The Rite Of Sin
1. This is for the current members of the Rite of Sin only; if you are not a Sinner, don't post.
2. Have fun. It's meant to be short and sweet.
The place reeked of cleanliness.
While the halls and walkways, the furniture even, and all things within the Asylum were not unknown, there was a different feel than what echoed from the past. The robed figure stalked the halls, almost brooding, willing everything that was transpiring out of his plane of existence. The things proceeding here, that had taken place for many years, were incredibly common. It was what the place had become.
Distant memories said otherwise, but the past and present were often at odds. But the echoes of the past still rose up from the belly of the aged, yet refurbished abode of madness. Faint wails of insanity mingled with painful cries that resounded from the past, calling to the brooding, stalking individual. Many glared at the man as he interrupted delicate work, or precise schedules, and yet none could deny the power that radiated from him. There was no stopping this being, no telling him he didn't belong. Quite the opposite; he belonged so intrinsically, they all felt almost whole with his added presence.
Lower into the belly of the ancient abode the man strode. He knew exactly where he was going, and could have found his way blindfolded. In fact, he often had. Part of his treatment had often been a great deal of torment, that caused the blinding of the once young man, who had been so much less when he was first here. The clean hallways and laboratories gave way to filthy, aged, once-used treatment areas still stained with blood and viscera. The almost-measured echoes of careful experiments gave way to the chaotic pitter-patter of lunatics running wild throughout the place. The present faded into the past, and the wards were broken.
Long ago, the lowest levels of the Mystics Asylum had been warded and locked away from those who would enter by the Mystics' own physician, the man who had come to the Asylum with the long-lost Camile. Steiner had been the last to reside within the Asylum when each of the original eight, and those who had come after, had been called away to other duties, other assignments within the Clan, and even other adventures throughout the galaxy. The "good doctor" had never left, and had remained as a shadow of the past that somehow managed to find a new life in the present.
Under Steiner's direction and care, and with the assistance of the Mad One, the Asylum had become a place of bizarre research and a mixture of life and death. While Tarentum had labored under the teachings of the Keepers, Steiner and Sirrus had warped the Asylum into something resembling itself. This madness would not last, though, however much the spirit of the abode of insanity wanted it to. The Keepers turned out to be an apparent enemy of the Clan. Darkness and death were swept away. Cleanliness, sterility and research had taken its place.
"Perhaps that is why the memories called out..." the man mumbled to himself, but his words echoed loudly in his memory. He was no longer a man in one specific time, but instead, a being of all times that this place had known.
The deepest levels of the Mystics Asylum were created from darkest obsidian and blood, perhaps, with the great blackness of the stone structure, and the apparent spattering of what had been the elixir of someone's life. Great wooden doors, still appearing freshly made and coated with seals of power, guarded the entryway. Even Steiner had not sought this place out alone. Whether or not Sirrus had come here, it mattered little. The Mad One's powers were great, as befitted the once-High Priest of the Krath. If he had entered, the seals remained. Sirrus had his own methods of travelling.
The Shaevalian laid a hand upon the great doors and spoke in little more than a whisper, but the power within the words was evident.
"No bonds can hold me, nor locks prevent me from entering mine own abode; part before me," the Sith Master uttered. Whether the doors moved even an inch, no one but the Shaevalian would have known. Where once had been a man standing before a door, however, now there was simply darkness, and an entryway once-again blocked.
A ripple of power began from the Asylum as an origin, spreading throughout the Yridia system and beyond. Those who were not invited, those who would not be touched, these never felt its passing. However, few were called, and the ripple shook their beings to the very core. They had sensed a call, had been given a direction, and with as much haste as they could gather, they would respond to the ripple, and seek out its source.
The Night of Madness was approaching. The servants were making ready the souls of the oppressed. The ancient arts were not lost, they were simply not practiced. Their return would herald in greatness, and their power would be bestowed upon Tarentum. Darkness was fast approaching Yridian space, and with it, transgression would come to Tarentum.
It washed over him like a big wave in the ocean. Darkness in its purest form, not some personal aura of evil. It was like darkness itself, evil incarnate was calling to him. Like a siren's mystical call that dragged seamen to their deaths, this call enchanted him. He had felt nothing quite like it.
"Elric, sir!" a voice called out.
Elric snapped from his entranced state to reply to the rest of the surveying team in the freighter on the other side of the moon Magnus.
"Yeah? you guys done over there?" Elric panted over the comm-link in his space suit. The suit was hot and heavy, very much unlike his nice comfortable robes. His long hair, wet with perspiration, clung to his face, partly blocking his view.
"Yes sir, coming to pick you and the droid up. Lets hope we can make a big investment on what you guys found."
The R-5 unit next to him squeaked as it finished its mineral collection mission and waited for pickup.
"Initiate pickup at site Foxtrot." Elric called in.
"Roger that, sir" the voice on the other end squawked.
Then the distinctive roar of the Correlian engines reached Elric and soon the YT-1300 freighter flew over the horizon. The ship slowly lowered itself to the surface, Elric bounding towards it with the R-5 rolling alongside. The doors opened in perfect timing as the human then the droid entering the compression chamber. The Knight again felt the wave of evil energy washing over, through him. This energy was coming in waves. The first one was the most powerful of course, but he had only blocked the later ones with his busy thoughts. He had to find whatever was sending this dark force through the abyss of space.
With a pop-hiss, the doors into the interior of the ship opened and three crewmen sent upon Elric and getting him out of the large suit. But Elric's mind could only focus on this darkness. It was overwhelming in a sense, invading any free space in his mind. Before he even realized what was going on, the crew had totally taken off the suit and were handing back his robes.
"Whatever this thing is, I've gotta find it."
Robes tied up, he headed back to find the other Knight on this mission, Balia Donos. Donos was already in a bed in the cabin area but was fully awake.
"Balia, have you noticed anything odd recently?" Elric asked, coming around the corner.
The Naboo native swung his legs out from the bed and looked at Elric as he sat down on the bed across from his own.
"Like what? Our captain likes his ale chilled but not iced. The twins are actually androids..." Balia started to rattle off a number of things until he was interrupted.
