Sith Arts Academy
Shikyo looked deep into the soft eyes of his new apprentice. She stood strong and confident, holding the wooden sword in her hand. It was shaped just like a katana in the Antei Combat Centre but was slightly heavier. Faeril took the weapon in hand, positioning herself into a very basic stance. She focused her attention into the eyes of the Keibatsu as she lunged forward and made the first strike. She swung the wooden weapon behind her head, bringing it around before slicing at his torso.
The Battlemaster brought his bokken before him and pulled a smaller wooden weapon off his person, thrusting the bottom of the hilt into the Acolyte's abdomen. The strike hit directly, causing a reaction of a cough, emitted saliva, and a desperate gasp for breath. Sasuke threw the female backwards onto the grass and sand, watching her struggle to keep up with the Equite. She glared up at him with eyes of fury, tightening her grip on her weapon and preparing for the next attack.
Shikyo smirked devilishly at her before instructing her.
"Fuel your anger but do not be blinded by it. Use no compassion when engaging the enemy and expect none in return. Remember these things and apply your knowledge and you shall come out the victor."
The female nodded and held her weapon in the same stance once more, looking eager to continue her training. She was doing fairly well for one who had never held a sword before. As the Left Hand of Justice lunged out with both weapons, a loud beeping sound echoed throughout the courtyard. Sasuke turned towards his commlink and stared at it with a hint of annoyance upon his face. Turning back to the female Sith, the Keibatsu made his way towards the deviced and answered its call.
"Venerable Shikyo Sasuke Keibatsu?"
"I have a communication from Honorable Mononoke Keibatsu Sadow."
With a hint of confusion upon his face, the Sith spoke once more.
"Very well. Send it through."
A blue figure emitted from the device in the form of an armored man with multiple designs about it, mostly in black and red. He removed the helmet and revealed a highly decorated visage showing signs of insanity and eagerness upon them. It was truly the face of the Mad Alchemist; Shikyo's adopted brother. With a bow of his head, the Battlemaster began the conversation.
"Brother, how are you? Has the fleet returned to Orian safely?"
"Repairs are being made and we are looking at upgrades very shortly."
"That's good to hear. How might I be of assistance?"
"I have heard rumors of an academy on the planet of Thule that helps extend a Sith's ability to use the dark side of the Force. Many students have been left to rely on the Force greatly as a means of survival and I believe we may be able to use this kind of knowledge to heighten our own knowledge."
The young Keibatsu cocked his eyebrow.
"You mean, you want to extend our knowledge of the Force?"
"For some, yes. I know you have dedicated yourself to the ways of the Sith, yet we Sith seem to concern ourselves with combat above all."
A smirk washed over the face of Sasuke.
"While others bathe in Alchemy?"
A sadistic chuckle escaped the Warlord.
"Truly. I wonder if you would accompany me there for some 'training'. Sai shall accompany me and I assume your apprentice shall be there as well."
"She will. I still have a bit left to teach her in the ways of Kuroshin-Ryu."
The Consul tilted his head.
"The sword art of the Keibatsu? You sure Musashi will approve?"
"If we are to fight the Vong once again, I will not watch another die before my eyes, especially an apprentice of mine. She will be prepared and she will kill them."
A sinister smile crept onto Macron's lips.
"Very well. I will relay the coordinates to you. Meet me there A.S.A.P."
"Copy that. See you soon, brother, and may the Force serve you well."
"May the Force serve you well, ototo."
Turning the device off, Shikyo turned towards Faeril with a soft smile upon his face.
"Rest up. Training is over for today. When we awake, pack your things and load them into the Adraelech."
With a kiss upon her forehead, the Sith male walked back into the castle and began to organize the provisions he would need for this trip. Training sounded very good to Shikyo. If he were to engage the demon known as "Yuuzhan Vong" again, he would want any and all kind of knowledge to help assist him in battle.
*Kuroshin-Ryu is a sword art created and taught ONLY in Kyataru. Many of the Keibatsu are instructed in this form.
*ototo = "little brother" in Kyataran
Overhead, red fusion lanterns lit the inside of the Nachzerer
. The whole cockpit was done in shades of black and grey, with Gungan leather chairs in the command area. The command seat was done in black Ewok hide, with large visible stitches in the outside. Macron turned to Sai and smiled. “They’ll do it,” he said. “You were right.”
“That’s ten creds to your loss,” replied the Priest. “Cough it up. We have time for another one if they are just leaving Kyataru.”
“Enjoy your victory for now Sai,” murmured the alchemist as he handed over the creds from his cheap plastic Darth Vader wallet. “We shall bet again.” Ironically, Macron was just as good at betting as he was at sabacc. Which was not at all, unfortunately. However, the proud Sith still kept trying. “Well then. If all your gear has been stowed, we can get the ball rolling.”
“It has. The droids stowed it an hour or two ago. Nice ride, by the way. This is the weapons control, right?” asked the Krath. His finger hovered over a big, shiny red button.
Macron winced, images of workers and droids being blown through straight through the walls by turbolaser fire were crossing his mental theater. “Indeed. Be careful with that. She packs a wallop. The other one is the tracking system, if you are curious. Engaging repulsors… we are off.” The powerful engines hummed throughout the ship as she lifted from the bay of the VSD Covenant
as it approached Orian. The beetle-shaped vessel shot forward from the bay like an arrow as it headed on a course to the Thule system.
A finger swept across the console, tracing a line in the air. Lights shone from a holoprojector unit embedded in the plasteel, showing a galactic Starmap.
A line flashed from one system labeled “Orian” to another labeled “Thule” in basic.
Sai watched intently as Macron broke the line with his finger, dragging the end to another system and sticking it there. A wave of his hand caused the line to change color, and an astrogation routine started up on the display.
“I see no switches,” remarked the Krath. “Holographic interface, similar to the Fallen Spear.”
“Exactly. But made for easier use with the Verpine technology,” smiled the alchemist. “I learned my lesson with the Silooth
. She’s a tough bird, but a bitch to fly.”
“I heard that. Rumor has it a shot in the right place would cripple her,” replied the Rollmaster. “I didn’t believe it.”
“I can assure you, that is not true,” remarked Mac as he looked out the viewport. “So we are making an extra stop. As you can see, the route from the Orian system
runs right by Korriban
. I intend to stop in and pay my respects,” smiled the alchemist. “Ever been to Korriban? It’s a fun place.”
Faeril sat in her bed looking out the window at the early morning sky on Kyataru. She thought back to the sword forms she had gone over with her master the day before. Weary, but wide awake, she crawled out of the bed and got dressed for the mission they were about to set forth on. Faeril gathered what little belongings she had since she hadn’t brought much with her when leaving her home planet. A month ago, she had found herself sneaking aboard Shikyo’s Sith Infiltrator stowing herself in one of the compartments not knowing what path it would lead her down.
As she was packing the last of her things, Faeril saw Shikyo standing at the doorway to her room. She regarded him carefully.
“Do you have all your things packed?”
“Almost,” she replied as she grabbed her shuriken.
“Once you’re done go ahead and get your things loaded onto the Adraelech. We should set off as soon as we can this morning.”
“Yes, master, just give me a few more seconds and I’ll be ready to go.”
Faeril quickly slung her satchel over her shoulder and followed Shikyo through the hallways of the castle hearing their footsteps reverberate off the stone floor. She regarded the banners draped from the high walls and noticed Shikyo had turned back to look towards her since she had slowed her pace. She looked at him slightly embarrassed and regained her wits about her.
