Beyond - Legends Star Wars: Paranormalities Trilogy (30 ABY AU, OCs)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Gahmah Raan, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Timeframe: 30 ABY (Post-NJO) (25 ABY Pre-NJO for Episode I prologue) (Legends)

    Genre: Action-Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

    Rating: Teen+ (Content: Violence, Mild Language, Dark Humor, Suggestive Themes, Dark Subject Matters, Potential Trauma Triggers: Abuse, Suicide)

    Summary: Shortly after the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War, the galaxy is in a state of recovery. The Galactic Alliance's existence is threatened by a new faction, the occultist Valkoran Empire, and their supposed leader Maesterus has taken an unusual interest in Jedi Knight, Zolph Vaelor. As Zolph deals with the theocratic institution and another foe in the otherworldly Forceless Collective, he must confront the psychological burdens that come with being a Jedi at such a young age.

    Notes: This series was started way back in early 2012 (and still in development as of this posting), so since it's a long-runner and I'm not allowed to take the easy way out and post links, I'll have to deliver it post-by-post (and a warning, the chapters themselves can vary in length, especially once you get to Episode II). This is also a mostly OC-driven story.

    Prologue: Crashdown

    "We have arrived at the Yavin System," the captain of the CR90 corvette, Angelion, announced over the intercom.

    "It's about time," Alec Vaelor said with a sigh of relief. He then activated a comlink and spoke into it. "Captain, let Headmaster Skywalker know we have arrived with Zolph and that we should be landing on the moon's surface soon."

    "Of course, Master Vaelor," the captain replied back. "Sorry you have to wait a few minutes longer, but hey, that's nothing compared to the hyperspace journey getting here, right?"

    Alec then turned his comlink off.

    A blond-haired woman and a brown-haired thirteen-year old boy - his wife Veene and his son Zolph, respectively - then entered the Angelion's lounge area.

    "Alec, do you really think the academy will accept Zolph?" the Veene asked him.

    "Of course, Veene," Alec replied. "If I'm Force Sensitive, it should be very easy for him to get in."

    The boy then chipped in, "Besides, despite my current lack of training, I can just display one little Force trick and I've already passed the entrance exam."

    "That too," Alec responded. "However, Zolph, I'd like to remind you that by experience, life as a Jedi isn't going to be easy. You don't exactly get to live a free life. You may have some liberties, but the weight of the galaxy is going to be on your shoulders, and you may experience some sorrows. Now I'd like to ask one more time: are you sure you are ready to take this path?"

    "Of course I am, Dad," Zolph replied. "You've got to sacrifice some freedom when you have a career."

    Alec then replied with a smile on his face, "I'm glad you're aware of that, son. Most kids don't comprehend that sense of responsibility so early in life."

    Alec's comlink started buzzing frantically. He promptly answered it.

    The captain spoke over the comlink, "Master Vaelor! We have an unidentified vessel entering the system with an incoming transmission! Get to the bridge, ASAP!"

    Alec then rushed to the bridge.

    Alec entered the command bridge. "Okay, I'm here. What do these guys have to say?"

    "Now patching it through," responded the Rodian communications officer.

    A voice then came from the radio. "This is the Valkoran warship, Conqueror. Prepare to be boarded. Do not resist, or we will fire upon your vessel." The transmission then ended.

    "Valkoran?" the captain responded in confusion. "What are they, a bunch of pirates? Well, let's give them a shot at taking our vessel."

    The vessel, a Star Destroyer of a previously unseen design with black decals and a large cannon on the bow, dropped out of hyperspace.

    "That's too advanced to be a pirate ship," Alec responded in surprise. "Captain, get the troops ready for the boarding party. I have a very bad feeling about what they are after."

    The captain sounded the alarm and announced over the intercom, "All personnel: report to your stations! We have an incoming raiding party!"

    "Try to hold them off as best as you can," Alec told the captain. "I need to get Zolph and Veene out of here and to the academy." He then rushed out of the command bridge with his lightsaber in hand.

    As the Angelion was tractored into the Conqueror's hangar on its underbelly, several New Republic soldiers stationed themselves at the airlock armed with blasters, ready for the enemy to come in guns firing, as if they were preparing for an Imperial boarding party.

    Shortly after, the airlock door exploded, with a few thermal detonators flying out of the cloud of smoke generated from the explosion. More explosions were created from the thermal detonators, sending a few of the soldiers flying into the corridor walls to their deaths. Then coming out of the airlock were several humanoid figures armored from head to toe and armed with blaster rifles.

    Both groups then opened fire on each other, starting with a small number of the boarding soldiers dying first, but the rest of the greeting defense was taken out shortly after. The troops from the boarding party then moved forward.

    Shortly after, another figure, covered from head to toe in black armor with a red visor and wearing a cape, emerged from the airlock leading a few more troopers.

    Firefights took place throughout the ship, with bodies from both sides littering the hallways.

    At the escape pod bay, Veene, with Zolph by her side, is fending off several of the boarding party troops with a blaster pistol. She manages to take out a dozen of them, until one of them successfully shot her in the side of her abdomen and wounded her, in which she responded by firing back at her attacker and killing him. Veene then groaned in pain and clutched at her recently received blast wound.

    Zolph, worried about his mother's condition, looked around panicked to see if he could find a medic or medical supplies. But then, the black armored man leading the boarding group entered the escape pod bay.

    "Freeze!" one New Republic soldier, holding a blaster towards the man, yelled. The armored man then casually threw him back using telekinesis.

    Zolph and Veene then backed towards an escape pod in a defensive formation, since they knew that whoever this person was, he was not to be fooled with.

    As the intimidating figure approached the mother and her son, Alec then entered the escape pod bay.

    "Looks like I'm just in time. You two," he told both Zolph and Veene, "get down to the surface. I'll catch up with you later." The two of them then got into the escape pod and launched away from the ship.
    Alec then looked towards the man. "So guy, you seem like another Sith wannabe. We know how to deal with your kind."

    "A Sith? Don't make me laugh," The man responded. "All I want is your cooperation."

    "Then what are you after?"

    "I need your son."

    "Why? So you can brainwash him into being your apprentice?"

    "Why are you still talking like I'm a Sith? I don't have any desires for power. I just need his help. However, I cannot get the whole Jedi Order involved, so that's why we intercepted your ship before he could join."

    "Well, if you're raiding ships with potential Jedi recruits, then the Order would have a problem with you." Alec then ignited his lightsaber, which produced an aqua blade. "Especially me since a total stranger is trying to recruit my son for some purpose I don't know shavit about."

    The mysterious man sighed. "I thought I could reason with you, but it seems I'm going to have to beat some sense into you." He then ignited his lightsaber, which produced a red blade, in response.

    The two Force Users then clashed lightsabers. Their duel escalated throughout the ship's corridors. None of them seemed to be at a disadvantage with each other.

    The duel then came to a pause.

    "What's the matter?" Alec replied. "You're clearly holding back."

    The mysterious man replied, "I have no desire to kill you. I just want your consent and Zolph's cooperation."

    "Why are you calling my son by his first name?"

    Before he could respond, the mysterious man started making some odd gestures.

    "Is something wrong?"

    The man started making rather uncoordinated and chaotic strikes towards Alec, a disturbing contrast to his more elegant strikes from earlier. It was almost as if something had possessed him.

    Alec dodged most of the strikes, until the mysterious man raised his left arm towards. A bone-like spike ruptured from his palm and pierced through Alec's chest. He then launches the spike from his palm into a wall, pinning Alec into it.

    However, the mysterious man's lightsaber suddenly deactivated. He immediately fell on his knees and put his hands on his head as if he were having a severe headache.

    With his final breaths, Alec responded as he watched the mysterious man. "Okay, so you've convinced me you're not a Sith, but as far as I can tell, there is still something wrong with you." Alec then died.

    The mysterious man then recovered from his headache, only to realize what he had done.

    A trooper then approached him. "Commander Maesterus! Are you alright?"

    He then replied, "I'm alright, but I did something I'd rather not have."

    "Okay. Any further orders, sir?"

    "Tell Admiral Gravlek to get ready to retreat, then get a shuttle ready, bring a platoon down to Yavin IV's surface and look for that man's wife and son. They most likely landed in the jungle. Be sure to set your blasters on stun and give the woman some medical treatment if she hasn't already recovered or died from her wound. And be sure not to go near the Massassi Temple; we don't want to alert the Jedi or the New Republic to our existence yet. If it takes too long to find any of them, just pull out."

    "Yes, sir!" the trooper saluted Maesterus. He then walked away to get ready for his mission.

    On Yavin IV's surface, Zolph and Veene's escape pod has landed in a jungle. Zolph busted out of the pod and pulled his wounded mother out. He then layed her on the ground. He watched some more escape pods land in other parts of the jungle.

    "Okay, we've made it, Mom," said Zolph. "Now I just need to treat your wounds. The pod should have some emergency supplies."

    His mother then gave a deathly cough. "That won't be necessary."

    Zolph reacted with horror, "But Mom, you're dying! How can you say that?"

    "The supplies won't be enough if this wound has been untreated this long, and the rough landing certainly didn't help it either. That, and you're medical training is only basic."

    Zolph's eyes filled with tears when he realized his mother was doomed. But then he noticed an unfamiliar shuttle, with a design similar to those made by Cygnus Spaceworks, but with similar colors to the raid soldiers landing elsewhere in the jungle nearby.

    "This is no time to be grieving for me. Get to the academy, and let them know what happened if you get there before any other survivors. And one more thing: don't dedicate yourself to getting vengeance on this group. You're going to be a protector, and obsessions like that aren't going to make things better. Now go on." Veene then passed away.

    Zolph closed his eyes in sadness. "I will, Mom, but that doesn't mean I can't give you a proper burial first."

    Zolph stood next to his mother's recently finished grave and knowing he was short on time, only said "Rest in peace."

    Refocusing his priorities, Zolph looked in the escape pod for emergency supplies. He found a blaster pistol, a vibroblade and medical supplies.

    "Okay Zolph," he told himself, "You're the son of two adventurers, have been to several parts of the galaxy and dealt with wild animals before. Trekking through a jungle with enemy soldiers shouldn't be too big a problem for you, right?"

    He then proceeded to make his way through the jungle towards the Massassi Temple, dealing with some rough terrain on the way.

    Eventually, near a pond just below his position, he spotted a lone soldier from the raiding party. Zolph then jumped down behind to surprise him.

    "Halt!" The trooper yelled in shock. "Stand down and we won't have to take you by force!"

    Realizing the disadvantage the trooper had, Zolph just tackled him and pushed him into the pond. Zolph then ran away.

    Zolph then came across an abandoned bridge over a large river. Crossing it, he found himself surrounded by a larger squad of troopers holding him at gunpoint. He raised his hands, but then something erupted from under the bridge and knocked one of the troopers aside.

    A Lobranha, a green-shelled crustacean a few times larger than a human, emerged from the gap formed in the bridge. The troopers switched their guns back to kill to take out the creature, but their blaster shots had little effect on its exoskeleton. It proceeded to strike at the troopers with its claws and fangs, killing them all.

    Before it could feast on its kills, the Lobranha noticed Zolph running towards the end of the bridge. It dove back into the hole it emerged from, and then emerged at the end of the bridge before Zolph.

    Zolph realized that the creature was at its most lethal when underwater, giving him somewhat of an advantage since it was on land now. He also noticed a weakspot on the creature's underside.

    Zolph dodged backwards when the creature struck at him with its claws, and then slashed at the Lobranha's underbelly with his vibroblade. He repeated this strategy a few more times until the aquatic predator fell.

    Zolph, eventually made it to the Massassi Temple. Right outside of it, he found a few survivors from the Angelion, most notably the captain, and a group of Jedi Knights, including the headmaster of the academy, Luke Skywalker.

    "I'd like to welcome you to the Jedi Academy," Luke greeted Zolph. "The captain told me about what happened on the Angelion."

    "What about my father?" Zolph asked.

    The captain then chipped in, "I regret to inform you that your father is dead."

    Zolph sadly replied, "And so is my mother."

    "However, I managed to retrieve this from him before I escaped." The captain showed Zolph his father's lightsaber.

    "Thank you, Captain." Zolph calmly replied and retrieved the lightsaber. "Did you learn anything else about this group that attacked?"

    "They call themselves the 'Valkoran' and the man leading the party goes by the name 'Maesterus'. Other than that, we don't have any records on this group."

    "I see, so it may be some time, maybe years before I bump into them again. Master Skywalker, bookmark this group just in case."

    "Of course, Zolph," Luke replied. "However, not to disappoint you, but they are not our biggest concern at the moment. In the meantime, get settled in. You have a lot of training to look forward to before becoming a Jedi."
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2020
    Tarsier likes this.
  2. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 1: Five Years Later
    More than 5 years after the attack on the Angelion, the Yuuzhan Vong's war and conquest of the galaxy came to an end. Over the course of the war, many worlds were devastated by the extragalactic alien race, and trillions of lives were lost, including many heroes of the New Republic. The New Republic was dissolved and the Galactic Alliance was formed from its ashes. Despite the hardships, the Alliance emerged victorious and the Yuuzhan Vong eventually retreated from the galaxy.

    Now the Galactic Alliance and the New Jedi Order are at work repairing the damage from the war, including the establishment of planetary restoration projects and the relocation of several species to new homeworlds. However, because of the catastrophic results of the war, some groups are losing confidence in both the Alliance and the Jedi.

    On Acropolis Station, a large planetary restoration facility in orbit over the war-torn planet of Ithor, a small group of Jedi Knights, including Master Luke Skywalker and the recently knighted Zolph Vaelor and Dynn Manthis, must now deal with a terrorist threat against the station from a group that Zolph has not seen for 5 years…

    Outside Ithor, the Obliterator-class Star Destroyer, Conqueror, fired its main cannon on Acropolis Station, releasing a large ball of plasma at it.
    From inside the station's conference room, the hit could be felt as it rocked the station.

    "Oh, for the love of the Force! It's only been a few months since the end of the last war!" complained Zolph, now 18 years old and with his hair pulled back in a ponytail.

    "Well, no one said this galaxy was the most peaceful place in the universe. And as far as galactic history is concerned, we're always dealing with one war after another" replied a red-haired woman with green eyes and roughly Zolph's age.

    Zolph then replied back in a sarcastic tone, "Thanks for pointing that out, Dynn." He then regained his composure.

    "Enough witty banter, you two" spoke the station's administrator. "We need you and Master Skywalker to deal with this attack since the Alliance fleet is nowhere close to the system. If this attack isn't stopped, not only does everyone on the station die, but Ithor is going to remain uninhabitable for many more years."

    "You don't need to point that out," Zolph replied and then looked to Luke. "So, Skywalker, do you have a battle plan?"

    Luke activated the conference room's holoprojector, displaying a model of the planet, the station and the attacking vessel. "Zolph, you're going to take one of the ships on the station and take out the vessel from the inside. The plasma shots don't seem to be doing that much damage to the station thanks to the shield generators, but the enemy may send some reinforcements down here to take them out faster. Dynn's job will be to protect the generators. I'll remain here to keep you up to date on the situation."

    "Wait, wouldn't it make more sense to send Dynn up there?" Zolph asked. "She's a better pilot."

    "I also want to train your piloting skills, Zolph, especially after that one training mission during the last war."

    "Oh come on! I thought I told you that was because…"

    Dynn interrupted as she put her hand on Zolph's shoulder. "Besides, practice makes perfect. You'll get better if you do crazier stuff with the things you fly."

    Zolph sighed. "Fine. I'll go to one of the hangars now." He then exited the conference room.

    As Zolph made his way through one of Acropolis's residential blocks, one of the automated doors blew open. Out of the door came a bunch of soldiers wearing grey and black armor from head to toe, not too unlike Imperial Stormtroopers. As they began to open fire on Zolph, he immediately recognized them: they were Valkoran troopers.

    "Master Skywalker," Zolph answered into his comlink, "I recognize that armor. These are the same types of soldiers that attacked the Angelion five years ago."

    "We'll talk about it after this is over," Luke answered back, "but it's interesting to see a group this well-organized and technologically advanced. You may have not seen much action during the recently-ended war, but a few simple armed soldiers shouldn't be much of a problem for you compared to the Yuuzhan Vong warriors we had to deal with."

    "I thought the same." A few blaster shots passed by Zolph, slightly singeing his clothing. "However, I don't think these guys are exactly the Stormtroopers you Rebellion vets talk so much about."

    Zolph ignited his lightsaber, the same one used by his father five years ago, and deflected a few blaster shots, sending them right back to the troopers who fired them. He then cut down the rest of the troopers and moved forward.

    Zolph eventually made it to one hangar, but he found all the ships in it wrecked and unflyable, and several more Valkoran troopers, some armed with blasters and rocket launchers, and automated sentry guns placed by engineers wearing welding visor-like helmets. They opened fire and Zolph immediately retreated.

    "I've got bad news," Zolph spoke into his comlink to alert his allies. "These guys are doing a good job at predicting what we might do. Any other hangars that have usable ships?"

    "There is another one close to your location," spoke the station's administrator, "but you must act quickly."

    "Way ahead of you," Zolph responded and then ended the transmission as he made his way to that hangar."

    "Finally! Something I can fly!" Zolph said in relief as he entered the hangar and saw some starships.

    However, an enemy landing barge put itself halfway through the entry force field and fired on the remaining ships soon after.

    "Dammit!" Zolph yelled in frustration. But he realized he had another option: use one of the Valkoran dropships to get onto the flagship. Before he could initiate his plan, the front doors of the barge opened and out of it came a large bipedal machine similar in design to an Imperial AT-ST.

    Zolph told to himself in annoyance, "Do these guys have any tech that doesn't make them look like Galactic Empire wannabes?"

    The AT-ST-like machine, a Gundark-class walker, then fired a shot of super-heated plasma from the railgun on its right. Zolph quickly dodged the shot, leaving a hot scorch on the hangar floor.

    "Okay, so there's an upgrade over the source design." Zolph then dodged the blaster shots from its 'mouth' cannon. The walker then fired some missiles from the launcher on its left side.

    Zolph used the Force to repel the missiles back at the walker, blowing off both of its side weapons. He then used the Force to pick up one of the wrecked ships and throw it toward the walker's legs, tripping it and causing it to fall over on its side, rendering it immobile.

    "Okay, that takes care of that guy, but when does the next ship come in?" Another Behemoth-class landing barge entered the hangar soon after, releasing a squad of troopers.

    "Now, I can start Plan B." Zolph then dashed into the ship's main doors as they closed while dodging blaster fire.

    Now in the dropship, Zolph quickly fought off the crew and took over the vessel. "It isn't exactly the type of ship I'm used to flying, but it'll have to do." The ship lifted off and then headed back to the Conqueror to allegedly pick up more reinforcements.

    Zolph flew the dropship into the Conqueror's hangar on its underside. In the hangar, the ship was greeted with a party of more soldiers. Zolph exited out of the dropship's main doors, to which the Valkoran soldiers were immediately alerted to his presence and opened fire on him. This did little to stop him, as he quickly dispatched everyone in the hangar.

    He then spoke into his comlink, "Alright, I've made it. So Dynn, how's it holding down there?"

    Dynn replied, "They haven't landed a single hit on the generator yet, but the shields themselves are almost finished. So please hurry up."

    "Very well." But then he noticed that the door that would lead right towards the command bridge was magnetically sealed. Melting it down with his lightsaber was not an option either. "But unfortunately, I'm going to be delayed a few minutes longer." Zolph then ended the transmission.

    Zolph made his way toward a door that would lead towards the bow.

    Moving forward, he saw one of the corridors leading into a large area, and a trooper that seemingly lost his way on the ship. The trooper ran towards the corridor Zolph is in, but then a force field activated before he could get into it. He banged on it desperately as if something bad was going to happen, but then he noticed Zolph and spoke to him.

    "Hey kid, have we met before?"

    "I don't think I have, especially considering you guys are all armored head-to-toe," Zolph answered.

    "The name is Helms. Private Will Helms. I think I remember you from five years ago…oh yeah, you were that kid that snuck up on me and knocked me in a pond on Yavin IV!"

    "Okay, so you can swim in that armor…"

    The trooper then replied in a flat tone, "I drowned."

    Zolph's expression changed to one of utter confusion. "Wait, if you died, then how are you…?"

    Before Zolph could finish his question, Private Helms was yanked back and sent flying to side by an unseen force screaming, "Not again!" Then a large ball of superheated plasma flew from the other side of the room in the trooper's direction, inevitably incinerating him. He found himself in the plasma cannon's firing tunnel.

    Zolph spoke to himself "Okay, it's weird enough meeting a man who claims he's died before, but WHO THE HELL BUILDS A STARSHIP WITH CORRIDORS LEADING RIGHT INTO A FIRING TUNNEL?!"

    "Oh well, it looks like I've found a way to get to the bridge, and in the process, I can eliminate the cannon itself." The force field deactivated and Zolph made his way toward the firing room, quickly taking shelter in every one minute between firing sessions.

    He eventually made it to the control station behind the plasma generation dynamo, and addressed the firing crew when they noticed him, "I'd like to ask, how in space is this ship safe to navigate through?" The crew only answered by firing at him.

    Zolph quickly eliminated them and then destroyed the controls for the plasma cannon. He then spoke into his comlink, "Alright, I've taken care of the plasma cannon, so you've got one less trouble to worry about now."

    "Good work," Luke complimented Zolph, "but that's not going to stop them from simply using their turbolaser batteries."

    And then Dynn chipped in, "Besides, some parts of the station have already been destroyed without the shield going out, so get to the command bridge."

    "Alright, I'm close to it now, so the rest will be over soon" Zolph ended the transmission and made his way to the command bridge.

    Zolph eventually found himself outside the door to the command bridge. Once he opened the door he found a squad of troopers and the head of the vessel, a middle-aged but well-toned admiral with a scar under his left eye and wearing a black officer uniform.

    "I figured you'd make it here, even if I had to make you go through the firing tunnel" the admiral replied.

    "You're not even bugged about the ship's interior design?" Zolph responded in annoyance.

    "It keeps annoying brats like you away from me, but you're clearly an exception."

    "Anyway, I'm here…."

    "To stop me from blowing up Acropolis Station. I've heard it before," the admiral interrupted in an unimpressed tone. "But before we get to that stuff, allow me to introduce myself. I am Marx Gravlek, a high ranking admiral in the Valkoran Navy. And we've come here to get your attention."

    "You've definitely succeeded, because I remember you guys. You were involved in the attack both my parents died in five years ago."

    "I take it you are Zolph Vaelor? My boss is very interested in finding you."

    "Well, I'm standing right here. And your boss can come find me himself." Zolph then activated his lightsaber.

    "It looks like we're going to get messy here." The Admiral then descended on a small elevator right below him. The troopers then opened fire on Zolph.

    "Typical. As soon as he finds himself face to face with a Jedi, he retreats to let his men do the dirty work." Zolph then threw his lightsaber, killing all the troopers on the bridge in one throw. "Now where did the bastard go?"

    Immediately, the platform the Admiral was standing on opened and out of it rose a bulky suit of powered battle armor, with the right arm sporting a concussion blaster for a forearm and two repeating blasters below it, and the left arm a large claw. The suit raised its right arm and the concussion blaster fired, emitting a distinct shriek as it did so. The shot fired flew towards Zolph at a fast speed, hitting him and sending him against the wall.

    The armor then spoke. It was the Admiral. "You didn't think I was running away, did you? Even I've got to prepare when fighting Jedi, so you can think of those troops as a warm-up exercise. Now, we battle for real, Jedi!"

    The Admiral moved slowly as he fired his repeating blasters at Zolph. As Zolph deflected the shots, he realized some design flaws with the suit: aside from no running speed, the suit did not have a neck, meaning the Admiral had limited peripheral vision.

    He leaped over the Admiral to attack from behind, but he reacted with a well-timed claw grab at Zolph's torso. While in Gravlek's grasp, he then noticed two multi-eyed optical receptors on his shoulders, making up for the obvious design flaw. The Admiral then threw Zolph to the other side of the room.

    "That's some good design there," Zolph replied as he got back on his legs, "but still somewhat flawed. However, what you probably didn't predict is that a lightsaber isn't the only tool I use." Zolph then pulled out a blaster pistol from the holster strapped on his right leg.

    The Admiral then reacted by firing another concussion blast at Zolph, who reacted this time by redirecting the blast back at him. The armored man's aim was thrown off from the hit, in which Zolph took the time to shoot off his shoulder-mounted optical sensors, making him more vulnerable to back attacks.

    "I also use bombs." Zolph then threw a smoke bomb, shrouding the area. Using the smoke as a cloak, he then tried to make a back attack on the Admiral, who then reacted the same as before: by quickly grabbing him at the torso.

    Instead of throwing Zolph this time, he held him up above the floor and complimented him. "Very impressive, Vaelor. But I can still hear you, and your combat expertise is still in need of improvement. Right now, I could easily crush your ribcage, but my boss doesn't want you dead, so I'll settle for incapacitating you for delivery instead."

    Zolph smiled smugly. "You just made a bad move."


    Zolph then reactivated his lightsaber and quickly severed the Admiral's left arm, freeing himself from his grasp. The Admiral then raised his right arm in an attempt to fire, but it was immediately severed as well, followed by his legs, to which he then fell down on his back. "You left my arms free while you taunted me," Zolph answered.

    "That was very well done, Vaelor. I can see why Commander Maesterus is interested in you. However, I've got one more surprise for you."

    "What surprise? I cut off all of your…."

    An explosion from outside then interrupted him, followed by an automated intercom announcement. "Engines offline."

    "WHAT?!" Zolph yelled in shock.

    "There were some charges that react to my vitals placed on the engines. Because you cut off all my limbs, you not only unwittingly activated them, but you also sent the Conqueror on a collision course with Acropolis Station."

    "Who the hell would make technology like that? And how does an engine explosion propel….you know what, forget that last one. I shouldn't bother questioning the laws of physics if they break all the time."

    "Get out while you can. You will pass this last test when you stop the collision course."

    "Alright, but I'm taking you with me."

    "Sorry, the Admiral's got to go down with the ship too. Besides, you don't want a limbless man in a heavy suit hindering your escape, do you?"

    "Alright," Zolph said with an annoyed sigh, "you can stay here and die." Zolph then made his escape.

    As Zolph made his way away from the command bridge and to the hangar, he spoke into his comlink. "Team, I've succeeded in disabling the ship, but I kinda screwed up…again."

    "Yeah, we figured as much." Dynn chimed in. "We saw the engines exploding from down here and the ship heading toward us."

    "Okay, so can you and Master Skywalker stop the ship's collision course?"

    "That'll take a lot of focus for him."

    "How about redirecting it towards the planet's surface? It shouldn't cause too much trouble for an already dead world."

    "He's already ahead of you."

    "Thank the stars!" Zolph said in relief. "I'd hate for us to be listed as war criminals for this."

    "Same here, now just get out of there." The comlink transmission then ended.

    Zolph eventually made it to the hangar, however, this time faster than getting to the bridge from there now that the door was unlocked.

    Zolph got in one of the remaining ships, a Firaxa-class starfighter, which had a two-piece hatch on the cockpit and stabilizers forming a claw shape.

    As Zolph got ready to take off, he told to himself, "Come on, physics, don't fail me now," in response to the unpredictable nature of the universe. He then flew the fighter out of the hangar and towards Acropolis Station while the Conqueror drifted towards Ithor's scarred surface.

    In Acropolis Station's conference room, the station administrator commended the three Jedi on a job well done.

    "Unfortunately," the administrator continued, "the station was so badly damaged during the attack that it will be unusable for many years. The Ithorians are going to need to find a new homeworld in the meantime."

    "And now we're at war with the Valkoran," Zolph replied. "We need to have the Alliance military prepared to battle these guys, and I get the feeling that our new academy on Ossus will be one of their next targets. I know from Admiral Gravlek that this terrorist attack was to get our attention, but what are their ultimate motives?"
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  3. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 2: Old Wounds
    One day later, in the library of the new Jedi Academy on Ossus, Luke Skywalker and Zolph Vaelor discussed their new enemy, the Valkoran.

    "So, do you remember anything else about this Valkoran organization that we didn't put in the databank five years ago?" Luke asked Zolph.

