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Before - Legends Sith Politics: The Game Gets Dangerous

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by PlanetSmasher, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    This story takes place in The Old Republic Era. This is a very dark story.

    Title: Sith Politics: The Game Gets Dangerous

    Author(s): PlanetSmasher

    Timeframe: The Old Republic Era, about 300 years after Revan

    Characters: The main character in this story is Shahn Lunn, AKA Darth Virulous, Andronikos Revel, Yehw'reh'nomai, and Darth Nox.

    Genre: Sci-Fi, Suspense, Thriller,

    Keywords: Vengeance, Power Struggles, Betrayal, Political Intrigue

    Summary: Darth Nox's Newest apprentice is on a mission for her master. Follow her down the Path to Darkness. Meanwhile, Andronikos Revel and Yehw'reh'nomai have a chance encounter. Will their meeting lead to love? Or maybe not?

    This is the sequel to my original fanfic, "Sith Politics: Fun and Games." This story begins about two weeks after the first one ends. You can find the first story on page 10 of the web forum (as of 10 Feb 18). Although you don't need to read the first story, reading it will answer a lot of questions, as this story sometimes refers to events that occurred in the first story.

    I hope you will enjoy the sequel. As always, please leave comments on what you read. Let me know what you think.

    Thanks.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    A Casual Drink With A Tough Girl​


    Andronikos Revel sat at the bar of a very exclusive club on Nar Shaddaa. He'd just finished transferring nearly two trillion credits into Darth Nox's accounts on Dromund Kaas, and fired off a text message to his employer.

    "Boss, I just wired your cut of the take. You should see a deposit of two trillion credits. We had a really great payday! The military hardware sold fast and netted us a really nice chunk of credits. Not shabby at all. It brought in about one percent of our take. The antiques made a really good showing, netting us about twenty percent of our grand total.

    "The gem stones were all snapped up within minutes of being introduced by the auctioneer. That got us another fifteen percent of gross. The art, though! Once the authenticity of the art was verified by three independent and very reputable assessors, the bidding went through the roof! It netted us way more than anything I had imagined. We got our remaining sixty four percent of our gross take from that.

    "Everything sold! Nothing was left over. Military gear brings in good credits, but nothing like gems, antiques and ancient art. If we ever raid anyone like that again, I'll remember not to waste cargo space on military hardware.

    "The grand total for this haul was just over twelve trillion credits. Thanks for letting me loot the place, Boss. It really was a really great payday!"

    Andronikos took another sip of his Hutt's Vile Brew ale, a favorite on Nar Shaddaa, when a Chiss woman took a seat on the bar stool next to his.

    Smiling, she asked, "What are you drinking?"

    He told her, and she ordered one for herself. Andronikos took a close look at her. She was tall, his height, athletically built – not steroidally overdone, but femininely muscularly toned.

    Andronikos thought, "Damn! Her face is cute!"

    He really felt this way despite the old and faded jagged scar on her left cheek.

    Besides the scar, something else about her face made him think, "She's a tough girl!" Giving a friendly smile of his own, he told her, "You look like a tough girl. I like tough girls."

    The Chiss woman smiled back, saying, "You look kind of dangerous, yourself." Laughing, she added, "I like dangerous guys."

    Andronikos laughed and said, "Well, you're in luck. I'm as dangerous as they come."

    He laughed as though he had told a joke. She laughed with him.

    Andronikos asked, "What's such a fine looking woman like you doing in a dump like this?"

    She reminded him, "This is actually a very respectable club. You know?"

    Andronikos laughed, telling her, "Oh, yeah. That's right. I'm not used to high class joints like this." He added quickly, "That was a joke."

    He asked, "What's your name?"

    "Call me Wrehn," she smiled, looking deeply into his eyes.

    "All right, Wrehn. I'm Andronikos." Then, he asked, "What kind of work do you do, Wrehn?"

    Wrehn told him, "I move freight. I own a freighter." She asked him, "What about you?"

    Andronikos told her, "I'm a pirate." Then he quipped, "I steal freight."

    The look she gave him made him laugh out loud.

    He told her, "Don't worry. I'm semi retired, and I don't go after small fry." Showing off, he added, "I just auctioned off the last of my latest haul – twelve trillion credits. That's in Hutt currency."

    Wrehn whistled and observed aloud, "Damn. I'm in the wrong business." To herself she thought, "He's got to be exaggerating!" Then she reasoned to herself, "Or maybe not. His bounty is Sixty two million credits in Republic space, and thirty five million in Imperial space."

    Looking around, she asked, "Are your crew around? I don't see anyone who looks ‘pirate-like,’ besides you, that is."

    Andronikos told her, "I hired mercenaries. I paid them off already. They're gone."

    Just as Wrehn was about to entice him into following her out of the club, Andronikos asked, "I wanna show off. Do you wanna see my ship?"

    Wrehn gave him a sidelong look and said, "You don't waste any time, do you?"

    Andronikos asked, "You don't wanna see my ship? I'm really proud of her. I had some people go in and fix the deck. I had wood floors put in, but the cargo marred the surface. They got the surfaces fixed and covered with a transparent scratch resistant protective cover."

    Wrehn told Andronikos, "That's not enough. You have to put heavy foam shipping pads down to protect the surface of the scratch resistant protective cover from shipping crates and the like, especially loading droids. Those covers aren't so scratch resistant as you'd think."

    Andronikos thought, "She sounds like she knows what she's talking about." Aloud, he said, "Heavy foam shipping pads. Got it."

    Wrehn said coyly, "I don't know about going to a pirate's ship...." Then flirtatiously, she suggested, "Why don't you come to my ship?"

    Andronikos smiled wryly, telling her, "Look at who's not wasting any time..."

    The two laughed at the observation.

    Wrehn said in her defense, "I just finished a long shipping run, and have been so lonely. I could use a real stiff one."

    Andronikos purposefully misunderstood her, flagging the bartender down.

    "Barkeep, get the lady a stiff shot of..." He interrupted himself to ask her deadpan, "Is Duros Whiskey good for you?"

    Wrehn got a real laugh out of that and grabbed his hand, urging Andronikos, "Come on!"

    Wrehn's crew was positioned outside of the club. The plan was to ambush him just as he exited the establishment. Andronikos was wanted, dead. His personal holo-transmitter sounded just as he got on his feet. He pulled his hand free of hers and went for his communicator.

    He apologized, "Sorry. I gotta take this call."

    He pushed the button on the device, and up sprang the holographic image of Darth Nox. Wrehn's eyes went wide. Andronikos spoke to the dark lord's image.

    "Hey, Boss! Your timing couldn't be better. I was gonna call you. Did you get the message? Did you check to see that you got your cut?"

    Darth Nox ignored Andronikos’ comments and questions, ordering, "Bring my ship, immediately. I must travel."

    Wrehn just happened to be standing right next to Andronikos when he connected the call.

    Nox, seeing Wrehn's image asked, "Yehw'reh'nomai, are you working with my servant?"

    Nox looked at Andronikos' image and commented, "She is a very capable bounty hunter. She is costly! However, her services are worth the prices she demands."

    Andronikos replied very darkly, "Thanks for the tip, Boss."

    Nox immediately surmised what the situation was, and spoke very coldly to Wrehn.

    "Who hired you to kill or capture my servant?"

    Wrehn, disgusted at how horribly things were turning out, answered bluntly, "To kill."

    She looked down at the blaster pointed at her exposed belly button.

    Andronikos told her, "I'm not gonna take this personally with you. I know it's just business. So, let’s make a new deal, a new business arrangement. Yeah?"

    Nox interjected, "Yehw'reh'nomai, understand that as far as I am concerned there can only be one class of people who would put a price on my servant's head, and that class of people are my enemies."

    Wrehn remained silent, staring at the blaster pistol leveled at her stomach.

    Nox continued, "I'm inclined to take any attack on my people very personally."

    Andronikos gave a grim smile that had no effect of alleviating the frost around his eyes.

    He said, "Come on, Wrehn. Let's make a deal." Then, as realization hit him, and without taking his eyes off of Wrehn, he asked Nox, "Boss, did you call her Yehw'reh'nomai?"

    Nox replied, "That's her name."

    Andronikos' smiled changed a little as he thought about the irony playing out before him.

    He told Wrehn, "I saw your tag carved on the launch pad on Korriban."

    Wrehn, believing her life would end very soon nodded once, her eyes still on the blaster, and spoke in a strained voice, "Yeah. I did a job there for your boss."

    She gulped back a sob, willing herself to keep a tough exterior.

    Andronikos had heard about her job for his boss on Korriban on the gossip shows. He nodded, arching his eyebrows, quite impressed.

    “You actually faced down a pissed off Sith and took him down like it was nothing.” He asked rhetorically, "That really was you?" He added, "Then I better be extra careful. It means you're real good at your work – shipping freight."

    Andronikos spoke as though trying to reason with a difficult customer, "Wrehn, if you're not willing to make a deal with me, then I gotta kill you. I can tell my boss likes you." Tilting his head towards the holo-transmitter that he'd set on the bar top between them, he added, "He didn't tell me to kill you and be done with it, and he made the effort to give you a chance to make nice with him." He asked her, "What do you say? Can we do business together?"

    Wrehn’s holo-transceiver vibrated on her hip attached to her belt. It was a signal from her team that they were inside and ready to take Andronikos out. They became alerted to trouble, when Wrehn’s bio readings became elevated indicating that she was in distress.

    Wrehn stood too close to him, however. If they fired, she would get caught in the bolt blast. She took the opportunity to warn off her crew. Wrehn spoke cryptically as though thinking to herself aloud.

    "I can’t finish the job and get my thirty five million. If I try it, I’ll end up on the run from the whole Sith Empire. Or I could cut a deal and let Darth Nox take out my client for this job. I won’t get paid, but I won’t have to be on the run forever. Those are my choices.” She paused, as though thinking it over, and then asked herself aloud, “What to do? What to do?”

    Andronikos became slightly startled, as two people seemed to suddenly materialize from nowhere, a heavily armored cybernetically enhanced female human and a heavily armored human male. The male said something in the Mando language. Wrehn started to regain her composure now that her people were there to back her up.

    She said to Andronikos, “It looks like we can do business.”

    Andronikos asked, “Boss?”

    Nox demanded, “Who hired you to kill my servant?”

    Wrehn spoke to the cybernetically implanted female, “Mako, bring up the contract, and put the datapad on the bar top where he could see it.”

    Mako, replied in surprise, “Boss, if we reveal our client, It’ll ruin our reputation!”

    Wrehn replied, “Yeah. You’re right, Mako. It’s better to get chased all over the galaxy for the rest of our lives by the Republic for killing the Chancellor, and by Darth Nox for killing his man.”

    A Deveronian male had walked into the club unnoticed until he spoke, “We have enough problems with the Republic wanting our heads. I think that’s enough pressure already. We don’t need the Sith Empire chasing us around, too. Give them the contract, Mako.”

    The heavily armored human male spoke in the Mando language again, and then said, “That means, ‘honor is everything, but becomes foolishness in the face of poor judgment.’ I think Yehw’reh’nomai is right, Mako.”

    Stubbornly, Mako told Wrehn, we should charge something for this!”

    Andronikos replied with puzzlement in his tone, “We’re offering you your lives, and not getting on Darth Nox’s bad side.”

    Wrehn spoke tersely, “Mako, give them the damned contract.”

    Reluctantly Mako complied, setting the datapad with the relevant contract displayed on its screen on the bar top next to Andronikos’ holo-transmitter. That’s when she saw that Andronikos had a concealable blaster pointed at Wrehn’s exposed midsection. When she turned to look into Andronikos’ face, she saw nothing but murder in his eyes.

    As Mako withdrew from the bar, she told her employer and friend, “Sorry for giving you a hard time, Wrehn.”

    Wrehn said, “Don’t sweat it. We’re just doing business.”

    Mako knew the others hadn’t seen his gun either. It was a compact blaster. His hand covered most of it, and he held it close to his side. However, from behind him, it just looked as though Andronikos was simply leaning on the bar.

    Andronikos looked at the datapad and shook his head at what he saw.

    He said to Nox, “You’re not gonna believe this, Boss. Or maybe you will.”

    Nox replied tersely, “I’m at the end of my patience, Andronikos. Spit it out.”

    Andronikos told him, “Darth Acina.”

    Nox demanded, “Yehw’reh’nomai, how old is that contract?!”

    Wrehn answered, “About two weeks old.”

    Nox told her, “Acina and I have been in a feud. I destroyed Acina. She is no longer on the Dark Council. There is no one left who will honor that contract.”

    Andronikos told Wrehn, “Look it up. It’s galaxy wide news.”

    Mako embarrassedly admitted, “Uh, Wrehn. I don’t know how I missed it, but it’s true.” She added, “The bounty is still in effect, but it’s rated as dubious, Boss.”

    Meanwhile, Darth Nox had ordered his droid, “Put me in contact with Darth Zash. Hurry!”

    Zash had actually answered the call. She was very curious about what Nox would want to talk to her about.

    She spoke teasingly, “My dear Darth Nox, what an unexpected pleasure to hear from you! What could you possibly want from me?”

    Nox spoke furiously, telling Zash, “I don’t know what kind of game you think you’re playing here, but if you don’t want to share Acina’s fate, then you had better cancel that bounty you put on my servant’s head!” He added menacingly, “I swear, if Andronikos is killed because of this, I’ll not rest until you lie in ruins!”

    Zash was taken aback as Nox added, “I had better not find that others in my powerbase have been targeted in this manner. I will make you pay dearly, Zash!”

    Zash was shaken, but she hid her surprise, and spoke with deep displeasure in her tone, “Your tone is most unwelcome, Darth Nox. I can understand your concern that your people have been targeted, but what evidence do you...”

    Nox cut her off, speaking through clenched teeth, “The Sphere of Technology is the client! Acina is no longer ruler of that sphere. That leaves you!”

    Zash said, “I’ll look into it.”

    Zash cut the connection.

    Nox smiled, thinking smugly to himself, “Now I won’t owe her any favors.

    He knew it wasn’t Zash, but putting her on the spot like that made it seem as though he blamed her for the situation. In fact, Zash had considered that Nox had already been involved in two Kaggaths, and that he’d won both feuds, destroying completely both of his enemies, Darth Thanaton and Darth Acina, in the process. Fearing his power in the face of her weakness - Nox had destroyed much of Acina’s powerbase, leaving very little for Zash to inherit - she opted to clear the matter up quickly.

    Mako exclaimed, expressing her shock, “The bounty just got yanked!”

    Wrehn asked, “What about the Republic’s bounty on him?”

    Andronikos’ eyes squinted, making him appear to Wrehn more menacing than before.

    Mako replied, “It’s still up.”

    Wrehn said, “O.K., gang. This job’s a wash. He’s not worth getting a dark lord all worked up over this.

    Andronikos’ eyes still had murder in them, and his back up blaster was still pointed at her mid section.

    Wrehn told him, “The Republic hates us. They’re not going to pay us for any jobs we do for them.”

    Andronikos slid the data pad towards Wrehn and said, “Show me.”

    Wrehn brought up the bounty on she and her crew’s heads and cursed.

    “The blasted nerf turds just doubled it!”

    She pushed the datapad back towards Andronikos.

    He looked at it and exclaimed in disbelief, “Two billion?!” Then he ordered, “Tell your crew to get lost.”

    Wrehn snarled, “To hell with that! We’re all getting lost.”

    Andronikos told her, “You’re my insurance. Don’t make me have to cash in on the policy.”

    Wrehn gritted her teeth and growled out, “Gang, guns out! Now!”

    Andronikos found himself the target of two blaster rifles and a blaster pistol.

    Wrehn reiterated, “You’re not a bounty head anymore in the Sith Empire. I’m leaving with my gang, or we get mutually ashed.”

    Andronikos’ back up blaster vanished into his coat sleeve. He turned to face the bar and picked up his drink, taking a sip.

    Wrehn, wasting no time, grabbed the datapad off the bar top and got the hell out with her crew following her out. She promptly made her way to an alleyway where another of her crew, a Houk, waited with their speeder.

    The Houk asked, “What’d I miss?”

    The Deveronian quipped, “Wrehn ran. Bounty chased her off.”

    The Houk laughed at the joke. Wrehn’s reaction was not entirely unexpected. She reached into the front passenger side of the speeder and pulled out her blaster, which she’d left behind for this job.

    Pointing it at the Houk, she menaced, “Stop laughing, Skadge.”

    The Houk stopped laughing. Wrehn turned to face the Deveronian.

    He had already ducked around the corner of a building at the end of the alley, and shouted into the alley from around the corner, “It was a joke! Take it easy, Wrehn! Come on!”

    Wrehn shouted furiously, “I did not rum from no scummy pirate! I did not want to piss his boss off! There’s a huge blasted difference!”

    Skadge, confused, asked, “Wait! Wrehn really ran? Or did the bounty just get away?”

    Mako answered flippantly, “With her tail between her legs.”

    Wrehn slammed the blaster onto the alley pavement as Skadge let loose a long raucous round of laughter.

    The human male in heavy Mandalorian armor added, “We had the bounty dead to rights, but it turned out the bounty works for Darth Nox.”

    As Skadge recovered from his laughing fit, he asked, “So what, Torian?”

    Mako replied taking practicality into account, “We’re already wanted – dead – by the Republic for two billion credits.” Interrupting herself, she added, “It was just doubled to two billion.” Then she continued her original train of thought, concluding, “Why have the whole Sith Empire chasing after us, too?”

    Skadge asked, “I thought you said it was Darth Nox?”

    Mako replied, “Yeah, The whole Sith Empire.”

    After some reflection, Skadge asked, “What’s wrong with that?” Then he observed, “It just means we have more skulls to crush and bodies to pummel into paste.”

    Wrehn snapped, “Shut the hell up, all of you! Get your carcasses into the damned speeder. We’re getting the hell off of this moon!” Then she bellowed, “Gault, get your ass over here, unless you wanna get left behind!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Andronikos was furious. He was furious at the tough Chiss woman with the pretty face for tricking him. He was furious at himself for letting his guard down so completely. Andronikos had to face reality. He had to revise this idea of his about being safe in Hutt Space.

    I knew Hutt Space was harsh and unforgiving, but I ain’t been on Nar Shaddaa for two weeks!” He told himself.

    Andronikos was a proud man, so it hurt his pride to think, “Dammit! I’m a tough guy! Why do I gotta hire bodyguards?!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  2. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Shahn Lunn’s New Name​


    Wearing civilian business attire, Darth Virulous sat in her seat aboard a small passenger starship operated by a regional space carrier, Duros Mid-Rim Spacelines. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Coruscant Spaceways.

    She flew aboard Darth Nox’s starship to Nar Shaddaa. There she booked a flight to Tatooine from the Smuggler’s Moon, as Nar Shaddaa was affectionately referred to by every facet of criminal and legitimate enterprise.

    As the passengers began to rise from their seats to reclaim their belongings from the overhead bins, she recalled how quickly she’d picked up a tail as she stood at the ticket counter for her flight to Tatooine. Her thoughts went back to Nox’s starship and her conversation with its captain.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Andronikos stood before Nox’s newest apprentice, as she sat in repose in one of the luxuriously over-stuffed lounge chairs in the common crew space.

    He asked her, “Uh, can I still call you Shahn, or do you prefer your new name?”

    Sitting in one of the overstuffed lounge chairs in the common crew space, she turned her eyes downward as she took on an introspective expression.

    With a pang of regret, she thought to herself, “I’ll miss my old name. It was such a beautiful name.

    In fact it was her grandmother’s name, and her great grandmother’s before her.

    She vowed to herself, “If I ever give birth to a daughter, I will give my child that name.

    She hated her new name, but her new name was part of her title. It was a representation of what Darth Nox saw in her which, in a twisted sort of way, was complimentary.

    Andronikos’ Mandalorian mercenaries supervised their rented heavy duty work droids as they unloaded their looted cargo from Nox’s ship.

    Andronikos took on a worried expression as he shouted at one of the droids, “Hey! Numb nuts! Watch what the hell you’re doing! That’s a control panel your walking that crate into!”

    After thinking it through, she looked up into the semi retired pirate’s eyes, as he returned his attention to her, and told him, “Darth Nox would become terribly displeased if I allowed it.”

    Andronikos replied, completely understanding where she was coming from, “No sense pissing off the boss if you don’t have to. Yeah?” He could see the pain in her expression, when he concluded, “Darth Virulous it is.”

    He could see that she was distracted. He kind of took a liking to her, since she wasn’t ‘all high and mighty’ with the way she treated him.

    Andronikos, was oddly forgiving of the fact that she tried to kill him a couple of weeks ago, before their battle aboard that space station.

    Looking at the demure and petite Sith lord, he blamed himself for her reaction, thinking, “I was stupid enough to openly insinuate that she killed Xalek – right in front of the boss.

    He asked her, “Let me give you some advice, eh? It’s good traveling advice. O.K.?”

    Virulous nodded her head once, giving her consent and thinking, “He’s so rough, but he’s so handsome. I wish I hadn’t tried to kill him.

    Andronikos took a seat across from her. After settling in to the exquisite embrace of the luxurious lounge chair, he began his speech. He started by telling her the obvious.

    “You’re in Hutt Space, and soon you’ll be in the Outer Rim, in neutral territory.”

    Then he got to the point.

    “The place is crawling with enemies of the empire, bounty hunters, Jedi – yeah, Jedi – Republic agents, you name it. They’re all outside of this Imperial starship.” He emphasized that last part, and then went on, repeating it for added emphasis, “The moment you walk down the ramp of this Imperial starship, you’ll have a target painted on your back.

    “Pay attention at all times to everyone around you, droids too. Even if you think it’ll get the boss in a crappy mood, use your old name, or use a fake name. Nothing attracts Jedi like going around telling everyone you’re a Sith lord.

    “Also, hide your Sith clothes and armor. Wear regular clothes until you get to your destination. I know it sounds kind of cheap, but if you want to get to your destination quickly, then you don’t want to get in a fight every three meters. You know what I mean? But keep your weapon with you at all times, and carry a blaster as a back up.”

    Virulous gave a funny look at the suggestion she carry a blaster pistol, but then she considered that she’d been armed with one for years in her service as an officer in the Imperial Reclamation Service.

    Andronikos offered a few more words, saying, “I heard what you done in The Citadel. So, I know you can take care of yourself, but watch your back anyway. Also, when you get done over there, hire an independent starship operator to fly you back to Nar Shaddaa before switching to an Imperial operated spaceline passenger carrier. Don’t fly on any spaceliners from Tatooine. Those’ll be full of Republic agents and Jedi looking to ambush you when the ship gets into space. The rest, you can take care of. Got any questions? Need anything else?”

    Virulous observed with a wry grin, “You’re not a Sith, yet you give advice as if you had personal experience as one.”

    Andronikos replied, “It comes with experience from traveling around with the Boss. He never listens to anything I say though, and he’d always get in a scrap. Hardheaded, I guess. Or maybe he just likes to fight all the time. And then there’s the part where I’m a pirate with a bounty on my head. So, I developed a few tricks on how to look over my shoulder for trouble.”

    Virulous, again introspective, observed, “I’ve traveled to many worlds, but it’s always been in Imperial Space. Even when my dead master, Darth Silthar, traveled to Tatooine and left me alone, in my very early twenties, on Yavin 4 to excavate an old shrine buried in a millennia’s worth of soil and vegetation, it was in Imperial Space that I was left alone.”

    Looking across the coffee table, straight into Andronikos’ eyes, she confessed, “This is the first time in my life, I’ve been outside of Imperial Space, and I’ve always traveled on Imperial Navy starships. Thanks for your advice. I’d never considered any of this before. I didn’t need to before.”

    Andronikos had merely replied, “Well, Darth Virulous, good luck to you.”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Following Andronikos’ advice, she flew economy class. Virulous rose from her seat and retrieved her carry on luggage from the overhead bin. She made her way down the isle of the passenger cabin to make her way to the starship’s exit. She did as Andronikos suggested and stayed in her seat, until everyone had debarked.

    Three passengers remained behind as well, a man and two women. Virulous could sense their tense emotions. They immediately got up to exit the starship with her. The three passengers were still in the isle, several rows behind her, when Virulous entered the airlock.

    She used The Force to speed her way out of the airlock, down the ramp, and under the starship, hiding behind one of the ship’s landing struts. There, she used The Force to blend in with her surroundings, and to mask her presence from perception.

    It wasn’t quite as effective as Force Shroud was which depended on Force Persuasion to directly affect individuals that entered an area and kept them ignorant of a Force user’s presence, even if standing next to the Force user. However, the technique she currently employed was effective as long as individuals did not get too close. It was as good as or better than photoflexing camouflaging technology used by some of the galaxy’s elite military forces able to afford such technologies.

    The three passengers ran down the ramp, frantically searching around for her. Virulous, very quietly, very carefully set her luggage down onto the tarmac of the spaceport. Then, as she straightened, she carefully retrieved her lightsaber from under her suit jacket.

    The two women ran off to the terminal while the man stayed behind, searching under the ship. Virulous waited until the two women were well on their way to to the spaceport terminal, before she used The Force to speed to where the man searched a landing strut well under the starship. She knocked him over from behind and pinned him to the tarmac using The Force.

    In her grey pants suit and low heals, she squatted beside the man, she pointed the inactive lightsaber hilt at his face.

    Virulous asked him, “Why are you following me?” Then she told him, “Honest answers means you live longer.”

    He lied, “I’m a customs official. We are investigating an illicit spice trafficking ring. We was tipped off that you was a courier. It looks like we was tricked. We didn’t know you was a Jedi.”

    Virulous’ smile failed to reach her eyes as she informed the man, “And now you lose some of your lifespan.”

    The man, watching her grimace with concentration, felt his life force leaving him and began to panic. He tried to get up to run, but The Force kept him firmly pinned to the tarmac. One of the women, returning to the scene, saw their subject squatting next to her partner – laid out on the tarmac.

    She called to her other team mate, the other woman, on her audio only short range transmitter, and then pulled out her concealable compact blaster pistol. She approached quickly but cautiously, aiming her weapon at Virulous.

    Virulous told the man, smiling mirthlessly, “Here comes one of your playmates.”

    She lifted her arm and pointed her hand at the woman. Virulous blasted the woman with a bolt of Force Lightning. The woman collapsed to the tarmac, shaking uncontrollably.

    Virulous told the man, “She’ll live, maybe. Now, how about you?”

    The man felt his life draining from him again.

    He pleaded, “Alright! I’ll tell you!”

    Virulous halted her attack and waited for him to talk.

    He told her, “We’re bounty hunters. You were seen getting off an Imperial starship. You were followed to a hotel. We picked up the contract and met up with the guy who hired us and gave us our instructions.

    He’s a Republic agent. He told us just to follow you and to tell the local Republic agents where you went, when you got there. That’s it! That’s the truth!”

    And it was the truth. Virulous could sense his relief when she smiled again, this time convincingly, as she told him, “You see? Now you get to stay alive.”

    She gently rested her hand on his shoulder and asked, “Was that so hard?”

    Just as he was about to reply, Virulous killed him using the technique she’d learned from Zash when she was eavesdropping on Nox and Zash in their meeting on Korriban following a session of the Dark Council. She stood up and walked to her suit case. Picking it up, she turned to walk from under the starship. Walking passed the woman bounty hunter laid out on the tarmac, Virulous found that she lay still and dead.

    Passing through the gate, she entered the departure lounge, and walked to the terminal droid and checked in. Clearing customs was simple. Merely walking past sniffers assured she was not transporting any illegal spice.

    Virulous hailed a taxi at the spaceport driveway. It was operated by a Kubaz male. He drove her to a hotel not far from the spaceport. Her Imperial credit card was worthless, so she had to pay using physical Hutt currency.

    In the hotel lobby, Virulous walked into a clothing store which was among the other shops conveniently located for travelers, and had clothes made for her tiny stature. She checked into a room at the hotel counter.

    Virulous told the concierge, “I’m having some clothes made for me at the tailor shop, there.” She pointed at the store. Then she instructed the human girl at the counter, “Have my new clothes delivered to my room.”

    The young concierge smiled, looking down at Virulous’ small stature and replied, “Of course, Ms. Shahn Lunn. I’ll be happy to take care of that for you.”

    Virulous walked up the stairs to the second level and walked to her room. She couldn’t locate the second woman who’d been following her. She couldn’t sense her presence either. Virulous decided that either she’d run away, or that she’d hid herself rather well while following her to her hotel.

    A short while later Virulous stepped out of the fresher. She was drying herself off with a towel when a chime sounded, indicating someone was at the door to her room. Virulous wrapped herself with the towel, then reached for her opened suitcase. Her smooth chrome plated lightsaber lifted out of the suitcase and glided into her hand.

    She demanded, “Who is it?!”

    A male voice replied, “Room service, ma’am. I’m here to deliver your new clothes.”

    Virulous ordered, “Come in!”

    The male voice announced, “Coming in!”

    The door slid open and a young man entered her room. He saw a petite woman, her wet, long black hair running straight down her back. He was too far back to see the few strands of gray hair among the black. She stood wrapped in a white bath towel, her legs exposed and bare foot. She held a smooth silver metal tube shaped object in her hand. The young man immediately got the wrong idea, becoming sexually aroused.

    He blushed, smiling a bit too brightly, and asked, “Where do you want me to put these, ma’am?”

    Virulous pointed at the table on which her opened suitcase sat, in which her sabrestaff and body armor were kept. The young man walked to the table and set her new clothing on it.

    He saw her sabrestaff hilt and thought to himself, “This one’s even longer! Heck! I’m right here! She don’t need all this stuff!

    Virulous was amused by the young man’s reactions, which she sensed through The Force. He turned about and asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

    Virulous told him, “No. That is all.” Then she added, pointing to another table, “You may take your tip from there.”

    The young man walked to that table and was stunned to find a very large sum of money on it. It was probably two month’s pay, for him.

    He asked, as he turned to face her, “How much may I take…….., ma’am?”

    Virulous had unwrapped the towel from around her body, holding the towel behind her by the corners.

    Smiling coyly, she asked playfully, “Do you like what you see?”

    The young man nodded his enthusiastic appreciation for what he saw and answered, “Yes. I like it very much, ma’am.”

    She dropped the towel behind her and turned slowly about, and asked, “Is here anything wrong with what you see?”

    The young man shook his head side to side and replied, “No, ma’am. There’s nothing wrong with you. You look real nice.”

    Virulous was thirty four years old, but despite her age, kept athletically fit. Being an officer in the Imperial Army, she kept physically fit in accordance to military regulations. Being a Sith lord, she trained her marshal skills, keeping very her lightsaber skills honed. For Sith, being able to fend off attacks and being able to kill one’s foes required a great deal of discipline.

    When she had turned about and faced the young man again, she found that he was inching closer to her. She extended her arm towards him with her palm facing him. He stopped.

    Virulous told him, “You have earned a nice tip. It’s behind you on the table stand.”

    He was obviously disappointed as he turned away from her to claim his tip reward.

    Virulous told him, “Take it all. I want you to have it.”

    As he picked up the Hutt cash, the young man told her, “My name’s Doogen Trey. If you need me for anything, ask for me by name. His face reddened even more as he declared, “I suppose I could do better than your little droids.”

    Virulous was confused, and it showed on her face until Doogen pointedly looked at the lightsaber hilt still in her hand.

    She held back her laughter, thinking, “Is that what he thought this was?!

    She told him, teasingly, “Doogen Trey. I’ll keep that in mind.”

    Doogen nodded his head, as he exited her room, saying, “Please enjoy your stay, ma’am.”

    The door slid open, as he passed through, and then quickly slid shut behind him. Then he was gone.

    Virulous laughed in a low tone. She feared the doors and walls were thin, and didn’t want the young man to hear her laughter. She didn’t want to hurt his pride.

    She began to dress, starting with her briefs and sports bra, and then a slip. Virulous donned her body armor over her slip. It didn’t offer the same protection as her normal medium grade armor, but light body armor was concealable and better than no armor at all.

    Next she donned her leg guards, which protected her thighs, and then her vambraces, protecting her forearms. Over her armor, Virulous put on her newly tailored desert clothing. It consisted of an off white, very loose fitting leggings, she donned brown leather boots, with thin shin guards attached and hidden under the loose fitting leggings. Then she slipped on an off white long sleeved, loose fitting tunic that went down to her knees, a sand colored hooded outer robe, and an off white head scarf, which she used to cover her face up to her eyes.

    Underneath her hooded robe, which she wrapped around herself and held in place with a sand colored sash, she wore her utility belt. Her lightsaber and sabrestaff were both attached to her belt, and hidden from view under her outer robe.

    She looked around in the room making sure she didn’t leave anything important behind. The grey pants suit and low heals she’d worn on her travels to Tatooine from Nar Shaddaa were left crumpled on the floor, and her emptied travel case lay open on the table.

    Virulous reread the mission profile on her encrypted datapad. She was to meet with a local, one of Keeper’s assets. After pulling the sand hood of her sand colored robe over her head, she walked to the window and peeked outside from the edges of the curtains.