They descended down a dark corridor to the hangar where the Adraelech was docked. The ship was large and took up a good portion of the room. Sasuke had a crew of 3, besides himself, that manned the ship when it took to the skies. R3-D8 helped with piloting and navigation as well as repairs. Shuya had a few various skills. He was programmed in weapons, but could also act as a co-pilot and a translator. The third crew member, Katsuhide greeted Shikyo and Faeril as they were about to board the ship. He usually stayed on Kyataru, but would be accompanying them this round.
“Is everything ready and set for departure?” Shikyo asked the Nihilgenia.
“Everything is in order, Shik.”
“Good, then we can get going. No reason to delay.”
Once inside, Faeril set her satchel down and followed Shikyo as he headed towards the cockpit.
“So master, do you think this academy does exist?” Faeril asked curiously. “Even if we find it, I doubt they’ll be forthcoming.”
“My brother is pretty good when it comes to rumors and hunches, and I assure you that we will find something of use on Thule. I'm not sure exactly what we'll find, seeing as the planet's more like a graveyard, but the Mad Alchemist will find something,” Sasuke replied.
Faeril nodded and took a seat in an empty chair next to Shikyo as he and Shuya prepared the ship’s systems for take off. She didn’t want to admit it openly to Shikyo, though she had a feeling he knew, but she was excited and intrigued by this journey and extremely eager to finally put her training to real use.
The starscape outside of the Nachezer’s main view port shifted drastically as Macron, satisfied with his astrogation, engaged the beetle-shaped transport’s hyperdrive. The infinite pinpoints of light elongated into white-hot hyphens then coalesced into the milky miasma of hyperspace. Macron’s fingers deftly danced across the holographic display a moment longer, then he tittered as he sat back in his command chair, turning to Sai as he did so.
“I’d hate for us to run into a gravity-well on the way,” Macron remarked, smiling as he thought of the effects of being violently slammed out of hyperspace due to their drifting too close a planetoid or some other object.
Then, Macron shuddered and suddenly glanced at his shoulder, as if he was suddenly set upon by thousands of biting mites. Seeing none, he abruptly turned serious as he asked Sai his next question. “So, Rollmaster, what of the Acolyte?”
Those unused to these shifts exhibited by Macron would find themselves unsettled by them, and being quick to judge, would dismiss the Alchemist as insane. This would prove to be a grave mistake for them, as Macron, though insane, was far from incapable, and often merciless in that madness.
Sai had been around his cousin long enough to expect these “tics”, so they didn’t outwardly affect him as they did others. He produced a datapad and scrolled through the display until it gave him the data he desired.
“Acolyte Faeril Munlear…came to us a standard month ago, towards the end of the war. Personally recruited by our dear cousin himself. Other than that, I don’t know much else about her…except she seems very eager.”
Macron leered and raised a solitary eyebrow. “’Eager’?”
Sai caught Macron’s implied pun and smirked, running with it. “Eager,” he reiterated. “And, our dear cousin seems ready to…fill…her. With knowledge.”
The silence between the two Sadowan’s persisted for a heartbeat and a half before it was finally shattered by their guffaws. Mac and Sai laughed for another minute and a half before they were able to settle down.
Macron wiped a tear from his eye. “Really mature, cousin. But in seriousness, what’s your initial assessment?”
Sai wiped away his own tears as he thought for a moment. “Hey, you started it. Well, without having seen the youngster in action, I’ve little to opine. However, the secondary effects of her presence are potentially interesting.”
“How do you mean?” Macron leaned forward in his chair. He had asked Sai along in an advisory capacity on this mission. Where Macron and Shikyo were Sith, Sai’s chosen discipline was of the Krath Order. Now that he had been newly inducted into the Equite ranks, Sai’s knowledge of Force usage for usage’s sake would prove invaluable, serving as an effective counterbalance to Macron’s and Shikyo’s martial and chemical applications of the Dark Side.
Sai continued. “Shikyo has always relied on his anger and rage to fuel his powers. Though effective for a short period, using rage over a long period of time can be more damaging to his state, physically and mentally. Only a small percentage avoid being literally ‘burnt-out’ by the Dark Side’s power. Now, with Faeril’s presence, it is plausible to assume that Shikyo will now be able to tap into the deeper well from which his rage springs. Anger is but one facet of Passion. It’s up to Shikyo to recognize that, however.”
Macron sat back and steepled his fingers in thought. “Interesting, indeed.” He then looked at the display. “Ah, Korriban approaches!”
Sai set down the data pad and resumed his co-pilot duties as his thoughts took him to another level of contemplation. He’d had his own reasons for accepting Macron’s invite, one of which was to find out more about what the Alchemist had done, albeit indirectly, to his eyes in what seemed a lifetime ago.
Back when the Clan had quested for the Sword of Sadow, Sai, then a Guardian, had hastily ingested one of Macron’s “battle-cocktails” to recover from injuries he’d sustained in the campaign’s early weeks. Though the draught had healed him, it also had an unforeseen effect: Sai’s eyes had gained three distinct pupils.
What concerned Sai, however, hadn’t been the cosmetic changes, disconcerting as they may have been. Through the Force, Sai had begun to develop new abilities: he could duplicate anyone’s fighting technique, armed or otherwise, after watching them for a short period; though his execution thereof was only for a short time, it was still an effective skill. Further, he could see paths of escape or entry that would otherwise be illusive. And more abilities were becoming evident as time passed.
If Sai was to have clarity on his changes, he would have the Alchemist on tap for any questions that would arise. Beyond this, the Priest had another, deeper, more personal motive.
The war with the Yuuzhan Vong had left him intrinsically changed. In the waning days of the encounter, Sai had occasion to look into the faces of every accounted dead of the Clan. The specter of those faces had caused him to recently look at the order of things, and that, most intently. He was of the Krath Order, and touted by the Grand Master himself as an Equite of vast potential. As encouraged as Sai was by the endorsement, events that had transpired had made Sarin’s words a bitter pill to swallow.
The Krath believed in the ethereal applications of the Force, and up until the Vong War, that path had never failed them. As Sai had his own interactions with the misbegotten invaders, he began to see the futility in the Dark Side’s effect on an enemy that existed outside of the Force. The Priest noticed the success of his clanmates who’d used the Force to bolster their physical abilities for combat; invariably, those clanmates were Sith.
Sai would use this expedition to find his own answers to the implied question posed by the Sadowan Dead: How would he prevent this tragedy from happening again?
The Priest, if anything, was dutiful, and he would advise Macron, Shikyo, and his cousin’s apprentice, Faeril, to the best of his ability. But, for the sake of his sanity, and the Sadowan’s continued survival, he’d promised the ghosts that he would, by the end of this expedition, know whether by staying true to the Krath, or by turning to the Sith, where the Clan’s salvation would lie.
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Engaged in Hyperspace
Shikyo sat cross legged in the middle of the cargo hold, his eyes closed and his concentration focused on the images appearing within his mind's eye. Flames engulfed the area around him and a rocky surface covered the ground before his feet. As the Sith looked around the area, a black image quickly passed by his peripheral vision, causing the instincts of the Battlemaster to follow the image.
His eyes locked onto the figure, an obsidian human-like form with red eyes and a smile outlined by fire. His smile lit up the area around his face, as his voice rang out in the form of a snake hissing.
"Welcome back, brother."
Sasuke snarled and looked back at the figure with an unenthusiastic smirk upon his face. "Nice to see ya, too."
The image tilted its head. "Looking at rejoining us?"
Shikyo shook his head. "Never again. My grandfather warned us about blind rage. Next time we meet, you'll be joining me."
Chuckling with delight, the Battlemaster watched the expression of the being change from happiness to anger. With a roar of aggression, the black image lunged forward for the young Keibatsu. Before it could grasp the Sith, Shikyo eased out of his meditation, catching the eyes of his apprentice staring softly at him. Blinking a couple of times, the Battlemaster rubbed his face before breaking the silence.