    "Nothing, other than that they attacked the Angelion, orphaned me before we went to war with the Vong and that they recently sabotaged a planetary restoration project," Zolph answered.

    "That's a shame," Luke responded with disappointment. "However, we've done some research on this Admiral Gravlek you met at Ithor. According to his file, he used to be a fleet admiral and weapon scientist with the Imperial Remnant and disappeared sometime around the time peace was formed between the New Republic and Remnant."

    "So this group is made up of all sorts of types. It's too bad he didn't let me take him in for questioning and died with the ship. Between ex-Imperials, a soldier who claims I've killed him once, and a Force user, what other types are among them?"

    "You mentioned a Force user?"

    "Yeah, it might be that Maesterus guy. And he's also the last person I saw with my father. He's probably the one who killed him, too."

    "Sounds like we've a got a Dark Jedi or a rising Sith on our hands. Even if he isn't, we still need be prepared for him and his group."

    Zolph casually looked around as he listened to Luke, and then his eyes widened when he spotted on the library's ceiling, a small gray probe droid hanging by a claw-tipped arm. "I think that's going to be sooner than expected!" Luke was then alerted to the droid's presence.

    The droid immediately detached from the ceiling and hovered into place before it hit the floor. It then flew away and both Jedi made chase.

    Before it could exit the academy's main entrance, an orange double-bladed lightsaber flew spinning at the droid and cut it in half. The lightsaber then returned to Dynn Manthis. "I really think we should secure this place better."

    "That was close," Zolph said in relief. "Thanks, Dynn."

    "Unfortunately, that probably wasn't the only one they sent." Dynn then picked up one half of the broken droid. "We can expect the Valkoran to be attacking us about a week from now."

    "Wait, this is a Valkoran droid? What makes you think it's theirs? I don't see their emblem on it." Zolph asked.

    "I saw a few of them while protecting Acropolis's shield generator and it's got their color scheme."

    Luke then spoke. "Looks like we're going to be preparing for a full-scale assault on our academy. I'm going to contact Alliance Command and see if we can get the army and fleet over here this time. You two," he said to both Zolph and Dynn, "you may want to get some practice before the assault happens. This goes for the rest of the students and faculty as well."

    "And I recommend we stick to our strengths for this," Zolph replied.

    One week later, the Galactic Alliance has supplied an army to defend the academy on the surface and put up a fleet in orbit, along with Rogue Squadron. They have also set up an energy shield barrier. Now the Alliance and Jedi make final preparations for the inevitable Valkoran assault.

    In the academy's hangar, Dynn Manthis - wearing a flight suit - was performing maintenance on her X-Wing fighter. Zolph then spoke to her. "So, you're going to be joining Gavin and his boys up in space again. Well, they could use a Force-sensitive pilot or two."

    "Yep, and I was getting bored dealing with pirate raids. These guys should provide a little more of a challenge." Dynn replied.

    "Of course, because after all, they are more militarily advanced than any pirate could hope to be. But be careful up there. We've had little experience so far dealing with them in naval combat, and there's no telling what kind of other tricks they may have up their sleeves."

    "Hey! Quit worrying about me! I'll be back in one piece!"

    A siren then sounded, followed by a message on the intercom. "Alert! The Valkoran fleet has dropped out of hyperspace! All personnel report to your stations!"

    "Well, that's my cue to get up in the sky" Dynn responded. She then climbed into her fighter's cockpit and put her helmet on. "You may as well get out in the field, too."

    "May the Force be with you." Zolph replied.

    "Same to you."

    Dynn then closed the fighter's windshield and flew out of the hangar, followed by several more fighters.

    In orbit over Ossus, the fighters grouped up with the rest of the Alliance fleet and Rogue Squadron in battle with the Valkoran fleet, headed by three Obliterator-class Star Destroyers, a pack of Fury-class corvettes, and squadrons of Firaxa-class starfighters. The fighters on both sides then engaged each other in combat. Meanwhile, one of the Obliterators pointed its main cannon towards the academy on the surface and fired.

    On the surface, Zolph, a few more Jedi and the army watched as the large ball of plasma headed straight down to the academy. The shield generator placed inside the academy released a large energy dome over the structure, which then dissipated the shot as it made contact.

    "Looks like we were right about them doing just that" Zolph responded. He and the rest of the army then got an alert over comlink from Rogue Leader, Gavin Darklighter.

    "Attention, ground forces! They are sending dropships down to the surface! Some of us will try to take down as many as possible, but be prepared to repel them!"

    A large number of Behemoth-class dropships touched down on the surface away from the academy, releasing many troopers, speeder bike-mounted troopers, and Gundark combat walkers. On a cliff a few miles away from the academy and the main attack force, a trio of three-legged, bug-like droids with cannons mounted on their backs positioned themselves at the cliff's edge and extended out their cannons. The droids released a volley of plasma fire outside the shield, incinerating a few Alliance soldiers and destroying a few of their turrets.

    "Well, looks it's up to me to deal with the artillery over there," Zolph replied with annoyance at the Valkoran's habit of planning ahead. He then exited the force field and headed towards the cliff, dodging the artillery blasts.

    Along the way, Zolph aided several Alliance soldiers and tanks, taking down many Valkoran troopers and walkers in the process. Eventually, another ball of plasma from the Obliterators up in space came towards him as he got closer to the path up the cliff. He narrowly evaded the shot and felt the heat from it. However, another trooper that barely avoided the blast as well lost his balance and fell into the recently-formed crater right next to him. Zolph looked back towards his destination, but before he could move forward, a new vehicle with one large wheel came speeding towards him and fired at him, sending him into the crater too.

    At the bottom of the crater, Zolph got back on his feet and found the trooper that fell in alive as well.

    "That was close." The trooper replied in relief. "I almost got burned to ash…again."

    Zolph then realized who this trooper was. "Are you that…what was your name again?"

    "Helms. Private Will Helms."

    "Yeah, that guy I met at Ithor who claimed I killed him before and then died before I could question him. We never finished our conversation, so please explain yourself!"

    Zolph had seen several strange phenomena in the galaxy, but nothing as strange as this before.

    "Well, I don't really…" He was then interrupted by a large vehicle entering the crater spectacularly, the same one that made Zolph fall in. The vehicle then crashed into Helms, sending him flying out of the crater making a scream Zolph has heard one too many times.

    "Oh, for goodness sake!" Zolph yelled at the tank in annoyance. "Will you guys stop killing him before he can tell me anything?!"

    The vehicle then turned towards Zolph, lowering its two leg-like brakes and coming to a stop. "Oh, don't worry. You'll have thousands more opportunities to ask him…assuming you survive this," the pilot of the vehicle said over microphone. "Once I kill a Jedi, my new toy will make it on our military's production line!"

    "And if I turn your toy into scrap metal, I won't be dealing with it in the future."

    The tank's missile launchers opened and the pilot yelled. "You will not make a mockery of the Gutkurr!" The missiles fired out and Zolph dodged them. The Gutkurr then raised its legs and dashed towards Zolph, firing its blaster cannons.

    Zolph evaded the vehicle and the Gutkurr performed flips as it got to the edges of the crater. Zolph thought about how he would take it out quickly with it being so fast, but then he noticed smoke coming from exhaust pipes. The vehicle must have engine problems, and having a butt that big only makes it easier to notice.

    The Gutkurr made another rush towards Zolph and as it closed in, Zolph Force-jumped on top of it. He then got towards its over-sized rear, slashed at it with his lightsaber and leapt off.

    The vehicle performed one more flip and dashed towards Zolph. Before it could run Zolph over, it exploded into many pieces.

    "Now to deal with the guns…" Zolph said un-phased by the situation.

    Zolph found himself on the cliff-side with the trio of Starmantis-class artillery droids. The droids, alerted to his presence, retracted their cannons, knowing they were useless at short range. They moved towards Zolph on all three limbs and attempted to slash at him with their front two limbs, but to no avail. Zolph cut down two of them and Force-pushed the last one off the cliff. The artillery threat had been eliminated.

    Meanwhile in orbit, Dynn Manthis destroyed a squadron of Firaxa fighters. However, she noticed a badly-damaged Fury corvette speeding toward a Nebulon-B frigate. The corvette rammed into the mid-section of the frigate, detonating and taking out the frigate - as well as a few nearby fighters - along with it.

    "Alright, Rogues. Don't let those corvettes near any of the capital ships if they're unarmed. They are apparently armed with self-destruct mechanisms." Gavin responded to his squad over comlink.

    "Understood, Rogue Leader," Dynn replied back. "So let's take out their engines first."

    A few B-Wings, escorted by X-Wings, fired proton torpedoes at the corvettes' engines, preventing them from making quick suicide strikes, but that wouldn't stop them from detonating to take out nearby fighters.

    When the number of corvettes left was small, one of the Obliterators fired its plasma cannon at an already badly-damaged Mon Calamari Star Cruiser, destroying it.

    "Dynn," Gavin called, "we'll worry about the rest of the corvettes. You deal with the bigger fish."

    "Consider it done." She flew towards one of the larger vessels, firing proton torpedoes at all of its weapons while dodging fire from both fighters and turbolasers. She then fired another volley at the command bridge, effectively disabling the vessel. She repeated the process a second time.

    "Only one more." She told herself.

    "Dynn!" Gavin cried over comlink. "I'm reading increasing heat signatures coming from the ship you just disabled! Get away from it!"

    She didn't have enough time to react when the vessel exploded right next to her, setting her engines ablaze.

    "Oh Sithspit…Gavin, tell them to cease fire on the last ship. I'm going to be making a very rough landing into their hangar." Her fighter then dashed into the last Obliterator's hangar.

    Back on Ossus's surface, Zolph reported the destruction of the artillery droids. Unfortunately, he got another alert from command.

    "Zolph! They're sending troop transports towards the academy! Get back over here!"

    "On it!" Zolph replied. He then spotted a group of large repulsorcraft speeding towards the academy. Some of them were stopped by a few rockets to the engines, but the rest managed to penetrate the academy hangar doors by ramming their front tips through them. Zolph then dived off the cliff, controlling his falling speed so as to land safely on the ground below.

    Once back at the academy, Zolph cut into one of the docked transports' command center, and then exited the vessel through the front hatch and into the hangar, and found a rather horrific sight.

    He found the bodies of both Alliance soldiers and Jedi, killed not only by blaster fire but also a lightsaber. Zolph then noticed a few more soldiers and Jedi, pinned to a wall by dark gray spike-like bones through their chests.

    "Who or what could've done something like this?" Zolph asked himself. He then noticed a trail of blood leading upstairs and immediately followed it.

    On his way, he found the bodies of a few more Jedi and soldiers, killed under similar circumstances, although he did find a few simply wounded. As he went further along, he heard lightsabers clashing, and then he found the source: Luke Skywalker was dueling with none other than Maesterus, the same armored man who killed his father.

    Luke and and the armored man clashed swords a few seconds longer before the man cut off his cybernetic hand. Zolph responded by telekinetically throwing a piece of rubble at Maesterus before he could land a killing blow on Luke.

    "Just in time," Maesterus responded to Zolph.

    "You were waiting for me?"

    "Yes. Why don't we go talk in private where the shield generator is?" He then dashed upstairs and Zolph gave pursuit while Luke recovered.

    Zolph made it to the highest room in the academy, a dark room where the shield generator was stationed. He then found Maesterus.

    "I'm surprised you haven't destroyed the generator yet," Zolph told him.

    "Oh please. I'm not interested in annihilating the Jedi. I'm only interested in you."

    "Then why did you…?"

    "Because they tried to kill me. They thought I was a Sith Lord and decided to attack me on sight, so I defended myself."

    "But you are a Sith Lord, aren't you?"

    "I'm not, contrary to what my attire suggests. I just want you to aid me in my cause and I'll leave the Order and Alliance alone."

    Zolph responded with anger. "What makes you think I would join you?! You murdered my father!"

    "I'll admit that I did kill him, but I wouldn't call it murder."

    "Nerfshavit!" Zolph then ignited his lightsaber.

    "I tried to ask for his permission, but he responded the same way the rest of you have been doing for the past half-hour. However, killing him was unintentional."

    "Are you going to keep using the self-defense and accident excuse on me?"

    Maesterus sighed and then ignited his lightsaber. "You're just as stubborn as your father, aren't you? It looks like I'm going to have to do to you what I intended to do to him when he declined."

    "Fine by me" Zolph responded. The two then clashed lightsabers, lighting up the room with sparks every time the blades connected.

    A few seconds later, Maesterus then threw Zolph against the wall, and then lifted him up in the air with the Force. "Calm down, Zolph. Didn't they tell you to control your emotions? Getting angry and attacking me like a raging lunatic isn't good for your health!"

    Zolph responded by Force-pushing Maesterus, causing himself to fall to the ground. "I know you're trying to turn me to the Dark Side!"

    "I told you I'm not a Dark Jedi! I'm just stating a fact, and ironically, you're only corrupting yourself!"

    Zolph charged toward Maesterus, who then responded by Force pushing him into the wall. As Zolph got up off the floor, Maesterus put his lightsaber away and two spikes emerged from his palms, tearing through his flesh and gloves. Zolph cringed at this sight.

    Maesterus fired the two spikes from his palms and into Zolph's shoulders. He then fired two more into his wrists, pinning him into the wall. Zolph, at Maesterus's mercy and bleeding, went from being angry to being scared.

    "I'm not very impressed," Maesterus responded. "You're too easily controlled by negative emotions, and that makes your combat prowess sloppy in contrast to the reports I got from my men. However, with some training from me, we can remedy that."

    "What makes you think I'm siding with you?!"

    "Oh, just give it up! You're helpless! What more could you do to resist?"

    Maesterus was suddenly interrupted by the door opening, with Luke Skywalker on the other side - his hand still missing and stump sparking. The academy headmaster then used the Force to send Maesterus flying out the wall, a big contrast to their previous duel.

    Luke walked over to Zolph, removed the spikes carefully and walked him out of the room to the med bay.

    Maesterus landed outside on the Academy grounds and ordered his forces to retreat. The Valkoran troop transports pulled themselves out of the academy walls and he boarded one of them. They, as well as the remaining land forces, then went back to the landing sites. They got aboard the dropships, and took off into space. They and the remainder of the fleet then left the Ossus System.

    The Jedi Academy was safe.

    In the academy hangar, Zolph and Luke listened to Gavin's report on the battle in space.

    "It's great that we won, but what happened to Dynn?" Zolph asked Gavin.

    "I don't know what to say, except that her fighter caught fire and crashed into the last enemy ship's hangar."

    "What?!" Zolph responded with shock at the idea that his closest friend at the academy would be dead. "Tell me, Gavin. You didn't destroy the vessel she crashed in, did you?"

    "She told us to cease fire on the vessel when her ship caught flames, so we did as she said. And that vessel retreated from the battle."

    "That's a relief. At least there's a chance she's still alive."

    "I don't know if we should prepare a rescue mission, Zolph."

    "Why not?"

    "There's a chance she may not have survived the crash, and if she did, she may be a prisoner."

    "After what I've seen of their leader, I don't think they would execute or torture their prisoners."

    "Maybe so, but even then, we don't know where they would've taken her."

    "Let's keep our eyes and ears open, though." Zolph ended. Gavin then left.

    Luke then spoke to Zolph. "Zolph, I could sense your anger and fear during your battle with Maesterus. You must remember that emotions like these can lead you to the Dark Side."

    "I know, and he pointed that out to me. I may be a Jedi Knight, but I still have a lot to learn about keeping myself in check, and having such a troubled past doesn't make it any easier. And now Dynn's missing, and I have no idea whether she's alive or not."

    "I've been close to the Dark Side before, so I know what that's like. If you encounter Maesterus again, don't fight him for revenge. Do it because you have to."

    "Yeah, I now remember my mother telling me something along those lines before she died." Zolph then remembered something else. "Speaking of the Dark Side, I didn't sense it coming from Maesterus. He seemed sincere and he had no desire to kill us. He was only interested in recruiting me. Did you sense it?"

    "I sensed only a weak bit of it, but strangely, I sensed the Light Side coming from him too. That must mean he believes he's helping a just cause. However, I also sensed something else from him, an absence in the Force, like an emptiness that gnaws at you. Something you would feel just after someone has died."

    "I wonder if that emptiness has anything to do with his ability to shoot his bones at people, assuming he isn't just a member of an alien species we haven't seen before."

    "You could figure that out next time."

    "And let's hope I've gotten over my anger-management issues before then. He may want me to join him first, and I don't know if I want to be siding with him considering the things he and his group have done. But still, I wonder why he's so obsessed with me."
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  4. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    This one is by far the shortest chapter of the series (and I doubt any chapters I write for Episode III will be as short). If there are any regrets I now have about this chapter, it's including Mara since she doesn't show up anywhere else in the story.

    Chapter 3: Scum and Villainy
    One month has passed since the successful defense of Ossus. Zolph Vaelor has been sent to Tatooine to investigate an unusual uprising in criminal activity on the planet. Zolph, piloting a Z-95 Headhunter, prepared to dock in Mos Eisley Spaceport to get a headstart on his investigation.

    "So why I am here on this boring, lawless dustball with two suns again?" Zolph asked over his ship's radio while preparing to land.

    "There's been more crime than usual on this world, and we need you to find out what's causing it. Besides, almost every galactic hero has been to Tatooine at least once in their life, so now it's your turn," Luke replied back through the radio.

    "I still don't see how this has anything to do with our war with the Valkoran."

    "And that's what has me worried. This didn't happen until very recently, and I'm also sensing another disturbance on the planet. Whether the two are connected, I don't know."

    "Okay, so I may have some real reason to be here after all. I might as well start here in Mos Eisley. From what I heard, there are a lot of seedy types here, especially at the cantina."

    At the Mos Eisley cantina, Zolph walked in, wearing a white cloak and sand goggles. He noticed many aliens, some looking at him suspiciously, as if they could take advantage of him. He then walked up to the bar.

    "Hey!" Zolph told the bartender, a middle-aged human male "Corellian Ale. Just a small shot will do."

    "May I see your I.D., son?" the bartender asked Zolph.

    "Whoa! Tatooine has a drinking age? Since when was that established?"

    "I'm just kidding, boy. Most young folk like to take advantage of this world's lawlessness. Even if they ain't young, they usually point blasters at me when they don't get the results they want, but I see you ain't that type of person." The bartender then put a shot glass next to a drink dispenser, poured the ale into it, and gave it to Zolph.

    "Yeah, I'm just a galactic adventurer looking for something interesting."

    "Well, there ain't much to see here on boring ol' Tatooine. Just sand, Jawas, Sand People, Krayt Dragons, and more sand. It's also a rough place, especially with the recently-increased crime rate. If you ain't careful, the local crime boss may decide to have you killed, or worse, fed to the Pit of Carkoon."

    After he finished drinking from the glass, Zolph then laughed as if he weren't taking him seriously, gaining the eyes of some of the patrons. "Oh come on, pops. Do you really think some crime lord is going to have me mugged or fed to a Sarlacc if I talk even the slightest bit of Bantha Fodder about him? He's probably Swoop gang material."

    "You may want to leave now. Apparently, some of the rougher types here may have a bone to pick with you just for saying that."

    "Yeah, and I've had enough to drink…"

    "Only one shot?"

    "I'm still underage by Alliance standards, and I'd prefer to stay sober." Zolph then gave the bartender some credits and exited the cantina.

    After Zolph exited, a lightly armored Nikto and his Gamorrean colleagues went out the other exit.

    In the streets of Mos Eisley, Zolph walked into a back alley, only to be clubbed with a stun baton.

    "You should know better than to stand up to Lord Va'Za, offworlder." Zolph heard in Huttese as he got back up on his legs. It was coming from a Nikto enforcer, escorted by two Gamorrean thugs armed with vibro-axes. "He doesn't want anyone inspiring opposition to him, so we're going to make an example, and what's a better choice than some naïve offworlder?"

    "Hold it, Spikeface," Zolph told the Nikto, "Who is this Va'Za person?"

    "You don't know Va'Za the Hutt? He's the one that makes it easier for people like me to get riches, women and power."

    "In other words, let you make it in society at the expense of others." Zolph replied in a deadpan tone.

    "Of course, that won't matter since you won't be around to cause him trouble much longer."

    Zolph then gave a psychotic smirk. "Actually, you idiots just fell into my trap!" He then used the Force to throw the two Gamorreans into the alley walls and knocked them unconscious.

    "A Jedi?!" the Nikto reacted with shock. He tried to flee, but Zolph lifted him up in the air before he could turn around. "What do you want with me?!" he exclaimed in fear.

    "You already told me who your boss is, but now," Zolph then dropped him to the ground and waved his hand, "you will tell me where I can find Va'Za and you will forget we ever met."

    "I will tell you where you can find Va'Za." The Nikto repeated. He then gave Zolph a datapad.

    "Goodnight, Spikeface." Zolph then made the Nikto pass out, making him forget everything that happened in the process. He then did the same to the unconscious Gamorreans and left the alley.

    Zolph activated his comlink as he passed through the streets. "Vaelor to Skywalker, I figured out who's pushing the crime rate. It's a Hutt named Va'Za."

    "Va'Za? There's something wrong with that. Va'Za was not this influential here, even for a Hutt. He's most likely being backed by another powerful group. Now I need you to find him and figure out who's backing him."

    "I already know where he is."

    "How did you…?"

    "I got some of his lackeys to pick a fight with me and made them spill their guts. It was pretty easy considering how impulsive and weak-minded they were."

    Another voice spoke on the comlink, "Kid, I don't know if you're very bold or very insane, but that was still a clever move."

    "Mara?" Zolph asked with surprise. "You're not usually around the academy much these days, what with having a kid to raise and all."

    "I thought I'd take Ben to visit his father since he's usually busy helping a rebuilding galaxy. Aside from Maesterus, I don't see why he'd need my help with the Valkoran. I will help when I happen to pass by, though."

    "Well, it's nice to talk to someone different over the comlink for once…no offense to your husband, of course. Now I need to get back finding the giant slug." Zolph then deactivated his comlink.

    Several hours later, Zolph had traveled across the Dune Sea on a rented Swoop Bike. He eventually found himself at Va'Za's palace, built in the image of a B'omarr monastery, similar to the one Jabba resided in before his death nearly two decades and a half ago.

    "A fake B'omarr monastery, huh?" Zolph told himself. "I guess Jabba really popularized them with the rest of his species once they adopted this planet as their new home."

    He then knocked on the monastery's door, and out of a circular hatch popped out the stalk of a TT-8L gatekeeper droid. The droid then spoke in Huttese, "What is your business here?"

    "I'm here to speak with Va'Za the Hutt. Now let me in."

    The droid then mockingly laughed at Zolph and retracted back into the hatch.

    "Hey! You get your ugly eye back out here or I'm…" Zolph was then interrupted by the monastery doors opening. "Wow. That was a very odd droid."

    Once Zolph entered the darkness of the monastery, the door closed behind him, shutting out the light of Tatooine's Twin Suns. A Weequay and Klatooinian attempted to block him off, but he casually threw them aside and continued moving forward.

    Zolph then found himself in the palace courtroom where many unscrupulous types of various species and Va'Za, a typically corpulent and green-skinned Hutt with a short mustache centered right below his nostrils, waited.

    "You have a lot of nerve to just demand entrance into my lair, boy," Va'Za said to Zolph in Huttese.

    "Yeah, well I'm not letting you avoid me, so I'm being assertive."

    "And what exactly do you want with me?"

    "I want to know how a once-lowly gang lord like you suddenly became powerful enough to let your henchmen terrorize the citizens of Tatooine whenever the hell they want."

    The Hutt then laughed at Zolph, "Foolish boy. I have a lot of money, and with money comes power." He then pulled the Twi'lek slave girl sitting next to him on his throne right in front of him. He then put his tongue out and the girl reacted with terror as he tried to devour her.

    Zolph, annoyed at the Hutt's avoidance and disgusted with his beyond-gluttonous behavior, used the Force to pull the girl away from him before he could pull her into his mouth. "Hey! People are not food! And I know there's something you're not telling me, so spill your guts out, or I'll make you do it!" He then activated his lightsaber and pointed it toward the Hutt, with some of his guards pointing their blasters towards Zolph.

    The Hutt then lost his cool. "Alright, alright! I never thought a Jedi would threaten me! This group called the Valkoran is funding me in exchange for creating a distraction from their activity here."

    "Activity? What kind of activity?"

    "They're operating around some ancient ruins from a lost alien race found in the Eastern Dune Sea. They also paid me to give the location of these ruins."

    "That's all I needed to know, and sorry for wasting your time." Zolph deactivated his lightsaber and walked away. As he made his way out of the courtroom, he then said to Va'Za, "Oh, and one more thing, Va'Za: If I ever catch you doing that again, I'm putting you on a permanent diet." He then left as the Hutt had a surprised look on his face, wondering if he was even talking to a Jedi.

    Outside Va'Za's palace, Zolph activated his comlink. "Zolph to Luke, I've learned that the Valkoran are indeed backing Va'Za's activity here."

    "So they're involved in this after all, but why?"

    "They're using the rising crime rate to divert us from their activity in the Eastern Dune Sea."

    "Most stuff on Tatooine happens in the Northern and Western Dune Sea. What about the East has them so interested?"

    "That disgusting slug said something about some alien ruins there, but why are they interested in something from a long-gone civilization?"

    "That's very suspicious. Zolph, I have another objective for you."

    "Let me guess: you want me to investigate the ruins and report what I find there. I was already thinking of doing that before you assigned it as an objective. I have a very bad feeling about this."

    Zolph then took off towards the Eastern Dune Sea on his Swoop Bike.
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
  5. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 4: Demon of Tatooine
    After several hours of traveling across Tatooine on Swoop Bike and stopping at a few settlements to refuel, Zolph Vaelor had found himself at a Krayt Dragon cave in the Eastern Dune Sea. Outside of said cave, he found the corpse of the Dragon that once resided in it, a Behemoth-class carrier and a Sigma-class shuttle. The Valkoran were there like Va'Za the Hutt said.

    "Wow! These guys are good!" Zolph said to himself with surprise at the sight of the fallen Krayt Dragon. However, he also noticed a few dead Valkoran Troopers within proximity of the beast's corpse. It did not go down easy.

    Zolph entered the mouth of the cave. It seemed like an ordinary Krayt Dragon den, but then he noticed a small, man-sized tunnel deeper inside and proceeded through it.

    After going further into the tunnel, Zolph found himself in an ancient temple filled with lamps, pillars and statues of stalk-eyed aliens. "It's about time I found them! Now I get some sweet light and a lot less dirt in my face!" He also noticed a squad of Valkoran Troopers.

    "What the… A Jedi?! Here?!" one of the troopers panicked upon seeing him.

    "I've really got to look around before I speak more often…"

    "Open fire, men!" The squad commander barked. "We can't let him know what we're doing here!"

    The troopers fired at Zolph, but he responded by uprooting one of the alien statues and throwing it at two of the squad members and then cutting the rest down.

    "Okay, that's taken care of, but now I just need to find what has them so interested in this dusty cave."

    He then moved forward through a door farther back.

    Farther into the ruins, he found a locked door and three pedestals with an interface next to each of them.

    "Hm. Only one of them may open the door. The others are most likely death traps." Zolph then heard another squad of Valkoran Troopers entering from an adjacent room and hid behind a statue.

    Three troopers entered the room. The leader of the squad spoke. "This is the room I was talking about. I'm suspecting two of the pedestals are booby-trapped." He then looked to one of the troopers.

    Said trooper then spoke back in protest, "Why do I always have to be the one to disarm the trap?!"

    "You already know the answer to that, Private Helms."

    "Do you think I enjoy that?!"

    "It trims down casualties."

    "Fine…" Helms then walked on to one of the pedestals and put his hand on the terminal. However, the pedestal opened up into segments and Helms lost control of his balance and saw below him a live Sarlacc with its beak open.

    "No! No! No! I can't go out like this!" He reacted in horror knowing that it would take a long time for him to die. He then fell into the sedentary creature's gullet.

    Zolph, still hiding, put his hand to his forehead, knowing not only is the supposedly immortal soldier going to be digested alive for over a thousand years, but he will never figure out how he kept coming back.