    She then pulled the curtains to one side and opened the window. It felt to her as though she had opened a hot oven. She was pleased with what she saw. Not only did her window open to the narrow back alley, but the building across the alley was a one story building.

    Climbing through the window, Virulous used The Force to leap to the roof of the building across the alleyway. Tatooine’s twin stars immediately beat down on her. Crouching low, she turned about and used The Force to shut her window and pull the curtain closed.

    Tatooine’s stars were both high in the sky, one star at the ten O’clock position, and the other at the one O’clock position. The twin stars orbited around one another, even as the planet orbited around both stars.

    The stars also changed positions in the sky, depending on the season. Sometimes they appeared very near each other, at times seeming to merge into one. In those cases, one star was nearest to Tatooine, appearing larger than usual, while the other was very far way, seeming much smaller. At other times, like today, the stars were far apart in the sky, seeming about the same size.

    Virulous dashed across the roof and found a place to jump down between two utility closets attached to the building’s exterior. The sand street was narrow and almost empty, except for a few dewback riding beasts tied to hitching posts towards the end of the side street.

    Near the end of the narrow dead end street, taking cover behind one of the riding beasts, she watched as the local constabulary forces rushed the hotel she’d just left.

    Virulous thought to herself, “The law around here is quite lax. Did they just realize they had two bodies at the spaceport?” She laughed quietly at herself, thinking, “What? Do I want them to do a good job and catch me?
     
  3. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Mr. Tranit's Very Special Guest​


    Virulous exited the narrow sandy side street and walked south on the wider rough-cut stone paved boulevard. The hot yet light Tatooine winds blew a light dusting of sand down the wide road in the early afternoon. She blended in with the thin noon crowds as she made her way towards the town square. The people were dressed similarly as she, with their faces heavily veiled deep within their hoods pulled over their heads.

    At the town square was an open air bazaar, with large triangular tarps suspended high overhead on very long poles or anchored with cables to the roof tops of multi-storied buildings, providing shade while not completely blocking out the sky’s light. The tarps’ arrangement also permitted the hot desert winds to breeze through so that the air would not become stagnant underneath. The crowds at the bazaar were markedly thicker.

    Vendors were calling to passersby to come sample their goods. Vendors and shoppers haggled over prices and argued over the quality of the goods being offered for sale. Laborers rushed to and fro carrying baskets, sacks, crates, and casks filled with all manner of goods and wares.

    Virulous pushed her way through the crowds and found herself in front of a low domed building with a wide entrance at the southern edge of the town square. Two Gamorrean guards armed with wood clubs stood guard at the entrance. When she attempted to enter, one of the guards grunted and squealed at her, blocking her path.

    She asked, “Is this Thieves’ Den?”

    The porcine guard towering over her, nearly twice her height, grunted and squealed at her again, this time shoving her away from the entrance. Virulous recovered from staggering back and rushed forward. Grabbing the Gamorrean by the arm, she used The Force to assist with flipping him over her shoulder, slamming him onto his back and knocking the wind out of him.

    Virulous turned to face the other guard, expecting him to attack. He was overcome with his porcine laughter at his partner’s easy defeat at the hands of what he mistook as a very tall Jawa. He waved her in, still laughing, slapping his knee and pointing at his comrade who struggled to regain his feet. She walked into the vestibule and found herself at the top of a stone staircase which she proceeded to descend. At the bottom of the stairs, in an anteroom, a Bith greeted her.

    In its mid-high pitched warbling voice, it said to her, “You are small. Are you also female?”

    Virulous, already on edge, replied testily, “So what if I am?”

    The Bith replied, “Only when the moon shines on both sides with the light of two suns is the darkness hidden within.”

    Virulous’ heart began to beat with a sudden surge of excitement. This was the pass phrase she was to listen for. This was Keeper’s asset.

    She replied, “Only fools can enjoy daylight with no night, work with no play, love with no hatred, and truth without deception.”

    The Bith told her, “Enjoy a drink at the central bar. It’s on the house.”

    Virulous became confused. She was sure that after reciting the counter phrase that she’d get the info she was after. Instead, she was directed to the bar to enjoy a drink. She began to worry she was being set up for betrayal.

    Beyond the anteroom and past a narrow passageway, at the entrance to the next room, Virulous swept her eyes across the not too dimly lit bar room looking for any signs of a trap or of betrayal. The place was seedy, stinking of stale ale and spilt liquor. However, nothing she saw with her eyes nor felt through The Force alerted her of foul play afoot.

    The patrons kept their voices low as they held their conversations. At one corner was a jukebox playing a song in a style she’d never heard before, but its slow paced, not so flashy and quiet style gave her the impression of it being an old fashioned song.

    As she started to make her way to the bar, she noticed the ratty rug on the hopelessly scuffed wood floor. Over the years, the sand abraded the worn wood floors as the patrons moved about in the bar room.

    She thought, “What a dingy hole in a wall!” Then reflecting that the bar was subterranean, she amended, “Well, hole in the ground.

    At the bar, Virulous called on the barkeep. He nodded her way indicating he’d be there when he finished serving another patron. Virulous pulled back her hood and peeled down her scarf. She looked up at a big bright monitor screen suspended on the wall above the shelves of various bottles of spirituous liquids.

    Virulous gave an ironic snort and chuckle at what she saw. Her face was displayed next to text, written in Galactic Standard Basic, indicating she was wanted for questioning in connection with two deaths at the spaceport. Several individuals of various species started to gather around her, laughing. Virulous, cursing under her breath, grabbed her sabrestaff from under her outer robe and placed it on the bar in front of her.

    In contrast to the rest of the establishment, the bar was somewhat brightly lit. Behind the bar, the mirror mounted on the wall, behind the shelves filled with bottles of spirits, gave her a chance to count how many were gathering behind her.

    Eight,” she thought to herself, her heart pounding in anticipation and fear of the coming confrontation.

    Recognizing the fear growing within her, Virulous sharply criticized herself, thinking, “I am the apprentice of Darth Nox, Dark Lord of The Sith! I cannot bring him shame!

    Some of the thugs quickly left the group upon seeing her weapon resting on the bar top before her.

    That she felt fear of these ordinary thugs angered her. She used her anger to fuel her power in The Force, and to fuel her hatred.

    Virulous made herself hate the thugs, whom she’d never met, thinking, “That leaves five fools to deal with.

    The barkeep approached, looking first at the monitor and then at her.

    He asked, laughing merrily, “What would you like to drink, Miss Wanted?”

    This angered her further. She realized they didn’t take her seriously, she was the butt of their joke, and the fools behind her laughed at the joke. They laughed at her.

    Her voice low and smooth, Virulous asked the barkeep, “What would happen if I were to kill those fools standing behind me? Will they stop laughing at me?”

    The fools laughed even harder, as the barkeep replied, “Order a drink, and I’ll answer you.”

    Virulous’ anger flared as the men around her began to crowd around her. Her face became creased with hatred as one of the thugs, a Kubaz, put his hand on her shoulder. He was in the middle of saying something when he suddenly staggered backwards and fell onto his back like a plank of wood – dead.

    The four remaining thugs became agitated and confused. They didn’t see her do anything, yet one of their buddies had just dropped dead in front of them.

    One of the thugs, an Ithorian, demanded in his bass guttural grunting language, “What have you done?!”

    Virulous didn’t move, but realization of what Virulous was had finally struck him, when he finally noticed her weapon on the bar in front of her. He mistakenly thought, “Jedi!” as he turned to flee, but he did not even take his third step, before he stumbled face forward onto his long, extended muzzle – dead.

    The remaining three thugs, still not understanding how their friends were falling dead, took no further chances. They began to draw their blaster pistols. However, before they could point their weapons at Virulous’ back, she had already grabbed and activated her sabrestaff and was already cutting the first thug down, before they could register that she had zipped past behind them and was attacking them from behind. She quickly cut the last two down, one right after the other.

    To the other patrons of Thieves’ Den, watching the commotion, it appeared as though she had flashed through the three of them, as though she were a ghost, with a bright red whirling and buzzing display that lasted for only an instant, before the three seemed to collapse to the floor together – dead.

    Virulous scanned the remaining patrons in the pub. The patrons effected not to notice anything amiss. They returned to their sabacc games and to their lewd laughter at their lewd stories. Virulous deactivated her sabrestaff and returned it to the bar top as she resumed her seat. She glared at the now visibly shaken barkeep.

    In the same low smooth tone she used before, she told him, “You have only one chance to remain among the living – only one chance.”

    The bartender, his lips quivering, gulped. Unable to speak, he merely nodded his head to show he was listening.

    Virulous told him, “I came here to meet with someone. That someone is supposed to give me some information. I want that someone here, now.”

    The barkeep nodded his head again, then turned to the shelves of bottled spirits behind him and pushed a button under one of the shelves. A few moments later, the Bith from before walked into the bar and stopped in his tracks, looking at the carnage on the pub’s floor. He shouted angrily, something unintelligible.

    Then rebuking his bartender and staff, in his mid-high pitched warbling voice, ordered, “And get this rubbish off of my floor! Look at my rug! My rug is stained!”

    Never mind that the rug was worn through in places to the rough, sand abraded, wood floor beneath the already filthy rug. The Bith turned his attention to Virulous. She looked as though she would kill him.

    The Bith said to her, “I am deeply sorry! My foolish staff could not follow directions to the floor if I shot them in the head!”

    Then he noticed that Virulous did not have a drink in her hand nor on the bar in front of her. He did see her weapon, however.

    He asked the barkeep, “Why isn’t my very special guest enjoying a drink?”

    The barkeep looked as though he would start weeping.

    The Bith asked, “Why has my very special guest not been served?” Then he demanded, “Explain this!”

    Virulous started to get the idea that the Bith was her contact, after all.

    The bartender pleaded, “Mr. Tranit…,” pointing above the shelves of bottled spirituous liquids, at the monitor on the wall which still displayed Virulous’ image, he explained, “I didn’t know that your very special guest was a bounty mark.”

    Pointing at the severed corpses on the floor, now being removed by the other staff, he added, “Those bounty hunters were all over her before I figured out that she was your very special guest. I’m so very...”

    Mr. Tranit barked, “Silence!” After a pause, he said, “Those apologies belong to my very special guest.”

    He nodded towards Virulous, indicating that the barkeep should apologize to her.

    The barkeep pleaded, “Ms. Very Special Guest, I am so very sorry for giving you such terrible customer service. How can I make it up to you?”

    Virulous wanted to be taken seriously. She wanted to make a deep impression on everyone in the pub, especially to the Bith.

    She asked herself, “What would Darth Nox do to show he wanted to be taken seriously?” She thought she knew the answer, and said aloud, “Give me your life.” After a short pause, she added, “That should make up for your poor service to me.”

    Mr. Tranit clapped his hands twice and waved one of them towards the bartender. Two goons came out of the wood works. They hopped over the bar and grabbed the poor barkeep, forcing him to his knees. One of the goons produced a compact blaster pistol and aimed it at the bartender’s head.

    Virulous shouted, “Wait!”

    The goons stopped.

    Virulous told the goons, “I said I want him to give me his life.”

    The goons looked at each other, and then at Mr. Tranit.

    Mr. Tranit asked, Virulous, “You want us to give him a blaster?”

    Virulous replied, “Yes, that or a knife.”

    Mr. Tranit waved his hand at his goons, nodding his approval.

    The barkeep pleaded, “NO! PLEASE!”

    He seemed to be struggling against himself as he reached for the pistol. The goons both stepped back as the barkeep begged and cried, all the while pointing the blaster pistol at his own temple.

    Virulous, her face twisted by hatred and fury, rasped at the barkeep, “This is for laughing at me!”

    The barkeep’s head burst into a cloud of vaporized blood, flesh and bone, while the bar sink suddenly had a hole blown into it with the remaining energy from the blaster bolt. The two goons’ eyes widened and their mouths fell agape as they looked alternately at the barkeep’s corps and at Virulous’ hate filled visage. Mr. Tranit watched in the reflection of the bar mirror, as the barkeep’s body slumped down and began pouring out its blood onto the floor from what was left of his head.

    Virulous turned to the Bith and quite plainly lied, telling him, “That just put me into a very good mood.”

    Her face showed nothing but fury and hatred, but she was also trying to control her breathing to hide how much this display had taken out of her. Her considerable efforts to control the barkeep, as he pointed the weapon at himself, taxed her enormously. However, to Mr. Tranit it looked as though she was readying herself to commit more of this terrible carnage.

    Unknown to Mr. Tranit, Virulous was at that moment greatly conflicted. She felt terrible revulsion for what she’d done. It was an exceptional act of cruelty that she’d perpetrated. However, the seductive power of the Dark Side had been increasing within her, and it frightened and excited her. She wanted more of this power, but she could see plainly that she was becoming a dark fiend because of it.

    Ever since she’d met Darth Nox, she found herself committing worse and worse atrocities. She worried about Dark Side corruption marring her appearance. Virulous was seeing a dermatologist to repair the remaining scars on her skin from Darth Nox’s lightning attack which had left so many electrical burns on her body.

    Mr. Tranit sat on the second bar stool over from Virulous and ordered one of the goons, “Fix me a drink, and one for my very special guest.” Turning to look over his shoulder, he declared, raising his voice to be heard, “The bar is closed. Come back tomorrow.”

    As the patrons obediently shuffled out of Thieves’ Den, Virulous warned Mr. Tranit, “I’m not in the mood to waste time on pleasantries. Just tell me where they are, so that I can complete my mission.”

    Mr. Tranit asked, “What name may I call you?”

    She answered, “Darth Virulous.”

    Mr. Tranit waited until the last of the patrons had left the room, taking a sip from the drink placed in front of him, before telling her, “Darth Virulous, I will be frank with you. I am a crime boss. I have built my little piece of the criminal empire known as The Exchange Gang.

    “I’m not one of those fools who thought they could anger a ruler of the Sith Empire and get away with it, but I am a leader, albeit a minor one, within this organization. When you complete your mission, a very large power vacuum will be left. There will be infighting for years to come while we sort ourselves out.”

    Virulous sighed impatiently and growled out, “Get to the point.”

    Mr. Tranit got to the point, telling her. “Not only do I want to survive this upheaval, but I want to emerge on top, or near the top actually. To that end, I have added a few extra targets to your list.”

    He lifted his hand, forestalling Virulous’ coming objections as he continued his pitch.

    “The target list is divided into two sections, your dark councilor’s targets and my targets. You will notice that my targets have numbers next to them. This is how much I will pay for each one you’ve eliminated.

    “Of course I will not ask you to do this extra work without proper compensation. Also, I am not expecting you to execute my part of the mission. I know you are here on Darth Nox’s behalf, and I don’t want to attract his attention.

    “You could get paid, by me, to do the extra work while pointing out to Darth Nox that you’ve killed a few extra along the way. You win twice, with money from me and recognition from your superior. What do say?”

    Virulous looked at the target list. There were three names on Darth Nox’s part of the list, and six names on Mr. Tranit’s part of the list. She realized that he meant to pay her two million four hundred thousand credits.

    She thought to herself, “Four hundred thousand for each one of these on his list. That’s over four times as much money that I have now, just for taking out one target!

    Virulous had spent several tens of thousands of credits on armor. She’d spent twenty thousand on her black with red accents armor, but Darth Nox had ruined it with his Force Lightning attack at the Citadel when he’d almost killed her. She spent thirty thousand on her new set of armor, but for this mission, she had on a different set of armor, and had spent eight thousand seven hundred on it.

    Virulous was left with just under ninety thousand credits in her financial account. Virulous had to reflect that she was poor. She knew that among Sith, modest means was a sign of weakness. She was strong in The Force. She served Darth Nox directly, meaning she had great influence and held a very high status, but she had no more wealth than an ordinary Imperial military officer.

    Virulous told Mr. Tranit, “Do not attempt to cheat me.”

    Mr. Tranit replied as though the thought had never occurred to him and that it surprised him that someone would think that of him.

    “What? Oh no! Of course not, Darth Virulous!” He pointed at the datapad with the list, and continued, “I do not wish to meet the same end those nine will meet at your hands. I will pay you promptly and properly.”

    Mr. Tranit tapped a few icons on the datapad’s screen, unlocking the contents and making it accessible to his very special guest. The locations of each target appeared, along with the floor plans of each target scene. He passed it back to Virulous.

    “All of the information you will need to accomplish your mission is here, Darth Virulous.”

    Virulous picked up the datapad and secured it in a compartment of her utility belt. She wrapped her face with her head scarf, pulled the hood of her sand colored robe over her head, and then stood to leave.

    Mr. Tranit spoke as though what he wanted to say might be irritating to her, “Darth Virulous, if I may point out a small detail?”

    Virulous was a hair from losing her patience, and snapped at the Bith, “What is it?!”

    He replied, “It may be of small consequence, but your robes are covered in blood. You might stand out a bit out there. Shall I have a new robe brought to you?”

    Virulous replied darkly, “These robes will be covered in much more blood before this day is done. I will return here. Have my money ready for me.”

    She walked out of the bar, making her way to the staircase going up to the surface and to the exit.

    Mr. Tranit clapped his hands twice and demanded, “Where is my management team? The accountant, too, I want her here.”

    Looking at the corps of his retired barkeep, and recalling how strange that she could force him to commit suicide, Mr. Tranit was determined to pay Virulous as promised. He saw no opportunities to get out of paying – as was his usual practice. He needed to hire a new bartender, and recruit new thugs to replace the ones he’d sent to test Virulous.

    Mr. Tranit, looking at the monitor screen above the bottled spirits on the shelves, thought, “Thank the Stars, she did not suspect I was behind this mess.

    Virulous’ image was still displayed, with the notice that she was wanted for questioning.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
  4. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Virulous, Unleashed.​


    Mr. Tranit’s six rivals worked together in two warehouses situated next to each other on a large parcel of land about five kilometers from the edge of town. Along with the two large structures were several small out buildings used as storage sheds for various materials, items, tools, and a small workshop. The structures in the compound were all surrounded by a four meter tall fence. The six rivals held their offices in the two warehouses.

    Virulous had decided to take them out, first. She used The Force to speed her way from behind a large rock to the fence, which she then leapt over. Landing on her feet, on the hard packed sand, she dashed to the nearest out building. Crouching low, she crept around the corner and surveyed the wide open huge warehouse entrance. She could see all the way through to the opposite end of the warehouse to its other wide open entrance.

    Virulous was surprised at the apparent lack of security, until she realized that the workers were all armed. Everyone packed a blaster pistol. Yet, everyone was working. None were paying close enough attention to their surroundings. Taking advantage of this, she zipped to the side of the warehouse, just around the corner from the main entrance.

    She used The Force to mask her presence, taking advantage of shadows, ducking behind crates, and hiding around corners, to finally arrive at the bottom of a staircase inside the first warehouse. She climbed up the two flights of stairs to reach the second level. According to Mr. Tranit’s information, that was where some of the administrative and business offices were located. Virulous expected to find some of her targets there.

    The second level offices were all located on one side of the warehouse with a catwalk giving access to the office doors. Virulous looked down at the workers through the bars of the guardrail at the edge of the catwalk. When she was satisfied that none of the workers below were any of her marks, she turned her attention to the catwalk and the office doors alongside it.

    The first door Virulous came to was opened. She walked by it quickly, looking inside as she passed. It was a small conference room with a round table and a few chairs around it. Three men were inside, seated at the table, holding a meeting. She instantly recognized two of the men from the images in Mr. Tranit’s datapad. The third man had his back to the door, so she could not identify him.

    Virulous stopped at the side of the door and prepared herself. She chose to arm herself with her chrome plated lightsaber. It was a gift from her previous master, Darth Silthar. She closed her eyes and took in a breath.

    Virulous exhaled. Rounding the door frame, she rushed into the room igniting her lightsaber. She decapitated the man with his back to the door, as she leaped onto the conference table, piercing the chest of the man sitting at the table to her right with her weapon, while blasting the third man on her left with a bolt of Force Lightning. His chair tipped backwards as though he’d been knocked back. Virulous quietly got down from the table and pierced his chest with her bright red lightsaber as he lay on the floor shaking uncontrollably from the electrical shock.

    It was over very quickly, and quiet had returned to the conference room when she deactivated her weapon. Virulous looked at the face on the decapitated head on the floor and determined that the man who’d had his back to the door was indeed on her target list. She then quietly made her way to the doorway, edging closer to the door frame so that she could peek outside the room. It seemed no one on the warehouse floor below had heard her lightsaber nor the crack of her Force Lightning bolt.

    She thought excitedly to herself, “That’s a million two hundred thousand credits, already!” Then she thought angrily, “That blasted Mr. Tranit had better not try to cheat me! He’d better pay!

    Although no one on the warehouse floor seemed to have noticed the commotion, the door to the office next door made a noise as it opened, and the sound of someone approaching from that door towards the conference room made Virulous’ heart leap. By the sounds the shoes made, she determined that it was a woman that approached.

    The woman called out, as she neared the conference room door, concern in her tone, “What’s all the racket, boys? You rough housing in there?”

    Just as the woman stood at the threshold, Virulous pivoted from the side of the doorway and, reaching up, grabbed the taller woman’s throat. Using The Force to assist, she yanked her into the room while crushing the woman’s larynx, again using The Force.

    The woman crashed onto the body of one of the dead men on the floor. Unable to scream, she flailed her arms and legs, pounding and kicking the floor with the heels of her feet and with her balled up fists when she wasn’t clutching at her collapsed trachea. Virulous became alarmed at all of the noise the woman was making, fearing anyone working in the warehouse below the office floor would hear.

    She used a Dark Force technique that severed the woman’s mind from her body. The woman lay still, with her arms and legs left in odd angles. The Sith lord quickly turned her attention to the doorway as she inched her way to the door frame.

    Virulous was too busy trying to determine whether anyone had heard the racket the woman had made to notice the fury in the woman’s eyes drilling through her back as she peeked outside the door. She was too overcome with worry, whether anyone else was approaching, to notice the woman’s tears as she slowly faded away. The woman watched as the hooded stranger left the conference room. She suffocated, passed out, and died shortly thereafter.

    Virulous walked down the catwalk to the office from which the woman had emerged. There was no one else there. She searched each office until she’d reached the last one. They were all empty of office workers. Virulous looked down at the warehouse floor, giving the warehouse workers another look as she searched for her next target.

    She saw no one else on her target list and thought, “Maybe they’re in the next warehouse.”She used The Force to ease her descent, as she jumped down to the dusty resicrete floor below. She spun about and found a couple of stacks of crates behind her underneath the catwalk and the offices above. She quickly ducked between the crates. After ensuring the area was clear, she made her way to the wide open warehouse door at the opposite end of the building from where she’d entered. Exiting the first warehouse, she made her way to the other structure, using The Force to quickly dash to the next building.

    Virulous stopped just at the edge of the large open doorway of the second warehouse. Using The Force, she sensed the interior for anyone near the entryway. Sensing no conscious being nearby, she button hooked her way into the warehouse and tripped over the legs of a worker who was taking a nap, seated just inside the entryway.

    The worker was startled awake, giving a short yelp. Virulous scrambled to her hands and knees and hurriedly crawled to the angrily protesting worker. She placed her hand on his shoulder and used the technique she’d learned from Darth Zash. However, in her haste, she failed to execute the technique properly.

    The worker howled quite loudly in pain, but very briefly. He slumped down to his side, moaning in agony. After her attack, he was too weak to move about or to call for help, but his initial cry of pain had caught the ears of others in the warehouse.

    Angry at her failure to keep silent, she simply zapped him with Force Lightning, ending his misery forever. Virulous, crouching, ran towards the stairs leading to the catwalk and second level offices in the second warehouse.

    As she made her way up the stairs, she heard the voices of men and women shouting in alarm from outside the warehouse. Just as Virulous reached the top of the stairs, someone shouted for help where she’d left the worker at the warehouse entrance. Some of the office doors opened, with worried office workers stepping out to look down at the warehouse floor as they looked for the source of the commotion.

    One of those office workers was her mark. As luck would have it, he was at the far end of the catwalk. Virulous decided the time for subtlety was past. It was time for brute power.

    Virulous grasped her sabrestaff and ignited both ends of it. She ran down the catwalk, cutting everyone down that she passed on her way to her target.

    He took out a blaster pistol and began shooting at Virulous. She deflected some of the blaster bolts with her sabrestaff, and took an opportunity to activate her shield generator during a pause between blaster bolt shots. The man turned and ran to the far end of the catwalk towards the stairs at the other end. Virulous blasted him with a bolt of Force Lightning.

    She ran to where he’d fallen on his face. He was trying to crawl away. Workers on the warehouse floor began to shoot at her from below. She wasted no time, impaling him through his spine to pierce his heart.

    Virulous ran back the way she’d come and entered his office, shutting the door behind her. The angry shouts in the warehouse had increased, along with the screams of shock and grief, as the friends of the dead came across their severed corpses on the catwalk.

    Virulous deactivated her sabrestaff, securing it to her belt. She turned around as she switched to her lightsaber and froze momentarily in her tracks as she made eye contact with a woman, sitting at her desk, also frozen in fear.

    Virulous quickly realized the woman was not on her target list.

    She demanded of the woman, “Where is your blaster?!”

    The woman, hearing her Imperial accented Basic, realized the attacker in her office was not a Jedi, but one of the dreaded Sith.

    Her lips quivering, and tears pouring from her eyes, she pointed a very shaky finger on an unsteady hand towards the wall opposite from her desk. The woman choked back a sob, not knowing what her fate would be.

    Virulous turned her gaze to the wall and saw, hanging from a hook on the wall, a utility belt with a small holster containing a compact blaster pistol.

    Virulous, deciding the woman was not a threat, told her, “The Stars favor you today. I will spare you so that you may live to tell the story of how you survived being in the presence of a rampaging Sith lord seeking vengeance in the name of Darth Nox.”

    She laughed at her own silly declaration as she proceeded to make her way to the office window. Using The Force to force it open, Virulous leapt out through the window and landed on the sandy ground, two stories below.

    Using The Force, Virulous ran as fast as she could towards the tall fence that marked the edge of their property.

    Leaping over the fence she continued to make her escape, thinking excitedly to herself as she ran, “One million six hundred thousand credits! Easy!” Then fearing being cheated, she fumed angrily, “He’d better pay!” Finally, introspectively as she critiqued her own performance, she thought aloud, “Four out of six isn’t bad.

    In her excitement, she’d forgotten the eight she’d killed to get at those four.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    It was early evening. One of Tatooine’s suns had set. The temperature had dropped considerably, making the environment much more tolerable.

    Virulous had ridden her stolen speeder bike to a ranch a hundred and twenty kilometers outside of town. She climbed up a moisture vaporator tower and used her, also stolen, macrobinoculars to scan the low domes and out buildings that made up the entrance to the subterranean home of one of the leaders of the Exchange Gang on Tatooine. Armed guards were posted sparsely on the surface of the estate.

    Virulous was glad to have taken a bath and change her clothing. The stink of her blood soaked robes was attracting too many flying insect pests and was starting to become unbearable. She’d broken into the home of a vaporator farm house, Force Persuading the family into letting her bathe, supply her with fresh clothing, and feed her.

    She lifted the macrobinoculars from a work bench and stole the speeder bike from their workshop as she left. It wouldn’t be until the father of the household had reviewed the security footage with his family a day later, that they would recall what had happened to them the day before.

    Virulous wanted to execute the final stage of her mission in the dead of night. She’d become excited that the teenaged daughter had black robes in her wardrobe and availed herself of them. Wanting to blend into the darkness of night, she sought to avoid light colored clothing. Of course, she ended up regretting leaving the farmhouse with the twin suns still up. It was decidedly much hotter in black robes than her light colored clothing had been.

    Virulous looked forward to Tatooine’s second star to set and to dip below the horizon. The teenager had told her that the temperatures could drop to an astoundingly cold 29 degrees Celsius after the second sun had set and, that in the wee hours, the temperature could bottom out to an unbearably freezing 24 degrees Celsius.

    She laughed as she thought, “I look forward to the freezing temperatures.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Eight hours after the second star had set, in the wee hours of the morning, Virulous luxuriated in the balmy weather of Tatooine’s early morning hours. She looked through the crystal clear dry air at the early morning sky which dimly lit up the sands with its multitude of stars.

    Using The Force to mask her presence, she approached the villa, crouching low and ducking behind the vaporators that dotted the landscape around the villa. She dashed to a parked speeder, unnaturally fast, then crept around it until she caught sight of a sentry who stood guard at a side entrance of one of the low domes, which she believed led to stairs which descended to the subterranean villa.

    Virulous concentrated, focusing her thoughts, her force of will, and the power of The Force to cause the sentry to become struck by unrelenting drowsiness. The sentry began to shake his head. He stomped his feet, pacing to and fro. He sat at the side of the door jerking his head back up, each time he nodded off. Finally, he gave in and simply lay on his side and went to sleep.

    This was the first time she had ever attempted this Force Persuasion variant. So, she took out her datapad and whispered in her notes, describing what she’d done, how she’d done it, and the successful results of her impromptu experiment.

    Virulous returned her datapad to its place in her utility belt and then crept silently to the sleeping guard. She inspected the door mechanism and fount it required a palm print to release the locks on the door controls. She was overcome with incredulity, knowing the effort she’d expended to remain silent was wasted. This time, she wanted to try NOT leaving a trail of murder and mayhem in her wake like she’d done at the other two homes of the Exchange Gang leaders her master had ordered killed.

    Virulous crouched beside the sleeping man. Pointing her lightsaber hilt at the forehead of the sleeping guard’s head, she activated her weapon, instantly killing him. Immediately after, she severed his hand, just above his wrist, and deactivated her weapon.

    Her eyes had been adjusted to the dark, so the bright red beam of her lightsaber left glowing spots in her eyes.

    Virulous thought in extreme annoyance, “If it’s not one damned thing, then it’s another!

    She felt revulsion as she picked up the severed hand, careful not to touch the bloody end where the wrist would have been. It was still warm in her hand. She had to straighten out the fingers to get it to lay flat on the palm reader.

    The panel lit up, with a touch pad grid displayed on the palm reader screen. Virulous became deeply annoyed at the palm reader, pointing accusingly at it. She tossed the severed hand behind her over her shoulder. Shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders in frustration, she kicked at the sandy ground.

    Virulous fumed, muttering under her breath, “I have to enter a damned code, too!?

    She thought about all of the trouble she had gone through to silently enter the villa. Unlike other homes in Tatooine’s rural desert homes with the sunken open pit courtyard, this home was completely subterranean. Only the low resicrete domes, which were the entrances showed above the sands of the vast flat desert landscape.

    Virulous sighed and said aloud to herself, “So much for a stealthy infiltration.”

    She ignited her lightsaber and began to cut into the durasteel door. She was surprised with how thin the metal was. The bright red beam easily plunged into the door and made quick work of the thin half inch plate metal door.

    Virulous used The Force to yank the wreckage of the door out of the dome and tossed it behind her. She wasted no time entering the dome. Then quickly, but cautiously, she descended the stairs into the home of the third and final Exchange Gang boss involved in the bombing attack of Darth Nox’s home on Dromund Kaas.

    She reached her hand to the inner door controls at the bottom of the stairs and froze. Her instincts screamed out at her to get out.

    Virulous turned and ran up the stairs, thinking, “All of the noise I made getting in and no alarms?!

    Just as she reached the top of the stairs, the door below her was blown apart by a powerful explosive. The blast wave blew her out of the doorway at the top of the stairs and sent her flying, tumbling into the air. Virulous used The Force to propel herself further out and away from the compound. It was all she could do to escape the ambush set for her.

    The concussive force of the blast wave nearly knocked all the wind out of her. Virulous barely thought enough to roll as she crashed onto the top of a small dune of loose sand. She groaned in pain as she rolled to a stop on her side.

    She reached to her utility belt and struggled to get out a kolto injector. She jabbed her thigh with it – twice, administering two doses.

    I’ve got to run,” she thought to herself.

    She knew the security forces had to be searching for her. She didn’t wait for the kolto to start numbing the pain.

    Get up, woman!” She growled at herself.

    Virulous used The Force to help pick herself up. Then she began to limp and stumble her way away from the villa, and into the open desert.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
  5. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Just A Little Misunderstanding​


    Andronikos had checked out of his upscale hotel suite and hired a taxi droid to take him to the private hanger where his ship was berthed. He had talked himself out of hiring bodyguards.

    Andronikos thought disgustedly at himself, "What am I, a blasted amateur?! I just got to wake my ass up and start payin' attention again!" Still rankled about how close he was to getting killed, he thought furiously, "She's dead! I don't care if the boss likes her. I'm taking her out!"

    Andronikos thought about hiring the Mandalorian team he'd used to help him loot the Arcanum during Darth Nox's invasion and occupation of the station.

    "Those mercs were pretty good, but I wonder how they’ll stack up against her team? Her team wasn’t too shabby, without being in your face about being good." He thought about her accomplishments. “She took out the Republic’s chancellor, and she took out a Sith on Korriban.” He considered, "I might have to hire a bigger team."

    Andronikos' taxi droid came to a stop. He scanned his credit card on the card reader and paid his fare, leaving a nice tip for the taxi droid.