"You know what I mean. Its like evil itself is being radiated from somewhere in the system." Elric snapped back.
The tone in the room grew deathly serious. Even the hum of the engines seemed louder in the silence that followed. Balia looked down at the floor.
"I felt it when I was coming out of Khryon's Crater. It hit me like a wave. Almost literally floored me. But then a few more lighter waves came. It's like the first one was a..."
"Calling. I know" Elric interrupted again, his voice low. Balia looked up at him with all seriousness possible.
"Where do you think its coming from?" Elric inquired.
"Somewhere on the system's fringe, from what I've been able to gather. Probably Nine if i had to guess. But what kind of person or thing could send out energy like that?"
Elric shook his head. This thing, whatever it was, was more powerful than any one Jedi he had met. Elric rose from his seat and started on his way to the cockpit. Bypassing the crew members, he opened up the cockpit doors. The Falleen pilot looked back at the Jedi who had rudely intruded in a place he didn't belong.
"Don't take us back to the Castle" Elric said.
The green humanoid looked rather surprised at this command.
"And where else did you have in mind?"
"Your planning on heading out of the system right?" Elric asked. The Falleen nodded his head. Elric continued "Drop us off on Yridia IX. It should be the last planet in the system."
The pilot looked hard at the Jedi before him, looking for some trick that would tell itself through the young man's face. He could find none.
"Fine then." he began, "as we top off our fuel, you guys can get off at the spaceport. Now if you would so kindly remove your nasty smelly self from my cockpit, we can get out of here."
Elric glady complied and by the time he was done with his shower, the frieghter had already docked at the spaceport and began filling up for the next journey. He scrambled out of the ship and found Balia waiting for him in a quiet lounge next to a terminal gate. But then another wave, more powerful than the first, of evil energy came rushing through them, bringing Elric to his knees and knocking Balia out of his chair. This wave had a feel to it though.
Elric rose to his feet and looked around. The world was different. Hazzy, ethereal. A form started to come from the mist around him, slowly at first but gaining form quickly. He recognized the shape of her body, the shade of her hair and her emerald green eyes.
"Ta...Tahiri?" Elric muttered. No voice came from her as she slowly approached him. Then an explosion ripped through Elric. Not a physical one, but one of emotion. Jealousy.
Elric gritted his teeth as he drew his saber. He charged recklessly at the image before him
"You [Expletive Deleted]!" he shouted as he swung his saber. But it did not hit his mark. His arm hung in mid-air, blade stopping only a few centimeters from the her stoic, unchanging face. Elric grunted and strained, but his scarlet blade would not move. A voice started to call to him in his mind. The world started to swirl around him, blending colors and images until he was back in the real world. Instead of staring at the human blonde that was just in front of him only a moment ago, he was now looking at a petrified old woman, motionless in her terror. He also noticed Balia behind him, arms outstretched, holding the saber with the Force.
Elric let go of his weapon, letting the failsafe kill the blade and dropping to the ground with a clatter. The old crone fainted on the floor in front of the pair, and a few citizens ran in and dragged her away from the Jedi.
"What the hell just happened to you?" Balia said, coming up to his companion's side.
Elric couldn't explain it. It was all so personal to him. His flesh hand began to shake from adrenaline now pumping through his veins. What he saw was so close to real. It was real in his mind. Balia tapped him on the shoulder and handed him back his lightsaber.
"You seem better now. Don't go pulling that kind of crap with me again though." Balia joked. "By the way, did you notice where that energy came from?"
Elric realized what he meant. Yes, whatever it was causing the disturbances, was coming from there.
"The old Asylum." Elric was sure of it, and Balia voiced his agreement. To the Asylum then. The pair could trace the energy waves all the way there and then find the source.
The duo set off at once in a full run towards the research building. They would find what was causing these events, no matter what.
While deep in meditation, the Sith Warrior felt the call. He fell to the floor of his Eden City hotel room, his home for the past few days. His heart trembled within his breast, and his breath came quick and ragged. His eyes opened and blazed with an inner fire; one that had been long withheld.
His head pounded, and the blood rushed in his ears. Screams filled his mind, and black was all his eyes could see. He didn't know what made him feel this way, but if felt good. It felt like freedom, as if he had been held back and now set off to do as he pleased. He didn't understand it, but he loved it immediately. He grasped it in his mind, holding it, caressing it.
The man rose from his sitting position, and moved as if in a trance. His legs ached from the hours he had spent in a sitting position, yet he felt it not. He could hear nothing, feel nothing, only the call. He walked slowly, his shoulders sunken, his head low. He walked carefully, placing every foot deliberately, as one with a purpose might. He walked alone, with none to follow or sway him from his destined path, none to snap him out of the power he was feeling. He was answering the call, for it pulled him, and showed him the way to power.
He wandered for sometime, yet could not know where he was. He knew where he was going, and that was all that mattered. Anything else, anything at all, was secondary on not important. All he cared about was getting to the source of the call and claiming the power that was promised to him. The awesome power, the power to free himself, the power to do as he pleased, when he pleased. A deep power, deeper than any force power he knew, and he craved it. He hungered for it deeply, and so he followed the call.
It took him far, and he knew not where. Yet, when he reached the place, he recognized it instantly. The Mystics Asylum, a place of mystery, and of experimentation. He knew of it, but nothing more. He knew not the secrets it held, nor of the secrets he would soon learn of. All he knew was that whatever was calling him, it was here. It beckoned to him, sweetly filling his mind with things he lusted for.
He entered the asylum, just as the Sith Master had before him. His feet walked the same path, the same direction, deep into the bowels of the structure. It was cold about him, and chilled him, yet he walked on for the call drove him. Twice he stumbled, but felt it not. His feet moved of their own accord, his mind racing through many things at once and yet, not.
His name, what was his name? He could not remember, yet he knew it held no importance. Not at the present. After he experienced the power, his former self would return, and yet, not return. He would still be, but different.
The call drove him deeper, it pushed with a force more powerful than the one he now wielded. It called to him in a voice sweeter than any song. And he was going to answer.