    However, the Sarlacc promptly regurgitated Helms at an angle at high velocity, slamming him into the ceiling. He then fell to the ground covered in dirt and some of the beast's body fluids and looked to the troopers. "I. Hate. Both of you." Helms then died and the pedestal closed.

    "Thank the Force." The other lower-ranking trooper said in relief knowing Helms would still be able to reincarnate. "Now we know we are indigestible to these things."

    The squad leader then spoke. "And that is not the pedestal we need to activate. Now we just need to wait before we try again." The troopers then left the room to kill time.

    Zolph, still slightly lamenting the missed opportunity, got out from behind the statue and used Force sense to determine the right pedestal. He learned that the Sarlacc, being rather large, was the only one in the room. Then, something snapped in Zolph's mind. "Oh wait! I don't even need to touch them." He Force pushed one of the interfaces, revealing a spike pit beneath one of them. Using deductive reasoning and one more push, he activated the other interface and unlocked the door. "You know, now that I think about it, why didn't I just try to saber down the door? Oh well, no harm done." Zolph then moved forward.

    In another room with a square walkway bordering a spike pit below was an ancient droid sitting on a pedestal in the middle of the spike pit. The droid activated shortly after Zolph entered the room and attempted to light him with a built-in flamethrower. Zolph naturally dodged to the side.

    "Well, whoever these guys were, they were a pretty advanced race. Too bad the droid's in a very bad place." Zolph then attempted to Force push the droid off the pedestal into the spike pit, but it was anchored into the pedestal, preventing such a mundane strategy. "I guess Force powers don't solve everything." The droid then tried to burn him again.

    Eventually, the droid ran out of fuel. The droid's glowing eye flickered as a claw descended from the ceiling, unscrewed the bulb in the top of the droid and pulled it back into the ceiling. Then it descended with another bulb and put it into the droid, which then resumed torching Zolph. He had figured out that the bulb was a fuel tank for the flamethrower.

    Zolph let the droid empty its tank once more and attempt to replace it. He drew out his blaster as the tank was being replaced and then fired on the replacement tank as it was being set, detonating it and obliterating the droid. Zolph then moved further into the ruins.

    Later, Zolph found himself in a large outdoor arena with many stone pillars. He took out the Valkoran Troopers in the arena, but realizing there was nowhere else to go, he wondered why he was there.

    Shortly after, he felt the ground beneath him shake and out of the sand emerged a large snake-like creature with a head resembling a hand, with the three fingers and two thumbs forming mandibles. In the palm of the head was a glowing red eye that resembled a crystal ball. The creature somehow roared at Zolph despite not having a visible mouth.

    "Wait. This is why I'm here?" Zolph asked himself looking at the creature. "Oh well, if it's just a wild animal, this shouldn't be a problem."

    The creature positioned the thumb-like mandibles upward, and the ground shook once again. Zolph looked down and a sand geyser threw him upward and as he fell, another one erupted and sent him upward again. He then fell to the ground and activated his comlink, dodging more geysers in the process.

    "Master Skywalker, I'd like you to see this." He then activated the comlink's miniature holocam to show the creature to Luke. "Since you grew up here, do you know anything about a species like this? Because the official Tatooine almanac sure doesn't!"

    "No, but it's a giant sand snake with a hand-like head. What about it?"

    "Well, it's trying to kill me when I haven't even tried to do anything to it yet…with sand geysers!" Some boulders were then summoned from the sand and flew towards Zolph, with him narrowly dodging and slashing at some of them. "And now it's telekinetically throwing boulders at me!"

    "That's not normal. This may be the reason the Valkoran were distracting us with the criminal uprising."

    The snake suddenly dug into the ground and then emerged from under Zolph, grabbing and gnawing on him before throwing him. As Zolph got up on his feet, he yelled into his comlink. "You think?! When I heard the Valkoran were plundering ruins, I was expecting an ancient superweapon or an artifact of doom, not a monster with supernatural powers!" Zolph then calmed down. "However, I'm also sensing something abnormal about it, and it's not the Force. More specifically, the same abnormality I sensed from Maesterus."

    "Zolph, do what you can to put this thing down. If it gets out of the ruins, who knows what kind of terror it may unleash upon Tatooine."

    "I was thinking the same thing." Zolph then deactivated the comlink.

    The beast dug into the sand again, but Zolph, using his Force sense to detect the abnormality from underground, jumped up into the air before the creature could grab him again.

    "Oh no, I am not falling for the same trick twice!" he then performed a downward stab into the creature's eye just as it rose from the sand. Once the blade connected, the creature let out a painful shriek and flailed, throwing Zolph off along with his lightsaber.

    The beast retaliated by throwing another large stone at Zolph, who used the Force to grab the boulder in response and throw it back. The creature flinched in pain, and as it readied for another attack, Zolph lowered his goggles and put up his mouth cover.

    It made a blast of sand to throw Zolph off and make him easier to ambush. Unfortunately for it, Zolph jumped up into the air from behind it and swiftly decapitated the beast. The veil of sand disappeared and the creature's headless corpse fell to the ground. The eye on the severed head lost its glow, looking like nothing more than a glass ball.

    Zolph panted in relief, "What in space was I just fighting? Well, at least it's over now."

    He then backtracked into the ruins.

    Making it back to the pedestal room, Zolph saw a female figure wearing a full helmet that obscured her face and light gray armor pieces over a black body glove.

    Zolph responded. "After dealing with that thing, I was hoping I wouldn't run into any more trouble." As the figure drew out a double-bladed lightsaber with orange blades, Zolph did the same.

    The masked woman swung her blade viciously at Zolph, who blocked and dodged her blows and then attacked back. While attacking, he got a good look at the lightsaber hilt and recognized it.

    "That's a nice hilt you've got there. You've toughened up ever since you went missing…right, Dynn?"

    The figure then jumped back, deactivated her lightsaber and took off her helmet, revealing herself to be a human woman with red hair and green eyes. She was indeed Dynn Manthis. "So you figured me out, Zolph. You're still as observant as ever despite your occasional lapses. I guess you also figured out I'm now working with the Valkoran?"

    "Yeah, and I'd like to know why and what the deal was with that sand snake I just killed?"

    "Sand snake? You mean Terraris?"

    "Wait, that thing has a name?! Was it your pet?!"

    "He was an incredibly powerful and sentient creature we summoned to help us fix the galaxy, almost on god-like levels. And you just screwed that up."

    "Okay, considering the thing tried to kill me on sight and his abilities, I see something wrong with that. But that doesn't completely answer my other question."

    "Well, I originally intended to collect intel on them while I was held prisoner, but then I learned more about their motives. They're not interested in conquering the galaxy; they're interested in rebuilding it."

    "Then why are you guys at war with the Alliance?"

    "The New Republic would've had everything to build the galaxy, but it was not as militarily effective as it once was and thus fell apart during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. When the Galactic Alliance rose from the rubble, they resorted back to that military effectiveness, but lost their economic effectiveness. From my experiences, I was somewhat inclined to agree with them."

    "So now you're a galactic revolutionary with good intentions, but very extreme about it?"

    "If that's your idea, then yes. By the way, Maesterus still wants me to bring you back to him."

    "I'll tell you the same I told him: I'm not coming."

    Dynn reactivated her lightsaber.

    "Can you please take 'no' for an answer?"

    "Sorry, Zolph. I don't want to do this, but unless you come willingly, I am going to have to take you by force."

    Zolph sighed and reactivated his lightsaber as well.

    Dynn charged at Zolph, only slashing at him in a way as not to kill him. Zolph dodged desperately in response. They clashed sabers for several minutes, even throwing things at each other.

    "Come on, Dynn! If he killed my parents, why does he want me by his side?!"

    "We can't tell you that until you've joined us. Besides, he's not so bad once you get to know him. He doesn't kill his own men for failure or fun. And we can go back to being friends again."

    "I told you I don't want to be with that bone-launching bastard!" He then cut off her right arm, causing her to yell in pain. He then responded in shock. "Oh my! I didn't think I'd do that! Sorry!" He then regained his composure. "Either way, you've lost, Dynn. Why don't you come back with me?"

    Dynn looked up as she clutched at her stump. "As a war criminal? Sorry, but if you're not letting me take you back, I'm not letting you do the same to me either." She then used the Force to collapse the ceiling. "You might as well get out while you can."

    Zolph fled the area as the room caved in on itself.

    Outside the Krayt Dragon cave, Zolph spoke on his comlink. "Luke, I've got good news and bad news."

    "Let's start with the good news," Luke said.

    "I killed the sand snake, which I learned was named Terraris. And I've confirmed Dynn Manthis's survival."

    "That's great. So what's the bad news?"

    "Dynn's now working with the Valkoran."

    "That's unfortunate. You may have to put your feelings aside if you meet her again."

    "I'm counting on it. On another subject, I think there was something else Va'Za knows that could be potentially dangerous. I'm going back to talk with Mr. Mustache Hutt."

    Zolph then deactivated his comlink, mounted his Swoop Bike, put down his goggles and headed towards Va'Za's monastery.

    After a few hours of backtracking, Zolph found himself back at Va'Za's palace. He aggressively banged on the palace door, and out of it popped the gatekeeper droid from before.

    "What is your business here?"

    "I need an audience with Va'Za…now."

    Without any words, the droid attempted to retract back into the hatch, but Zolph used the Force to hold it and said to it. "Oh no, you are not avoiding me this time." The droid's stalk then broke as it tried to pull itself back in.

    Zolph then pulled out his lightsaber, cut a hole through the door and entered.

    In the main lobby he found himself surrounded by many of Va'Za's thugs, but Zolph just casually tossed them aside, made his way back to the throne room and confronted the Hutt, who was very surprised that the Jedi would ever come back.

    "Okay, Va'Za, how did you know about those ruins?" Zolph commandingly asked him. "And don't you dare talk yourself out of this. What was in there could not only have threatened Tatooine, but possibly the entire galaxy itself if had the means to leave this planet. So speak the truth. Now."

    "I don't really know much about those ruins except where they are, and I don't actually know Tatooine that well!" the Hutt told him panicking.

    "Then where did you get their location from?"

    "An associate gave it to me!"

    "Associate? Please elaborate. I demand specifics."

    "His name is Girdretto. He is a Toydarian kingpin on Sleheyron. He said I would turn a profit from trading this information! And now you've clearly ruined my only source of income."

    "That's all I needed to know." However, Zolph then noticed the Twi'lek slave girl from before is no longer sitting next to him. "Hey, where's your slave?"

    The Hutt played innocent. "What slave? She's free now!"

    "Don't lie to me. I can sense something coming from your stomach!" Zolph swiftly slashed at Va'Za, cutting his stomach open. As the Hutt screamed in pain, Zolph used the Force to pull out what was the same slave girl he tried to eat before, covered in slime and horrified but not too badly digested. "Va'Za, you are an idiot! I wasn't kidding about my warning from last time!"

    He then looked to the terrified slave girl. "Okay, your free now. Now get out of here." The Twi'lek promptly fled from the monastery. Zolph then looked to the rest of Va'Za's thugs. "As for the rest of you, get real jobs!"

    Zolph then walked out of the palace.

    As Zolph was flying back to Ossus through hyperspace in his Z-95, he issued his mission report to Luke Skywalker.

    "I still can't believe you killed Va'Za," Luke responded. "The rest of the Hutts are probably not going to like you after that."

    "Hey, you said he wasn't that special, and I thought he would simply be hospitalized and not die from his wounds. I guess he was too heavy to haul to the hospital. Besides, the guy ate his own slave girls! That one I saved killing him is most likely going to have psychotherapy after almost being digested alive. I'm just surprised she didn't die from suffocation."

    "Well, I do commend you for protecting the innocent at the very least. But still, the way I see it, getting an audience with Girdretto is going to be difficult after that."

    "Yeah, I'll be ready to head to Sleheyron tomorrow. After the crazy stuff that's happened today, I need a break."
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
  6. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 5: The Contact

    The next day, Zolph Vaelor travelled to Hutt Space, still recovering from the effects of the Yuuzhan Vong war. Sleheyron, one of the few worlds to avoid the wrath of the Vong, now took the place of both Nal Hutta and its moon Nar Shaddaa as the most active part of Hutt Space.

    Zolph's Z-95 entered Sleheyron's atmosphere. As he approached the surface, he saw a large city, not quite as large as those on Coruscant, Nar Shaddaa or Taris. He eventually docked on a small landing pad attached to the large estate of local crimelord, Girdretto.

    Zolph exited his vessel and noticed two combat droids, similar in design to the EV-series, armed with blaster staves next to the door. He approached the door and one of the droids spoke. "What business do you have trespassing on Master Girdretto's estate?"

    "I wish to speak with Girdretto over some…. important matters" Zolph said to the droid.

    "Use the panel next to the door. Master Girdretto will be with you shortly."

    Zolph then pressed a button on the intercom panel with a camera above it and a voice came from it. "What do you want?"

    "An associate of yours told me you know something about some alien ruins on Tatooine."

    "Who told you about…? Va'Za spilled the beans, didn't he?"

    "Yep, he told me everything he knew."

    "I knew it! You're that Jedi who killed him! Sorry, I can't let you in after that!"

    Zolph then waved his hand. "You will allow me into your estate."

    The Toydarian then spoke in a deadpan tone. "I'm assuming Va'Za didn't tell you what species I am."

    Zolph then hit himself in the forehead for forgetting that minor detail.

    "Now get off my landing pad or my guys will turn you and your ship into scraps!"

    Zolph then cut down the bodyguard droids. "You were saying?"

    "Good luck trying to get in."

    Zolph then tried to stab into the door with his lightsaber, but the blade bounced off before it could burn into it.

    "Nice try. I foresaw that some Jedi would eventually come to my estate, so I had the doors made out of Phrik."

    Zolph then readied a detonation pack.

    "Phrik can resist as much as a planetary explosion. You'll just blow yourself and the landing pad up."

    "Fine. You win for now. But this isn't over!" Zolph then got back in his vessel and flew off to a public hangar.

    After Zolph docked and exited his vessel, his comlink started ringing. He immediately answered as he walked out of the hangar. "If you're wondering how I'm doing, that gas-gutted bird won't let me in."

    "Ouch." Luke said in response. "However, that isn't why I'm calling. I just got a contact that wants to see you here on Sleheyron."

    "A contact? That may give me plenty of time to brainstorm getting in the estate. Who is this contact and what does he want?"

    "She. She says her name is Grein and she wants to meet you at the Flying Lamp Cantina, but she won't say anything else."

    "A cantina? Where will I find it?"

    "It's repulsorlift-powered and it gets its name from its appearance, so you shouldn't be able to miss it."

    "And about what Grein? How will I know what she looks like?"

    "She says she's a purple-eyed Chiss with teal highlights in her hair. You shouldn't be able to miss her."

    Zolph laughed in disbelief at the notion of a Chiss with an eye-color other than red. "Sorry, but I'll only believe the purple-eyes part when I see them. Other than that, she should be pretty easy to find." He then deactivated his comlink at an airspeeder rental lot. He borrowed a blue airspeeder and flew towards the Flying Lamp Cantina.

    Flying several stories above-ground, Zolph eventually spotted the Flying Lamp Cantina, a building with a roof resembling a lampshade resting on a repulsorlift-supported platform, with several more airspeeders parked on it. He then flew towards it and docked.

    Before he could step foot in the cantina, he was stopped by a Houk bouncer. "Hey! Only members are allowed to bring in weapons! I will hold onto them until you leave."

    Zolph then responded, "Fine" and handed over his lightsaber and other weapons. "But I highly doubt that prevents the occasional bar fight." He then walked into the cantina door.

    The inside of the Flying Lamp was illuminated by neon lights and had two levels, the second of which was in the roof. There were many patrons of various species. However, finding a Chiss with the described features wouldn't be too difficult.

    Zolph walked up to the bar and its Ithorian tender spoke to him. "Another new face. And a human, too. We don't get many of you, here. What can I get for you?"

    Zolph spoke, "I'm just looking for someone."

    "I get a lot of people here. Can you please be more specific so I can help you out?"

    "She said she was a Chiss with teal highlights in her hair."

    "There's someone like that on the second floor. However, the only Chiss-like features she has are being near-human and having blue skin, so I wouldn't necessarily say she is one. Otherwise, she's really hard to miss."

    "Okay, thanks for the tip." Zolph then handed the Ithorian a credit chip and headed up to the second floor ring.

    On the second floor, Zolph eventually spotted a lone woman with a black body suit and dark green scarf sitting at one of the cubbyhole tables. The woman was also a Chiss with mostly bluish-black hair with the forehead bangs as well as part of her side bangs dyed teal. She also had violet eyeballs, an unusual eye color for her species.

    Zolph spoke to her, "I take it you're Grein? If so, you really weren't kidding about the eye color."

    "Yes, and I take it you're Zolph Vaelor. I'm not surprised by your disbelief. And make no mistake, I am a Chiss. I'm just a rare breed."

    "Okay, biological anomalies aside, why did you call me over to this airborne scum bucket?"

    "I caught word of your exploits on Tatooine."

    "Yeah, yeah. I know. I killed Va'Za the Hutt for trying to eat a slave girl alive, I've most likely earned the ire of his clan, and now the local crime boss here won't let me in to his hideout."

    "Even if you didn't kill his associate, Girdretto still wouldn't let you in. But almost everyone in Hutt Space knows you did that. That's not the exploit I'm talking about. It's related to your current war with the Valkoran."

    "What are you...?"

    "Don't even hide anything from me, and I won't tell anyone else. I heard from some Valkoran agents stationed here that you killed some dangerous creature in some alien ruins. Am I right?"

    "Yes, you are. What about it?"

    Before they could question each other further, three completely identical androgynous humanoid figures with elongated limbs walked into the cantina. They were slouched over and were armored from head to toe in black, including a mask with four lenses that made their entire face look like a camera lens, and from each mask extended a cape going down their back. They were also armed with what looked a cross between a rifle and a pike, with the blade functioning as the rifle's stock.

    Grein then told Zolph to get down under the table.

    The bartender then spoke to the figures, "Is the bouncer sleeping on the job?! Only members are allowed to bring in weapons!" He then noticed a pool of blood outside the cantina doorway, and then noticed blood on one of the figures' blades. He then tried to speak with the figures, but they ignored him, readied their weapons into firing position and started firing randomly around the cantina, killing a few patrons. The bartender put down a blast shield over the bar in fear. Some of the patrons tried to run out, but they were shot down too.

    Zolph then spoke from under the table, "What is their problem? Are they mad at the establishment or something?"

    "They're here to kill you." Grein answered.

    "I don't even know these guys! What did I ever do to them?! Did Girdretto send someone to strong arm me?!"

    "They are not associated with any criminal groups."

    "Then who are they?"

    Zolph tried to get out from under the table, but Grein warned him, "Careful. They are clearly trying to draw you out and they know you are here. Besides, you're unarmed."

    "Trap or not, I am not going to sit by and endanger these people's lives by doing nothing! Besides even without a weapon, I've still got my fists and the Force."

    "I won't stop you, but please be careful. These are not your average sentient beings."

    As Zolph got out from under the table and walked downstairs, the creatures turned towards him and immediately fired, to which he responded by swiftly dodging.

    "Okay, who are you guys and what do you want?"

    None of them spoke, and fired at him again.

    "Okay, you guys clearly want to kill me, but why?"

    They fired at him again.

    "Alright, I'm assuming you guys can't even talk?"

    One of them made an unintelligible sound before shooting at him again

    "I don't know what you said or if you actually spoke, but you're clearly not interested in speaking. I'll just let you talk to my fists." He then lunged towards one of the masked figures, but then they started slashing at him.

    He dodged a few slashes and then kicked one of them in the pelvis. The creature did not react with as much pain as most creatures would from such an attack.

    "Okay, I take it you guys don't have reproductive organs either." The creature he just kicked then knocked him to the floor with their polearm.

    The figure then got ready to impale him on the ground, but before they could land a killing blow, a yellow laser blade erupted from between the eyes on their mask, causing them to go limp and drop their weapon. The laser retracted and the figure dropped dead. The killer was none other than Grein.

    The remaining two figures diverted their attention towards the violet-eyed Chiss, but she then drew out her weapon: a lightsaber with a yellow blade and four shorter blades of the same color forming a cross-guard.

    One of them crossed blades with her, but Grein severed the pike's blade from its roots with the cross-guard while blade-locked and then decapitated the figure.

    The last figure fired at her, but she then jumped towards them and vertically bisected them. She then deactivated her lightsaber.

    Zolph looked at her, wide-eyed in disbelief. "How is that thing even safe to wield?"

    "Lots of practice" Grein answered. "If you just stayed under the table, I would have killed them myself."

    "Are you a Jedi? Because I've never even heard of you."

    "Yes and no. I wield a lightsaber and use the Force, but I'm neither a Jedi or a Dark Jedi." She then spoke to the bartender and the rest of the patrons, "Everyone, you may want to close down the Flying Lamp, leave Sleheyron and not come back for a very long time."

    "I was thinking the same thing, Grein. I have a bad feeling about what's to come" the bartender agreed with her.

    Outside the Flying Lamp building, Zolph retrieved his lightsaber from the Houk bouncer's corpse and questioned Grein. "Who the heck were those guys?"

    "It's a long story, but whatever you came here to do in the first place, we have to do it now, because we need to leave this planet soon."

    " 'We'? When did I say you were tagging along?"

    "I know more about those things than you do and you're going to need my help, so I'm coming with you whether you like it or not."

    "Sorry, my ship's one-manned. What are you going to do about that?"

    "I hate to break it to you, but Girdretto's thugs most likely vandalized your ship while you were out. However, I've got a freighter in hiding."

    "Okay, you can come with me. Besides, I do want to know more. And speaking of Girdretto, I still need to talk with him."

    "You came here just for that? I don't really think that's necessary."

    "I really need some info from him."

    "Alright," Grein agreed with reluctance. "I happen to know a secret entrance into his hideout."

    "Oh, I never would've guessed." Zolph responded sarcastically. "Where is this secret entrance?"

    "The city's sewer system."

    "I knew it wouldn't be anywhere pleasant."

    Later, Zolph and Grein found themselves at a manhole in Sleheyron's streets. Zolph asked Grein "Are we going to need gas masks?"

    "Don't worry." Grein responded. "It's actually pretty spacious for a sewer, and you won't smell so bad coming out of it. However, we still have to watch out for Dianogas."

    "Of course, no sewer can be complete without them. And you thought it was bad enough having those squids attack you while sitting on a toilet."

    "Just get in the manhole." Grein commanded Zolph with annoyance before they immediately climbed down the ladder.

    Climbing down, Zolph was greeted to an unusually mild stench for a sewer, mostly due to the open space. "It's not too bad, but it still smells like something died down here.

    Grein retorted. "Like I said, that's not the worst part. We've still got the common sewer-dwelling cephalopods to worry about."

    The two of them moved forward.

    As they progressed through the sewer, they not only predictably encountered Dianogas coming out of drainage pipes and piles of sewage, but also two Gran thugs. Zolph questioned Grein. "How often have you been in this sewer?"

    "Enough to memorize the layout," Grein answered. "And before you criticize me, Girdretto's always had sewer patrols since he made the secret entrance." The two of them then deflected the thugs' blaster shots back at them and continued moving forward.

    Eventually, the two of them reached a turbolift. "Well, this is the one." Grein said.

    "It's about time! I was getting tired of seeing almost the exact same thing in this place." Zolph spoke.

    They then got on the turbolift and took it upward towards Girdretto's hideout.

    Reaching the inside of Girdretto's hideout, Zolph and Grein were greeted by brighter color and lighting, a smell that wasn't the stench of feces, and two guards, a Kubaz and a Devaronian. The guards attacked, but were swiftly dispatched.

    As the two moved through the estate, they dealt with guard droids similar to the ones that guarded the entrance as well as guards of various species, including humans, Rodians, Gamorreans, Whiphids, Advosec, Quarren and several others.

    The two of them eventually reached Girdretto's office and were greeted by the Toydarian kingpin, slightly less pudgy than usual for his species and bearing an eyepatch. "So the pipsqueak finally made it in. And I see you brought that Chiss girl."

    "Yeah" Zolph responded. "You and I need to have a chat about your dealings with Va'Za."

    Girdretto then pressed a button on his desk and a door in his large office opened and out of the door came a Nexu wearing a collar. He then tauntingly spoke. "I won't have to tell you anything if you're meat for my pet!"

    The Nexu lunged at Zolph and pinned him on the floor. Before the large four-eyed, multi-toothed feline could bite his face off, Grein cut off its tail and Zolph then ignited his lightsaber through the beast's chest. He then pushed its corpse off of him.

    Grein then spoke to Girdretto. "Sorry, Girdo, but Nexu only work against single opponents."

    Zolph then joined. "And now that your freaky four-eyed cat monster is out of the way, you can spill your guts out. Now tell me what you know about those ruins on Tatooine and that creature in it."

    Girdretto answered. "Why would I be interested in that dusty shrine?" He then looked at Grein. "She only gave me that information in exchange for her freedom and told me I could profit from selling it."

    Zolph then looked at Grein and she replied. "That's why I told you this wasn't necessary."

    Zolph responded with irritation, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

    "I wanted to, but no, you just wanted to go through with your original plan."

    "And really, why did you tell him this? I can't imagine someone like you being taken into slavery."

    Before she could answer, Grein's eyes widened with horror, sensing a disturbance in the Force. "We have to leave! Now!"​
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
  7. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 6: Invasion

    "We have to leave! Now!"

    "Okay, Grein. You never elaborated back at the Flying Lamp on why we need to leave," Zolph told her.

    "Do you remember those aliens that tried to kill you back there?"

    "Yeah, what about them?"

    "They've brought back up."

    "I'm not scared of a few more of them."

    "By back up, I mean an entire army."

    Zolph sensed something familiar. "I'm actually beginning sense it too, and I've sensed it before! You're not kidding, are you?!"

    Girdretto chimed in after being ignored for a minute. "What the hell are you two Jedi blabbering about now?"

    Zolph then questioned Girdretto. "Out of curiosity, Girdo, did you ever send some of your lackeys to the Flying Lamp Cantina to strong arm me?"

    "No, I was having too much fun thinking about how you would try to get into my house."

    Zolph spoke back to Grein. "I guess your fears are confirmed."

    Girdretto then asked, "Does that mean you two will leave me alone now?"

    A comlink on Girdretto's desk started buzzing and the Toydarian answered. One of his lieutenants spoke. "Boss! We've got trouble down here! Some unwanted visitors!"

    "Well, kill them, you moron!"

    "They're of a species we have never seen before!" He was interrupted by something. "What is that black goo?!" His question was interrupted by some screams of terror coming from his associates, also as if they were being drowned. "No! No! I don't want to be one of you! Get away from me! Stay…" He then went from pleading for his life to screaming in terror. The screaming stopped midway through, and the lieutenant's voice had deepened, making animalistic grunts.

    Zolph's cringed as he listened to the transmission. "I have a bad feeling about this. And by bad, I mean I might consider installing a suicide tooth after this." He looked to Grein. "I'm with you, let's bail this joint."

    Girdretto then spoke. "Same with me! I'm getting out of here!"

    Before the Toydarian could fly towards the door, Zolph interrupted him. "Hold it, Gas Gut! What about the guys you're paying to do your dirty work?"

    "Forget about them! It's every man for himself!" He then opened the office door and flew out.

    "You get back here, you coward!"

    Grein stopped him. "Let him go. I might not like what he's doing either, but we've got more important things to do than enforce morals."

    They then headed out the door.

    As the two Force users moved through the estate's hallways behind Girdretto, they heard blaster fire and more agonized screams from behind another closed door. Girdretto backed away from the door.

    From out of the crack under the door emerged a puddle of black goo - what Grein dubbed Black Matter - moving on its own. Girdretto pulled out his blaster and fired at it, but it somehow dodged his shots. The Matter then lunged at him from off of the floor, grounding the Toydarian. He screamed as the Matter entered into his mouth and eyelid. Afterward, his body started contorting, his pale gray skin started to turn dark, his tusks grew to be sharper, his limbs grew to twice their length, and his fingernails and toenails turned into claws. His eye then opened, now looking exactly like Terraris's eye.