    The taxi thanked him, “I thank you for your generosity, favored passenger!”

    Andronikos didn’t reply as he exited the taxi.

    The taxi droid’s trunk lid opened. A robotic arm unloaded Andronikos’ suitcase from its trunk and set it down onto the metal plated roadway.

    Andronikos told his suitcase droid, "Let's go."

    As he walked into the spaceport concourse, his suitcase droid followed him. Andronikos walked to the launch office and stepped to the counter.

    He called to a clerk, "Hey, there! I'm going to launch. I'm requesting a launch slot - the soonest."

    The clerk told Andronikos, "Sure. Just make your request to the droid like everyone else does."

    That irritated the semi retired pirate. He smiled at the clerk and motioned with his hand to get closer. The clerk had heard it all, every excuse given by pilots requesting immediate or near immediate launch slots.

    The clerk leaned on the counter to get closer to Andronikos. He was curious to hear what excuse Andronikos would use.

    Andronikos' smile vanished, replaced with a scowl. Also appearing, as if by magic, was a blaster pistol barrel – centimeters from the clerk's nose.

    Andronikos told the clerk, "You see, my boss is a dark lord on the Dark Council over at the Sith Empire. And he wants his ship, now." Andronikos asked, "You follow me?"

    The clerk was visibly shaken, but he kept his cool and replied honestly, telling the pirate, "I was born and raised on Nar Shaddaa. I don't know any of that stuff."

    Andronikos replied, "Well, O.K. I'll keep it simple for you. I'll let you pick. Yeah?"

    The clerk nodded agreement.

    Andronikos offered his first choice, telling the clerk, "One, I can blast your face all over the counter, here, walk to my ship and just take off. Or you can get me the next launch slot, and keep your head." After letting the clerk think it over a bit, he asked, "So, what'll it be?"

    The clerk told Andronikos, "I have to make a few calls to make it happen."

    Andronikos holstered his blaster pistol, smiling and telling the clerk, "You see? I knew we could work things out. My ship's berthed in hanger 127, partition Cresh (127-C)."

    The clerk walked to his desk in his office and contacted the launch facilities security chief.

    He told the security chief, as soon as his image came up, "I've got this crazy nut case in my lobby pointing blasters in my face and demanding an immediate launch slot! His ship is berthed in hanger 127, section Cresh."

    The security chief tapped in the registration info into his computer. His brow furrowed.

    Then returning his attention to the clerk, he asked, "Did you look up what ship it is and who the owner of that ship is?"

    The clerk became quite irritated and demanded, "What does that matter?!" Then he added, "The blasted pile of turds pointed a blaster at my face! What are you gonna do about that?!"

    The security chief quietly regarded the clerk before confirming, "So, you didn't check?"

    To the shock and dismay of the launch scheduling clerk, the security chief said, "I strongly recommend you let this slide. Just give him the next launch slot and bump everyone down one slot."

    Anywhere else, anyone in the clerk's shoes would have been outraged, but this wasn't anywhere else. This was Nar Shaddaa.

    The clerk asked, "How important is he?"

    The security chief told him, "His boss could start a war here, if he wanted. He's one of the rulers of the Sith Empire."

    In fact, the Sith Empire had already established a presence on the Smuggler's Moon, Nar Shaddaa, and on the planet this moon orbited, Hutta. The Hutts were forced to invite the Galactic Republic to Nar Shaddaa and on Hutta as well, in order to keep the Sith Empire in check. The Hutts carefully maintained their neutrality and carefully played the Sith Empire against the Galactic Republic.

    Neither side wanted to push the Hutts over to the side of their enemy, so both sides waged a quiet war against the other, sabotage, assassinations, blackmail, and bribery, everything except open combat. The Hutts turned a blind eye to all of it, accepting the bribes of both opposing parties.

    The launch schedule clerk walked back to the counter, approaching Andronikos with a big customer service smile on his face. He handed the semi retired pirate an envelope containing gift certificates for gambling tokens at one of Nar Shaddaa’s most exclusive hotel casinos and one night’s stay at said, hotel casino.

    He told Andronikos, “I sincerely hope your stay on our moon was both fruitful and most enjoyable. Please, return again, and enjoy this gift on your next visit.”

    Andronikos, peeking in the blank envelope raised an eyebrow in appreciation of what he saw inside, exclaiming, “Whoa! Nice!” Then, looking at the clerk with a smile of his own, he pocketed the envelope and asked, “When can I launch?”

    The clerk, giving his best customer service smile, replied, “Mr. Revel, you’re cleared to launch at any time. Please, fly safely.”

    Andronikos left a nice fat tip on the counter, telling the clerk, “Now that’s what I call service! Thanks!”

    The semi retired pirate turned and left the office on his way to his hanger and his ship.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Andronikos’ ship was at the far end of the hanger, just over a mile away. He had to walk past two other ships to get to it. His suitcase droid followed behind him.

    The first ship he walked past was quiet and still, the crew apparently not on board. As he approached the next ship, he could see plenty of activity in and behind it. Freight was being driven up onto its over sized ramp, which Andronikos could tell also served as the ship’s rear hatch.

    A design like that could allow for oversized freight to be loaded into light freighters with huge cargo bays, but if not properly maintained could let the ship’s atmosphere seep out.

    The ship had no landing gear. Instead it had four very sturdy hard points that protruded as shallow, wide, conical mounds on the belly of the ship’s outer hull. The ship’s belly was only centimeters from the hanger deck, allowing for a shallower ramp that made it easy to load heavy cargo into the cavernous cargo bay. With its belly so close to the hanger deck, and no landing gear, it meant that the cargo bay could be cavernous.

    This also meant a tremendous savings in weight, as well as space, since the ship had no landing gear, no related landing gear machinery, and no tanks full of hydraulic fluids to operate said landing gear. Finally, the ship’s three huge engines were externally mounted on swiveling and pivoting engine mounts. Although, one of the engines tucked itself into the bottom of the ship’s hull when landing, the other two remained outside of the ship’s hull at all times. This design is what really opened up the ship’s interior for huge cargo capacities, despite its small external size.

    Andronikos walked about fifty meters from the bottom of the ramp, behind the three story tall light freighter, getting a real good look at the huge brightly lit interior. One of the crew had just started down the wide ramp and froze in her tracks. Andronikos slowed to a halt, in utter surprise.

    He thought incredulously, “I can’t believe it! It’s actually her!

    The Chiss bounty hunter had changed out of her skimpy dress, and into her heavy Mandalorian armor. She didn’t wear her helmet, so Andronikos could see her face and her hair, quite clearly. It was her.

    Damn! She’s hot!” Shaking his head, he reminded himself, “Too bad I want her dead.

    Before he could take a step towards her ship, the bounty hunter walked briskly down the ramp and made her way to where he had come to a stop, behind her ship.

    Coming to a stop about five meters from where he stood, Wrehn told him, “I wish I’d never seen your bounty. If I had known you worked for him, I never would have gone near you.”

    Andronikos gave a sly smile and asked, “Are you saying you’re sorry?”

    Wrehn laughed mirthlessly, replying, “Sorry? It’s just work. I’m never sorry when I get paid for my work. I sure get pissed when I’m shorted out on my pay, though.” Laughing ruefully, she added, “I’m a pro. I don’t let anything bother me…,” then with feeling, “but this job was the worst!”

    Her ironic smile vanished, replaced with a furious scowl.

    She told him, “I’ve never had to turn and run from anyone – ever. But I had to run from you.”

    Andronikos was perplexed by her demeanor and remarked, “Damn! For someone who’s a pro and all of that, and who don’t take crap personally, you sure seem to be making it a big personal deal.”

    Wrehn declared forcefully, “I am Mandalorian! I have a reputation that I’ve made, and that am proud of, and that I need to protect.” Then she contradicted herself when she told him, “I want you to know that I didn’t run from you. Your bounty was rescinded, and there wasn’t a need to hunt you anymore. That’s all.”

    Andronikos teased, “My boss had a lot to do with you not needing to hunt me, too. Don’t forget.”

    He said that, implying that she had run from Nox.

    Wrehn replied snarkily, “Yes. Thanks for reminding me that your boss saved your hide.”

    That stung Andronikos. It was true. He’d be dead if Darth Nox hadn’t intervened. It hurt his pride that he had to be protected. However, unlike the Mandalorian bounty hunter, Yehw’reh’nomai, he didn’t wear his emotions pinned to the collar of his coat for all to see – if it didn’t suit him.

    He merely smiled, telling her, “Can I help it that I have friends in high places?”

    Wrehn told him pointedly, “My crew laughed at me, Andronikos. I can’t let it stand, even if it pisses off Darth Nox.”

    She watched as Andronikos’ mocking smile waned.

    Good,” Wrehn thought, “I got his attention.

    Wrehn began stepping to one side and began creating distance between them, as she told him, “I know all about you. I make it a point to study my bounties, to plan my hunts.”

    Andronikos kept silent but his hand was down at his side. Under his coat, strapped to his thigh was his primary blaster pistol. His hand twitched, and he mentally kicked himself for it.

    Wrehn saw his hand twitch and noticed the strap around his thigh, partially exposed under his opened long leather coat.

    She thought, “Good. He’s packing heat.

    Wrehn told him, “I know you want to kill me. You have this thing about not resting until someone you want dead – is dead. And I can’t let my crew keep cracking jokes about me running away from a hunt.”

    Andronikos noticed that her crew was all watching quietly from within the ship’s cargo hold and none of them had their guns out.

    The situation hit him and he blurted out with stupefied incredulity, “Are you challenging me to a duel?!”

    Wrehn stopped when she was about ten meters from where Andronikos stood.

    She answered plainly, “Yeah.”

    Andronikos laughed as though it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, slapping his thigh as he bent over laughing. His hand snapped to his blaster pistol. He drew, pointed, and shot.

    Wrehn threw herself, rolling to the side as she drew both of her blaster pistols. She ended up on a knee, both pistols aimed at the pirate. He ran to the side and fired another shot, as Wrehn began unloading both blasters at him.

    A blaster bolt crossed in front of Wrehn. Instinctively, she activated her jet pack and shot up into the air as she twisted to face Andronikos’ suitcase droid. Wrehn rained down a storm of blaster fire from both over powered weapons, striking the droid a few times.

    As she descended to the landing pad, she fired off a mini guided rocket from her personal mini rocket launcher attached to her right armored vambrace. As soon as the rocket left her vambrace launcher, she rolled to one side and turned towards the last place she had seen Andronikos.

    Andronikos had been shooting at her, but his shots missed because of how much Wrehn kept moving, rolling to the side, and then shooting up into the air. He found an opening when she turned her attention to his droid. He ran up behind her to close the distance, but she had already descended and threw herself into another roll.

    As the suitcase droid skidded across the launch pad, after getting blasted by the guided mini rocket, the Mandalorian bounty hunter rolled and turned to face him. She pointed her other arm at him as he fired repeatedly at her. Some shots missed, but those that hit were negated by her personal high energy shield generator.

    Wrehn’s blasters had over heated and temporarily shut down as CO2 cartridges vented cooling gas through the blasters’ energy bolt generators. She pointed her left arm at the pirate and blasted him with her portable one shot flame thrower.

    Andronikos turned and ran to the side as he ripped off his coat, throwing it to the launch pad. He dropped his blaster pistol as he removed his burning duster. He drew a vibroknife from his belt at the small of his back and activating the knife, charged at Wrehn in the attack while also shooting his concealable back up pistol attached to a special holster strapped to his wrist.

    Wrehn’s pistols both chirped, indicating they had cooled sufficiently to resume operation in single shot mode. She pointed her right hand blaster pistol at the pirate and shot.

    Andronikos fell, screaming in agony. He’d been shot on the thigh. His leg was nearly severed and had terrible burns.

    Wrehn ran to where he’d fallen and stepped on his right arm. Then she ripped his mini blaster pistol from his hand and tossed it to the side. She then kicked the vibroknife, which he’d dropped as he fell to the launch pad, out of his reach.

    The knife clattered away. It continued to give its high pitched hum where it had come to a rest. She holstered her weapons, and taking a kolto injector form a utility compartment on her belt, she administered four doses to him.

    Andronikos’ screams and vile cursing subsided as the kolto mercifully deadened the pain. He felt absolutely woozy from the massive dose of the pain killers.

    He smirked and spoke ironically, “Thanks for the pain killers. Though I suppose it’s the least you could do after you shot my leg off.”

    Wrehn replied, “My honor is restored. I don’t have to kill you, but I am going to kill you anyway.”

    She drew her right blaster and pointed it at his face.

    When Andronikos stopped smirking, Wrehn added, “I don’t have to anger your boss. I’d be happy with letting you go, but only if you swear not to come after me and my crew. If I even think you sent anyone after us, I’m gonna hunt you down and finish where I left off.”

    Andronikos spoke bitterly, reminding her, “Or you could cash in on the price the Republic has for my head.”

    Wrehn kept her blaster pointed at Andronikos’ face and shaking her head in the negative, reminded him, “They ain’t gonna pay us. They put a price on our heads, bigger than the one on yours, and I don’t do charity work. I want to get paid for every job I do.”

    Andronikos laughed at himself for a thought that ran through his mind.

    He told Wrehn, “I told you that I had a thing for cute tough chicks.” After a pause, he told her, “Right now you’re so damned hot!” After a very brief pause, he added, “I’d invite you to my ship if we weren’t trying to kill each other.”

    He laughed, but Wrehn stuck to business, telling him, “Do I have your word, or do I have to deal with your boss for smearing your head all over the launch deck?”

    Andronikos reflected, “Damn! She killed the Republic’s chancellor and has the whole Galactic Republic after ‘em. She ain’t really that worried about what Nox, would think.

    He told her grudgingly, his pride nearly getting in the way, “Fine. I’ll forget about you. I won’t send anyone after you, either.”

    Wrehn instantly holstered her blaster and began to walk to her ship. Andronikos called to her, and Wrehn stopped, turning to face him.

    Wearing a lopsided grin, partly from the effects of the high dose of kolto and partly because he know he was being silly, he asked her, “If we ever meet again, have dinner and a few drinks with me, yeah?”

    Wrehn burst into laughter. She enjoyed a moment of real humor at his absurd dinner invitation. She turned again to return to the ship.

    Andronikos persisted, “You really are my type, babe. You’re beautiful, strong, and not afraid of anything.”

    Wrehn turned to give him a smile, but said nothing as she resumed her march back to her ship.

    She thought to herself, as she walked up the ramp at the back of her freighter, “I really hope I don’t ever run into him again.” Shaking her head, smiling at the surreality of the moment, “What?! Did he forget that I shot his leg almost clean off?!

    Watching as she ascended the ramp, with a fleeting sliver of hope, Andronikos thought, “She didn’t say no…

    When Wrehn had gone out of view, he looked about wondering, “How am I gonna get back to my ship?” Then he thought, “Back to the ship?! What the hell am I gonna do about my leg?!” Then with realization hitting him, “Blast! I’m bleeding out!

    That’s when he spotted the security team approaching him where he lay.

    The security team leader, approaching the pirate where he lay, asked, “What happened here?” Without waiting for an answer, he told one of his security crew, “Get medical rescue here – now, quick.”

    Returning his attention to Andronikos, he listened to Andronikos explain, “I was doing tricks with my blaster and accidentally shot off my leg.”

    The security team leader had been looking around at the blaster scorch marks on the launch deck, Andronikos’ burned up leather duster in a heap, nearby, and at his singed clothing and hair, and then at the destroyed suitcase droid some meters away.

    He asked Andronikos, “So, you don’t want us to arrest her?”

    He and his team had actually been waiting for the duel to end before approaching. They’d witnessed much of the fight, starting from when Wrehn blasted her opponent’s suitcase droid with her guided mini rocket. Andronikos didn’t want Yehw’reh’nomai thinking that he’d broken his word and sent the security team after her.

    He told the security team leader, “It was just a little misunderstanding, nothing to sweat over.”

    After verifying that a medical rescue team was on its way, the security team leader walked to the back of Wrehn’s freighter. Wrehn was on the ramp leaning against a crate, which was to be brought into the ship, with her arms folded across her chest. She wore a dour expression as she watched the security official approach.

    The security team leader fixed Wrehn with an appraising look as he neared the ramp, and thought to himself, “She’s still pretty worked up. I better be careful how I talk to her.” Coming to a stop halfway up the ramp, he jerked a thumb over his shoulder pointing at Andronikos and asked her, “So, what was all that about?”

    Wrehn started with the truth, but then concluded with a lie, telling him, “I’m Mandalorian. He said he wanted me to be his mate. I told him if he defeats me, he could have me.” Briefly pointing at the defeated pirate, she concluded, “He was not worthy.”

    The team leader, fighting hard not to laugh in her face at the obvious lie, nodded his head as though he totally got where she was coming from.

    He accepted her lie, saying, “Alright then.” Then he asked, “I’m not gonna get anymore calls about defeated suitors, am I?”

    Wrehn told him, “Not many are foolish enough to court a Mando woman without being prepared.”

    The security team leader stifled a chortle and quickly wiped the smirk from his face, as he told her, “No more trouble, please.”

    With that, he turned about and made his way back to his waiting team and Andronikos, just as the medical rescue team arrived to save Andronikos’ life. As he came to a stop to where his team stood around watching the medical rescue team work, they began to load Andronikos onto a hover gurney, and then into the emergency medical rescue transport speeder. The emergency medical rescue transport speeder dashed off to the nearest emergency medical center, several stories below in the building they were in.

    Torian Cadera, a Mandalorian male, asked Wrehn, “You sure it was wise to let him live?”

    Wrehn spun on Torian, snarling at him, “Get your sorry ass back to work!”

    Without another word, he returned to his inventory task. The others in the cargo hold didn’t want to be similarly scolded or harangued, so they dispersed, making themselves scarce.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  6. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    I'm going to assume that first piece, was a story, in and off itself.

    Very good and enticing read.

    Am I right in thinking that everyone except the Mando', got named?

    Good tactics and flirtation; nice twists - I understood the Chiss' gal's reluctance to board a pirate's ship, but was surprised to see she had a kill squad outside!

    I liked that they could monitor her stress levels, and deploy covertly inside the club to assist.

    Andronikus has quite the poker face. People saw murder in his eyes, but when we had his POV, that wasn't what was present.

    Darth Nox' concern for his underling was touching, and that was some good reputation-building for Wrehn and Nox.

    Overall, a good story.
     
    PlanetSmasher likes this.
  7. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Thank you very much for your review! I'm glad that you liked it! Except that, this is Chapter 1 of the sequel to "Sith Politics: Fun and Games."

    You will see more of Wrehn, Andronikos and company. I hope I will keep your attention for the remaining chapters.
     
  8. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Warning: Graphically descriptive violence, and very disturbing scenes, in this chapter. I hope that doesn't stop you from reading the rest of this story, however... As always, your thoughts are very appreciated.

    _________________________________________________________________________​

    What Gifts To Please A Dark Lord​


    Virulous Force Persuaded another moisture farm family to take her in and to help treat her burns and other injuries. She’d spent a month with them, recovering. On the day she left, she repaid their kindness with four thousand credits – Imperial.

    The family was happy she had recovered, and extremely happy she had repaid their kindness, even if it was with Imperial credits. They saw her off, waving at her as she rode away on her stolen speeder bike. They didn’t know the speeder was stolen, even though it was reported on the local news broadcasts with images of the speeder bike in question. The fact that Virulous was a very small human female, and that a very small human female was sought in connection with several murders, never even clicked.

    It never occurred to them to ask where she had come from, or why she was on Tatooine, considering her Imperial accent. Neither did they make the connection with their own deteriorating health and her remarkably quick recovery. However, now that she was gone, their health would also begin to make a recovery, and over the course of a few days they would start to ask questions of each other about her and about why they were so trusting of her.

    Thus, reprovisioned and partially recovered, Virulous made a second attempt at her final target. This time, she arrived at the Exchange Gang’s leader’s residence at Tatooine’s second star’s apogee in the sky above. The first star was already at its mid afternoon position in the sky. It was very hot. It was so hot that not even the droids had been permitted outside to conduct their routine maintenance activities.

    Back at the family’s moisture farm, the wife and two of their four daughters had made new robes for Virulous to wear. These were off white. That saved her from some of the heat produced by the twin stars. She was grateful for the new robes.

    Virulous hadn’t realized how badly damaged her black robes had been until one of the farmer’s three sons pointed it out and suggested the girls make her some new clothes. Her robes were badly burned. Many holes were torn into them as shrapnel from the exploding durasteel door shredded their way through them.

    Virulous surmised that her life had likely been saved by her body armor even though she used light duty, flexible armor. She still suffered from many cuts on her skin where her armor protected her, but the armor had prevented the shrapnel from penetrating deep into her body. She still had a few lacerations on the unprotected parts of her arms and legs but, luckily, those were not life threatening.

    Her sorrow and fury came, however, from the extensive burns she suffered on her face and head, her beautiful long black hair was badly singed, exposing parts of her heat blistered scalp. Virulous lamented that she’d lost her beauty. She felt she was now a monstrosity, a pitiable woman who would never be able to find love.

    Instead of weeping and mourning her loss, however, she seethed in hatred, fury, and an ever growing thirst for vengeance. The Dark Side of The Force had strengthened its grip on Virulous. Her Dark Side power grew with her grief and her fury. Virulous was also terribly miserable in the oppressive heat of the Tatooine desert. The only positive thing about the climate was that at least it was a dry heat. She was absolutely irritable.

    Virulous, however, also understood perfectly well that these injuries were not just the result of fire and shrapnel. They were the effects of Dark Side corruption, a consequence for recklessly using the power of the Dark Side of The Force. Some mistakenly believed that Dark Side corruption resulted only in premature aging, declining health and, in some cases, insanity. Virulous understood that Dark Side corruption also manifested in physical injuries and disfigurement. It was the price for using such power recklessly and for relying, too much, on such power.

    However, she defiantly vowed to herself, “I’m not going to let it do this to me! I’m going to find a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon to fix this.

    She walked right up to the dome stained with the smoke from the fire that resulted from the explosive used to booby trap the door at the bottom of the stairwell. They had repaired the durasteel door, replacing the one she’d cut apart with her lightsaber. In her fury, she reached her hands towards the sliding metal door and used The Force to rip it from its tracks. She angrily swung her arms to the side, causing the twisted metal door to go flying several tens of meters to the side.

    The interior lighting had not been repaired. Standing outside, in Tatooine’s sun blasted landscape, it seemed as though she were peering into a bottomless black void. Entering the void of the low dome, Virulous took note that the soot stained walls, ceiling and stairs is what made the stairwell seem so dark. She wrinkled her nose at the air in the stairwell, which smelled burnt with the overpowering stink of an old house fire.

    She ignited her lightsaber which lit the stairs, walls, and ceiling immediately near her as she seemingly descended into the abyss. At the bottom of the stairs, she found that the door had not been replaced, exposing the foyer which was also charred and filled with the debris of incinerated and shattered furnishings and wall tapestries. A fire warped door at the far end of the foyer sealed this room, separating it from the rest of the residence.

    Virulous concentrated, allowing all of her grief and rage to fill her with the power of the Dark Side. The door frame and the interior wall had already been weakened by the bomb blast and the resulting fire that consumed the foyer and the stairwell leading to the surface. So, when she blasted the door with Force Push, the door buckled, the door frame bent out of shape, and the wall crumbled into rubble. All of it went hurtling into the next room at ballistic speeds, killing several guards and damaging several light duty service droids which had been reprogrammed with light duty security protocols.

    Virulous immediately blasted the survivors with Force Lightning, stunning many of the survivors. She leapt into the anteroom, and using her lightsaber, she killed the stunned survivors and destroyed those few droids which still functioned. Silence fell in the anteroom, with only her weapon humming its menacing song of death.

    A door cracked open and a grenade sailed into the anteroom. She used The Force to force the door back open and, using The Force again, swept the grenade back through the door. As the door slid shut again, the grenade exploded, killing several guards in that room.

    Despite using The Force to hold the door in place, the grenade blast pushed the door into the anteroom, sending the door crashing at her feet. Virulous, greatly startled, skipped back a couple of steps. Greatly shaken by the near miss, she considered herself very lucky that she had the presence of mind to hold the door in place, using The Force, in the face of the grenade’s blast wave.

    With her bright red lightsaber humming its promises of death, she stepped through the doorway into the next room. Surveying the carnage inside, Virulous was surprised to see so many survivors. She secured her lightsaber, attaching it to her utility belt, and drew her sabrestaff, igniting both ends.

    She began killing the guards who’d survived the grenade blast but had the wind knocked out of them. The guards, struggling to get to their feet, disoriented and confused tried to escape, but they were easy prey for her blood lust. After the slaughter, she deactivated her sabrestaff, secured it to her utility belt, and retrieved her lightsaber, igniting it. Virulous laughed darkly at a passing fancy, and spoke to her angrily humming lightsaber.

    “I know you wanted to burn through them. I’ll let you get the next bunch.”

    Virulous searched the three other rooms connected to that central room. The remaining three rooms turned out to be anterooms which led to foyers which led to the domed stairwells which exited to the surface. She had found no other guards or droids in any of those rooms. Returning to the circular central room, she deactivated her lightsaber as she searched about and realized that one part of the curved wall had a floor to ceiling tapestry adorning it.

    She used her free hand to feel the curved wall through the extra wide tapestry and felt a door frame behind it. Ripping the tapestry from the wall, Virulous exposed another sliding door. She examined the door and found it had a simple contact switch to open it. Out of an abundance of caution, she went to one of the undamaged anterooms, and from there used The Force to activate the contact switch. The door slid open without incident.

    She paused, listening for the sounds of guards or droids ascending the stairs in the stairwell which was revealed when the door opened. Virulous quickly approached the open sliding door, stepping over the bodies and stepping on the red tapestry. She stood to the side of the open doorway. Peeking around the door frame, she saw that the gently curving stairwell was empty of anyone.

    She held her deactivated lightsaber hilt at the ready as she carefully, quietly, descended the curved stairs. Virulous shivered as she neared the bottom of the stairs. It was quite cool here so far below the blistering heat of Tatooine’s desert surface.

    She tried the contact switch, without effect. She tried using The Force to slide the door on its tracks, but the door was solidly wedged in place. The door was locked. Again, Virulous gathered her power, and used The Force to blast the door off of its tracks, out of its frame, and into the chamber on the other side.

    This time, she wasn’t met by blaster fire. She swept the room with her eyes and found a lone man, her target, seated quietly in the room. At the side of the main family room, at the doorway of another chamber, stood a woman, and behind her were her two small children.

    The children began to whimper. The woman shushed them and shepherded them to their beds, shutting the door behind her. Thus, the man was left alone to face the wrath of a Sith lord. At that moment, he bitterly regretted letting his greed and the promise of so much wealth get the best of him. He’d heard of how powerful Sith were, and also how ruthlessly and relentlessly they sought vengeance. Here was the proof of it. It shocked him that the Sith lord was so small. He wondered if the Sith was an adolescent youth.

    Her target spoke as Virulous entered the family residence, igniting her lightsaber as she walked.

    “You are persistent, and your persistence has yielded you complete victory. With my death, the leadership of The Exchange Gang on Tatooine will be eliminated.”

    He paused to hear what the Sith lord would say, but she kept silent.

    He told her, “You’ve killed much of the mid-tier leadership as well.”

    Virulous pulled back the white hood of her robe and then pulled the white scarf down from her face. She felt a pang of hurt, in her gut, at the way the man’s eyes changed as he looked at her disfigurement.

    She reminded herself, “I will see a plastic surgeon about this!

    The man remarked, “So, you were hurt by the blast.”

    Before she could respond, she heard the muted voices of the children crying and begging their mother to let them go to their father from behind the sliding door to the children’s room.

    Virulous turned her head to the children’s door and sneered nastily, “They will suffer much when they see their father dead.”

    Had her target remained silent, the idea would never had occurred to her, but he spoke.

    “They have nothing to do with this. I’m the one who made the decision to accept this contract. I’m the one you want.”

    Turning her head to look at her prey, Virulous replied, “Of course they’re innocent. You are my target...”

    Virulous paused a long moment as she regarded the final target on her master’s list, thinking, “This could make a very fine gift for the dark lord!

    She told him, “The dark lord’s two children were also innocent. They had nothing to do with anything, either. Yet, you killed them when you attacked his home.”

    Returning her eyes to the closed door of the children’s room, she speculated, “My master may become greatly pleased if he hears of your suffering, watching the deaths of your children before your end.”

    The man pleaded, “You can let my family escape into exile, and simply tell your master that’s what happened. He will be equally pleased.”

    He could see from the startled look in her eyes, as she returned her gaze to him, that the very idea frightened her.

    Virulous told him, “There is a very real danger of being discovered in a lie. He can delve into your very soul and feel what you’re thinking. The risk is too great. I’d rather not lie to Darth Nox.”

    In desperation, the man leapt into the attack. Activating a vibroknife, he lunged at Virulous, his singing blade aimed at her chest.

    Virulous deftly stepped to her left, swinging her lightsaber in an upward arc that sliced the knife wielding man’s right hand off at the wrist. Then swinging downward, she cut off his out stretched left forearm just below the elbow. She then swept her weapon low, cutting his right foot off just above the ankle. He collapsed to his knees, screaming and cursing at Virulous as she rushed to the children’s room.

    He screamed out a warning, “She’s coming for the kids!”

    A blaster bolt exploded on the door from the inside of the room. The children’s mother, thought to shoot through the door at Virulous, but the blast only served Virulous’ purposes. With the door blown off its tracks and blasted to the floor and out of her way, she reached with her hand and blasted the woman, fighting to defend her children, with Force Lightning. The woman fell forward, violently convulsing on the floor.

    Virulous ran into the room and found the two children huddled in a corner in terrible shock. They watched in horror as she pierced their mother in the back with her weapon. Virulous then easily Force Persuaded the children to run into the family room.

    On seeing him, the Children ran to their Father, now lying on his back and facing the children’s room. They had come to a stop, standing before their stricken father, again in accordance to Virulous’ will.

    With tears streaming, he pleaded, “How can you be so heartless? These are only children. Spare them!”

    Virulous was struck with terrible guilt. She hated herself for what she was doing, but she burned through her guilt as she spoke with venom on her tongue, “Imagine all of the families your gang has killed throughout your criminal empire! Now you are seeing things through the eyes of your victims!”

    She immediately swung her weapon, first one way, and then the other, decapitating each child. Then she pierced the abdomen of her target, letting him feel the agonizing fire of her weapon, once again, before deactivating it.

    He screamed in agony, but his eyes were on the lifeless bodies of his children, tears gushing from them.

    She stepped around the dead and the dying as she made her way to the stairs. She intended to leave him to die slowly. Virulous was most unsteady on her feet, staggering as she walked to the doorway leading to the gently curved stairwell.

    Her target implored her, in a hoarse voice, “Kill me. Kill me, please. Don’t leave me like this.”

    Virulous, unable to take anymore guilt, self disgust, and self hatred turned about and, reaching to the man with both of her hands, used a Dark Force ritual that drained the life force of the man until he died. She turned about and stumbled her way up the stairs, leaning against the wall, for support.

    At the top of the stairs, she stepped into the upper central chamber and leaned against the wall. She felt nauseous, and her head spun as the power of the Dark Side flowed through her as it had never done before.

    She bent to her hands and knees and vomited on the floor, thinking, “This power! This power! This is the power my dark lord enjoys!

    When her stomach had finally settled down, she covered her ruined face with the scarf, and covered her scorched scalp with the hood of her robe. She got back onto her feet, and proceeded to the anteroom and the stairwell that led to Tatooine’s sun-blasted desert.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Virulous rode many hours from her target’s residence and had finally returned to the outskirts of Anchorhead after the setting of one of Tatooine's suns in the early evening. She found a small clothier shop and bought herself some new clothing. She paid a ridiculous sum in Imperial credits, not wanting to attract attention to herself, she hoped the over payment would buy the silence of the shop owner about a very short woman in bloody robes visiting her shop.

    Virulous was still wanted for questioning in connection to the spaceport killings, and now she was wanted in connection to the massacre at the Tatoo Trade Goods Distribution warehouse earlier in the month. Only a handful knew that business was a front for one of the Exchange Gang’s distribution centers of illicit contraband.

    Her bounty had gone up from fifteen thousand credits, to half a million credits. Virulous smiled wryly, thinking about the bounty on her head.

    The Exchange Gang has a lot of sway on Tatooine. Do they not? Wait until I report this to Darth Nox. He will not be pleased.

    She made her way, carefully, back to the bazaar. The streets had been swept by a terrible wave of gang violence, as the Exchange Gang leaders, as well as the leaders of rival gangs, fought to fill in the power vacuum she had created. Virulous was deeply pleased with the chaotic impact she had on the planet wherever the Exchange Gang held sway on Tatooine. To her, it meant she had demonstrated her power to change a world, and thus the potential to change the galaxy.

