Ambitions - Locke, Arania, Xantros, Akatsuki, Cello
None in the galaxy match the ambitions of the Dark Jedi.
They seek power. They seek knowledge.
They seek ways to strengthen their position and influence within the Brotherhood.
The Dark Jedi are creatures of action. Hesitation is not an option, as they plan as a matter of instinct.
Nothing can prevent them from achieving their ambitions.
Nothing, that is, but their own limits, foolishness and the innate paradox of Darth Bane's Rule of Two, extrapolated to the full Brotherhood....
Some have the power, others crave it. And thus, they plot against each other.
New generations of Dark Jedi will conduct their own quests for power, to satisfy their own ambitions.
It is the very nature of Dark Jedi to recognize that this is the natural course of events, not the narrow, dogmatic view of the Jedi.
This story takes place in a star system known to very few people. Perhaps for this reason, none can agree on its name. Yet it is so unknown, that a name is perhaps spurious.
The system, strangely, has a small station in geosynchronous orbit around the fourth planet. None know who placed it there, and the few people who know of its existence seem not to care.
It's existence within the uncharted system makes it a perfect place for secret meetings, far from suspicious eyes and ears of spies and informants.
It is a safe haven for anyone not wishing to be tracked down by their enemies, or for those requiring certain conditions to discuss and finalize deals of all kinds.
A safe haven, that is, for those who know how to keep themselves safe. Those who know how the Universe truly works. Safest this haven is, for Dark Jedi alone.
It was thus not surprising in the least that a group of five Dark Jedi chose this star system to meet and to speak of their future. Four of them from House Scholae Palatinae, one from Clan Naga Sadow.
What the result of this unusual meeting would be, no one dared predict, certainly none of the Dark Jedi involved in the meeting…
One thing was certain…This would not be like some reunion of troopers from the Academy.
This meeting was serious.
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Judecca, Office of Xen’Mordin Vismorsus, Quaestor of House Scholae Palatinae
“So, Xantros, you wish to take a couple of days of leave, in order to prepare yourself for your personal studies? The personal studies that will make you leave the Dark Jedi Brotherhood for several years, right?” asked the Quaestor
“Indeed.” the reply was short.
“What shall we gain on your current and future similar leaves?”
“All of my studies, the past, the current and the future ones, have one thing in common. Thanks to them, I can expand my knowledge, learn new skills and grow in power. You know that I am loyal servant of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood and, particularly, House Scholae Palatinae. You may be sure that I will utilize all acquired knowledge to serve the best interest of the Brotherhood and my home unit. I know, where my loyalty is.
“Who are your informants? Where and when are you meeting them?” Xen’Mordin was eager to know all details of Xantros’ plans.
“We all have our own secrets that we are reluctant to share with others. I am sure that you know, what I mean. Lack of discrecy may result in losing valuable informants.”
“All right, Xantros. I will grant you the permission to leave. However, I expect you to provide detailed report on your activities during this period of time.”
“As you wish.”
The Dark Jedi Knight did not waste his time. He had already been prepared for the immediate leave for his journey, directly from Judecca. All necessary equipment had been stored aboard the Buccaneer, his personal ship. The only thing Xantros needed was the permission from the Quaestor, which he gained a moment ago. Now, he could move out at any time. Thus, the Dark Jedi Knight immediately returned to his ship and prepared it for set off. Half an hour later, he was allowed to start. Soon after, the Buccaneer reached the low orbit over Judecca.
Xantros steered it on the course away from the planet and entered the co-ordinates of the first hyperspace jump to the navigation computer. It was a short jump, just to make sure that his story was confirmed with his visible actions. As soon as the Buccaneer dropped out of the hyperspace, the Dark Jedi Knight entered new co-ordinates. This time, it was the true destination point of his travel.
A star system known to very few people. A place, where he was going to meet four of his fellow Dark Jedi of the Krath Order.
Few hours later, the Buccaneer jumped out of the hyperspace and Xantros piloted it towards the small station, which was located over the fourth planet of the system. Soon after, he landed in a hangar bay and left the ship.
As he moved towards the meeting room, the Dark Jedi Knight passed by less than ten members of the station’s crew. There was not many more needed to operate the station, as it was hardly possible that the system would be found out by any hostile forces.
Akatsuki sat in the darkened chamber. The large heavy table had four other empty leather chairs that would soon hold other members of her order. ‘I know they are Krath’ Akatsuki thought to herself. ‘But I am unclear of who will here. This alliance with Naga Sadow is nothing short of questionable, only a Krath would come up with such a devious plan.’
The Horansi sat, reviewing the points she’d like to bring up at the meeting on her data pad. She’d taken impeccable notes during her studies under her apprenticeship with Sith Warlord Valkas Tamalar; there were many differences in the Krath way versus the Sith way and she wanted to share some of this with her peers.
The walls were ablaze with sconces of fire, it added to the atmosphere of the room. However, ambience and pleasant setting wasn’t of importance for these meetings, secrecy was. The door slid open and the first of her Krath peers entered. She recognized the Duro underneath his cloak and nodded a greeting.
The two sat in silence for a moment. Sitting across the table from one another, the silence was thick and heavy in the room. Finally Akatsuki spoke up, albeit quietly, “Xantros, what if these meetings are discovered? I didn’t realize that the grab for power and knowledge would turn into us essentially turning on, well, even our housemates?”
The Duro sat in silence with his hands folded. He glared at the Horansi for a moment and then spoke, “Akatsuki, I told you there would be a time where the whole thought of ‘brotherhood’ became a moot point. You building friendships as you have will serve us well when we go to usurp the powers that be.”
Akatsuki sat and reviewed her notes a bit more. ‘Does this mean I may even have to turn on Valkas eventually?’ she wondered. She’d been known for being a bit grey, if not even a bit ‘lighty’ when it comes to interaction with other Dark Jedi. The thought of turning on house members, much less her Master was stomach churning.
Diligent in her studies, Akatsuki hungered for more knowledge and more power. She could offer insider information to the group as she had a summit position in the house. She knew who was doing what, studying what and taking action. She also had a direct line to the Quaestor Xen’Mordin Vismorsus himself, and had him fooled into believing she wouldn’t eventually attempt to rise to power by whatever means necessary. Her smile and pleasant disposition had served her well in her rise, and deception thus far. She didn’t plan on changing that false appearance anytime soon.
“When will the others be arriving?” Akatsuki asked softly.
“Shortly. Every moment up until now prepared you for what’s about to happen. Now is not the time to question your path.” Xantros replied with a sincere look.
They returned to silence and continued to wait for the rest of the members.
Cello's ship dropped out of hyperspace at the station. Cello, whose poker face was well-known, couldn't help but smile at the precision. Anyone in the station looking out a portal would have jumped - pun intended - at how close the ship was able to drop out of hyperspace. Cello had personally tweaked the nav computer so that this was possible, and he had faith in his abilities. A mere 22.7 meters separated the ship from the docking port. And as intended, the ship was completely undetected, unless someone happened to be looking at it the second it dropped out of hyperspace.