    The now demon-like Toydarian dashed towards Zolph and used his claws to pin Zolph to the floor. He glared at Zolph and spoke with a distorted voice. "Now, Vaelor. You will die in the name of the Col-!" He was interrupted by Grein igniting her lightsaber through his chest. His wings stopped flapping, his eye dimmed out and his light-weight corpse fell on Zolph, who then pushed him aside.

    Zolph looked at Grein questioningly. She responded, "It was for his own good. Let's leave it at that for now."

    "So where is this ship of yours?" Zolph asked.

    "These guys are most likely taking out the public docking areas. I've got my vessel where they can't get it."

    The two moved on.

    As the two of them made their way to the hideout's main entrance, they encountered more Black Matter and several of Girdretto's thugs, now possessed and mutated by it and arguably scarier than their Toydarian boss. They eventually made it out the front door, only to be greeted by an entire platoon of the same hooded figures they fought at the Flying Lamp Cantina, pointing their guns towards them.

    "Oh, Sithspawn." Zolph responded to the mob.

    Grein stepped forward and used the Force to toss the first wave of the creatures aside. The two of them rushed forward with their lightsabers ignited and cut down the remaining creatures as they fired at them. The entire mob was shortly wiped out.

    "You know, these guys are much easier to beat with a lightsaber." Zolph responded.

    In Sleheyron's upper atmosphere, Zolph and Grein noticed what looked like a cross between a battleship and a space leviathan, and out of it came several winged creatures with an eye in their mouth and grafted cannons as well as several bloated flying insects.

    As some of the insects touched down on the surface, their rears opened up as if the creatures were dropships. Out of their rears came more of the masked humanoid warriors as well as some spider-like aliens with human-like torsos yet still moved like spiders. Then dropping from the sky were colossal three-legged creatures with a hard shell around their head, one eye, mouth tentacles, a crystal above the eye, and a larger crystal for a cranium. If there's anything these creatures all had in common, it was their dark appearance and crystal-ball like eyes.

    "Now I know why you were you so desperate to get off this rock." Zolph told Grein.

    As they moved through the streets, they witnessed the colossal tripods - what Grein labelled Cthulopods - tearing down buildings with their limbs or burning them down with a laser fired from their forehead crystals. They also crushed, vaporized or devoured several fleeing citizens.

    The starfighter-like creatures - dubbed Eyewings - were shooting down any vessels they could catch fleeing from public docking areas. If they didn't destroy the ships they caught, they would deposit some more Black Matter into the ships.

    The spider-like humanoids - also known as Nidracha - waited in dark alleys to capture their prey in webs, either to be possessed or eaten alive. One of them tried to ambush Zolph from a wall, but he killed it by using the Force to slam a dumpster into it.
    Moving forward, they encountered a lone Twi'lek mother and her child confronted by some Black Matter. The goo went for the child first, to the mother's horror before she too was possessed.

    The mother then turned towards the duo and quickly lifted Zolph off the ground with her lekku, something Twi'leks are biologically incapable of. As he was being choked, he looked her in the eyes, and did not see any malice for a brief moment, almost as if she was trying to fight off the parasite's influence over her bodily functions before losing control of them altogether. Grein then stabbed her through the chest, ending her suffering. The child tried to sneak up on Zolph, but he quickly cut him down too, much to his regret.

    "Just what in space is going on here?! I didn't come to this planet thinking I would kill civilians!" Zolph asked himself with shock.

    "We can't worry now, Zolph. We have to get moving." Grein told him.

    "What about this planet?! There's genocide or worse going on here!"

    "I don't like it any more than you do, but we can't save everyone here. If we are to have any hope of defeating them later, we need to live to fight another day. As I told you before, their main target is you."

    "So why don't I just hand myself over?"

    "A Jedi's life may be sacrifice, but doing that won't save everyone else. They only see you as a major obstacle to doing more of this."

    "Fine, I can't save everyone and I need to live to prevent more of this from happening. But that doesn't mean we can't save anyone here while we move forward."

    "I can allow that. Just don't die, okay?"

    Zolph and Grein moved through the main city's streets and saw more civilians being killed or possessed. He saw another family in danger of possession, but he fired his blaster at the Dark Matter before it could possess any of them, effectively evaporating it.

    He and Grein moved through the streets killing more of the abominations and possessed civilians - much to their regret - and saved as little lives as they could. They eventually made it to Grein's housing complex outside the main city.

    "Your house?! This is where you're keeping your ship?!" Zolph questioned Grein. "If you had a privately stored ship, you'd think that would be the first place someone would look!"

    "It may be blatantly obvious, but they still can't get in." Grein then pointed to the sides of the door, revealing no access terminal.

    "Then how are you able to get into your own home?"

    "Watch and learn." Grein put her hands together and her entire body - as well her clothing - turned into a puddle of water. The water moved under the crack in the door. The door then opened, revealing Grein fully materialized.

    "What did you just…?" Zolph asked with a puzzled look on his face.

    "Some foreign Force technique many don't learn to master properly."

    "Okay, what about…?"

    "Same way as Force cloak."

    "Or is your clothing not real and you are actually naked already?"

    "Then how did my lightsaber liquefy?"

    "Forget it."

    Zolph then entered Grein's home.

    Grein's housing complex was pretty messy for someone so seemingly no-nonsense like her. They eventually made it to the hangar, housing a Corellian YT-3300 freighter, which unlike other ships in the same series, had a centered cockpit and the ship was designed almost as if it looked like a tailless manta ray.

    "Say hello to my vessel, the Blazing Manta."

    "So there are YTs with properly-placed cockpits!" Zolph said enthusiastically. "Can I fly?"

    "No." Grein answered.

    "Why not?" Zolph asked with disappointment.

    "Not after your incident during the Vong war."

    Zolph got irritated. "How do you know about that?!"

    "The whole galaxy knows about it."

    "Did some brat record my incident and put it on the Holonet?! I swear that was only because the ship was an older model!"

    "Calm down. I wasn't kidding about your incident's memetic status, but I was about my reason for not letting you fly, because I actually do agree with you on the design problems of the early YT-series freighters. I can't let you fly because I modified the controls to my liking, and I don't want some newbie crashing my ship in a desperate situation like this."

    "Alright, I'll go open the hangar doors."

    Zolph walked to a console and opened the ceiling. As soon as it opened, another creature from the invading group jumped into the hangar. It was a Juggernaut Beetle, a Rancor-sized insect with a large shell on its upper body, two sickle-like arms and a crab-like lower body, both sections separated by an incredibly flexible spinal column.

    "Was that thing waiting there the whole time? Talk about patience." Zolph asked.

    "You distract that thing while I get the Manta ready." Grein told him as she entered the ship's boarding ramp.

    "Alright, you overgrown bug!" He yelled at the creature. "You want to kill me?! Well, I'm right here! You want a snack? Well, you can taste my sword!" He then jumped towards the Beetle, but it pointed the back of its shell towards Zolph and soon as he landed on it, it threw him off.

    It crawled towards Zolph and tried to stab him with its sickles, but he quickly dodged. He then yelled to Grein, "Are you done yet?!"

    "Just one more minute!"

    Zolph's attempts to attack the creature's backside were also thwarted when it bended its spine backwards, pointing its lightsaber-resistant shell towards him. He then came up with a plan.

    He threw his lightsaber behind the Beetle. It positioned itself for the saber's comeback, but Zolph fired his blaster at the spinal column, provoking it into facing Zolph again. The lightsaber then came back and bisected the creature at its spinal column. The upper half was still moving and tried to crawl towards Zolph.

    Suddenly, one of the Blazing Manta's quadlaser turrets turned towards the Juggernaut Beetle and fired on it, penetrating its shell and killing it.

    "We're all clear! Now let's get out of here!" Grein yelled.

    Zolph entered the ship and the vessel took off.

    As the Blazing Manta exited Sleheyron's atmosphere, Zolph spoke to Grein as she piloted the vessel. "Okay, may I speak with you now?"

    "Nuh uh!" She replied. "Gun turret."

    "Oh right, we've got fighters to worry about!" Zolph then rushed to the Manta's gun turret.

    As Zolph stationed himself in the turret, he got a closer look at the battleship he saw earlier, a Levioth. It had a face on its bow, but it also looked like it had a command bridge like a Star Destroyer. It was like an organic starship, similar to those used by Yuuzhan Vong, but much more animalistic in design and behavior. Some Eyewings then came out of its belly.

    They flew towards the <i>Manta</i> and fired their cannons, but Zolph fired the ship's quadlaser back at one of them, causing it to explode in a mess of black and purple blood. He then took out the remainder of them one by one. The last Eyewing landed right on Zolph's station, but he fired back and caused the creature to splatter all over the viewport.

    The Blazing Manta then made the jump to hyperspace.

    Now free of the chaos on Sleheyron and flying back to Ossus, Zolph could now question Grein further.

    "Now that we're out of Hutt Space… Who the hell were those guys?!"

    "I only know these creatures as Forceless."

    "Where did you get that name?"

    "You sensed something abnormal from them, correct?"

    "Yeah, that thing you sense when someone dies, except with them, it's more constant, like it's trying to eat at your soul."

    "You're on track. As you may already know, the Force flows from life itself. When a life-form dies, part of the Force is extinguished with it, but is renewed with every new one coming into existence. However, if lots of lives are extinguished simultaneously, a wound in the Force is created, as I'm sure you've experienced at least once during the Yuuzhan Vong war."

    "And I'm feeling those types of wounds when they're around."

    "Hence why I call them Forceless. They represent a total absence in the Force. No Light Side. No Dark Side. Nothing in between."

    "Are they undead?"

    "No. They're somewhat alive, but they are unbound by the Force. Theoretically, they shouldn't even exist."

    "These things are baffling. How do you know so much about these things anyway?"

    "I've seen some of them before and have been researching them for years, but from what I know, they are not from this galaxy."

    "What did I do to attract them to Sleheyron?"

    "I assume you killing one of their leaders got their attention."


    "You know that creature on Tatooine?"

    "You mean Terraris?"

    "That was an Archfiend. A high-ranking Forceless in the group called the Forceless Collective."

    "Okay. And speaking of that, why did you leak that info about his temple to Girdretto?"

    "I deliberately let him take me as a slave and gave it to him to sell, hoping I would bring this issue to the galaxy's attention. By doing that, I hoped I could find one who would help me with eliminating the Collective. Only thing I didn't count on was them bringing an army to Sleheyron."

    "Okay, so you set me up by indirectly raising Tatooine's crime rate. Why not just tell us directly about the Collective?"

    "Do you really think the galaxy would believe something like that? I needed you to see one of them for yourself. Also, I didn't want to cause too soon a panic in the wake of the Vong war."

    "After seeing how bad they are, I don't blame you for going to such measures, but why Terraris?"

    "He was the weakest of all the Archfiends, so I thought he would make a good first test."

    "Weakest, my rear end! That thing almost killed me!"

    "And that just tells you that you need to improve."

    "And what about the Valkoran? How do they factor into all of this? They summoned Terraris."

    "The Valkoran, being well-intentioned reformists, think they can help the galaxy with these things."

    "Those idiots! Do they know what they're capable of?"

    "They don't, but they're being manipulated by someone far more powerful."

    "Maesterus? He's their leader, and I sensed Forceless-like readings coming from him, but I still sensed the Force coming from him."

    "I think we've spoken enough for now."

    "Are you trying to avoid my questions?"

    "There are still some things I don't know and some things I simply can't tell you yet."


    "For our report, I hate to do this, but we can't send the Alliance fleet to Sleheyron. First, it would be best if we kept the Collective 'quarantined' to Hutt Space. Second, we don't want to find ourselves in a three-way war between the Alliance, the Valkoran, and the Collective."

    "Okay, I can understand that. But we do need to let the Alliance and the Order know about what the Valkoran are doing with the Archfiends. This war has suddenly become about protecting more than the Alliance itself."

    "I wouldn't have contacted Luke Skywalker if I didn't want him to know about them."

    "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some rest. We've still got a long way to go before reaching the Academy, and today, as well as the past five years of my life, has just been a parade of freaks." Zolph exited the cockpit and headed to the crew quarters.​
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  8. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 7: Artifact
    Two weeks have passed since Zolph Vaelor and Grein escaped from Sleheyron following the Forceless Collective's invasion of the planet. Upon return to Ossus, Vaelor informed Headmaster Luke Skywalker of the events that transpired and the Valkoran's greater plans to summon the Collective's Archfiends. Grein has decided to take refuge at the Jedi Academy to further her research on the Collective and gather more intel on Archfiend locations. Now, Zolph is given another investigation mission into more strange Valkoran activity.

    "Alright, Skywalker. What are the Valkoran up to now besides Forceless stuff?" Zolph asked Luke in the academy briefing room.

    "Some of our scouts report that they are active on Vjun, and most of the activity is around Bast Castle." Luke answered.

    "What's so important about this castle on a desolate rock?"

    "It was my father's personal stronghold during his time as Darth Vader."

    Zolph then asked based on his experience on Tatooine, "Tell me, do you know of any uncharted regions on the planet with some alien ruins?"

    "No. Bast Castle is the only point of interest on the planet."

    "Then what would the Valks want with the castle of a dead Sith Lord?"

    "He probably kept something there locked away. Something so important that he couldn't let even the Emperor know about it, and so well-secured that it was untouched by the vandals and robbers that came in the years following his death."

    "Okay, so I'm trying to beat them to some booty."

    "Also…Maesterus is there."

    Zolph's eyes widened in response. "Uh…on second thought, I'll pass."

    "Sorry, Zolph, but you're not talking yourself out of this one."

    "But I haven't gotten over my issues with him!"

    "If you keep avoiding them, you won't get over them at all. Besides, you and Grein said those Forceless creatures gave off an aura similar to him?"

    "Yeah, except I can still sense the Force coming from him while the Forceless are completely… forceless."

    "This may be your opportunity to see if there's a connection between the two."

    "You have a good point, especially since Grein refuses to tell me anything yet. Very well, mission accepted. However, at the same time, I'm still worried about being captured by him."

    "If it's any consolation, you only need to find Vader's vault. I would actually recommend avoiding combat with Maesterus."

    "Yeah, very comforting," Zolph responded sarcastically, "it's just being around him makes me uneasy. But hey, Vjun couldn't get any worse than him."

    Several hours later, Zolph had entered Vjun's atmosphere in another Z-95 Headhunter. He flew towards Bast Castle, but as he got closer to it, some freshly-placed anti-air turrets fired at his vessel. Zolph tried to avoid as much fire as he could, but after taking one shot to one of his wings, he flew away from the castle and landed in a cave on the outskirts.

    "Well, at least I'm away from him for a little longer." Zolph told himself before getting out of his ship and activating his comlink. "Master Skywalker, I've run into some problems. Some AA guns are keeping me from docking right near the castle, and they most likely have an entire battalion at the front gates. Do you know of any secret entrances?

    "The castle has a waterworks connected to a ravine. You can probably get in from there. By the way, did you bring an environmental shield?"

    "Yes, I didn't forget that Vjun is known for its acid rainfall, hence why there's no plantlife."

    "Good for you, but don't forget that the quick-charging shield you're using won't last as long as the shield-suits on the Valkoran Hazard Troopers outside." A route then displayed on Zolph's datapad as Luke continued speaking. "However, the route I'm showing you now has plenty of areas for taking shelter, so use them when your shield's about of juice."

    "Thanks." Zolph deactivated his comlink, but before he could walk out into the open, two Valkoran Troopers wearing gas masks and shield-suits entered with their blaster rifles raised. "Well, looks like I got some of their attention."

    The troopers fired at Zolph, but he Force pushed them out of the cave and in the process, disabled their shield-suits. They then started flailing around screaming in terror on the ground as the acid rain, pouring heavier than normal, started eating away at their now-exposed armor and eventually their flesh. Zolph, disturbed by what he was seeing, drew out his blaster pistol and shot the troopers dead. He then waited for the rain to calm down before activating his shield and moving along his given path.

    As Zolph progressed through Vjun's desolate landscape and made his way towards Bast Castle's waterworks, he would frequently take shelter from the deadly rain, despite not pouring as heavily as earlier, to recharge his shield. He would also take out several Valkoran patrols in the area, including several Gundark walkers.

    Eventually, Zolph came across a large pipe connected to a river below Bast Castle. "This must be the place" Zolph told himself. He entered the pipe, being careful not to fall into the river, as it may have been contaminated by the acid rain as well.

    Zolph was relieved to be indoors and not rushing to shelter for a long time. Thankfully for him, this sewer system wasn't quite as putrid as Sleheyron's. However, he had a long way to go before getting into the castle itself.

    As he traversed the pipes, he noticed a lot of scrap metal littered throughout, as well as a few skeletons in worn out Imperial officer uniforms. Zolph told himself, "Wow, I'm guessing Vader really didn't like these guys." He then looked away from them and moved forward.

    After half-an-hour moving upward through the pipe maze, Zolph found himself in a room with a platform centered in a pool of contaminated water with junk. He then caught scent of what was a combination of nasty chemicals, urine and fecal matter. "Great," Zolph told himself sarcastically, "it starts off unusually sanitary for a sewer and now it smells like a Womp Rat climbed up a Ronto's exhaust port and died." He then heard a roar and activated his comlink. "Luke, are you absolutely sure that Vjun doesn't have any natural fauna?"

    "Positive. Why do you ask?" Luke asked him just as a large worm-like creature with a head on each end jumped out of the water, and both heads roared at him.

    "I think this two-headed worm says otherwise."

    "It's probably just a creature used for the castle's waste disposal. It might also be a mutant."

    One of the heads on the creature expanded in size and spat out a large chunk of fecal matter at Zolph, who barely dodged it. "Well, that explains the two heads and the chemical smell. And why did it spit shavit at me?"

    "I'm guessing that whatever head eats, the opposite acts as body waste disposal."

    "On second thought, I regret asking that." And just as Zolph finished speaking, one of the worm's heads lunged at him with its mouth expanded and swallowed him whole.

    Roughly five seconds later, Zolph's lightsaber blade erupted from the creature's midsection and cut it in half, killing it immediately. Zolph crawled out of the cut covered in slime. "It's dead already? I'm guessing it just had one brain shared by both heads." He then spoke back into the comlink, "Also, let's never speak of this again."

    "Alright, but from what I read on your position, you're just about into the castle. Just a few more meters up, and you can start looking for Vader's vault."

    "Yeah," Zolph wiped off plenty of the worm's body fluids and spoke with a little fear, "and avoid Maesterus like the plague." He Force jumped up a few more platforms and then climbed up a ladder.

    Zolph Vaelor found himself in a large room with ebony walls illuminated by red and white lights, much more elaborately designed than the waterworks he just came out of. He was definitely inside Bast Castle.

    Coming in, he had alerted several Valkoran troopers that been searching the castle. "Vaelor?! How the hell did he get in here?!" one of the troopers panicked.

    "Who cares? Just shoot him!" a trooper commander told him. The platoon fired their blaster rifles at Zolph, but he immediately leaped toward the commander and decapitated him. A sniper one floor above tried to headshot Zolph, but he immediately deflected the blaster bolt right back at the sniper, whose corpse then fell to the bottom floor. Another trooper tried to fire a rocket at Zolph, but he used the Force to redirect the rocket right back at the trooper, blowing him to pieces. The rest of the troopers were cut down.

    Zolph then exited the room and moved forward.

    As Zolph walked through the abandoned castle, he spoke with Luke over comlink. "So Luke, where would your dad have placed this vault?"

    "It's in the upper levels near his throne room. You'll know you're close if you see a crumbled statue in a room with a large window."

    "If the Valks are still here, that probably means they haven't busted it yet, even if they have already found it."

    "And be careful. Maesterus probably brought the Black Guard with him."

    "Black Guard? Who are they?"

    "These guys are Maesterus's elite bodyguards, and they know how to fight Jedi, so don't bat an eyelash if you come across them."

    "I'll keep my eyes peeled for them. They shouldn't be hard to identify." Zolph turned off his comlink and stumbled upon two Hazard Troopers. "Why are you wearing gas masks and shield suits inside the castle?" Zolph asked the troopers.

    One of the troopers pulled out a grenade and threw it towards Zolph. The grenade then released a sickly green gas. "Oh. That's why." Zolph jumped away from the tear gas grenade and then threw his lightsaber at the grenadier, sticking through his chest. He then Force pulled the saber from the trooper's chest as he fell to the ground. The other trooper fired his flamethrower, but Zolph jumped behind him and slashed his gas tank, causing it to explode seconds later. He then moved on.

    A few minutes later, Zolph found himself in a TIE Fighter hangar. Guarding one of the doors were two armored men with black cloaks, black bandages wrapped around their gray helmets with only the visors exposed, and armed with plasma staves. They walked towards Zolph as they activated their staves, with the tips glowing a pinkish red and emitting a little bit of steam.

    "I take it you guys are part of the Black Guard?" Zolph asked them.

    "Yup." One of the guards replied.

    "You seem like alright guys. Can you let me pass?"

    "Nope." The other guard leaped behind Zolph, thus surrounding him.

    "One more question. Why are you guys going full force on me? Doesn't Maesterus want me alive?"

    "He does. You Jedi can take punishment like crazy, so he's not too worried, and we just intend to incapacitate you, so expect a few burns. That was two questions, by the way."

    "Well, thanks for answering them." Zolph then activated his lightsaber and slashed at one of the guards.

    The guard parried the blow with his staff, while the other guard prodded Zolph with his, burning him in the back along with part of his black jacket and making him react with pain.

    The first guard spoke while he and Zolph clashed weapons. "Told you it would burn. So unless you surrender, expect it a few more times."

    "Nope." Zolph mockingly told the guard, and then Force pushed the one behind him into the wall. He was not thrown off balance, however. He made contact with the wall with his feet, kicked off it, and then landed on the floor.

    "Damn, you guys are as good as Skywalker said," Zolph said in shock. "However, I can tell you guys aren't Force sensitive." He then used the Force to dislodge one of the docked TIE Fighters and smashed it into that guard. He did not survive that.

    The other guard attacked, but Zolph Force pulled the recently deceased guard's staff away from his corpse and into his hand. He blocked a few of the guard's blows with his saber, and when he locked weapons with him, he jabbed the plasma staff into his side. While the guard reacted to the staff burning him, Zolph then impaled him.

    Zolph took a deep breath and told himself, "These guys were pretty challenging for non-Force users, but I pulled through." He then continued on.

    In another room of the castle, Zolph noticed a walkway above without guardrails, as typical as Imperial installations go. On that walkway, two regular Valkoran troopers were speaking: one male, one female.

    "This place gives me the creeps." The male trooper told his partner.

    "It doesn't creep me out."

    "Are you kidding me? We're in the home of a dead Sith Lord who from what I heard frequently choked incompetent officers to death!"

    "What are you so worried about? It's not like his ghost is haunting this place. Besides, I heard he returned to the Light Side just before he died."

    "Yeah, I know about that. This place just screams 'Evil Sith Lord's Lair of Doom' to me. The sooner Maesty busts that damn vault and gets his precious holocron, the sooner we can get out of this hazard zone. But hey, at least it's better than the time I was on Tatooine."

    "What happened there?"

    "My squad fed me to a trap…literally."


    "I was eaten by a Sarlacc."

    The other trooper laughed. "Get out of here! You're not Boba Fett!" She then affectionately punched him in the shoulder.

    The male trooper backed away with shock. "Careful with physical contact! There aren't any guardraiiiiilllllls!" he screamed as he lost his balance and fell to his death.

    "Oops." She then looked down at her comrade and yelled. "Helms? Will Helms? Are you still alive?" He did not reply. "I guess not."

    Zolph snuck through thinking to himself, "By the Force! I'm really beginning to feel bad for the poor souls who worked here."

    Eventually, Zolph made it to the room Luke had described, with a large window and a large collapsed statue of Darth Vader. "Well, looks like I'm close." He then fought off two more Black Guards, which were disposed of much faster than the first two.

    Moving upward and then going past Vader's throne room, he found the vault, but it was already open, and there was no holocron in sight. Zolph was too late. However, he still sensed the abnormality given off by Maesterus, meaning he still had a chance to retaliate.

    "I'm probably going to regret this, but it's worth a shot." Zolph then retraced his steps.

    Zolph made it back to the statue room, where he saw Maesterus with a small pyramid-shaped device in his hand.

    "Hello, Zolph." Maesterus greeted him. "Did you miss me?"

    "Not really. I went through here hoping to avoid you, but that's changed. Now give me the holocron," Zolph demanded.

    "This is a Sith holocron. Aren't you Jedi supposed to avoid unlocking these things considering their seductive nature?"

    "Yeah, we're just keeping it so bad guys like you can't use it. Besides, didn't you say you weren't a Sith?"

    "I take whatever information I can get."

    "What exactly is in this holocron?"

    "I'll tell you if you join me."


    "…After we get back to base, because I don't want you turning on me as soon as you get what you want."

    "Damn! You figured me out! Looks like I'm going to fight you for it after all." Zolph ignited his lightsaber.

    "I saw that coming too." Maesterus activated his saber in response.

    Zolph chopped at Maesterus, but he locked blades with him. A spike bone extended out of Maesterus's left palm and he attempted to stab Zolph. Zolph quickly dodged and circled around Maesterus.

    They dueled until they got close to the room's window, and Zolph threw a large piece of the crumbled Vader statue at Maesterus, crashing him through the glass and to his doom.

    "A pity. The holocron's gone, but at least Maesterus is dead."

    Just before he could leave, Zolph's eyes widened with surprise when he heard Maesterus swooping back into the window and turned around to see him bearing a pair of large, black, demon-like wings. "No, I'm not." Maesterus responded in a mocking tone.

    Zolph's voice then cracked. "WHAT?! When the hell did you get wings?!"

    "About fifteen seconds ago. Besides, may I remind you that we Force users can control our own gravitational acceleration?"

    "Oh yeah, that reminds me. I encountered some creatures on Sleheyron that gave off an abnormal aura similar to yours, except they're completely disconnected from the Force. And from what someone told me, you Valks are busy summoning their Archfiends. They want me dead, yet you want me alive?"

    Maesterus remained silent as if something triggered in him, and then spoke. "Whatever this group is, I have no association with them."

    "And I'm assuming the Archfiends are just tools to you?"

    "Of course." Maesterus then flew up into the air. "Now, weren't we busy with something else?"

    "Oh yeah!"

    Maesterus fired a line of spike bones at Zolph, who narrowly dodged. "Cooperate, so I don't risk giving you possibly fatal injuries."

    "Then why are you and your men going full force on me? I want an honest answer. I only got an answer from your elites, saying I'm too resilient to incapacitate by conventional means."

    "That's exactly it. And you're one to complain, since you keep killing my men or leaving them to die."

    "Well, you got me there. Now why don't you come down and fight fair? Not all of us are suddenly gifted with the power of flight."

    "Very well." Maesterus swooped down at Zolph and slashed at him. Zolph dodged backward and Maesterus flew back up.

    "Oh, ha freaking ha!" Zolph said sarcastically. "Lucky for me, I just remembered I can just bring you down." Zolph then Force jumped onto Maesterus and kicked him into the floor.

    Maesterus got up and clashed sabers with Zolph, until he enveloped himself with his wings, batted Zolph with them, and Force pushed him into the wall under one of the room's walkways, knocking him out.

    A few minutes later, as Zolph regained consciousness, he saw some of Maesterus's spike bones pinning his shoulders into the wall. "Not again!"

    Maesterus clapped slowly. "You've improved since the last time we met, and did not go berserk. But right now, you're hardly worth the time forcing to come with me. I've got what I came for, so I'll just let you think about it." He then activated his comlink as he headed toward the broken window. "All troops pull out. I've retrieved the holocron." He then jumped out the window and flew off in the acid rainstorm.

    Zolph slowly pulled out the spikes in his shoulders, quickly cauterizing each wound as each spike was pulled out. He then activated his comlink. "Vaelor to Skywalker. Mission is a failure. The Valks have got the holocron."

    "Wait, it was a holocron they were looking for?" Luke asked.

    "Yeah. Private Dies-a-lot said something about it and Maesty flew off with it. I guess I'll just come home now."

    Back at the Jedi Academy on Ossus, Zolph Vaelor had informed Luke and Grein about his failure on Vjun.

