Title: Convor's Song Author: Ewok Poet Genre: Horror/Action/Suspense Characters: Darth Maladi/Malincha, Darth Krayt/A'Sharad Het, Ka Shiya (OC). Mentions of Ku Vrat. Timeframe: All over the place - the Batorine interlude happens well before 127 ABY, the second segment during the Second Galactic Civil War, Darth Krayt's flashbacks span his entire life, as well as some things he never witnessed himself. Rating: PG-13 (for gore and slightly disturbing imagery) Length: Two parts - total of about 3-4K words. LOL, four parts. LOL, three parts. Summary: Darth Maladi is tasked with a mission she does not want to undertake, for she believes her powers are of better use elsewhere. She then recalls her final quest before she became a Sith Lady and her reluctance perishes, and so does a remote civilisation. A/N: This story was written for the Celtic Song Challenge. I have been thinking about convorees' symbolism throughout the newer installments of the SW and I thought about subverting that beyond all possible beyondness - no pun intended. The song I got was The Twa Corbies, the lyrics can be read here. I wanted to get this one, I guess I was lucky in karrde. I've had Legacy plot tumblebunnies roaming around for nearly two years now and I always knew that an eventual story will revolve either around Darth Maladi or Antares Draco. He's the lawful good, she is the chaotic evil. And though I'm not big on villains, I find her extremely interesting. She is the GFFA's Lucrezia Borgia, minus the femme fatale bit. Many thanks to Raissa Baiard and Findswoman for beta-reading and feedback. Without further ado... Chapter 01 “Life is pain. Death is pain. We remain between the two.” – Darth Maladi to Cade Skywalker (Legacy: Monster, 2/4) The female astromech droid chirped like a distressed avian once Annaj disappeared and everything else transformed to white lines. Darth Maladi let an angry sigh and used the Force to kick her across the cockpit of Bloodangel. The chirps went quiet and the sphere-headed underling used one of its numerous appendages to get up again and connect to the navicomputer. The Monsua Nebula, known for its high radiation, was not exactly a blue milk run and this was not the time for binary melodrama, or anything even remotely resembling feelings. This was not the kind of the task the Devaronian Sith Lady expected when she left the strangely comfortable stench of her laboratory behind and eagerly accepted to try something new. She was not a Hand, she was not the one for action, unless it was absolutely necessary. But with Darth Talon playing hide-and-seek with Cade Skywalker all around the Galaxy, the Master had no other choice but to send her to get this done instead. The tranquility of hyperspace travel gave way to what once used to be a lush, green, world. But Sev-Ersk in the Outer Moddell Sector, in the mists of the notorious Monsua Nebula, was nothing like its atmosphere would have suggested. Behind the green, radiotrophic algae-infested layers of ozone lay a wasteland of grim, bare trees, plains covered in blackgrass and crude stone structures visible in the distance. The planet’s star, UR-1060 looked like one of its neighbouring brown dwarves, as the once protective layer covering the planet was almost completely black from its surface. “Some celestial bodies never become stars.” Maladi thought. A gas giant grabbing too much to itself during the birth of a star system was destined to fail and leave a trail of nothing but death behind. This was pretty much the case with everything that sucked up its surroundings, every creature that overate and every individual who overestimated his or her abilities. But not One Sith. The order she belonged to was built on gaining more and more, through fear and pain. And she was the one responsible for planting the seeds of pain in order to reap the poisonous fruits of fear. Bloodangel landed next to a fallen tree. Everything was moist, the soil was damp and the presence of puddles all around the clearing made it impossible to land her starship without piloting straight into one of the numerous nearby mudflats. “D-weep, boop-boo!” the droid went again. “I can see that myself, Thirteen. You’re getting out first and cleaning this up.” “B-gwap!” “And don’t talk back!” Maladi raised her hand again, but this time, R-13 obliged. “Trrr-gawd!”- less than a minute later, she was done with the clean-up. Maladi nodded and made her way out of Bloodangel. She took a deep breath and looked around. Sev-Ersk was closest to an offspring that she would ever have – one of her first major assignments. And this was the first time that she had a chance to see how it was coming along, ten standard years after her little experiment began. She pulled her hood up and attached her breathing mask. Minutes later, she was walking down a path of blackgrass, her right hand on her hip, ready to draw her lightsaber. R-13 lit the way before her. The road led through silverthorn-covered shrubbery, seemingly in the direction of the smudged shape in the dark sky. Yes, a dark star walked with a Sith Lady and her soulless companion. How convenient. “Thirteen, coordinates?” Maladi addressed the droid again. A couple of cheerful chirps, a stark contrast to the surroundings, came to assure the Sith that the little stone hut that served as her laboratory back when the experiment took place was not far away. And there it was, indeed, just around the curve, covered by one of her and Zenoc Quah’s creations - the psychotropic, predatory mutation of the Trindellan Oak. A couple of corpses of local peasants hung from the branches – perhaps the carnivorous trees needed more nutrients. Why weren’t any of the corpses fresh? They were almost skeletal at this point. Still, for a moment, Maladi was more than pleased. “You see, Thirteen…” she turned to R-13 again. “…they experienced the worst of