Cello activated the stealth package on the ship and only then docked to the station and debarked. He sensed Xantros and Akatsuki and while he knew Xantros would sense his presence, he had a feeling Akatsuki might be surprised when he appeared in the door of their meeting chamber.
As if to stress the former point, Xantros, whose back was to the door, announced, "Welcome Cello.... We have been expecting you."
Cello responded, "Xantros, Akatsuki.... I trust your journeys were as uneventful as mine?"
While Akatsuki nodded, Xantros slowly turned and spoke. "For one so close to becoming a Dark Jedi Knight, I sense unusual focus and discipline in you, Cello, since we last met. I wonder why you've not yet obtained the title.... But that is for another discussion. Perhaps rather than wait we should begin. One never knows when a clandestine meeting might be.... interrupted."
Cello sat in a wide chair, wide enough for him to cross his legs in a meditative pose despite him being awake and focused. "Agreed," he responded. Cello had cultivated the gift of meditating while seeming lucid to others, and this pose facilitated that. He sensed no deception here, and yet as was his wont did not drop his focus. This was fortunate, as the most difficult part of his training thus far was keeping focus.
Leaning back in the ornate chair of his home office, Locke looked up at a series of dossiers floating as blue holograms above his desk, each one listing the name and characteristics of various members of Clan Naga Sadow. Many of them were his friends, but many of them were individuals he had never met or barely knew. There was one thing that stood out about them, though: Nearly all of them were Obelisk or Sith, very few hailing from the same order as Locke.
In all his time in the Dark Brotherhood, it had been drilled into Locke that order didn’t matter. His teachers had called it an outdated concept. “A relic of a different age,” they had said. Despite this, it’s residue remained, causing friction in the gears of otherwise sound alliances. His master, an Obelisk, had always shared something that Locke lacked with other Obelisks. They had always had a union of like-mindedness that existed beyond political and personal goals. While he considered many of them to be friends and allies, there was still one, fundamental difference: He was Krath, and they were not. The lines had blurred; indeed, some of Locke’s Obelisk friends preferred the Force to physical combat, or avoided fighting where possible, but the fundamental difference was still there: He saw the world through a different light.
Locke hungered for knowledge. During his training, he had sated this hunger with the idea that he was learning at every turn. Upon becoming Aedile and later Proconsul, he had suppressed it, pushing that feeling to the back of his mind. There it had stayed, however, nagging at him, building and building until at last, here he was, sitting in his office, alone. Truly, his Obelisk and Sith allies desired knowledge as well, but that pure thirst that had overcome him could no longer be quenched, it could no longer be set aside as his allies of the other Orders did.
Even as Proconsul, there were documents he did not have access to. He had found, with much frustration, that many of the most valuable tomes that the Clan possessed were under the control of the Sons of Sadow alone. That was a group he had little dealings with, and did not want to have more if he could avoid it. They were a vicious, mean-spirited group, one that frequently clashed with the current Summit. “A relic of a different age, “ he mumbled, laughing softly to himself.
That door closed to him, Locke had pondered how he was going to expand his knowledge. Then an idea occurred to him: he would have to look outside the Clan. There had been a time when Order ties were strong. If he could find other Krath - other like-minded individuals - then perhaps he could forge an alliance with them and satisfy his lust for knowledge. Maybe they could even be useful for other reasons as well.
His mind in motion, Locke began cycling through dossiers, narrowing his search to only Krath, searching through all the Clans and Houses. He narrowed his search even further, but everything he read indicated individuals with strong ties, he doubted he could make much headway there.
Sighing with despair, Locke was about to give up when his console beeped with a new message. It was on an older channel, one that, as far as he knew, the Dark Brotherhood no longer used to communicate. Locke pulled up an old file that identified the purpose of each channel, and was surprised. This one had been for Krath communications only, and had not been in use since the time when a High Priest had united the order. Locke opened it, reading the contents.
Your actions are curious. If you wish to learn more, proceed to the coordinates attached to this document. Do not wait, as this offer will not be open long.
Locke thought for a moment. It was a cryptic message. He opened the document containing the coordinates, noting that they did not identify with any known location on any star map he had access to. It had all the hallmarks of a trap, but Locke’s curiosity got the better of him.
He had already set aside a few days to himself, so he didn’t need to contact anyone, except his aid to inform him that he could be gone for a little longer. It wasn’t much longer before Locke, in his traditional Krath robes, carrying his lightsaber and DL-44 blaster, was getting in his X-Wing and heading out of the Orian System.
As his X-Wing exited hyperspace, Locke did a quick sensor sweep. He found only a small, lone space station, orbiting a larger planet below. There was no other ship traffic, and no one hailed Locke as he guided his X-Wing slowly closer to the station. He had approached many star systems before, but this one was different. There was something unusually ominous about it.
Upon getting close to the station, Locke noticed that one of it’s hangars was open, with only the typical atmospheric containment field blocking it’s entrance. He slipped his X-Wing inside, setting it down gently. When he got out and descended, Locke found himself greeted by a nondescript human in an all grey uniform.
The man bowed as Locke approached. “This way, please, “ he said, “ all will be explained shortly.”
Deciding it was best not to argue, Locke followed the man deeper into the facility. They passed very few others, all wearing the same plain uniform. Locke broke the silence only once. “What is the purpose of this station?” he asked.
The man did not answer, simply continuing to work his way through the corridors. Locke followed, curiosity overtaking his frustration. Finally, the man stopped outside a doorway and pressed a button on a console outside. He stepped aside. “Here, “ was all he said.
Locke entered the dark, barely-lit room, aware of the door sliding shut behind him. He looked around, noting the other three beings here. The dim light made the Duros look even more imposing than normal, with those odd red eyes. The others were a relatively normal looking human man, and a member of a feline race to which Locke could not place a name.
He stepped to one of the remaining chairs and sank into it smoothly, looking at each of the others in turn, wondering if they knew each other and how skilled they were. He had noticed they had quickly broken off their conversation upon him entering.
“Who are you?” Locke asked, feeling that they knew more about the situation than he did. He really hated that feeling.
It was one of those situations where Dark Jedi Master Arania Lawakiro, former High Priest of the Krath, part of the Palpatines and collector of old artifacts and lore, would have liked to make a grand entrance. With the appropriate mix of make up and dark, but definitely colorful robes – maybe some blues and purples – she would have been sure to make an impression on everyone gliding into the room she was heading for while staying in the shadows and out of the attention of everyone she would not want attention from.
However, since an unfortunate accident at the alchemy lab a while ago, the former Ralconian was stuck in the body of an ewok, and she could consider herself lucky that it was at least a female one. Getting out of this diminutive form had proven to be difficult. For one, all of the people who could probably aid her in the endeavor were usually very busy, but most importantly, the process of securing a new body was complicated. It could not be just anyone, considering she needed to preserve her power in the Force, and she had some standards as well.
So here she was, a small furry creature clad in a brown and grey robes as it fit with the style of this race. Instead of coming with a ship of her own, she had changed transports a few times until she had secured passage on an old bucket of a passenger ship to this station. Not too many ships traveled to this, in her eyes, backwater planet. Actually, this had been the only ship going here, and it only made the short side trek after she had convinced them with methods not open to most people.