    It had been a month since she’d last seen him. He sat quietly behind four heavily armored and heavily armed gangsters who kept careful guard at the doors of the cantina, all protected by a polarized ray shield. Virulous could see that he was visibly shocked at seeing her, as if he didn’t expect to ever see her again. It didn’t matter that her head was hooded and that her face was veiled, he instantly knew it was her from her diminutive stature.

    Without any hesitation, Mr. Tranit commanded, “Let her pass. She is my most very important guest.”

    The two had made their way down to the bar room.

    There, Mr. Tranit commanded the newly hired barkeep, an Advosec, “Make my most very important guest and me a drink.”

    He looked around at the tables in the bar room until he found his accountant, and gesturing with his hand, signaled for her to bring the payment. He pointed at Virulous, so that the accountant would know who to present the credits to. The accountant put her fork down, she was on dinner break, and dashed to the back offices of the cantina to retrieve a case full of Hutt currency.

    The Advosec set two drinks down on the bar in front of Mr. Tranit and Darth Virulous. The two sat with an empty stool between them. Mr. Tranit picked up his drink and held it up to Virulous and toasted her.

    “To my very good friend and business partner, to a successfully completed business arrangement, and to your continued success in your other endeavors, I thank you, Darth Virulous.”

    He gulped down his drink and set the emptied glass down. Virulous, her veiled face hidden deep within the sand colored hood of her robes, watched Mr. Tranit, as he spoke, and then drank. She had not even touched her drink glass. The accountant arrived at that moment, and set the case full of Hutt currency, on its side, between them on the bar.

    The Bith turned the case so that the code pad faced him. Entering a code he opened the case, which exposed the Hutt currency he did not think he would need to part with. He slid the opened case to Virulous. She didn’t need to count it. She knew it was one million six hundred thousand Hutt credits.

    Virulous asked, “Why not simply credit my account with the proper amount? I don’t like carrying such large sums of physical currency.”

    Without another word, the Bith produced a datapad. He punched in the proper amount, in Hutt currency, and set the datapad onto the bar, sliding it towards Virulous. She agreed with the amount, and tapped her credit card on the datapad. The agreed upon amount was successfully transferred to her account, automatically converted from Hutt currency to Imperial currency, which translated to one million seven hundred and eighty five thousand credits.

    Peering at the Bith through her veil beneath the folds of her hood, Virulous thanked the Bith gangster.

    “Thank you for keeping your end of our bargain.”

    She’d gotten paid for four out of six gangsters on Mr. Tranit’s list, which she slaughtered on her first day of mayhem and chaos. She then shocked him with the bad news.

    “My master, Darth Nox, will be dissatisfied when I return and report there are still Exchange Gang leaders left alive. He’ll likely reprimand me, quite severely, for not completing my task. He’ll likely send me back here to finish the job.”

    Mr. Tranit was taken aback. He began to worry greatly, that he’d been betrayed. However, he was a crime boss. He could not show weakness before his subordinates, especially in his own headquarters.

    He said, as though challenging Virulous, “Well...You could start here, right now.”

    His enforcers braced themselves for a fight. Virulous pulled her hood back and pulled her scarf down. As she finally picked up her drink, the gangsters and Mr. Tranit became shocked at what had befallen the once beautiful woman. She took a sip from her very strong drink, and set it down again.

    Turning to face the Bith crime boss, she gave him her disfigured smile and said in a patently insincere tone, “But I like you too much, Mr. Tranit.” Mr. Tranit could easily tell that was a lie, as she added with equal insincerity, “I want to help my very good friend and business partner to escape Darth Nox’s wrath.

    Mr. Tranit realized just how tough this woman was, how hard her heart was, and he learned just how reckless this woman was. He also realized that he would have to do much to soothe Darth Nox to survive the dark lord’s fury.

    He ordered the barkeep, “Another round.”

    As the Advosec fulfilled Mr. Tranit’s request, the crime boss’ enforcers wound down, relaxing their stances and quietly sighing their relief. They were there, a month before, witnessing Virulous’ lighting quick slaughter of the hapless bounty hunters who’d provoked her at this very bar, and word of her slaughter of the Exchange gang’s leadership had gotten out. It was very big news. They knew the Sith lord who sat in their midst was the real deal.

    Mr. Tranit asked, skeptically, “What are you suggesting, Darth Virulous?”

    She told him, quite pointedly, “Truly, Darth Nox will not be satisfied if I return to him with a half finished assignment.” She picked up her drink and took another sip, setting it down on the bar again, adding, “However, if you were to send him a very nice letter, sent on high grade flimsyplast, written by a highly skilled calligrapher, and if in this missive, you were to express your most profound apologies and regrets for what your foolish and now dead leaders did to him. Then, if in your missive you promised to rid Tatooine and the galaxy, of those profoundly despicable vermin who so coldheartedly brought harm to those most dear to him...”

    Mr. Tranit realized that Virulous was actually dictating an apology letter that he should send to Darth Nox. The Bith crime boss looked over his shoulder to a table behind where he sat. He saw that one of his administrators was taking notes. He subtly nodded his approval before returning his attention to Virulous.

    She finished dictating the letter of apology and said, “That in itself should be enough to get him to listen. Next come gifts.”

    Mr. Tranit, unsurprised, asked, “Gifts?”

    Virulous replied, “Of course! Nothing sends across the feeling of sincerity like a very thoughtful gift.”

    As she picked up her drink to take another sip, Mr. Tranit asked, “What sorts of gifts does Darth Nox like?”

    Virulous had finished her drink and set the emptied glass down. The barkeep immediately refreshed it.

    After some thought, she confessed, “It really is difficult to pick out gifts for a man who rules half the galaxy. Isn’t it?” She exaggerated a little. Nox did not rule alone. He sat in a council of twelve who administered the Sith Empire alongside him in the Sith Emperor’s name.

    The Bith crime boss laughed politely, agreeing, “It is never easy. Something you find genuinely interesting may be considered mundane by another.”

    Virulous suggested, “Slaves. You can never have too many slaves. Especially highly skilled slaves, like accountants, or even building engineers.” Then she added, “Money always makes a good gift.”

    Turning to the Bith, she added, “It would make it especially easy for me to sell him on the idea of forgiving the rest of your organization if I could tell him – as the messenger, that this is the first of many gifts that you’ll send to him.”

    Mr. Tranit had been lifting his drink to his lips, but stopped on hearing that part. Turning to face Virulous, he could see that behind her burn scared facade that she was not smiling.

    She told him, “A yearly gift on the anniversary of the attack on his estate which resulted in the deaths of his two children. Every year on the anniversary of the attack, he’ll think of his children, and he’ll want vengeance, but your timely gifts will ease his anger.”

    The Bith bluntly asked, “An annual tribute, then?”

    Virulous nodded, and told him how much, “At least ten million credits each year, or a gift of five or six skilled slaves.”

    The Bith thought, “That’s expensive!

    Virulous could see his doubts, and told him, “Frankly, I don’t want to come back to this planet again. I have had enough of this place and have already paid a terrible price.” She pointed at her face to make her point. She added, “If I have to come back here again, I’m going to bring the Imperial Navy and Army with me, and I will wipe this place clean.”

    The Bith gangster, realizing that was the alternative, shrugged his shoulders thinking, “It’s probably cheaper than fighting the Sith Empire.” Aloud, he said, “I truly hope he will accept my paltry gifts.”

    Virulous told him, “Quick! Find a calligrapher! Get that letter written! I want to be on a starship with your letter and the first of your many gifts to him, before the day is done.” She added, almost as an afterthought, “I’m wanted by the authorities, so I imagine I can’t simply book a flight out of the spaceport.”

    Mr. Tranit reassured her, “Do not be concerned. It is an easy matter for me to arrange passage for you to your desired destination.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  9. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    A Major Incident​


    Darth Virulous concealed her face with her scarf and wore her hood so that it hid her veiled face. She knelt with her head bowed and prepared to deliver her report to her master via holo.

    Before she could speak, Darth Nox’s holographic image told her, “It’s been over a month since you left for your mission. I thought you’d gotten yourself killed.”

    His tone seemed peevish to her.

    Virulous replied, “I have completed my mission, Dark Lord. I’m ready to report...”

    Nox interrupted, “Give me your report in person. Until then, travel to Nar Shaddaa. Meet with my servant, Andronikos Revel. He’s had his leg nearly blown off, and I worry he’ll be assassinated.”

    Hearing those words hurt Virulous.

    She thought angrily, “He wasn’t worried when he thought me dead, but he worries over a pirate scum!” Aloud, she replied dutifully, “Yes, Master. I’ll see to it he is safe.”

    Nox cut the connection.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Four days later, Virulous walked to a taxi outside of a spaceport on Nar Shaddaa. She mounted a taxi operated by a villainous looking Devaronian.

    She told the taxi operator, “Take me to the hospital center at Felban The Hutt Market District.”

    The driver asked, “Which hospital, lady? There are at least a hundred of ‘em in that building alone.”

    She asked, “How many spaceports in that building?”

    He told her, “Just one.”

    “Then I want the hospital center near that spaceport.”

    “You got it, lady. Settle in for a long ride, we’re eight buildings over.”

    Nearly two hours later, the taxi finally entered the Felban The Hutt Market District, but they were still quite a ways away from their final destination. Felban The Hutt Market District was a gigantic building with three hundred subterranean levels, nine hundred stories above ground, thirty kilometers long and twenty eight kilometers wide, and with many dozens of spires that stood anywhere from an additional three hundred to eight hundred stories above the roof of the behemoth megastructure.

    There were many stock exchanges, banks, and the headquarters of several hundred corporations, each with businesses scattered in at least a hundred star systems across the galaxy. Also housed within this gigantic super-building were several auction houses. Andronikos had used a few of these auction houses to sell off his loot. There were several hundred shopping districts, entertainment districts, hotels and casinos numbering in the hundreds. The megastructure even had its own small spaceport.

    The common residential districts were all located in the first three hundred stories above ground. To the Nar Shaddaa locals who lived there, it may as well have been underground, since the building had no windows that looked outside of the nine hundred story structure. The exception for residences or businesses, with windows and their breath taking vistas, were the super luxury homes and office suites in the behemoth spires which rose above the roof of the main building.

    The main building structure was built right against other buildings which had been built right up against each of its four sides. From high above, it looked as though Nar Shaddaa’s surface was one continuous rooftop, with a few roofs higher than others, and with enormous spires rising up from the roofs of the mega-buildings from horizon to horizon.

    Inside Felban The Hutt Market District, on each thirty meter story, the roadways, express ways, walkways, and turbolifts connecting the many thousands of businesses, hotels, residential districts, etc were like a neural network, facilitating fast, smooth, and easy travel within the building. The interconnecting roads between buildings, however, were not as numerous, nor easy to traverse. They tended to be bottlenecks congested with heavy commercial traffic delivering goods from building to building as businesses conducted commerce from one building to the next.

    Adding to the congestion was a need to stop to pay the tolls required to cross from one building to the next. These delays were part of the reason for the long taxi ride and, of course, the tolls would also be added to Virulous’ taxi fare. Taxes and tariffs on shipped goods were also assessed at the boundaries between buildings.

    As with most buildings on Nar Shaddaa, Felban The Hutt Market District had its own power generation plants, sewage treatment facilities, water purification facilities, air recycling and climate control facilities, and many other utilitarian facilities. These were all located in the three hundred subterranean levels, and mostly paid for with the collected taxes and tariffs from the inter-building commerce.

    Nar Shaddaa imported certain gasses to maintain its atmospheric pressure at the upper levels of the highest building structures. They used force fields, and air movers which held in the atmosphere while allowing speeders and ships to pass through, much like the gigantic starships with their huge hanger bays. The air movers kept the atmosphere at the same pressure at all subterranean level and at each story above ground of each building and spire. Even so, some of it’s atmosphere was lost to outer space, which was why atmospheric gasses were a regular import for the Smuggler’s Moon. They had a moon-wide “air tax” to pay for it.

    Andronikos was in a hospital located in one of the spires that towered above the monolithic megastructure. It was located on the three hundred and thirty seventh story of the spire, four hundred stories below the spaceport where his ship was currently berthed. Virulous’ taxi exited the building through the roof, continuing to ascend steeply, spiraling around a gigantic spire until it was almost halfway up.

    The taxi finally entered the spire and began to navigate the local boulevards and streets, passing many sub-buildings and sub-structures along the way, until it finally reached the hospital, an hour after entering the Felban The Hutt Market District building. Virulous exited the taxi. As the happy – paid – Devaronian drove his taxi away, she stretched her muscles to get the kinks out before proceeding to enter the ten story hospital sub-building.

    Virulous wore new vestments and armor fashioned, at a tailor shop at the spaceport, to her specifications, before seeking the taxi port. She wore a black hooded robe made with a heavy fabric that reached to her ankles, with long sleeves that flared slightly at the wrists.

    Underneath the robe, she wore a black flexible medium grade armored synthetic fabric tunic with a tall collar that protected and hid her burn scared throat and neck. This armored tunic had flexible armored sleeves that ended at her elbows. She wore vambraces and armored gloves, both of the same material as the tunic, and both with small armored plates which added protection for her forearms and the backs of her hands.

    She wore flexible medium grade armored leggings, also made with the specialized armored fabric, augmented with metal armored plates that were formed to fit around the front and outer sides of her thighs, and she wore tall boots with metal armored plate shin guards. Her black armor had bright red accents and lines which made her robe and armor look quite striking. Virulous also wore a black, light weight, rigid armored face mask under her hood, with bright red markings designed to present a menacing visage.

    Two burly guards stood watch outside of Andronikos’ hospital room. They attempted to stop Virulous from entering. She waved her hand at them. They both immediately, wordlessly stepped aside and let her pass.

    Andronikos became instantly alert the moment his door began to hiss open. He prepared to fight to the death whoever it was that entered the room. His new cybernetic leg still gave him problems. It needed adjustments, and his wound where his new leg attached to his hip still hurt. He had difficulty operating his leg.

    Andronikos’ adrenaline shot through the roof, and his fight or flight instincts told him he didn’t have a chance, but fight anyway. The cloaked, masked and hooded figure spoke.

    “Andronikos. Good, you’re alive.”

    She didn’t sound genuinely pleased about that fact, however, but Andronikos felt instant relief when he recognized her voice. It bothered him, though, that she wore a mask. Andronikos felt that it was out of character for her. He tried sounding upbeat when he spoke to her.

    “Hey! Shah… I mean, Darth Virulous. That’s some scary mask you got on. You trying out a new look?”

    Virulous answered in a cold and hardened tone, “Darth Nox has sent me to keep you safe.”

    Andronikos had learned the hard way not to anger her.

    He thought to himself, “Hell, I already lost a leg to one pissed off broad. I don’t need to lose my other leg, or worse.” Aloud, he asked, “You gonna bust me out?”

    Brusquely, Virulous asked, “Why are there guards outside of your room?”

    Disgust at his predicament thwarted his upbeat demeanor and took over his tone of voice, and the expression on his face darkened as he told her, “The diplomatic service for the Galactic Republic got wind I was here. They asked the Hutts to hold onto me for them to pick up. They got people coming to get me. I thought you was them when you walked in.”

    Virulous became alarmed and asked with urgency in her tone, “And the dark lord’s ship?!”

    Andronikos looked like a beaten Akk dog when he replied in an equally beaten tone, “Impounded. The Hutts are gonna give them the ship as evidence of piracy in deep space.”

    Virulous became incensed. Andronikos started to feel the darkness emanating from her.

    He felt a bit of dread, as he thought, “Crap! She’s changed! She’s becoming more like the boss, just what I need!

    Virulous turned about, facing the door, and commanded, “Get in here!

    The door hissed open, and the two guards entered the room. They looked at one another in shocked surprise, as they both wondered how the masked hooded figure had gotten past them both. They were both sure they had sent her away.

    Andronikos wondered, “How’d they hear her through the shut door? I know these rooms are sound proofed.

    Virulous demanded, “Summon your commander here. Now!”

    The guards weren’t human. One was a Gamorrean and the other was a Weequay. They stood, towering over her diminutive form, scowling at her.

    The Gamorrean began squealing and grunting at her, as it demanded of her, “How you come in?!”

    Virulous lightly shoved the brute, as she angrily shouted, “Silence!”

    The beastly brute fell over backwards, dead, slamming onto the floor with a resounding crash of girth and armor.

    The Weequay immediately knelt by his partner’s side and shouted at Virulous, “Waatyu do?!”

    Virulous menacingly told the Weequay, “If you want to die like your friend did, then ask me another question.”

    The Weequay realized for the first time that he was dealing with one of those strange religious fanatics with ‘the powers.’ He stood and faced her again, not knowing what to do.

    Virulous ordered him again, “Summon your commander!”

    The Weequay nodded his acquiescence, and called over his audio only transceiver, “Need baakkop! Need waach commaander! Beeg trobbell! Gorkie die!!”

    Andronikos rolled his eyes and was about to speak, but kept silent when Virulous suddenly turned about to glower at him through her mask.

    Andronikos thought to himself, “She’s really in a bad mood today. I better be nice to her.

    The Weequay’s audio only communicator squawked, “This is the watch commander. What is your status, Doopkah?”

    Doopkah replied, “In room with pirate. Gorkie died. Doopkah not died.”

    Virulous told the Weequay, “Tell your commander to get over here. Now!”

    The Weequay did as he was told and spoke into his transmitter.

    “Waatch Commaander, come here. Talk to angry religious crazy wit the powers.

    Andronikos thought of the Weequay, “Poor choice of words, bub,” but nothing happened to the security official.

    A long silence followed, during which they awaited the watch commander’s arrival. After what seemed to Andronikos like forever, someone gave a polite tap on the door.

    Virulous commanded, “Enter!”

    The door slid open and in walked another Weequay, the watch commander. Behind him entered a Jedi in heavy white plate armor underneath drab brown robes. His hood was pulled back, revealing brown locks down to his shoulders and a full beard and thick mustache.

    Virulous furiously told the Weequay, “I didn’t tell you to come alone, but that didn’t mean you could bring a Jedi with you!”

    Unlike his Weequay subordinate, the Weequay watch commander spoke excellent Basic, albeit with a decidedly un-Imperial accent.

    The watch commander replied, “I didn’t bring him. He insisted on coming with me.” Pointing at Andronikos, he added, “That fella is his prisoner, and he wanted to be sure nothin’ happened to him.”

    Virulous told the watch commander, “The situation in which you find yourself could very well lead to war between the Hutts and the Sith Empire.”

    The Weequay kept his pazaak face on, but Virulous felt his anxiety grow. He realized for the first time that he stood between a Jedi fanatic and an angry Sith lord.

    She told him, “The man behind me is the personal pilot and protocol agent of Darth Nox, a very prominent member of the Dark Council. The ship which you’ve impounded belongs to the dark lord, and your Hutts are about to hand both to the Galactic Republic – to this Jedi.”

    The watch commander didn’t respond to Virulous directly. He merely took out his holo-communicator and dialed up the major incident commander.

    The holographic image of a male Twi’lek came up.

    Also speaking in un-Imperial accented Basic, the Twi’lek said, “Grann, this had better be good.”

    Grann replied, “I’m stuck in the middle of a major inter-empire political crisis that can actually blow up into a military conflict.” To be sure the Twi’lek got the point, he added, “Talden, this is way the hell above my pay grade. I need help, here.”

    The Jedi spoke, “You don’t need help. A Jedi is right here to assist to restore order.”

    Grann said, “Hey… I got a Jedi right...” He interrupted himself and angrily shouted at the Jedi, “Like hell I do! Get your sorry butt out of here! Now! I don’t need no Jedi trying to start any trouble!” Giving the Jedi an angry glare, he told the major incident commander, “I think he tried to pull one of them mind tricks on me, Talden.”

    The major incident commander’s holographic image told the Jedi, “Master Jedi, please return to the Galactic Republic’s consulate. I don’t need your presence.”

    The Jedi reasoned, “It would be a major problem for you, if you do not hand this wanted terrorist to the Galactic Republic to face justice.”

    Talden replied, “It would be a major problem for the Galactic Republic, if you cause a major intra-galactic incident, here in Hutt space.”

    The Jedi calmly and respectfully nodded his head towards the holographic image of the Twi’lek and left the hospital room without another word.

    Virulous told the major incident commander’s holographic image, “I don’t trust him. Be sure he doesn’t try to steal Darth Nox’s starship.”

    Watch Commander Grann got on his audio only communicator and issued orders.

    “Urdarii, take your team to hanger 127 – Cresh (127 – C). Keep everyone away from the Imperial Navy starship parked there, and I mean everyone. Don’t let anyone or anything near that ship. Got it?”

    The voice emanating from Grann’s communicator replied, “Yes, Sir! Got it!”

    As though it had finally occurred to him, the Twi’lek’s holographic image asked with some incredulity, “Darth Nox? Did you say, Darth Nox, as in the Dark Council? That Darth Nox?”

    Virulous replied testily, “There is only one Darth Nox.”

    A little over a month before Virulous had left Dromund Kaas on her mission to destroy the leadership of The Exchange Gang on Tatooine, Darth Nox made galactic news when he proclaimed his victory over his hated enemy, Darth Acina, in a monumental power struggle between the two rivals. Talden had finally remembered the dark lord’s name from the news event. Nox had captured a space station belonging to his enemy.

    The major incident commander shook his head in disbelief at the magnitude of the mess that landed on his lap, as he realized Nox wasn’t some ordinary Sith lord. He was one of the twelve rulers of the Sith Empire.

    Meanwhile, Virulous demanded, “I want you to provide safe passage for me and my charge to my master’s ship.”

    The Twi’lek told the Weequay, “Grann take care of it with your team. Pull out all the stops for this one.”

    The Weequay replied, “You got it, Commander.”

    Virulous turned about and ordered Andronikos, “On your feet. We’re going.”

    Andronikos, bristling at her tone, let her have a piece of his mind.

    “Don’t order me around. You’re not my boss.”

    Virulous used The Force to close his airway. Andronikos began to suffocate. He could do nothing to get air into or out of his lungs. Virulous had shut his epiglottis tight, and wouldn’t let it open. She watched as Andronikos dropped to his knees, clutching at his throat with both hands, and watched as his mouth fell agape in a vain attempt to take in a breath.

    After watching him struggle for a short while, she spoke darkly, telling him, “Anything could happen to you between this hospital room and the ship, especially with that Jedi sticking his nose in our business. Be careful, Andronikos. The dark lord is not here to protect you, this time.”

    Andronikos was on the floor writhing, clutching at his throat, his skin starting to turn purple. She released his epiglottis, allowing him to breathe again. He coughed, and choked, and gagged as he struggled to get air into his lungs again.

    One Weequay whispered, not quietly enough, to the other, “Yusee? She has the powers!

    Grann, looking at the corpse of one of his subordinates, lying dead on the floor, slowly nodded agreement, thinking to himself, “This job is getting crazier by the minute. If we’re not careful, someone else is gonna get killed.

    Virulous decided to ignore the Weequay’s remarks, instead focusing on Andronikos as he finally began to pick himself up from the floor.

    Andronikos, finally recovering his breath, looked at Virulous with resentment in his eyes, but he remained silent, thinking to himself, “When the hell am I ever gonna learn to keep my damned mouth shut?!

    He sat on the side of his hospital bed to put on his boots. He had a strange sensation when he slipped his right cybernetic foot and leg into his boot, as though his mind had found itself in unfamiliar environs.

    The sensors embedded throughout the prosthetic limb sent sensory data to his brain through its connections with his nervous system, but his brain registered these sensory inputs as a completely foreign sensation. He groused to himself.

    Damned leg still needs adjustments.

    Andronikos told Grann, “I want my blasters back.”

    Grann replied, “I’ll give them back to you at the ship.”

    The Twi’lek’s holographic image said, “I’m gonna meet you at the ship. I wanna be sure nothing goes wrong.”

    He cut the connection, and his image was gone. Grann got on his audio only communicator and called for additional security forces to report to the hanger, adding, “And get the blaster pistols and other property for detainee Aurek two nine Usk Mem forty seven (A29UM47). Bring those with you to the hanger, Dye’dya.”

    Dye’dya replied, “Understood, sir.”

    Grann convinced Darth Virulous to give his people a few minutes to get to the ship first, to secure the area before moving out. After about a quarter hour, the watch commander, the security team he’d brought with him waiting outside the room, the diminutive masked Sith lord, and the semi retired pirate all walked out of the hospital.

    They exited into the cavernous network of corridors that made up the streets, walkways, ramps and turbolifts of the gargantuan building which made it feel more like a three dimensional cityscape. A train of speeders waited for them. The security escort and their charge boarded the vehicles, with the speeders immediately departing and speeding down the wide corridor roadway for the building spire’s outer wall.

    The train of closed cab speeders exited the three hundred fortieth story of the enormous seven hundred fifty story spire and climbed steeply up into the thin high altitude atmosphere, spiraling around the giant tower as they ascended. As usual, traffic was heavy but moved quickly and smoothly.

    Andronikos admired the early evening dusk view of the many thousands of towering spires out to the distant horizon in all directions, with their many hundreds of thousands of windows, lit from the luxury homes or corporate offices within.

    In less than a quarter hour, they were re-entering the spire, near the top, where the small spaceport was housed in the top twelve stories of the behemoth tower. The train of speeders dashed into a traffic feeder system which brought them to a massive taxi port.

    At the taxi port, thousands of passengers coming to or leaving the spaceport alighted from or clambered onto waiting taxis. The train of security speeders did not stop there, instead proceeding to a heavy cargo loading area. This allowed them to park their speeders only a very short distance from hanger bay 127, proper.

    The security detail all debarked and immediately scanned their surroundings before signaling it was safe for their charges to exit their vehicle. Darth Virulous exited first, followed by Andronikos. The security procession walked briskly from the loading bay to the hanger bay. Nox’s ship was at the far end of the hanger bay several berthing stalls away.

    Hutt security forces showed a heavy presence and were throwing their weight around, inspecting everyone they encountered in and around the hanger bay. There was also a large team of the security forces forming a perimeter around Nox’s ship. Nothing was left to chance.

    Andronikos immediately took note that Wrehn’s ship was gone, another ship was in its place, and reflected that he’d been cooped up in the hospital for a month. The other ship was still parked in its berthing stall. Andronikos cursed at his cybernetic leg, as it was not as smoothly responsive as the real thing. He missed his natural leg.

    Andronikos realized he’d have to make up some kind of story to explain how he’d lost his leg. He didn’t want it to be known he’d been bested by woman. Never mind that she was a professional bounty hunter responsible for bagging the previous Galactic Republic chancellor despite all of the chancellor’s security.

    Andronikos thought of Wrehn, “Damn, could she fight!

    He’d been following behind Virulous the entire time and nearly tripped over her as she jerked to a sudden halt, looking about wildly while drawing and igniting her lightsaber. Andronikos hopped back a few paces to give Virulous’ lightsaber some space.

    He too, began to look about his surroundings, cursing his luck for being unarmed at a time like this.

    Damn! If only I had my blasters!

    Virulous suddenly spun around and looked up, just in time to see the Jedi coming down in his attack. She didn’t have time to do anything except to leap backwards to escape the strike of his weapon. In doing so, she’d become separated from Andronikos.

    As soon as the Jedi landed, he spun about to face the pirate and, pointing his free hand at Andronikos, palm outward, said, “Sleep.”

    Andronikos was completely taken off guard. He was struck with a sudden and heavy wave of sleepiness. He sank to his hands and knees, finding himself battling to stay awake.

    Meanwhile, the Jedi had turned to face Virulous and executed a massive Force Push attack that sent her light frame flying across the cavernous hanger like a leaf in a wind storm. He Force Leapt after her with his bright green lightsaber ablaze, poised over his head and ready to strike. As he neared to where Virulous had crashed onto and tumbled across the hanger deck, he began to swing his weapon downward.

    Virulous’ still raw injuries and still healing burn scars, had become aggravated from the abuse the Jedi had subjected her to. Added to the pain of her reopened scars and re-injured wounds, the Force Push attack caused her entire front to sting so much that it felt like a terrible burn from a blast of superheated steam. Crashing onto and tumbling across the deck abused her bones and joints, but she suffered no fractures.

    Yet, Virulous willed herself to her feet and used The Force to speed herself away from where the Jedi would land. However, the Jedi would not let her escape so easily. He threw his lightsaber at her.

    Virulous turned at the last moment and swatted the green beamed lightsaber down with her own red beamed weapon, but the green beam of her enemy’s weapon struck the shin guard of her armored boot, cutting into the guard before bouncing off. Although the shin guard had done its job and protected her shin from direct contact with the saber beam, the impossibly high temperature of the beam passed through what remained of her shin guard and gave her shin a terrible burn.

    Virulous fell onto her back side, screaming from the intense pain. The Jedi stretched his hand forward and his weapon returned to his hand. He walked to where Virulous struggled to regain her feet.

    He said as he neared her, “You are unable to continue the fight. You are beaten. There is no need to die uselessly. Stand down and allow me to take the criminal terrorist prisoner.”

    Virulous reached her free hand towards the Jedi. The Jedi felt his life force leaving him. He quickly broke her grip on his life and then blasted her with another Force Push attack. Virulous crashed onto the launch deck in a pile.

    The Jedi shook his head in disappointment, asking himself aloud, “Why do the Sith always insist on fighting to the death against impossible odds?

    He raised his weapon over his head, but as he brought his weapon down to strike, he suddenly jumped straight up into the air, using The Force to propel himself many meters above the deck. He then used Force Push to propel himself backwards. The Jedi converted his tumbling into backwards somersaults, landing steadily on his feet several meters back from where Virulous lay unconscious.

    The Jedi looked at where he’d stood a moment before. A Sith lord stood nearby where Virulous lay unconscious. The Sith stood where the Jedi’s back was turned.

    He thought to himself, “Thank The Force I listen to my instincts. Where did he come from? Was he here the whole time?

    Ironically, his instincts were still screaming at him to start running, but he ignored them this time.

    The Jedi began to wonder why the Sith lord just stood there, staring. At last, the Jedi paid heed to his instincts, as a feeling of impending doom overcame him. He turned to the right and dashed forward as fast as The Force would allow him.

    He ran about thirty paces, then stopped and turned to look at the place he’d last seen the Sith lord, near the unconscious female Sith. The Sith was not there. The Jedi swiveled his head until he found the Sith, standing at the spot he’d just fled. Again the Sith had gotten behind him. The Jedi had escaped death from behind twice, at the hands of this mysterious Sith lord.

    For the first time, the Sith lord spoke, telling the Jedi, “Your instincts serve you well. That’s twice you have narrowly escaped getting skewered through the back with my sabrestaff. You should thank The Force that it has given you the opportunity to escape with your life, while you still can.”

    Again, the Jedi’s instincts screamed at him, “RUN!!

    The Jedi Master finally realized who the Sith lord was, and immediately understood he was outmatched.

    The Jedi, nodding his head politely towards Darth Nox, turned to flee, but he ran into his foe’s sabrestaff beam instead. Again, The Force allowed the Jedi to stop quickly, and then to jump back away from his enemy’s weapon. The tip of the Nox’s deep red sabrestaff pierced the Jedi’s heavy plate armored cuirass, and while not touching the Jedi’s belly, it scorched the Jedi’s skin, even as his clothing caught fire beneath his armor.

    The Jedi Master jumped further back, then turned towards the administrative offices of the hanger deck and ran as fast as The Force would let him. He used The Force, as he ran, to snuff out the flames of his burning clothing.

    Nox deactivated his sabrestaff and strolled casually to where Virulous lay in a heap. He came to a stop where she lay and looked down at her. Virulous, regaining consciousness, opened her eyes to look up at the disgust and disappointment plastered all over her master’s face.

    As she untangled herself and struggled to regain her feet, she spoke, but her voice cracked.

    “Forgive m... Forgive me, Master. I have brought you shame.”

    Darth Nox chided her, “That Jedi was child’s play! This is something you should have had no trouble dealing with at all. What in damnation happened to you?!”

    Virulous was overcome with humiliation and shame. She believed she was outmatched.

    She offered what she felt were her excuses, “I have suffered many burns from one of my attacks on Tatooine, and have not yet recovered, Dark Lord.”

    Finally realizing she hid her face behind a mask, he asked brusquely, “Why are you wearing a mask?” Then he demanded, “Remove your mask!”

    Through The Force, he felt her suddenly increased anxiety as she begged, “Do not look on my face, Dark Lord.”

    “Remove your mask!” He commanded a second time.

    Virulous wept silently as she peeled back her hood and removed the armored mask from her face. She feared Nox would not only look down on her, but that he would despise her when he saw her disfigurement.

    Nox saw that her pearly white skin was replaced with red, blistered flesh, bleeding and leaking clear liquid as well. Her once beautiful waist length hair was singed nearly gone, and left only in wiry brittle patches here and there on her blistered and bleeding scalp.

    Darth Nox was taken aback by what he saw. He hadn’t expected to see that she had suffered so much. Although he was deeply shocked, he hid his surprise, brusquely telling her, “You may replace your mask.” Then, thinking that he’d have his servant, the pirate, help his nearly ruined apprentice into the ship, he shouted, “Andronikos!”