The coldness seemed to overwhelm him, reaching deep into his core. Then came the smell. The odor of which he had not sensed in a long, long time. The pain in his chest subsided as the coldness passed, though the odor remained. He remembered both, both from his past. But his next thought surprised him, it was not wonderment or confusion, but sadness. The feeling of longing. Longing for the past that he will never see, never feel, never live again. Why had this ancient peice of his past suddenly come now? And like this? What had caused it? The sadness in him was still strong. Reminding him of very dear friends now long gone. Dead or distant, it did not matter. The second round was not as bad as the first, but this one brought with it memories. Vivid memories. Those of chaos and dispair. Pain, and torment. Things that he had done many years ago. Things that he was not proud of and that he had not spoken about sinse.
He looked around the cockpit of his fighter for his tormentor, but he could not find one. Wanting to rip off his TIE helmet but knowing better he calmed himself as best he could. He slowly reached out with the dark side of the force. Seeking the cause of all of this. After a while he could not find a cause. But he had always known the location. The damp odor of the twisted depths of his past was all too familiar to him. Back in his past when he was new to House Gladius. When his friends were plentiful as they were powerful. Back when his friends where in the Mystics and their home was... The Asylum.
Another waved passed when and he knew what he had to do. Flipping the switch on his comm unit for the bridge of his ship he depressed the transmit button.
"Revenge, this is Captain Apollo. Have the XO take over and secure from flight ops. I've been called away suddenly. You are ordered to resume normal patrol paterns Alpha, Delta, and Charlie. Understood?"
The crackle of the comm unit was quite loud in his ear. "Understood sir. The XO gives his reguards. Revenge out."
Sweeping his fighter to port he lined up for a small hyperspace jump back into the system. After making the correct calculations he set his course for the jump. As he initiated his jump the last thought through his head was, again, sadness. The TIE Defender lept away into the molten and lonely sky of Hyperspace.
As the duo of knights got to the Mystic Asylum another wave came and the stop and looked like they were going to have heart attacks from all the evil that the wave carried with it.
“We need to find what is doing this Elric.”
“Yeah we do the wave stopped let’s keep going.”
Going farther in the two knights followed a feeling they were having. Neither of the two has been to the Mystic Asylum before but it seemed like they knew where there where going. Halls after halls, leading too who want know where. The eeriness of the whole place had the two on edge from the feeling that they were being watched by something but what?
“You know I use to live on Yridia IX for a while at the The Mirage.”
“Why are you mentioning this to me?”
“Well because I have never felt anything coming from here since I lived there Elric.”
“Oh so this here is new to you.”
The two talked here and there until they came to an area that leads to the basement. The two knights looked at each other and nodded that they both understood that whatever is calling to them it is from down in the lower levels of the Asylum. The two then headed down the steps carefully one at a time Elric in the lead with Balia following him. The two got to the basement and walked towards a hatch that lead to whatever was calling them. As the two walked into the room after opening the hatch the two Knights saw Sith Bloodfyre and Severon Vercingetorix standing
there talking to each other.
“Master Bloodfyre, Severon what are you two doing here, and what is going on?”
“Another round, Major?” asks Sergeant Winters, a sheepish grin spreading on his face.
Looking over the rim of his glass of fine Corellian whiskey, Tyyravis Nami Dantes regards the Ranger with hard green eyes, nods once, and drains the rest of the strong alcohol. Winters grabs the empty glass Nami offers, and leaves their private booth with a look of relief on his face.
Nami looks around the smoky, yet eerily quiet, proper room of the Flailed Wookie, his eyes pausing on a signed picture of a bounty hunter and his wookie companion. His mind drifts to the deal he and his Sergeant are in Eden City to make, an “unauthorized” delivery of weapons for his new Ranger Company from a rather shady weapons dealer in District IV. Nami’s proposal of equipping his troops with DLT-20A blaster rifles had gone denied, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. The meeting was still an hour away.
The dark-skinned Kiffar looks towards the bar and finds his fellow Ranger waiting, credits in hand as the bartender pours drinks behind him. Seeing Nami looking his way, Winters quickly spins on his heel, back towards the bar. Nami chuckles softly, an outpouring of emotion that would be the equal of another’s roar of laughter, and thinks that maybe he was being too hard on his new charges. Then again, maybe not.
Nami looks down to study once again the blue mechanical fingers of his right hand, the thumb alone remaining of flesh and bone, the sole survivor of the original five. Suddenly his sight dims, a buzz surrounding his head as if the whiskey had arrived and he was drunk.
A wave of pure energy, pure blackness, pure delight in evil, sweeps over and through him. Nami’s head slumps forward, and as his sight goes to black he feels his body rise, as if he were floating, sailing over the city of Eden on wings of the Power.
Sergeant Winters turns from the barkeep, eager to return with drinks to his new Commander, only to find an empty booth. He never sees Nami walking out the front door of the tavern, his eyes completely white.
Concrete walls slip past him on both sides, high over his head until only a sliver of the sky remains. His feet fly, and he feels hurried, impatient, eager, scared, but knows not why. He feels a presence, familiar, yes, but also new, as if he had not felt it in awhile. He looks down at the lightsaber in his hand, a design not his own, and then he remembers. It is Ronovi’s lightsaber. He is back in Commenor. Ronovi is running behind him. And he knows who is around the next corner.
Another bolt of energy and joy hits him and assaults his brain, and the vision of Commenor flickers, replaced by a slowly moving picture of the cityscape of Eden City. Nami looks down at his moving feet, and feels the wave pass him.
Ronovi is doing all she could to fight off Dorn’s press as they ghost down the alley, away from the other fighters. She deflects a blow and is able to strike Dorn in the face with the hilt of her saber, drawing first blood. Dorn’s next blow Ronovi catches with her own blade, and the momentum of the strike carries both their hands to the side to smash atop a large metal container, causing each combatant to lose their saber. Neither wastes any time switching strategies to one they both know well. Hand to hand combat.
He sees all this, and doesn’t. He knows it is memory, but now it is a living memory. He wonders quickly if things change here they change in the real world, like if you really die if you die in your dreams. Before the thought is completely formed, though…
This time the energy is different. It is less and it is more. More urgent in its power, yet softer in its touch. He is closer, he can feel it, to the source of this ecstasy. But it reaches him softer now, gently guiding him as if the path is trickier now, or narrower. The flicker now shows clean, sterile walls, and men and women hurrying about in lab coats. As this wave passes him, he thinks, "Where am I?"