"No, master. Just was curious as to what you were doing down here."
Sasuke slowly brought himself to his feet and dusted himself off.
"Meditating and controlling. You'll understand at a later time."
"That is all for now, Fae. Head up to the cockpit and grab your sword. We'll begin weapons training before we reach Thule."
“Last stop: Dead Sith Lords, desert, ruins, sand, walking dead…” Macron giggled as the ship settled down. “Quite the fun and exciting locale.” Dun and rust colored sand swirled around the ship from the repulsor wash. The titanic ruined statues of former Sith Lords of old stood nearby, marking the entrance to the Valley of the Dark Lords. The entire planet was a seething cauldron of Dark Side power.
“I can feel that clearly,” remarked Sai as he closed his strange eyes. “The old Sith were… still are quite powerful. The information I gleaned from the archives was very interesting in that regard. That must be the Valley of the Dark Lords,” he said as he gestured at the viewscreen.
“Very true,” remarked the alchemist as they walked toward the exit hatch. “Of course, there were others before them, and after. Your own Krath progenitors sprang from the Sith, who sprang from the hated Jedi and Bogan users, who may have sprang from the Rakata,” droned on the madman as the hatch opened. “But of course, I am preaching to the choir as usual.”
The erudite Sai smiled. He was well aware that Mononoke’s early training had been at the hands of Krath, but yet he called himself a Sith. “So, where are we headed this fine day?” he asked. He had his own suspicions that soon proved true. The Force was drawing them to the very spot he had intuited. His recent dream revolved around it as a place of answers to his inner questions regarding the path of salvation.
“The Tomb of Naga Sadow,” replied the Warlord with a giggle. “Where else? Oh. By the way,” he remarked as he turned on his heel and smiled. His hand reached for his collar, touching a red blinking stud on the black metal. The face shield sprung up from his armor as they walked, filtering out the dust. Sai flinched, haven seen this very same foreboding gesture initiate a flurry of vicious slaughter more than once as the mask was donned.
“You might want to wear a breath mask,” chuckled the alchemist. “And I’ll show you how to overcome your self-doubt later in the tomb,” mused the madman to himself silently as he fingered his saber hilt. “We all follow the Dark Path, only from a different perspective,” he thought as they walked in the crunching dead dust. "And we won't be the only ones in there, either."
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Engaged in Hyperspace
The swords rang as they swirled. In the tight confines of the Infiltrator, two Dark Jedi circled each other, seeking their center in the battle-mind. “Keep your guard up,” admonished Shikyo as a slap of his blade cracked the flat across Faeril’s cheek. Her head snapped to the side as he yelled. “I could have cut your face off! You think the Vong would give you a break? You call yourself a Sith?”
Faeril’s eyes flashed at the insult, darkening for a moment to yellow as the anger and humiliation washed over her. A snarl of rage ripped from her lips as she raised her blade and launched a renewed furious assault. The Dark Side strengthened her limbs as she tapped her own shadow self, making her blows slam into the blade that Sasuke wielded.
Shikyo was surprised for but a moment. He reacted with a high slice that she easily blocked and drove back with her newfound might. He used her shove to drop low and spin, sending a foot smashing into her legs and dropping her to the floor. The light fled from her eyes as she huffed out a breath, still clutching the sword in a death grip.
“You held on to it this time,’ remarked Shikyo approvingly. The Dark Side had spoken in her raging blood. “Good. Let’s eat before we exit the jump. I think we will arrive in system in about 4 hours. Using that technique takes a lot of energy- you will be hungry afterwards.”
Naga Sadow's tomb
Korriban, Horuset system
Astronicus sat kneeled before the sarcophagus of his ancient ancestor. This sepulchral structure had been made in his honor and had eroded over the millenia, making it a pitiful reminder of the great Sith Lord that it cared for. Astronicus was determined to correct this, his wealth was considerable now and the restoration would be minimal in regards to what could be accomplished here. But he was not here today thinking of that or planning for it, but rather here for a more important reason. A Sith Warrior had fallen in battle against the Yuuzhan Vong, one who had been instrumental in Astronicus' efforts to restore Naga Sadow's legacy. And so, in showing him honor for his services rendered, Astronicus saw it only right that he be buried here as a guardian of the Sith Lord.
In many ancient cultures it was a sign of prestige and great significance to be buried alongside or within the same tomb as monumental leaders. Ximeno Chal had earned Astronicus' respect and trust, therefore earning his right to this privilege. His sarcophagus was in another chamber of the tomb, his ritual now complete and Astronicus was paying respects to his ancestor now. The round room had been raided on some occasions it appeared, though signs pointed to only one having left the room alive. A matter of historical research for later, Astronicus noted, but for now he merely hoped that here within the Valley of the Dark Lords he might find some secret to defeating the Yuuzhan Vong.
His pet Tuk'ata sat outside the tomb guarding the entrance, reaching out through the Force he could sense their anxiousness as they saw someone approaching that they knew. Astronicus rose from the floor and made his way out to meet his guests.
Korriban, Horuset System
Sai trotted back down the Nachezerer’s gangway, tying back his wild mane of hair and fixing his newly retrieved filtration mask in place. His breaths began to come easier as the device did its job, but they then caught in his throat once more as his eyes beheld a sight that could only be described as...darkly beautiful.
The rust colored landscape before him had not changed, but it was overlaid by what appeared to his eyes as a mercury sea of shimmering silver-gray. In varying places, plumes, eddies and vortexes appeared; scanning his memory, he remembered that the holo’s described those places of Sith burials and events of note. Sai gave a start as he quickly realized what he beheld: the Force as a physical manifestation, evident only to his tripartite gaze.
The Priest scanned ahead for his escort; there, a few meters ahead, was Macron, striding with surety towards the entrance of Naga Sadow’s tomb which literally pulsed with power. Behind him was a wake of displacement in the silvery energy, as if the Consul were wading through dark waters. Macron put out his own pulses of ebon power, as if sending a beacon of recognition to the denizens of the tomb entreating them to permit the two Dark Jedi passage.
Sai rushed to Macron’s side, excitedly preparing to report on this new ocular development when the two suddenly stopped short.
Where Macron sensed a presence in the Dark Side, Sai was able to see ripples, representing an impossibly powerful being that inexorably approached from the tomb’s entrance. Even with Macron’s armored visor down, Sai still heard awed amusement coloring the Alchemist’s voice as he spoke:
“It seems someone familiar approaches...”
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Engaged in Hyperspace
Faeril winced as she rubbed the place on her jaw where her Master struck her with the training sword. The knot was making it hard for her to enjoy her rations, but she soldiered on, finding herself famished after her display of Dark Side power. Shikyo ate in silence, lost in his own thoughts. At this point in her Brotherhood career, her Master’s stoicism did little to dissuade her from pressing him for knowledge; indeed, Shikyo’s quiet confidence inspired her and hinted at the lofty heights of power that she could soar, if she persevered and remained strong. Further, her taste of the Dark Side and what it could do for her combat abilities had emboldened her, had steeled her resolve to learn more, to gain more, to be more.
Whether she knew it or not, Faeril Munlear had just been initiated into the Sith Rule of Two:
There shall be only Two; one to Embody power, the other, to Crave it.
And crave it, she did.
Faeril regarded Shikyo as she diligently chewed her meal. Her jaw ached, but that was a minor set back. She would strive to do better next time. Besides, it only made her stronger and taught her to be more aware of others actions and how to react more quickly to them. She wasn't as observant as she had thought and would need to focus on that more.
The shock of being hit in the jaw ignited something in her though, a strength and energy she craved to grasp once again. She remembered how the renewed strength and vigor filled her. If that was just a taste of what she could achieve, she wondered at the limitless possibilities once she conditioned herself and gained more knowledge of the force.