    "Well, that was a letdown." Luke said. "And now, Maesterus has proved himself to be even weirder. Tell me, did you get anything else out of him?"

    "If he's telling the truth, he's not associated with the Forceless Collective." Zolph answered and directed his attention to Grein. "Yet that still doesn't explain the Forceless aura."

    "Remember, Forceless can and will possess almost any living thing and make use of it." Grein answered. "However, there's more you should know: unless the host agrees and cooperates with it, the Forceless will take over all bodily functions while the host 'spectates' from inside themself."

    "Yikes!" Zolph shrugged and then regained his composure. "But if Maesterus's goals and the Collective's conflict with each other, shouldn't the Forceless be taking over and trying to kill me?"

    "At this point, all I will say to end this matter is that Maesterus is an anomaly, and that he's definitely gone rogue."

    "I take it you still don't want to spill everything yet."

    "Some things you must figure out for yourself. If you discover something else, we'll talk more."
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  9. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 8: The Arm

    Two weeks have passed since the Valkoran retrieved Darth Vader's holocron from his stronghold on Vjun. During the following two weeks, the Galactic Alliance has been involved in a few skirmishes with the Valkoran on planets such as Jabiim and Quell. There have been a few victories as well as losses for the Alliance. Now, Jedi Knight Zolph Vaelor has been dispatched to the frozen world of Polus to aid the Alliance defense of the planet. However, he has brought along Grein, who, after some research, has pinpointed a Forceless Archfiend temple on the planet.

    As the Blazing Manta entered the atmosphere, the ship was bombarded by one of the planet's perpetual blizzards. Grein flew her way towards Qek Base, the local Alliance outpost and docked in a hangar bay waiting for her.

    Safe from the freezing cold for the moment, Zolph and Grein exited the Manta's boarding ramp and were greeted by an Alliance hangar guard.

    "Commander Vaelor" the guard addressed Zolph before looking at the purple-eyed Chiss "and uh…Miss Grein I believe? General Ven Choi is waiting for you in the war room. I'll bring you over to him." The two Force-users then followed the trooper.

    In Qek Base's war room, they were met by a Kel Dor Alliance general. "Hello, I take it you're the two Jedi Master Skywalker sent over to support our campaign here? We've never met. I'm General Ven Choi." He then shook hands with Zolph.

    "I'm a Jedi." Zolph answered and then pointed at Grein. "She's… sort of a Jedi. However, we're here for more than just some base defenses and guerilla warfare. In fact, what we're here for is most likely the reason the Valkoran are on Polus in the first place."

    "What are you talking about?" General Choi asked.

    "Any reports of possible alien ruins on this planet?"

    "Not to my knowledge. Why are you so interested in alien ruins?"

    "Did Skywalker tell you about any of my adventures on Tatooine and Sleheyron?"

    "He did actually."

    "On Tatooine, I found some ancient alien ruins that housed a more powerful member of the group that conquered Sleheyron. Recently, Grein here reported another creature like the one on Tatooine waiting to be summoned here on Polus. And as far as I've seen, the Valks will put a lot of security to ensure the summoning process goes uninterrupted."

    "Actually, now that I think about it, I've heard reports from my scouts of there being no enemy troops and their vehicles frozen over and abandoned near a large plateau, only to be ambushed seconds later."

    "Yup, that sounds like the place they are summoning…um…." Zolph then asked Grein "What's the name of this Archfiend again?"


    "Yeah, him…or her…or them?"

    "Some of them are non-binary."


    "Looks like I've managed to prove useful after all," Choi said. "However, our forces here are spread too thin to lead a full-scale assault there."

    "Eliminating one of those abominations is why I'm here, so I'll be sneaking in there." Zolph told him.

    "I've already warned you about the Valks' ambush tactics near the ruins, so you know not to fall for them. You have other things to worry about too."


    "First, I've heard reports of a new war droid model wreaking havoc on our men. The one leading the Valkoran operation here is a Force-user."

    "Droids don't sound like a problem, but what about this Force-user?"

    "Reports say she's a red-haired human female with an orange-bladed lightsaber staff."

    Zolph knew the description too well. "Damn! Why did it have to be her?!"

    "You seem upset, Commander Vaelor. Is something wrong?"

    "It's nothing. We'll head out now." Zolph and Grein went out the war room's door.

    "May the Force be with you."

    Outside, Zolph and Grein were finally met with icy wind. Zolph was shivering despite being dressed properly for a planet as cold as Polus. Grein was unaffected by the cold even without dressing properly for it.

    "Oh right, I forgot you humans can't even tolerate such low temperatures." Grein told Zolph.

    "Hey!" Zolph complained to Grein while still shivering, "We didn't adapt in these types of environments like your species did!"

    "And I didn't even grow up in Chiss Space. Let's put that aside for now. You seem to have a problem with the Force-user in charge of the Valkoran here. I want you to tell me about her, because I don't want your emotional instabilities inhibiting you during this mission."

    "Her name is Dynn Manthis. She and I joined the Academy at roughly the same time. She and I were co-apprentices, but she also grew into a close friend."

    "How close were you two?"

    "Hey! I'm not done yet! One week after this ongoing war began, she went MIA during the defense of Ossus. One month later on Tatooine, shortly after killing Terraris, I learned that she had slipped into the Valks' cause while spying on them. Upon learning, we got into a duel that resulted in me cutting her right arm off, and that was the last time we met. Now what were you asking?"

    "How close did you two get to each other?"

    "What are you implying?"

    An unusually mischievous smile developed on Grein's face. "You two were in love with each other, weren't you?"

    Zolph reacted with embarrassment, especially at the sight of Grein smiling for once, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! We didn't do so much as hug or kiss!"

    "Sounds close enough to me. Having a best friend betray you is one thing, but having a lover betray you usually causes a lot of problems for people. I just don't want it to get in your way."

    "Okay, let's stop talking about that. Let's go kill Cryosmn."

    "I'm staying here to defend the camp."


    "First off, in-case Cryosmn is successfully summoned and you have to fight them, they have freezing abilities. And if you remember, I can liquefy myself."


    "Observe." Grein then liquefied her left arm, which then turned to solid ice within seconds of exposure to Polus's weather. Zolph's eyes widened with shock.


    "Having one limb frozen isn't a big deal for me." She then slammed her frozen arm against one of the shelters, smashing it into many pieces and leaving a stump, to the shock of everyone watching. "But between the weather and Cryosmn's abilities, my abilities are limited here on Polus. Besides the Alliance could use a Force user defensively." She then used the Force to regather all the fragments of her shattered arm and walked into a warmer place. Some watery tendrils extended from her stump to the ice fragments, assimilated them and then reformed her left arm.

    "Wait, if you can do that, doesn't that mean you're technically invincible?"

    "Not really. I'm still limited by the laws of the conservation of mass, so I can't say, turn into a tidal wave, hence why I had to assimilate all those fragments. Second, I'm still a Chiss and not a natural hydromorph. I can still be killed by the same stuff that can kill everyone else, and if I stay in liquid form too long, I could eventually die from evaporation. By the way, water doesn't freeze that quickly here on Polus. I just lowered the temperature in my arm for demonstration purposes."

    "I see. Now that you've scared the daylights out of everyone nearby, I way as well go stop the Valks." Zolph then left the camp.

    After fifteen minutes of marching through a blizzard, Zolph spotted a quartet of Valkoran Snow Troopers. He watched as one of them triggered something that had been buried in the snow.

    "Oh fierfek!" the triggering trooper uttered before an explosion sent him flying into the air and then landing on the ground dead. Apparently, the Valks had buried landmines in the snow, but some of the mines are failing to discern between friend and foe. The other three troops then spotted Zolph.

    They fired at him, but he Force-pushed them backward, inadvertently knocking them into other faulty mines.

    "Okay, so I'm in a minefield." He then used a large Force push to clear away some of the buried mines and moved through the path he created.

    Later, Zolph came across an icy plateau surrounded by several derelict and frozen-over Rancor-class Assault Tanks. These double-cannoned tread tanks seemed to have been untouched for some time and partially buried by the snow.

    Zolph, aware of ambushes happening in this area, used Force sight to detect any potential life-signs. He saw not only some live troopers buried in the snow, but also saw life-signs coming from inside the tanks. The Valkoran had apparently been using Polus's perpetual snowfall to cover up their presence there.

    Some of the troopers sprung up out of the snow, one of them yelling "Surprise!" before opening fire. Zolph promptly deflected the shots back at them.

    "Hey idiots! You're supposed to shoot before taunting!" One of the tanks' turret cockpits then quickly turned towards Zolph and fired several plasma shots at him, which he quickly dodged. "Wow. These tanks must be pretty well-maintained to still be working in these conditions."

    Zolph dashed towards the plateau, dodging the other tanks' shots, sometimes tricking them into destroying each other and as well as other troopers. He eventually got close enough to the plateau to notice some artificiality in the structure. This was indeed Cryosmn's temple. He then dashed into the entrance.

    Inside, Zolph no longer had snow blowing in his face. "I'm finally out, but hey, at least it's better than acid rain," he told himself. He then noticed some alien statues much like those found in Terraris's temple. He activated his comlink looking for answers.


    "Yes? What is it?"

    "Do you anything about the aliens that built these temples?"

    "Yes. From what I've heard, this species, known as the Rakata, once ruled the galaxy in the years before the Old Republic. I heard they even built a factory powered by the Dark Side that could create an army with unlimited resources. Good news is this factory was discovered and destroyed about four thousand years ago, so we don't have to worry about the Valkoran abusing that."

    "If they used the Force, how are they involved with the Forceless?"

    "Like I told you before, if it's alive, the Collective will use it as a resource. They may have used the Infinite Empire as a gateway for their invasion of this galaxy. For reasons I have yet to figure out, their operation was delayed for thousands of years."

    "That's somewhat helpful. But I might as well get back to the mission." Zolph turned off his comlink and progressed through the ruins, fighting off any soldiers he might come across.

    He eventually came into an unusually large room. There, he found a large, four-legged Valkoran war droid with dual repeating blasters on its mouth as well as a tail with a blade and cannon mounted on it: the Manticore Assault Droid.

    The droid fired its repeating blasters at Zolph, who immediately dodged backward. It then fired a laser beam from the cannon on its tail, scorching the ground near Zolph. He got close to it and swiftly decapitated the droid.

    Zolph tried to walk towards the next room, but the droid fired another laser at him. The droid was still functioning. He then noticed a photoreceptor on the tip of its tail between the blade and laser cannon.

    He ran towards the Manticore and jumped on its back, knowing it can't fire the laser on him. However, the droid jabbed its blade towards Zolph. After a few dodges, he sliced the droid's tail off and jumped off.

    The droid blindly stumbled around until it hit a wall and caused part of the ceiling to collapse on it. The droid was shut down for real, and Zolph moved forward.

    Zolph had finally made it to the ritual chamber, where Cryosmn was to be summoned. However, he saw Dynn Manthis, with her lost arm apparently replaced.

    "Missed me?" Dynn asked Zolph as he approached.

    "Kinda, and I see you got a new arm. I take it that if you're still here, Cryosmn hasn't been summoned yet?" Zolph replied.

    "The summoning ritual only has a few more minutes left to it."

    "Well, Dynn, you probably figured out why I'm here. I'd just like to point that this group you've sided with is outright insane if they think these Archfiends will save the galaxy. Please turn your back on them before you do something you'll regret."

    "Sorry, Zolph, but I've made up my mind." She ignited her saberstaff.

    "I take it you're both trying to incapacitate me for delivery and stalling for time?"

    "As usual."

    Zolph then ignited his lightsaber. "And you already know how stubborn I am about surrendering myself to you guys."

    Dynn made a jump attack towards Zolph before making a wide swing of her saber. They clashed blades on equal grounds for a while, until Zolph overpowered her and knocked her back.

    There was a pause in the duel. Dynn clutched at her right arm as it reacted strangely, as if it had a mind of its own. The sleeve over it started to tear and the bracer started to crack. With all the sleeve and bracer broken off, her new arm revealed its true form: a black demonic-looking appendage with a claw-like hand with an eye - exactly like those of Forceless - on the back, crudely grafted onto her stump and trying to root itself in. The hand loosened its grip on the saberstaff, which descended towards the floor tethered by a tongue coming from the palm. The hand rose towards Zolph and made a high-pitched shriek at him.

    Zolph was shocked by this turn of events. "Okay, that is NOT a cybernetic limb! Who the hell put that thing on you?!"

    She did not respond. She had a creepy, lifeless grin on her face. It seemed like the arm was in control at the moment. The tongue then lifted up and started making a buzz saw-like motion with the saberstaff. She walked towards Zolph in an almost zombie-like way, with the arm seeming like it was actually trying to kill him.

    Zolph backed away, but he saw an opportunity to disrupt Cryosmn's summoning ritual. He ran towards the rune-filled circle on the ground and started destroying the statue of a strange-looking being, possibly Cryosmn. The circle stopped glowing. It seemed he had successfully stopped Cryosmn from being summoned at all.

    "Dynn! Snap out of it!" he yelled at her.

    Dynn broke out of her trance and then smacked her own right arm. "Whoa! It seemed I had lost control for a while. When that crazy guy without skin grafted this on me, I thought it was a regular human arm from a donor. Stupid arm..." She then looked towards Zolph. "And I see you ruined the ritual while I was going crazy."

    "I'm done here. I have no more reason to be here. I should warn you that while you people and Maesterus may want me alive, these abominations you've been trying to summon don't." Zolph then pleaded to Dynn. "So, please, let's get rid of that arm before it's too late and come back!"

    The Forceless arm suddenly twitched. "I wish I could, but it's too late." Dynn then used the Force to bring another temple down on them. "I'd run out of here if I were you."

    Zolph reluctantly complied and ran out of the temple, but predicted that Dynn would survive like before.

    Back at Qek Base, Zolph reported his victory to Grein and General Ven Choi.

    "So you didn't have to fight Cryosmn at all." Grein responded. "This is your lucky day, because you may have to actually fight other Archfiends in the future."

    "And it looks like the Valks will give us less trouble defending the planet." Choi responded. "The fight over the carbonite mining facilities will still go on, but we won't have any extragalactic horrors to worry about. I'd say your work here is done. We can handle the rest."

    "You're welcome." Zolph responded as he and Grein made their way towards the hangar.

    "We may meet again sometime, Commander Vaelor."

    Now in hyperspace, Grein questioned Zolph further. "So, how did it go with your girlfriend?"

    "Are you still on about that? It went alright, except her arm isn't cybernetic. Someone apparently grafted a Forceless arm on her, and it seems to have a mind of its own. She seemed possessed for a while, but while I didn't get the chance to cut the arm off myself, she then regained her senses."

    "That's unsettling."

    "What are you worried about? You said Forceless can hijack their hosts, yet she regained control of herself. So there's some hope for her to resist, right?"

    "That's just it. She hasn't had the arm that long, so it has yet to really settle into her."

    "Well, I just hope that by the time I see her again, she will have amputated that travesty."
    AUTHOR'S NOTE: Story's far from over, but if there are any regrets about this chapter I have two and a half years after writing it, it's how I originally resolved the Dynn fight. The original version admittedly feel's very rushed and half-***ed (for elaboration, Zolph just walked away while she was weakened and merely suggested she amputate the Forceless arm and get a real cybernetic limb). As of this posting, I made some slight alterations to that scene to have it make more sense in the situation (I also made some edits on the previous chapters, but they were all grammatical or presentational). Especially in regards to later events in the story (spoilers for those who haven't already read it all the way through on DeviantArt or
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  10. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 9: Hunters

    One month has passed since Zolph Vaelor averted the Valkoran's attempt to summon the Forceless Archfiend, Crysomn on Polus. However, the Valkoran are turning their attention to other resources besides the Archfiends. Somewhere in Valkoran Space, Maesterus has gathered an ensemble of bounty hunters for an important mission.

    A group of bounty hunters was assembled on the command bridge of the Valkoran warship, Doomsayer. There were hunters of many species including but not limited to humans, Trandoshans, Gands, Kubaz, and Duros, but three hunters stood out the most. Bom Pintor, a Skakoan equipped with a pressure suit reinforced for combat, a helmet and a blaster carbine; Maushh, an Ubese covered head-to-toe in black armor armed with a rifle and a bladed polearm; and Gahmah Raan, a green-skinned humanoid wearing a helmet that covered his entire face, armed with a sniper rifle, two blaster pistols and switch-blades on his arms and was not as heavily armored as the other hunters on the bridge.

    A Valkoran-made astromech droid entered the command bridge and approached the hunters. It then displayed a live hologram of Maesterus, who addressed the hunters.

    "You're probably wondering why I called you all here. Since you're good trackers, I obviously need you hunt to someone for me." The astromech droid then changed the projection of Maesterus to the projection of a Sullustan. "Menbar Mun. He is a Galactic Alliance scout that has gathered some intel on our key installations not too long ago. He's currently stopped to refuel and repair his ship at New Harnaidan on Muunilinst. I need you to intercept and capture him before he can return to Alliance command." The hologram then switched back to Maesterus.

    Gahmah spoke. "Not that I'm uninterested in a big fat paycheck, but why waste credits on big guns like us?"

    The other bounty hunters freaked out. Bom Pintor then yelled to Gahmah in a panicked tone, with the pitch on his suit's vocabulator drastically changing. "Keep quiet, Raan!"

    Gahmah continued to asking Maesterus. "Wouldn't it be more economically convenient to just send some of your own agents to silence him?"

    Maushh then chimed in. "Are you trying to lose us this job?!"

    Gahmah then answered casually, "Hey, I'm just asking. He wouldn't have hired us if the job were that simple."

    Maesterus then answered Gahmah, "A very good question, Gahmah Raan. I specifically want Mun alive. Aside from not wanting to get a reputation as a murderer and getting intel from him, he's part of another plan I have. Mun knows he's already a target after going through our territory, so he's posing as a cargo hauler. However, he knows someone will find him out eventually, so he's enlisted a Jedi for protection, specifically Zolph Vaelor. I've hired you people due to your experience with Jedi and Jedi-killers. I want you to bring him to me too, preferably alive. Once you have them, I want you to deliver them to the interrogation center on Kratzar. That is all." The transmission ended.

    Gahmah smugly told the other hunters, "And you grumps were worried I was screwing you out of a job."

    Pintor then asked him. "Why do you have to scare us like that? Giving obvious solutions before the job almost guarantees losing it!"

    "So says the guy who relies on his biological weakness to get his prey."

    Pintor then spoke angrily, with his vocabulator temporarily reverting to Skakoverbal before changing back to Basic, "You watch your tongue, lizard!"

    "I'm technically not a reptile." Gahmah said cooly. "Besides, the Creator already predestined this hunt."


    Maushh then spoke to Pintor. "From what I hear, Gahmah Raan's also a spice addict, so that's probably just a hallucination of his."

    Pintor asked himself and Maushh as Gahmah left. "How the hell did this whack-job become a bounty hunter?"

    Meanwhile on Muunilinst, Zolph Vaelor met up with Menbar Mun near the wreckage of Old Harnaidan.

    "Okay, Menbar, I'm here." Zolph said to the Sullustan. "So what do the Valks want with you that guarantees dragging me out here to this Yuuzhan Vong wreck site?"

    "I've got some info on their bases of operation." Menbar answered.

    "And possibly some Archfiend locations, too." His comlink then chimed. "What is it, Grein?"

    Grein's elaborated. "We've got problems. Some contacts of mine have given me the scoop on some bounty hunters the Valkoran recently hired, and their ships have docked here in New Harnaidan."

    "I knew they'd send someone after me!" Menbar panicked.

    Zolph then asked, "Please tell me, are any of these BHs Boba Fett?"

    "No. I don't think Fett would want to get involved with groups like this these days."

    "Thank the Force…" Zolph said in relief.

    "However, I'll kick our back-up plan into motion in case you fail to protect Mun."

    "Don't worry, I'm not screwing this one up…this time." He then ended the chat.

    "What do you mean 'this time'?" Menbar asked with worry.

    "Some of the people I've been assigned to protect out in the open have died before…but usually not through any fault of my own. As long as you don't, say, walk between me and guys trying to kill us, you should be fine."

    "Oh, don't worry. I'm not that stupid. I do have some combat experience since I'm a scout."

    "But remember, you are their target, so let's play this safe."

    One hour later, Zolph and Menbar were still outside Old Harnaidan.

    "Is it really this safe out in this unpopulated area?" Zolph asked himself. A piece of debris then broke off part of Old Harnaidan's outer walls and nearly fell on Zolph, causing him to freak out. "Okay, now that I think about it, a war-torn city is probably one of the most clichéd places for a fugitive to be hiding out. We should probably be somewhere less conspicuous." He then asked Menbar, "Does New Harnaidan have a notable Sullustan population?"

    "Not really native, but some come here now and then."

    "I guess we're better off blending into the crowd."

    They were then interrupted by a modulated voice from behind. "Too late for that, Ponytail Boy." They then turned around and saw Bom Pintor in front of the old city gates with his carbine pointing at them. "I figured you'd be skipping town, and what's a better place to check than the original Harnaidan."

    Zolph then told Menbar. "See? What did I tell you: very clichéd hiding place. Now go somewhere safe, but don't get too far from me." Menbar then ran into the wrecked city.

    Pintor then spoke again. "Oh, don't worry; the Sullustan is wanted alive; however, my employer wants you too, but I don't have to take you in alive."

    "I'm guessing Maesterus didn't tell you that he wanted you to bring me in alive?"

    "He did. He just said 'preferably', so I don't think he'll mind if I bring him your corpse as proof."

    Zolph then sighed in disbelief. "I'm guessing he worded the briefing poorly."

    "Either way, make this easy on yourself, lie down, and let me shoot you."

    "Well, I say kriff you." Zolph then ignited his lightsaber and pointed it towards the Skakoan.

    "Hold it… you do realize that damaging me in any way is a terrible idea?"

    "And why is that?"

    "If you damage this suit in any way, I will explode, taking you and your mouse-eared client with me. Either way, you lose."

    "If you're going that far, why not just take me prisoner? I'm already no match for you." Zolph said sarcastically.

    "Because if I do, you're most likely going to escape my custody, and a dead Jedi is one-hundred percent unlikely to do that. Any last words?" Pintor then clicked his gun.

    "Before you kill me, let me get this straight: you're blackmailing me with a biological weakness of yours that is fatal to both of us, and you've most likely done this to your targets, and other competing hunters to keep them off your claims?"

    "I don't care either way; it's a foolproof way of getting the job done."

    "Now I know how a Skakoan like you became a bounty hunter: you're just a spineless coward who can't really fight and just banks on literally being a bomb in the hopes that his prey will just give up."

    Pintor then got angry. "Oh, I can fight, alright! Why do you think I reinforced myself, increased my mobility and gave myself combat training?! Because of these types of situations!! You're beginning to irritate me as much as-!" He was then interrupted by a blaster bolt that came from far away, breaching his suit.

    "No! I can't believe someone actually had the guts to hurt me! Someone actually thinks they can take my bounty from me?!" Pintor panicked before he started to decompress in his own suit due to the breach. His suit then exploded violently.

    Zolph immediately put out his hands and used the Force to contain the explosion. What was left from the explosion was some charred bio-matter and pieces of the Skakoan's armor. "I guess he forgot that we Jedi can do that."

    He then called out. "Hey, Menbar! It's safe now!"

    The Sullustan came out of hiding and noticed Bom Pintor's charred remains. "What the hell did you do to him?"

    "I didn't do anything to him; I just kept the explosion from spreading. Apparently, at least one of the hunters is trying to off the others to trim the competition. Good news for us is we're going to have less of them to worry about."

    "Same plans as before running into that guy?"

    "Yes. I have a friend there that can offer some additional protection."

    The two then headed back towards New Harnaidan on foot.

    Heading back to New Harnaidan, Zolph and Menbar dealt with more bounty hunters sent after them, either being dispatched by Zolph or being dispatched by the ambiguous assassin.

    The two eventually made it back to the city, but it was not bustling with as much life as expected.

    "I thought it would be more populated." Zolph said.

    "To be fair, New Harnaidan isn't that fully developed yet. I mean, it only started developing around the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War." Menbar answered him.

    "Or maybe some of the hunters are paying them to take shelter to make it easier for us to stick out when we get back here."

    Zolph then immediately sensed something, yelled "Look out!" and pushed Menbar to the side. They looked on the spot where they were once standing and noticed a tranquilizer dart. "We've got a sniper!"

    Another dart flew towards them, but was promptly avoided. They then looked up and saw Maushh up on a walkway with his rifle out. Zolph responded by Force pushing the black-armored Ubese off the balcony. However, he survived and quickly got up on his feet.

    "Okay, Menbar, my ship's close by." Zolph told the Sullustan, who then fled.

    Maushh tried to fire another dart at Menbar, but Zolph promptly slashed it with his lightsaber. "You're going to have to deal with me first." He told the Ubese.

    "It will be my pleasure." Maushh responded as he switched cartridges in his rifle. He then fired a blaster bolt from his rifle.

    Zolph immediately deflected the shot. "Oh, come on! You should know sniper rifles don't work up close!"

    "I know." He then fired another shot while Zolph had his guard down, but Zolph reacted quickly.

    "Oh, you're gonna have to do better than that!"

    "Very well." Maushh then switched back to a tranquilizer cartridge, put his rifle away and then drew out his polearm. "I guess we'll go with melee weapons then." He then struck at Zolph, who parried his blows for a few seconds.

    They eventually locked blades, and while locked, Maushh quickly pulled out his rifle and fired a tranquilizer into Zolph's abdomen.

    "What the- very sneaky, chump!" Zolph retorted.

    Maushh then fired a few more tranquilizers into Zolph before bringing him to the ground. He then put away his rifle and walked towards Zolph, preparing his polearm.

    Zolph watched him as he as he was about to strike a deathblow, but before the blade could even strike, a blaster shot came from the left and hit Maushh in the head, causing it to explode into many pieces and leaving a stream of smoke coming from his neck as his lifeless body fell to the ground.

    "Okay, that was pretty gross. But that was pretty close, too. Any longer and I'd be dead." Zolph said to himself as he got back on his feet, but still weakened by the tranquilizers.

    Out of a back alley came the source of the blaster shot: Gahmah Raan. "Howdy." He greeted Zolph.

    "Give me a break! I just got out of a fight and I can barely move!" Zolph complained to him.

    "Don't worry; I'm not going to kill you like all these other idiots."

    "So let me get this straight: you've been killing the other hunters just because they kept trying to kill me. Well, at least someone got the memo. So I take it you're now going to capture me?"

    "No, you're just a bonus objective."

    "Yeah, right. First off, you just said you killed the other guys to preserve me. Second, I highly doubt your employer considers me a 'bonus objective'."

    "Okay, you got me. But I will tell you that your mousy friend is currently taking a nap in my cargo hold."

    Zolph then tried to make a run for it, but Gahmah quickly shot him in the legs with both blaster pistols.

    "Hey, I wasn't done talking! Before I go, I'd like to say your encounter with Bom Pintor was as much of a cop out as how you dealt with Cryosmn."

    "Bom Pintor?"

    "The Skakoan I made explode…oh wait, that one was my fault! Oops!"

    "And how did you know about Cryosmn?! I thought that was confidential information!"

    "A lot of know people about that, just like this chat we're having right now."

    "But there's no one else around."

    "You don't need to worry. From my experience, the people of the galaxy are somehow disconnected from those people."

    "Whuh?" Zolph uttered in confusion.

    "But I need to go drop off my cargo. Chances are I'll be seeing you not long from now, probably a week or two. See ya!" He then walked away as Zolph was still immobilized.

    Grein came from elsewhere towards Zolph.

    "By the looks of it, you screwed up." Grein told Zolph.

    "You don't have to rub it in." Zolph told her in an annoyed tone.

    "I'm only stating the obvious. However, it's not too late to undo your mistake."

    "My mistake?! What were you doing while I was doing all the legwork?!"

    "Preparing our back-up plan in case this happened."

    Zolph then calmed down. "Oh yeah, I forgot about that. What was this plan?"

    "I'll discuss it when we get back to the ship, because you're apparently not in good shape right now."

