaton had apparently gone well enough, because she was no longer at the Cantina when we returned to Kaas City. The bartender, once relieved of the foolish notion that I might be interested in having dinner with him, helpfully remembered that she had returned to her office and had requested my presence. I let the bartender go with a sharp nod, which left him cowering in fear behind the bar. I was able to suppress my satisfied laugh until after I had left the room, sparing whatever was left of his ego.

As we walked to her office, I turned the artifact from the temple over and over in my hands, attempting to determine what about it made it important enough to be worthy of Zash’s attention. I wasn’t simply curious; there was something off about Zash, and anything that was this important to her therefore became important to me, for self-preservation, if nothing else.

I tried my damnedest not to think about the ghost at the temple. I had not sense deceit in its words, despite my best efforts, but that might not mean anything at all. The spirit might just be particularly adept at lying; that would hardly be a surprise for a former Sith. It might not even be possible to detect such emotion from a Force apparition, I did not know. There had been precious little information about such matters in the libraries I had spent time in, and I had had no reason to investigate further.

Until now.

No matter how many times I told myself what it had said was not true - could not possibly be true -there was a niggling sense of dread in the back of my mind I could not escape. Mother’s side of the family was well documented, given its profile, but Father had spoken little of his family and the Jedi were not exactly the type to leave ancestral records available for investigation – either by the public or family. Could our Force sensitivity be due to being descendants of some ancient Sith lord? I did not know the answer, but I had not even thought to ask it until an hour ago. I would need to investigate – carefully, quietly – and see what I could unearth.

Zash’s office resembled a war zone; Khem seemed particularly annoyed by that after stubbing his foot against a Sith artifact of some kind that was lying on the floor. Zash herself was absent-mindedly muttering to herself while going through some of her belongings. She didn’t seem to hear my approach, so I cleared my throat to get her attention. Softly at first, then more emphatically when she didn’t respond to the first attempt. Whatever she was doing proved quite engrossing, though, as I nearly hacked up a lung before I was able to get her attention.

She favored me with a faint smile, though I sensed it wasn’t entirely sincere. I wonder how many times she gave Skotia that same smile, all the while plotting and hoping for his death. She clapped her hands together as she spoke. “Good news, apprentice. I was able to convince Thanaton of the injustice of the charges that I killed Darth Skotia. Indeed, he was so taken by me that he has raised me to the rank of Dark Lord of the Sith and presented me with Skotia’s office. My office.” She was positively beaming.

“Does that make me a Lord then?” I gave my voice a hint of eagerness, as any self-respecting Sith would be feeling. It was easy enough because I was eager for a promotion, simply not for the reasons Zash would expect – a Sith Lord would be far better placed for ensuring that…things...occurred to those that deserved them.

“Patience, apprentice. All in good time. For now, I have a mission for you, an extended one.” She gripped the artifact I had extended with my right hand in her left, while tracing the outline of another one on her desk with her right. “I have determined that this is a map to various artifacts of Tulak Hord that I require. I need you to get them for me, apprentice. It will be difficult; you will be required to travel through dangerous territory throughout the galaxy, but when we have gathered these relics, our march forward will be impossible to resist.” She twisted her lips in what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile but was merely disconcerting.

<What is your plan for these relics?> Khem’s tone was decidedly hostile. To be fair, he probably is concerned she intends to desecrate Tulak Hord’s memory or artifacts in some way. And he’s probably correct.

Zash’s response was directed at me rather than Khem. “I’m sure you can find some way to assuage his concerns. In the meantime, I require his absence while I describe out first steps.”

I pondered that for a moment, then shrugged my shoulders at Khem, sighing softly. He stared at me with unblinking eyes for a long moment, but his posture relaxed and he nodded in mute agreement. Once he left the room, I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding in.

“Well, that was rather awkward.” There was the slightest hint of amusement in her eyes. “In any case, I wished to speak with you about this mission I am sending you on. The ritual I am preparing requires various artifacts that once belonged to Tulak Hord. The first is located on the world of Balmorra, I trust you’ve heard of it?”

Of course I have, my parents had met there.

“Yes, a Republic world that they abandoned to Imperial rule following the war. If I’m not mistaken, there are rumors that the local populace has not been entirely…receptive…to the Empire.” I should have stopped there, but I could not quite help myself. “It is truly shocking that they don’t recognize the benefits of living under the heel of Imperial troops.”

My ‘master’ gave me a puzzled look, but she radiated a cool menace rather than genuine confusion. “Careful, apprentice, not all ears on Dromund Kaas are as friendly as mine.” She gave me a snake’s smile before continuing. “Among Skotia’s many possessions that are now mine was a starship which I now give to you in lieu of a promotion. I hope it serves your purposes well.”

It mostly felt like a grotesque caricature of when my mother had given me the activation key to our speeder for the first time, but I managed to squelch the impulse to let Zash know. Instead, I nodded.

“Regardless of your political beliefs, we have work that must be done. I’ve arranged for a briefing on the local situation by Imperial Intelligence; your contact will be waiting for you in the Nexus Room Cantina. Look for the female Chiss wearing the gray uniform. Do remember to behave.” Her tone suddenly became painfully light. “Best of luck, apprentice!”

I tilted my head down slightly, and exited the room, slowing down just enough to allow Khem to fall into step beside me. He still seemed troubled by what Zash had said, but continued the moody silence he had drifted into for so much of our time on Dromund Kaas. Hopefully returning to our favorite haunt will liven him up again.

Our contact from intelligence was surprisingly easy to find, given her line of work, mostly because she was the only patron that didn’t appear awkward and utterly out of place in a social environment. Then again, she probably wanted to make this as painless as possible, particularly if her opinion of Sith was as low as mine was. I felt a mixture of accomplishment and relief that I had done enough research at Korriban to know what a Chiss was, though, as gawking at her like a tourist might have made things somewhat awkward.

She smiled slightly as she watched me approach her table, her red eyes somehow warm and not nearly as threatening as I had assumed they would be. “Nice to meet you, Veresia. I’m Mina.” She shook my hand, but made no effort to rise from the table. “I was told to assist your mission on Balmorra by briefing you on some of the pertinent details.” She sighed heavily and took a drink from her glass, which was filled with a fizzy green beverage. “I’ve got other assignments, so we’ll have to make this quick.”