There were advantages of being small and being an ewok, but the current situation was not quite one to play on those advantages. Her appearance got more than a few glances, as ewoks were rare in these parts of the galaxy. If someone stared too long or even seemed to want to make contact, Arania had to take the trouble to make them forget what they were about to do, or even that they had seen her. Maybe she would be considered paranoid by her friends had they known how careful she was. But the situation warranted all care in the galaxy. Luckily, the station's inhabitants all knew her and would not inquire as to her current business.
She had given the usual reason for taking leave from Scholae Palatinae. A story about an artifact, maybe an old book, which could hold secrets of exploits past or maybe even information useful to help her studies in the Force. And as usual, the story had been bought. Lawakiro was sure that her obsession with such items, most of which someone of her status barely had use anymore as most things she found were minor Force artifacts, caused many a grin and shaking of heads. It was, however, a plausible excuse for following her own agenda.
The station she now rushed through actually had a name most people did not know about. It might not be an official designation, but it was certainly fitting. Those who came here often called it 'Hope's End.' This was not because those who lived here had nothing to lose. It was because plans had been set in motion here which had important people die, changed leadership of pirate and smuggler organizations and, if the story was true, crushed at least one government on a minor world. Like Arania's ewok body, the shabby station had its advantages. Especially if you had business dealing with shifts of power.
And that was, of course, why the Krath was here. As she ascended the worn out stairs towards the meeting room booked for the occasion, she went through all her preparations made before she had started on her way here. It seemed all perfect, but from experience she knew perfection hardly existed, and this was to be just the first step of many to give the Krath leverage to rise above the other Orders, if not necessarily by standing in the front rows. So many things could go wrong, starting from the choice of people included to all kinds of sudden complications.
The stairs in this darkened part of the station were worn out, but still too high for an ewok. Still, she took the stairs every time. The Krath paused to look out of one of the few windows showing nothing but stars. The irregular orbit caused the planet and local sun to show up at different time intervals, although the woman had never bothered to find out what the orbit was really like the times she had been here before. After a moment, she went on and reached the generic door not looking any different from many of the others. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the movement of someone leaving the corridor at the other end. That meant her timing was perfect, and everyone else had arrived before her.
The panel was too high for an ewok, of course, but she did not need to touch it to open the door. It moved aside smoothly, much smoother than it would normally be expected of such an abandoned looking station. Lawakiro moved in with the usual ewok waddle and sighed inwardly. Not the time to complain about her current appearance.
The question of the Naga Sadow Proconsul still hung in the air as she approached the table. "Milady," the Duros said, without turning around. "I trust it your journey was uneventful?"
Arania nodded and jumped up into the remaining chair. "It went as expected." With just a few words, Xantros had established some important things in regards to the Naga Sadow Krath's questions. That she was of rank, that he knew her well enough to address her before she said anything and that it would be her to answer most of the questions anyone, including him, may have.
Arania's eyes darted from one to the other. "Knowledge," she said, trying to make her voice less squeaky than it usually was. "We are knowledge. At least, that is what we are supposed to be. The Order of the Krath has always held knowledge above everything else. It is the most valuable resource next to access to the Force. It is power." Her gaze came to rest on Locke. "You know my name, no doubt." There might be Krath in the Brotherhood unable to identify her because of the body swap, but she was sure a Proconsul would not be among them.
The human nodded. She was not quite what he had expected, despite reading a none too detailed report about her accident. Maybe it was that an ewok speaking almost like everyone else or lacking the standard behaviors deemed either cute or annoying by most people didn't align itself with the image of someone quite adept in the Force, or maybe it was the whole idea of switching into the body of someone else. But before he could think of what to say, the ewok's eyes searched everyone's faces once more, and he wondered what she was doing that could not see.
"Everyone here is of the Krath Order," Arania continued. "Albeit in one case just recently changed over from the Sith." Her eyes rested on Cello for a moment. "And each of you followed the call. Are you ready to make a change in what it means to be a Krath?"
“It shall turn out with the course of events, milady,” said Xantros,”However, one thing is certain. We are all determined to ensure that our Order gains the position in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood that has been due to it for many years.”
Arania nodded, as she saw certain wisdom in the words of the Duro. She encouraged Xantros to continue his speech, as it was clearly visible that he had something more to say.
“We are the Krath. We are used to work behind the scenes, in darkness and shadows. While almost all of us are Dark Jedi Knights or higher in the ranks of the Brotherhood,” Xantros took a quick look at Cello, “there are only five of us.”
“Only at the moment, Xantros,” Akatsuki interrupted his speech. She was fairly impatient for a Krath. It was her habit to speak out her thoughts, when she believed it would provide her an advantage, no matter of the circumstances.
“Only at the moment,” agreed kindly Xantros. “There are probably more Krath that think in our way, but it will take some time to convince them to join our cause. We must be careful, because we will not be able to resist the fury and power of joined forces of the Sith and the Obelisk.”
“You are correct, young Knight,” Locke supported him. The Proconsul of Naga Sadow looked at the four of his associates. “We need to gain powerful allies, who would align themselves with us. Any suggestions?”
“Apart from Cello, everyone has a position or rank that makes it easier to reach people, who may turn out to be very resourceful. Arania is a Dark Jedi Master. Her wisdom and power is widely respected. No one shall be surprised with her looking for an Apprentice and meeting possible candidates…the Krath, of course. Locke is the Proconsul of Clan Naga Sadow. He is close to the Dark Council, due to his position. Similar to me, as I am the Magistrate to the Master at Arms. Akatsuki is the Rollmaster of House Scholae Palatinae. She may meet members of the House under cover of discussing their progress in ranks. We may recruit people to join our cause.”
However, it was only partially the truth. There was something more behind his words. He did not trust Cello. Sudden switch of the Order was quite disturbing. It might mean that Cello was really willing to join the ranks of the Krath and fully supported their cause. Still, Xantros was uncertain of Jedi Hunter’s motives. As every Dark Jedi, he expected betrayal and treachery on every step of his journey to power. During the last mission, to Almas, Cello proved to be surprisingly passive as for the Sith, when it was necessary to act. This time, the Dark Jedi Knight was much more cautious with trusting the Jedi Hunter.
Xantros contacted all others, but Cello, through the Force, asking what were their thoughts on Cello.
“Xantros brings up a good point, might be his first ever…” Akatsuki smirked at Xantros, “I mean we are all here because we bring various talent to the table. Though a rag tag bunch, we are a cross section of all that is good about being Krath.”
Akatsuki eyed the Ewok for a moment, forgetting for just a moment that the furry little snack housed the legendary Arania. She licked her chops and shot out the thought ‘delicious’ which was picked up on all present except Cello. “Aka! Remember who she is!” Xantros scolded the hungry Horansi.
“Sorry Arania.” Akatsuki lowered her eyes and felt guilt at the thought of a barbecued Dark Side Adept.
‘Cello is the loose cannon, I say don’t trust him.’ Akatsuki sent back to Xantros and the rest of the Krath through the Force.