    Zolph was lying on the cot in the Blazing Manta's medbay, with bacta patches on his legs.

    Zolph asked Grein. "Okay, now that I'm healing up for this back-up plan, what did you do?"

    "I put homing beacons on the hunters' ships. That way, we'll know where to find Menbar."

    "Grein, I'd like to apologize for lashing out at you and accusing you of laziness. You're more helpful than you make yourself out to be."

    "No harm done. I just don't want you to get into the habit of me solving all of your problems. I mean, you won't be fit for taking on the more powerful Archfiends if you can't do some things on your own, and there will be times where I'm unable to help you."

    "That, I can understand."

    A console in the cockpit started beeping frantically.

    Grein then reacted. "Well, looks like the Vriknash is taking off. That's my cue to follow it."


    "It's Gahmah Raan's ship."

    "Speaking of, do you know anything about him?"

    "Well, I know the Alliance hired him to fight during the Yuuzhan Vong War."

    "I've read his background before this war, but I didn't know he was this...eccentric."

    "I also hear he's a spice addict, so don't let his more outlandish mannerisms get to your head."

    "Well, that explains some stuff, but he seems pretty healthy and sane for a guy on spice. Still, how did this nutcase even become a bounty hunter?"

    "He's just good at his job."​
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  11. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 10: Crippled

    After four hours of traveling through hyperspace, the Blazing Manta had tracked the Vriknash to its destination: a small red planet covered in an ocean of lava and surrounded by two intersecting asteroid rings.

    Zolph Vaelor asked in bafflement towards their destination. "Wait? This planet's habitable? Doesn't even look like it."

    Grein answered him. "There are a few small continents."

    Zolph then continued. "Where are we anyway?"

    "This is Kratzar. It's a Mustafarian mining colony and also one of the youngest planets in the galaxy."

    Zolph got even more curious. "How young are we talking?"

    "About 5,000 years."

    Zolph was very shocked. Even the Old Republic was older than this planet. Although Kratzar was a Valkoran world, it also meant that it was not part of the Infinite Empire, eliminating it as a potential Archfiend planet. However, he also guessed the planet would be a lot different reaching its millionth year.

    Zolph then got back on subject. "Before we get into a lengthy discussion on this planet, let's get back to following that weirdo."

    The Blazing Manta then flew into Kratzar's atmosphere, trying to be careful to not get noticed by Gahmah Raan.

    Save for several islands, Kratzar was covered entirely in lava, and not as a result of volcanic activity. In fact, there weren't many volcanoes at all. The lava was a result of the planet still being somewhat in its development cycle, and strangely enough, the lava was unusually cool yet still somewhat hot to the point that it was safe to be near it. The sky was unusually clear for a world of its type, although still a light shade of grey.

    Meanwhile on Kratzar's surface, the Vriknash, a vessel somewhat resembling a Kuat Drive Yards Firespray Patrol Craft, flew towards a large plateau on a slightly larger island. This plateau had many tunnels going into it on all sides and a military complex on top.

    Between two tall buildings on the plateau, the Vriknash laid its backside on the landing pad. Gahmah Raan exited the ship's boarding hatch and was greeted by a black-armored figure with demon-like wings coming out of his back and an escort of soldiers.

    "Nice wings you got there!" Gahmah Raan complimented Maesterus. "Can I have them?" He jokingly asked him.

    Behind his helmet, Maesterus was just as confused as anyone meeting the bounty hunter for the first time, even though this wasn't the first time. "Not the response I would expect, but thanks. And sorry to disappoint you, but they're real. I take it you have Menbar Mun?"

    "Eeyup!" Gahmah answered. "He's sleeping like a baby right now." A repulsor-sled carrying the Sullustan sprayed and frozen in carbonite came out of the Vriknash's loading ramp.

    "Excellent." Maesterus then caught the scent of blood on the hunter. "I also take it you killed your competitors?"

    "Yeah, but only because they were too lazy to capture my other target alive."

    Maesterus sighed in disbelief and thought to himself, "I really need to be more careful when dealing with mercenaries." He then asked Gahmah. "Speaking of whom, do you have Zolph?"

    "I don't have him with me, but he should be touching down on this island within the next few seconds. By the way, why do you refer to him by his first name?"

    "That's none of your concern, bounty hunter."

    Gahmah then shrugged. "No biggie. I already know your little secret with him, but I'm not saying anything since there are too many prying ears around."

    Maesterus was somewhat unsettled. "Why ask at all then?"

    "Just felt like it." They then both heard a starship setting down on the beachhead below. "Right on schedule. Mind if I hang around for a bit?"

    "I don't see why not." Maesterus answered as he headed back into the building. "I could give you a few more credits if you help subdue Zolph."

    The Blazing Manta had landed on the island's rocky beachhead after sneaking past the installation's searchlights by flying close to the lava.

    "Wow, I'm surprised we didn't burn to death flying that close." Zolph said.

    "A lot of volcanic worlds are like that." Grein answered him.

    Zolph then felt a familiar presence. "I sense Maesterus. Now I know why Raan didn't take me prisoner."

    "He probably expected us to put a beacon on his ship."

    "This rescue mission is going to be lot riskier than I anticipated." Looking out the Manta's viewport, Zolph noticed a lone Valkoran trooper coming out of one of the plateau's tunnels. Thankfully, the Manta was docked to the right of the tunnel entrance. "I've got an idea."

    Zolph quickly dashed out of the Manta's loading ramp and to the side of the plateau. Eventually, the trooper approached the Manta. Zolph then snuck up on him, knocked him unconscious and dragged him off to the ship.

    Moments later, Zolph exited the Manta again, this time wearing the ambushed trooper's armor. The only thing that could possibly give him off to non-Force Sensitives was his lightsaber, but he took it anyway in case his cover was blown without it. Besides, he could always pass it off as a trophy if anyone questioned him about it.

    The comlink that came with the armor started ringing with a voice coming from it. "Base to Cannok, what is your status? Why are you not responding?"

    Zolph answered. "Cannok to Base, my comlink probably had some signal interference."

    "What's your report on the ship that landed down there?"

    "It's just a civilian freighter passing through. The crew stopped here for an emergency landing to repair it."

    "Let them go then. You've just been reassigned to the interrogation center. Again, be careful passing through the lava mines."

    Zolph refrained from asking any questions in case Cannok's been stationed on Kratzar for a long time. "Yes sir! Cannok out!"

    Zolph then headed into the plateau tunnel.

    Zolph moved through the Valkoran mining tunnels with his rifle in position, passing by several lava siphons attended by Mustafarian miners of both subspecies and several Valkoran troopers for protection from who-knows-what.

    Moving further along, he figured out what they were there for and what the person over the comlink was warning him about: Pyrons, large eyeless lava serpents with tusks protruding from both jaws and so far, one of the only known native species on Kratzar. They would occasionally pop out of the siphons at random. In case of these emergencies, all troopers and miners were armed with kinetic blasters to penetrate their heat-resistant skin.

    At one siphon in particular, a Pyron caught one Valkoran trooper in its mouth with its tusks piercing through the trooper's pelvis. The trooper incoherently muttered from inside the beast's mouth "Why does this always happen to me?!" The Mustafarians the trooper was guarding then opened fire on the Pyron until it dropped dead with the trooper still in its mouth. The trooper muttered "Someone, please kill me…" One of the miners, a Northern Mustafarian, granted his wish when he fired up his rear end…although he probably didn't mean it like that.

    "Private Helms is down!" another trooper told the guard commander.

    "Really?" the commander dryly responded, unsurprised at what he obviously saw. "Get back to work, soldier." The trooper did as told.

    After 30 minutes of moving through the tunnels, Zolph eventually reached the turbolift to the top of the plateau. He entered and went upward.

    At the top of the plateau, Zolph saw many Valkoran troopers, droids and vehicles on patrol, always ready in case of an attack on the installation. He then noticed two large – but not really noticeable from the beachhead below – buildings connected by a landing pad, where a non-Valkoran ship was docked. He quickly figured out where the interrogation center was.

    He walked into one of the buildings. Moving upward in the building, he passed several prison cells, most of them empty, but what little cells were occupied had mostly unruly soldiers or corrupt officers from within their own ranks.

    He made it to the top floor and eventually the interrogation room. He found lots of lab equipment, Menbar Mun strapped to an interrogation table and Doctor Thilid, a Quarren wearing a gray lab coat and a mask that hid everything but her mouth tentacles.

    "You're late, trooper!" Thilid berated Zolph.

    "Sorry, ma'am. I got lost on the way back. Those mines are still annoying to navigate. That and those blasted Pyron infestations."

    "While you were busy being lost, I just finished probing this rat's brain for our enemy's bases and cleared it of ours!"

    Zolph realized he was too late, but he noticed a datapad in the interrogator's hands. Apparently, that intel hadn't been publicized yet.

    Thilid then continued to berate him. "If I were in charge, I'd pull your brain out through your nose and eat it, but Maesterus would kill me if I did that, so you're a lucky human." She then turned toward Menbar. "However, now that he's of no further use, I don't think he'll mind if I eat the Sullustan's brain before turning in my results."

    Menbar tried to turn his head away in fear as the insane Quarren approached the table. She opened up his left nostril with three of her mouth tentacles, but before she could stick the fourth tentacle up into his nostril, Zolph ignited his lightsaber through her back and killed her.

    "Actually, I think he would." He then destroyed the datapad she was holding, took off his helmet and freed Menbar from the table. He then asked him "Are you alright?"

    "Thanks. Of all the ways I could die, I couldn't imagine this being one of them. And I don't plan on sleeping tonight anyway. That aside, I'm sorry I cracked and lost the intel you wanted."

    "That's a shame, but hey, at least they don't have our intel anymore." Zolph then put his helmet back on. "As for our plan on getting out, in which of these two buildings is your scheduled holding cell?"

    "It's the adjacent building."

    "Okay, because I'm going to be your escort." Zolph then put some binders on Menbar's wrists.

    Trying to keep up his disguise by taking a convenient shortcut, Zolph escorted Menbar by going across the landing pad on which the Vriknash was docked. There, he spotted Gahmah Raan casually leaning against the side of his ship with his arms crossed.

    The eccentric mercenary then spoke to Zolph in a fast-paced manner. "Excuse me, Ma'am. Have you seen a human guy around here that looks a little like a girl? He's about your height and your weight and has a lightsaber exactly like the one you're carrying on your belt."

    Zolph did his best to ignore him, just moving along with Menbar, until Gahmah got up and fired a shot from one of his blasters, barely missing him.

    "Hey! Don't ignore me! That's just rude!" Gahmah shouted to him.

    Zolph was finally annoyed, and took off his helmet. "Alright! I get it! You know who I am!"

    "Pretty much." Gahmah responded. "By the way, you're late!"

    "Yeah yeah. No one's getting anything new from Menbar."

    "No. I mean you are late by – I don't know – three weeks."

    "Seriously?!" Zolph was annoyed by his lack of time comprehension. "It's been eight hours since we last met!"

    "Really? Because it feels like it's been three weeks."

    "Remember, Zolph, the guy is a spice addict. Just ignore him," he muttered to himself. "Now that I'm here like you want me, can't you just let me go?"

    "Nope. I still need to fight you."

    "You already got your money for bringing me and Menbar here, so why do you need to fight me?"

    "Just because." Gahmah then drew his other blaster out.

    "Because Maesty's giving you more for aiding in my capture?"

    "Ding Ding!" Gahmah shouted as he then fired two charged shots towards Zolph's legs, but he promptly dodged back.

    Zolph then charged towards Gahmah with his lightsaber ignited and deflecting his blaster shots. He eventually got close enough and cut off both of Gahmah's hands. He only reacted with a simple 'Ow!'

    "'Ow'? Oh come on, you've lost within a few seconds of our duel!"

    "Uh, no. Not yet. Hold on a sec." The blades on his forearms flipped outward and he cut away the burn marks made on his stumps. Zolph and Menbar were grossed out. After the marks were removed and the stumps bleeding a little, he immediately regenerated his hands. "Okay, all done! Now for Round 2!"

    The hunter then leaped into the air and dived towards Zolph, knocking him down. He quickly jumped around to reclaim his blasters, but he put them back in his holsters to resort to melee combat. He then jumped toward Zolph and started slashing at him with his wrist blades.

    Zolph blocked a few of his strikes, but Gahmah was somehow still able to cut through the armor he was wearing. "Some armor that is!" Gahmah taunted.

    "Yeah." Zolph agreed as they continued striking at each other. "Why do I get the feeling they never properly tested this armor?"

    "Probably because someone out there had to make the grunts easy to kill."

    After ten minutes of not really getting anywhere with the duel, they were both fatigued. "Okay, I'm done!" Gahmah said. "I'm ready to go home now."

    "Seriously?" Zolph asked with surprise. "But I'm not even fresh for capture!"

    "Yeah, but this fight has gone nowhere… and has gotten pretty boring." Gahmah waved his hand, causing the Vriknash's loading ramp to open. As he paced towards his ship, he told Zolph "Well, we'll probably be seeing each other again by the time they've forgotten about me." He then entered the ship and the ramp closed.

    The Vriknash lifted off the ground, with its main body rotating perpendicular to the landing pad, the engine pods parallel to it and the s-foils opening up. It then flew away from the facility.

    "Did he just use the Force?" Zolph asked himself.

    "Don't ask me." Menbar responded. "I'm not a Jedi."

    "I almost forgot about you. However, thanks to our little duel and the battle damage this armor's taken, I think our cover's blown." He then removed the binders on Menbar as they were now pointless. "Now let's just fight our way out!"

    They then headed through the building on the other side of the pad.

    Zolph and Menbar ran out of the prison complex, with all Valkoran personnel firing at them. Zolph deflected blaster fire and cut down troops while Menbar fired the rifle Zolph was carrying while in disguise. They eventually found the turbolift to the mines and boarded it.

    While descending, the lift suddenly stopped only one floor below the top of the plateau. The doors opened to reveal Maesterus waiting for them.

    "Damn!" Zolph exclaimed. "Menbar, go ahead to the bottom. My ship is just outside!" Zolph then moved out of the lift.

    "He can go along, as he's no concern to me now." Maesterus told him. The Sullustan stayed in the lift as its doors closed and continued its descent. "I'm so glad you came to visit."

    "Save it!" Zolph told him. "I know you hired those bounty hunters just lure me into your trap! And aside from that black ooze in your body, what possessed you to recruit that psychotic hag of a squid?!"

    Maesterus put his palm against his helmet and sighed with disgust at what Zolph was implying. "I take it you met Doctor Thilid and that she tried to eat another prisoner's brain?"

    "And I take it someone equally, if not more insane recruited her?"

    "You are correct." Maesterus then drew out his lightsaber. "But let's not get off topic. And as usual, I take it I'm going to have to beat you into submission again before taking you prisoner. And this time unfortunately, I'm not letting you off the hook like I did on Vjun."

    Zolph then spoke as he pulled out his lightsaber. "Speaking of Vjun, what horrors or doomsday devices did you find out about in that holocron? The Emperor's Exhaust Port? The Power Cord of Palpatine?"

    "You don't need to be worried. There was nothing related to superweapons or Dark Side artifacts in that holocron, so the Galactic Alliance isn't doomed yet." Maesterus then raised his lightsaber and spread out his wings. "But enough side-tracking. We've got business to settle." He then unpredictably fired a bone spike from his left palm, which Zolph managed to dodge.

    Zolph made a jump slash at Maesterus that was quickly blocked. They clashed blades until Maesterus blew some wind into Zolph's face with his wings and then floated several feet back into the caverns.

    Suddenly, Maesterus's wings started to react. A new pair of wings violently tore themselves out of his original pair, stacking on top of them. He looked even more intimidating to Zolph, despite his affable demeanor.

    Meanwhile, after shooting his way through the lowest levels of the mines and avoiding several Pyrons, Menbar made it outside the plateau and reached the Blazing Manta. He got on aboard the vessel and met up with Grein.

    "Okay, you're here, but where's the guy who came to rescue you?" Grein asked him.

    "He stayed behind to stall Maesterus." Menbar answered.

    Grein then sighed. "Buckle up. It looks like Zolph's going to need my help…again." She then started up the Manta.

    Back in the upper levels of the mines, Zolph and Maesterus's duel continued, going even further past the turbolift and above several lava pools. With a second pair of wings, Maesterus had another advantage. He could shield himself with his first pair while he could fly with his new pair at the same time, even though there wasn't much flying space in the mines. Not even Zolph's lightsaber could cut through his wings. Not to mention he was still fatigued from his earlier duel with Gahmah Raan.

    "Okay, it's bad enough that you can shoot spikes out of your body and that you can fly, but this is just ridiculous!" Zolph complained in regards to Maesterus's biological advantages while dodging spikes fired from above.

    "Would you prefer I do something else?" Maesterus asked as he then used the Force to hurl some rocks at Zolph. He then swooped towards Zolph, batted his lightsaber back, and cut off his right arm almost up to the shoulder, in the exact same place he cut off Dynn's arm. Naturally, Zolph screamed in pain.

    "Well, looks like you've lost again, Zolph." Maesterus told him.

    Zolph responded with obviously feigned snark. "Uh, no. Not yet." He then used the Force to pull his lightsaber from his severed arm on the ground to his left hand. He tried to strike at Maesterus, but he effortlessly batted the lightsaber out of his hand and then promptly cut it in two. "Aw nuts," he then reacted with a mix of annoyed disappointment and dread.

    Maesterus then picked Zolph up by the throat with one hand. "Oh please. Did you really think attacking me with your weak arm was going to work?"

    "Hey! I thought you weren't going to kill me!" Zolph told him as he was gasping for breath.

    "I'm not. The last thing I need is you struggling, so either cooperate or go to sleep."

    Zolph was then thrown off by his choice of words. "You're not going to do that to me, are you?"

    Maesterus then responded with slight shock. "What in your right mind would make you think I would do such a thing?"

    Suddenly, they were interrupted by the arrival of the Blazing Manta. Behind his mask, Maesterus was very surprised, as he felt a very familiar presence.

    The Manta fired two concussion missiles at him, which he promptly redirected away from him. However, that was promptly followed by a laser blast that knocked Zolph to the ground and sent Maesterus falling into a lava pool several floors below.

    The Manta then landed on solid ground and opened its boarding ramp. Grein got out of the vessel and got Zolph on his feet.

    "Watch where you're firing! You could've killed me!" Zolph chastised her. "But thanks for your help! I was sure to be drafted into the Valks! And I take it Menbar made it?"

    "You don't need to worry about him." She told him. "Let's get you out of here and get you a doctor." She then carried him with his left arm over her shoulder onto the Manta.

    The Manta's loading ramp closed and the vessel flew out of one of the many tunnels in the plateau and left Kratzar's atmosphere.

    As they left the system, Zolph doubted that Maesterus was killed when he fell in the lava. His reasoning: he would have attempted to fly away if he wasn't resistant to it.

    Later, the Blazing Manta rendezvoused with the Galactic Alliance frigate, Sanctity – specifically a Nebulon-B frigate – to drop off Menbar Mun and get Zolph medical attention.

    In the Sanctity's medical bay, Zolph laid on a medical cot with some apparatus hooked up to his newly-made stump.

    "So, Doc? When am I going to get that new arm?" Zolph asked the 2-1B medical droid in the room.

    "We can install a standard prosthesis anytime. However, if you want that design you requested for ignoring EMP weapons and amplifying your physical strength, you'll be on medical probation for up to six months."

    "I'm willing to take that risk, but could you please get the surgical engineers to do it as fast as possible? The Valks may not be that bad, but they are summoning creatures that may do as much damage as the Yuuz-…" Zolph was then interrupted and fell asleep. He had a tranquilizer fired into him from one of the engineers in the room.

    "We can try," the droid answered, "but you shut up and get some rest, sir."
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
  12. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 11: Possession
    It has been six months since Zolph Vaelor lost his right arm on Kratzar. He spent the past six months on rehabilitation for several reasons: the planning, designing and testing of a specific prosthetic arm for Zolph, training his hand-eye coordination with said arm, and constructing a new lightsaber to replace the one – which belonged to his father until five years earlier – he lost with his arm. However, this was a lightsaber he could now call his own: it produced an aqua blade like his previous saber, but it had a claw-like emitter similar to Maesterus's saber.

    Now that Zolph is back in action, he has been called to aid the Galactic Alliance defense of the watery world of Manaan, homeworld of the Selkath and the main producer of kolto, the Alliance's only other alternative to bacta as a medical agent.

    The Blazing Manta dropped out of hyperspace into the Pyrshak system, where they were greeted by several Alliance and Valkoran starships battling in orbit over Manaan. Some CR90 corvettes were being blown apart by the Valkoran's Shyrack-class assault bombers, which were in turn quickly dispatched by a squadron of A-Wings.

    The Manta continued flying towards Manaan's atmosphere, while Zolph manned the guns and picked off any intercepting fighters, as the Valks were now familiar with this ship.

    After entering Manaan's atmosphere, the Manta approached Ahto City, where several Alliance and Valkoran fighters engaged each other outside. The Manta ignored them and landed in one of the city's public hangars.

    Minutes later, Zolph and Grein were in a makeshift war room, where they met up with General Ven Choi – who they previously met on Polus – once again and Shesas, the Selkath official in charge of Ahto City.

    "Okay, we're here!" Zolph said panting, and then looked to the Kel Dor general. "It's good to see you again, too. How did it go on Polus?"

    "The Valks got off shortly after you left, and you're back from rehab." Ven Choi replied. "But now's not the time for sharing war stories. They have decided to focus on Manaan now."

    "Let me guess: it's another battle over who gets the military kolto monopoly. They don't seem to be landing any boarding parties in the city, and most of the fighting going on right now is ship-to-ship. So what's the point of calling us down to the city?"

    "After what you reported on Polus and speaking with Shesas on Manaan's history, I get the feeling the kolto raid is just a front to what they're truly doing." Choi then spoke to the Selkath. "Shesas?"

    Shesas then addressed them, "We don't usually share this with offworlders, but thousands of years before the establishment of the Old Republic, Manaan was under the rule of a tyrannical group of aliens we know as the Builders."

    Zolph then asked Grein. "Grein, are these Builders the Rakata you mentioned back on Polus?"

    Grein answered. "Yes, they are one in the same. Manaan was part of the Infinite Empire."

    Zolph then came to a conclusion. "I'm guessing that what you guys are telling me is that there is an Archfiend here?"

    "That's pretty much it." Choi answered.

    "Grein, you're the expert on these things. Is there one here?" Zolph asked the purple-eyed Chiss to confirm his suspicions.

    "Yes, and his name is Hydrojus."

    "Okay, so this attack is definitely a cover-up for an Archfiend summoning, much like they did by raising the crime rate on Tatooine. If there are ancient ruins on this planet like the last two times, they've most likely been covered by this water ball. And how in the name of Kyle's beard are we going to find them without eventually becoming shark food?"

    Suddenly, the holoprojector on the table started buzzing repeatedly. General Choi activated it, displaying a Zabrak Alliance soldier.

    "General! Valkoran land forces have made their way into the city, but we are not picking up any dropships landing!" the soldier replied.

    "Are the anti-air turrets functioning?" the General asked.

    "Yes sir!"

    "Then they're coming out from under the sea. Clear the streets and hold the docking ring. They're most likely entering in from the hangars."

    "Understood! Zeta Leader out!" the transmission ended.

    "Zolph. Grein. I would really appreciate your help holding the line."

    "Alright, and this may be our chance to track the ruins' location." Zolph responded. "But what about you and Shesas?"

    The Kel Dor drew his vibroblade from his sheath. "I can handle myself if they get in here. Now get going, you two!"

    Zolph and Grein picked up some homing beacons and quickly left the war room.

    Moving through Ahto's streets, Zolph and Grein came across a few Alliance soldiers as well as the Selkath militia in fire fights against Valkoran troopers with breathing apparatuses attached to their helmets and backs. They would help out the Alliance and local militia whenever possible.

    By the time they had gotten to the docking ring, most of the hangars had been sealed off to reduce the number of troops getting in, though not without cost.

    Getting to one of the few open hangars left, Grein, with her hydromorphic abilities and a few tracking beacons on hand, jumped out of the hangar into the ocean.

    Zolph readied his lightsaber as several grappling cables stuck themselves into the hangar's entrance. Several Valkoran SCUBA Troopers came from below and disconnected their rifles from the cables. As some of them readied to fire, the cable of a trooper from the following groups snapped before he made it in, making a distinct scream – one that not many could perfectly imitate unless they were dying – before hitting the water below.

    "Well, I guess I know whose scream that is." Zolph told himself as he was deflecting blaster fire from the other troopers.

    As he was deflecting the shots back at the other troopers and cutting down several more of them, one trooper got really close and attempted to slash Zolph with his forearm blade. Zolph responded with a fully charged punch from his prosthetic arm, sending him flying out the hangar entrance.

    As he Force pushed some more troopers who had just entered, some larger grappling hooks attached themselves to the ceiling. These were followed by not more troopers, but Gundark combat walkers that had been reformatted for working underwater. But Zolph, being more than familiar enough with fighting them even after not fighting the Valkoran for six months, dispatched them quickly.

    As he defended the hangar from more troopers and walkers, he got a comlink call from Grein.

    "Yeah? I'm kinda busy here!" Zolph complained.

    "Just letting you know that I've placed the beacons on the carriers, and that I'm now defending the other open hangar. Ours are the only ones left to close." Grein told him.

    "That's a relief. Now we're one step closer to ruining them here. Now let's get back to keeping them out of the city." Zolph ended the chat.

    After a few more minutes, all the hangar doors had closed and the troops and walkers that made it into the city had been eliminated.

    Later, Zolph and Grein met back up with General Choi in the war room.

    "Okay, General. The Valks are out of the city and the beacons have been set. Have you and your men found out where they are operating from?" Zolph asked Choi.

    "We have." He responded.

    "Excellent. So we can move out immediately."

    Grein then chimed in. "I'm coming too, but we need to keep Choi here to monitor activity outside the ruins."

    "Why?" Zolph asked her.

    "Hydrojus can manipulate water in large quantities, so if he's successfully summoned and he gets out of the ruins, everyone on Manaan's as good as dead unless they submit their allegiance and free will to the Collective. We need Choi to make sure he hasn't gotten out by the time we get there."

    "Good point. There's nothing like a whole planet trying to kill you. Let's get a squad ready for sealing up the entrance when we get there."

    Later in the day, Zolph, Grein and a platoon of soldiers arrived at the underwater ruins via submersible. As soon as they exited the sub, Zolph immediately contacted General Choi.

    "Zolph Vaelor to Ven Choi. We've reached the ruins. Is there anything really unusual going on with Manaan's oceans yet, like the sea level elevating drastically or tidal waves trying to engulf Ahto City from all sides?"

    "Not yet. Either this entity has not been summoned yet, or he just isn't out of the ruins yet." Choi answered.

    "Thank the Force. That's all I needed to know." Zolph ended the transmission and then addressed the soldiers. "Alright, boys, get that barricade set up, or we're all gonna suffer a horrible watery death."

    The soldiers got to work on the barricade.

    Half an hour later, the entrance to the ruins was covered by a particle shield. The squad then moved out.

    As they moved forward, they noticed the ruins were more or less an abandoned civilization, once used by the Ancient Selkath, but also then settled by the Rakata when they enslaved the planet. There were several abandoned homes and fountains scattered throughout the cityscape.

    As they moved past a small pond, a tentacle of water emerged out of it and snuck up on the soldier farthest back in the group. Upon forcing itself into the soldier's mouth, the soldier struggled as he let out a muffled scream, getting the rest of the squad's attention. Before they could do anything about it, the man's insides suddenly caved-in on themselves and killed him. The tentacle then retracted back into the pond and the other squad members were horrified.

    "This is very bad!" One of the squad said while cringing. "What the hell could kill a guy like this?!"

    "Hydrojus." Grein responded with a little fear in her voice.

    Zolph then chipped in. "And unfortunately, we carbon-based lifeforms are seventy percent water. Everyone, we're gonna have to watch each other's backs from this point forward. And now that I think about it, I sense him not too far from here."

    "You mean he just controls the water and is not just the water himself?" the squad leader asked him. "Fighting masochist aliens with organic technology is one thing, but what we're dealing with now right now is something else entirely!"