I nodded, hiding any noticeable reaction by taking an unreasonably large gulp of water.

“Good.” She smoothed a crease in her blouse. Her tone, like so many that I had encountered during my life in the Empire was a genial one that masked cold steel. The iron fist cloaked by the velvet glove, as my mother would have said. “The item you are being sent to receive is located in a bunker belonging to the former Balmorran government known as Vault 305. Unfortunately, its precise location was lost, and assets on the ground are occupied by the threat presented by the Balmorran resistance.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Is the Empire truly having so much difficulty?”

She smiled another fake smile. “not so much that your little quest will be interrupted, if that’s what you mean. Your contact on Balmorra will be a Major Bessiker, from the Imperial military. He has a long career of solid, if undistinguished, service, but his son could prove problematic. He has…unique talents with the Force, but has proven to be an obstacle to various operations.”

“Because he’s a Sith? I’ve heard they’re quite troublesome.”

The barest hint of a genuine smile crossed her lips, but she quashed it. “Yes. Quite.” Her eyes traced the outline of my face, strangely, before she continued. “Though, I’ve heard that there are some within their ranks that aren’t entirely irredeemable.” Her gaze settled on me with a knowing look. “Such as…the daughter of a Jedi and Republic soldier.”

I felt my heartbeat rising to unhealthy levels, and saw Khem rise to his feet. It was only then that I realized she had had no reaction to his presence at all, none of the fear and loathing that others displayed without hesitation or shame. I waved gently at him to sit down. I understood. She is me.

I smiled at her. “It is difficult to live life as the outcast, apart from everyone around you no matter what you do or say.”

Her eyes brightened slightly, and her shoulders relaxed noticeably. “Yes, it’s quite a challenge at times. Particularly when you can’t even look at someone without them thinking you’re trying to mind-control them. Or worse.” She gestured towards her eyes.

“I understand completely; being a Sith apprentice makes socializing rather difficult, particularly when I am in such strange company.” I nodded in Khem’s direction; Mina seemed amused by his huff of disgust.

Mina snorted. “I travel with a sociopathic Rattataki murderer. You’ve got nothing on me.” She paused, her expression turning suddenly serious. “Speaking of which, she’s been gone a rather long time. I best be sure she hasn’t committed any felonies.” She pushed a data pad across the table to me while looking around the cantina with a look of obvious concern. "Everything else you'll need is on here."

I stood up, carefully pocketing the pad. “You’ve been quite helpful; I look forward to harassing you and your Intelligence colleagues again someday.”

She laughed lightly and shook my hand. “I don’t doubt you will.”

As we left the cantina, Khem finally broke his disgruntled silence. <You are very strange, Little Sith.>

I turned my head so he did not see me smile. Coming from him, that was practically a compliment.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

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Lesaberisa
09.02.2013 , 11:49 PM | #26
The ship Zash had provided for me was sufficient for our needs; it was nowhere near a top of the line model, but it was functional. Regrettably, it came with a protocol droid as well, designation 2V-R8. Unsurprisingly, 2V and Khem had not had the friendliest of introductions, and I had been forced to exile the droid to the cargo bay to avoid any further trouble. Khem, unsatisfied with having most of the ship to roam, decided to hide himself in another cargo bay on the opposite side of the vessel. I might have been concerned about such an inauspicious start to my career as an erstwhile Sith apprentice, but it left the majority of the ship for my own purposes.

Mina had proven to be a pleasant surprise – it was rare to find any Imperial that understanding of what the Empire was really like, let alone one in Imperial Intelligence. Most likely, there was a substantial minority that recognized the unpleasant truths about the system they were a part of, but their silence made life easier. Of course, the silence of those that knew better encouraged those that were wavering to stand firm, and so on, simply perpetuating everything that was wrong about being Imperial. Like Malicineve. I had felt fortunate not to run into her again on Dromund Kaas, but I did not need the Force to know I would encounter her again.

Landing at Sobrik was an eye-opening experience. My parents had met on this planet, back during times that had been happier even when they probably shouldn’t have. It is probably a bad sign when you are nostalgic for a time when the entire galaxy was at war. I missed them both terribly. I missed my brothers and sister, too. I missed the days when my life was simpler, when I wasn’t secretly trying to undermine the Sith from within. I sniffed the air around me. I miss the days before I had Khem in my life, too. I wondered if Ayrs missed me, too.

Sobrik itself was an ugly place. Not physically, though, as everything was clean and orderly – just as the Imperials liked it. The city screamed out in the Force, though; its residents were full of fear and anger towards the Imperials, the resistance, even their own neighbors and families. As attractive as the order of Sobrik under Imperial rule was, it merely masked a real ugliness that seethed underneath. Khem could sense it too, I could tell by the way he sniffed at the air. Things might get ugly in a hurry, if he cannot control himself.

Major Bessiker was a nondescript officer stationed in one of the numerous Imperial control centers sprinkled throughout the central part of Sobrik. The only thing that distinguished him from the other Imperial minions scurrying about doing their own small part to contribute to the evils of the Empire was a graying beard that crept around the corners of his chin like a fungus. Judging from his trembling at my approach, I guessed he was too much of a coward to grow it any further, lest he get knocked down to size by his superiors…or a Sith. I felt slightly ill facing him.

Men like Bessiker are the key cogs in the Imperial machine. They may not commit much evil in their own name, or even at all, but without them the system would no longer function. The banality of evil is personified by every Imperial officer that could take a moral stand but refuses to. Like the one in front of me right now.

“Sir, err my Lord.” He offered a half-bow, less by intent and more due to nervousness. “Darth Zash ordered me to extend to you the same level of courtesy and service I would extend to her.”

How droll. I rolled my eyes quickly before speaking. “Stop prostrating yourself, it’s unnecessary and embarrassing. I’m here running an errand for Darth Zash, I’m not here to play games with sycophants.”

A flash of anger passed in his eyes, one he made no effort to hide. A surprising show of defiance for someone that had seemed to be so beaten down only a moment before. “Very well…my Lord. Unfortunately, we have been engaged in an extended battle with local resistance forces. The rabble was somehow able to drive back our advanced forces in the area, leaving behind a scientific outpost which I believe contains data that may be of some value to you.”

“Did the battle cost your forces many men?” I kept my voice as neutral as possible.