“You know now, girl, that I always come out the winner,” Dorn smirks as he raises his blade high.
Ronovi takes quick inventory of her life as she fumbles for the Force, anything to spare her life. She refuses to beg or admit defeat, but the Force slips through her tenuous grasp, and she knows it is over.
Until she sees the yellow tip of a lightsaber emerge from Dorn’s chest. Dorn’s eyes grow to saucers, and the grin falls from his face. Ronovi feels relief flood her as she sees Dorn’s face register rage and pain.
The yellow blade disappears and Dorn falls to his knees, his own saber clattering uselessly to the ground. Behind him stands Nami, breathing heavily.
He wonders how he knows these things, thoughts in Ronovi’s head, but doesn’t have time to figure it out.
Dorn falls to the side, and he feels Ronovi’s sense go from relief to stunned to alarm. He sees her human eye go wide, and in the glass of the mechanical one sees a flash of red. He has forgotten Pollot.
He quickly flips his saber so the blade is extended down below his grip and jabs it behind him, hearing a gasp in his left ear. He turns to see Pollot, yellow blade disappearing into his stomach, but Pollot’s own red blade still held high. He watches in slow motion as Pollot brings it down, though not at him but at his saber’s hilt, cutting it in two and taking four of his fingers with it. He screams in pain and backs away over Dorn’s body, past Ronovi, clutching his ruined hand.
Ronovi sees everything in slow motion. She sees him lose part of his hand, and sees him back away as Pollot turns to charge him. She reaches out a hand and grabs Dorn’s lightsaber, hitting the igniter and raising it into Pollot’s path. It catches Pollot across the midsection as he races past, cutting him in two like he had cut Nami’s saber hilt in two.
White light, brighter than anything Nami can imagine, invades his eyes. The pain washes the memory, or dream, or hallucination, from his consciousness. He is alone, but unharmed. He blinks and suddenly he is back. Back in control of his body, back seeing with his own eyes. He sits cross-legged on the hallway floor. Before him is an old set of doors, old but still new. He does not recognize them or his cold, dark surroundings.
He thinks about his experience, the fight in the alleyway on Commenor, where he and Ronovi Tavisaen had hunted down and killed the man who had killed Nami’s brother and the rogue Dark Jedi who had taken him as an apprentice, an old enemy of Ronovi’s. The first time he had tasted revenge and evil. A taste he had savored.
A voice then invades his thoughts, repeating a mantra, drawing him towards and through the doors.
Five Minutes Prior...
"Excuse me, Director Mistwalker." a modified black C-3PO unit spoke as he rolled his way into Raimi's new office inside of the Krath Laboratory at the Mystics Asylum. Much of his things were still in boxes, packed away from when they moved here from Yridia III.
Raimi peered his head out of a nearby box, packing foam falling from the sides of it as he does. "Yes, Garian?"
"Laboratory Reconstruction is ahead of schedule; much of our secondary systems should be operational within the next four hours." Garian replied as he leaned down and picked up the foam pieces. "Construction efforts of the new Grand Conservatory are also underway as per your specifications and should see completion in sixteen days."
"Understood, thank you Garian." Raimi nodded, with a smile on his face. He glanced down at his pocket watch as he reclined on the back of the box. "As soon as the secondary systems are back online, let the technicians take a break for a while and then resume operations from where we left off."
"Very well sir." Garian replied as he bowed forward, and promptly turned and left the room. Just as he did, Raimi slammed his door shut with a whisk of his hand; a brief burst of his telekinetic strength. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes as he let out a breath of air.
Ever since he set foot into the Mystics Asylum, something...pulled at him. Something cold, dark, and sinisterly evil. He could not quite understand it, much less comprehend it. However; deep inside it compelled him. It drove him. But to what, he wondered.
Slowly he climbed out of the box; pulling several foam pieces out from his uniform and ears and placed them back into the box. Things were ahead of schedule, and if he did not figure out what was going on he feared he might go crazy. Even more so, since no one else there felt anything at all, even Laboratory Vice-Director Garian.
He walked up to his desk and slapped a button hidden on the underside with his tail, causing a metal panel under a giant portrait of himself to open up. As it began to close, he scurried inside and into the interior pathways of the Mystics Asylum. Though he had not explored much of these, visions in his head appeared to guide him as he traveled the ductwork down towards the sub-basements of the Asylum.
Several voices began to echo through the ducts as he moved; and stopped over a grate where he heard several people talking.
“Master Bloodfyre, Severon what are you two doing here, and what is going on?” one of the two spoke, as Master Bloodfyre slowly placed his right arm in front of his waist and bowed forward slightly.
"I have brought you all here for a specific reason." He replied in a dark tone, before firmly locking his eyes on the duct directly above. "Including you, Raimi."
Raimi opened the duct panel and flipped down from it to the floor, directly in front of Elric and Balia. "It is good to see you again, Master Bloodfyre. It has been a long time."
The gathering was proceeding, but others were responding to the call. The Force alone knew where those others were, and when they would arrive, but there was still much work to be done. The players were taking their places, but all of the pieces arrayed on the board had not yet come into view. The sacrifices needed to be gathered and prepared, and there were souls yet to bring into service. The old arts were not done away with, they had simply been taken from the public eye. And they would serve the dark forces, still.
Donos and Elric had come together. Severon had come alone, as had the Mistwalker. Someone was out of place. All of those who would respond had done so of their own desire, their own will to delve further into the Sith arts. But something was still out of place. Bloodfyre's gaze fell upon Severon, and the Shaevalian regarded the man intently. Severon had served as Aedile of Reinthaler, and one of those who had found residence under the banner of the Black Phoenix. Severon was a valued member of Tarentum, but his services were needed elsewhere. That much had suddenly become very clear.
"It is time for you to leave, Tarenti," Bloodfyre said to Severon. The Shaevalian closed the distance between himself and the Warrior, and while Severon continued to look on in curiosity, dawn began to approach on the younger man's mind.