    "Get a grip, soldier! This is exactly why we put up that particle shield, and there are other creatures similar to him on other planets. We're already at risk being here, but the whole planet and the rest of the galaxy will be at risk too if this monster gets out."

    Grein then chipped into Zolph's lecture "And the organization this monster is part of? I've seen them do worse things to people than kill them. So do you still want to run away after hearing that?"

    "As outlandish as it sounds, I can't refuse to believe you after what I just saw. I may die if I stay here, but if I leave I'm not the only one who's going to die, or worse. So, I'll take the slightly lower chance of dying." The soldier answered.

    "I know you're scared out of your wits, and believe me, we're all scared to some extent, but can't you be a little more optimistic about surviving?" Zolph asked with a little encouragement.

    "I know we have a chance of surviving this, but you two are Jedi! You people are normally experts at fighting these kinds of things, and we're just guys with blasters. And you're normally trained to not feel fear!"

    "We still feel fear. We just don't give into it and spit in its face. And by the way, Grein's technically not a Jedi. Now you and the rest of the squad get back to the entrance. Grein and I need someone to protect the shield generators in case Hydrojus tries to destroy them."

    "Yes sir!" The rest of the squad headed back while watching each other's backs.

    As Zolph and Grein continued to follow the abnormality given off by Hydrojus, they saw the corpses of several Valkoran soldiers and acolytes, some killed in rather horrific manners, whether it be drowned on land, mangled or turned into grotesque piles of goo.

    "Geez, what happened to people just getting shot or cut to pieces?" Zolph asked as he observed the carnage.

    "Stay focused, Zolph. We are not in a fantasy novel." Grein told him.

    Eventually, sensing Hydrojus really close, they made it to a large swimming pool with a few platforms scattered throughout. They then ignited their lightsabers.

    "Keep your guard up, because a lot of water is not a good thing for us right now." Grein told Zolph.

    "I was thinking the same thing."

    Suddenly, a meters-long tentacle of water emerged from the pool and formed into a sickle-like shape. It slashed at Zolph, and to his surprise, it actually managed to cut a sleeve on his jacket. Another tentacle emerged, wrapped itself around him and threw him over to one of the central platforms.

    As Zolph got back up on his feet, he noticed a small creature swimming in the pool. This creature looked like a giant disembodied brain with a tailfin on its stem. It stopped swimming and emerged with a large serpent-like body and vaguely humanoid face made of water, with the actual creature posing as the brain for the serpent. Apparently, they now knew what Hydrojus looked like.

    "Seriously?" Zolph asked. "The thing that has been scaring our troops and gruesomely murdering people left and right is a somewhat itty-bitty brainfish?" He laughed then hysterically until he caught the Archfiend laughing along with him. He then lashed another tentacle at him and held him up above the pool, with another water blade at his throat and Hydrojus glaring menacingly up close with watery eyelids around his solid eyeballs. Zolph responded by Force pushing himself out of Hydrojus's grip, thus breaking the body apart and causing the brain to fall back into the pool.

    However, Hydrojus turned his sights to Grein. As she was fighting off more of his tentacles, he somehow managed to trigger her Force liquefaction and stuck another tentacle into her. Her body then started making odd gestures and the tentacle then carried her over to Zolph's platform as if it were hanging her by her spinal cord.

    Once he lowered her down on Zolph's platform, she raised her blade towards Zolph as if she were a Chiss marionette.

    "Dammit, Grein! Of all the Archfiends out there, why did you have to come with me on this one?!" Zolph criticized her. "If you know these things so well, why didn't you stay behind like usual?!"

    "Think of this as a test." She slowly said as she uncoordinatedly slashed at him. It was pretty clear that she was struggling to speak too. Her left arm then liquefied and then froze into an ice blade. She then slashed at him with both blades, with Zolph barely dodging them.

    "Well, Zolph, it looks like you may have to kill me. Do you have what it takes to do so?" She said continuing to struggle with her speech as she continued slashing at him.

    Zolph then smiled and pulled out a grenade – a cryoban grenade specifically. "I don't think that'll be necessary." He then threw it into the pool, causing it to freeze over, including the tentacle and Grein. He then shattered the frozen tentacle attached to her.

    A few seconds later, all the ice shattered and Hydrojus remerged with his serpent body, clearly angry at Zolph for breaking his control over Grein. He then attempted to cut both of them apart, but Zolph retaliated by Force repulsing all the water sickles away. He then threw another cryoban grenade into the water, this time freezing Hydrojus's serpent body.

    Zolph ran across the ice and Force pushed Hydrojus out of his frozen body. Hydrojus, now no longer making full contact with any bodies of water, was completely helpless and attempted to scurry away on some scorpion-like legs. Zolph then Force pulled the creature towards him and immediately sliced him in two vertically. The terror of the depths was finally deceased.

    Zolph walked back to Grein, and she promptly unfroze herself. She then noticed Hydrojus's bisected corpse slowly disintegrating. "Well, looks you like passed the test." She told him.

    "Test?! I could've killed you!" Zolph complained to her.

    "To see if you had what it takes to take out any allies that get possessed by Forceless. However, what I experienced was very mild compared to actual Forceless possession, and you found a loophole, so you got out of this one easy. What are you going to do when you're faced with the real thing?"

    Zolph then told her with discomfort. "I can't answer that one. I refuse to believe anyone can't be saved from them."

    "However, I can commend you for trying to find another way, and letting me live longer. I'm just warning you that saving others from Forceless possession is very unlikely."

    "I'll deal with it when the time comes."

    They then crossed the frozen pool and made their way back to the city entrance.

    Much later, the entire squad returned to Ahto City and met up with General Ven Choi in the war room to report their success.

    "I take it you found and killed this Hydrojus creature?" Ven Choi asked the squad.

    "Yep. Manaan's safe for the time being." Zolph answered. "You won't believe what your troops have been through down there."

    "I can tell from their current reaction" the General pointed out, noticing the terrified looks on the squad members' faces.

    "Judging by what's in the rest of the report, some of them may be suffering from PTSD as a result. You may want to consider putting them on them leave for a while, General."

    "No can do, Commander Vaelor," one of the squad members told him "If these things are as bad as you say they are, I don't want to sit out of this war."

    "While I do admire your bravery, I'm going to have to agree with Zolph," General Choi told the soldier. "I'm not going to make you sit out the rest of this war, but I am putting you all on leave for a month or two. The last things I need are soldiers who are nervous wrecks. Besides, I can tell you've been through hell today, and you deserve a break from this chaos."

    "U…u…understood, sir," the soldier responded. "My boys and I'll pack up and head home then." The squad minus Zolph and Grein then left the room.

    The General then turned his attention back to Zolph and Grein. "Anyway, I've got something you two may want to hear about."

    "Go ahead and shoot." Zolph told him.

    "While you were down in the sea, our fleet had an encounter with a new Valkoran Star Destroyer: the Doomsayer." The General then displayed a hologram of the vessel, with a scale showing that it was several times the size of an Obliterator-class Star Destroyer, being on par with a Super Star Destroyer.

    Zolph was naturally shocked. "By Chewie's ghost, how did the Valks get the credits and resources to build that thing?!"

    "Here's another fun fact I learned while you were on rehab: the Doomsayer is Maesterus's personal flagship." Grein told them both.

    "You don't say? Of course, I'd expect him to get one of, if not the biggest ship in the fleet." Zolph spoke back to the General. "So General, what do you have to report?"

    "While it did a number on our fleet in orbit, I thought we could find a way to extract some information, possibly more Archfiend locations, from this ship. So, I ordered Rogue Squadron to take out all of its weapon systems, fire a tracking beacon onto it and let it retreat from the battle with extensive damage."

    "You know, for someone who isn't a fleet admiral, you're not half-bad at space tactics." Zolph complimented the Kel Dor. "So when do we infiltrate it?"

    "It's still in hyperspace right now, but we'll give you the shipyard coordinates as soon as it reaches its destination. Given the extent of the damage, it should take a week or so to fully repair, but since you've done a lot today, I'll give you the rest of the day off."

    "Thank you, General."​
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  13. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 12: Infiltration

    The next day following the Battle of Manaan, Zolph Vaelor prepared Besh Squad for infiltrating the Doomsayer, the largest known vessel in the entire Valkoran fleet. This ship was recently tracked to a shipyard in the Barsemic system. To make this infiltration possible, the entire squad all wore Valkoran trooper armor – including the members of the squad who weren't on the near-human spectrum – and would board the vessel via a stolen Sigma-class shuttle, posing as a cargo delivery crew.

    As the shuttle jumped out of hyperspace, the squad pilot, a white-haired Mirialan named Xadisall Varessi was greeted to the sight of the damaged Doomsayer inactive, with several dry docks, repair ships and replacement parts surrounding it. There were also several capital ships, including Obliterator-class Star Destroyers, Judicator-class frigates and Fury-class corvettes for protection.

    "Guys, you might want to come see this," the Mirialan called back into the passenger seating.

    Zolph came into the shuttle's cockpit followed by a large Cathar, a Gand and a Nautolan. "We know, Xad, the Doomsayer's a ridiculously large…" Zolph was cut off in awe. "Wow, it actually feels bigger seeing it in person." Getting closer to the ship, Zolph also began to sense the presence of a familiar Force user and Forceless, but he also began to feel some slight random body pain, something that's been happening to him since the later months in rehab.

    "Are you alright, Vaelor?" Patcher - the Nautolan squad medic - asked him.

    "I'm fine, Patcher. This has been happening to me every now and then for a while. Don't bother with a medical scan either; all the results I've gotten say I'm healthy."

    "Well, I'm doing it anyway." Patcher pulled out a small handheld device and quickly scanned Zolph's body. "No kidding. It says you're A-okay. However, I've heard of Jedi feeling pain when there's no physical cause. This is probably one of those cases."

    The Cathar – nicknamed Bad Kitty, and the squad heavy weapons expert – spoke up. "Now that we're done checking on this kid's health, what's our game plan?"

    Zolph outlined his plan. "First off, we're a delivery crew, and I'm going to be your captain. I didn't plan on this infiltration to be too action-packed, but I see the chances of that happening being a little higher now that I feel a familiar presence here."

    "Is it that Maesterus punk?" Bad Kitty asked.

    "Negative. It's someone I'm more familiar with, and she can use the Force too." Zolph said with a tone of worry. "I'm bringing my lightsaber as a trophy again in case my cover's blown."

    "You sound reluctant." Xad pointed out as he continued flying towards the hangar closest to the command bridge.

    "Yeah, it's just that I haven't seen her for seven months, and last time I saw her…" Zolph stopped himself. "Oh, I'm getting sidetracked, sorry. Back to the infiltration plan. We're just delivering supplies – no bomb smuggling; I'll claim that you guys are scheduled for reassignment here and make my way to the bridge to fill out the paperwork. You guys will wait at the shuttle in case we're found out. And only I'm allowed to start comlink chats." He then directed his attention to the Gand. "And Boltz, if you don't feel comfortable making another name or speaking in first-person, I wouldn't talk too much while guarding the ship."

    "Boltz can agree to that," the Gand engineer answered. "Besides, Boltz doesn't usually speak unless necessary."

    "The fly ain't kidding." Bad Kitty said. "He barely talks at all."

    As they finished talking, a radio transmission came to the shuttle. "Incoming shuttle, please identify yourself."

    Xad spoke back. "Doomsayer, this is Nymdax. We've come with the supplies you've ordered."

    "Nymdax, your delivery is on-schedule. Please proceed to Hangar 3." The transmission then ended.

    "Well, it's not the closest hangar to the bridge, but it's still close enough to get this done quickly," Xad said as he flew the shuttle to the hangar.

    Upon landing the shuttle in Hangar 3, Zolph exited the vessel holding a rifle. He was greeted by the hangar security officer with a datapad in hand.

    "Captain, do you have our supply shipment like you claim?" the officer suspiciously asked Zolph.

    "Of course, and I can guarantee we are not saboteurs." Zolph yelled into the shuttle's loading ramp. "Okay, boys! Bring 'em out!"

    The rest of the squad members – some of them not fully armored due to their anatomy – came out of the shuttle escorting two large supply crates.

    "Quite a diverse-looking squad you got there, Captain," the officer pointed out. He then marked off the delivery on his datapad. "You're all clear. You may leave when ready."

    "Actually, my squad and I are looking to be transferred here to help out with the repairs. The Cathar can provide muscle if the forklifts are out of order and is an excellent bodyguard. The Gand is a tech genius and the Nautolan can provide medical aid if there's any workplace accidents."

    "Sounds impressive, but I'm not the guy to ask about reassignments. You'll have to talk that out with the Admiral. He's usually on the command bridge, but he's on break right now. I'm sure if you wait for him over there, he'll show up. It's kind of a long walk from here to there, but hey, that's why we have the tram system and turbolifts." The officer then gave him a holomap of the Doomsayer for navigation.

    "Thanks, officer. I guess I'll go see this Admiral." Zolph then left the rest of the squad behind to guard the shuttle while he made his way to the bridge module.

    As Zolph moved through the Doomsayer's corridors, looking for any working trams to take him to the bridge and hoping he would get there before the Admiral got back from his break, he felt the disturbance from earlier getting closer to him. He looked desperately for an alternate route before the source could get to him.

    Before he could move further, he was interrupted by a familiar voice, if not slightly distorted. "Are you lost, soldier?" He then turned around and saw a familiar, yet somehow different face.

    Standing behind him was Dynn Manthis, looking much different from when he last saw her on Polus. She still had the Forceless arm, but it looked like it had further embedded itself in her body, as if the roots from before had climbed up to part of her upper body. But that wasn't all; her skin had become a pale shade of gray and her sclerae had turned blood red, similar to the eye on the back of her right hand, but maintained her green irises. There was also what looked like a polarized lens over her right breast.

    Noticing her left eye and her demonic arm twitching, he felt his cover was blown - as there was no way she couldn't tell it was him – but didn't give up the façade yet. "Commander Manthis!" He responded nervously. "Yes, just trying to find a tram that works, but I haven't been here before."

    "Don't worry. I still haven't figured the whole ship out either." Dynn then looked down at the lightsaber on Zolph's belt. "I see you got a trophy. You must be something if you're able to take a Jedi on with just a blaster." For a second, Zolph thought he would be exposed.

    "Actually, not just a blaster. I also exploited some weaknesses in his fighting style." He then noticed her left eye bleeding, and felt a non-existent pain going in his left eye too, but did what he could to ignore it. "Commander, are you alright?"

    "Just some minor health issues, but nothing that's going to kill me." Her right arm was then readying itself to bite a chunk out of Zolph's abdomen. She quickly held it back while it struggled and made violent hisses. "Sorry, this arm has a habit of behaving without my own input. And you can just call me Dynn. Now, what were you doing before I ran into you?"

    "I was trying to get to the bridge so I can sign up my squad to work here."

    "Oh, that. If I were in charge, I'd readily accept your team, but we've got security precautions and the Admiral's got the ultimate say in it, so you've still got the stupid paperwork to fill out. There's a working tram nearby. Take the next corridor on your right and then the next on your left. Also, the bridge module has multiple floors, so there will be a little more walking and turbolifts."

    "Thanks, Comman… or Dynn. I guess I'll see you again if it goes smoothly." Zolph then moved forward following the given route.

    After Zolph left, Dynn's right arm violently bent backward, causing her intense pain. Zolph didn't feel as much pain since he already lost his right arm, but still felt some of it, causing him to react in front of some passing troopers. He then shouted nervously, "Just pulled a muscle! Move along!" He then moved onto the tram.

    A voice then came up in Dynn's head, coming from her arm, berating her as it continued to abuse her. "You blew it again! He was right in front of you, and you just let him go?! I'm starting to wonder why Master Valkor paired me up with you if you're this incompetent." The arm stopped abusing her once two other troopers got interested, knowing that doing more would draw even further suspicion.

    Dynn then pulled out a comlink and told the arm reluctantly, "Okay, fine! If it makes you happy…" She then activated the comlink and spoke into it. "Admiral, our favorite mole is here. But let him have his fun first."

    "Understood, Miss Manthis. Gravlek out."

    As the tram progressed to the bridge module, Zolph wondered why Dynn let him go. As she was once a Jedi, she clearly knew it was him. However, what bothered him more was that she still had the demonic arm even after briefly hijacking her body on Polus and after he suggested she amputate it. Even now, it's been doing worse to her. Was this also the source of the random moments of physical pain he was feeling while in rehab?

    Once the tram arrived at the bridge module, Zolph had to go up one turbolift to reach the main module itself. He found himself in a spacious room with many large crates - spacious for reasons he had yet to figure out. He then took another turbolift at the other side of the room, which took him up to another similarly-designed floor. Moving through, he eventually reached the bridge's command center.

    He saw the basic bridge crew and a few troopers on guard duty, but no Admiral in sight. "I take it the Admiral isn't here yet?" he asked the crew.

    One of the officers responded. "No, but he should be here in a few minutes. He's just coming back from his break."

    Zolph then noticed a peculiar unmanned terminal. "Uh…mind if I take a look at that terminal's databanks before he shows up?"

    "Sure, just make sure you don't upload any viruses."

    Zolph walked up to the terminal and activated it. He brought up the search engine and looked up 'Archfiend planets'. The search produced at least eleven results, but since Zolph didn't have time to read them all, he just put in a data disk to copy the results to and started downloading immediately.

    A few seconds later, one of the results had been successfully uploaded – specifically a planet called 'Krantisi' - but before any more files could be fully uploaded to the disk, a burst of plasma was fired at the terminal from behind Zolph, slowly melting it from the top. Zolph quickly removed the disk with what little information he got before it could melt down with the terminal and put it in one of his belt's pouches.

    The shot came from a human cyborg carrying a pistol with a plasma cell in it. This cyborg was almost entirely mechanical save for his head, which too was partly covered to form a hood. From what Zolph could tell of the face, he was a middle-aged man with a scar under his left eye. He looked somewhat familiar, but Zolph couldn't remember who he was.

    The cyborg then addressed the crew with a normal voice – apparently meaning his voice box was transferred over to his new body along with his head and other vital organs. "Alright everyone, I'm back. Excluding the trooper at the melting terminal, you may all go on break."

    "Are you sure, Admiral?" one of the officers asked him.

    "Yes. Now go." The rest of the command crew left the bridge and the Admiral turned his attention to Zolph. "Now take off your helmet. The ruse is up, Vaelor."

    Zolph, knowing he was exposed, took off his helmet. "How did you know?" he asked.

    "Oh please. I may not be able to sense the Force like Maesterus and Miss Manthis, but that lightsaber is a dead giveaway, and we knew you would come here anyway."

    "I just claimed it was a trophy."

    "We may allow custom armor decorations, but we prohibit battlefield trophies. And even though it's not the same one I remember, I already know how clever you can be."

    "So we have met before. Who were you again? I know that face, but I don't remember the name. Whoever you are, it's been so long since we last met."

    "I don't blame you. We haven't met since the Battle of Ithor, and you most likely thought I had died in that battle."

    Zolph then remembered who he was. "Admiral Marx Gravlek? You actually survived that crash?"


    "But from what I remember, I only cut off your limbs and left you to die. What caused you to need that much reconstruction?"

    "I survived the crash thanks a little to the exoskeleton's protection, but I was still banged up pretty badly from the crash to the point that most of my body was non-functional save for my head and spinal cord, so Maesterus recovered me and…."

    Unnerved from what he thought he was about to hear, Zolph interrupted him. "Okay, I get it. He had you rebuilt like this. Just spare me the details of the gruesome surgery. And I'm guessing you're angry at me for causing this?"

    "I have no hard feelings against you. If I recall, I told you to leave me behind. If anything, this is more or less self-inflicted." The Admiral clicked his plasma pistol. "I'm only doing this per Maesterus's orders."

    "Still intent on taking me alive?"

    "Still." Gravlek then fired another plasma burst, but Zolph deflected it back at him.

    The Admiral leaped upward to avoid the shot and clinged to the ceiling with his clawed hands and feet. Holding on, he fired another shot at Zolph's right hand. Zolph quickly removed the glove so it wouldn't melt his hand with it.

    Right after removing the glove, the Admiral lunged at Zolph and then pinned his arms to the ground with his feet. As Gravlek aimed his pistol at his mechanical arm, Zolph quickly kicked him away and got back on his feet. Of course, Gravlek landed on his feet too.

    Zolph then used the Force to lift the recently melted data terminal from its post as well as a few repair droids and threw them at the Admiral, who cart-wheeled to the side to dodge all that was thrown at him. "Impressive. Most Impressive. You seem to handle well against fast opponents too, but you still haven't landed a single cut on me." He then fired four more plasma bursts.

    Zolph deflected all four shots and the Admiral dodged all but one of them. The fourth burst hit him right in his eyes, causing him to scream in pain as he stumbled around blindly.

    "Don't need to," Zolph said as he deactivated his lightsaber. "I guess that's my cue to get the hell out of here." He then put his helmet back on and quickly dashed out of the bridge as Gravlek continued to stumble around.

    Zolph quickly made his way through the first crate room after exiting the command center, telling himself, "Well, I got some of what I came for, but the Admiral shouldn't be a threat now since he doesn't have eyes anymore."

    Just as he finished talking to himself, he suddenly heard a PA announcement coming from Gravlek himself. "Oh, Pipsqueak! You've got a new playmate!"

    "That magnificent son of a Hutt…" Zolph told himself in annoyance. He then noticed a lone Valkoran trooper at a terminal near a large door. The door opened, revealing a full-grown Rancor with cybernetic modifications, including prosthetic arms, a chest-plate, a pair of robotic eyes and a mechanical jaw. "That thing is not a pipsqueak!" Zolph yelled in surprise. The Rancor then picked up the soldier and pulled him towards its mouth.

    "No, Pipsqueak! Please don't eat me! It is not feeding time yet!" the soldier yelled to the beast in terror.

    Before the beast could take a bite out of him, the PA system activated again. "Pipsqueak, please put Private Helms down. He's had enough accidents for one day." Pipsqueak then dropped the hapless trooper on the ground in response. "There's a Jedi disguised as one of our men. I want you to get him, but you are not allowed to kill or eat him." The Rancor quickly identified Zolph in front of him and chased after him.

    Below him, Private Helms was slowly getting back on his feet after the drop. "Yes! I didn't die ag-," he said before getting cut off by Pipsqueak accidentally stepping on him.

    Zolph ran away from the persistent beast, leaping over several crates to the turbolift. What really surprised Zolph was that Pipsqueak was focused on pursuing him alone, ignoring the other troopers in the area and taking care not to injure them in the process.

    Zolph called the turbolift, and while waiting for it to come up, did what he could to keep his distance from the Rancor, as the thing wasn't stupid enough to try to eat him and allow him to put a thermal detonator in its mouth. Even if it was ordered to kill him, it would've just snapped him like a twig before eating him.

    After a few minutes of not getting killed, the turbolift came, Zolph quickly got in and had it go to the lowest floor.

    As Zolph recuperated, he took off his helmet, as there was no point in keeping up the disguise anymore, and activated his comlink.

    "Zolph to Besh Squad."

    "Yeah, what is it, runt?" he heard from Bad Kitty.

    "PROTECT THE SHUTTLE AND GET HER WARMED UP!!" He yelled into the comlink.

    "I'm guessing that's Code for 'Our Nuna's cooked'? We pretty much figured that out from the troops trying to kill us, in case ya couldn't hear the blaster fire going through the comlink. What about you?"

    "Oh, nothing. A recently-blinded cyborg admiral just sent a super-intelligent Rancor with an ironic pet name to chase me down."

    "Sounds even more fun than what we're doing right now."

    "Uh, sure. While you're at it, if you see any guys with rocket launchers…kill them immediately!" Zolph then heard an explosion through the comlink. "That wasn't the shuttle, was it?!"

    "Nah! Just one of Boltz' toys shooting down a missile."

    Zolph sighed with relief. The turbolift then got close to its destination. "Well, I gotta get going now." He then turned off the comlink and dashed out of the turbolift as soon as the doors opened.

    As Zolph fought his way past several Valkoran troopers, he was relieved to be away from Pipsqueak.

    Before he could get his hopes up any further, he heard another elevator reach the bottom floor. A large door on that floor revealed Pipsqueak to have followed him down.

    "Okay, whoever that thing's surgeon is, I already hate him." Zolph told himself.

    He quickly ran to the turbolift to take him to the tram, but it was locked down. Zolph drew out his lightsaber to cut the door open, but Pipsqueak snatched him with his right arm before he could melt into it.

    As the Rancor walked back to the large elevator with its prey in grasp, Zolph used his lightsaber to slice off three of the mechanical fingers holding him. He then jumped onto the beast's forearm and stabbed into its organic shoulder. Pipsqueak roared in pain, allowing Zolph to toss the thermal detonator on his belt into the beast's mouth. He then leapt off of his arm.

    After inadvertently swallowing the grenade, it detonated inside of Pipsqueak's stomach, killing him. Zolph then resumed cutting the turbolift door open, but before he could put his saber in it, the door just opened. "Well, that's convenient," he told himself before entering and going down to the tram.

    After taking the tram, Zolph fought his way past many more Valkoran troopers, including some of the dreaded Black Guard stationed there by Maesterus. As usual, they were a pain in the rear to Zolph, but he still managed triumph over them. Getting close to the hangar, he could sense Dynn coming after him, but she was far behind.

    Getting to the hangar, he noticed Besh Squad still holding their ground, with tons of Valkoran corpses, broken machines and scorch marks littering the hangar. One blaster shot fired by a Valkoran trooper hit Boltz' respirator mask, causing it to leak ammonia. The Gand simply retaliated by ripping his mask from his face and throwing it at the Valks as a makeshift gas grenade. Zolph then proceeded to eliminate the remaining forces in the hangar and rushed on board the shuttle with the rest of the squad.

    "Alright, Boss! Get us out of here!" Bad Kitty yelled to Xad.

    "Okay. You don't need to yell." Xad then fired up the engines. The shuttle left the hangar and jumped into hyperspace as soon as they got away from the Doomsayer.

    Now in hyperspace, Bad Kitty questioned Zolph. "So, did ya get what ya came for?"

    "Hold on!" Zolph answered before looking to Boltz. "What about Boltz? Doesn't he need medical attention?"

    Patcher quickly scanned Boltz. "Aside from a few slight blaster burns, he's fine."

    "But he lost his gas mask! Doesn't he need lung treatment?"

    Boltz stopped Zolph. "Boltz does not have lungs."

    "Oh? Then what's the deal with the mask?"

    "Some Gand like to retain racial anonymity when away from Gand."

    "And it results in clever tricks like that ammonia bomb."

    Bad Kitty then interrupted. "Ahem."

    "Oh, sorry." Zolph said remembering the Cathar's original question. "Yes, but I got a lot less than I would've liked to get. I only downloaded one result."

    "Only one from a ship that big?"

    "I was going to download more, but the Admiral melted the terminal before I could do so. On the bright side, it's better than nothing. Unfortunately, doing another infiltration on that ship again would be near-impossible after what we just did. I guess we'll just have to wait and deal with these other Archfiends as they become priority targets."

    Much later, Zolph returned to the Jedi Academy on Ossus after a very long time to reunite with Grein and Headmaster Luke Skywalker to discuss his findings in the archive.

    "I haven't seen you in six months." Zolph greeted the headmaster. "What have you been doing while the medical staff was poisoning me with hospital food?"

    "Training other rising Jedi, helping out with planetary defenses and sometimes assaults. Stuff like that," Luke answered. "Did you bring the information that General Choi told us about?"

    Zolph took out the disk and put it in the console. "And why would I forget about that?" The downloaded data then showed up on the computer screen, showing the one result he managed to download.

    Luke was somewhat disappointed in the shortage of intel received. "That's it? Just one?"

    "I intended to get more, but I ran into some complications with an old foe from Ithor. Sad to say it, but this war isn't that much closer to ending in our favor."

    Grein, looking at the result, then spoke up. "Let's just read the report on this 'Krantisi' planet."

    Zolph then chastised Grein. "Come on, Grein. You seem to know plenty about these Archfiends' names and locations. Why are we going on these intel hunts in the first place?"