Faeril slid her right foot beneath her left thigh as she sat at the table and leaned forward propping up her elbows on the surface. She rested her head on top of her intertwined fingers and looked at Sasuke thoughtfully while she contemplated.
"You know, it's been a month now since you've taken me on as your apprentice and I know very little about you, or you me for that matter," she said as she arched a brow inquisitively with a slight smirk on her face. "Granted, I haven't actually asked much in regards to your past, though I might find it beneficial to know what paths led you to where you are now, that is, if you feel inclined to share them with me at some point."
Shikyo looked back at her, almost weighing her beneath his gaze and replied, "I have killed many to reach this point. I have lost many on the way; many of whom I have loved. I swore not to lose again. This is why I am willing to embrace the darkness and learn from it."
She nodded, and though Sasuke didn't say much, there was much to tell from his words. She felt it gave her a deeper insight to this Wolf of Kyataru though it piqued her curiosity more. Faeril decided not to press too much further since there would be plenty of time for that later.
"I suppose since you answered my question and divulged a bit of yourself to me, I should do the same." She paused a bit before going further, not sure how much she wanted to share just yet. "I have yet to experience taking a life of another," she said slowly. "But I have suffered loss and pain to a point that it has filled me with a rage that I can't always control. However, for the most part I have found ways to quell it. At the same time, it's that pain and loss that has given me the strength and determination to seek mastery in areas that I deem will assist me."
Before she could explain further, Shuya interrupted. Faeril and Shikyo both looked towards the doorway as Shuya entered the room. The Phase-II Dark Trooper observed them for a few seconds before announcing that Thule was fastly approaching and that they would be arriving there soon.
Naga Sadow's tomb
Korriban, Horuset system
The shadows seemed to lengthen as Macron and Sai approached the door. Rocks lay strewn about, and a sense of foreboding filled the air. The snarl of an angry Tu’kata hound ripped from the door as the two stood in the entryway. Macron smiled, reaching down to pet the Sith Hound as it recognized him. “Good dog,” he chuckled as it playfully nipped at his hand, wicked teeth scrabbling on the armor. The playful bite would have removed the fingers of an unprotected person.
“Don’t worry Sai,” remarked the Sith. “He’s cool if Tron is cool with you.”
“Astronicus?” asked the Krath. “He is here? Perhaps that was what I sensed.”
“It was,” replied a voice from the inky depths as a familiar figure strode forth. “Macron, Sai, welcome.”
Both men clenched one fist and clapped it to their chests in a ritual greeting. “My lord,” said the alchemist as Sai gave his own greeting. “I would ask what brings you here, but this is Lord Sadow’s tomb after all,” giggled the madman.
“I understand that he was not actually ever buried here?” asked Sai as the three entered the yawning passage. “And I remember a reference to the Exile and Revan as well. Also, I believe the Sith Arts Academy would bring people here to test them.”
“You are right, Priest,” echoed the voice of Astronicus in the stone hall. “However, it remains both a place of power, and a site of great history. I have come to honor our fallen and lay my friends to rest.” Their boots crunched on grit and stone chips as the entered the womblike main chamber. Soaring Sith architecture dominated the room, still appearing powerful as when it was built.
Both Macron and Sai nodded solemnly. “Overlord, I came here to honor the slain as well, and to meditate,” replied the Warlord. “Much has taken place lately, and I seek guidance from the shades.”
“You shall have it, Governor General,” answered the Adept. “You see that I wield the Sword of Sadow on my hip. Ill times are still approaching us. I sensed yet another threat to our Clan home, this time in the Orian system itself,” he said calmly. “Here, I suggest you use the Ring of Wrath, Consul. You may need it. When you return to Sepros, see that the Adjutant General takes up the Dark Sword from the armory. My meditations tell me that the ancient artifacts will be needed. And Sai, come with me. I will show you how to conquer your self-doubt and fear.”
Soon, the sounds of intense lightsaber combat could be heard from the main hall as Macron meditated in an alcove. His eyes closed, seeking deep within as he sought guidance. “There is no death…” he thought as the Sith Code slid through his mind. Sith always sought power from within, unlike the Jedi who sought to become one with the Force.
A few hours later, all three were walking back to their respective vessels. Thule was nearby, and it was time to get moving to their goal- the ruins of the Sith Arts Academy.
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Sitting in the center of the cargo hold, Shikyo closed his eyes and allowed his mind to roam freely about, searching for the presence of his brother and cousin. As he focused on their energies more and more, another presence was close to them. It was stronger than the other two yet it was vaguely familiar. The young Keibatsu focused harder on the presence until a face came into view. As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared. Anyone who knew Naga Sadow knew the name that went with the face. Astronicus Aurelius Sadow. Better known as Tron Sadow; the Overlord and founder of Clan Naga Sadow.
The Acolyte slowly approached him, looking at him with confusion in her eyes.
"Everything ok, master?"
Sasuke ran his hand over his face, rubbing his eyes lightly.
"Yeah, we're just going to have company, that's all. Make sure you have your finest robes, alright?"
"The Overlord will be joining us and we should not present ourselves in casual attire before the Heir."
A look of confused understanding came over her face but she obeyed and went to her belongings, grabbing a set of robes. The Battlemaster proceeded to the cockpit to let his apprentice dress with no worries of intrusion. Shikyo pondered the reasoning for the Overlord's arrival to Thule. He thought this would be just an exploration of the planet, nothing more. The idea of Tron joining the party brought two things to the Sith's mind; an artifact of Naga Sadow might be found here or they would need the Adept's assistance for whatever awaited them.
As soon as Faeril entered the cockpit, Sasuke ventured down to the cargo hold and found a set of his robes he used for Dark Brotherhood formalities. He changed out of his Kyataran attire quickly and strapped his weapons on. They were sitting on the outskirts of the planet and the Battlemaster wanted to be prepared for his clansmen's arrival as soon as they entered the system.
Leaving Horuset System
En Route to Thule
The mood inside the Nachezerer was somber as the transport wrenched free of Korriban’s gravity well with the Overlord’s craft in close pursuit. Both Macron and Sai felt the trip to Korriban, though short, had been rife with benefit, and the Sadowans looked forward to the ensuing visit to Thule.
Macron typed an encrypted message to Shin’ichi, his Adjutant-General, or Proconsul, marked “Eyes Only Status: Overlord Protocol”. He read aloud as he did so.
“Per..Overlord’s orders...you...are...to...retrieve...Dark Sword of H’skych...from...Armory...” His voice trailed off as he finished his message and sent the communiqué through the emptiness of space. Sai watched him as he reflexively flexed his hand, the one bearing the Ring of Wrath.
Though slightly jealous that he had not been imparted with an artifact as Macron had, Sai allowed the foul emotion to be tempered with the gift the Overlord did impart to him. The Priest’s thoughts drifted back to his impromptu “sparring match” with Tron, where he was forced to take up his ‘saber against him.
As Sai’s cerulean blade met the twin silvery columns wielded by Tron over and over again, his mind was penetrated by the words of the Overlord, resounding in every corner of his psyche.
“Sith...Krath...Obelisk...all of these are mere titles, trappings, shadows and dust. Trust not in these feeble constructs; they are meant to distract the easily influenced from the Final Way, separating the grain from the chaff...Trust only in your Self, and focus on the permanence of the Force. As long as there is the Dark Side, there shall be those destined to bend it to their will. Be as they are, ever faithful, ever powerful...”
Sai Keibatsu had just had the honor of personal instruction by the Heir himself, and felt confirmed in his place in Clan Naga Sadow’s glory. He prayed it would be the first of many such lessons.