"There may be other calls," Severon spoke quietly, but was still heard by the small gathering beginning around him, "but this call was still one I felt, one I needed to respond to."
"A place may be reserved for you in this gathering in the future, my friend and House mate," Bloodfyre answered, "but I believe you will find our Quaestor seeking you out for another worthy assignment in the very near future. Leave my abode. The doors will be shut behind you for now, but the way may be opened again. Keep an eye on the horizon."
Severon was well aware that he would not return to the Asylum for some time, but the bond had still been initiated. The Rite might accept him again in the future, but it was very clear that Ronovi herself was in need of Severon's talents. The House needed him. He would answer whatever call would come. His absence was soon felt, but was to be filled by the presence of others in short time.
Bloodfyre continued to regard Elric and Donos, and seemed about to speak when the gathering was joined by an old friend.
"This place doesn't seem right without them," Hades interrupted the standing silence. He went by the name of Apollo these days, but Bloodfyre knew his true name. The two had a long-standing friendship between them, going back to the days when Hades had been new to the House known as Gladius, and had eventually served as Aedile when Sith had risen to the position of Quaestor of that House.
"This place is fulfilled by the presence of its own," Bloodfyre shrugged. "It heeds my call. It is enhanced by my presence. It is enhanced by each of yours. It will return to its proper glory when we have enacted the Rite."
* * * * *
Legends spoke of beasts with black wings, and dark forces that stole babies in the night, and made off with helpless young virgins, and wicked children who would grow into the old trolls and shadowy denizens of the night. Legends were most often disregarded as a good message wrapped up in fairy tales and intrigue to scare the weak-minded.
Legends often had kernels of truth.
Reena Kal was nearing her 23rd year, and was one of the local beauties that nearly all men in Eden City sought after. She was golden-haired, blue-eyed, and fit as the proverbial fiddle. She was nimble, gentle, and educated, and she was blessed with the kind of youthful enthusiasm that would catch the attention of any young suitor. It had also caught her the attention of several older suitors, as well.
Her family had not seen her in a week, and the local constabulary had been alerted within hours of her disappearance that she had simply vanished. No trace of her passing had been found. There was, however, a single black rose with a drop of Reena's blood upon the stem that had been left in the young woman's bed. No fingerprints had been left upon the rose, no clue to indicate how her blood had been placed upon it, or what the rose meant.
It was not the only rose that would be found within Yridian space.
* * * * *
The darkest arts had gone into hiding, and had not been witnessed publicly in many months. The Restless remained, but held true to their name. The Risen had gone away, but the spirits of those long-since past knew many secrets, even those secrets pertaining to their dark cousins.
The Restless understood that all things moved in cycles, and one of the darkest masters of the arts that bound and contained them remained moving in the mortal circles. While the Keepers had seemingly fallen, Master Zero remained. Master Bloodfyre still lived. Master Spears had vanished years prior, and still existed on the periphery. Khyven had fallen, but other servants of Phalanthus were rumored to have mingled with the Keepers, and their former allies in Tarentum.
The spirits were being called, and they recognized the hand of him who beckoned. They would answer the call. They would be forced to. The dark arts would inflict severe punishment upon them if they did not answer. Such was their existence. Those who passed into the Force, but were still cursed to become beings on anger, hatred, aggression and emotion; those who would be wrapped into the essence of the spirit; those who would become the Restless would exist forever, and would remain to be lorded over by the living.
They would spend their eternities seeking dominance, for certain. But that dominance was always attained by the living, because, while the Restless acquired secrets, and sought out knowledge, the living knew how best to use it...
* * * * *
"So the question begs to be asked," Elric stated firmly, "who called, and to what purpose?"
The Shaevalian glanced towards the Dark Knight. Elric had come with Donos, but there was now a circle forming, with Bloodfyre, Elric, Donos and Hades. Nami was on the horizon growing closer; his face could now been seen as wisps and fleeting images at the edge of Bloodfyre's vision. The Force was bringing two distinct others, though their presence was not as distinct, not as defining as Nami's became.
"The Force called you, Kyes," Sith responded, "born on wings of my power. I have called you, but the Dark Side is the tantalizing gift that is offered. You have responded to the call to taste of its darker fruits."
"What fruits are those, my old friend?" Hades seemed to continue to steal glances towards the further darkness that awaited within the bowels of the Asylum. Though the circle of powerful men had entered Bloodfyre's chosen sanctum, there were further areas to explore that seemed to hold any light at bay.
"Come and see, if you will."
The four men turned to the madness within the Asylum, and retreated into the screams of the past, that were now beginning to vent forth the tormented cries and wails of those recently arriving guests.
All his life, never had Raimi seen such potent a darkness as what he had witnessed within those hallowed halls deep below the Asylum. He had seen many things in his life, especially after joining the Brotherhood; but nothing could have prepared him for what had awaited him.
Many thoughts raced through his head as he slowly made his way back through the Asylum ducts to his office in the Krath Laboratory. Most prevalent however, was that he knew what he must do. His morals, his being, everything about him attempted to conflict with it; but to no avail. He had witnessed the true darkness...the true path of sin, and for the frankness of words; loved it.
For years, he had dreamed of becoming one of if not the most powerful Krath ever known, but had no avenue to truly pursue it given the changes that the Brotherhood had implemented. Carefully he walked fine lines, broke regulations and procedures, all while pursuing his ultimate goals. With Bloodfyre however, all of that quickly appeared to change. Now he had his chance...now, he had the ability to continue onward in ways never thought imaginable without being expelled from the Brotherhood, or killed for that matter.
He exited the ducts back into his office and slapped the access panel button under his desk with a whisk of his tail. To accomplish such goals however, secrecy and timing would be the most essential of tasks from this point onward. Arms crossed behind his back, he walked to the back of his office and looked at his armor locked away inside of it's glass case. The case that was meant to be it's eternal tomb.
On this day, he would break the most sacred of vows that he had ever made to himself, both as a person and as a Krath. His expression changed drastically, his nose twitching from the anger that flowed though him. He clenched his teeth as he spun around and threw his left leg outward; and shattered the thick glass around the armor.