pain for the first couple of weeks or so, when the oaks would drill holes in their limbic system and start feeding on them. And they could do nothing else but blame themselves for the passionate urge they had to climb these deadly trees. But they were not given the power to resist.” “G-worp!” “No, you won’t rot from this rain. You bear the same markings as I do, it would be a shame for the rust to dot them.” “Kweeerkch!” “You’re smart, Thirteen, but the rust from the rain falling on this planet would not be orange.” The little droid went silent again and unlocked the blast doors to the well-disguised bunker. The trees’ dense branches closed behind Maladi as she followed the robot inside. As she expected, everything was intact – no mere mortal could get past her deadly trees. She wiped the dust off the screen of the modified portable laboratory unit and leaned over it. “Time elapsed: 616 days. Percentage of the planet contaminated: 99.7%. Sentients still alive: 9. Seven males, two females, one of whom is a child. One of the males leads the group and has…has begun a decontamination process in the planet’s only village!” She hissed and shook her head. So, that was what the Master actually wanted from her? It was not a trust test, it was a puzzle to solve. Remains of a race to exterminate completely. A skilled bioengineer who could be of further use. This was a hyperlane junction and one of the lanes led to more power. Still… This couldn't have been a job for her. This should not have been a job for her. The Master must have lost his mind from all those healing-stasis-sessions. This was a job for a Hand. Darth Talon would have known what to do with this kind of a man, the leader of the surviving Skitees. Sex was her weapon of choice. But she, Darth Maladi, was not swinging that way. Carnal desires were an unnecessary distraction and she knew that even if she was to copulate, she would have ended up poisoning her lover anyway. Sex existed solely to gain power, so why bother with the formalities? This was a job for a Diplomat. Darth Kruhl would have known whom to exterminate in order to make this leader stop the operation and be recruited to work for Intelligence on Coruscant or one of the remote bioengineering facilities, such as Wayland. He would have picked the most obedient ones to be used as subjects of further experiments, too. She could, of course, choose the third path, the one seldom travelled by those other than the Sith: kill the promising one and his entourage and never make it known that somebody could have, perhaps, outranked her. That was the trap of fear that Darth Ruyn evaded, taking pride in his apprentice. That was one of the reasons she never wanted an apprentice. *I see you, Malincha.* Doubt was something she had long been a stranger to. The last time she doubted herself was when she left her past behind and took on the title of the Dark Lady of the Sith. Why was that happening right now? The first time on Sev-Ersk, she had been sure of herself. *I see you, Malincha.* That name. She had not heard it since Darth Krayt killed her Jedi father on Devaron, then grabbed her out of her mother’s arms, leaving the one who gave birth to her to die from a different kind of an embrace – a Force choke. *I see you, Malincha.* That voice. It belonged to the fallen Jedi that planted the seed that eventually became her. How ironic, that a seed of love gave birth to one seeding fear to sow hate. She thought this had been cleared long ago. She was her parents’ weakness and the weak ones had to die. Attachments were to be formed through passion for gaining power, not through unconditional love. *I see you, Malincha.* And there, it flashed before her eyes. The terrified face of her father, which was the very last grimace to grace his skull before decomposition, the very last spasm before rigor mortis set in. That was the only real memory she had prior to her training on Batorine. Batorine… Footnotes: Spoiler Annaj is the capital of the Moddell Sector, otherwise known for the Forest Moon of Endor. Bloodangel was made up on spot. And do not google "blood angel", unless you can stomach it. I thought it would be a fitting name for a Sith Lady's personal shuttle. The system created for this story is in the Monsua Nebula and therefore also a part of Outer Moddell Systems. The name Sev-Ersk was inspired by Soviet and nowadays Russian closed cities, Seversk in the Tomsk Oblast in particular. What Dath Maladi does to it is far more similar to the Windscale Fire and the Kyshtym Disaster. Blackgrass, however, is yet another reference to a different, bigger disaster, that I need to leave in every single story I write. I might or might not end up giving the plant the Biblical symbolism of its RL equivalent, Artemisia absinthium. UR-1060 is indeed a star in the Monsua Nebula. I took the liberty of placing Sev-Ersk in its orbit. I am not sure about radiotropic algae, but there is such a thing as radiotropic fungi, so why not? R-13 droids were a fun idea, as the last generation that was mentioned in Legends continuity was R-9 and that was about one hundred years before the timeframe of the Legacy comics. Zenoc Quah is a Yuuzhan Vong shaper who did not surrender with the others and went into exile on Wayland. He and Darth Maladi worked on sabotaging the Ossus Project. Trindellan Oak is a species of a tree endemic to the moon of Trindello in the same sector. In this case, these trees were bioengineered to kill and feed on intruders. Darth Krayt's constant need for healing stases, how he got a hold of Darth Maladi, hints of how Darth Ruyn died (at the hand of Darth Talon) and references to how Darth Kruhl and Darth Talon handle their business = all canon. Skitees are an original species made up for this story. Silverthorn is fanon, some sort of the planet's own parasite species that feeds on dying shrubs.