“That said,” Akatsuki thumped her heavy paw on the table, “I’ve got a means of recruiting that will pull many people, pretty much anyone who joins the Dark Jedi Brotherhood into our Order. I am the trusted house recruiter as well as under my Master, created people to come to the Brotherhood in general. What if I were to tweak a thing or two, and perhaps bend the truth a bit as to where people really want to be?”
The pensive Horansi looked at the group, she had gotten their attention, but they weren’t following her just yet. “Look, let me make it simple. I have access to a galactic audience. I am quite busy in promoting of Scholae as well as the Brotherhood in general as far as the Holonet goes, as well as through other Media. Anyone I recruit into the Brotherhood, whether they joined Scholae or not, well, let’s just say we can see to it that they are Krath…” Akatsuki let that thought hang in the air for a moment.
“Besides, I am Thran's unofficial little sister. Perhaps I could sweet talk my ‘big bro’ into spreading the word about the wonderful works of the Krath at one of his signings or openings. Honestly, I know Krath are to be in the shadows and more secretive. But what it we came out of the shadows, without coming out? Trick people into joining our movement by providing the pros, if you will, of joining the Order?”
She looked at Locke, he'd scowled a bit at her Scholae cheerleading. “This goes far beyond a Scholae thing, so don’t get your knickers in a knot. I’m talking Krath supremacy here.“ His glare eased a bit. “I’m simply talking about recruiting and building the Order to our advantage.”
“The other point the Duro brought up, about my Rollmaster position. Well, let’s just say as “RM” people look up to your opinion. You are on the front lines of pushing people towards Dark Jedi Knight. So, if I were to strongly encourage all of the Journeymen to switch over to Krath…then I can see the possibilities coming to light, if you’ll pardon the expression.”
Cello, as was his wont, calmly listened, never moving from the meditative position he took at the meeting's start. His use of the Force was obviously not nearly the level of those around him, and as a newly minted Krath, the Jedi Hunter had much to learn about his new order. His focus drifted for a second, wondering why they had trusted him to attend this dangerous and secretive meeting....
"Doubt!" The thought cried out to him like a spike into his cortex that left as swiftly as it arrived. He was still unsure of his notions, whether they were truly the Force speaking to him. Of course, he was, as of yet, unable to control the Force to the level of his associates. However, he relied on instinct often, even before joining the Brotherhood, and he was willing to do so again. The Force was alerting him to doubt in the room.
No doubt, concerning him.
He was at first intimidated, wishing his Master was still around for him to consult, but she was had not been for some time now. He decided that the few steps remaining to Knighthood had waited long enough. Intimidation would simply not do for a Dark Knight.
"My new friends," Cello began, emphasizing the last word and intentionally waiting to let that sink in before continuing. "As the relative youngling in the room," some smiled as he continued, "I would understand any concerns you have regarding my loyalties. My Master was a Sith, and she recruited me as a Sith. For a long time, my ways were the ways of the Sith.
"However, I ask you to consider these facts. She has left the Brotherhood. Those who have offered to guide me on the last small step to Knighthood have been Krath. In the Shadow Academy, I focused on Krath teachings when I could. My motivation for joining the Order was the search for knowledge, which my Master long noted as my greatest strength. It is why I completed nearly all courses with such speed.
"I do not ask for you to take my loyalty on faith. It is not our way." He went on, "I ask that you allow me to earn your faith, your trust. And besides," he focused on each in turn, "even a Jedi Hunter can sense strength. You could all destroy me in an instant, or slowly, for your pleasure. However, you invited me for a reason. Allow me to be a conduit for these plans. They are no doubt sound. And should I betray you...." He again paused.
"Then a slow, painful death is what I would recommend."
The others looked at him, wondering if he joked. They probed his mind. He was no doubt incapable of masking his thoughts to the point they could not penetrate. With his mind surprisingly free of any attempt at blocking, they sensed he was serious.
"My friends, I suggest we return to our home units with all due haste. Our presences will be missed by now. And while the choice of location for this meeting was excellent...." He knew he need not continue, as he was sensing agreement. Now, the prickly question of what to do about those who had seen them arrive and would see them leave remained.
Cello waited to see if the slow, painful death he recommended might come earlier than he had ever 'hoped.'
Locke looked among the assembled Krath, noting differences and oddities as he listened to the Jedi Hunter talk. He sensed an unusually high amount of Force strength from the Ewok, still finding it difficult to believe a Dark Jedi Master was somehow trapped in that body. Locke nodded as the journeyman talked about trust. Locke found it hard to trust any of these beings. Though all of them were Krath, the other four hailed from Scholae Palatinae. Their bond of House brethren would most likely factor into play. Then again, the cat wants to eat the Ewok, he mused.
As a member of Naga Sadow’s Clan Summit, Locke had no great love for the Palatinae himself. Though he had come here seeking knowledge beyond what he could gain from his peers back at home in the Clan, Locke was suspicious of the other four being from the same House. The situation smelled of a trap. He would have to be on his guard. Furthermore, a strong sense of duty prevailed: Locke had an obligation to his Clan as well. He could not see himself betraying them, even for his own ambitions.
“I can talk to my journeymen, “ Locke said flatly, responding to Akatsuki’s earlier comment. “I will attempt to win them over.” The Horansi gave a big, toothy smile. In truth, Locke had not offered any more than he was already doing. He was always looking for Krath allies among his newcomers, hoping to sway them over. Most foolishly sought the more direct paths to power of the Sith or Obelisk. In one part of his mind, Locke could not blame them - acquiring the true power of the Krath seemed to require endless patience.
“As far as trusting you, Cello, I see the merit of your words. I say we give you a chance, “ Locke lied, making sure to close his thoughts off from the others. He saw the Jedi Hunter as a liability. He could jump orders again at any moment, changing allegiances without warning. That left only loyalty to his House, which left Locke as the prime target if Cello was going to betray anyone. Regardless, Locke did not see fit to trust any of those present, yet.
Changing the subject back to the issue of what to do, Locke gestured with one hand at Akatsuki. “While the idea of using our positions is interesting, we must be careful to ensure those we recruit are loyal to us. We don’t want them to tip off the other orders, or seek personal gain above the good of the order.” Locke himself was doing exactly that. He could sense how powerful the being inside the Ewok was. He surmised that she had somehow sent the message that had brought him here. Her knowledge was likely far beyond the others. Locke had to get in her good graces somehow, to learn what it was she knew.
Yet the proposed path led him away from that goal, and the others were agreeing with it. “How will we communicate while apart?” Locke asked. He wondered if they had even thought of this, given that all four were from the same House.
“We could use the Brotherhood’s holonet, “ Xantros offered.
“That’s fairly public, “ Locke said.
Xantros was about to reply when Arania cut him off. Locke still found it uncanny that an Ewok’s body could produce an almost human voice. “We will use the same channels we used to bring this meeting to order.”
Ah, so it was you, Locke thought. “I agree, “ he said. “No doubt the rest of the Brotherhood does not suspect that the channel may still be in use.”