Garian rushed into the room as the last remnants of the glass fell from the case, the loud crash sounds finally fading away as several students came up behind him. "Um...excuse me Director...is...everything ok?"
"Yes Garian, everything is fine." Raimi chirped as he locked his arms behind his back; his tail whisking back and forth across the floor behind him. "It would seem the case was more sensitive than I had expected, I will have to be more careful next time when I close it."
The students watched Raimi for a few seconds, some of them with fear across their faces as they turned and walked back into the lab. Garian rolled across the floor towards the broken glass but stopped instantly when Raimi brought his hand upward at him in a stopping motion.
"I will take care of this. You return to the students and have them finish their projects. After that, meet me in the Grand Conservatory. We have work to do."
"Very well Director." Garian bowed in reply and turned on one wheel, exiting the room. Raimi's gaze never left his armor for even a second despite that entire incident. Maybe it was a sense of fear inside himself that kept him from looking away. As he slowly reached into the case and placed his hand on the breastplate; he closed his eyes and exhaled.
"Ronovi...Sato...Ji...everyone." he quietly spoke to himself. "Forgive me, for what I must do."
He opened his eyes once more as he began to slip on his armor, piece by piece, until only the helmet remained. He held it firmly in his hands as he looked it over carefully and placed it on his head. As the suit sealed itself, bursts of air sizzled from the vents and the eyes came to life with a cold, dusk yellow.
"...but it must be done."
Sometime later, deep inside the depths of the Grand Conservatory...
Raimi and Garian slowly walked through the halls within the interior of the Grand Conservatory, towards the Inner Sanctum. Nothing had been powered up yet, as much of the Conservatory was still under strenuous construction efforts. The light from Garian's eyes was the only light source that they had.
"What you are about to hear and see, is to be kept absolutely secret. Is that understood?"
"Understood Director. It will be placed behind Level 7 seals to ensure its protection and secrecy." Garian replied, as they approached a giant round steel door, surrounded by auto-turrets and various seals which kicked to life the closer they got. Assorted colors of lights flickered across Garian's eyes as he looked at the door; the turrets flickering a similar set of colors as they disengaged and returned to their default positions.
Smoke blew from the seals around the door as one lock after another released themselves; a brief whisk of light coming from the cracks as it slowly opened and they stepped inside. "Welcome Garian..."
Several hours later...
Raimi sat perched on a random rooftop, watching the quiet streets below of Eden City. Rain poured from the dark skies, lightning striking in various places every couple of seconds. He glances down at his armor, several modifications already apparent from the work he and Garian performed on it just hours earlier. Dart launchers built into the gauntlets, retractable heel spikes on the boots and back. And much more.
Since he was working within Tarentum territory, he had to be discreet. Paralyzing and quickly silencing his targets without killing them would be the most effective method. Quickly out of the corner of his eye, he spotted his first potential prey as a young girl ran down the street, holding her jacket up over her head to shield her from the rain; but not exactly able to do so as the harsh winds pelted the rain into her regardless.
She turned into a nearby alleyway and leaned against the wall, lowering her jacket as she slowly slid down the wall a little bit; exhausted.
"Ugh...I swear, if that fat bastard keeps me late after work one more time on nights like this..." she complained as she squeezed water out of her jacket. "Missing paperwork my ass...all he wants is to sleep with me, I guarantee it."
"Do not worry, young lady..." Raimi spoke from the shadows of the alleyway, as he slowly approached her. She stood up from the wall and glanced curiously as the armored creature. "...you will not have to fear him any longer."
'Wh-who are you?" she asked as she took a step back; holding her coat close to her. Raimi slowly shook his head as he raised his right arm towards her, his hand in a fist. He tightened it, and as he did a small green dart shot out and pierced her neck. She grabbed at her neck and ripped it out; tossing it aside. 'Ouch...what the he-...ll..."
The girl groaned for a few seconds as she weaved back and forth, losing her balance. "Ugh...what did...you do to me?" she groggily asked as she moved back out into the rain trying to get away from Raimi. He stood there quietly watching as the girl continued to slowly pass out, before eventually collapsing in the middle of the street. She layed there, looking around with her eyes fully aware; yet unable to move.
Raimi grinned a little inside of his helmet as he slowly walked towards her. The nerve toxin worked like a charm, just as Garian had promised.
'Ohy!' a distant figure yelled as Raimi knelt down beside her. 'What'cha think yer doin!?'
Raimi glanced up and saw the figure of a man approaching, and he seemed to be rather pissed.
'That 'ere be my girlfriend ye be messing with 'mon, what the hell 'ya think yer doin?' he yelled out as Raimi stood up, looking straight at him. Two victims in one night, quite a good feat. How he would get both back would be the hard part. The easy way would be simply to retreat with his prize, but the man had seen his armor and easily could identify him.
"She is mine, Yridian. I would advise you to leave now." Raimi cautioned, knowing full well that the man had no intentions of doing so. The man shook his head as he wiped water off of his face, and took off at a dead run towards Raimi.
"Over my dead body, 'ye little devil! Ye aren't tak'in her anywhere!" he yelled as he kicked outward at him. With barely a movement, Raimi stepped back and ducked downward as the kick came up and hooked under him to try and throw him. Suddenly, a grin came across the man's face as he threw himself forward; narrowly missing Raimi's arms as he slammed his leg into his back.
Raimi flew across the street and slammed into the brick wall of the building full force. The man cracked his neck side to side as he put his hands together and cracked his knuckles. "Echani, eh? Tsh, like that will work on 'meh son." He glanced behind him as Raimi shook his head and slowly stood up. "I delt 'ith far too many Twi'leks who enjoyed kick'in me arse with 'dat. Gonna have to do betta' than dat,"
He saw his movement and intent; and countered it. For a human...he was skilled, and Raimi knew it. He glared upward at the man, and pondered his next move...
"Blood of the sinless."
Elric knew what that meant. It was a horrible feeling, knowing what he must bring to the ceremony. But with a few lives lost, he could win power unattainable to his own current form.
His thoughts stirred in his head, "No Elric, do not become a monster solely for power. Think about what you are doing."