He nodded. I bit my tongue so as to not smile. “We estimate less severe casualties for the resistance. They are proving to be a significantly more challenging group to deal with than our analysts anticipated.” He frowned for a second, then returned to a blank stare when he realized I had caught his reaction.

“Is something wrong, Major?” It would not hurt to at least go through the motions of social niceties; perhaps Bessiker would prove useful at some point in the future.

There was an odd glint in his eye, and it almost seemed like he was going to tear up. “It’s…it’s just that my son was among our forces that were cut off. I fear for his safety in the hands of Balmorran savages. He is an unruly youth, but he is still my family.”

I felt an unwanted pang of sympathy for the man. When all else is lost, family is all you have. And I have lost that, as well. I restrained myself from making any open gesture of pity, but I softened my voice somewhat. “If I happen to see him or hear of any information, I will be sure to keep you informed. I cannot guarantee anything, though, and my own mission takes precedence over anything else. Darth Zash is a harsh mistress and has no tolerance for wasted time.” His expression darkened. “I will try, though.” Why did I say that?

Bessiker stroked his beard absent-mindedly. “I…appreciate your thoughtfulness. It is rare to see such kindness on Balmorra, not that we deserve it, with what we have done.” I arched an eyebrow, but he switched topics rapidly. “Once you reach the scientific outpost, contact me on frequency 41.3b, and I will assist as best I can.”

For a moment I thought to question him further on his previous statement, but I did not have the time, and I feared that Khem might cause an incident if we dallied any longer. I nodded, and lead my Dashade companion out the door we had entered, making our way toward the Imperial speeder distribution area. Zash had not seen fit to provide me with ground transportation, so it fell to me to pay for an ancient Aratech model that provided enough seating for me, but barely a padded square of plasteel for Khem. I hoped his loin cloth was up to the rigors of traveling on the speeder.

The trip was easy enough with the use of some Force-shrouding to distract curious Imperial and resistance groups alike. I did not wish to provoke any unnecessary fighting with either side, no matter how sharp a look Khem gave me every time we passed a group that had a Sith within it. At long last, his patience gave out, though, and he shoved me to the side and pulled the speeder into a small ditch behind an Imperial outpost. I heard the low hum that betrayed a Sith, the low hum that must have called out to Khem like a siren’s song.

<Little Sith, I must feed.> He sounded like a child..

This was irritating. “Not now, Khem. We need to get to the science outpost to get the data, we don’t have time to stop every time your stomach rumbles.”

He was silent for a heartbeat, then responded with a deep, guttural, growl like I had never heard from him before. <I tolerate your heresies without complaint. I say nothing as you disgrace the essence of the Sith. I ask almost nothing, but sustenance is something I require. Would you rather I consumed Jedi instead?> He eyed me curiously.

I would rather you not consumed anyone.” I paused to take a breath, realizing that I was going to say something I would have a hard time accepting, no matter what response I gave. “Despite that, I realize you have your…hungers…and I would prefer you direct them at my enemies when possible.” I felt my shoulders slump as I realized the degree of my defeat. “If you must feast now, then I will not stop you.”

He huffed at me once, then swung himself off the speeder and marched off towards the squad of Imperials. The little girl from Ithaca hid her face and covered her ears as the terrible sounds of battle and….Khem feeding…echoed across the rocks.

When he returned, I could not bear to look at or speak to him. I had known what he was from the moment I encountered him on Korriban, I had always known what he was. And yet, I had somehow deluded myself into thinking that the blood he shed was not on my hands simply because I did not want it to be. Khem might be a monster, but he was my monster…I had been the one to free him from his imprisonment, I was the one that walked beside him. I am the one responsible when he feeds.

It was proving difficult to undermine the Sith without acting like them, without consorting with the kind of monsters that so readily served them.

The scientific outpost was – thankfully – abandoned by both sides, though I sensed a presence in the area that I could not identify. It was strong in the Force, yet not hostile. Curious, even amused at times, but never hostile. There was something about it that I recognized, but I was unable to attach a name to it. I glanced over at Khem; he was sniffing at the air like a nerf, but it was clear he didn’t recognize it either.

We passed through empty rooms through abandoned corridors; the scientists might have been working for either side, but they’d cleared out quickly either way. A few minutes of searching led us to the central terminal, which contained a data repository for Balmorran information dating back centuries. Khem took up station at the door, while I went through the system as quickly as possible. There were numerous vaults across the planet; some had been used by private citizens to hoard their possessions, some belonged to the former government and no doubt contained all sorts of secrets and technology. I was not sure who would own a vault containing a Sith relic.

At last, the system beeped an acknowledgement; Vault 305 had been located. The system called up the location on a map, in an area I did not recognize to the northwest of Sobrik. I uploaded the coordinates to Bessiker back at Imperial headquarters for analysis, then relaxed in a chair while he analyzed the data. It took him only five minutes to respond with the bad news.

“My lord…", He sounded positively terrified, as if I would strike him down over the comm channel. “The vault is located in the area we call Bugtown. It is infested by a population of insects known as colicoids; vicious creatures that can rip a man to shreds in a manner of moments. Even beyond that, their acid would burn your flesh before you ever got close to the location. I fear we must reconsider your course of action.”

I waved a hand at the screen, hoping it would calm him down. “We will figure something out. Khem and I will finish our information gathering and return to you in Sobrik for further discussions.”

As I closed the channel, I felt the familiar presence in the Force again, this time more directly. It was almost as if someone was reaching out to me, but I knew that was nonsense; there was no one out there for me. I pushed the odd feeling to the side and concentrated on the terminal in front of me. If I was going to find Zash’s precious relic, I could ill-afford any distractions.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

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Lesaberisa
09.10.2013 , 11:18 PM | #27
The familiar presence, whoever it was, disappeared about five kilometers out from the outskirts of Sobrik. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it…of him – I was sure of that much – but I assumed it meant that they had integrated into the local resistance. Or, perhaps, were a part of it. I could not think of any Balmorrans I could consider familiar, but it was possible some old friend of my mother or father was now fighting opposite me on their home planet. A part of me hoped that was true; that I might find someone that belonged to the life I had lost; the other part of me did not want to revisit that story, did not want to reopen that old wound.