“Report back as soon as you have results, “ Arania commanded, looking around the room. “Having a standard timetable is foolish. It is a silly thing Sith do to structure their lives, but it leaves important information undisclosed when it could be put to good use.
Locke nodded. “Is there anything else before we disperse, then?”
“Anyone has anything to add?” asked Xantros and continued, when the rest of the Krath remained silent, “Yes, I believe that our meeting has concluded. We shall return to our home units and continue our quest. Arania, Akatsuki, Cello…I think it will be better if we do not return together. I have some arrangements to be made, so please, do not wait for me.”
The other members of House Scholae Palatinae nodded. Certainly, they were wondering what these arrangements were, but no one asked about them. They agreed to use their positions to support their cause and Xantros pretended that the matters he was going to deal with were important to the success of their plans. Certainly, they did not trust each other completely, but they had no other option than to co-operate and to trust each other to some extend.
The Duro returned to his ship and left the station as quickly as it was possible.
A day later, unnamed uninhabited star system
Two ships were on high orbit over a gas giant, which was located in an uninhabited system. They were joined with a special corridor, which allowed people to move from one ship to another in relatively normal gravity. A tall human walked through the corridor to enter the Buccaneer.
“Good to see you, Xantros,” spoke the man.
“I’m glad to see you in one piece, Merkesh. How are the things?”
“It is not the same, without you. However, we are doing fine…and busy. Quite a lot of people require our services. Also, we have constant influx of new people into our ranks, so that we slowly grow in numbers.”
“I am glad to hear that. Particularly, because I may need your help.”
“What can we do for you?”
“It may happen in the upcoming weeks that I and my allies will fight some powerful enemies. If it happens, we will need any help we can get and I know that the Dark Ravens are the best of the best. I personally took care about that.”
“You mean some real battle?”
“Yes. Can I count on your assistance?”
“Definitely, if it only serves our purpose, to fight the Galactic Alliance…”
“If I and my allies turn out to be victorious, we will be able to tighten the co-operation between us and the Dark Ravens. I know what your agenda is and believe me, I and my friends share this agenda. I will owe you a huge favour, if you agree to help me…”
“I will speak with the rest of the Dark Ravens and gather as many volunteers as possible. We will await on further instructions from you.”
“Thank you, Merkesh. It is all I can ask you for.”
Soon after the meeting, the ships disjoined and Xantros continued his travel to the headquarters of House Scholae Palatinae.
Akatsuki returned to her small office immediately after returning to Judecca. Xen’Mordin wandered by her office and interrupted her holocron conference (she was busy intimidating-- “strongly encouraging”-- her new apprentice into being Krath.) The Emperor cleared his throat, “Akatsuki, you were gone this morning with no notice, would you care to inform me of what you were doing?”
Akatsuki sat back in her chair and studied Xen carefully, he knew her pretty well, and up until today she’d been solid and predictable. “Oh I had to meet up with my new apprentice, you know just the usual ‘getting to know you’ kind of thing…” she hoped her vague, but believable explanation would work.
Xen sighed, Akatsuki was a ‘good egg’ it wasn’t like her to leave her post or be irresponsible. “Oh, right. I forgot you just got your first apprentice. Very well, as you were.” He disappeared down the hall. Akatsuki breathed a sigh of relief, she’d fooled him. Her grey routine, that whole ‘reliable, trustworthy and honorable’ ruse had fooled even the Emperor!
She resumed her conference with her apprentice, and essentially threatened him that without his changing orders that he’d “never make Dark Jedi Knight”. Her new apprentice wasn’t wise to Krath ways, he considered himself to be an Obelisk, and they weren’t known for thinking. “So you see, being a Krath would be most advisable.” She used the Force and her influence to convert her young apprentice.
Step one was complete. She’d influenced her “apprentice” to convert. She'd convinced him that: "When you are a Krath, knowledge is the greatest treasure, and the journey and gaining of knowledge its own reward."
As Rollmaster of the House, she had access to all incoming new members (as well as transfers.) She carefully studied the rolls of incoming imperialists. As soon as they came out of the initiation in the Academy, or arrived planet side, she’d begin tracking and influencing them, even if mildly. She’d make it clear that all newcomers should join Caliburnus, which was led by Xantros. She’d encourage the belief that by joining the battle team, they’d greatly increase their knowledge as well as developing on a personal level. She also would track the journeymen so if she were to have to purge--even her peers at the meeting--members, then she'd have the following to do so.
People had a tendency, based upon her deceptions from day one, to see things “her way.” She’d smile her sweetest smile and offer quick explanations. She wasn’t ever truly questioned; she’d built her reputation as being helpful, loyal and trustworthy.
Her part of the “Krath Domination” was a perfect Krath plan, hatched by a perfect natural Krath. It had really been set up from day one of her arrival by her deceptions of those closest.
(posting for Cello: server access issue)
Locke and Arania had stayed where they were after the others had left the meeting room. Cello knew his only chance of leaving the room alive was to speak as he had. The unease felt before had not left him, despite the responses of his associates.
Locke, in particular, had been often staring at him, or rather, he had been staring *through* him. Cello certainly could understand why they would want to probe his mind, his motives, but there was something elusive and more sinister about what he sensed from Locke. Unfortunately, as he knew too well, there was no chance that he would be able to discover the reasons, and worse, any attempt to do so would no doubt be sensed and the Jedi Hunter would certainly not leave the room alive.
He made the only decision he could, under the circumstances. He opened his mind - dropping the guard that all members of the Brotherhood had cultivated to the point of instinctive. He found it ironic that it was more difficult to drop his guard than to keep it up at all times.
He sensed the force of their will shattering through his, probably because he had completely let his guard down. Soon the others were upon him as well.
It was over in an instant, although it appeared to take much longer. The Krath, he had come to learn in his short time as a member of the Order, were efficient. They had learned ways to be more efficient in their studies, and were constantly working to improve them.
Arania turned and looked at Locke, seemingly seeking an answer. He paused, looked at Cello, then back at them, and nodded.
"Then we're agreed," Arania said. "Cello, are you sure you are prepared to do what you suggest, and more, what we demand?"
"Yes," he responded, his guard weakened, his mind and body drained, but answering honestly.
As soon as Xantros reached the headquarters of House Scholae Palatinae, he returned to fulfilling his duties, as the Battleteam Leader of Caliburnus. There was much to be done not only to make the Battleteam function and grow under current circumstances, but to adapt it to serve new purposes, as well. After all, its members and whole infrastructure would need to be ready for the upcoming Krath Domination. He could easily conceal his true intentions with ‘managing day-to-day operations of the Battleteam and preparing it to serve the House in a better and more efficient way.’
However, he had other plans, as well. He stayed on Judecca, because he wanted to speak with Akatsuki in private, without any witnesses, not even other conspirators. The matters that he wished to discuss with the Rollmaster were too important to let anyone else know about them…until the time was suitable.
Soon, two Dark Jedi Knights met in Akatsuki’s quarters. Xantros activated a personal jamming device, which temporarily neutralized typical bags. He smiled, when noticed that the Horansi raised her eyebrows, and explained, “Sorry for that. Old habits.”