"But the power I will receive... It is bordering fantasy, even for Jedi. I will finally get my revenge. No one will stop me. Knowledge. Power. More than I could get in a lifetime!"
"It is not worth your soul."
"I have to have one to lose it."
His mind was made up. No matter what happens, he would press forward. Kyes was too far in now anyway.
Elric finally stepped out into the rain, and he began his search.
Ian Ngam was a happy grandfather. At 54 years old, he had a decent job managing supplies at the space port, a lovely wife, his daughter Tia, and now his brand new grandson. His life was looking so perfect right now.
But all would change in a few moments.
The door chirped its usual way, and Ian's wife opened the door.
"Well hello sir, can I help you?"
The hooded man's reply was a blaster bolt to the chest, dropping the old woman like a tree. Ian rushed from his chair to aid his wife, but she was already gone when he reached her. Tears rushed to Ian's eyes as the man slowly walked into the house. Ian lunged at the man, swinging wildly. A scarlet blade appeared from the hooded figure's cloak and sliced through Ian's arms, leaving charred stumps instead of fists. Ian screamed in agony and fell to the floor. The man stepped on Ian's chest and leaned in close.
Ian could see the man's eyes. Each one was green, but one was darker than the other. Ian was filled with a terror he had never felt before and could never explain. It was like evil incarnate had decided to come in this night.
"Where is the baby?" the hooded man asked.
"...No... you cant..."
The man ground his boot heel into Ian's chest.
"Tell me where it is, and your family will not be hurt anymore. Only that child is important."
Ian was trying to think of something he could do, but his daughter walked in. With the baby. She had heard the commotion and screams, and had come to investigate.
"NO! Tia! Run away!" Ian shouted. But it was too late. Another blaster bolt flew and hit the woman's shoulder. She dropped the baby, but it did not fall. The child floated in the air like a bob on a fishing line. The hooded man held out his off-hand and slowly the child floated over to him.
"Thank you dear sir. I have what I came for. Now please, don't struggle."
The hooded man kicked Ian in the jaw, knocking him unconscious. The hooded man took the baby under his arms and pulled out a rose. The child shrieked as the man cut the child's forehead and soaked the stem of the rose. He dropped the rose onto the floor and laid his hand over the baby. The crying stopped easily and the two disappeared into the inky black night and the dribbling rain.
Elric had ran till his lungs felt like bursting. Police speeders had been swarming the area, but were not checking the dark alley ways. Besides, they were looking for a man with a hooded cloak. There were quite a few this night, making Elric one with the crowd. And the best thing was that the baby had not made a peep. And he was almost to the Asylum. Doubt once again crept into his mind.
"You are a monster. Will you really destroy all of your humanity to get your vengeance?"
Elric again looked down at the baby in his arms. The sleeping child stirred for a moment then stopped.
"Yes. I have nothing except my anger and my darkness. If it takes lives to make me the most powerful being in the universe, then so be it."
An inner darkness, not totally his own, compelled him to finish his task.
Meanwhile, back in Eden City...the battle between Raimi and the strange martial artist continues...
The man continued to throw punch after punch in a flurry of strikes, Raimi barely able to shift around to dodge or parry each one as it comes. He threw himself back and backflipped into the air as the man lowered himself to the ground attempting a roundhouse kick, barely missing by inches. As Raimi landed; using his tail as leverage; he threw himself forward; shifting his weight to the front as he slammed into the man's chest, both of them rolling on the ground as Raimi lept off; just before the man went head-first into a light pole.
Several feet away, Raimi landed gracefully on one knee, his right arm extended outward. He slowly stood up, and looked at the man as the light pole creaked; and fell over from the major dent that was put into it by his head. "Poor fool..." Raimi thought to himself as the pole slammed into the ground; the light shattering into pieces. Sparks flew from the remnant that remained beside the man.
Just as he started back towards the girl however, the man groaned and slowly raised himself up. Blood gushed from a wound on his upper forehead, completely blocking his left eye. "...Ohy. I said...ye' aint taki'n 'er."
Raimi took a deep breath as he placed both of his hands on his waist, and turned his head back towards him. "You know, your a stubborn little sh-"
Before he could finish however, in a flash of an instant the man was where Raimi used to be standing; with Raimi flying through the air at incredible speeds. "Too..fast...can't react..." he sputtered as he attempted to twist around and bounce off of the incoming wall; but to no avail as he slammed into it at full speed; going through it; through a kitchen inside; and through the next wall into a bedroom. The family that sat at the kitchen table blinked at each other; forks and spoons halfway to their mouths but frozen as Raimi lept back through the kitchen. Quickly he fired nerve darts into each one as he went back outside to the road; each of them collapsing to the ground except one; who's face fell into a boiling bowl of soup.
"You know...I was going to be nice." Raimi softly spoke as walked into the middle of the street, and unclipped his gauntlets; letting them drop to the floor. He proceeded to his boots, and his leggings, one armor piece after another; until finally he grasp onto his helmet. "But now..."
Slowly he pulled his helmet off, and let it drop to the side on top of the rest of his armor. Rain began to soak his black and crimson fur, his yellow eyes glared a death glare right into the man's eyes. "...you have royally pissed me off."
"We'll now, what've we got 'ere?" the man questioned. "A little furry thingy, eh?" He laughed at his own comment, and in that brief moment Raimi was on top of the man; latched onto his face as he chewed and clawed. The man attempted to rip him off, but only helped burrow his claws deeper and deeper into his face.
'YEARGH! Get off'a me ya l'il vamp!" he screamed as he ran around; eventually slamming his head into a nearby wall. Raimi saw this however, and dropped off his his face at the last second; letting him ram his bare bloody head into the wall. He wobbled backwards, grasping his head tightly. "...aargh...I cann'ae...I cann'ae see..."
He let go of his face and reached around, his eyes missing from his head. Raimi poked one out to the front of his mouth briefly as he uttered. "Hey; looking for this?" And right afterwards, spat the eye out into the man's face.