Consular-class space cruiser Viceroy 1
Dlarit Corporation Courier
Enroute to the planet Thule in the Thurra system
The Overlord sat in a meditative pose contemplating what he knew of this planet. Not much really, merely that it was in a sector of space previously known as Sith Space. Ulic Qel-Droma had fought a battle here during the Great Sith War. Also, some Sith had transplanted a Chiss colony here sometime before 1000 BBY. Viceroy 1's navigator, Nevak Tull a half human half Saraii, would fit in perfectly if needed since his own people (the Saraii) were an off-shoot colony of the Chiss.
Though blending in with the population wouldn't really be all that difficult, it was a galactic mixture of Humans, Arkanians, Ubese, and Chiss. The capital city of Hurom held one of the greatest Sith Temples to date that was still in use, in fact many of the inhabitants spoke a dialect of the ancient Sith language. It was a good thing that Astronicus did as well, he was lost when other cultures began speaking in languages he was unaccustomed to.
It was a planet rich in Sith history, a history which Astronicus was eager to learn more about. As he meditated a small amber light began blinking on his computer console. Noticing the distraction, he rose and approached his desk activating the console. The grim visage of the Viceroy 1's human captain, Grath Nal appeared.
"My apologies, Viceroy, but we are approaching the Thurra system and will be exiting hyperspace momentarily." Informed the captain.
"Very well, Captain." Replied the Sith, "Upon exit from hyperspace I will need a secure channel opened to our escort vessel that we rendezvoused with at Korriban."
"As you wish, m'lord." Captain Nal acknowledged, "Lieutenant Istral will have that ready."
Gaela Istral, a Human female, was their communications officer and a very talented martial arts expert as well. In fact all of the crew were what could be expressed as elite members of the Dlarit military, even their Chief Technician the Jawa known as Igrith Massa. The eight crew members were all trusted officers whose loyalty was without a doubt and Astronicus knew would die for him should the need arise.
A slight shudder was felt within the ship as the old Consular-class cruiser exited hyperspace. Now we will see what can be gleamed from this expedition.
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Faeril watched as Shikyo left to go to the cargo hold and pondered on their trip. She peered out the glass of the cockpit and down at the planet below them noticing the way the landscapes and clouds looked from afar.
She didn't know much about Thule beyond what she picked up on from her master's conversation with his brother Macron. But she wondered if they would actually find anything there or if the trip would be all for naught. Either way, there probably was something to be gained. The trip itself was an experience and she had a feeling she would be changed by the time it was over.
When Sasuke came back she admired him in his robes, but tried not to do so visibly. She had donned the nicest robes she could find and was curious about the newest member of their party. It was already overwhelming that she would be meeting the Consul and Rollmaster, but she'd be meeting the Overlord and Founder of Clan Naga Sadow as well. Ever since Shikyo had made that discovery, she could sense that he was a bit on edge, something she didn't often see but it paled in comparison to the array of emotions she was feeling.
Faeril pulled two long hair sticks out of her pocket and twirled her hair up in a bun. As she was placing the pins through her hair to fasten her bun in place, she noticed two objects fast approaching on the radar as Sasuke prepared to open communication between the two. Vibrant lights appeared to her left and to her right as each ship exited hyperspace to stop and hover next to the Adraelech. They had all reached Thule and the excursion was only beginning.
“Entering system,” prompted the disembodied voice. “Hyperdrive run 1274-Zeta=Charlie destination reached.” The ship slowed the thrum of it’s Verpine engineered drive as it slowed back to normal space. Lines of coruscating hyper-effects resolved into stars twinkling in the distance.
“Priest Sai, would you please hail the Overlord’s vessel?” queried Macron as he studied the tactical readouts. He raised both hands, illuminating them in the glow of holoprojectors as he traced lines and moved them from place to place like some eerie orchestra conductor. His fingers stuck multi-colored lines from one place to another as he scowled over a holographic rendition of the Thurra system. It was almost like watching a spider weave some insane web.
“Copy that,” replied the Krath with strange eyes as he turned to his console. He tapped and brushed his fingers on the odd smooth plasteel- a mere swath of color on the touch board. His fingers elicited a green color. The Krath were masters of arcane lore, and the controls of this ship were no different. Sai smiled as he realized his own epiphany of comprehension. The gates were opening, and this ship welcomed his curiosity. “Nachzerer to Viceroy, do you copy?”
“We copy, Nachzerer,” came the professional voice of Gaela Istral. “You are on Escort detail. Form up on our four as per the Overlord,” she coolly dictated. “Adralech is on our nine. Nice to have company,” she bantered. “Let’s hope we don’t have trouble.”
Sai looked at Macron, who nodded enthusiastically. “Forming on your vector,” he replied. “We are fully capable and ready. Consul Mononoke requests that Shikyo and Faeril come aboard for meditations before we land. The Overlord is of course welcome, but we don’t wish to trouble him with mundane things.”
Macron smiled and reached out with his Force-borne senses, and the formidable electronic ones that lived inside his strange vessel. “Surely Lord Astronicus knows of the persons below,” he canted. “In this era, Thule has been but a shade of what it was. However, the Sith Temple thrives even now,” he giggled insanely. “But they will be… awful. We must move in the hidden presence of our own power, and be sure of our True Will,” he said slowly. “From within ourselves will come our dominance of this situation,” he muttered as he closed his eyes in thought. “Indeed.”
Shikyo watched as the astrodroid skillfully moved the ship right by the Viceroy-1, keeping their distance but staying along side of the ship. As they drifted alongside the cruiser comfortably, the hologram version of the Sith Warlord stood on the console of the ship. Sasuke looked down at the image with a grin on his face.
"Hey brother. Enjoy the trip to Korriban?"
"Very much so. I even picked up a souvenir."
The Battlemaster looked up at the cruiser.
"Hope it didn't cost you too much."
"Not at all. Mind linking up for some conditioning and meditation?"
"Sure. Give Faeril a chance to work on meditation with Sai. Plus, I wouldn't mind a sparring match with my brother."
A sadistic chuckled passed through the vocabulator built into the Warlord's suit, creating a demonic smirk to rest upon the Battlemaster's visage. Macron broke the twisted moment of anticipation.
"I'm sure it can be arranged. Link up with the Nachzerer and we can begin."
"Understood. See you soon."
The ships had just finished linking up and Shikyo stood awaiting the doors to open into the Nachzerer beside his apprentice. He glanced back at her, slowly taking a full view of her. Moving slowly and as carefully as he could, Sasuke enjoyed every inch before turning towards the front. As the doors opened, a playful smiled appeared on his lips.
Macron and Sai stood at attention for a moment before they let down their demeanor and acted like brethren. They embraced one another, chuckling and laughing as they shared quick stories with one another. Faeril stood behind her master, acting as a shy guest before a group of hosts. Shikyo turned towards his family and slowly ushered her towards them.
"Brethren, this is Faeril Munlear. I met her on one of my expeditions. She's proven to be strong in the Force."
Sai snickered and half whispered his statement.
"I'm sure she is."
Shikyo snapped him a playful yet stern glance, as the Acolyte started to blush lightly. Mononoke stepped forward and took his younger brother by the shoulder, as if to initiate their original plan.
"Last I knew, my little brother wanted a match. I'm sure the little miss won't mind separating from you for a moment. Plus, I'm sure she could use some Krath expertise in meditation, yes?"
"Yes. Faeril, learn all you can from Sai. He is truly a master at his craft and very insightful. Learn all you can from him.
With that, the two parties seperated to perform the tasks they set for themselves. Faeril glanced back at her master, just missing the Battlemaster's eyes looking back at her. Shikyo slowly ran his thumb over his lightsaber hilt. He looked forward to training with his brother once more.