Akatsuki smiled too, but immediately went straight to the business, asking, “What do you want, Xantros? Aren’t we supposed to prepare ourselves for the coup d’état?”
“Of course, we are. That is why, I am here,” answered Xantros.
“I’m getting more and more curious. Go on,” replied Akatsuki
“We reached Judecca first. We left behind Arania and Cello, as well as Locke, who is going to return to the headquarters of Clan Naga Sadow. What is your thought in this situation?” asked the Duro
“They are probably plotting against us, in order to make their position dominant in the Rule of the Krath,” answered Akatsuki after short while.
“Yes, I am sure of this. While Cello will not earn their trust so easily, I am convinced that Locke and Arania will ally themselves with each other. It is the natural way of the Krath. If am correct, we are screwed. Completely,” smirked Xantros.
“Indeed,” grinned the Horansi.
The only way to strengthen our own position is plots within the plots.”
“Conspiring against the rest of the group?”
“Yes. We must gain an upper hand over Arania and Locke, as we can not even dream about posing any significant threat to Arania herself. She is too powerful to be taken down by two Dark Jedi Knights, especially if she is supported by a Krath Priest, like Locke.”
“Do you have any ideas?” asked Akatsuki
“Of course,” smiled Xantros, “I am sure that you will enjoy them.”
An evil grin on Horansi’s face was getting wider and wider, as Xantros was explaining his plans to her. At one moment, the Duro thought, ‘Damn, I would never like to fight Akatsuki, if she was grinning in such way.’
Akatsuki listened attentively to the plot of her fellow Dark Jedi Knight Xantros. He’d helped her rise in the ranks and had seen many people rise and fall in power within the Brotherhood. He also had a fair understanding in the ways of the Krath. Loyalty, except to ones own self, is a foreign concept. She couldn’t say she trusted the Duro, but since he’d assisted her in her ascension in the Brotherhood and in the house; at this point it was self-preservation in a team effort.
“So you think if we compose a letter, informing him of everything we know that…” Akatsuki asked Xantros softly.
“That he will either eradicate them himself or give us direct orders and the tools to do it, yes Akatsuki.” Xantros responded tersely.
“But, I mean, Arania and Cello… they are Scholae too…. should we throw our housemates to the wolves?” the Horansi was hesitating.
“Akatsuki, I told you there’d be a time when you had to wake up and realize…we aren’t some big happy family! They would and probably are plotting to kill you right this very minute. Don’t think for an instant they wouldn’t do the same if it served their purpose!” The Duro was choosing his words carefully but made his point clearly.
“Very well. You helped me get to Dark Jedi Knight in one piece, I don’t think it would behoove you to kill off the Rollmaster, nor an ex member of your battleteam…. I’ll write the letter.” Akatsuki sat down at the desk and began composing the letter as Xantros dictated it, and they made sure the letter was as thorough and formal as possible.
Dear Grandmaster Muz Ashen,
Our Lord, it has come to our attention that there are traitors, pathetic, disloyal traitors among us. There has been a movement initiated by Dark Jedi Master Arania Lawakiro Palpatine as well as the Consul of Naga Sadow, Locke. This movement is in position to not only attempt to overthrow the Iron Throne, but to do so under the false pretenses of “Krath Domination.”
We come to you today to humbly ask you to allow your faithful servants, Xantros and I to be allowed to torture those pathetic traitors. We genuinely believe that they are not worth wasting your time and efforts, nor having you take time away
from the Throne to deal with such an abomination. There are various more important matters to deal with.
We are willing to serve you with all our abilities in this matter. Please, rest assured that these traitors will die with slow and painful death, which they shall remember for the rest of their short miserable lives.
We will do our best to satisfy your rightful desire of vengeance, which is completely understandable and acceptable in such a situation.
DJK Akatsuki Tamalar and DJK Xantros
Loyal servants of the Iron Throne
“There now, if this doesn’t put a stop to those two…nothing will. Shall I transmit now?” Akatsuki asked.
“Two?” Xantros grinned evilly.
“Cello isn’t a challenge. One, he’s an egg of a Krath and two, either of us could kill him easily.” The Horansi was no longer smiling, things had changed in an instant.
“You’re learning. Very well, send it. Then we wait for orders from Muz.” Xantros sat down seeming pleased with this meeting.
Akatsuki tapped the send button, transmitting the news of the High Treason to the Grand Master. Now, to wait….
Cello listened as Arania and Locke, seemingly of one mind, told him what he would do. He had willingly submitted to their will, had told Arania in particular that he would do whatever was required to stay in their good graces, to ensure his new brethren, the Krath, would achieve dominance in the Brotherhood, and more importantly, to stay alive. At this nascent stage of his development, staying alive had its merits....
The plan was deceptively simple, or so it appeared to Cello. He recognized that it was beyond unlikely that Arania and Locke would divulge their entire plan to him. It made far more sense that they would share only what he absolutely needed to know to fulfill his - or rather, their - destiny, and nothing more. He only hoped to benefit from whatever plan the two hatched, as he surmised that the deception, whatever it was, was beyond what Akatsuki and Xantros could concoct.
Cello was to appear to be progressing far more rapidly - it had been nearly two years after all - in his last steps to Knighthood, aided by Arania and Locke - although this latter point was to be leaked slowly. Then, at the knighthood ceremony, Cello discovered to his chagrin that he was to attempt a high profile assassination. He would in all likelihood be struck down instantly, painfully - if those in attendance didn't sense the plot the moment he entered the room. However, Arania and Locke clearly must have had some plan to screen his thoughts - he could not hope to do so on his own. And he hoped that for his loyalty in this diversion, they would find a way to prevent his slow, tortuous death.
As they dispersed to their ships, Cello wondered if attending this meeting, if his ambition, were worth the price he was about to pay.
He would find out soon, he knew, regardless.
Looking from Cello to Arania and back again, Locke nodded. He closed his eyes, thinking through their plan, seeking possible outcomes. Finally, he spoke. “Cello, leave us for a moment.”
The other Dark Jedi seemed to hesitate, but Arania’s eyes; though deceptively cute, bored into him. She did not have to speak; merely the stare was enough. “Alright, “ Cello said. He stood and stepped out.
Locke spoke as soon as he was clear of the room. “Those two are fools. Correct me if I am wrong, Elder, but is it not the way of the Krath to manipulate from the shadows?”
Arania nodded, a slight shift of her head. She was silent, seemingly waiting for Locke to continue.
“The Obelisk and Sith serve their purpose; dealing with the benign world while we gather our knowledge. In a way, they make our task easier. They are tools, and tools should not be destroyed in a petty power play. We cannot allow Akatsuki and Xantros to enact a plan to take over the Brotherhood.” He paused for a moment, then shifted gears. “It was you who sent the message that led me here, wasn’t it?”
Arania nodded. “It was.” Though her voice squeaked, there was something else behind it. A tone that one would not usually hear from an Ewok’s mouth: one that said ‘when I command others obey.’