    The semi-retired pirate heard Nox’s voice through the fog of sleep and snapped awake, as he imagined that an evil specter was after his soul. He found himself face down on the launch deck.

    Andronikos thought, “What a bad dream.”

    Then he heard Nox’s voice a second time.

    “Andronikos! Prepare the ship! I’m ready to depart!”

    Andronikos rose quickly, but unsteadily to his feet, wincing from the pain in his hip from his newly attached cybernetic prosthetic leg. He limped his way to the Fury-class interceptor and the ring of Hutt security protecting Nox’s ship. As he walked, he heard a metallic clip clop sound approaching him from behind.

    He turned to look behind himself and saw it was Darth Nox’s ship droid, 2V-R8. The droid had heard Nox’s command to get the ship ready for flight and had come out from hiding at the hanger entrance in anticipation of Andronikos’ commands to prep the ship.

    Andronikos ordered, “Scan the ship’s logs. Look for evidence of tampering, sabotage, stowaways, or any other anomaly. Immediately report any anomalies.”

    As the droid responded, “Yes, Captain,” Andronikos turned to face forward and watched as Nox and Virulous spoke to a Twi’lek, accompanied by Grann and his security detail.

    Grann had ordered his team to scatter and to get away as the Jedi and the Sith fought. He’d decided to stay out of their fight. The Major Incident Commander had met up with Grann during the conflict, and only began to approach Darth Nox after the fighting had ended with the Jedi’s flight from the battle.

    The Twi’lek had approached Darth Nox and bowing deeply and speaking politely, introduced himself.

    “I am Talden Wik. I’m the major incident commander for this sector. I bring you greetings from his greatness, Felban The Hutt. He wishes a small moment of your time to convey his most sincere words of regret to you directly. Will you grant him a moment of your valuable time, honored, most august dark lord of Sith?”

    Darth Nox told Talden Wik, “Tell your master the next time I have to come here to protect what is mine, I will do this to him.” Nox pointed a finger at Talden, blasting him with a blinding bolt of Force Lightning, instantly killing him.

    The Twi’lek, who’d fallen backwards, lay dead. His clothing and the flesh on his chest smoldered where the lightning had struck. Nox turned to menacingly glare at the security detail that had accompanied the dead Twi’lek.

    After recovering from the shock of what he’d witnessed from the unexpected attack, Grann told Darth Nox, “Most honored visitor, I will be sure your message is passed on directly to his greatness, Felban The Hutt.”

    Nox turned and walked briskly to his ship with a limping Virulous laboring to keep up with him. Grann realized Nox would encounter the security team protecting the ship, and frantically waved them off. The team protecting the ship had seen what had befallen the major incident commander. They quickly moved away from Nox’s ship, as signaled by their watch commander, Grann.

    As Andronikos watched the Twi’lek fall backwards after the blinding light, accompanied by the loud crack, 2V-R8 began its report.

    “Captain, no anomalies have been detected. All systems show no signs of tampering. The ship’s security logs show that no attempts have been made to access the ship. The...”

    Andronikos, anxious to get the ship opened up before his employer got there, interrupted and ordered the droid, “R8, quick. Pre-flight the ship and get it ready to fly.”

    None of the quickly departing security forces attempted to stop Andronikos as he opened a small access panel with a heavily encrypted electronic key. He stuck his hand into the opening exposed by the retreating panel cover. After a moment, during which his hand had been scanned, the ramp silently came down until it came to a rest, with a clack, on the hanger deck. He closed and locked the access panel again, then hurriedly hobbled up the ramp with the ship droid trailing behind him.

    On the same encrypted electronic key was a keypad. He punched in a five digit code. A green back-lit screen came to life next to the airlock hatch. Andronikos entered a different code on the keypad displayed on the digital touch screen display next to the airlock.

    The sound of the ship’s engines winding up greeted Andronikos’ ears just in time for Darth Nox to walk through the now opened airlock, ahead of Andronikos and the droid, with Virulous laboring up the ramp behind the droid.

    Just after Andronikos stepped through the airlock, Darth Nox ordered, “Join the Imperial Navy task force waiting for me in orbit.”

    Andronikos was just glad that he’d gotten the ship opened up in time for his boss to enter unimpeded.

    He replied, “Sure, Boss.” Then he asked, “What’s their designation?”

    Nox told him, “Task Force 4782.”

    Andronikos answered, “Task Force 4782. You got it, Boss.”
     
  10. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Medical Leave​


    Virulous was aboard Nox’s ship long enough to be taken from Nar Shaddaa to the flagship of Task Force 4782. She limped down the ramp of her master’s Fury-class interceptor, parked within the cavernous hanger bay of an Imperial warship. Limping across the expansive black, mirror polished hanger deck of the Harrower-class dreadnought, the Ruiner, she made her way, painfully, to a waiting long range Imperial light transport starship.

    As usual, the noisy hanger bay was full of activity. Imperial logistics soldiers loaded or unloaded cargo from supply transporters. Platoons of Imperial troops, standing down from possible deployment to support Darth Nox on the Smugglers’ Moon, marched off of dropships to return to their shipboard barracks. Pilots and their crews inspected their respective transport shuttles and starships as part of their preflight routines. Meanwhile, several droids roamed the hanger bay, forever working to keep the deck clean and in its highly polished state.

    At the bottom of the ramp of the transport, she turned about to look at Nox’s ship just in time to watch as it passed through the force field barrier, which held in the atmosphere, as it exited the hanger bay to go who knew where in the galaxy. She felt pangs of hurt and regret, believing she was being discarded. She used these feelings of regret and abandonment to fuel her anger and her growing hatred.

    Virulous was startled at the hatred growing within her, and asked herself, “What is it that I hate so much?” Unbidden was an answer she did not welcome but found hard to refute.

    Nox.

    She thought back to part of her conversation with her master on the flight up from Nar Shaddaa.

    At the start of her conversation with her master, Darth Nox had ordered Virulous, “You will travel to Manaan and get yourself fixed up. You’re a mess and of no use to me in your current state. Do not return to me until you can walk about without the need to hide your face.”

    Darth Nox’s gruff and callous manner had hurt and demoralized Virulous greatly.

    As she watched her master’s ship accelerate away and vanish from view outside of the hanger bay, her resentment for him grew as she furiously thought, “Just how does he think I came to be in this state?! The ungrateful dog!” Tears escaped her eyes behind her armored mask despite her best efforts to will them not to leave.

    Drowned out by the noise of a busy hanger bay, she lamented in a very tiny voice, “I became like this for your sake, my lord.”

    As she turned about and ascended the ramp of the long range personnel transport ship, it occurred to her that the substance of Nox’s orders boiled down to this, “Get your health back and take whatever time you need to recover before you return to work.

    This thought took the edge off of her hatred and conflicted her emotions. Virulous didn’t know what to think or feel anymore. Her head seemed to spin, as confusion took rein of her thoughts.

    Upon limping through the airlock at the top of the ramp of the VIP personnel transport starship, Virulous ordered the officer who greeted her, “Take me to Manaan.”

    The officer snapped to attention and saluted, replying crisply, “Yes, Lord!”

    The young officer, rigidly holding his salute, watched as the slight and very small masked woman, shrouded by her dark hooded robes, shuffled past him and into the ship. He observed as a protocol droid introduced itself to the mysterious passenger.

    “My lord, I am protocol droid YF23-PR78. I shall attend to your needs while you travel aboard this starship. If my lord will follow me, I shall take you to your quarters. I think you shall find these accommodations more than just adequate, my lord. If there is anything my lord requires, I am more than prepared to….”

    Virulous followed the chatty droid, but didn’t really hear anything it was telling her. Her mind was occupied with other matters.

    Is this how he expresses his concern? Is this how he shows kindness? Well, he doesn’t need to disguise his kindness under such a cruel facade! I know my place. I know his power, and I know my limits.” She asked herself, “Why is he showing such kindnesses to me? Why does he care about my well being?How does he really feel about me?” She became startled when she asked herself, “Am I lying to myself?! It led her to ask, “How do I feel about him?” Then she reminded herself, “He is a ruthless ruler. He has no love for anything. He is filled with only one ambition and only cares that I can help him to achieve that ambition.

    Virulous forcibly stopped herself from further speculation. She felt she was starting to wander into the realm of treason as another thought, unbidden, forced its way into her consciousness, “He means to unseat the Emperor. Will I useful to him then?

    Virulous sat on a lounge chair in her suite, oblivious to anything the droid was telling her. In the end, the droid walked to its alcove and waited for her call. Virulous was lost in thought, going back to the events and conversation she had with Darth Nox during the short flight to the Ruiner’s hanger bay.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Virulous became worried Nox had found her a burden to him, and she felt shame as she evaluated her own worth to her master, judging herself a weakling.

    She embarrassedly told the dark lord, “My Lord, forgive me but I do not have the means to afford medical treatment on Manaan. I will seek treatment at the Imperial Army Hospital on Dromund Kaas, Dark Lord.”

    Darth Nox scoffed at the notion, telling her, “I’ll be mocked if my apprentice cannot afford better care than those butchers on Dromund Kaas can provide! Do you mean to shame me?! Go to Manaan! I’ll see to the costs. You can repay me at a later time.”

    Virulous felt belittled and worried her master might be tiring of her weakness.

    She considered his scared face and scalp, neck and throat and thought, “He wears his scars like badges of honor. Does he expect me to accept my disfigurement in the same way?” Defiantly, she thought, “I will not!

    Nox’s Fury-class interceptor continued its climb into an ever higher orbit as it chased after Task Force 4782. The task force, itself, was accelerating into a higher orbit as it prepared to leave Nar Shaddaa, Hutta’s moon, and Hutta, the capital of Hutt Space and the seat of Hutt power and economic influence over much of the galaxy.

    Sitting in one of the super comfortable lounge chairs in the common crew space, Nox commanded Virulous, “Report to me your progress on Tatooine.”

    Virulous, who’d been standing and in pain, bowed her hooded head towards him, reporting from behind her mask, “Dark Lord, I slew the vermin! I got all three heads of the three crime groups of The Exchange Gang on Tatooine, eight of their twenty lieutenants, and several of their thug followers.”

    Virulous could see from his lack of reaction that Nox was not particularly impressed, but his eyes seemed to light up a little when she told him, “This has sparked a power struggle amongst their survivors. They are killing one another for supremacy over what is left of their criminal enterprise. Even as they fight over dominance, amongst themselves, their rivals steal what was once theirs.”

    Nox nodded acceptance of the ruin that she had visited on them, but said nothing else.

    Then she told him, “Dark Lord, there is one among them who has worked in cooperation with one of your agents. He provided me with the information that made my success possible.”

    From her utility belt, Virulous produced a data pad, a metallic cylinder and a holographic recorder. She stepped forward and placed all three on the caff table in front of Nox’s seat, then stepped back again.

    She said, “One is a gift of ten million credits. It is a tribute to you, Dark Lord. The other is his message, honoring you, and the third is a hand written letter of apology.”

    Nox looked at the items but did not move to pick any of them up, nor did he move to examine any of the items. Instead he called on his ship droid.

    “R8! Get over here! Inspect these devices for traps!”

    The droid came rushing from the control bridge, leaving Andronikos to take control of the ship. Nox waved a hand towards the items, indicating to the droid which items to inspect. Virulous cursed her own stupidity for not thinking of the possibility that that Bith mynock leech could have sent her merrily on her way, carrying explosive traps to her lord. She waited in apprehension for 2V-R8’s pronouncement.

    The droid announced, “These devices have no traps, explosives, nor embedded spy tech, Master. They are safe to handle and to operate.”

    Nox could tell from the way her body had tensed, that the thought of traps had not occurred to her before then.

    He told her, dead pan, “I’m certain you had already inspected them before bringing them into my presence, but I make it a habit to check for traps regardless.”

    Virulous remained silent. She dared not confess her failure to check for traps, but she dared not lie to her lord, either.

    Nox smiled inside at her honesty, thinking of Virulous, “How quaintly naive.

    Instead of discussing the possibility of traps, Virulous told her master, “Dark Lord, one of the three Exchange leaders was foolish enough to hide in a fortified dungeon of a home with his wife and two children.”

    Nox’s eyes sharpened; he sat straighter, asking, “What happened to them?”

    Virulous replied soberly, “I slew them as he watched. He suffered greatly, Master, begging for the lives of his children.”

    Darth Nox leaned back, smiling.

    He nodded his satisfaction, telling her, “You have done well, Darth Virulous. Hearing this news gladdens me. At least you have done one thing right.”

    Virulous became incensed, her voice tremored as she replied, “You are too generous with your praise, Dark Lord.”

    Darth Nox smiled, thinking, “Ha! This is the closest she’s come to expressing her anger at me. She still fears me.” Aloud, he told his ship droid, “2V-R8, tell Andronikos to land in the hanger bay of the Ruiner. Tell them to have a transport ready to take Darth Virulous to Manaan.”

    The droid replied, “Right away, Master.”

    Then, off it went to the control bridge to complete its task.

    Nox bent forward in his seat and, picking up one of the devices from the caff table before him, activated it. It was the holo-recorder. The holographic image of a Bith appeared and the message began to play.

    The Bith bowed deeply at the waist. One arm tucked across his mid section while the other swept out from his side.

    He straightened up and spoke, saying, “Most excellent and august dark lord of Sith. I am privileged to be permitted an opportunity to give you my most sincerest and most humble apologies for the crimes committed against you and yours by my former, and now justifiably dead, leaders. What fools they were!

    “To actually believe they could raise their hands against someone as powerful as you and actually believe they could get away with it! But now their hubris has attracted your ire and your wrath. We have all suffered greatly under your mighty and unmerciful blows!

    “Your agent of death has paused from her bloody feast of carnage and has given those of us who have, thus far, survived your incinerating wrath an opportunity to prostrate ourselves before you and to beg for an end to your wrathful vengeance. None of my colleagues have answered my call! Those fools believe that your wrath has abated and are carrying on, squabbling amongst themselves to vie for what scraps of power remain in the wake of your fury. Those fools!

    “I am not so short sighted as they! I am not so foolish as they! I know your wrath has not abated! I send to you gifts, peace offerings, oh mighty dark lord!”

    Nox watched the image of the Bith prostrate himself, groveling before Darth Nox. Nox paused the message, laughing.

    He found it comical, telling Virulous, “He’s talking as though I were a Hutt! This is how the small time gangsters grovel to a Hutt when they’re going to ask for something.”

    He laughed some more at the ludicrous nature of the message.

    Virulous became worried, telling her lord, “Dark Lord, please do not send me back there. It was a terrible experience for me.”

    As his ship entered the hanger bay of the flagship, one of three Harrower-class dreadnoughts in the task force, he told her, “When you have returned to me whole, from Manaan, I will send you into the fire once more. I want to see how strong you’ve become.”

    He could see her shoulders stoop and her head drop ever so slightly. He could tell from her body language that it pained her greatly to imagine that she would be sent back to Tatooine.

    Nox told her, “Your experience has given you pain. But it has also, potentially, given you more power and control of the Dark Side of The Force.”

    Virulous remained silent. Nox looked at her appraisingly. He felt the bump of the ship landing in the hanger bay.

    He asked her, “How did it feel when you killed those children while he watched?”

    Virulous replied, her regret and guilt plainly evident in her tone, “I hope I will never have to do such a terrible thing again, but….”

    When her silence threatened to remain, Nox prompted her, “But?”

    Virulous’ voice tremored again, but this time it was from the thrill she felt as she relived the moment the Dark Side nearly overwhelmed her.

    “But the power of The Force flowed through me like a raging river. The darkness threatened to wash away my mind! I could barely walk or see straight, but I felt like I could move mountains, Dark Lord!”

    Nox told her, “That power is still with you, Darth Virulous. However, you cannot call on it fully with your body so broken. When you return to me from Manaan, I want to see what you can do.”

    Andronikos called over the ship’s public address system, “We’re in the Ruiner, debark as you like.”

    Nox told Virulous, “Go now.”

    Virulous bowed to her master, then wordlessly turned about and left his presence and the ship.

    Nox thought with a little concern, “She does not embrace her new found dark power. I must nurture her hatred and help her cast away her aversion to do the very worst without any remorse.

    Nox had forgotten his own battles with guilt and remorse when he had accidentally killed his wife, Ashara Zavros, in a dispute he had with her just over a half year before. A few months later, the Exchange Gang, at Darth Acina’s behest, destroyed one of his estates and killed his two children in the attack. At the time, he had used his grief for their loss to plunge himself even deeper into the Dark Side, thus increasing his power in The Force.

    However, guilt and self hatred assailed his conscience because he took advantage of the situation precisely to gain dark power. The guilt and self hatred that he felt, for his vile use of his family’s tragedy, also fueled his power in the Dark Side of The Force. He had gained tremendous power, but at a cost to his sanity. Nox found himself descending into madness.

    The powerful emotions of love for his wife and children, grief for their loss, guilt for having had some part in their deaths, and a deepening hatred of self, for allowing himself to defile their memories with his search for dark power all threatened to ruin his psyche. Nox had decided to preserve his sanity and no longer defile the memory of his beloved wife and children. In the end, he vowed to himself to find another path to dark power, all because of remorse.
     
  11. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    A Fuel Shortage​



    Darth Nox worried over his secret research getting stolen. So, four years ago, he had a deep space station commissioned and built. Construction of the space station was completed two years later, but he hadn’t begun moving his most sensitive research projects to it until a year after that. When the station had become fully operational, with his secrets safely stored aboard, he had the station moved to a starless dust filled region on the outer edge of the galaxy.

    Having learned from his top agent, Keeper, how easily he and his assistant, Watcher Two, had located the Emperor’s secret space station, the Arcanum, Darth Nox decided to replace all of his military security forces with his own private security organization. It was staffed with handpicked security professionals from all over the Empire. Keeper organized the security screening and vetting process himself, ensuring the hired security professionals would be reliable and could be trusted to keep secrets.

    Keeper and his executive officer, Watcher Two, had also gone back to the Imperial Military Personnel Records Section at The Citadel in Kaas City, Dromund Kaas. They went through the personnel service records of every Imperial soldier who’d ever served, at one time or another, on Darth Nox’s space station.

    In their service records, Keeper and Watcher Two altered the space station’s designation number and the station’s coordinates to make it seem the Imperial soldiers served aboard another space station at another location. In this way, the existence and location of Nox’s space station was effectively purged from military records.

    Following the major incident on Nar Shaddaa, Darth Nox had secluded himself aboard his space station. It was nowhere near as big as the emperor’s space station, nor was it equipped with stealth technology, but the galaxy was big, and no one was looking for his space station.

    Nox was confident that his research was safely hidden from his enemies and rivals. He believed that so long as his research was not disclosed to his rivals nor stolen by his enemies on the Dark Council, that he would ultimately hold a great advantage over them. He believed the knowledge his research could yield would cement his place as the most powerful Sith in the galaxy, after the Sith Emperor.

    Nearly ten years before, when Nox was known as Kallig, Lord of The Sith, his old master, Darth Zash, had tried to use a Dark Force ritual to commandeer Nox’s body. It was a ritual to steal another’s body in order to extend her life. However, Nox’s servant, Khem Val, thwarted her plans when he interfered with the ritual. Unexpectedly, she ended up sharing Khem Val’s body, instead.

    During times when she controlled the Dashade’s body, pushing the Dashade’s consciousness into the realm of the subconscious, Darth Zash had worked out a deal to give Lord Kallig all of her hidden libraries of ancient Dark Force rituals. In exchange, Kallig would aid her to eject Khem Val’s consciousness from his body, granting her complete control of it.

    During his murder trial before the Dark Council on Korriban, Kallig had hid from them the truth of what had actually happened to his master. He didn’t want anyone learning the nature of her ritual, so he failed to tell them that her conscious mind had been transferred into the Dashade’s body. The Dark Council only saw her dead body, so they believed he’d simply killed her.

    He presented, to the Dark Council, evidence of the preparations she had made for her ritual to kill him. His claim of self defense was plausible enough, so the Dark Council looked the other way. The Dark Council awarded him Zash’s powerbase and all of her wealth and real estate, while also turning Kallig over to Darth Thanaton, to replace Zash as his subordinate. Shortly after his trial, he traveled to Taris.

    On Taris, in a warehouse filled with antiquities, was the device he was to use to eject Khem Val’s mind. However, Kallig had betrayed Zash, ejecting her consciousness and trapping her mind in the ancient technological prison, instead. In this way, he repaid Khem Val’s selflessness when the Dashade saved his life from his master.

    Nearly ten years later, Darth Nox was one of twelve rulers on the Dark Council when he had freed his old master from her technological prison, after a monumental search for the device in Taris’ ruined cityscape, another fact he hid from his fellow dark counselors. The prison was a devise created by an ancient and all but forgotten race, the Rakata of the almost mythical Infinite Empire more than twenty thousand years in the ancientest past.

    These devices were vanishingly rare, with only two known to have been discovered, and both Rakata mind traps were in the possession of the Sith Empire, and both of them were held as closely guarded secrets, hidden in the bowels of The Citadel within Darth Nox’s domain, the Sphere of Ancient Knowledge. To all the galaxy, Darth Zash was dead, and had been dead for the last ten years.

    So, when Nox presented Zash’s consciousness, in the body of a Jedi, to the Dark Council, they assumed, and he let them assume, that he had somehow discovered and used a Dark Force ritual that brought Zash back to life. They believed that he had brought her consciousness back from beyond The Force and put it into the body of a Jedi.

    The whole thing was a ruse, smoke and mirrors. It gave him great power and influence over his rivals, so long as they believed he had this power to bring back the dead. The power he held over his fellow dark counselors was an illusion, however, an illusion he knew would not last forever.

    However, the research Nox conducted, this time, was going to lead him to real power, power that could not be resisted by any other, except by Sith Emperor Vitiate.

    Several centuries ago, Emperor Vitiate had been careful to hide his secrets in his space station, the Arcanum, but he did not know that his rivals, a thousand years before, had already stolen his secrets, making copies of his works and conducting their own research.

    Emperor Vitiate had ruthlessly eliminated his enemies, and those who foolishly believed themselves his equal. Centuries later, Vitiate had discovered the thefts, but he knew that everything decayed with time. He believed his secrets were safe. However, he had not anticipated that his dead enemies had taken careful steps to preserve their hidden works based on his stolen research, and he greatly underestimated the effectiveness of the Imperial Reclamation Service, which had found and dug up those works a thousand years later.

    As does everything else in the grips of time, the long centuries had swallowed up the facts, names, events, heroic deeds, infamous crimes, and the many monuments erected to their memory. Time swallowed up the histories of the most powerful, the most notable actors of an all but forgotten ancient era. The ancient histories of great battles fought between Sith, against Jedi, in the conquest of empires had all become myths and legends over the passing centuries.

    Records were lost or destroyed and all reliable memory of those ancientest of times had been all but erased from galactic civilization’s memory. The only remaining constant, the only remaining proof, the only thing that lent credence to the myths and legends that had managed to persist through the murkiness of the passing centuries was Vitiate.

    There was no doubt of the fact that he had ruled the Sith Empire for over one thousand three hundred years. Somehow, the emperor had learned to bypass the natural order of the cycle of life and death. For as long as he ruled over the Sith Empire, the emperor had ignored death.

    Death had found itself unable to enforce its right to take life from a living entity. Death found itself confounded by the one named Vitiate.

    Darth Nox was in search of Vitiate’s secrets of immortality. He wanted to be able to ignore Death, too. So, he unceasingly pursued the secrets of the forgotten ancient past, looking for more clues leading to more of Vitiate’s secrets.

    A year after his murder trial on Korriban, Lord Kallig defeated his new master, Darth Thanaton, in a duel to the death before the Dark Councilors in the council chamber, and succeeded him to the Dark Council. The Dark Council named him Darth Nox, Dark Lord over the Sphere of Ancient Knowledge.

    In so doing, he had found himself in possession of fragments of Vitiate’s research, and the research of Vitiate’s long dead rivals. Much of his work over the years, since ascending to the Dark Council, initially involved the breaking of codes used to obfuscate the meanings of words and phrases of the long dead language of the ancient Sith Race of Korriban.

    Once he had overcome those hurdles, Nox had to wrap his head around the concepts being described by the ancient Sith lords who had authored the archaic research. That took years more to accomplish. After nine years of research, Darth Nox believed himself ready to conduct his first practical experiment.

    He had spent many hours in meditation, filling himself with the power of the Dark Side of The Force. His mind was focused with fury, and his heart was filled with unyielding hatred. Darth Nox, who’d been kneeling, rose to his feet.

    He approached a laboratory table with a large tub bolted to it. The tub was half filled with a slurry of mud, large slabs of raw flesh that still had the bones, fur covered hide, and other tissue still dripping with blood of a recently slaughtered creature, a tukata. Tukata are wild beasts which live and hunt in packs and which are found natively on Korriban.

    The muddy slurry was also brimming full of microbial life forms. The slurry concoction stank strongly of rot. Darth Nox picked up a clay tablet that he had made. The clay in the tablet was very porous and infused with a certain mixture of elements in very precisely measured quantities. He had inscribed the tablet in the ancient dead language of his ancestors, the pure-blooded red-skinned Sith who originally inhabited the planet, Korriban.

    He placed the tablet in the tub at one side of it, and watched it sink into the slurry as the water in the slurry soaked into the porous tablet. Nox reached his hands towards the slab of flesh at the center of the tub and projected his malice and hatred, his fury and his murderous intent at it. The Dark Side of The Force carried his dark and malign thoughts and feelings to the slab of flesh and bones in the slurry.

    The tukata flesh in the slurry began to writhe and pulsate as though it were some sort of worm. It began to change its nature, taking on a new form. Fur covered tentacles poked out of the slurry in the tub and began to snake around as though seeking escape from the tub.

    Darth Nox spoke maliciously to the forming creature, “Vile wretch! Know your place! Be still and remain in your filth until I am done with you!”

    The tentacles froze, seemingly on hearing his voice. Then as though understanding speech, jerked back into the slurry, as though hiding from a terrible threat.

    Just as Nox was about to imbue the still forming creature with his malign aura, an overhead announcement was made by a droid, “Dark Lord, Darth Marr insists on speaking to you immediately. Shall I pass the call to you?”

    Nox furiously halted his experiment and immediately killed the partially formed creature in its tub, blasting it with Force Lightning.

    Nox shouted at the droid via the intercom, “I said, NO INTERRUPTIONS!”

    The droid’s voice returned through the speakers, “I’m deeply sorry, Dark Lord. However, Darth Marr stated it was a most urgent matter that could not wait. Shall I disconnect the call?”

    Nox shouted with disgust in his tone, “I’ll take the damned call in my office!”

    With that, he exited his laboratory and, after making his way through a labyrinth of hallways and turbolifts, finally entered his office.

    As he sat in his chair behind his desk, he ordered, “Connect the call.”

    As soon as Darth Marr’s image appeared, Darth Nox spoke darkly, telling the caller, “Marr, this had better be worth the interruption to my work.”

    Marr replied flatly, “We are losing the war with the Galactic Republic.”

    Darth Nox shifted in his seat and turned his head to the side with a look of shock on his face.

    Turning back to face Marr’s holographic image over his desk, Nox asked, “Did I mishear you? Did you say we – the Sith Empire is losing the war with our enemy?”

    Marr replied, “The Republic’s tactics of concentrating their attacks at our fueling ports, fuel mines, and their threats against third party fuel exporters has worked to strand our navy. With our fuel supply greatly reduced, our navy cannot conduct operations at the pace required to cement our control over areas we have already conquered.

    To conserve fuel, I have been pulling our fleets out of action, keeping them hidden and safe. I have left enough of our forces to defend Imperial territories, but we cannot hold much of our war gains.”

    Nox asked angrily, “So, who have you chosen as your successor when you are voted out of the Dark Council?!”

    Marr, clearly angered by the threat to his position on the Dark Council, worked to control his tone, but his anger shone through regardless.

    “I have a plan! A plan to reverse this set back, and to return us to the path to victory!”

    Regaining his composure, he told Nox, “We are set back because of our lack of fuel. It is a serious matter with real implications if we cannot correct it. However, I have found a solution.”

    Alarm bells started going off in Nox’s head, as he recalled Moff Pyron’s report to him about the fleet being hidden in deep space.

    Nox asked himself, “Have we been short of fuel for the fleet since that far back?!

    Moff Valion Pyron had reported that Darth Marr was hiding the fleet a few months ago when Nox had been in the midst of a blood feud against the disgraced Darth Acina.

    Nox sat up straight and said pointedly, “If you have a solution, then carry it out.” Then he asked, “Why do you need to tell me?”

    Marr replied, “My hands are full with the war effort. I cannot split my time and my abilities between the two problems. The war requires my full attention.”

    Nox asked angrily, “Why me, then? Couldn’t you have asked any of the others? What about Zash, Mortis, or Ravage?”

    Marr replied, “Mortis is busy putting down rebellions, Ravage is too blunt to rely on a problem that requires subtlety, and Zash is still consolidating her hold on her sphere of influence. That leaves you.” Marr added grudgingly, “You are also, my first choice, Nox. You are strong, have a strong powerbase, and understand subtlety. The need for a small, quiet, yet very strong presence is required.”

    Nox asked incredulously, “Small, quiet, yet strong presence?! Are you telling me I can’t bring troops?”

    Marr replied, “I will provide you with four black ops teams, a reinforced company of regular infantry, and a team of operators to help with the administration of your operation and with the execution of your plans. Of course, I expect you’ll bring in your own top talent, but it is necessary to keep a very small foot print for my solution to work.”

    Leaning back in his chair, Nox asked as suspicion of plots and traps began to nag at the back of his mind, “So. What is this solution?”

    Marr began his briefing, telling Nox, “The Hutts have used strong arm tactics to actually take over an independent and neutral world in the Outer Rim near Hutt Space. Makeb is the world in question.

    “Their interest in the planet only just recently surfaced when a local mining company discovered a very rare material. It is reportedly being called Isotope Five. Since the Hutts have taken over, they have ramped up mining for this rare material.

    “My scientists tell me, based on their studies of the sample which I had obtained for their study, that with modifications to the reactors powering our starships, a very small amount of Isotope Five will power the ship for nearly its entire life of service. Imagine a Navy of ships, fueled once, and never needing to be refueled again.”

    Nox said, “It would give our fleets an enormous strategic advantage over our enemies.”

    Marr said, “You shall meet with my assets on my ship. I shall provide transport to Makeb from my ship. Your teams shall locate and recover all of the Hutt’s mined stockpiles of the Isotope Five for our fleets.”

    Nox replied, by way of a thinly veiled criticism, “I will see to this. You be sure we stop losing the war.”

    Marr replied testily, “I have a solution for that, too.”

    Marr’s holographic image was gone.

    Darth Nox wondered to himself aloud, “How is it that the Republic knew completely where and how to cut us off from our fuel? Why were such important resources at our facilities throughout the galaxy so poorly defended?

    Darth Nox dialed a frequency. A moment later, Andronikos Revel’s holographic image appeared above Nox’s desk.

    Andronikos greeted his employer, “Hey, Boss! What do you have going?”

    Darth Nox asked, “Have you found it difficult to fuel the ship?”

    Andronikos did a double take and then laughed.

    Still laughing, he asked, “Someone finally got the nuts to tell the Dark Council about the fuel shortage?”

    Nox, dead serious asked, “Why didn’t you tell me about it?”

    Andronikos stopped laughing and answered dead level seriously, “I already got my fill of lightning for the few times you got mad at stuff I’ve told you before. That new apprentice of yours tried taking me out that time, too.” He added as though remembering at the last moment, “And I got my leg shot, clean off for getting my ass saved by you.” He added as an afterthought, “Thanks for saving my ass, by the way.”

    Into the silence that followed, Andronikos added, “I already live on the edge of excitement and danger. No sense taking a swim in it, if I don’t have to.”

    Nox chuckled, almost mirthlessly, as he observed, “It’s your love of wealth and status, your ambition, too. Those outweigh any fear you have of me, of anything. Nox nodded approvingly, adding, “It’s one of the things I like about you, Andronikos. The day you finally decide to leave my service will be the day I lose such a capable man.”

    Compliments from Nox were rare.

    Andronikos was touched by it, but he merely told his employer, “I got a ways to go before I’ll think of retiring. Don’t worry, Boss. You’ll be the first I’ll tell when I decide to retire – after I’m long gone.”

    Nox became slightly amused by his ship commander’s half serious joke, yet the smile he gave never reached his eyes. Nox’s smiles very rarely ever reached his eyes.

    He told the semi-retired pirate, “I would appreciate the courtesy.” Then getting to business, he told his subordinate, “In the meantime, find Darth Virulous. The last I knew, she was on Manaan getting treatment for her injuries. It’s been three months. She must be healed up by now. Meet me on Nar Shaddaa with Virulous.”

    Andronikos commented, “That sounds like work. You want me to find Khem, too?”

    Nox thought a moment, then replied, “Yes, and hire thirty exceptional and trust worthy Mandalorians. I’m going to need them for personal security.”