Viceroy-1 - The Overlord's cruiser
In orbit above Thule
Astronicus sat in his meditation chamber, his senses extending in the force and reaching out to feel his clansmen nearby on the Alchemist's ship. There was great potential with these three, the force served neither the light or the dark but both and potential could be felt even in the darkest of souls. The alchemist would and had been already a great ally to have. The Krath priest also showed to be promising, his new found vision adding to his uses. And Shikyo too was a warrior of the same mindset as the Overlord. Together he was certain that what awaited them at Hurom in the Sith Temple would be for a certainty rich rewards indeed.
But as he stretched out his senses he felt another presence, one he was not acquianted with. She had raw power, power that if sharpened could be dangerous and at the same time conducive to the overall purpose of Astronicus' plans. Yes, these four Dark Jedi were certainly the ones he would need to accomplish several goals in the scheme of things. The 8th war had taken too many of his potential students, now he would begin again with these and instruct them in what he had mastered. For he had been a Sith, a Krath and an Obelisk learning all that he could in those orders and coming to a mastery of understanding in their ways.
The knowledge of Thule's Sith Temple would only punctuate the power and wisdom he had amassed over the ages. A second Golden Age of the Sith was destined, prophesied even, and he had no doubt in his mind that he would be apart of it, if not a large part hopefully - assuredly. And he would see to it that all of those of Clan Naga Sadow that followed the course would be richly rewarded as well for their unfailing service. The time was at hand, if they were to achieve this transcendence they had to act now!
Nachezerer's Cargo Bay
Orbit above Thule
The doors leading to the Nachezerer’s cargo bay slid shut, with Faeril walking down the parked Silooth’s starboard side and Sai close behind. With the alchemist's gunship being shoehorned into the transport’s bay, there was scarcely room for the pair to walk down the aisle that was formed. No matter, thought Sai, it would suit his purposes just fine.
“That’s far enough,” called the Priest as Faeril passed the halfway mark and a rack of weapons that Macron had installed there on the Nachezerer’s bulkhead. She turned, confusion contorting her features. She saw Sai standing before her, his face projecting emotions that were a far cry from the ones that seemed to have birth his tongue-in-cheek remark moments ago. His arms were clasped behind his back, and he stared at her. She stared back, expectantly.
“I don’t understand. I thought you were going to give me something to meditate on, not the 5 credit tour of Macron’s ship,” Faeril said with a slight smirk; Sai sighed at her attempt to show her sense of humor, that she took his remark in stride.
Inwardly, Sai did smile; witty indeed, she truly was his cousin’s apprentice. But, there was work to be done, and if he was anything, Sai was serious about his work.
“Faeril Munlear”, Sai intoned slowly, as if he sought to taste her very name. In fact, just the way he said it made Faeril want to cover up. She involuntarily shivered as the Priest continued.
“There is much you do not understand, that is true. And that I shall do what I told your Master I would do is also true. However, in these truths are luxuries that we do not have; one, of which is space. Another is time. And I need you…pliable.”
Faeril’s confusion grew as Sai turned slightly and brought his right arm from behind his back, the hand’s first two digits extended and rigid, palm up and elbow slightly bent. Anyone that knew him knew he possessed a wealth of martial knowledge, as he studied Kuroshin-ryu and incorporated it into his already extensive repertoire of sword and hand-to-hand forms. The stance he just adopted was his “empty-hand”, or his approximation of fighting with a sword without actually holding one. A moment later, a bokken, caught in Sai’s telekinetic thrall, floated from the rack and into Faeril’s hand. She looked at the practice weapon, then at the Rollmaster, and her confusion was blasted away as clouds before a gale. Her Master’s cousin had seemingly not brought her here for a scholarly pursuit; he intended to face her in combat with naught but his bare hands.
Faeril adopted a slightly playful tone and said, “Don’t you know you’re supposed to smile when you give a girl a gift?”
Sai still stood with his arm extended before him and said, “We’ve just discovered another truth: you’re spirited. But I caution you to be more reserved when you meet the Overlord. He does not brook such impropriety. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, he’ll spare my cousin the dishonor of having to watch him have his way with you before he kills you for your sharp tongue.”
Faeril could scarcely believe what she was hearing! Sai had been smiling and cracking jokes moments ago; now, he was seriousness and insults. She felt her face flush, this time not in embarrassment, but in indignation as her rage rose within her. She started towards him, then caught herself as she beat back her emotions. Thinking this was the test, she relaxed. “I’m not going to fight my Master’s family, and I don’t want to hurt you.” She glanced down at Sai’s waist, where his ‘saber hilt hung. “I also don’t want you to feel as if you have to use that.”
Sai straightened out of his stance, and regarded her for a moment. A heartbeat passed, and he began to speak. “If I thought it would help, I’d actually let you use it, young Faeril. That is, if I didn’t think you’d cut your own toes off with it. And, you’re right: I don’t want you to hurt me.” Closing the distance between them, Sai strode over to Faeril and roughly tore the practice sword from her grasp. He then replaced it with a live blade from the rack, and resumed his place and stance between Faeril and the exit.
“That should clear up any confusion you have about what I want. There’s only one of two ways that you’re leaving this room: with you, submissive, or with me, dead. The sooner you decide, the sooner you can get back to the Adraelech, and your lingering stares and whispered promises.”
The Priest’s last remark pushed Faeril over the edge. She attacked Sai in a flash of steel, the flutter of fabric, and the scream of anger given voice. Such was Sai’s skill, however, that he barely moved, pivoting and stepping to stay just out of reach of Faeril’s sword strokes. In fact, his ability to parry her using only his extended fingers on her sword pommel or wrist frustrated her greatly.
A distant part of Faeril’s mind noted the power that began to flow through her limbs, fueled by that anger and frustration. Where the blade would miss Sai, it scored deep grooves into the surrounding metal. Her muscles felt electric and powerful, and she drank fully of the Dark Side as she sought to strike down the Rollmaster.
A moment later, it seemed to Faeril that Sai was moving faster; her burning muscles confirmed the opposite, that she was moving slower. Suddenly, she found Sai within her guard as he entrapped her sword arm within his own and he struck the flat of the blade with his palm. Even in her fatigue, she was able to marvel as her weapon shattered from the blow. She pulled in great lungfuls of air as Sai let her slump to the ground. He seemed as if he hadn’t even been fighting with her, so calm was his demeanor. He wasn’t even sweating, where it poured off of her in rivulets.
Faeril glared at Sai as he began to speak. “And now, we reach the crux of our lesson in truths. The Dark Side can be a powerful ally, as you can see,” he gestured at the evidence of her sword’s angry passage on the deck and bulkhead of the Nachezerer. He continued as her chest continued to heave, clawing for air.
“Its power, however, is not without its cost, as your aching and knotted muscles are telling you right now.” Faeril winced as she fought to work out a cramp in her sword arm.
Sai firmly instructed her. “Now, take that anger, turn it inward, use it to erase your hurt and wipe away your fatigue!” Faeril closed her eyes as she obeyed, and marveled as she bent the Dark Side to her will and it obediently took away her tiredness; she almost immediately found her breaths coming easier and she felt energized and vital again.
She kept her eyes closed as Sai continued to speak, his voice droning softly as he sought to urge her into a deeper meditative state. “Have a care with this technique, as well. As the Dark Side will strengthen and leave you depleted, it will also replenish you and leave you vulnerable. You will not be able to make yourself martially strong while you seek to enter the restorative state. That skill is reserved for the Overlord; he, and his ilk. Most of us have learned to balance the cycle while in battle, wisely striking and prudently recharging. You, too, shall learn this, Faeril Munlear, along with a myriad of other mysteries, in time…”
She sat on the deck of the Nachezerer’s cargo bay, and Faeril’s mind, meditating on the lessons learned, registered Sai’s voice as a subconscious buzz as he poured wisdom into her ear and she swam luxuriously in the sweet filth that was the Dark Side.