“Why, if I may ask? Surely not so those fools could draw us into their plan. This plan will mean our destruction in the end.”
“You desire knowledge, do you not?” It was more statement than question, spoken only to move the conversation forward.
“Yes, “ Locke nodded.
“Help me, and you will have more knowledge than you could possibly imagine. Your understanding of the Force will leap ahead. Serve me, and you will learn.”
Pondering this, Locke bowed his head. There were high-ranking Krath loyal to Naga Sadow as well, but the only ones near Arania’s recorded level of expertise were on the Dark Council, and not within easy reach. “What would you have me do?”
Arania’s Ewok face seemed to smile. It was oddly cute, given the circumstances. “First, we must prune the weak. We must take care of Akatsuki and Xantros.”
“Kill them?” Locke asked.
“Only after...other things, “ Arania’s Ewok voice squeaked.
That gave Locke pause; he was not a torturer, but there was a good chance he didn’t have to do it himself. He had known for quite some time that elements of the ‘Brotherhood outside his own allies in the Clan were much more self-serving and generally evil; he had learned as much working alongside Macron. Sooner or later he would have to cross paths with that life to advance in power. “What of Cello?” he asked.
“He seems a willing pawn, “ Arania said. “We will test him against our enemies. If he succeeds, he will have other uses. If he fails, it is of no consequence.”
“Do we depart for your House’s space then?” Locke asked.
Arania smiled. “Straight to the point, how valuable in a world full of Krath who tangle themselves in a world of mysticism. That will get you far. Come.”
That’s because most of my friends are Obelisks, Locke mused as Arania leaped off the table. “Would you like a ride?” he said.
“A ride?” Even in her Ewok features, the curious look was apparent.
“Yes, it must be unpleasurable to walk around looking at everyone’s legs. May I?” Locke crouched down, extending his arms.
Arania looked at them. “Well, I suppose.”
Locke picked her up and set her on his shoulders. “Just don’t do anything funny up there, please.”
“I assure you I won’t.”
Laughing slightly, Locke proceeded to the door. Cello gave a surprised start at Arania on Locke’s shoulders, but she didn’t give him much time to think about it. “Come Cello, we depart for Judecca at once.”
“Judecca?” Cello looked up at Arania, no doubt wondering why.
‘Yes, “ Arania continued. “You want to prove your loyalty to the Krath, don’t you Cello?”
He nodded. “Yes,”
“Good, and you will have your chance. We will explain on the way.”
Locke thought for a moment. “I suppose we should take one shuttle; so as not to reveal ourselves.” He would have preferred the controls of his X-Wing.
“Indeed, “ Arania nodded, as they neared the hangar.
Akatsuki sat in her office, fully aware that the double-deception was now uncovered. She’d be foolish to believe that Locke and Arania were going along with the initial plan. The Horansi did hope, however, that they would send Cello in to “scope out the situation” or even to “prove his loyalty to the Krath.” In fact, it went beyond hoping; she was counting on it.
Xen’Mordin’s voice boomed over the tele-com in her office. “Akatsuki, you have a visitor of the highest importance.” He cleared his throat audibly, “It would seem the Grand Master is here to speak with you regarding a report of high treason?” his voice dripped with concern and suspicion.
“I will be there immediately.” Akatsuki responded as calmly and coolly as she could.
“Make it so.” Xen’Mordin responded.
Akatsuki reacted with lightning speed and used the public tele-com as to cause the situation to appear to align with the report sent to the Grand Master. “Xantros, it would appear we have a meeting in the Emperor’s office, the Grand Master has arrived.” Akatsuki chose her words cautiously and tried not to broadcast her emotions in her voice.
“I will meet you there.” Xantros responded flatly.
Akatsuki was headed to Xen' Mordin's office. She'd gotten out of her chair and wrapped her cloak around her shoulders. The door slid open and Cello was standing there. She immediately sensed rage, jealousy and vengeance from the Jedi Hunter. She knew Arania and Locke had sent him but she didn't know if he was bait or if he'd taken it upon himself to be a martyr; at this point it didn't matter.
Cello entered swiftly, hurling a barrage of obscenities at the Horansi. He pointed his finger at her and insinuated that she was the traitor. Without a second thought, Akatsuki pulled her Krath War Blade from it's sheath and sliced a good portion of Cello's right hand off. The Jedi Hunter wailed from the severing. Akatsuki made haste to head towards Xen's office.
Just outside the door she met with Xantros. They locked eyes for a moment. The irony in this instant was palpable. Many times they’d tried to kill each other. Many vicious remarks were made to eachother in passing. Whether it was Akatsuki’s time in Caliburnus, or whether Xantros would figure she owed him something after this—it was clear they were on the same side. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” She heard the Duro’s thoughts clearly.
Cello came running up behind him, the remnants of his bloody hand leaving a trail of blood and flesh along the hallway. Xantros began to ask but was interrupted by Cello’s screech, “Akatsuki you bitch….!”
The door slid open quickly. Xen’Mordin stood there glaring at the Two Dark Jedi Knights as well as Cello. “Get in here now!” he commanded. The three entered the room. Akatsuki looked to Xantros, then to Xen and finally to the cold gaze of the Grand Master.
The Horansi had a reputation of being Scholae loyal as well as very loyal to the Iron Throne (she’d been promoted to Dark Jedi Knight by the Grand Master himself for her loyalty in the war) and was hoping that in this moment…that would be recalled.
“Good to see you all.” said the Grand Master. His voice was calm, but a subtle threat could be felt under the surface. It was this discussion, that would decide whether the three Journeymen of House Scholae Palatinae would get killed or stay alive. After short pause, Muz Ashen continued. “It shall be easier to discuss this matter if we are not disturbed by whining Cello.” The Grand Master used his power to make the Jedi Hunter fall into the hibernation trance. Once this was done, he spoke again. “Why have you joined these damned traitors?” Both Dark Jedi Knights carefully considered the answer to this important question. They were aware that one wrong word might kill them. Finally, Xantros decided to speak. “My Lord, we have received a strange message through informal communication channels. Its author stated that we should meet in a secret star system that does not exist on star maps, as it might have a significant impact on our career and position in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.”
“Indeed, it may.“ interrupted Muz with a nasty grin.
“We made our way there to learn that it was Dark Jedi Master Arania Lawakiro Palpatine. She summoned us all, including me, Akatsuki, Cello and Krath Priest Locke Sonje, who is current Consul of Naga Sadow.” continued Xantros.
“I already know that.” the Grandmaster interrupted once again.
“We’ve seen our chance to gain more power and to rise in the ranks of the Brotherhood. Having a support of a Consul and a Dark Jedi Master would greatly increase our chances to be successful. We have decided to make our best in order to introduce the Supremacy of Krath. We believe that it is us, the Krath, who are destined to be the true leaders of the Brotherhood. We believe that our subtle minds and unique Force powers are necessary to lead the Brotherhood to its true greatness, and to be successful in the quest to introduce the Final Order.” Xantros explained.
“I thought our supremacy has been ensured with my reign as Grand Master. Apart from me, there are two Krath among the members of the Dark Council. One of the Praetors is also a member of Krath, as well as a few Magistrates and multiple members of the Clan and House Summits.”