    Andronikos whistled and commented, “Whoa! That sounds serious! Can I get my own crew and stick around to pick up the pieces?”

    Nox replied, “Not this time, Andronikos. I’ll think of something else for you to do, however.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  12. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    I re-wrote much of the previous chapter, "A Fuel Shortage," after I realized that I had made some very big mistakes in continuity. The story of how Zash and Khem Val became enemies, why Nox hated Zash so much, yet risking her treachery to use her power (from the previous story) was not properly represented the way I had originally written the chapter. So, I re-wrote it.

    I also added back story to Nox's experience, to explain why he's doing what he's doing and hinting to what his ultimate ambitions are.

    I'm sorry, for turning in a half-done chapter. I hope you'll forgive me if I humbly ask you to give it another look.

    I'm now at work on the next chapter and, this time, I will be sure it's right before I release it. As always, I welcome your comments (although you've all been pretty quiet - I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm gonna keep on writing. I hope you don't mind.)...
     
  13. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I can't speak for anybody else, but in my case quiet is a good thing. Still enjoying the Sithly shenanigans. Keep it up.
     
    PlanetSmasher likes this.
  14. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Business On Nar Shaddaa​


    Darth Nox traveled to Nar Shaddaa from his secret space station to meet with the executives who ran his business interests on the Smuggler’s Moon. Transformative Technologies was a manufacturing firm which produced several vital components for the Imperial Navy’s super weapon. It was a steady significant source of his personal wealth. He liked to keep abreast of business matters, checking in periodically.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Over ten years ago, before he’d ever traveled to Taris and subsequently met Ashara Zavros, his late wife and reluctant Sith apprentice, he had come to Nar Shaddaa to procure an ancient relic that once belonged to Tulac Hord, a Sith lord who made his mark in Sith Empire history three hundred years before.

    At the time, he was the apprentice of Darth Zash. The relic he’d brought to her held dark knowledge she required for her research. In essence, she was recreating and replicating Tulac Hord’s research for extending one’s life, but Nox did not know this at the time.

    While on his task, Nox, then known as Kallig, defeated a Sith lord who had built up a cult of followers. Kallig took control of the cult from the dead Sith lord for himself. He also completed his task of taking the relic from the Sith Lord’s possession for his master.

    At the end of his mission on Nar Shaddaa, Kallig had returned to Zash, on Dromund Kaas, to present her with Tulac Hord’s holocron which contained the ancient Sith lord’s many research secrets. Zash had surprised Kallig when she congratulated him on securing the cult of followers for himself. Kallig had never told his master about his dealings with the cultists beyond the fact that a few of the disaffected and ostracized members helped him to obtain the holocron. This made him realize that he was being watched.

    Over a period of many months, Kallig transformed his cult of mindless followers into a well organized crime ring with the help of Andronikos Revel, whom he’d met a year before on Tatooine.

    His crime ring conducted itself in many criminal enterprises which included blackmail, intimidation, and money laundering, in addition to the trafficking of illicit materials from time to time. These activities helped to increase his organization’s influence and criminal territory.

    Then one day, while on Dromund Kaas assisting Darth Zash to prepare for one of Tulac Hord’s archaic rituals, his master tried to take over control of his body… After his murder trial, he was placed under the leadership of Darth Thanaton, taking Zash’s place as Thanaton’s subordinate, but not as his apprentice.

    Nox would have been content with that, except that Darth Thanaton attempted to have him killed – several times. Thanaton feared Nox’s growing power and wanted to be rid of a potential rival. Because of this, Kallig didn’t have the time to devote to his cult of followers turned crime ring. He turned operational control over to two of his lieutenants.

    Facetiously, he told them, “I’m in the middle of a duel with my dead master’s master. He should have taken me as his apprentice, but it seems I’ve inherited Thanaton’s grudge against my dead master along with all of her other worldly possessions.”

    Kallig paused to let them laugh and, dutifully, they laughed as expected.

    Then he told them, “I’m going to let you two run things for a while, while I deal with Thanaton. I expect monthly reports, and I expect to see my credits grow.”

    His two lieutenants replied.

    First, the human male, Destris Veran, promised, “Don’t worry, Lord Kallig. We won’t let you down.”

    Then the human female, Rylee Dray, assured Kallig, telling him, “My lord, we’ll also keep your front operations looking squeaky clean. People will still get medical treatment, so the money we launder through the free clinic will look like legitimate donations.”

    With concern tinting his tone, Kallig told her, “See about getting actual donors to help fund the medical clinic. I don’t want to have to use too many of my laundered credits to run it.”

    She replied, “Get actual donors. Got it.”

    Several months later, Kallig’s drawn out duel with Thanaton had reached a point where the military began to take sides. Thanaton had killed their big weapons research project, and one of the high ranking military officials took exception to this. Valion Pyron, a very powerful moff in the Imperial military hierarchy, taking advantage of the rift between Darth Thanaton and his subordinate Lord Kallig, got Kallig to sign off on the continuation of the research and development of their super weapon. With that, Kallig secured the backing of the military, provided he pulled off a successful test of the ship-mounted super weapon.

    When Moff Valion Pyron approached Kallig, it was not only to offer the support of the military against Thanaton, but to ask that Lord Kallig secure technologies being developed by a small startup firm which Kallig owned via his crime ring. During a shakeup of a group of investors which had borrowed money from Lord Kallig’s crime ring, his criminal organization had somehow ended up owning the majority stake of a start up technology manufacturing firm, holding eighty percent of the shares.

    Lord Kallig was shocked to hear this news. He hadn’t known about this acquisition. He began to wonder how much else his lieutenants had been keeping from him.

    When Lord Kallig returned to Nar Shaddaa, he found himself surprised that not only had his criminal organization really flourished beyond what he’d been told in reports, but that it had also become the target of a rival criminal organization which saw his operation as easy pickings. Lord Kallig had gone on a rampage, wrecking and ruining the rival gangsters’ operations and killing a significant number of their thuggish members, over a period of several weeks, until the leaders called for terms for peace. Kallig had agreed to meet with the leadership of the rival gang to work out a peace deal.

    Kallig had attended the negotiations with Khem Val and Andronikos Revel backing him up.

    The rival gang leaders numbered five remaining, and each of them had brought two body guards with them.

    Their leader announced, “We’re all here. Let’s introduce ourselves.”

    Kallig agreed, saying, “That’s a good idea. I’ll start. I am Kallig, Lord of the Sith. Then rhetorically, he asked, answering his own question, “Do you know why we are gathered here? It is to discuss peace.” Asking another rhetorical question, which he again answered, he said, “And do you know the first tenet of the Sith Code? Peace is a lie.”

    Where upon he drew and activated his sabrestaff, leaping into the attack, while Andronikos and Khem Val stood back to watch the mayhem. Having betrayed their trust and slaughtering them all, he made them into an example for all other potential rival gangs with ideas of moving in on his operations.

    Later that day, he called to task his lieutenants for withholding information from him, including the fact that they were under attack by rival gangs.

    Kallig killed them both and appointed new lieutenants to take over operations. He warned the new leaders.

    “Don’t make the same mistake of thinking you can steal from me and get away with it. And don’t keep me in the dark if a rival tries to move in on my enterprise. When that happens, I have to take action quickly to protect what’s mine. Am I clear?”

    His two newly appointed lieutenants nodded somberly, replying, “Yes, Lord Kallig.”

    They were shocked at how casually Nox had killed both of their predecessors – who were well liked. After scolding them and pointing out their errors, it seemed that he was done teaching them a lesson, until he suddenly decapitated the two with his lightsaber, one right after the other. No one saw that coming at all. Their bodies lay in spreading pools of blood as he conducted business with his newly appointed lieutenants.

    However, as he conducted his meeting with his new leaders, it immediately became apparent to Kallig that his lieutenants, running his criminal gang, were woefully inadequate to run the technology business. At stake was a potential defense contract, certainly worth hundreds of billions of credits over several years, to supply custom made components manufactured by his company.

    He decided to split off the technology business from the criminal enterprise, recruiting and hiring professional industrialists and business men to ramp up the company’s operations and to increase the pace of research and development of the specialized components.

    Several months later, Lord Kallig had been invited by Moff Valion Pyron to witness the test firing of the Imperial Navy’s new Super Weapon, code named, Silencer. Coincidentally, another task force of Imperial warships was ambushed by a Galactic Republic naval group with numerical superiority in the next sector.

    The three moffs in attendance began to debate amongst themselves about the matter.

    Moff Pyron urged Lord Kallig, “We must complete the test firing, or we will lose our opportunity to win funding from the Dark Council for the weapon system.”

    Moff Dolus remarked, “Well, we can’t leave an ally to die. It would be tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

    Moff Graham noted, “That’s the Carnage, Darth Achelon’s ship.” Turning to Kallig, he asked, “You do know that Darth Achelon serves Darth Thanaton, don’t you, my lord?” Then he advised, “Let him die.”

    Kallig was slightly stunned on hearing Graham’s suggestion, reflecting, “There are four Imperial warships out there with thousands of Imperial soldiers and ship’s crews aboard. Don’t we need every one of them for the war effort?”

    Dolus spoke up, “Exactly so, my lord! We can’t let our allies down!”

    Pyron shook his head with disappointment, telling the young Sith lord, “Lord Kallig, if we miss this opportunity to test the weapon, then all of our efforts will be for naught.”

    Kallig announced to the moffs, “Then we shall do both. We shall save valuable Imperial naval assets, and test the weapon. There are a whole lot of Republic warships that we can test the weapon on in the next sector.”

    Graham and Dolus both looked at Pyron, expecting him to explain things, and he did.

    “Lord Kallig, we’ve never fired the weapon before. We don’t know if…”

    Kallig interrupted, “Moff Pyron, you didn’t call me all the way out here, more than twelve sectors away from my important work, to test a weapon that has a high probability of not working. Did you?”

    “The weapon will work, my lord, but we don’t know what the energy throughput is, yet. It may fire successfully but only end up scorching the paint off of the enemy’s hulls.”

    Resolutely, Kallig ordered, “Tell the Carnage to withdraw out of our field of fire. We will flank the enemy and engage them.”

    Pyron stomped his boot, snapping to attention with the two other moffs joining him, and replied, “Yes, Lord!”

    Kallig kept his pazaak face on, but he was shocked at the moffs’ response to his order. He didn’t expect such deferential obedience to him from such high ranking military officials. But he liked it. He liked it a lot. Kallig was legitimately a bona fide actual lord over Sith. Several weeks before Darth Zash had attempted to take control of his body, she had elevated him above ordinary Sith, granting him the title, Lord of The Sith.

    However, because of his ongoing Kaggath with Darth Thanaton, he’d been viewed as a rogue. His title barely gave his words weight in official circles. Having moffs treat him with such respect was intoxicating to him. It made him crave such deferential treatment even more.

    Lord Kallig swore to himself again, for the umpteenth time, “I will destroy Thanaton, and force the Sith to recognize my power!

    Moff Pyron spoke to the admiral in command of the task force participating in the weapon system test.

    “Admiral Karamon, you shall direct your ships to enter sector wesk fifty seven dash krill six twenty four dash dorn two five two (W57-K624-D252). There, you shall relieve the 3027th Task Force, currently under ambush by Galactic Republic naval forces. As Task Force 3027 disengages the enemy to withdraw from our field of fire, you shall use the Silencer weapon system, mounted on the Doombringer, to engage and destroy the enemy. The dreadnaught Ruiner, its destroyer escort, and your own destroyer escort, shall supplement the Doombringer’s firepower as needed.”

    Admiral Karamon snapped to attention. Stomping his boot, he barked out, “Yes, Moff!”

    Kallig, Pyron, Dolus, and Graham stood quietly and watched as Admiral Karamon held an impromptu conference with the captains of the two dreadnaught warships and the captains of their six destroyer escorts, giving them their orders. They watched as the admiral coordinated with the executive officer, an admiral, of Task Force 3027 on precisely when to maneuver out of the field of fire to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

    The Doombringer, the Ruiner, and their six heavy destroyer escorts traveled for an hour in hyperspace, exiting hyperspace precisely fifty thousand meters from the enemy formation’s rear. Kallig watched the huge display monitor as the Carnage and two of its three escort destroyers shot away into hyperspace, the third heavy destroyer escort ship had been disabled, rendered unable to move. The Republic ships numbering nine, three super battle cruisers and six heavy destroyers, concentrated their fires on the lone crippled Imperial Terminus-class destroyer even as they maneuvered to face the newly arrived Imperial warships.

    The Doombringer’s captain had been issuing commands, readying the Silencer super weapon to fire. Kallig and the three moffs intently watched the battle on the huge display monitor as the weapon was readied for firing. They were surprised by how very quickly the weapon built up its charge, less than twenty seconds.

    A few moments later, an engineer involved in the development of the new weapon system rushed into the control bridge and made a beeline to the ship’s captain. Kallig couldn’t hear what was being said, but he could tell by the captain’s expression that it was not something the captain wanted to hear. Yet, the captain gave a single curt nod, as though approving something. The engineer ran off.

    The captain then announced, as the engineer exited the command bridge, “Moff Pyron, we’ll have to fire the weapon continuously and shift targets to discharge the energy build up. The energy regulator has gone off line and the system is continuously building up a charge without let up. We will overload and blow up if we do not discharge this excess power. I will attempt to target as many enemy ships as possible until the charge has been exhausted, after that, we’ll have to rely on conventional weaponry to complete the counter ambush.”

    Moff Pyron replied, “Very well, carry on.”

    Kallig asked, “How much of a charge have we built up to?”

    Pyron nodded at the captain, giving him leave to address the Sith lord.

    The captain snapped to attention and spoke, “Captain Brance Tokk, commanding officer of the Doombringer, my lord. We are, as of the report given me by the systems development lead engineer, at two hundred and thirty eight percent and rising. If my lord will excuse me, I must issue orders to the targeting team.”

    Kallig replied, “Carry on, then.”

    “Thank you, my lord.” Then, “Weapons Officer, target the ships from left to right, for two seconds each. Sweep the beam across each target, and do not interrupt the discharge of the weapon. The weapon system must be completely discharged.”

    The weapons officer proceeded to reprogram the targeting parameters as he replied, “Yes, Captain!”

    Moff Pyron told Admiral Karamon, “Order the task force to prepare for a prolonged engagement.”

    “Understood, Moff!”

    “Then contact the Carnage and ask them to return to the fray.”

    “Yes, Moff!”

    The weapons officer called out, “Target parameters have been completed. Ready to fire on your command, Captain!”

    The captain ordered, “Commence firing!”

    The triangular Harrower-class dreadnaught has a split bow. In between the split bow, recessed about a third of the length of the ship back from the tip of the split bow, is a humongous two level hanger bay. On the Doombringer, the two level hanger bay had been converted into the machinery room for the enormous Silencer super weapon. The Silencer’s muzzle was a giant ring, three hundred meters in diameter, which created a magnetic field used to focus the energy beam when the enormous energies were discharged. It was called the focusing ring.

    At the forward most tips of the split bow was another magnetic ring which was mounted on gimbals. This was the targeting ring. It swiveled in order to direct the weapon’s energy beam at the target. The targeting ring swiveled from its neutral forward facing position, with its aperture swiveling to target the left most enemy ship.

    Nearly simultaneous to the captain’s order to commence firing, Admiral Karamon ordered, “Task Force, ATTACK!!”

    The Silencer began its programmed firing profile. Starting with the leftmost ship in the enemy’s formation, staying on target for two seconds before the continually discharging energy beam was swept to its next target by the ships targeting computer. The Silencer’s energy beam was deep red. It was almost gossamer in its appearance as one could see the stars tinted red through the dimly lit energy beam.

    It turned out that two seconds of continuous fire was overkill. After the first second of firing, the next second of energy discharge was wasted on a rapidly expanding cloud of debris. At the end of twenty two seconds the beam continued to fire, but all nine enemy ships had already been destroyed. The area they had once occupied had become a dangerous field of giant shrapnel that could shred a fighter in an instant, and cause significant damage to the hulls of any warship that dared to pass through the ever expanding debris field.

    Absolute silence reigned in the control bridge of the Doombringer. Kallig looked around the bridge, as the moffs stood in stupefied silence. The ship’s captain and his weapons officer looked at the targeting information at the weapon control console, whispering to each other about the information they were trying to interpret. Meanwhile the Silencer continued discharging its rapidly recharging power banks until the engineers were finally able to disengage and power down the charging generator.

    Kallig looked at the tactical plotting board at the side of the of the bridge and noticed that none of the Imperial warships were moving, except for the Carnage and its two remaining heavy destroyer escorts, as they reentered the battle field, dropping out of hyperspace.

    Kallig demanded, “What’s happening here? Why aren’t the ships of the task force attacking?!”

    Moff Pyron turned to Kallig with a very grave expression on his face.

    He spoke somberly, “My Lord. We have, singlehanded, destroyed the entire enemy task force.”

    Kallig was mystified. He couldn’t believe it.

    Incredulous, he said, “We won. We won and the Silencer worked! Yet everyone here is behaving as though we were at a wake!”

    Moff Pyron said, “I’ve never presided over a battle where we nearly instantaneously killed eighty to a hundred thousand ships’ crews and ground troops in less than twenty seconds, Lord Kallig.”

    Kallig became angry on hearing this from the moff.

    He said, “We are at war, Moff Pyron. Have you forgotten? It’s either us, or it’s them! We have a new weapon system that will help to end the war much sooner – in victory for us! Countless Imperial lives will be saved, and if the enemy have the good sense to surrender after a few beatings with this new weapon, then it’ll result in their lives being saved, too. Do not forget, that over an hour ago, you were willing to sacrifice four Imperial warships and their nearly forty thousand ship crews and ground troops, to test the weapon!”

    Moff Pyron was brought up, short on that last statement. His anger began to rise until he realized the truth of it.

    He told Kallig, “My lord, you are quite correct. I apologize for my moment of weakness. Next time, I will work hard to prevent the loss of Imperial troops and ships and work feverishly to increase the slaughter of Republic forces.”

    Kallig wasn’t sure what to make of that comment, whether the moff was speaking facetiously. He merely nodded his acknowledgement.

    Following the successful test firing of the new prototype super weapon system – against enemy ships – and following the successful rescue of most of Darth Achelon’s naval task force (the crippled destroyer was a loss, but the surviving crews and troops aboard had been rescued), the Imperial Navy had a much easier time selling the new weapon system to the Dark Council.

    In light of the surprisingly short and one-sided battle, thanks to the Silencer, the Dark Council voted to approve production of the new weapon system to be retrofitted into some of the existing Harrower-class dreadnought warships, this, over the loud objections of Darth Thanaton, citing costs.

    Future versions of the Harrower-class warship would be built with the weapon system natively integrated into them. With this, Lord Kallig returned to the Dark Council’s notice, which also began to recognize his power, as Thanaton seemed to be having trouble eliminating him.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Nine years later, Nox sat in the board room listening to the CEO’s report. His technologies business was successful. It continued to manufacture the components, which had to be replaced after only a few dozen firings of the weapon system because of the intense energy that coursed through those parts, wearing them down quickly. Additionally, the company had developed new technological products with civilian applications. These technologies enjoyed a respectable share of the civilian markets, both in Hutt space and in Sith Imperial space.

    However, Transformative Technologies had several serious issues to contend with. The problems the executives were encountering stemmed from breaches in their computer security across their networks. On several occasions, attempts had been made to slice into their computer systems to steal information. However, these slicing attacks were successfully thwarted by the business’ cybersecurity section. Additionally, attempts had also been made by actual thieves to break into the facilities, after hours, to commit sabotage and or theft.

    A security consultant the executives of Transformative Technologies had hired suggested that the S.I.S., the Galactic Republic’s spy organization, may have been behind the attempted breaches in security. The Neimoidian female security consultant demonstrated how she believed the S.I.S. was carrying out their slicing operations.

    Transformative Technologies’ computer network systems manager told Nox, “The holo-net security consultant showed me that by accessing the physical holo-net hardware through which our data flows, thirty stories below in the central network hub, the S.I.S. have been connecting directly to our lines to access our networks.”

    Darth Nox turned to his CEO and told him, “Get Mulaboo on. I want to talk to him.”

    Veld Ming Terrek nodded to his secretary.

    Shortly thereafter, the holographic image of a male Twi’lek appeared above the conference table.

    “Offices of the mighty and regal Mulaboo The Hutt. Who calls?”

    The CEO answered, “I’m Veld Ming Terrek, CEO of Transformative Technologies. The sole owner of Transformative Technologies is here with me. He wishes to speak with Mulaboo The Hutt.”

    The Twi’lek asked, “And? What is this sole owner’s name?”

    The CEO answered plainly, “Darth Nox, Dark Lord of The Sith and a ruler on the Sith Empire’s Dark Council.”

    The Twi’lek, initially startled, quickly recovered his cool as he replied, “I will tell his most resplendent and august mogul of this most auspicious caller. Please bear with me as I announce Darth Nox to Mulaboo The Hutt.”

    Word of Darth Nox’s previous visit to Nar Shaddaa, only three months prior, had gotten around to the Hutts and was still fresh in their minds. None of the Hutts wanted to provoke the Sith Empire anymore than had already been done. The top Hutt moguls were still very sore at the Jedi Council and at the Galactic Republic for the trouble which the Hutts had very narrowly averted with the very warlike Sith Empire. The Hutts had expelled several dozen Galactic Republic diplomats and Jedi representatives, ordering the closing of a Jedi enclave on Nar Shaddaa as punishment for the stunt that nearly put them in jeopardy with the Sith Empire.

    Very shortly thereafter, the image of a corpulent slug-like creature, adorned with tattoos and jewelry, appeared. He spoke through his interpreter. Listening to the Hutt’s deep, guttural Huttese translated into Huttese accented Basic was grating on Darth Nox’s nerves, but he put up with it for the sake of conducting business.

    Mulaboo The Hutt said, “The infamous and most famous of all Sith lords in our times! I am honored to speak to a personage such as you. I am pleased to be involved in many business arrangements with you, both through your private business enterprises and through your official governmental operations. I hope that your presence here signals new opportunities for us to enter into new business arrangements. How can I be of service?”

    Nox reciprocated with a wordy greeting of his own, but to the Hutt mogul’s chagrin, Nox’s greeting was filled with disparaging observations which, based on Hutt culture was offensive to the Hutt mogul.

    “Mulaboo, most notable mogul, I am pleased to be greeted in such a warm manner. It gives me confidence that you truly appreciate my business. However, I have cause to be much less than happy with some of the services provided at the facilities I have been leasing from you.”

    With this, in accordance to Hutt custom, Mulaboo The Hutt and Darth Nox set the tone and scope of the coming dialogue.

    Mulaboo The Hutt, feigning shock and dismay, replied, “Hearing of your dissatisfaction troubles me greatly. I am chagrined to learn that we have fallen short and have failed to meet your expectations. Please tell me precisely how we’ve failed, so that we can make things right.”

    Darth Nox knew the Hutt would immediately deny fault and deflect responsibility back at Nox’s people, which Nox would then have to follow up with detailed specifics of how the Hutt was at fault. However, Nox was not going to follow the full dance routine with the Hutt. He was going to get right to the point. He knew it would anger the Hutt, but Nox did not have a lot of time to waste on Hutt niceties and Hutt manners to get the concessions he needed from them.

    Nox said pointedly, “SIS agents are successfully slicing into my computers at my businesses and at the Sith Empire’s facilities. We know the SIS is bribing your holo-net administrators to gain physical access to our lines. This needs to stop immediately.

    “If you cannot make it stop, I will move my private businesses out of your facilities, and I will order all Imperial diplomatic services, and other Imperial government assets, to move out of your building. I will take all of our business to your rival, Felban The Hutt.”

    All told, Nox’s businesses and the Sith Empire’s official presence made up fully twenty percent of Mulaboo’s occupancies.

    Nox wasn’t done, however, adding, “We pay an additional percentage on our leases for security. Yet thieves find it incredibly simple to slip past your security forces and routinely break into my businesses.”

    To drive the point home while further embarrassing the Hutt mogul, Nox added, “I hope those are not your own security forces that are proving to be systemically corrupt. I hope these failures are third party contracted security services that are failing both you and me. If so, then it would be a simple matter for you to replace them. For thieves to so easily bypass so many guards can only mean they sleep at their posts, or are so easily bribed to look the other way. Perhaps they are not adequately paid for their work.”

    The Hutt mogul, so very offended and so thoroughly humiliated, forgot himself and spoke to Nox in very good Galactic Republic accented Basic. Doing so betrayed his frustration at having been told so very bluntly by a tenant, although a very important tenant, about the short comings of his facilities’ services.

    The Hutt said, tersely, “I will investigate this problem.”

    Nox pointedly replied, “Good. I hope it will lead to improved services. I am pleased that we could find a solution that will yield favorable results for both of our interests.”

    The Hutt mogul cut the connection.

    Nox immediately turned to his CEO and said, “Veld, stay on top of this. If you don’t see an immediate improvement, or if you see an elevated rate of attacks, report it to me immediately.”

    The CEO replied, “Yes, Dark Lord.”

    Darth Nox asked, “Is there anything else that I need to know about?”

    Veld Ming Terrek, CEO of Transformative Technologies, answered the sole owner of Transformative Technologies, “Actually, there is something I’d like you to consider. As a recap, please be assured Transformative Technologies is doing very well. We have developed new tech that has opened new avenues for growth.

    “With that in mind, please note that we will eventually outgrow these facilities. We will hit a wall in product output as our need to ramp up production becomes ever more hampered by the physical constraints of our present manufacturing center. I would like leave, to buy real estate to build a larger manufacturing facility to move into.”

    Incredulous, Nox asked, “Have you any idea what real estate costs on Nar Shaddaa, or on Hutta for that matter?!”

    CEO Veld Ming replied, “I was thinking, Quesh, Makeb, Ziost, or even Dromund Kaas. However, I would like to avoid relocating to Imperial space, if possible.”

    Nox, felt a sudden surge of anger, fear, and disapproval from the executives of Transformative Technologies seated at the conference table with him.

    He asked, “Avoid Imperial Space? Why?” Nox quickly added, “And for reasons I will not state, stay away from Makeb.”

    The CEO of Transformative Technologies, replied, “Aside from the components we manufacture for the Imperial Navy, our new line of products have non-military uses, and it would be profitable to be able to do business with all markets, not just those aligned with the Empire.”

    Nox shook his head slowly side to side in utter amazement. He was honestly shocked at what his CEO suggested. He was taken by such surprise that he burst into loud laughter, looking at the faces of the corporate executives seated around the table with him. Their angry faces were aimed at the CEO.

    They knew of his ideas of opening new markets for their business. However, to suggest potentially treasonous behavior to a dark lord put all of their necks on the line, not just Veld’s neck.

    When he stopped laughing, Nox said, “I can’t believe you are asking a dark lord, seated on the Dark Council, to knowingly trade with an enemy with whom we are at war.”

    CEO Veld Ming Terrek replied calmly and in a businesslike manner, “Businesses in Hutt space are neutral and are much freer to do business with whomever pays.”

    Nox, deeply impressed, could feel Veld’s internal struggle to hold his fear in check, even as he exuded a facade of false confidence. Veld began to fear that he had made a terrible miscalculation.

    Despite his growing fears, Veld Ming added as though it was a bonus, “Plus we will be selling products that only have civilian applications to those other markets.”

    Nox explained, “The difficulty lies in that I – a dark lord on the Dark Council – am the sole owner of this business. It’ll look very bad for me, politically. I can’t chance that.”

    The executives of Transformative Technologies nodded their heads vehemently in agreement with the dark lord.

    He won the executives’ approval when he added, “If Transformative Technologies sold these civilian application only components to non-Imperial traders – not aligned with the enemy, then I would be satisfied with that.” However, he surprised them all when he added, “I am too busy to notice if these wholly unrelated businesses, which I do not own, and which I have no control over, unscrupulously distributed the civilian only application components to Republic scum – while in Hutt controlled space.

    “I am not responsible for where unrelated third – and fourth – party businesses sell goods that I manufacture. If they get caught, it’s their problem.” He added, “Of course, these third and fourth party businesses, which I have no control over, would need to hide the fact that the manufacturer is based in the Sith Empire. The Republic would likely confiscate such goods.”

    Using this dialogue, Nox conveyed – without actually saying it, how to set up third and fourth party buyers who could do business in Republic space from Hutt space, without directly connecting Nox’s business to those transactions, and how to hide this fact from the Republic. Nox did not convey to his corporate executives that he’d already been selling art and other goods in Republic space, for years, through third party art dealers.

    With that, the CEO replied, “In that case, I think we can settle on Quesh. It’s still in Hutt space, so it would be easier to hide the fact that we are an Imperial aligned business. We can sell our goods to dealers in Imperial space and in Hutt space. It’s their business where in the galaxy our goods are ultimately distributed.”

    Darth Nox simply said, “Keep me informed.”

    He rose to his feet, as did everyone else at the table. Nox walked out of the boardroom. Even before the doors slid completely shut, he could hear the angry execs shouting their questions at Veld Ming Terrek, the CEO of Transformative Technologies. The doors slid shut cutting off their angry voices. Nox laughed at their consternation, deciding to give the CEO a large bonus and pay increase.

    Just as he reached the reception lobby outside of the executive office suite, he spotted a diminutive figure dressed in dark red robes with black accents. The lone figure wore a black mask with red accents underneath a hood, which was pulled over her head.

    The individual quickly rose from where she’d been sitting. Nox could see the breast plate armor was formed to accommodate the female form. She knelt before Nox.

    The very short female spoke, “Dark Lord, you honor me greatly by summoning me. I am ready to serve. What is your will, Dark Lord?”

    Nox replied, “Let me see your face, Darth Virulous.”

    He felt no emotions emanate from her as she pulled back her hood and removed her armored mask. Her face was an emotionless mask. Her eyes were cast down. Despite how well she masked her feelings with The Force and with a sabacc face, Nox knew she had to be apprehensive at the least.

    But Nox nodded with approval at what he saw. He stepped closer to inspect her hair and scalp. He took note of the fragrance of her shampoo, and became excited and aroused by it.

    Nox quickly stepped back, attempting to hide his feelings as he told Virulous, “The physicians of Manaan are renowned for their medical prowess. They have lived up to their reputation. It is as though no harm had ever befallen you.”

    Nox could see relief show on her face very briefly as he added, “It was money very well spent.”

    Virulous replied, “Thank you, Dark Lord. I swear I shall repay my debt to you.”

    Nox spoke magnanimously, saying, “It is your reward for a job very well done, both on Tatooine, and on Nar Shaddaa. Despite your very poor state, you succeeded in keeping that Jedi away from my servant, and protected my ship until my arrival.”

    Nox added hurriedly, because he did not want to be perceived as getting soft, “If you had suffered no injuries and were beaten by that Jedi, it would have been an embarrassment. Your terrible wounds though, gave you a terrible handicap that he was too weak to fully exploit. It was his failure.”

    Virulous was not sure how to accept his seemingly grudging praise, so she simply replied, “You honor me greatly, Dark Lord. Thank you.”

    Nox was embarrassed at himself for becoming flustered, and it angered him.

    He spoke gruffly, “We have work. Follow me. I will brief you on the ship.”

    Khem Val had been standing quietly in the corner of the reception room observing the interaction between the two.

    He asked himself, “What has she done to trouble my master so?
     
  15. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    I'll be posting two chapters, because they're both pretty short.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________​


    A Tense Conference​

    In the navigator's seat, Andronikos navigated Nox’s starship to a place in deep space, actually far outside of the galaxy proper. Andronikos, looking out the main canopy, was stunned at the strange view of the galaxy. He was transfixed by its sheer scale and beauty. His ship was above the disk of the galaxy and considerably beyond the Outer Rim. He had an angled top down view of the enormous spiral galaxy that he’d never seen before in all of his years flying through space.

    The semi retired pirate thought out loud, “That’s just gorgeous.”

    He had navigated the ship through a series of hyperspace jumps, over a period of several long days. Andronikos went to work on the calculations for their final jump, while the ship coasted through space with that pretty view of the entire galaxy outside of the main canopy. It was an especially difficult flight, because there were no navigation beacons to help make sure he was on course. He was manually double checking both the navigation computer’s and 2V-R8’s hyperspace jump calculations to be sure there were no errors.

    The ship droid, trying to be helpful, said, “Captain, you could save several minutes by relying on a comparison between my calculations and that of the navigation computer. If you are concerned over accuracy, there is a far higher likelihood that any errors in calculations will be yours.”

    Andronikos told the droid, “Come closer, R8.”

    The droid stood closer to Andronikos, seated at the navigation station. The pirate lifted himself partially from his seat and reached behind the droid’s neck, pushing a button, thus deactivating the droid.

    Letting himself sink back into his seat, he ordered the droid, “Now, calculate that hyperspace jump again.”

    Of course, there was no response from the droid.

    Andronikos told the powered down machine, “You see? That’s why.”

    When the ship dropped out of hyperspace from its final jump, it was far higher above the galaxy, over the Mid-Rim region. The ship was directly over the spiral galaxy but not centered over it. However Andronikos didn’t get to enjoy the view, as he found himself shocked to find his ship approaching a massive fleet of Imperial warships.