Bessiker was waiting for us in his office, hands clasped behind his back. I struggled to hold back a laugh at his unnecessary formality; there were those that might have been impressed by the routine. People on Ithaca had little time for pomp and circumstance; Imperial slaves had even less. After giving me a puzzled look, he seemed to recognize my impatience and handed a data pad over to me, filled with line after line of data. It all blended together as I scrolled through the pad’s contents, and my head began to hurt.

“Major, if you please. Summarize what I need to know in order to complete my mission.”

He straightened up again. “We reviewed the data you acquired, my lord, and discovered something that would prove quite useful to reaching Vault 305. First, the bad news – we confirmed the location of the vault, and it is not only located in colicoid-infested territory, but also is surrounded by highly radioactive toxic waste, well beyond the limits a human might survive.” He gulped loudly and nervously looked at me, so I made a waving gesture to get him to continue. “ However, It appears the Republic – or perhaps the resistance - was experimenting with a mutagen that its scientists then administered to colicoids, and this mutagen is capable of providing them with protection against the radiation.”

“They were planning on using the colicoids for some purpose in these radioactive areas, I’m guessing some kind of clean-up work.” I rubbed the side of my cheek ruefully. “A pity that the fighting disrupted it, this world has been battered enough.” That was something greater than understatement; the pictures my parents had of Balmorra made it seem like a verdant paradise compared to what it was now.

“I agree, my lord. It is a pity such constructive efforts get derailed due to politics. The Balmorrans would be far more receptive to Imperial rule if they were presented with a positive case for it rather than simply being beaten into acceptance.” His presence in the force flickered for a moment, then began to radiate fear. “Begging your pardon, my lord. I live only to serve the Empire.”

I laughed, not even bothering to keep up the pretense of being the sour Sith apprentice. It felt good to let it out, even if it was at the expense of a man that was proving to be surprisingly thoughtful for an Imperial officer. “Rest assured, Major, your political beliefs don’t concern me, even if they’re quite likely correct. Can we produce the mutagen in question here in Sobrik?”

He shook his head more violently than he intended; his nerves still had the better of him. “No, my lord, I’m sorry – we’re a military operation first and lack the necessary scientific expertise.” He frowned as a pensive expression took hold on his face. “However….Tyrek.”

We stood in silence for a minute as I waited for him to continue, something he was apparently unaware was expected of him.

“Do go on, Major. I’m not much of a fan of teases.” I arched my left eyebrow, prompting a blush. This time I did hold the laugh in, but only barely.

“There was a researcher named Iannos Tyrek serving in some of the forward areas. However, he betrayed the Empire and defected to the resistance some time ago. We have reliable intelligence reports that he and his cohorts are hiding to the west of Gorinth Canyon. It would be too bloody to force our way through with a standard military strike, but with the assistance of the Force, perhaps you could locate him.” And by convince, he means torture into compliance.

There wasn’t much point in wasting any more time, so I nodded my head at him and made my way out of his office, returning to the speeder we’d parked on the outskirts of the central district in Sobrik.

“Khem, I’ll need you to rein in your usual impulses around this Tyrek fellow. I need him alive for his mutagen, and so we don’t get attacked by every Resistance member and their brother on our way back.”

<I will accept your commands, but they are born of weakness and cowardice. A true Sith would seize what is hers, what she desires. You are so afraid of what might happen that you risk losing what you require.>
“Did you speak to Tulak Hord with such irreverence?” I already knew the answer before I even finished my question, but I wanted to hear it from him anyway.

<Tulak Hord did not brook weakness in anyone. He would not worry about the mewling of his inferiors like you do.> Khem’s disgust was palpable. <Your weakness will be your undoing. As it was for Kallig.>

“And when I am dead, you can find yourself a new master. Hopefully they are more appreciative of the joys of traveling with an overly emotional Dashade still pining for his long dead master.”

Khem glared at me, his tiny eyes filled with hate as his jaw clenched and unclenched. Despite the rage I could feel emanating from him, though, he did not move from his seat in the speeder. I had seen this routine before on Korriban and then again on Dromund Kaas. Khem was still quite dangerous, but he knew his place, and his anger was at least partly directed at himself. He sees himself as having failed his master, he will not want to feel that again.

The speeder dropped us off a kilometer outside the Resistance-held zone Bessiker believed Tyrek was hiding; Khem accused the pilot of cowardice, but I did not blame him. I could see hundreds of lives gleaming in the Force, shining like candles. I could feel their fear, hope, everything about them, even that which they did not know they were revealing.

However, it was not the Force that helped me pinpoint Tyrek’s location, but rather the high energy readings that spiked when I used my scanner on an encampment about three kilometers away. The problem, then, was not finding Tyrek, but getting to him. I could probably use the Force to convince most of the Resistance members to let me pass, perhaps even all of them depending on how strong-willed they were. I wouldn’t be able to keep them all confounded while also dealing with Tyrek, though. Somehow, I doubted Khem would be all that helpful, either, not with the way he was glaring at me, his mouth open just enough to reveal his sharp teeth. A spot of drool, too, if I wasn’t mistaken.

<We should drive our way into the enemy’s heart, seize the doctor, and bend him to our will.>

I glared right back at him. “How about we leave the psychopathic plans aside and try to come up with something that doesn’t involve murdering dozens of people.”

“I can help with that.” The voice came from behind me. It was warm, slightly teasing, and I now recognized what had been so familiar about that presence in the Force.

“Quorian Dorjis.” I knew the answer before I had even turned completely. “What are you doing here?”

“Sightseeing.” He definitely looked healthier than he had on Korriban – his frame was fuller, his skin was no longer pale, and he’d grown his hair out from the ridiculous style he’d had back then. “Heard a rumor of a Sith apprentice flying around on a top secret mission. Was pleasantly surprised to see it was none other than my savior from Korriban.”

“Yes, well, what do you want?” My speech was slower, more confused. “What do you want with me?”

The barest hint of a teasing smile crossed his face. “Well, it sounds like you’ve got an interest in ol’ Iannos Tyrek and need a way to meet him. I can help you with that….as long as you agree to some ground rules first.”

I bit my lip, contemplating the possibilities. The Jedi meant us no harm, but I imagined it would look rather bad to Bessiker and the other Imperials if I was caught cavorting with the enemy. “First, tell me why you’re on Balmorra. The peace treaty forbids it.”