Corellian YZ-900 Medium Freighter Jewel of Falleen
Enroute to the Thurra System
The Falleen's eyes flashed open as he sensed a ripple in the tapestry of the Force. Through the cold void he could sense the threads connecting him to those in the distance, shining slithers of silver on a dark and empty canvass. They were part of the weavery, the web connecting all things to all things, just as he was.
So, the Force has led us to Thule together. The Falleen grinned. He had learned years before that there was no such thing as coincidence. The Force had a twisted sense of humour at times. He often wondered if it was afraid, if it placed these obstacles in his way to stave off its own destruction. The Sith Lord laughed. Even the Force had its shatterpoints. It was only a matter of time before the Will was broken.
Rising, Lord Vexatus pulled on his cloak and made his way out of his meditation chamber toward the cockpit. The spherical droid Q7-8O, otherwise known as Octo, was floating steadily beside the flight control computer, it's main coupling linked with the ship's computer as it navigated the Jewel through hyperspace.
The droid tootled a greeting as it's master approached.
The Falleen's voice was harsh and cold as always. “How much longer until we arrive?” Octo bleeped a response. Though it could only manage Droidspeak the Falleen had no trouble understanding. “Make haste. I do not want my mission compromised.”
Octo whittled another reply. “No,” said Vexatus, “though the aliens are always a concern these days. I do not think we will be alone when we arrive at Thule.” Octo made a high whining noise. “The others.”
The droid appeared to understand what it's master meant and spun back to the computer screen.
Nachezerer's Cargo Bay
Orbit above Thule
Lightsabers cracked and spat in the back of the bay as the two Sith struggled against each other, orange on crimson. They were evenly matched physically. Macron snarled as his newfound strength did not overpower his brother. “By…the…shades…you have been training!”
Shikyo responded with a Soresu deflection followed by a strong Djem So attack. Macron’s finesse with Makashi slipped the blade to the side, and he giggled. Both Sith raised their hands and threw blasts of Force power at each other simultaneously. Shikyo skidded back a few steps as he realized that the alchemist possessed a superior understanding of telekinetics.
“So at least I have you there, cousin,” muttered Macron as he drew another lightsaber hilt from behind his back. This one remained unlit as he brandished his familiar orange blade.
“When did you make that?” asked Shikyo as his eyes narrowed. A rush of dark power shuddered through his frame as he girded himself with the Force. This was going to be bad if the madman wielded two blades at once. He would need every advantage. The Force bent to his will as his speed and strength increased.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” replied the Warlord as he found his footing and relaxed his frame. The blade snapped on from the curved black hilt with a bloody red color and white core, thrumming at an impossibly high pitch. “Recognize the Sigil crystal you brought me? Thanks again.”
Both men breathed deep, and then threw themselves at each other. Shikyo’s body was rippling with Force power, and yet Macron had not enhanced his own frame. The Battlemaster’s blows rained fierce and hard, hammering at the orange and red beams that his kinsman maneuvered. Macron was being pushed back for a moment as Shikyo gloated, curling his upper lip. “Afraid to use your power?” he taunted.
“Not especially,” replied the alchemist as his mind shifted gears. Both blades began to snap off and on, teasing the Ragnosian with beams of light that suddenly were not there to block. Macron danced and weaved, ducking low, jumping high, and spinning the emitter hilts in his hands. The timer beeped just as he had one unlit hilt placed against the other man’s belly as his lit red blade held Shikyo’s blade high.
Both humans sighed and shut their blades down as they reached for bottles of water. “Trakata,” remarked Shikyo. “I see Vexatus taught you.”
“Indeed,” replied Macron as he grinned. “Better practice more, my brother. I finally mastered it, along with the Makashi and Dun Moch.”
“I’d still blow your butt to dust in a starship,” taunted Shikyo with an evil grin as they returned to the bridge to prepare for the landing.
“Yeah, very true. I suck at piloting,” frowned Macron. “I need to train more too. Well, let’s get this party underway. Care to collect Sai and your apprentice? I’ll contact the Overlord and we can begin.”
Nachzerer's Cargo Bay
Orbit above Thule
On the cargo bay of the Nachzerer, Faeril continued to meditate hearing Sai's voice in the back of her mind as she continued to try letting herself fully surrender to the darkside of the force. Taking long drawn out breathes, she focused on thoughts of home as she let herself drift leaving everything present behind her. Suspended outside of herself, she felt a deluge of energy swarming within her.
It was almost overwhelming, but she concentrated on relaxing and removing all the barriers created within her mind. As soon as she did, she began to feel an utter calm, and after time, glimpsed an image of a young girl and three men in what appeared to be a forest or meadow. One of the men seemed to be instructing the young girl. She couldn't be sure because the image seemed to be a blur so she concentrated harder and slowly the image became clearer.
She realized she was looking on the past. Faeril felt a flood of emotions, first joy and admiration, but also deep sorrow. She ignored the last for fear of losing her grasp on the scene before her.
The young girl's father was showing her the art of throwing shuriken. She was no more than 6 or 7 and seemed determined even for a girl so young. Faeril watched as the young girl threw for the first time towards a wooden plank propped up against a tree. She completely missed the bulls eye painted in black along the wooden surface. She tried a few more times before her father commended her but further instructed her on how to apply the techniques he had been teaching her. The young girl listened intently and tried again, this time the shuriken landed just to the left of the bullseye. The girl grinned and looked at her father who looked back at her with pride and love in his eyes.
Her concentration faltered at that point, the emotions where a bit too much for her signifying something she wasn't yet ready to face. In the background, she could hear the murmur of Sai's voice, "Don't let your emotions overcome you, use them to focus on what the force is willing you to see." Subconsciously aware of Sai's voice, Faeril reminded herself that what she saw was past now and something that would never be again. She squashed down any emotions that she had been feeling and let herself open up to the void once more.
Another vision came to her, one unfamiliar. She saw herself in the dark, alone, searching for those that she had accompanied. She felt loss and despair, but also resilience. She was gliding down a long corridor desperately searching, calling out for someone; anyone. There was nothing to identify exactly where she was, but that could of been because of the lack of light. Faeril then watched herself fall to her knees and felt a rush of excruciating pain and rage overcome her. She thought at that point she may lose the vision, but she reached out further and saw Shikyo, his eyes ablaze with a deep red where the gray once resided. He had streaks of blood trickling down his face and a low yet forceful growl emitting from deep within. His look was of pure hate, as if he saw one of his family fall in battle or was fighting the Vong once more.
At that moment, Faeril lost the vision as well as all her concentration and awoke from her meditative state. She was shaking and realized tears had escaped her eyes. Not knowing what to make of the last vision, she confided in Sai.
The Priest observed her for a few moments afterwards before saying anything. "Are you sure of what you saw?" he asked. Faeril nodded in reply.
Sai then turned as he heard Macron and Shikyo approaching. Faeril not wanting Sasuke or his brother to know anything was wrong, or look weak in their eyes, stood up and quickly brushed away her tears and put on a face of sheer strength and determination when inside she was still trying to digest what she saw. She looked at the Priest out of the corner of her eye and he returned her gaze with a knowing nod. She didn't want anyone else to know of her vision and she feared what it might mean.
Shikyo approached the rest of the party, noticing a hint of distress upon Faeril's face. She tried to cover it up as best as she could but there was more than her facial expression that gave her away. The Sith could sense the disturbance within her. Instead of interrogating her then, Sasuke decide it best to ask when they were alone. With everyone together and their preparations complete, they decided to separate and head down to the planet's surface.