    There were literally many thousands of ships showing on his scanners. Most were support ships, of every kind, running supplies between the massive warships or conducting large maintenance operations on them. The actual fighting warships made about a third of the total number of the ships swarming around a massive deep space station undergoing the final phases of its construction.

    Andronikos became smug as he announced to Nox, who sat behind him in the commander’s seat, a few moments before the ship dropped out of hyperspace, “On time, on target, and of course – on course. Here we are, Boss.” Then he observed, “Look at the size of that fleet! How is it these guys aren’t fighting? What’re they waiting for, a cordial invitation to a dance at the brawl?”

    Almost immediately after Andronikos’ remarks, the ship came under heavy scrutiny. It was aggressively scanned, locked on targeting computers, and maneuvered against by several flights of rapidly approaching fighter craft and a single raid shuttle, used in boarding operations against hostile ships. Meanwhile, the fleet flight control officer challenged Nox’s ship on local audio only communications.

    “Unidentified ship, state your flight ID number!”

    Andronikos replied, “This is flight three Dorn, dash eight two four, dash Forn Dorn seven, dash two Cresh Leth seven (3D-824-FD7-2CL7).”

    The flight control officer shouted, “Unidentified ship, halt in place, prepare to be boarded!”

    As Andronikos began slowing the ship to come to a stop, he told Nox, “Boss, it looks we’re not welcome, here. They’re gonna board the ship.”

    Darth Nox put on his head phones and mike, as he told Andronikos, “Be ready to get us out of here.” Then he spoke on the audio only channel, “Marr! You ack dog! This is a trap you’ve devised to kill me! Isn’t it?! I’ll make you pay for this outrage!”

    Darth Marr came on immediately, “Darth Nox, this is not a trap. If it were, my fleet would have already disintegrated your ship. You are well within range of my destroyers’ cannons and they are not firing. Do not fault the officers for being diligent in their duties.”

    Nox looked skeptical, but remained silent.

    Marr came back on, telling Nox, “Let us speak face to face. The matter I must discuss with you is known to only a very few, and the details must remain secret.”

    Nox told his rival, “I’m not going alone, Marr. I’ll meet you with my servants.”

    Marr replied, “Very well, bring as many servants as you’d like.”

    Nox told Andronikos, “Take us inside Darth Marr’s flagship.”

    Andronikos kept his thoughts to himself, “We should just bug out!” Aloud, he asked for instructions, “This is 3D-824-FD7-2CL7. Request permission to approach and to dock with flagship. Need approach and landing instructions.”

    Andronikos accelerated the ship from a dead stop and made course corrections in order to approach the flagship. Less than an hour later, Nox was walking down the ramp of his ship with Khem Val preceding him and Virulous at his right side. Andronikos remained on the ship with 2V – R8, reactivated and ready to launch the ship at a moment’s notice.

    Darth Marr was in the landing bay waiting for Nox’s arrival. He was flanked by two Sith attendants. Khem Val dropped back to Nox’s right side, forcing Virulous to switch to Nox’s left side. She took offense, but kept silent.

    Darth Marr suddenly walked towards the side of the landing bay, leaving his attendants behind. Nox and his attendants halted in their steps. He looked in the direction Marr walked and found he was headed to a pilots’ ready room with a wall of permaglass. Through the permaglass, one could see the five rows of chairs bolted to the deck and a large display board on one of the walls in front of the chairs. The room was empty of personnel.

    Nox told his subordinates, “Stay here. If Marr and I start to battle, then go about destroying everything that enters this landing bay. If we start fighting, you can eat all that you wish, Khem.”

    Khem Val replied, “I hope he will give my master a reason to do battle, so that I may feast.”

    Nox answered, “I hope not. That would...” Then he changed his mind, saying, “Actually, that would be convenient for me.”

    Virulous spoke fervently.

    “If he betrays you, I shall avenge his insult a thousand fold my dark lord!”

    Nox nodded his acknowledgment, and then proceeded to follow Marr to the glass walled conference room.

    The glass door slid shut behind Nox, shutting out the noise of the busy hanger bay. Nox settled to stand at the end of the conference room nearest the door he’d entered, leaving the other end of it to Marr who was already in the room waiting. Marr stood in the isle between the first row of seats and the thick permaglass wall. Nox stood at the opposite end of the room, between the last row of seats and the permaglass wall. Both Sith stood a moment, sizing up the other.

    His patience expended, Nox spoke irritably, telling Marr, “I am here. Tell me what your plan is!”

    Marr, clearly reining in his anger, replied testily, “I was about to tell you that the Hutts have quietly taken control of Makeb.” Regaining his composure, he continued more calmly, adding, “Since then, they have been mining it of its isotope five. Your mission is to quietly infiltrate the planet, locate their stockpile, and capture it for the empire.

    “The idea is to do so without attracting the Republic’s notice. We cannot afford to let the Republic know that we are there to take control of that stockpile.”

    Darth Nox reflected aloud, his voice subdued, “Then it is true. What you told me is true. We are losing this war.”

    Nox shook his head slowly in disbelief.

    Casting his gaze downward and looking introspectively, he added, “If only Darth Vengean had not been assassinated. He was leading the empire to victory.” Returning his gaze towards Marr, he added accusingly, “Then you took over.”

    Marr shouted angrily, “True! I took over leading a war effort that started out well! Unfortunately, Darth Vengean’s brilliant surprise offensive did not have a follow up plan for defending our conquests! He literally started the war without a plan for defending our conquests and did not plan for the long term defense of our winnings! He had no plan for winning this poorly thought out adventure!”

    Marr furiously slammed the side of his armored gloved fist onto the 2 inch thick permaglass wall beside him, unintentionally using The Force when he did, so the permaglass shattered into thousands of pieces. Suddenly the noise of a busy hanger deck flooded the pilots’ ready room.

    Lowering his arm, Marr stared at the small sea of glass fragments that had scattered onto the floor of the conference room and which had also spilled out onto the hanger deck. When Marr had shattered the tough-as-durasteel permaglass, Nox’s heart had leapt into his throat and his hand had flashed onto his sabrestaff, grasping it but not detaching it from his utility belt. He thought he’d gone too far and pushed Marr into a raging attack. However, the moment had passed with nothing else coming from it.

    In the landing bay, both Khem Val and Virulous were startled into drawing and activating their weapons, but neither of them moved. Marr’s attendants had similarly reacted. Both Marr’s and Nox’s people traded nervous glances at each other and at the two dark lords of Sith in the pilot’s ready room.

    When it became apparent that the two dark lords would not join in battle, their attendants began to deactivate their weapons one by one, starting with one of Marr’s people, followed by Virulous, then Marr’s other attendant. Khem Val, however, was Khem Val. He was slightly disappointed that nothing had come of the outburst, stubbornly keeping his weapon activated and at the ready.

    As Nox released his weapon, he thought of Marr, “He is so stubbornly reserved!” Studying his rival’s armored cybernetic mask beneath his hooded cloak, and wondering if he would ever get to see the man’s face behind the mask, he thought, “One day, after I kill him, I’ll have a look.

    Returning his gaze to Nox, Marr acknowledged, “Now falls to me the task of pulling the Sith Empire out of this mess, but it is an undertaking that is too large for one man alone. It requires the minds and resources of all of us on the Dark Council.”

    Marr shook his head in disbelief, adding, “Amazingly, only a small fraction of the Dark Council care enough to do something about it. It’s a wonder the dark councilors who couldn’t be bothered to do anything have even bothered to give me any resources at all.”

    Nox shook his head in disbelieving amazement, as he thought, “I can’t believe this. I’m on the losing side. The Empire will be destroyed!

    Then fury overtook him as the implications for what that meant for his own ambitions became apparent. He felt cheated and frustrated.

    Nox shouted at himself, “I cannot be on the losing side! I cannot lose! I refuse to lose!”

    Marr seized on that and replied, “Then let us set aside our rivalry and focus our power on the matter of not losing this war.”

    Nox tacitly agreed to the truce, asking, “What other assets can you provide, besides what you have already promised on our last conference call? And how do I get this isotope five off world?”

    Marr replied, “Remember, we must maintain a small presence on Makeb to hide our activities there. You have enough for that. Once you have control of the isotope five, and communicate this to me, I shall send a naval task force to conduct a planetary raid.

    “Imperial troops shall quickly reinforce your position, and then load the isotope five onto cargo ships to bring it to the fleet before the Republic can interfere. The isotope five shall then be brought to the space station, under construction, to refine the new fuel, and to refit our ships’ reactor cores, starting with our dreadnoughts.”

    Nox thought, “Ah! That’s why he’s building that station all the way out here.

    Nox gave Marr a dubious look, as he replied unconvincingly, “Yes. I’m sure that’ll work.”

    Marr gave Nox an appraising look, but Nox could not see it through his mask.

    Nox began to wonder why Marr stared until he spoke, telling him, “Darth Nox, I say this to you, not because I lack confidence in you.”

    Marr thought of Nox’s war record. Darth Nox, when he was known as Lord Kallig, had conquered the planets of Balmora and Corellia. While temporarily working for Darth Gravus, he had ripped Taris from Republic control when he ruthlessly sabotaged their efforts to resettle the ruined world.

    Most recently, Nox had crushed the Republic’s covert effort to retake Taris, and he conquered a deep space station from a Dark Council rival, Acina. In Marr’s mind, there was no doubt that Darth Nox was a warrior and a conqueror. Then there was that matter of Nox bringing Darth Zash back from beyond The Force. Even Emperor Vitiate acknowledged Nox’s power before the Dark Council.

    Marr told Nox, “Darth Nox, I told you once before, if we do not secure this stockpile of isotope five to fuel our Navy, then we shall witness the end of our empire. I approached you to undertake this task, because I believe you represent our best hope for success.”

    Nox was flummoxed at what he heard Marr say. His shock showed on his face.

    He asked rhetorically, while giving a back-handed compliment in return, “Praise?! Praise from my most potent rival?”

    Annoyed, Marr replied, testily, “I do not dole out such praise lightly, Darth Nox.”

    Nox made a casual observation, “With circumstances, such as they are, you’d think Emperor Vitiate would get his hands dirty to protect his empire.”

    Marr found Nox’s irreverent comment telling. He had been wondering about the Sith Emperor’s silence, too. The Emperor’s Hand, Voice, and Wrath had all fallen silent as well. Marr’s agents, operating secretly on Tython, had reported rumors circulating among the heathen Jedi of their assassins making two attempts at killing the Sith Emperor, with the second attempt ending in success. However, those were only rumors. There was no evidence – except for the Emperor’s silence.

    Marr, answered carefully, only saying, “One would think.” Then he concluded the meeting, telling Nox, “Your team is already on the ground setting up a base of operations. If you had not undertaken this task, then it would have been me, but I have already told you, I cannot lead the war effort and this operation, both, and be effective at either.”

    Nox replied, “Then I had better get started.”

    Without another word, both Marr and Nox turned to walk out of the conference room, stepping through the broken permaglass frame, their boots crunching on the broken glass. Marr turned to walk into the bowels of his flagship, his attendants rushing to catch up to him, while Nox walked back towards Virulous and Khem Val. It had been the intention of both dark lords to leave the other in his wake, but neither Sith was left behind in the room. Both had walked out, together.

    Nox thought disgustedly, “Another tie!” Then he began to wonder, “Why hasn’t the Emperor even said a single word? He’s going to lose his empire!

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________​


    Mass Graves​


    It was late morning, nearly midday, a week after his meeting with Darth Marr, when Darth Nox walked down the ramp of a compact stealth starship used to insert and extract Black Ops teams in to and out from deep behind enemy lines. He was trailed by Darth Virulous and Khem Val.

    They walked from a hastily built landing pad in the thin woods down a dirt path to a small warehouse complex outside of a small village. Darth Nox observed several dozen medium duty droids, presumably confiscated from the locals, filling in what looked to him to be mass graves.

    He shook his head, frustrated that things seemed to be starting off on the wrong foot, thinking, “Our presence is not to be felt, yet here we are creating a huge footprint!

    As the dark lord approached the warehouse complex from the woods, two light infantry troops guarding the warehouse entrance snapped to attention.

    Nox asked one of the troops, “Who is in charge here, and where can I find him?”

    The soldier whom Nox addressed spoke, “My lord...”

    Khem Val grabbed his vibrosword from its bracket on the back of his armored cuirass and, activating it, swung the weapon smartly until the point of his weapon snapped to a stop centimeters from the soldiers face.

    His weapon menaced the soldier with its high pitched warbling hum, while the Dashade spoke menacingly at the startled soldier.

    “Worm! You address, Darth Nox, a dark lord of the Sith! If you do not wish to become my excrement, then address him properly!”

    The soldier dressed in the charcoal gray uniform and the charcoal gray can-helm of the light infantry, stood even straighter and shouted, “Yes lord!” Then addressing Darth Nox, shouted, “Darth Nox, dark lord of the Sith, Katha Niar is in command, but she’s away! Lord Cytharat is in charge while she’s gone, Dark Lord of The Sith, Sir!!

    Darth Nox told the soldier, “You may address me as Dark Lord.”

    Khem Val deactivated his weapon and returned it to its bracket, as he followed Darth Nox into the building.

    The soldier shouted his reply, “Yes, Dark Lord!”

    Virulous stopped long enough to tell the soldier, “It isn’t necessary to shout at the top of your lungs all of the time.”

    The soldier replied normally, but crisply, “Yes, my lord.”

    Virulous ducked into the building, walking quickly to catch up to Nox and Khem Val.

    When the other soldier was sure that the Sith were out of hearing range, he chortled and spoke just loud enough for his comrade to hear.

    “You’re lucky that monster didn’t make you into his excrement.” Then he asked, “What kind of threat is that? What is that suppose to even mean?”

    His friend replied, “I don’t know about that excrement comment, but his vibrosword in my face was a real enough threat for me.”

    The two soldiers shared a couple of low chuckles, together. They had no idea that Khem Val was actually speaking literally, never having seen nor even heard of the very rare and nearly extinct Dashade in either of their lives.

    Meanwhile, Virulous had caught up to her lord and found a Sith Pureblood kneeling before him. He addressed her master.

    “Dark Lord! You honor us all with your presence!”

    Darth Nox, seeing the age of this Sith lord was surprised that he was not in command. He looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties. He had a look about him that said he was a seasoned veteran, but Nox couldn’t help but think that something was off.

    Nox spoke about this, saying, “When I’d heard from the troops posted at the door, that a Sith lord was ‘in charge while the non-Sith commander was away, I expected to see a brand new scrappy Sith, fresh from the academy.”

    Lord Cytharat became humiliated, but he kept his temper as he humiliatingly explained to Nox, “Dark Lord, it is true. I am a Lord of The Sith and not in command of this operation.”

    Darth Nox became embarrassed on hearing this. There were non-Sith in the room, and to have a Sith lord, a lord over other Sith at that - confess, in the presence of these non-Sith, to being so weak that he was placed under the command of a non-Sith was too degrading. To make matters worse, Lord Cytharat was a Sith Pureblood, just like Nox. This fact further compounded Nox’s embarrassment of the situation.

    Nox asked, “How is it that the fate of the Sith Empire rests in the balance, and Darth Marr thinks to assign a weakling to my team?” Shaking his head in disbelief, Nox added, “This is a disgrace. Does Marr mean to mock me?”

    Lord Cytharat, from the depths of disgrace, spoke.

    “Dark Lord, I am not weak. I was once the apprentice of Darth Malgus, the betrayer. I did not follow him in his rebellion, but in those days, I was too weak to stop him.”

    Lord Cytharat, too ashamed to look Darth Nox in the eye, told the dark lord, “Later, I learned it was you who slew that betrayer.”

    He tried to speak in a business-like tone, but ended up sounding more ashamed as he told Darth Nox, “Darth Marr has been testing my allegiance to the true Sith Emperor, Vitiate.”

    Darth Nox nodded his comprehension when Lord Cytharat explained, “Darth Marr trusts me to accomplish my tasks, but he does not wish to honor me by assigning me leadership status.”

    Nox agreed, telling Cytharat, “Nor should he. As you are now, you are an embarrassment. You have forgotten the Sith Code.” Nox shook his head at the abject failure that knelt before him, adding, I can’t fathom why Marr would suffer your existence, unless he sees something worth salvaging, but I don’t see it.”

    Cytharat found himself sinking ever deeper into the depths of shame and humiliation, yet he found a very dim ray of hope, when Nox next said, “Perhaps after this mission you’ll have shown me whether it is worth the effort to salvage you.”

    Just then, Nox heard a woman’s voice behind him. He turned about and saw the woman dressed in the uniform of an Imperial logistics bureaucrat.

    Darth Nox didn’t like being interrupted. He snapped at her, “What do you want?! Spill it!”

    The woman, so taken aback and so thoroughly startled, couldn’t seem to decide whether to remain standing, snapping to attention, or to kneel like everyone else in the room. After a few false starts, she finally dropped to her hands and knees.

    Then she repeated herself, shouting much as the soldier at the door had earlier, “Dark Lord! I am Katha Niar!” She added, “I commanded this operation until your arrival! I am ready to give you a full report, Dark Lord!”

    Darth Nox had become irritable and snapped at her again, “You’re not even a military officer!” Shaking his head in utter disappointment, he spoke with disgust tinging his words, “Very well, get us to your office and begin your briefing! Hurry, I haven’t got all day!”

    Katha Niar’s voice began shaking with her growing fear. Darth Nox’s noxious aura was threatening to drive her to tears. It was already having a markedly negative effect on the non-Sith in the room. Darth Virulous and Lord Cytharat had used The Force to guard themselves from Nox’s aura, and Khem Val was simply immune to it, but the non-Force using soldiers and technicians in the warehouse felt crushed under Nox’s malign aura.

    Katha fearfully told him, “Dark Lord, I don’t have an office. I work here with...”

    Darth Nox, having lost his patience, shouted at her, “Be silent!”

    Turning to Virulous, Nox commanded, “Get everyone back to work. Find out what it is that they do, and then determine if what they are doing is a waste of time.”

    Nox didn’t wait for his apprentice’s reply as he ordered, “Katha Niar! Cytharat! Follow me!”

    Darth Nox walked out of the warehouse building and returned to the woods down the dirt path he’d used to get to the warehouse. He stopped at one of the earthen berms, which he believed was a mass grave. Nox halted, spun about to face the two, and found Khem Val standing behind the woman and the disgraced Sith lord.

    Nox asked the two, “Why are there mass graves, here?”

    Just then, the ground began to shake. As the seconds wore on, the shaking became worse. A loud ear splitting crack announced the demise of one of the larger trees in the woods some distance away, as its thick trunk sheared in two, toppling the tree. Nox used The Force to remain attached to the ground so that he would not be flung about. He watched as the others were bounced around. The trees’ large boughs swayed up and down, as though they were waving frantically.”

    Khem Val, the disgraced Sith, and the woman were thrown off of their feet. They grabbed onto whatever they could, that was rooted to the ground. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the ground quake subsided. Despite using The Force to keep from getting knocked about, Nox was still badly affected by the violent shaking.

    He said aloud, to no one in particular, “I hope that hurt our enemies more than it hurt us.”

    Khem Val said with amazement in his tone, “My master, I have found an enemy that I cannot defeat! It is the monster that shook this world!”

    Katha Niar said, “Dark Lord, the ground quakes are one of our problems.”

    Nox looked at her, expectantly. However, she remained silent after that.

    After a while, Nox objected loudly, “You make that sound as though it is a common occurrence, here! Please, say I’ve mistaken your meaning!”

    Katha Niar replied in a tone that made it seem all was lost.

    “Dark Lord, in the week that we have been here, we got a lot of work done. We have learned three very important things, one, the location of the isotope five stockpile: two, what the stockpile had been used for, and thirdly, the cause of these massive ground quakes.”

    Nox shook his head, already sensing that he was about to get a very bad answer.

    He asked, “What did the Hutts do with the stockpile of isotope five?”

    Katha Niar looked down at the ground and shook her head sorrowfully, telling Nox the worst.

    “They converted nearly all of it into a solid fuel state that we cannot use. They chemically converted it all into an oxide and mixed it into a ceramic-like material. They placed the cylindrical pellets into thin metal tubes, making them into rods. The rods were then used to fuel reactors which power their new war droids which are equipped with antimatter particle beam blaster cannons.”

    Nox asked, “Can we take the fuel from the droids and convert it all back again?”

    Katha Niar, still looking at the ground, shook her head in the negative, replying, “No, Dark Lord. When the reactors in the war droids were started up, the fuel changed its characteristics and became something else. It isn’t isotope five anymore.”

    Darth Nox said, “Secrecy will work against us. We must mine isotope five for ourselves. We must take control of the mines.”

    Katha Niar still looking at Nox’s feet with a look of defeat on her face shook her head, then said, “Dark Lord, the ground quakes have been getting worse and more frequent because of the instability caused to the planet’s core during the mining process. At some point, soon, the core will destabilize. The mantel will become turbulent, causing the crust to fold into the mantel. The planet will destroy itself. We do not have enough time to mine the isotope five before this happens.”

    Nox thought to himself, “So, this is Marr’s game! He saw his efforts failing. He passes it on to me, and I get left holding the bag when it all goes bad!

    Nox asked, “Do the Hutts know about this impending destruction?”

    Katha Niar answered, “Yes, Dark Lord. It is why they hurry their operations to evacuate the planet with their droids and the little remaining isotope five in their stockpile.”

    Lord Cytharat finally spoke, but reticently, telling Nox, “Dark Lord, if we can draw the mercenaries away from the mines, we can begin to mine the isotope five for ourselves, as you have said. Although Katha Niar has good reason not to present you this option, I find that I cannot deny you the chance to at least consider it.”

    Nox said, “I thought there wasn’t time enough to mine the isotope. What am I not being told?”

    Lord Cytharat replied, “Our scientists believe the planet’s core can be stabilized, and...”

    Nox interrupted, “I want to hear this from the scientists. I’ll have questions.”

    Lord Cytharat replied, “I’ll summon them, Dark Lord.” Then he said, “The locals have risen up against the mercenaries who had once been contracted by their local government to protect them. However, after overthrowing the local government, the Hutts now control the mercenary army, which has mostly quelled the rebellion. The mercenaries have an advantage in armored tank units, while the locals have no means to fight back against the tank units deployed to suppress them.”

    Nox asked, “Why should I care about the local uprising?”

    Cytharat replied, “Dark Lord, I think the rebellion can be used to tie up the mercenary forces – which are already stretched thinly, allowing us freedom of movement to do what is needed.”

    Darth Nox got out his personal holo-transmitter and dialed up Andronikos. Although capable of hyperwave transmissions across the galaxy, there was a lot of interference from the natural forces of space. Andronikos’ holographic image was distorted, and flickered on and off, his words sometimes being cut off during his transmission from Nar Shaddaa.

    “...oss, what can … do for you?”

    Nox told him, “I need enough weapons and munitions to equip a large rebel army, all portable weapons, no big ticket items. The rebels will need portable anti-armor and anti-air weapons. I want it all smuggled onto Makeb using non-Imperial ships – get the rebels a mix of Imperial, Republic, and other faction specific weapons – with a larger portion of those weapons originating from the Republic.”

    Then after thinking about it for a moment, he said, “You pay for it with the money you’ve been skimming from me all of these years. I’ll pay you back – with interest.”

    Andronikos kept silent, clearly not liking that last part. Nox quickly typed something into his datapad and then uploaded it to Andronikos. After several re-transmissions, the complete document was finally received by Andronikos’ holo-transiever. It was an official Dark Council document, authorizing and detailing a weapons procurement contract made in the name of the Dark Council, via Darth Nox and Darth Marr. Andronikos read the terms.

    The Dark Council shall reimburse Andronikos Revel for the total costs of arms procurement and shipping costs to Makeb. Reimbursement to be made with twenty five percent interest.” It was signed, “This transaction is officially sanctioned by Darth Nox with Darth Marr concurring.

    Andronikos’ demeanor had changed after reading the contract.

    He asked, “Whe... do you wa... your ...aster rifles and ...ther gear?”

    Nox replied, “As soon as you get them, ship them. There is no need to have it done in one big shipment. However, I need enough to equip a battalion of rebels with each shipment.”

    Andronikos replied in a business-like tone, “You’ve got a deal, Boss.”

    Nox cut the connection, then turning to Katha Niar, said, “Find out who the rebellion leadership is. Arrange a meeting but do not tell them I am Sith. I am an Imperial representative, here to gift weapons with which to overthrow their Hutt oppressors.”

    Katha Niar bowed her head, acknowledging her orders, but said, “Dark Lord, if we do this the Republic will learn of our presence, here.”

    Nox replied, “Yes, but not our true purpose.”

    Katha Niar asked, “Then, Dark Lord, what is our false purpose?”

    Darth Nox replied, “To crush Hutt imperial ambitions and to be a constant thorn in the Republic’s side.”

    Katha Niar bowed her head again, saying, “As you say, Dark Lord. I will make the arrangements for your meeting and plant the seeds of falsehood in their minds.”

    Lord Cytharat and Katha Niar began to turn about to carry out their tasks, but the dark lord said, “Wait.” Then he ordered, “Now. Tell me about these mass graves.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  16. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    It has been a VERY long time since I last posted.… I hope you guys don't mind that I've come back to pick up where I left off. I'm going to post four chapters. They're each very short chapters, but together, make up a decent amount of reading.… I sure hope you'll enjoy the chapters... Please, don't be afraid to give me your comments. I look forward them.

    Thank you

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​


    An Accidental Fire​

    Six weeks earlier, sitting at his tiny metal desk in his tiny office, which he shared with his four subordinate company commanders, Major Trent Ordensk read his orders. He commanded the 2931st Light Infantry Battalion of the 977th Lt Inf Regiment of the 326th Lt Inf Division. This unit was based out of General Werren Pollard Imperial Army Base, in Derthmoor prefecture, on planet Ziost. Within the battalion, the troops called themselves the 31st Battalion, 77th Regiment, or the 31st / 77th.

    This unit was currently deployed on ship and taking part in security patrols with the 459th Imperial Naval Battle Group, which consisted of six Harrower-class dreadnoughts, eighteen Terminus-class destroyers, and nine Gage-class troop transports. Each Gage-class transporter was loaded with a division of infantry reinforced with a heavy war droid regiment and a heavy self propelled artillery droid regiment and all of their attending logistical support units.

    Major Trent Ordensk’s orders told him to load his battalion onto four of the much smaller Juggernaut-class troop carriers, which were berthed in landing bays within the gargantuan Gage-class troop ship, and which were being modified with stealth-field generators for this mission. His orders stated that he must take a full load of supplies and munitions for thirty days of sustained combat. He became convinced that he would likely face heavy enemy resistance after reading that an entire company of heavy war droids and their handlers would be attached to his battalion.

    That’s a lot of firepower!

    His orders stated that his tiny fleet of four transporters would link up with three Terminous-class destroyers, acting as escorts, thus forming Special Naval Task Force 12.

    Three Terminous-class destroyers to escort four measly Juggernauts?! That’s overkill!

    Sometime after that, he would be given his mission. The rest of his orders told him which communications maintenance unit to get his communications gear from, what frequency channels and encryption keys to use, and which medical aid unit would join his battalion, including how many medical droids the medical unit would bring with them.

    That’s a lot of medical support. They may as well give me a field hospital.

    Major Ordensk was pleased with the generous support being given him. It looked like he would be getting into a major action soon, and he appreciated all the help he could get. However, there were a few major discrepancies with his orders. He saw them as important problems which needed to be addressed, so he decided to discuss them with his superior commander. In Officer Country, Trent Ordensk walked out of his tiny office and made his way down the passageway, two hundred meters, to his regimental commander’s quarters and touched the door chime switch.

    Colonel Frey Brakk commanded, “Enter!”

    Major Trent Ordensk entered and announced himself, “Major Ordensk reporting, Colonel.”

    Colonel Brakk, looking as though he expected trouble from his subordinate, asked with a hard edge in his tone, “What is it, Major?”

    “These orders sound like I’m going somewhere hot – real hot, but it’s got no mention of naval gun fire support, close fighter ship support, artillery. There’s no mention of combat resupply support and nothing about reinforcements, either. These orders are incomplete, Sir.”

    Colonel Brakk’s expression changed ever so slightly as he realized that Major Trent Ordensk had not come to complain to him, but that his subordinate had not yet grasped the nature of his orders. He didn’t want to lie to his friend and decided not to mince his words.

    “You aren’t getting any of those things, Major Ordensk.” Then he asked, “Did your orders tell you what unit will relieve you in the field, when you’re coming back?”

    Major Ordensk turned his head to the side, making a face that showed his disgust. He shook his head in deep anger as his features expressed his realization of the situation.

    When he recovered his composure, he returned his gaze to his commander and, snapping to attention, saluted smartly, telling his superior, “It’s been a real pleasure working with you, Colonel. I’ve learned a lot from you.”

    Colonel Brakk stood from behind his desk, walked around to the front of it and, snapping to attention, returned the major’s salute. Then he extended his hand towards his friend. Major Ordensk took and shook his friend’s hand.

    Colonel Brakk’s tone was somber but firm, as he explained what the major already knew, “Orders like these are randomly issued. There is nothing any of us can do when we get them. I’m deeply sorry, Trent.”

    Major Ordensk nodded curtly, replying, “I know, Frey.”

    “You’re dismissed Major.”

    With determination in his tone, Major Ordensk said, “We’ll give them a wound they’ll never forget, Sir.”

    Then he turned about and marched out of his commander’s quarters, thinking to himself, “Why didn’t suicide mission occur to me?! We’re being used as a diversionary force!” Angrily, he concluded, “We’re being thrown away to distract the enemy from some other battle!

    Four weeks later, Special Task Force 12 traveled to the Tatoo Star Cluster, a cluster of twenty six stars which included the Tatoo Binary Star System with the only planet within the star cluster capable of sustaining life and which was famous for being a den of pirates and other less than savory inhabitants, Tatooine.

    In the Tatoo Star Cluster, Special Task Force 12 was dissolved, with the destroyer escort traveling to the Tatoo Binary Star System to visit Tatooine for a few days before returning to the 459th Imperial Naval Battle Group. Meanwhile, the four modified Juggernaut-class troop transports had activated their stealth-field generators, and made their way to Hutt Space. It was then that Major Trent Ordensk received his mission.

    The ship’s captain, also commanding the four ship transport group, called the major to his quarters. Major Ordensk walked, from his quarters, six meters down the passageway in Officers Country, to the commander’s door and touched the door chime switch.

    The ship’s captain called out, “Enter.”

    The ship captain, a naval officer, was actually the same grade in rank as the major. He waved his hand to a chair beside a small table in the captain’s quarters.

    Trent Ordensk sat in the offered chair, thinking, “What is Randin going to complain to me about this time?

    The two thousand troops of his battalion and the four hundred troops of the support units attached to his command were all crammed into the four ships, together with all of their equipment and supplies. Discipline was difficult to maintain in the four crowded ships. The Juggernaut-class troop transports were designed to accommodate four hundred troops with their equipment and supplies, but they were each packed tight with six hundred troops, their gear and their supplies. Life aboard the smaller transports was nearly intolerable for the overcrowded Imperial soldiers.

    So, he was mildly surprised that instead of getting another earful about his men getting into another brawl with the ships’ crews or of his men breaking something on one of the four ships, Commander Grett Randin wordlessly walked to a wall safe and opened it. Commander Randin took an object out of the safe then shut the safe again. The object was sealed in heavy metal foil with anti-tamper evident markings all over it.

    He set the mystery object on the table in front of the major and told him, “You can’t leave, whatever that is, in here. You have to take it with you, including the foil wrapper.”

    Major Ordensk, feeling his exhaustion, spoke flatly, “Thanks, Grett.”

    Commander Grett Randin, equally exhausted replied just as flatly, “Yeah sure, Trent.”

    Then he walked out of his quarters, leaving Trent Ordensk alone. Ordensk went to work to tear the metal foil open to get to the object inside. The foil was tough to tear open, but he finally got it done with the aid of a folding pocket knife. Inside the tough metal foil packet was a smooth, stainless, flat metal rectangular box. After figuring out how to open the box, he found a datapad inside. Taking the datapad out of its metal case, he activated the datapad and retrieved his mission statement.

    He was to select a location and establish a secret base of operations on a planet called Makeb. He’d never heard of Makeb, but it was in Hutt Space, so he imagined it would be full of gangs and gang activity, not to mention crooked Hutt businesses.

    He wondered to himself, “What could the Sith Empire possibly want from this world?

    That information was not provided in the mission statement. His mission was to select the location for the base, establish it, maintain security and, while maintaining utter secrecy, wait for a special operations team to arrive. The special operations team would be the ones to actually conduct the main mission, which also wasn’t explained in his mission statement.

    After establishing the secret base, his battalion’s main mission would continue to be to provide security and to maintain the secrecy of their presence on Makeb. However, in addition to his prior responsibilities, his unit would also perform any missions given him by the special operations team leader.