“Like I said, sightseeing. After my little stay at Hotel Sith, I took some leave, decided to see the galaxy. Just so happens I ended up on Balmorra.” He grinned that stupid grin at me again. “Funny how things work out. Guess it’s the Force.”

“Yes. Funny.” I practically spat the words out, realizing my attempt to delay was only amusing him. “What are your ground rules, then? I haven't got all day.”

‘Just a couple. No vivisections of Doctor Tyrek, no electronic devices that can be used to help your Imperial friends, and..” He casually jerked a thumb in Khem’s direction. “No Darth Sunshine over here.”

Khem roared in anger. <He is a Jedi. Our enemy. My enemy. We should slay him where he stands, not waste time with empty words.>

“No.” He roared again as I shook my head. “I need Tyrek’s information more than I need a bloodbath, even our Jedi friend here is rather exasperating. Wait here while I speak to Tyrek and secure his cooperation. I’ll be sure we commit some war crimes when we have the opportunity.”

Quorian coughed into his palm, probably unsure whether I meant the last bit or not.

<I will slaughter any who cross my path.> He folded his arms across his chest, either to intimidate me or Quorian. Possibly both.

“Don’t do that Khem, you’ll only attract more attention to yourself and make our departure more difficult. Just…act casual.” I winced at how stupid my own words were. Khem stormed off, reminding me of Ally during one of her tantrums. I suppose I will have to make it up to him, somehow. I’m not quite sure what one gifts to a disgruntled Dashade. “Shall we go…err… Quorian?”

He took a moment from adjusting his hair to grin broadly at me. “Any time you’re ready. We going with the same cover story as on Korriban?”

My face felt warm, suddenly. “No, no. No need to confuse him. Not a good idea. Not at all.” I need to focus. “Is that why you were really following us? I have enough creepy people imy life from having gone to Korriban; I’m not sure I need a Jedi one too.”

He just laughed, and led us forward.

"Why are you here, truly? I know it's more than running off to play the hero."

Quorian scrunched his face up; it was almost cute. "Some things have to be done because they're right, even if they violate a treaty or offend a politician's sensibilities. There are some crimes that have to be answered for, some people and ideas that must be defended. If it takes my life to do it, so be it." His eyes searched mine, and I sensed his curiousity. "But I think you already knew that. You just wanted to see if I would be honest with you, or simply give you the answer you wanted to hear."

"In this case, you did both. Time to move on, though." I gestured towards the encampment. "Shall we?"

That grin was back. "If there's anything else you'd like me to say, I'm here for you."

"How about you fall on your lightsaber?" I pushed past him, leaving him trailing in my wake. For a Jedi he was so…infuriating.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
09.21.2013 , 01:17 PM | #28
Minor notes:

Spoiler


This time, I didn’t need the Force to realize Dorjis was watching me closely. In more ways than one, as my experience in the camps had taught me to discern. He didn’t say anything for quite some time, seemingly content with the awkward silence. He might be, but I, most assuredly, am not. I turned on him with a flourish, though I kept Zash’s lightsaber sheathed.

“Is there a reason you’re tromping along behind me like that? It’s bad enough that you seem intent on eyeing me like a piece of meat.”

He stopped dead in his tracks, placing his palm on his chest and speaking with a tone that reeked of annoying faux innocence. “I don’t know what you mean. I’m just escorting a lady through hostile territory, like any proper gentleman would.”

Coming from anyone but a Jedi, I would not have been surprised by his playfulness, but – given my understanding of how the Order worked – it seemed oddly out of place. Then again, it seemed like there was always something about Quorian Dorjis that seemed oddly out of place. I decided it would be best to maintain my composure for now, until I had the opportunity to extricate myself from the situation. In the meantime, he was proving to be useful for completing Zash’s little errand.

He’s far more pleasant to look at than Khem and his loincloth as well. I wasn't sure where that thought came from, but I made a mental note to find out and correct it.

“I’m merely trying to be civil. The fact you’re a Jedi and I’m a -.” I paused. I wasn’t a Sith. I would never be a Sith. But not being a Sith didn’t mean I knew what I actually was. “…and I’m an apprentice to a Dark Lord of the Sith doesn’t mean we can’t act like normal people around each other. I’m sure even the Jedi know a thing or two about socializing.”

He gave me a strange look, and began walking towards the encampment again. I rushed to follow, though I did so smoothly, so I would not reveal my impatience. “I’d love to be civil, but I don’t even know your name. Would be nice to know who my lovely rescuer on Korriban was.”

I rolled my eyes, even as I felt the embarrassing warmth of a blush on my cheeks. “You can call me Veresia.”

The Jedi made a face. “So formal are we? You Sith were always a strange lot.”

“I am not a Sith!” I grimaced – both at the sound of my own voice echoing in my ears and the realization that I’d most likely alerted everything in a large radius to our presence. The one positive was that Dorjis appeared rather chagrined at my reaction, a slight flush coloring his cheeks.

“Yeah, you mentioned that. How about I refer to you as my favorite Not-quite Sith?” I shook my head. “Quasi Sith? Diet Sith? I cannot believe she’s not Sith?”

I tried not to laugh at his stupid jokes, but a small giggle slipped through. “You’re quite glib for a Jedi. I hope you’re as clever when it comes to convincing Dr. Tyrek to assist me with my task. If not..” I let my voice trail off, intending the effect to be threatening, but he just laughed. I decided to extricate myself from the situation. “How much longer will it be, incidentally?”

He threw a smug smile in my direction. “We’re there now.” He pushed aside some large-leafed foliage, revealing a large, bunker-like, structure jutting out from the ground. I was somewhat surprised by what Tyrek’s hideout ended up being – a simple aerial strike would easily locate and destroy it if the Imperial commanders in the area chose to send one in this direction. Best to wrap this up as quickly as possible, just in case they do choose to do so.

There were a couple of Resistance members lounging around the outside of the bunker, paying as much attention to the bird flying overhead as they did to their surroundings. They finally noticed the two of us when Quorian stepped on a fallen branch, snapping it in half with a loud crack. He put his hands up in front of him in a gesture of mock surrender. “Easy boys, just taking our visitor here to see the good doctor. I’ll be keeping an eye on her.” He glanced in my direction, then looked back at the guards. “A close eye. If you know what I mean.” The two men guffawed; one wolf-whistled at me as I passed. I instinctively reached for my lightsaber, but managed to regain my control after taking a deep breath.

