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10.01.2021 , 09:57 PM | #21

[A Snippet]

“Let us offer the Galactic Republic a chance to surrender,” Nox said. He could see from their holographic images that he’d surprised a few of them. They expected that he would stubbornly continue the war effort despite the Empire’s difficulties. Nox said, “When we have reduced our debt, improved the economy, refurbished and increased our military, we’ll find an excuse to restart the war.

“If Darth Marr’s information is correct, he can start moving his forces in to occupy those abandoned planets, while I move on to capture forty more worlds. Attacking half as many worlds, I’ll have a larger reserve force, able to answer any challenge the Republic throws at us. I’ll be able to keep up the same rapid tempo of operations, with fewer forces on the ground, and thus would reduce the strain on our logistical and manufacturing capacity.”

“That is an excellent proposal, Darth Nox,” Darth Marr said, adding, “When you’ve deployed to your next set of targets, we’ll listen to any pleas for peace from our enemy.

“It is well within reason,” Vowrawn added, “This strategy will help our economy. This strategy will not exceed our economy’s capacity to support your next campaign.”

“Then that’s it?” Ravage asked incredulous, facetiously adding, “The war ends after we’ve taken a mere hundred and twenty worlds? We aren’t going to crush the Republic anymore?”

“Our military is below optimal strength,” Marr said, in answer, “Our economy is stretched to the breaking point. We must consolidate our conquests and rebuild our forces and also recover our economy. If we continue, we will exhaust ourselves and find ourselves unable to defend anything, unable to crush rebellions and insurgencies on our newly conquered worlds. We must recover, Darth Ravage.”

“I move that we vote to implement Darth Nox’s strategy,” Aruk said, angering Zash.

Zash had no idea, and neither did Nox, nor any of the other dark lords for that matter, but this was Aruk’s second attempt to destroy Nox. First in his secret alliance with Darth Acina, and now with his secret alliance with Darth Zash. In both cases, when the attempt to destroy Nox had failed, Aruk made favorable noises in the Dark Council to mask his involvement in the plots against his enemy. For example, he voted to have Acina booted from the Dark Council, which pleased Nox.

Zash knew that Nox would investigate the attempt on his life at his private speeder port two weeks ago. In fact, she had no doubt that he was probably already investigating. She knew that the evidence would lead to Aruk, but then her involvement would be discovered. Silencing Aruk would end the trail, and hide her involvement.

“All those in favor of implementing Darth Nox’s strategy,” Marr polled the council, “say aye.”

The vote was unanimous in favor. Zash was not prepared to risk any more embarrassments, so she voted in favor. It was a major victory for Nox.

Just before the Dark Council moved on to other matters, Nox took another step to set the stage for his ascension to the throne.

“Before we turn to discussing our other pressing issues, there is one other matter that I feel is of the utmost importance,” Nox said, looking at the holographic faces of his peers on the Dark Council, arranged on either side of the conference table. “We must all gather, physically, and convene a session of the Dark Council on Korriban in the council chamber.”

Darth Marr questioned Nox for the first time in this meeting.

“We are all scattered throughout the galaxy, working to keep the empire from coming undone. We have many times in the past, and are even now, convened via holo and have thus far been quite effective in our leadership. Why must we meet physically, now?”

Nox gave valid reasons, but these reasons masked his true intent.

“The galaxy watched as the Galactic Republic and the Jedi order attacked and destroyed our most sacred temple and academy grounds on our sacred home world. The reputation of the birthplace of the Sith order, and the original birthplace of the Sith Empire has been sullied,” Nox said, still studying the faces of each dark lord, looking for signs that he might be over playing his hand.

“If we gather in Korriban, publicly,” Nox said, “It will send a powerful message to all of the enemies of the Empire,” then applying the hook, he added, “When they see us gathering for a council session, at the Temple of The Sith, they will know that our holy council chamber and our temple are not destroyed, even if our iconography on the outside has been vandalized and ruined.”

He became deeply pleased by the reactions that he saw on the holo-graphic images of his peers on the Dark Council.

“There is another reason, Darth Marr,” Nox continued, “Our hatred for our enemies has been dulled. We are too divided. Not all of us are making a strong effort to fight our mortal enemies, the Galactic Republic and the Jedi order.”

Marr, Mortis, and Ravage showed particularly strong reactions to that statement. Marr’s holographic image turned its head to face Nox. Mortis nodded his emphatic agreement, and Ravage gave a heartfelt, “Here! Here!”

“I believe it is crucial for the entire Dark Council to tour the destruction, to see it with our own eyes and to be there to breathe in the terrible desecration that has been visited on our holy world and to feel the humiliation that we have been made to endure.”

“I believe this will reinvigorate our hatred for our enemies and will strengthen our resolve to destroy our foes with a sincere united front.”

Zash saw an opportunity and cut in.

“It will have the effect of hardening your resolve to destroy our foes when you’ve seen what they did to our temple, as it has hardened mine,” she said in affirmation of Nox’s reasoning for the others to see the ruin visited on Korriban.

Nox was mildly surprised that Zash spoke in support of his proposal, but not too surprised. Her comment was a reminder to the others that she too had battled the enemy on Korriban. It helped her loss of face, earlier in the meeting, to be counter balanced, elevating her in the eyes of the others.

“I move in support of Darth Nox’s proposal,” Aruk said, further infuriating Zash. She knew what Aruk’s game was, being a master of deceit, manipulation and subterfuge, herself. She became determined not to let Aruk have his way.

“I second it,” both Ravage and Mortis shouted, nearly in unison.