    Trent thought skeptically, “So, I’ve got to turn over overall command to whoever shows up? Whoever it is better know what the hell he’s doing...

    There was an encyclopedia of information about Makeb. After skimming through it, he decided there was too much there to read in one sitting, so he decided to revisit that section later, to give it a more thorough reading. The only guidance his mission statement gave him was to ensure the secret base was located within operational range of any Hutt controlled commercial operations.

    Trent Ordensk, incredulous, thought to himself, “Please, don’t tell me we are risking life and limb to find out what business opportunities the Hutts are pursuing!

    After a moment to clear his mind, and to think things through, he decided that couldn’t possibly be the case.

    Maybe we’ll be stealing some new tech from the Hutts, to give us an edge over the Republic? Or maybe we’re going to take out a secret training facility for Republic backed terrorists?

    He didn’t know how close to the truth he was.

    After thinking more carefully, Trent told himself, “I need to stop speculating. For now, all I need to know is that the Empire just wants us within striking range of wherever it is the Hutts are on this planet.

    The first paragraphs of the encyclopedia told him, that the Hutts had only recently established a presence on Makeb.

    Facetiously, he told himself, “There’s likely to be only two or three Hutts on world. All I have to do is search the entire planet to figure out where on the planet they each decided to build their respective palaces. Then pick one and establish a base within striking distance, all without getting caught. Easy!

    His orders authorized him to draft any aid, from his naval escorts, without revealing his mission to establish a secret base on Makeb. Major Trent Ordensk wracked his brain for five minutes trying to decide what help he could ask Commander Grett Randin that wouldn’t give away the fact that he was to establish a secret base on the planet.

    He laughed at himself, when he realized, “Grett and the other three ship commanders are going to know that I’m going to establish a freaking base on the freaking planet when they unload my battalion and all of our gear on world. How am I supposed to keep all of that a secret from them?!

    He got up from the chair, returning the datapad to its case and shutting the case tight. Rather quickly, the case became hot to the touch. It threatened to burn his fingers, so he dropped it onto the table. The table’s surface was made of a combustible material that almost immediately began to smolder.

    He immediately cast about for a pressurized fire suppression canister. He found it near the door. Grabbing the fire suppression canister, he turned back towards the table and found a fire enthusiastically burning where the once smooth and silvery – but now warped and brightly glowing red box sat. He activated the fire suppression canister, aiming it at the ruined metal box. Even as he attacked the fire, he watched it go from a bright red to an even brighter yellow. He fought the fire frantically, as he watched the glowing box expeditiously burn its way down, into the flaming table top, threatening to fall through onto the floor.

    In a near panic, Trent Ordensk shouted at himself, “Damn! That was fast!”

    After a short but frantic battle to put out the rowdy flames, the completely warped and ruined box had darkened from an enthusiastically energetic yellow, to a bright red that continued to darken until it stopped glowing altogether, turning a sleek stainless metal box into a dark, mottled gray and warped mess, burrowed halfway through the now ruined table top.

    Despite the fact that he had quickly put out the small, but wild and quickly growing fire, the fire detection sensor in the captain’s quarters had activated, causing the ship’s crew to respond to their fire fighting stations. A fire suppression team had arrived and, opening the door, began to enter the Captain’s quarters. Commander Grett Randin, with a look of great concern, stood behind the fire suppression team, peering into the room from the passageway.

    Inside the room, Trent was hunched down to stay below the smoke. He wore a stricken look of great embarrassment, as he explained, “Grett, I had no idea it would do this! Accept my deepest apologies!”

    Commander Randin, with some consternation, demanded, “Do what, man?!”

    Trent quickly exited the smoke-filled captain’s quarters, to allow the fire suppression team to get to work.

    The moment he stepped into the passageway, he hurriedly explained, “As soon as I returned the datapad to the metal case, the damned thing got so hot, I had to let go of it. I dropped it back onto the table. It had gotten so hot and melted so fast, that I didn’t even have time to blink a second time! Before I realized it, the damned table was already on fire!” Shrugging and holding up the expended fire suppression canister, he added lamely, “I put the fire out, though.”

    Randin shook his head slowly, disbelief plastered all over his face.

    “It’s bad enough that your men keep breaking things on my ships, but you too? That was my favorite table!

    Ordensk pleaded, “Grett, I didn’t know it would do that!”

    Unable to contain himself, Grett Randin burst into laughter.

    Neither did I, or I wouldn’t have given you that thing in my quarters!”

    His laughter subsided as he reflected, “I’ve never heard of anything like this before.” Before Ordensk could offer his renewed apologies, Randin added, “Well, now I know. Next time I have to give one of those things out, I’ll give it in the air lock in a heavy metal can with thermal resistant insulation lining the bottom of it.”

    Trent got to business, while stating the obvious, “We need to discuss the mission, but I seem to have made a mess in your quarters, so we can’t speak here.”

    Just then, the executive officer burst out of his quarters, still activating the fasteners of his tunic, and rushed the three meters to the captain’s quarters, joining the commander and the major.

    He peered into the room, and saw that the fire had already been extinguished.

    He turned to his commanding officer and in a very serious tone, demanded, “What did I tell you about cooking in your quarters?!”

    Ignoring his executive officer, Commander Randin told the fire suppression team leader, “Get the chief in here. I want to be sure the fire is out, clean out the fire suppression powder and the smoke residue, and get me a new table.”

    The fire suppression team leader replied crisply, “As you say, Commander.”

    Turning to face his executive officer, Commander Grett Randin announced, “I need your quarters, X. O.” Pointing at Trent, standing beside him, he added, “He and I must converse, but my quarters are in a bit of a mess.”

    The executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Harrol Ottor, arched his eyebrows and imperiously demanded, “And how do I know you aren’t planning to set a torch to my quarters?”

    Commander Randin pointed at Major Ordensk, again with his thumb, declaring, “It wasn’t me. He’s the miscreant who set fire to my quarters. He smells of smoke and is holding the incriminating fire suppression canister which was used to put out the flames. Do take note, X.O., I do not smell of smoke.”

    Trent rolled his eyes at their exchange but looked embarrassed, nevertheless. Seeing the look on Trent’s face, Lieutenant Commander Ottor realized there was an opportunity there. He leaned forward and sniffed at Commander Randin. He then sniffed at Ordensk and took on a look of shocked surprise as he stepped back.

    He declared with amazement in his tone, “By the Emperor’s thousand years, he does smell of smoke!”

    Trent cast his face downward as his shoulders slumped. He shook his head slowly, and spoke tiredly, “Yes. Yes. I get it, have your laughs.”

    Unable to contain his mirth any longer, Harrol burst into laughter, telling his commanding officer, “Very well, then. Go on ahead and use my quarters.” Turning to Trent, he added facetiously, “Only, try not to set fire to it. Is that a promise, miscreant?

    He laughed again as he stepped around the other two officers and stood before the opened door.

    He peered inside the smoked-out quarters, declaring, “Well! Now I’ve got to see the damage for myself!” Seeing Major Ordensk’s jaded expression, Lieutenant Commander Ottor added, “It’s to prepare for the written safety report. There was a fire aboard an Imperial Naval vessel, and we’ve got to explain why it happened.” He added, accusatorially, “I’ll check in with you, later, to get the correct spelling of your name.”

    Trent opened his mouth to spell out his name, but Randin quickly cut in.

    “I’ll give you the correct spelling later, Harrol. Right now, we’ve got business.”

    Harrol Ottor, laughing merrily, stepped into his commanding officer’s quarters to start his accidental fire investigation.

    Grett glanced at Trent and nodded towards the X.O.’s door. The two walked the few meters to Harrol Ottor’s door and entered the room. Randin gave the go ahead as soon as the door slid shut.

    Trent got to the point.

    “You need to land my battalion, with all of our gear, onto the surface of a planet in Hutt Space called Makeb. You need to land us close enough to areas showing a Hutt presence, and you need to do this without letting local Makebi security forces, local populations, or anyone else on Makeb find out about it. Then, just as stealthily as you drop off my battalion and our gear, you need to leave Makeb space and head back to Tatooine to rejoin Special Task Group 12.”

    Grett’s face became more and more serious as the gravity of his orders struck him.

    He asked, “I’m not sticking around to pick you up when you’re done? When do I come back to get you?”

    “I don’t believe anyone is expecting us to be retrieved.”

    Grett didn’t know what to say to a man he’d already thought of as a friend, who was decidedly on a one-way mission.

    He decided to adopt a professional demeanor, merely replying, “Let’s get to work, then.”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​


    Misery​

    The morale of the troops and of the specialized personnel Darth Marr had assigned to Darth Nox for this operation had plummeted. When Darth Nox found out why, he laughed at them. The troops felt terrible guilt for the slaughter of so many scores of unarmed civilians. They grumbled amongst themselves, blaming the woman they’d nicknamed “Death’s Mistress,” for the slaughter they were forced to perpetrate.

    Major Trent Ordensk kept a professional demeanor at all times when dealing with her but, deep inside, he utterly detested her. He and Commander Grett Randin had painstakingly selected their landing sight. After the ships had left, he coordinated with his subordinate company commanders to carefully, quietly, move their troops through the thick temperate forest, arriving to a site he felt was as close to the village as was possible without being discovered by the locals.

    The site he had chosen was three days forced march, through heavy forests and rough terrain, from any population center. It was far enough way to avoid most nature hikers, campers, and hunters, but close enough to allow him to send out long range scouting patrols to the outskirts of the nearest village.

    Their objective, a Hutt owned industrial center was a day’s march beyond the village, meaning that any long range patrol operations would need to march for four days before reaching their target. Five days after he had established the camp, the special operations team he was expecting had arrived. Against his strongest protestations the civilian administrator who’d taken command from him, had ordered the camp moved to within a day’s march from the nearest village. She felt the encampment was ridiculously situated too far way.

    Just as he’d feared, some young men from the village, who’d been hunting small game, stumbled across his men as they were setting up camp. The three youngsters were immediately captured. Early that afternoon, as troops were preparing to march back to the site he had originally chosen, one of the adolescent men had escaped.

    His troops were unable to recapture him before he’d reached his speeder bike to call for help. The troops were forced to kill him as he dialed the emergency help frequency from the speeder bike’s built-in holo-transceiver. To deactivate the communications device on the speeder, they had to shoot it from a distance, otherwise they would have gotten in the device’s field of view, and their image would have been broadcast for the recipient of the call to see.

    The troops knew that help would be coming from the village. The sergeant, leading the squad that had chased the youth down, sent two of his troops back to the camp to report the situation to their platoon leader, and to request additional forces. Before his troops had shot up the holo-transceiver, the sergeant had seen the holographic image of a uniformed official projected above the handle bars.

    Five hours later, four marked speeders slowed to a crawl as they approached the three speeder bikes parked on the side of the unpaved road. The speeders came to a stop. The doors opened and eight armed constables exited the speeders. They approached the young man’s shot up speeder and saw his corps lying beside his bike.

    As the eight law enforcement officials cautiously approached the last few meters to the dead youth, a big ruckus from further down the road caught their attention. A huge droid tore out of the brush and trees and onto the dirt road, on the same side of the road the speeders were parked, and began firing its blaster cannons on the law men's four speeders parked several meters behind them, destroying their vehicles one after the other.

    The lawmen each activated their personal shield generators, and then began firing their blaster pistols at the Imperial war droid. Immediately thereafter, the squad of Imperial soldiers opened up from the opposite side of the road of the parked speeder bikes. Police issued blaster pistols were no match for the powerful Imperial military blaster rifles. In mere seconds, their shield generators were depleted, and they soon fell to the merciless storm of blaster bolts.

    Major Trent Ordensk was filled with fury, but he worked hard to restrain himself as he presented his report to the mission commander.

    “The youth was killed, but not before he dialed for help from his speeder bike. My men tell me they shot him before he could speak, but his death and undoubtedly the sounds of blaster rifles shooting, was broadcast to the local constabulary force. They responded in force, eight constables in four speeders. My men reinforced their position with a heavy war droid and established an ambush. The eight law men and their four speeders were destroyed.

    Currently, my troops are dragging the bodies and their destroyed vehicles off of the road and into the bush. I have no doubt that the youths and the law men will be missed. I fear the villagers will call for aid from neighboring villages. With a village as small as the one the young men and the constables had come from, I’m guessing that those eight were their entire constabulary force. It will not be very long before the bodies and the destroyed vehicles will be found.”

    Katha Niar sat with her elbows on her desk, her face buried in the palms of her hands, and her head slowly shaking side to side. Lord Cytharat stood silently beside her desk, his face an impenetrable mask that refused to give away what he thought of the situation.

    Major Ordensk added, “We shouldn’t have moved so close to the village, but going deeper into the forest now will be pointless. In a few hours, there will likely be a large search effort made for them.”

    Katha Niar gulped back her fear. They hadn’t even started the mission, and already, they were about to be discovered.

    She felt revulsion even as she forced the words out of her mouth, barely audible.

    “Destroy the village.”

    “Excuse me, ma’am?”

    “Kill everyone in the village. No survivors. Do it before they sense the missing constables and the youths.”

    For the first time, the Sith lord exposed some of what he thought, when he nodded his approval of the order.

    Ordensk asked, “And the prisoners?”

    Her voice was husky, “Them, too. No witnesses.”

    The major betrayed the anxiety he felt when he removed his officers cap and combed his fingers through his hair before replacing his cap.

    “That might buy us a few days before their silence will start to raise questions from other villages.”

    Katha merely nodded her acknowledgment of the major’s assessment.

    He stomped his boot and shouted, “Yes, Ma’am!”

    He turned about to carry out his task.

    The operation lasted ten hours. Four local field transmission cancellers were stealthily deployed around the four corners of the village. No communications signals would be able to leave, nor be received while their holo-transceiver frequencies were jammed. After a perimeter had been established around the village, the war droids moved swiftly into town, destroying any occupied vehicles, and destroying targets of opportunity – pedestrians.

    The people, in a panic, ran into any building they could flee into, and hid from the war droids’ murderous fire. Many hundreds of people tried calling the constabulary, but there was no holo-communications service. Others attempted to call friends or family at nearby villages, but their calls could not get through.

    Soon after, the troops began to go house to house, building to building, rounding up the villagers. There was a large amount of confusion amongst the villagers. Many of them mistook the Imperials as the Regulator mercenary army working for the Hutts on Makeb.

    “Hutt tail kissing scum!” Some had shouted at the Imperial soldiers.

    The people were all taken to the village center, and held in a hasty field prison established in a park in the center of town.

    Any villagers that managed to escape, or evade capture, were shot dead by war droids patrolling the streets, or the Imperial troops set on the perimeter around the village. When it was assured that all of the villagers had been gathered, they were marched three hundred at a time to the edge of town, where captured work droids were used to dig mass graves. The villagers were massacred at the graves, and the work droids neatly arranged the dead in the deep trenches, so that the capacity of each trench would be maximized.

    Throughout the night and into the early morning hours, Major Ordensk worked his troops hard, driving them like slaves to hide the wreckage of speeders, removing them from the streets and from the sides of buildings where some of them had crashed, and moving them into garages and parking structures. Imperial soldiers commandeered commercial transport speeders to recover bodies from the streets and the outskirts of town and transported the bodies to the graves.

    His troops were exhausted, but he kept them working, driving them as he established the new camp site at the edge of town, in the woods. That afternoon, as his company commanders reported to him the progress of the work done to hide their horrific crimes, he reflected, for the first time in his distinguished seven year career, that he hated being an Imperial Army officer.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    The troops of the 31st / 77th had set their encampment, in tents, hidden in the woods between the outskirts of town and the warehouse complex outside of town, which Katha Niar used as her headquarters. However, Darth Nox had ordered the troops and specialized civilian personnel to take up residence in the now vacated homes of the dead. Additionally, he ordered them to set up operations in the various shops and offices in the small town’s tiny commercial district.

    However, the personal effects of the mass execution victims, their clothing, toys, family holographic images, etc, haunted the men and women now working for the dark lord. Nox had ordered all of the troops to dress in the clothing found in the homes of their victims. Many of the troops could not bring themselves to do it. Though it irritated him to do so, Darth Nox found it necessary to address the troops.

    “Darth Marr gave very explicit orders to keep out of sight. Yet, you were discovered. It would not do to let the failure of your discovery be compounded by letting your presence be reported to the local officials.

    “To keep in compliance with Darth Marr’s directive, you took very harsh and necessary measures to keep your presence concealed. You massacred and buried the local townsfolk.”

    Nox swept his eyes across the light infantry troops, black ops specialists, and specialized civilian operatives assigned to support his mission on Makeb. The Force allowed him to feel their abject guilt and self loathing. Nox worried greatly that, in their current state of mind, they would end up failing him and failing his mission, but he knew that attempting to minimize their crimes would only cause their morale to plunge even lower.

    Nox thought, “I must keep them focused. I must keep them from wallowing in their guilt or they will become useless to me!

    He continued his speech, telling them, “However, this leaves all of us with another very serious problem. A village without people in it is also suspicious and can attract the attention of the Hutts and their minions. You must occupy these homes and wear the locals’ clothing to hide the massacre – at least until we’ve accomplished our mission.”

    Katha Niar spoke out of turn, interrupting Nox’s talk.

    “Dark Lord, what do we do about incoming holo-calls from relatives of the deceased, or their visitors?”

    Nox, rankled by her interruption, spoke tersely.

    “You should have thought of that before you gave the order!” Mentally kicking himself, he continued in a more civil tone, “Don’t answer the calls.” Then he added, “And don’t place any calls on their holo-transmitters, either. That would be another way to announce our presence here.” He added, callously, “Dig another mass grave and dump the bodies of any visitors that come to town in it, until we’ve accomplished our mission and leave this world.”

    Darth Nox returned his gaze to his forces assembled in the warehouse and told them in a stern tone, as he felt their self loathing grow, “Orbital observation must not detect a town without people in it! Before the end of this day, you will all be quartered in these houses and running operations from those commercial buildings and wearing the local civilian attire! Is that clear?!”

    The light infantry soldiers and the Black Ops team members all reflexively shouted, “Yes, sir!”

    In contrast to the civilian operatives, who answered in subdued tones, “Yes, Dark Lord.”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​


    As A World Dies​

    Major Trent Ordensk had been tasked to assign housing to the Imperial personnel as decreed by the dark lord. The major started by taking inventory of residential and commercial structures in the village. He then began to assign housing based on how close those were to the village’s business district in the village center. The town was quite small, with a population of just under four thousand inhabitants.

    The special operations team members were assigned housing near the larger of the two business districts closest to the village center. He assigned them the business district’s four two story professional office buildings from which they were to conduct their operations.

    He assigned the four Black Operations teams housing near the warehouse complex at the far edge of the village, near the mass graves. This gave Black Ops access to a place they could use to prepare for and launch operations, and it also gave them the cover of the forest, which abutted the edge of the village on that side of town.

    The remainder of the housing was divided amongst his own battalion. Officers all lived together, near the village center, nearby the special operations team. This gave his subordinate officers access to the village council building, where they could plan and coordinate security patrols, and other military operations. The council building became Ordensk’s battalion headquarters.

    He assigned his battalion medical support section the medical clinic in the smaller of the two business districts on the opposite side of the village center. His supply unit was tasked with taking over the shops, and restaurants and pubs and making them functional supply, repair, and mess facilities, to feed the troops.

    He ordered all Imperial personnel to turn in all food, found in the residences, over to the supply officer. That food would be used first, to feed the Imperial personnel, before turning to their field rations as a food source.

    It was a lot of work, but it was all done before Makeb’s star had set that evening. Lord Cytharat had delivered the progress report to Darth Nox.

    The dark lord merely replied, “Good.”

    In the parking lots of the restaurants and adjoining shops, tarps were set up to give overhead cover from direct sunlight, and to provide camouflage for the troops that would gather to eat their meals there. The battalion’s officers, Black Ops teams, and the special operations team all ate their meals in the village’s three restaurants and four pubs.

    There was no cheer under the tarps as the enlisted ate their first hot meal in over a week. They were dressed in the clothes of the victims of their slaughter. Darth Nox could feel their gloom. It angered him, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it. The orbital observation probes might spot their uniforms otherwise.

    He forced himself to ignore the misery of his troops, instead focusing on what his scientists had to say. They detailed the results of their simulations. Prior to Darth Nox’s arrival on Makeb, the scientists ran two dozen simulations on two dozen different super computers scattered across several Imperial worlds in Sith Empire space.

    Nox’s mouth had fallen open. Incredulity showed plainly on his face as he asked with incredible disbelief, “You communicated with the Sith Empire over the last few days – from here?!” Then, with his fury rapidly building at what he perceived as utter folly, he asked, “Did it not occur to you that your intra-galactic holo-communications could be intercepted?!”

    Lord Cytharat quickly spoke, to assuage Darth Nox’s growing fury, telling the dark lord, “We used the Black Ops teams’ special communication equipment, meant to allow them to send and receive communications from deep within Galactic Republic space without detection, Dark Lord. It is a proven technology.”

    Nox quickly turned his head to face the four Black Ops team leaders, and angrily snapped his inquiry.

    “Well?! Is what Lord Cytharat saying the truth?!”

    Cytharat expected Sith superiors to suspect their Sith subordinates to deceive and plot against their superiors, but he was, nevertheless, offended at Nox’s blatant disrespect towards him in the presence of the lower classes. Yet, he remained silent. He knew his standing was in question because his own dead master, Darth Malgus, slain by Nox several years before, had betrayed the empire and usurped the Sith Emperor’s throne. Though he had proved his innocence of the charge of treason, he was never trusted nor respected again by the Dark Council.

    The senior ranked team leader replied, “It is so, Dark Lord. This equipment is used routinely to send and receive communications deep in enemy territory without detection.”

    Nox, sensing no deceit from the Black Ops captain, began to relax again, accepting the captain’s word.

    “Very well.” Then he ordered the lead scientist, “Continue your report. Tell me about your simulations.”

    The scientist, a Neimoidian named Nadrin Tro, stood nervously before the Dark Lord of The Sith and resumed his report where he’d left off.

    “Most august dark lord, the data has come back with the most satisfactory results. Nineteen out of twenty four simulations have returned results that show the experiment would succeed – with great certainty!” He exaggerated that last point a little. He added, “The remaining five simulations showed, not failure, but less than favorable results, Dark Lord. All in all, a most satisfactory conclusion.”

    Nox’s customary scowl didn’t change at this most satisfactory conclusion that Dr. Tro had proclaimed.

    Instead, Nox snapped impatiently, “Stop lying to me, and tell me what I am facing, here!”

    The Neimoidian, beginning to tremble, spoke most earnestly, as he explained, “Most august dark lord, the meaning of these simulation results is that we can save the planet from tearing itself apart and becoming an asteroid ring around its star. However, it is most regrettable that the planet will cease to be habitable. All ecological systems and the people living on this world will still die.”

    Nox asked, “How is it regrettable? If it saves the planet, and I can mine its resources, then why should I care what happens to the ecological systems of this world? As for the people…. It is unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do for them.”

    Katha Niar spoke up, saying, “Actually, Dark Lord, I have an idea that can be useful to us, as well as give the people a chance to escape.”

    Darth Nox, sensing her desperation, asked as though he’d already thought it a bad idea, “What is the risk it will tip off the Hutts to our purpose?”

    “This is information the Hutts have and are acting on. Their activities, as they prepare to evacuate the planet are already drawing the attention of the people. The people do not yet realize why the Hutts are so rapidly moving their assets off world.

    “If word could be leaked out...”

    Lord Cytharat could see that, by the expression on his face, Nox was not going to be sold.

    He cut in saying, “That could cause a worldwide panic. It would further tie the hands of the Hutt’s mercenary army, The Regulators.”

    Darth Nox liked the notion, but he wanted to be careful.

    He commanded, “Be silent, everyone. I must think on this.”

    The moments ticked by as Katha, Cytharat, Dr. Tro, and the four Black Ops team leaders sat or stood silently around the conference table, waiting for the dark lord to address them.

    After some thought, Darth Nox ordered, “Katha Niar, I will go with your idea. Plant the rumors and let them know that the planet’s destruction is tied to the increasing and worsening ground quakes.”

    Before Katha could acknowledge her orders, Nox raised his hand to forestall her, and then pointed a finger at her, cautioning her, “Take absolute care that we are not tied to the rumors. It would seem awkward that we are handing them weapons to fight for their homes on the one hand, while on the other telling them that their homes are doomed anyway.”

    Lord Cytharat spoke, “Dark Lord, it may even tie the hands of Republic forces on Makeb as they find themselves having to assist with evacuations.”

    Darth Nox smiled wryly, telling Dr. Nadrin Tro and Katha Niar, “You see? We didn’t even have to worry over the fate of these people.” Turning to Lord Cytharat, he continued with his point, “We’ll let the Galactic Republic take on the burden of rescuing these people. If they refuse to evacuate the Makebi people...,” his wry smile widened as he concluded, “we’ll find a way to let the galaxy know that the Galactic Republic had let a planet full of people die when they were in a position to help.”

    Katha Niar, feeling great relief, spoke resolutely, promising, “Then I will make doubly sure we aren’t implicated as the source of the rumors, Dark Lord.”

    Darth Nox turned to the Neimoidian scientist and told him, “When we have control of the mines you have specified, I will allow you to proceed with your experiments.” Nox added a very heavily implied threat, “I look forward to the successful completion of these experiments, Dr. Tro.”

    Dr. Tro immediately realized that failure would undoubtedly mean a death sentence for him.

    He felt it necessary to remind Darth Nox, “Recall, most august dark lord, success means the air will become unbreathable. There will be toxic smoke and superheated ash pouring into the atmosphere from many opened fissures on the planet’s crust. We will, ourselves, need to evacuate. Do not think such a necessity as a failure, but as a consequence of keeping the planet in one piece.”

    Darth Nox turned to Lord Cytharat and ordered, “Make a plan for our own evacuations. We must be ready to be kicked off a disgruntled planet.”

    The disgraced Sith lord bowed, replying, “As you will, Dark Lord.”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​


    An Arranged Meeting​

    Darth Nox was having his breakfast the following morning when Khem Val approached to announce, “The miserable little woman who ordered the slaughter of the town is here. She wishes an audience.”

    Nox told Khem, as he chewed, “I will see her when I’m done eating. Tell her to wait.”

    Khem Val left without another word to convey Nox’s message to the waiting Katha Niar.

    An hour later, Nox was at his desk in the house assigned to him by Major Trent Ordensk, commander of the 31st Battalion 77th Regiment. The dark lord read patrol reports looking for signs his operation had been discovered. He knew that eventually the local authorities would start to sense something was wrong, and would want to make inquiries of the locals, who were now all dead.

    Nox needed the Makebi people armed and fighting to tie up the local authorities with the chaos of rebellion. He knew when the rumor of the planet’s imminent destruction hit, that it would become absolute pandemonium with armed rebels seeking transport off planet. Under such circumstances, a strangely quiet tiny village would fall out of the notice of the mercenary enforcers working for the Hutts.

    As Nox thought on Andronikos’ progress in securing the weapons, he wondered if he’d given the not-so-former pirate too much to handle. He was about to reach for his personal holo-transmitter when the door to his office slowly swung open.

    Virulous walked awkwardly into the room as she walked the door open. She awkwardly walked the door back to close it again. She finally turned about to face her master, who’d been watching as she struggled with entering the room through such an archaic doorway.

    Darth Nox simply said to his apprentice, “I don’t know how these people could live with doors that don’t slide open and shut automatically. I miss automatic sliding doors.”

    Darth Virulous was deeply surprised, taken aback by her master’s seeming familiarity towards her. She wore her armored mask, attached to her utility belt at her side, with her hood pulled back.

    Virulous bowed her head towards her master, replying, “Dark Lord, it is a wonder to me that such doors should exist when automatic sliding doors have been in use for millennia almost everywhere in the galaxy.”

    Nox nodded agreement, adding, “I’ve traveled all over the galaxy for one reason or another and have never come across any doors that were hand operated. It simply is a wonder.”

    He had enough with the pleasantries, and asked, “You are here to report something, Darth Virulous?”

    She replied, “Master, Katha Niar waits to give you her report. Do you not wish to hear her? Shall I send her away?”

    Having been reminded of Katha Niar waiting for him, Nox mouthed to himself, “Oh,” as he rolled his eyes, shaking his head at his lapse in memory. In a neutral tone, he ordered, “Send her in. I will hear her report.”

    “Master, may I listen in on her report to you?”

    “Yes, and be ready for instructions afterwards.”

    Virulous bowed her head, wordlessly turning about to head out through the archaic wooden door again. Before she could reach for the knobby door handle, it turned on its own, the door swinging smoothly on its hinges without human hands operating it.

    Virulous turned about and saw Darth Nox’s hand stretched towards the door behind her. She thought to herself, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Aloud, she said, “Thank you, Master.”

    She stepped through the door and used The Force to pull the door shut again.

    A few moments later, the door opened much more smoothly. Darth Virulous entered ahead of Katha Niar, stepping to the side of the office as Katha entered the office behind her and made her way before Darth Nox’s desk. Katha Niar knelt before Darth Nox’s desk as Darth Virulous used The Force to shut the door again.

    Darth Nox told the woman, from whom he could feel her fear, self loathing, and guilt, “Rise Katha Niar. Give me your report.”

    She rose to her feet and began speaking.

    “Dark Lord, a meet has been arranged with Pollus Avesta. He will meet with you at Kinlo Plantation at the Westwater Settlements. He knows you are an Imperial representative, and that you wish to offer him weapons to oppose the Hutts. He does not know you are Darth Nox, Dark Lord of The Sith.”

    Darth Nox had taken note that Katha Niar still wore her civil service uniform, but that it had been turned inside out. Her hair seemed a bit unkempt, and her skin seemed a bit grimy. He decided not to address this with her, immediately.

    Instead he asked, “When is the meet to occur?”

    Katha told him, “I hope, this evening is not too soon, Dark Lord. He expects you to arrive in the late afternoon to early evening.”

    Darth Nox nodded, pleased, and said, “Well done, Katha.”

    Turning to Virulous, he said, “You will accompany me.”

    Virulous bowed her head, replying dutifully, “I am honored, Dark Lord, and look forward to this.”

    Turning to Khem Val, Nox said, “Sorry, Khem. You can’t go to this meeting. Do not worry, however. A chance will come for you to get out there and let out a little steam.”

    Khem Val only nodded acknowledgment of Nox’s assurance, but Nox could see the Dashade’s frustration. He could easily tell that Khem Val felt caged inside the tiny eight bedroom, eight bath, two story shack that was once occupied by the village chief and local realtor.

    Darth Nox turned to Katha Niar and observed, “You look rough. Why are you still wearing your civil service uniform – and it’s inside out, why?”

    Katha Niar bent to her knee and begged for clemency, pleading, “Forgive me, Dark Lord. I could not bring myself to wear the clothes of those I ordered slaughtered, and I could not make myself to sleep in their homes. I slept in the speeder port of one of the businesses.”

    Darth Nox could feel her anxiety, fear, and abject guilt. He was conflicted. On the one hand, Nox wanted to kill the weakling. On the other hand, he knew he still needed her for the mission.

    Nox suggested, “There is an inn at the village center. I’m certain none of the locals lived at the inn. Why don’t you stay in one of the rooms? There is a clothing shop in the center of town, as well. Why don’t you get clothes from there?”

    Tears left Katha Niar’s eyes, but she kept her voice steady, confessing, “My mind is a mess, Dark Lord. I had not thought of this. I will see to it immediately, and I will pull myself together.”

    Darth Nox replied simply, “Good. You are dismissed.”

    Nox waited until he knew Katha would not hear, after she’d left his presence.

    Then turning his head to look at Khem Val asked, “If I ordered it, would you eat her?”

    Virulous was startled into laughter, but quickly regained her composure and became silent again. Nox cracked a small smile at Virulous’ mirth, but he kept his eyes on the Dashade.

    Khem Val had been shaking his head morosely, as he fumed about his own cramped situation. The behemoth replied, “No, master. There is very little meat on her bones, and she smells of defeat.” Turning to look Nox in the eye, he asked, “Does my master wish her dead?”

    Darth Nox’s small smile expanded as he leaned back in his commandeered office chair, laughing inwardly at Khem Val’s description of Katha Niar’s poor quality as food.

    Aloud, Nox told his servant, “No, Khem. I still have need of her.”

    Still smiling, Nox turned to the Black Ops’ reconnaissance report of Kinlo Plantation in Westwater Settlements.

    He told his apprentice, “Darth Virulous, we must get moving. This place, Kinlo Plantation is far away, and Westwater Settlements is a pocket controlled by resistance fighters who are surrounded on all sides by the Hutt’s Regulator mercenary forces. We’ll have to do a lot of skulking about to sneak through the battle lines surrounding Westwater, and to sneak into the Plantation, itself.”

    Virulous replied dutifully, “I am ready, Dark Lord.”

    She was apprehensive. This would be her first time in a combat setting alongside her master. For the first time, she would actually see him operate in the field. She hoped she would not be a hindrance to him, and hoped for a chance to learn something new from him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018