By the Force, how did I end up working with the most annoying Jedi in the entire galaxy?

Doctor Iannos Tyrek ended up being an unassuming looking man with a poorly groomed, graying, beard. He looked to be in fairly decent shape for a middle-aged man in a war zone, but there was a palpable sense of weariness emanating from him, and not just through the Force. He was seated in front of a console, absent-mindedly tapping at the keys while we stood awkwardly behind him. I cleared my throat, but got no response. The Jedi had similar results.
I was growing impatient, so I drew my lightsaber and activated it so the blade extended right next to his head.

Unsurprisingly, the loud humming drew his attention. He dropped a data pad he’d been holding onto the ground, shattering its view screen, and let out a rather undignified yelp.

“So good of you to join us in the realm of the living, Doctor Tyrek. My name is Veresia, this is my…” I looked over at my Jedi companion, not quite sure how to describe him. “This is Quorian Dorjis, my hanger-on and manservant. He’s also a Jedi.”

Tyrek’s eyes lit up at the distinctively Sith color of Zash’s lightsaber. “You aren’t any Jedi, I can tell by that weapon you hold and the accent of your voice. You’re a karking Sith.”

I smiled knowingly at that. One of the first things I’d realized after being sold to the Imperials was that learning to blend in with them would probably come in handy. “Now, now doctor. I’m not here to hurt you, I’m here for your help in acquiring an artifact located in a vault. Sadly, the vault is located in rather unhealthy territory and I was told you were the man to help me with that."

His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared slightly. Coming from a man his age, the defiance was amusing. “You won’t take me back. You can’t force me to go back. I won’t do it.” His shoulders shuddered slightly as his voice weakened. “I won’t do it.”

For a few moments I felt distinctly uncomfortable, aware I had touched some vulnerable point without meaning to. I needed Tyrek’s help, but I did not need to terrorize a man when it seemed clear the Empire had already done so. Especially when the Empire had already done so. I softened my tone when I spoke again.

“I don’t need you to go back to where you were, I just need you to come with me and create a mutagen so I can travel to the vault. Once the mutagen is complete, you’ll be free to return to the Resistance and continue destroying Imperial interests.” I punctuated my comments with a savage grin, which both Tyrek and the Jedi narrowed their eyes at. It was the doctor that spoke first. “What do you mean I won’t have to go back? The Empire made us do…things. Terrible things. They killed those of us that refused to go along with their plans. I won’t serve them, not again.”

Dorjis frowned at me but didn’t say anything.

“I’m just looking for the mutagen. There’s an artifact that I’m after, once I get the mutagen, I won’t be bothering you any longer, and once I get the artifact, I won’t be on Balmorra any longer. I’m not here to force you to do anything awful; in fact, if there’s anything in my power that I can do to stop awful things from happening I will do it. I am not like the others, I am Veresia Mar-.”I caught myself just in time. “I am Veresia. Formerly a slave, now something more.”

Tyrek studied my face closely for a moment. “You swear you’ll return me safely?”

Dorjis jumped in before I could respond. His usually placid expression was gone, the creased brows and exaggerated frown betraying his discomfort. “Not that I don’t implicitly trust my incredible rescuer, but how can we be sure you won’t be forced to turn Doctor Tyrek over to Imperial custody?”

“I won’t allow it.” I meant it, too. “If you doubt me, let me give you a token of my sincerity.” I reached into my belt and unclipped Zash’s lightsaber, handing it over to the Jedi. He looked it over, as if expecting it to explode. “I’ll return the doctor to you, you’ll return my lightsaber to me. The doctor places his life in my hands, but I place my life in yours.”

Tyrek and Dorjis exchanged a look – I could tell the Jedi was convinced, but I was unsure about the doctor. They whispered furiously to each other, as if I could not understand them by using the Force to enhance my hearing, before they reached the decision I had already known they would. Tyrek turned to me and nodded shakily, pushing himself away from the console and standing up. His hands were shaking and as he stepped toward me I noticed his gait was unsteady. I hoped he was simply nervous and not seriously ill.

“I’ll come with you two, make sure you make It to the disputed zone safely. Then I’ll wait here.” Dorjis eyed us both, though his gaze lingered on me longer than it did on Tyrek. I sighed – he was so painfully transparent, but I doubted the Jedi would have spent much time on such things. As we left the building, he handed the lightsaber to one of the guards outside, whispering something into his ear.

I glanced at the time, and loudly tapped my foot to encourage him to hurry up. The sun was creeping towards the horizon, and I had no interest in being caught unawares in the dark, where either side might decide I was a worthy target. “We best be moving, Jedi, it would be foolish to be caught out in the dark, especially with the way the Jedi are so afraid of it.”

He surprised me with a lopsided grin. “I’m just maximizing the time we have together, Veresia.”

I don’t remember father ever mentioning Jedi like Quorian being around. Presumably they didn’t stay Jedi for long. Or living, depending on who they irritated. I merely smiled uneasily at him and then tried not to look in his direction.

We ended up walking back to where we’d left Khem is silence, a welcome respite from Quorian’s inane commentary and unsubtle flirtations. Tyrek whistled nervously to himself, which seemed noise enough for the Jedi, as his eyes kept flitting across the landscape. I could tell Quorian was not nearly as concerned as he let on, though, because his presence in the Force barely flickered an iota the entire time.

Khem was angrily pacing across the grass, arms crossed in front of him. I had the distinct impression he would be even grumpier than usual. He roared angrily at Quorian as the Jedi approached, stopping the man dead in his tracks. Tyrek inched nervously towards me.

“Relax, doctor, Khem only eats Force –users.” The man’s wild eyes betrayed unadulterated panic. “I’m quite serious, he only brutally maims non-sensitives. You should be fine.” I winked at Quorian, who offered only a blank stare in return. “Anyway, we should return to the command center so the doctor can begin work on the mutagen. Shall we contact you on, say, holocomm frequency Alpha Bravo Three when we’re done?”

Quorian tossed me a lazy salute and then smiled broadly at me. I turned away as I felt warmth in my cheeks. Tyrek was still practically attached to me at the hip, so I gently pushed him forward.