With their well wishes sent and the Force serving them all, Shikyo and Faeril made their way back to the Adraelech and prepared to disengage from the Nachzerer. As they settled in their seats, R3 was finishing that last bits of preparation before disengaging the locks from the ship. The ship slowly drifted away from its host before the engines kicked into gear and held the craft in place.
The astrodroid began to guide the ship towards the planet, giving the Sith a very small amount of time to talk to his apprentice before taking control of the ship. Shikyo looked over at Fae, catching her glancing towards him. She turned back sharply, trying to hide her facial expression.
"What's wrong, my apprentice?"
Faeril's breathing began to pick up speed.
"Nothing. Just... a bit disturbed by meditation."
The Battlemaster cocked his eyebrow.
"A vision of the past or the future?"
The Acolyte lowered her head.
Shikyo nodded and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't let the past haunt you. Learn from it and overcome it. If you let it consume you, it will only dwindle away your power. Remember that."
The Sith Acolyte nodded.
With everyone separated and ready to head towards the planet's surface, the three ships began to make their way to the capital of Thule: Hurom.
Consular-class space cruiser Viceroy 1
Dlarit Corporation Courier
Thule, Thurra system
"M'lord we are on approach to Hurom now." Informed the Viceroy 1's pilot and captain, Grath Nal.
"Very well," replied Astronicus, "Gaela have they given us an assigned landing pad, yet?"
"Yes sire, they have given us permission to land at Pad 23." Responded the female human communications officer. "And per your orders they believe we are here on business for the corporation and are expecting the Vice President of Marketing, our own Oren Durrick." She looked over and smiled at the Duros co-pilot
"Are you up to playing the role Mr. Durrick?" Asked the Viceroy. "We have to keep them pre-occupied long enough to accomplish our mission."
"I will play the role as adequately as possible, m'lord." Said the Duros, "As long as my Neimodian attire and facial augmentations hold up to their assumptions."
"Excellent." Replied the Sadow as he steepled his fingers.
Thule, Thurra System
Skies above Hurom
"The Overlord’s cruiser is setting down on Pad 23," Sai reported, his fingers dancing across the display. "The Adraelech is in a holding pattern above the cloud cover."
"Very well," acknowledged Macron, coaxing the beetle-shaped craft to remain in position amidst the cobalt clouds that covered the capital city. As part of their plan, the Nachezerer and the Adraelech were to remain on station until they received a signal from the Overlord to land as well. The Thuleans were, and had always been, wary of visitors; though they were welcoming of someone of Tron’s station and the credentials that had been provided as part of the deception, the Sadowans were unsure how a convoy of three warships would be received. This waltz of political niceties was best handled by those most equipped to call the tune.
"Hail the Adraelech and instruct them to...wait...what’s that?" Macron stopped his command short, calling Sai’s attention to the visual display he brought up to the main screen.
"Hmm..don’t think I’ve seen that before," Sai admitted.
On the display, rolling indigo clouds seethed incessantly about them. Typically, a ship that had taken up station in any meteorological formation would bring ionization, which would then bring random strikes of lightning. Just as typical, ships were usually protected from such discharges, having redundant systems designed to bleed off the energy if not absorb it completely.
What was atypical about the sight unfolding on the screen was that the lightning strikes were far from random, instead arcing from point to point, gaining in strength and coming straight at the Nachezerer. Even more atypical: the lightning was blood red.
"Someone knows we're here." The utterance had scarcely left Macron’s lips when the crimson bolt lanced into the Nachezerer, causing it to buck wildly and the internal displays to flicker erratically.
"That’s not good," understated Sai as both men began to feverishly work the controls, trying desperately to keep the transport aloft.
"Nachezerer....come in...what’s...indicating distress..." Shikyo’s static laced voice rang out over the comm. His sensors had reported what had happened to his brethren, but he was powerless to assist.
"What the frell are we going to..." Sai stopped short as the power cut in the transport, leaving them in total darkness.
"We fall, dear cousin," intoned Macron, his voice beginning to take an amused lilt, heralding the onset of the madness for which he was supremely famous.
And fall they did, the ship carving out a trough in the wooded wilderness that bordered Hurom.
Aboard the darkened transport, all was silent. However, a mystic eye, inherited by the recently named Son of Sadow, fluttered.
Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Thule, Thurra System
Skies above Hurom
Faeril noticed a brilliant light out of the corner of her eye and quickly forgot about what had been bothering her earlier. She didn't have to say anything to Shikyo because he was well aware of the disruption surrounding the Nachezerer. Besides the fact that the sensors were going off on the console, it was very hard to miss.
She also sensed a tension and energy in the air giving her the impression that the storm wasn't any ordinary storm, but something created using the force which made Faeril put her guard up more than usual. This wasn't something she felt completely prepared for, but she entrusted her Master to help guide her.
Sasuke was trying to reach Macron and Sai over the comm as Faeril watched red bolts of lighting and billowing clouds engulf the Sadow's ship. The communication wasn't going through. Abruptly, what lights they were able to see from the transport through the storm clouds turned off and the Nachezerer began to descend from the sky.
"Strap yourself in, we're going after them."
Faeril nodded her head and clicked the buckle of the strap that went across her body and prepared herself for quick dissent as Shikyo steered the Sith Infiltrator towards the planet's surface.
In the meantime, she had a number of thoughts racing through her mind. She'd have to be ready to think fast and be very observant of her surroundings. No telling what they were all getting themselves into, but she trusted her superiors.
As they began to get closer to Hurom, they saw Macron's ship embedded in the ground a ways outside of the city limits. It had carved out a good length of land when it had crashed in the wilderness. All the outer lights were off and it looked as though the ship had lost all power during the excursion that had just happened moments before in the air.
Shikyo set the Adraelech down close by, and they both quickly got out of the cockpit to check on the Consul and the Rollmaster.
Corellian YZ-900 Medium Freighter Jewel of Falleen
Darth Vexatus opened his eyes as the Jewel of Falleen reverted to realspace. He could sense the lines connecting him through the tapestry of the Force to the disciples already here. Astronicus. He could feel the presence of the alleged heir as well. The Sith Lord's mood instantly soured.
“More theatrics,” grumbled Vexatus as he stood. He would be forced to play his part yet again. The false service of it had begun to grow tiresome. The Sith Lord longed for the day he could be rid of them all.
Vexatus strolled through the Jewel until he reached the cockpit. Octo hovered before the flight computer, appearing to be in the middle of communicating with the control tower down in Hurom. After a few moments the droid spun its dome shaped body around and tooted something.
“Understood,” said Vexatus, understanding perfectly. “Have us put down in the main spaceport.”
Octo beeped a response as the Falleen strode back out toward his quarters.
Outside Sith Infiltrator Adraelech
Thule, Thurra System
Outskirts of Hurom
As Shikyo and Faeril made their way out of the Infiltrator, a string of swearing could be heard from the Sith Warlord, as he stood outside the ship and inspected the damage done to it. Shikyo looked around the area as a heightened sense of warning held his mind in place and refused to let go.
As the two Sith approached, Sai turned towards his cousin with a half hearted smile on his face, nodding in the direction of the Nachezerer.
"She took a bit of a hit but she'll live for the time being. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about scavengers."
"Just lock her down tight and we'll repair her when we return."
As soon as the words parted from his lips, the Jewel of Falleen could be seen drifting over them, making its way toward the spaceport within the city limits. The Battlemaster smirked as he sensed the vague yet familiar presence of Lord Vexatus.
Turning towards his apprentice, he nodded his head towards the ship.
"You're in luck. Most Journeymen never get the chance to be with the Overlord and a Dark Prophet at the same time. Take note of them."
Faeril nodded and stepped a bit closer to her master. As Macron finished his angered rant, he turned back towards the group with a sigh.
"There's nothing more than can be done for now. Let's make our way in."