"I'mma...get ye' for this, ye' l'il..." the man uttered as he continued to stumble about, slowly beginning to lose conciousness. Raimi shook his head as he spun around, and threw his leg into the man's chest; throwing him backwards and onto the remaining stub of the light pole. Electricity surged into the man's body as he was impaled onto it, screaming in terror with what little energy he had left. Raimi looked away as sections of the man's flesh caught on fire from the electric and water mix; with fire already spewing from his eyesockets.
"...l'il [Expletive Deleted]. I know, I am..." Raimi quietly spoke to himself as he picked up the girl and threw her over his shoulder. He walked back towards where he went through the wall, and layed the girl down just outside of the giant hole in the wall. "There. You won't go far."
He jumped through the hole and looked at his other four victims, particuliarly the one with his head in the soup. He lept up onto the table and raised his head up, only to see severe burn marks; and that he was no longer breathing. "Damn...two good sacrifices, lost...oh well. I got what I came for...and more."
The Restless were proceeding with their work.
While they were indeed oppressed souls, forced into servitude towards those who would forever be damned and reside within darkness, there were those among the Restless who were cursed with an even worse punishment. The Inscribed, as they were being called, were being harvested for the upcoming ritual. The Master had forced many of the Restless into culling their brethren for his darkness, his madness. And yet, it was better to serve the Master, than to be doomed as were the Inscribed.
Each of the Restless that was being harvested was marked of a certain fashion. None of those gathering Restless were quite sure what the language stated, but they knew it to be inscriptions of power and damnation, and they knew it to be a blessing that they were not among the hapless Inscribed. Soul gathered soul; Restless hunted the oppressed, who were just as them. It was a mockery of their life, forced to wander aimlessly, and yet, still forced to abide by the whims of those whom they had left behind. Forever would they be bound to the plane of the living, forever would they be bound to the wills of the flesh.
And the harvesting continued.
* * * * *
The founders were about their work. Some of them, at least. Bloodfyre and Apollo had been joined by Nami, who had brought in with him a line of enslaved females. Each of the females was chained to another, as a line of six females walked bound, gagged, and utterly panicked, towards whatever fate awaited them in the bowels of the Asylum. The Shaevalian grinned darkly as each of Nami's offerings were led to the central holding cell that would house those to be sacrificed in a night that was fast approaching.
"Well done, my brother," Sith clasped Nami on the shoulder as the man locked his offerings into the cell. "I believe that you will see great things coming on the Night of Madness. Their blood will call forth interesting sights, indeed."
"Very cryptic," Nami returned, "but I am certainly looking forward to hearing their screams."
Apollo stood and watched the very short interaction between the two. Nami stood gazing at his captives, staring into the fear-stricken eyes that seemed unwilling to meet his gaze. Sith stood watching the man and his prisoners before turning away. Wisps of some ethereal essence could be seen approaching; offerings of the Sith Master's own, perhaps. Apollo followed a short distance away, leaving the Shaevalian enough room to converse with whatever was approaching, while still close enough for Apollo to listen in. The two were old friends, but they were becoming brothers in sin. It would surely be appropriate for him to discover whatever secrets were fast being revealed to the circle.
"I see your work is proceeding at an acceptable pace, Shie Vastae," Bloodfyre greeted the incoming Restless. The Shaevalian listened intently for a period of a few seconds, though Apollo could not hear any particular response from the shade. Perhaps the spirit was communicating telepathically, or perhaps it simply spoke too softly to be heard except at close range.
"That is not as acceptable as I originally stated, even for one such as you," Bloodfyre's voice was cold, but it was rather apparent that the Shaevalian was now quite annoyed. "I had hoped that you would be of continued use to me, but I can see that I will--"
The Shaevalian had raised his hand, appearing ready to strike the spirit, but stopped. Apollo had the sense that the Restless, either the one identified, or all of them collectively, were trying to appeal to the Sith Master's reason. Bloodfyre lowered his hand slowly, and appeared to consider whatever it was that the shades were relaying to him.
"Unacceptable." Bloodfyre immediately raised his hands and shot what appeared to be a wraith-like gout of fire at the Restless in front of him. The wispy beings cried out in agony that resounded throughout the bowels of the Asylum. Apollo heard their screams, and even he, a being of darkness, felt a tightening in his stomach that seemed to tear at his body, grasp at his soul, and threatened to destroy his sanity. The screams lasted only a moment, but their echoes would likely remain with him for at least the next several hours, if they ever left him entirely.
The Restless remained. Their wispy forms were now prostrate before the Sith Master, as though they begged for their unlives, begged for the Shaevalian's forgiveness. It remained to be seen whether such forgiveness would be granted.
"I expect more from you, Shie Vastae," Bloodfyre hissed at the shades, and his voice may likely have seemed as venom to the Force spirits. "Fail me again, and you will find Oblivion a much more comforting reward than my anger. I expect the Inscribed to be gathered in full before the next evening. They are on the horizon; I can feel their presence. You should be able to find them without trouble. Even your meager skills should have no trouble. And if you cannot gather them for me, then I expect you to harvest up ever Restless you can find to assist you in this cause. Are my commands clear? Fulfill your bond with me this night!"
The wispy beings disappeared immediately. Apollo shook slightly, almost imperceptibly, but he felt the ripple run down his spine. Bloodfyre turned, noticed the gaze of his old comrade, and strode slowly towards his fellow Sinner. Apollo had no doubt that he had nothing to fear from the Shaevalian, but he still felt a drop of sweat upon his brow, nonetheless.
"The Restless forget that the dark arts are not forgotten, they are simply hidden," Bloodfyre stated softly. Sith continued on towards the gathering hall, where the ritual was to be performed. Items were being gathered for the ceremony, in addition to the Inscribed souls, and those hapless innocents who would be sacrificed for the needs of ancient Sith power. Apollo's gaze followed after his friend for a moment, and then the man turned to leave the Asylum. He had some gathering of his own to attend to.
Fortunately, the rest of the interactions with the Restless would be left to the Shaevalian, for now. The wraiths were very likely to seek retribution on any Necromancer weaker than a Master who sought their service, for the penalties Bloodfyre would inflict on them. And Apollo and the others knew enough about the Restless to know that their own anger would last an eternity.
Those beyond had quite a long time to plan their revenge.