“On we go, doctor. We’ll want to be out of the area as soon as possible. It would be a shame to have your great work interrupted by a stray blaster bolt.”

<How did you acquire this one, Little Sith?> Khem peered down at Tyrek like a disapproving school mistress.
“I gave the Jedi a lightsaber as proof of my sincerity.”

A lightsaber?” The doctor practically squeaked, though I silently applauded how quickly he had caught on.

I ignored him and drew my personal saber from the pocket hidden in my robes. “Zash’s lightsaber.” I gave Khem a vicious grin as I activated the weapon, which bathed the three of us in purple light.

<You surprise me, Little Sith. I am pleased.> I suddenly felt so accomplished.

Tyrek stomped his feet and stopped moving. “You lied to me. You lied to the Jedi. How dare you.”

I pushed him forward again, causing him to stumble over some rocks. “Yes, I lied. Did you really think I would leave my only weapon in Jedi custody while we crossed a warzone.” I rolled my eyes near fully out of their sockets. “I may not be a true Sith but that doesn’t mean I’m a fool.”

Tyrek slowed, legs wobbling, then fainted. His fall was arrested by Khem, who moved far more gracefully than I could have expected to catch the scientist. I rolled my eyes again, ending the gesture as Khem began to laugh.

<You are more clever than I thought, Little Sith. You may yet prove your greatness.>

Despite the warmth in my heart from Khem's kind words, I didn’t really have anything to say to that, or Tyrek’s gaping mouth, so I shrugged and continued walking to the speeder.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
09.22.2013 , 05:19 AM | #29
*hands Lesaberisa my SQUEE*

*pulls another SQUEE from a hidden pocket in my robes*
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress

Lesaberisa's Avatar


Lesaberisa
09.29.2013 , 05:48 PM | #30
Apologies for the slight delay - had this on my laptop which was having issues, and didn't have the energy/interest in rewriting it all on my desktop. Anyway...
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Doctor Tyrek ended up requiring several days to complete his work, though a half day of that was wasted on discussing the finer points of who held legal custody of the good doctor with an angry Sith lord who served the newly arrived governor, a Darth Lachris. I’d not heard much of the Darth, but the rumors that swirled around Sobrik and its outskirts were sobering at best, and her minion had proved equally detestable. He had ranted on the greatness of his master, the necessity of turning Tyrek over to her in order to further expand the glorious Empire, and threatened me with all sorts of terrible retribution if I did not accede to his demands. Try as I might, I was unable to persuade him to see reason, no matter how clever my arguments or how sweet my words.

Fortunately, I was able to determine that the combination of force lightning and the blade of my lightsaber was particularly persuasive to a Sith, if also rather fatal.

It was an unpleasant end to an unpleasant conversation, but I could not risk the doctor’s safety or endanger myself by prolonging the argument, and it was clear the man had been more than willing to do the same to me. Still, I could not help but feel uneasy at how often violence seemed the inevitable result of the events in my life. My father had warned me of the dangerous, seductive, nature of the dark side – of how easy it was to fall when you were convinced you were only doing the right thing. The necessary thing. So far, I believed I had maintained balance the best I could; fought only those that had threatened my own life or those of innocents.

And yet…as I studied ancient Force knowledge from a variety of sources via the Holonet, I could not ignore the nagging feeling that all my protestations were just self-serving lies. It was a disagreeable thought, but my mother had taught me long ago that it was preferable to face an unpleasant truth than any number of pleasant falsehoods. I knew I would have to redouble my efforts, re-center myself on the moral core of my mission. I had been afforded a golden opportunity to strike at the Sith from within, I must do everything in my power to remember the importance of that goal whenever temptation struck.

On the third day of Tyrek’s work, I was surprised by an encrypted message from Quorian Dorjis. I had sent a short, encoded, burst to his account to let him know where my later message would be arriving from, expecting the conversations – such as it was – would end there. Instead, he had provided me with numerous documents full of Jedi lore and information, more than balancing out the pain of reading the “You know you’re a Sith Lord” jokes he’d included in the main body of the message. I did smile at a few, but only out of courtesy.

The information he’d provided was extremely useful; large amounts of discussion of healing and medication techniques that I could never have found out about from Sith archives. The Sith could teach you a million ways to harm someone, and to do so easily, but their only notion of healing was to patch their minions up well enough so they could be thrown forward again as cannon fodder. It was a disgusting philosophy, one that emphasized the inhumanity of the entire order and its Empire. I had not mentioned any of that to the Jedi, but somehow he’d known.
So he’s thoughtful as well as handsome, not the worst combination Ver.

I shooed that thought away with a petulant wave of my hand. The Jedi might be a…an idle amusement…but I had work to be done if I was to continue to work my way into Zash’s good graces. I could ill afford to be distracted by unnecessary personal drama, no matter how desirable it might be.

It’s not desirable! His jokes are nearly as bad as Ayrs’ and he is entirely too presumptuous.

I decided to focus on my work for a bit. After I sent the Jedi a ‘thank you’ message for his information. Just to be polite, of course.

Tyrek found me hunched over my console two days later, working hard at practicing my technique for sleeping with my eyes open. He shuffled forward , like a man decades older than him would, nervously extending his hand toward me. I eyed the vial he carried suspiciously, regarding its contents – a sickly green liquid that turned my stomach as I imagined how it must smell. Still, the work was complete, so I smiled as warmly as I could at the doctor, trying my best not to look too Sithly.

He quailed in fear, regardless. “Here, here you are. The mutagen, as you asked for.” He took a deep breath. “Are you preparing to use it on the colicoids to recover your artifact?”

I instinctively covered my face with my palm, shaking my head slightly. “Doctor, for such an intelligent man you are remarkably stupid. Why, exactly, would I be using colicoids to acquire an artifact from the vault?”

His lower lip quivered the way a small child’s would after being reprimanded by their mother. “I had just thought….I had thought that perhaps you were merely considering all of your options.”

“’All of my options’ does not include relying on colicoids to somehow identify a specific artifact and return it to me.” I shook my head in disbelief. “I studied your research carefully and noted that you and several others on your team believed the mutagen was safe for human use.”

Realization dawned on his face. “You mean to use it on yourself. Are you quite mad.”