“Indeed, my Lord. Initially, we intended to recruit some Krath and convince them to join our cause, and of course we planned to approach you with our idea. I have even made some arrangements with my former associates of the Dark Ravens. However, I realized that such plotting might ignite a rebellion of the Sith and the Obelisk, which could potentially destroy the Brotherhood. I have discussed it with Akatsuki, and we have decided to contact you.”
“You truly want me to believe that it was not a way to save yourself from destruction by the hands of Arania and Locke? Especially when you would become expendable?”
“It was. However, we are loyal servants of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood at first. We are aware that our power may grow only if the Brotherhood grows. There are no shortcuts to become more powerful. We believe that if we serve loyally to the Brotherhood as a whole, our efforts will be rewarded properly. In this case, our loyalty has been displayed through informing you about the treachery of Arania and Locke.” Xantros wanted to continue, but the Grand Master stopped him with a gesture. Muz kept looking at the two Dark Jedi Knights in complete silence. His look was sagacious and it was visible that he was judging them. Finally, the Grand Master said, “You said nothing about Cello. Why?” Akatsuki blinked. “There is not much to be said. He was nothing more than a tool. None of us has trusted him, not even Arania or Locke. This is mainly due to his very recent change of Order. Here, on Judecca, he got what he deserved.”
“Why haven't you killed him?”
“He has not been a threat to us. We have doubted his loyalty, but his example might have been helpful in spreading our cause.” Again, silence filled the room. Xantros took a look at Xen’Mordin. The Quaestor seemed to be stressed with the situation and the examination of his own subordinates. However, he did not try to intervene, leaving the judgment to the Grand Master and his wisdom. “As for you Dark Jedi Knights, you seem to be quite deceitful and intelligent. There are also no lies in your mind. Indeed, you have proven yourselves as loyal members of House Scholae Palatinae, and the Dark Jedi Brotherhood as a whole. However, you have been fooled by Arania. She has masterminded the situation to test you and your loyalty. Even Locke has not been informed about the plan, despite his unquestioned dedication to the Brotherhood.” Xantros and Akatsuki looked at each other with surprise. On the other hand, it would be something natural for Krath: To deceive others in order to test them. “Why are you so surprised?” asked Muz Ashen with a nasty grin. “I would love to see Arania barbequed, but she performed admirably and saved me a lot of trouble. Her actions have proved that both of you are loyal to the Brotherhood, but you do show some initiative. Power shall come with time. You will not get punished, nor Arania and Locke. Cello has been already punished by you, Akatsuki.” Xantros smiled timidly, when he realized what just happened. He looked at Akatsuki and realized that she understood their lesson.
Ambitions are something good. They help people avoid stagnation and decay. They help people learn new skills and gain more power. However, they must stay under one’s control. Otherwise, they may lead to one’s ultimate destruction and death. There are hundreds of examples that prove ambitions to be a tricky thing. If you fail to control your ambitions, you will fail in your quest…
Note: I came up ( after a short chat with Akatsuki ) with an idea of an alternate ending of our story. We ( me and Akatsuki ) wanted to introduce a little bit more humour in the Run-On and here it is. While it is rather an out-of-competition ( unless gives us bonus points, when it comes to grading ), we decided to post it here in order to share it with all possible readers. It has been written completely by me and proofread by Akatsuki and Xan Phraz-Etar ( many thanks for making the post of much higher quality from the technical point of view ). I hope that you all will enjoy it!
“Welcome.” spoke the Drunk Muzter. “I’m glad to see you so early. Punctuality is not a strong point of Consuls and Elders. I really love the Journeymen for their obsession of perfect timing. However, this means that we need to wait for Arania and Locke. In a meanwhile, you may serve yourself. Xen was kind enough to provide a personal female Twi’lek dancer and waitress for me, but his attitude towards spending House resources on your conveniences proves himself to be a wise leader.”
As suggested by the Drunk Muzter, the two Dark Jedi Knights and the Jedi Hunter prepared drinks for themselves. They sipped their drinks and were preparing another round when Arania and Locke appeared in the room. Despite their experience and ranks, they seemed to be shocked with what they saw.
Xantros, Akatsuki, Cello and Xen’Mordin were chatting with Mousse like if they had been friends for a very long time. Suddenly, the Drunk Muzter turned his head towards the guests. His face was wry with a grimace of pure anger and hatred. All Dark Jedi present in the room realized what was happening.
Mousse was turning into his demonic personality, which was known as Ashen and often regarded as Troll Berserker Mode. It was proven to be extremely dangerous to be on the same planet with Mousse when he turned into Ashen. Few fools, who dared to suggest that the Drunk Muzter might benefit from the services of a good psychiatrist, were found dead due to an uknown cause.
The last time Mousse had been seen in such state was when he was exposed to the influence of Yuuzhan Song torture device known as Justin Bieber.
“I wholeheartedly hate when someone intterupts a pleasant chat with my friends.” spoke the Drunk Muzter. “You both should have been aware of that. Now, you shall suffer the consequences of your foolish behaviour.”
“My Ford…”started Arania, but the Mousse interrupted her by speaking loudly. “I have always wondered what does a barbequed Ewok taste like. Wasting an opportunity to learn that would be indeed a very foolish thing.”
Countless lighthnings came from Mousse’s fingers, instantly barbequing Arania and Locke as the bolts impacted the Elder and the Equite. Suddenly, the Drunk Muzter turned around and killed Cello with Force Lightning. Then as he calmed down, his primary personality took over again.
Akatsuki, Xantros and Xen’Mordin sat still for few seconds before they started to applaud Mousse for his excellent performance. The Drunk Muzter smiled with satisfaction and spoke. “Unfortunately, I can not solve the problems in this way too often, even though it is probably the easiest way to do so. It is particularly easy now, when our scientists managed to produce batteries and accumulators with extremely short recharching time.”
“So, why can’t you use Force Lightning as often as you want?” asked Xantros.
“Even as the Drunk Muzter, I have an extremely tight budget,” explained Mousse. ”When I use Force Lightning, I must pay horrible bills for electricity. I still have not managed to reduce the energy cost that is necessary to create Force Lightning.”
“Indeed. All our efforts to conquer the Galaxy and to introduce the Final Order are limited by one important factor.” spoke Xen’Mordin.”Our financial abilities are limited and due to a very bad image, which is the result of the dark PR conducted by the Jedi. We find it extremely difficult to be successful at fundraising. So, we are forced to use the force and the Force in order to force others to donate their money to our cause. Clearly this circle will never end.”
Xantros and Akatsuki looked at each other and realized they understood their common lesson.
Ambitions are something good. They help people avoid stagnation and decay. They help people learn new skills and gain more power. However, there are hundreds of examples that prove ambitions to be a tricky thing. They may drive you to commit a suicide, if you are unable to fulfill your dreams and ambitions. That may happen very easily, as making your ambitions come true is usually very expensive. You must be able to gather enough money to fund them. If you fail to fund your ambitions, you will fail in your quest…