I gave him a wolfish grin. “I’ve been accused of that from time to time, but in this case no. I need that artifact to achieve my own goals. Think of it this way, doctor, if things go ill the galaxy will be rid of a Sith. If things go well, you’ll have friends in very low places in the Sith hierarchy.”

Khem muttered something under his breath. I didn’t catch all of it, but there was definitely something about Tulak Hord.

Tyrek didn’t put up much of a protest after that, I hoped because of his great faith in me. Judging from the side-eyed glances he’s giving me, though, I imagine he just wants to escape Imperial custody. The true nature of my plan required some additional work on his part, but within a day we were ready to proceed. I found a comfortable chair in the command center and rested as best I could, preparing myself for the injection. It proved as unpleasant as any reasonable person would have expected, though a rather nasty-looking rash on my arm was the only lasting side effect.

Assuming, of course, that your organs aren’t slowly melting down without you realizing it.

We traveled back to the Resistance compound in a speeder we appropriated from the local Imperial quartermaster, another of Lachris’ creatures. He had attempted to protest it, but Khem was able to demonstrate that he was a skilled negotiator as well as a warrior. I supposed that having large claws and towering over even the tallest man assisted with that, but I was trying to give the Dashade the benefit of the doubt. It was nice to see him glowering at someone else, for once.

Dorjis was waiting for us at the exact same spot where we’d last seen him, wearing a nondescript black tunic that clung tightly to his muscular body. Another thing that remained unchanged was his flippant attitude towards everything related to my mission.

“Always happy to see my favorite Sith apprentice, especially with that happy glow about you. Or is that merely the glow of the mutagen the good doctor injected you with?” He winked, knowing full well how annoying I would find it.

“I’m feeling fine. I appreciate your concern, though, it’s good to know how much you care, though. It warms my heart.” Seeing his face light up with another unnecessary smile convinced me to focus my attention on Tyrek or Khem instead.

“Glad to hear it, glad to see Doctor Tyrek back in one piece too. Not that I doubted you, of course.” That damned smile again. Warm yet so forced. “I even brought your lightsaber back for you. Your other lightsaber, that is.”

He extended his arm towards me, palm raised upward as it cradled the hilt of Zash’s lightsaber.

I forced a thanks threw gritted teeth and pushed Tyrek towards the Jedi; the two exchanged a long look until the doctor nodded almost imperceptibly. He kept walking past Dorjis, past the more distant Resistance members, until he disappeared into the building where I’d first met him. That left Khem and I standing around awkwardly with only the most aggravating Jedi in the history of anything.

Fortunately, he seemed to be able to take a hint before it was even given, bowing slightly at Khem. The Dashade didn’t seem all that amused by the gesture, huffing and walking back to the speeder. It was only after I smiled at the exchange that I realized it would leave me alone with him.

His voice was softer, almost tender. “Be careful out there, Veresia. You might be unusually resistant to my charming personality, but I still prefer you to the colicoids.” He nodded towards Khem. “Or your friend. Area’s pretty nasty, so watch out for yourself.” His voice trailed off, and he seemed unusually reticent to speak.

“Thank you, Quorian. I… I appreciate it. You’ve been quite kind, kinder than I would have expected from someone in your position.”

He moved towards me as if to hug me, then thought better of it and moved back just as I generously mirrored his original gesture and moved towards him. We looked at each other awkwardly for a moment, while I focused on not blushing.

“If you end up leaving Balmorra before seeing me again, you’ve got my Holonet account if you ever want to get in touch.” He shuffled his feet like the boys back on Ithaca had.

I laughed lightly. “Yes, I’m quite sure my superiors would be excited to learn I have a Jedi pen pal.”

He frowned. “What’s a pen?” He’s almost adorable when he’s confused.

I used his confusion as an opportunity to quickly slip next to him. I leaned forward, relying a bit on standing on my tiptoes for balance. Before he could react, I kissed his cheek, trying my best to ignore the smell of his cheap cologne. I stepped away before he could respond, and made as dignified an exit as possible. I could feel him reaching out in the Force, but I tuned him out as I walked toward the speeder where Khem sat impatiently. The Dashade perked up when he saw me, almost like a dog greeting its returning owner.

<You walk a dangerous path, Little Sith. I see how the Jedi eyes you. Do not forget he is your enemy. He is our enemy.> Khem leaned in towards me as he spoke, suddenly more of a father trying to lecture his daughter. Rather less friendly than my real father, though. <I will end him if he puts our mission at risk.>

“I appreciate your…concern…Khem, but I’ll keep the company I choose to keep.” I frowned, pondering my word choice. I’m not keeping company with him, it’s merely some idle fun, nothing more.

Bugtown was a treacherous destination – between scattered Imperial and Resistance blockades and fighting units, it took the better part of the day just to get there. Upon arrival, Khem and I were thrilled to discover…a wasteland overrun by colicoids. The insect-like creatures littered the landscape, crawling, skittering, making my stomach turn.

<Bugs. Why did it have to be bugs?> Khem’s lament sounded almost mournful.

I pat him on the back. “Stay here, Khem, the radiation levels will overwhelm you and I don’t trust the mutagen is safe enough for your use. If there’s trouble…if there’s trouble, contact Quorian Dorjis.” I cut off his attempt at a protest with a sharp hand gesture. “I know what you think of him and the Jedi, but he’s the only one I can trust. We might as well put his bad intentions to good use, no?" I smirked slightly.

Khem huffed, but nodded. <Be safe, Little Sith. It should be me that ends you, not such creatures as these.> He sounded…almost fond of me, for a moment.

To avoid turning the situation into an embarrassingly unnecessary emotional goodbye, I hopped out of the speeder, and began the long trek towards where the vault was located. Three miles through colicoid-infested territory, relying on an experimental mutagen injected into me for protection against the radiation levels. Splendid

A colicoid noticed my presence, calling out to nearby comrades. They began converging on my location. I cast a barrage of purple lightning at the first, then drew my saber as I shrugged off my outer robe. I took the first with a slash through its heart, the second with a stab to the head.

There were more coming, so many more. At least ten to my right, a half dozen others too. This was no time for foolish games. I called out to Khem with the Force, hoping he would hear me.

Then, there was no time for anything but killing.
Finest mediocre fanfic this side of the Outer Rim:Trooper / Inquisitor