    "There are actually quite a lot of them out there and I'm still researching, so I don't know them all. And if we're really lucky, we may not have to kill them all before this is over."

    "And I'm grateful you can remember them as they come up." Zolph opened up the report on Krantisi. He then saw the name 'Belluzub.' "So, Grei? Do you know much about this 'Belluzub' guy?"

    "Of all the Archfiends you could've gotten info on, getting Belluzub is like winning the lottery."

    "What's so special about him?"

    "He's one of the higher-ups in the Collective hierarchy. In fact, he's actually the left-hand man of the Collective's main leader, from what I've read. I just needed to know where he was."

    "Well, I guess the infiltration wasn't as much of a letdown as I initially thought." He poured further into the information. Apparently, Belluzub is to be summoned not on the planet itself, but an ancient space station powered by a star in the same system, which had apparently been unexplored by all but the Valkoran.

    "You and Grein should scout the system within the next few days." Luke told them. "It'll be your judgment call to determine whether to call us and the fleet in or not." He then directed his attention towards Zolph. "However, I've got something else to discuss with you."


    "The Sanctity's medical records and reports from Besh Squad's medic say you were feeling random moments of pain over the past six months, yet they say you're healthy."

    "Oh, that. What about it?"

    "That might be the result of a Force bond."

    "A Force whatsitnow?"

    "It happens when you form an attachment through the Force with someone, normally with people close to you. Whatever they feel, you feel too, and vice versa. But feeling their pain too? I've never heard of that before."

    "I wonder if it has anything to do with your girlfriend…" Grein said to Zolph.

    "Shut up," Zolph told her. "But yeah, I did recently run into Dynn on the Doomsayer, and she looked pretty unhealthy to me. What pain she experienced, I seemed to feel too. If this is one of those bonds, why haven't I experienced it before then?"

    "It probably didn't develop until after you really got worried about her," Grein answered him. "Namely when you learned about that arm. Unfortunately, since that arm can think for itself… let's hope it hasn't figured out how that bond works."​
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  14. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 13: Parasite
    Two days following the infiltration of the V.S. Doomsayer, Zolph Vaelor and Grein set out in the Blazing Manta to scout the previously undiscovered Krantisi system, where the Valkoran were at work summoning Belluzub, one of the most powerful Archfiends in the Forceless Collective hierarchy.

    Using the hyperspace coordinates given in the intel Zolph retrieved from his previous mission, the Blazing Manta's crew made it to the Krantisi system and were greeted to the sight of an enormous, spherical space station with an eye-like concave dish and three fins. Where the ends of these three fins met, energy from the nearby star was being drawn to it, as if the station was absorbing it. There was also a large Valkoran fleet surrounding this station.

    "Well, I'll be a Wookiee's uncle." Zolph said in awe at the sight of this station. "This thing makes the Doomsayer look like a snubfighter by comparison."

    Grein added another statement of awe. "If time flowed in reverse, this is what it would look like if the Death Star and the Star Forge had a child."

    Zolph then looked to her in confusion. "Wait…what?"

    "Even if you were too young to have been around during the Galactic Civil War, I'm sure you would have read about the Death Stars since the destruction of both were among the key events that led to the founding of the New Republic, and those were only roughly a quarter of a century ago."

    "Yeah, I've heard about those planet-killers, because my parents fought for the Rebel Alliance. What about this 'Star Forge'?"

    "You know how I mentioned the Infinite Empire building a space station powered by the Dark Side? That was the Star Forge. I haven't read too much on it, but I have a theory the Collective had the Rakata make this space station not just as a shrine for Belluzub, but also as a symbol of their power…and as a potential weapon. The Rakata probably built it either as a false prototype for the Star Forge or they built this in the Star Forge's image thinking that they would still have a semblance of authority once the Collective took over."

    "Then how did the Infinite Empire fall apart?"

    "Contrary to what you're probably thinking, it was not by the Collective they fell apart. They somehow lost their connection to the Force and the species they enslaved rebelled and drove them back to their homeworld, where they eventually went extinct. Whether this uprising was what delayed the invasion of the Collective until now, I do not know." Grein then changed the topic. "But enough history lessons for now. Like I pointed out, that most likely is early superlaser technology up there. Whether it's powerful enough to destroy a planet or not, it's for the best we don't find out at all."

    "In other words, you're saying we should definitely call in the fleet and blow it up?"


    Before they could open a communications channel, an emergency siren started buzzing. The Blazing Manta was apparently having engine problems.

    "Blast!" Grein shouted. She then steered the ship towards the only legitimate planet in system. "From what I also read about the Star Forge, the system it was built in also had a disruptor field generator stationed on the main planet. I'm guessing the Rakata thought to put one here too. Either way, get ready for a rough landing."

    The Blazing Manta entered Krantisi's atmosphere and landed as close to the source of the disruptor field as it could on a large continent.

    Getting a better look at the surface of the planet as they landed, Zolph saw what was a mostly barren – aside from some plantlife – wasteland littered with the skeletal remains of some large creatures. It then came to a stop in a desert devoid of any foliage or oversized rib cages and skulls.

    "Well, wasn't that fun?" Grein said right after bringing the Manta to a stop.

    Zolph chimed in. "And they say I'm a bad pilot."

    "Hey, at least I didn't lose the whole body of the ship."

    Zolph then muttered to her in a disgruntled tone. "I thought we agreed that was a design problem with the series."

    "We did. You're just fun to irritate sometimes."

    "Okay, between that and cracking on my relationship with Dynn, I'm surprised that you even have a sense of humor."

    Grein then redirected their attention to the situation at hand. "Anyway, about that disruptor field…"

    "Yeah, why wasn't the Valk fleet affected by it?"

    "They got here before we did, so they've had time to adjust their ships to be immune to it. Unfortunately, even after I get the engine systems repaired, we still won't be getting off this dead rock if the field's still active, and we could've endangered the Alliance fleet if it didn't get to us in time."

    "I see. Do you have any leads on the source of the field?"

    "The scanners are picking it up from a temple miles away from here on this continent."

    "Well that's as good a lead as any." Zolph tried to make his way out of the cockpit before Grein interrupted him.

    "Wait. The scanners are also picking up many lifeforms."

    "I'm guessing the Valks have forces down here?"

    "I not only picked up some of their outposts here, but I'm also detecting lifeforms from outside of them. If the giant skeletons are anything to go by, the indigenous creatures are not very friendly."

    "Thanks for the heads-up. I'll go to that temple and get rid of the field while you make the Manta flyable again." Zolph then exited the vessel.

    Zolph was greeted to some arid climate. The very little plant-life he saw were tiny patches of grass and some cacti. However, he noticed Valkoran trooper corpses near some of these cacti. He also noticed some still standing, but like statues.

    He lightly touched one of the standing troopers and he collapsed as if there was no one in the armor. This trooper apparently had all of his body fluids drained out of him, leaving him as a brittle husk. "What could have possibly killed this guy?" Zolph thought to himself.

    As Zolph moved away, the cactus that was next to the trooper started creeping up on him. However, before it could sink the teeth on top of it into Zolph, he immediately sensed it and cut it down. He now knew what killed those troopers. From this point forward, Zolph would have to keep his distance from the Blood Cacti, preserve his water supply and not be tempted to extract water from them, because there was no telling what cacti are real or not.

    Moving closer and closer to the temple, Zolph would come across Valkoran troopers and vehicles fighting against more of Krantisi's hostile wildlife, apparently as a way of honing their combat skills. Aside from Blood Cacti, these creatures included Vykles – giant lizards with spikes all over their bodies – and Dune Sharks – predators with four mandibles that 'swim' in the sand and use vibrations to track their prey – among other creatures. Of course, Zolph would be fighting against both Valkoran forces and the Krantisian fauna.

    After two hours of enduring rough terrain, Valkoran and deadly animals, Zolph had reached the temple at sunset. This temple had four claw-like protrusions coming from its summit and a beam of light shooting up into the sky. Of course, this beam of light was what led him there. The entrance of the temple was built like the mouth of a demonic creature. There was also a Valkoran Spearhead-class troop transport – the same type used during the Battle of Ossus – parked outside.

    As Zolph got ready to enter the temple, he felt the presence of Dynn Manthis coming from inside. Suddenly, he began to feel some pain in his jaw. Knowing what was at stake, Zolph rushed in to both take out the disruptor field and get rid of Dynn's arm once and for all.

    Meanwhile, in the field generator room, Dynn Manthis was coordinating the defenses of the temple. Following the raid on the Doomsayer, the Valkoran knew Zolph would be coming here. The door leading right to the generator itself would be locked down, with the locks controlled from the temple basement. Dynn would be the last line of defense should Zolph succeed in reaching the generator.

    "Go. I'll handle him myself should he make it in here," Dynn said to the troops with her in the generator room. However, she did not say that on her own volition; the Forceless symbiote she had for an arm took control of her vocal chords and her mouth. She could only watch in horror as the troops left her alone with this parasite and locked down the door.

    Now alone, Dynn was brought down to her knees and both of her arms violently bent backwards. Dynn screamed in pain, which also caused her eyes to tear up a bit.
    "Okay, girl. You and I need to have a little talk about Vaelor." Her arm scolded her.

    "What about it?" Dynn asked. The arm, still in control of her, suddenly snapped her neck and then put it back in place without killing her.

    "I think you misunderstand what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to kill this brat, not let him live." It continued to torture her.

    "My orders are to take him alive. Even if we were allowed to kill him, I still wouldn't do it."

    "I knew it! You still have feelings for that piece of filth! It was a mistake believing you would be an ideal servant of the Collective! Compassion is a major hindrance for us, and we can't have that happening."

    "I only joined the Valkoran because they had some good points about the state of the Galactic Alliance, not for promises of power or glory."

    "Don't make me laugh, you dumb bitch. The much of the Valkoran Emire may be under that belief, but you're all just mindless cattle helping us turn this galaxy into a part of the Collective."

    "That is not what I signed up for at all! Zolph was right about you! You're all just monsters looking to exploit us! I really should have cut you off as soon possible!"

    "Of course, I wouldn't let you, and it's too late for that now, as I now have control of every part of your body except for your brain. That means not only do I get to control everything you do, but also everything you feel. I have a proposition for you: You willingly pledge your allegiance to the Collective and do as we say, and you'll still have control of your body. Or you can refuse my offer, be subject to my discipline, and watch yourself do the things you wouldn't until the day you die…which will be never unless it's forced. So do we have deal, Dynny?"

    "Go to hell!" Dynn told the parasitic arm defiantly.

    "A pity. You're willing to maintain your dignity at the expense of your free will. Oh well, if you need anything, all you need to do is scream…oh wait, you won't be able to."

    The Forceless symbiote had taken full control of her body save for her consciousness. It then continued to cause her more physical – as well as psychological – pain. It then got some other ideas as it probed its host's brain.

    "Now what was that thing called again when two of you Force users feel something for one another? A Force bond? Why don't we have some fun with your boyfriend before he gets here?"

    With the room to the generator not too far from the entrance, Zolph could sense Dynn's agony from behind the locked door. He tried desperately to melt the door down, but to his misfortune, it was made from lightsaber-resistant material. Zolph then turned back and fought his way through the temple to disable the locking mechanism.

    As he fought his way through the troops trying to incapacitate him, he felt even more intense pain, enough to stop him in his tracks. Aside from feeling his bones breaking over and over again, he would feel his mouth being sealed shut, his internal organs being rearranged, new body parts growing, a hole opening in his stomach, his toes being fused together and part of his upper body being ripped open, despite none of this actually happening to him. The Valkoran forces would be baffled when they came across Zolph suffering these random moments of pain. Some of them attempted to put binders on Zolph seeing as this was an opportunity to capture him , but he would naturally cut them down.

    A few minutes later, Zolph made it to the temple basement, still trying his best to ignore the parasitic arm's attempts to torture him. At the lock control terminal were two Black Guards. They were even more trouble than usual with what was happening to him. Even then, he still managed to kill them and deactivate the locks. After doing so, he rushed back to the temple entrance to confront Dynn.

    After backtracking to the door he couldn't open before and unlocking it, Zolph was greeted to the source of the light: the disruptor field generator. The room it was in was exposed to the light of sunset. He walked in slowly with his lightsaber ignited, expecting to be ambushed.

    Before he could destroy the generator, a whip-like tongue wrapped around his body and threw him into a pillar.

    Getting back on his feet, Zolph was greeted to a more horrific sight: a completely naked female humanoid he recognized as Dynn Manthis, but with her anatomy severely altered to the point of barely looking human anymore and several inches taller than him now. Her eyes were now just like those of any Forceless possession victim and had a second layer of black leather-like skin that had covered over every original orifice except for her eyes and ears; her left arm had turned into what looked like a tail with parts of its original form still showing; her toes fused together and were no longer visible; and finally her torso had been turned into a grotesque mimicry of a face: an oval-shaped mouth with curved teeth protruding from her abdomen and her breasts turned into eyes. All over her body, she had several fleshy spines hanging.

    "Hi, Zolphy. I really missed you," She said speaking through her abdominal mouth in a voice that was a mixture of her normal voice and something sinister.

    Zolph was naturally unnerved, and not just by what he saw, but also what he was sensing. He knew these weren't Dynn's words. "Don't lie to me, creature! I know what you really are!"

    "Whatever do you mean?"

    "I can sense her suffering. You're not Dynn. You're just a puppeteer for her body."

    "So you know what I really am. Well, watch what I can do now." The parasite then twisted Dynn's head backwards, causing Zolph pain severe enough to make him scream as well as Dynn…if she was even capable of it.

    Zolph finally snapped. "Stop it! Give Dynn her body back…now!"

    "Why? Without me, she'll die."

    "What do you mean?!"

    "You know how you felt your insides switched around? I actually did that to her. I'm literally the only thing keeping her alive right now."

    Still sensing Dynn's pain, Zolph could very much tell that she didn't care if she would die.

    "So either you stand down and let me kill you or you kill your girlfriend. What will it be?"

    Zolph, intent on sparing Dynn any more suffering, reluctantly answered the abomination, "I'll take my chances." He then ignited his lightsaber.

    The Forceless then sighed. "I thought it would be easier to exploit your emotional attachments, but it turns out you're as persistent as ever. Looks like I'll have to work myself to kill you after all."

    "Just try it."

    The Forceless lashed the tongue coming from its right palm at Zolph once more. Zolph quickly dodged, but the tongue retracted before he could cut it. The right arm then pointed itself towards Dynn's armor pieces – which were broken off during the transformation process. It then lashed its tongue towards the lightsaber staff on the ground, pulled it into its palm and activated it.

    Dynn's body started slashing at Zolph, but the slashes were uncoordinated and clumsy, making it easy for Zolph to dodge or block them. Zolph then made a conclusion based on a recent observation: Forceless cannot access Force sensitive victims' powers if the host is unwilling to cooperate, as Force powers are dependent on a being's emotional state.

    Zolph promptly Force pulled the lightsaber from her grip - but with the tongue still wrapped around it – and cut the tongue off. Zolph could still feel that pain – though to a lesser extent much like on the Doomsayer - despite not having such a body part.

    The creature promptly whipped Zolph with its tail-like left arm and then picked him up by the throat with its right hand, with the teeth on the fingers sinking into his neck.

    "It's all over, Vaelor! I guess I'll savor your death by making it as excruciating as possible!" It then pointed its abdominal teeth towards Zolph and sank them into his abdomen. He felt it trying to slowly rip out his digestive tract.

    Zolph looked towards Dynn's eyes – not the one on her right palm or the breasts that had been turned into eyes – and noticed what looked like an attempt to cry, a clear message that she would rather die than be like this for the rest of her life. Zolph then closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, Dynn."

    Zolph promptly cut off the teeth stuck in his abdomen and then the right arm grasping him. The arm let go of his neck, fell to the ground and flailed around for a bit before going limp and the eye on the back of the hand stopped glowing.

    He could sense the symbiote's life force fading. Unfortunately, he could sense Dynn's life force fading too. As she started to collapse, the symbiote started laughing psychotically. "You may have killed me, but I still get the last laugh in the end!" It continued to laugh until it died, indicated by the breast-eyes ceasing to glow. Dynn then fell on her back, with her eyes back to normal with green irises and white sclera.

    Zolph started to tear up before shouting angrily. "You really weren't kidding, were you, you bastard!" He then walked over to the disruptor field generator and smashed it with a fully-charged punch from his mechanical arm in frustration, causing it to be deactivated permanently.

    His comlink then started ringing. He promptly activated it. "WHAT!?" He yelled into the comlink.

    "Are you alright, Zolph?" Grein asked.

    "I'm just kriffing dandy, right now!" He said sarcastically. "What's this about?"

    "I got the engines fixed, but we've got another problem for the fleet. I picked up some heavy seismic activity on the move. The Valkoran have a Fortress Tank coming towards your location. This is not only the biggest land vehicle in their army, but also their most heavily armed, so I'm flying over to help out."

    Zolph, seeing an opportunity to enact justice on the group that grafted Dynn's arm in the first place, responded. "I'll do it myself!"

    "Zolph! Don't even think-!" Grein yelled before being cut off.

    Zolph then ran out of the temple to enact supposedly deserved vengeance on the Valkoran. Dynn, still holding on, weakly tried to call out to him, but to no avail, as while she didn't have her vocal chords moved around, she still had the second-layer skin over her mouth.

    "Damn it, Zolph! Why must you be so impulsive?!" She thought to herself, refusing to die knowing he was in this state.​
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  15. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 14: Despair

    Back at the Blazing Manta, Grein had finished repairing the ship's engines and took note of the disruptor field's deactivation. However, she was very unnerved by Zolph's behavior over the comlink. Normally, Zolph Vaelor would have questioned the probability of building a vehicle as large as a Valkoran Fortress Tank. It also wasn't like him to just go out and voluntarily take on a colossal war machine alone. For all she knew, something terrible had happened at that temple.

    Grein, determined to figure out what had happened over there before aiding Zolph with the Fortress Tank, got the Manta off the ground and flew towards the temple where Krantisi's disruptor field was coming from.

    Landing outside the temple, Grein discovered many destroyed Valkoran vehicles and trooper corpses, some killed in unusually gruesome fashion. She also noticed the Fortress Tank – a frigate-sized four-legged walker resembling a long-legged turtle with each foot about the size of a Gundark walker, a large hypervelocity cannon on its back and its body decorated with turrets – miles away. Even more unsettled, she made her way into the temple where the disruptor field generator was.

    Making it into the generator room, she not only noticed the damaged-beyond-repair generator, but a dying red-haired human female with several Forceless mutations and her right arm severed lying on the floor. The woman tried to speak to Grein, but her voice was muffled by the second layer of skin over her mouth. The Chiss ran over to her, knelt beside her, and slowly peeled the second layer of skin off of her face from below her eyes so as not to rip her actual skin underneath off.

    "Ow! That hurt! But at least I can breathe and talk now. Thanks." she said to Grein.

    "I'm guessing you're Dynn Manthis?" Grein asked her based on what was described of her by Zolph.

    "Yep." Dynn then coughed. "I'm assuming you're Grein?"

    "Yes, and I assume Maesterus told you about me?"

    "Yes. I must say you still look pretty young and beautiful for someone in her early to mid-forties."


    "Listen, if you really are a friend of Zolph's, I have a favor to ask…"

    "I'm sorry, Dynn. From what I can tell of what that monster did to you, I can't heal you in this condition."

    "I know." She then coughed up some more blood. "But listen, Zolph is really upset by this turn of events. He's taking out all of his anger on the Valkoran. He thinks the organization as a whole is responsible for turning me into a monster and leading him to kill me."

    "Of course, Valkor and the Collective were always fond of psychological warfare. If he can't kill the Collective's enemies, he'll settle for breaking them instead."

    "I pretty much figured that out not too long ago. Anyway, since I'm going to die anyway, I'd rather not die knowing that he's like that."

    "I understand, Dynn. I already know what that's like. I'll go after him and bring him to his senses."

    "Thank you, but please hurry. I'll try to hold on as long as I can, but I don't have much longer to live, and staying alive is already painful as it is."

    "I don't usually make promises, but I will keep this one and get him back here before your time is up."

    More determined than before to help Zolph, Grein rushed out of the temple.

    Seeing that the Fortress Tank was still miles away from her location and sensing Zolph close to it, Grein rushed back into the Blazing Manta. She figured that Zolph would board the mechanical behemoth, so taking it out by ship wasn't an option for her, especially since it had anti-air defense guns.

    She then went to the Manta's storage wing and took her personal Swoop Bike – a Lhosan S51 Whitefang she bought while Zolph was on rehab following Kratzar to help out during missions – out of the ship. She quickly changed fuel tanks to make sure she would have enough to catch up to the walking fortress.

    She then mounted her bike and chased after the walker and Zolph's presence.

    Accelerating across Krantisi's plains and around craters made by some of the walker's footprints, Grein cut down several Valkoran troopers she ran into or evaded fire from them and several Gundark-class walkers and Rancor-class assault tanks.

    She eventually caught up to the Fortress Tank, which had stopped moving and where she could sense Zolph onboard. She evaded fire from the underbelly turrets and increased acceleration to climb up one of its slanted legs. Getting close to the shoulder, she eventually jumped from her bike and let it fall down to the ground and break. She froze her left hand to the side of the walker and quickly burned a small hole with her lightsaber into it.

    She then turned to liquid form and seeped through the hole she made.

    Upon entering the Fortress Tank and returning to her humanoid form, Grein noticed more gruesomely killed Valkoran personnel. What separated these deaths from the usual ways Zolph killed them was that they were done almost execution-like. It was quite clear to Grein how enraged Zolph was.

    Grein could sense Zolph near the command center in the walker's 'head'. She followed his presence, eliminating any Valkoran troopers that tried to stop her, but ignoring any that were traumatized by Zolph's wrath.

    After fifteen minutes of going through the oversized vehicle's corridors, defensive Valkoran personnel and Zolph's trail of carnage, she had reached the command center. Almost everyone there was dead except for two: the walker's commanding officer and Zolph Vaelor, who was holding the officer out of the viewport with the Force and just about to drop him kilometers to his death.

    Zolph let go of the officer, but he only fell down two feet before Grein caught him with the Force and pulled him back into the command center. Zolph turned around with his brown eyes turned gold and a blatantly faked smile on his face.

    "I thought I told you I'd do this myself," Zolph told Grein.

    "Well, too bad. I've come to help you out anyway, and not just with this walking fortress." Grein responded.

    His fake smile then dropped. "Why are you protecting these bastards?! They deserve to die!"

    "Zolph, I know what happened in that temple and that you are incredibly stressed right now, but you can't take your anger out on all of the Valkoran."

    "Why shouldn't I?! They've taken everything from me! First my parents, now her!" He attempted to suffocate the terrified officer with the Force, but Grein then cut him off by throwing him into a wall.

    "Only specific individuals within that organization, as well as the Forceless Collective, were involved with both of those events. The people inside this walker had nothing do with them. This isn't justice; this is just murder."

    "If you're not with me, you're with them!" Zolph activated his lightsaber.

    Grein then activated her saber in response. "I don't want to hurt you, Zolph, but I will if you don't back down."

    Zolph started to slash wildly at Grein, with her blocking every one of his blows. After a few seconds, Grein retaliated by Force pushing him away.

    Zolph got back up on his feet and attempted to make a jumping slash at Grein, but she responded by grappling him with an arm of water. He then responded by Force pushing her down on her back, causing her hold on him to break.

    He attempted to cut her down, but she quickly liquefied to escape the death blow and crawled under him. She then reformed herself and immediately pinned him to one of the walls with an elongated water arm and partially froze him to said wall, preventing him from moving.

    As the ice slowly started to crack, Grein lectured him once more. "Ask yourself this: Do you really think this is what Dynn would want?"

    Zolph's expression of anger then turned to one of sadness as his golden irises turned back to their normal color. His eyes started to tear up.

    "Do you really think she'd want to see you like this?"

    The ice then broke and Zolph fell down to the ground sobbing. The officer - still present - left the command center, shocked at seeing one of the Valkoran's most feared enemies utterly broken.

    "I made a promise to her that I would calm you down, and that's a promise I intend to keep. She's going through great pain right now just trying to stay alive, and she wants some reassurance that you aren't going to dedicate yourself to avenging her death."

    "They turned her into a monster, and I'm the one who killed her! How can I confront her after that?!" Zolph asked Grein as he continued sobbing.

    "As far as I can sense, she's still alive and waiting for you. And tell me, are you really going to prolong her suffering out of guilt?"

    Zolph stopped sobbing and answered. "No."

    "Now you're coming to your senses. I'll let you go see her, but first, we need to do something about this walking fortress. The disruptor field may be down, but that hypervelocity gun on its back will still be trouble for the capital ships even if it's no longer mobile."

    "Let's do it." Zolph said with his composure regained.

    Zolph and Grein fought their way towards the hypervelocity gun, but only killing those that tried to get in their way, and as humanely as possible.

    They eventually reached the turret, where they fought a trio of troopers in Minotaur-class Combat Exoskeletons – the same type of powered armor that Admiral Gravlek wore at the Battle of Ithor before his crippling and reconstruction – guarding the gunnery crew. The gunnery crew fought along with the Exo-Troopers, but all were defeated quickly.

    Zolph and Grein then placed explosive charges all around the inside of the turret and exited before destroying it.

    After one hour, Zolph and Grein had crippled the rest of the Fortress Tank, rendering it permanently inoperable. Grein then called the Blazing Manta over to their location to fly them to the disruptor field temple.

    When they reached the temple, it was already night. Zolph was incredibly nervous about entering the temple.

    Grein put her hand on his shoulder. "Go inside and do what you need to do. This is the last chance you'll ever get."

    Zolph then walked in alone while Grein waited outside.

    Zolph walked into the generator room, where Dynn was lying on the floor, but still alive.

    Dynn looked towards Zolph with a weak smile on her face. "Well, looks like Grein kept her promise after all."

    Zolph ran to her side, knelt toward her and slightly lifted her torso off the floor, and his eyes started to tear up. "I'm sorry, Dynn! For what I did to you, and for what I did after that!"

    "Hey, calm down! It's over. And what you did to me wasn't really your fault. The Collective planned all of this, as well as a few specific people in the Valkoran Empire. Besides, I would rather die than be a body slave for the rest of eternity."

    "Who really did this to you?"

    "Maesterus isn't the only leadership in the Valkoran. There are a few more Force-sensitives that make up the main leadership, although Maesterus is the predominant face within the ranks. One of them grafted that arm on me. However, it was the true leader of the Valkoran, who orders them from behind the scenes that ordered that vile limb to be placed on me."

    "My anger really was misplaced then." Zolph then changed the subject. "Dynn, this is probably my last chance, but…"

    Dynn then looked at him with slight annoyance. "Probably?"

    More tears started to be shed. "Who the hell am I kidding? This is my last chance! I always loved you, Dynn, and I never stopped even after you joined the Valkoran!"

    "Really? I already knew that. Considering the amount of time we spent together and that you didn't have any other close friends at the Academy, your crush was pretty obvious. But hey, I felt the same way for you too, even when I was working for them."

    "Heh. And this Force bond that developed probably made it even more obvious."

    "I'd give you a goodbye hug, but I'm practically quadriplegic right now."

    Zolph then lightly put his left arm around her neck, thinking she wouldn't want her last hug to be with a cold metal prosthesis. She then lightly kissed him on the cheek and he then returned it.

    "So that's what it's like." Zolph said never having experienced this before, but his smile then turned upside down. "But what am I going to do without you? You were one of the only people I truly cared about in my life!"

    "You need to move on! You've clearly got some other friends who care about you. Hell, I won't care if you get a new girlfriend. You've got a whole life ahead of you."

    "I don't know if I can do that. Getting pushed into killing someone you care about isn't something that's easy to get over."

    "It may take some time, but you will eventually. Now, I have one last favor. The Valkoran Empire may have been built on a lie and some of them are in for less noble reasons, but some of the leadership and soldiers truly believe they're helping the galaxy. It may take a lot of time, and you may have to kill a few more of them in the meantime, but you have to promise me this: you will try to get the Valkoran to understand what they are really doing, and hopefully turn them around."

    "I will, Dynn."

    "One more thing. About your parents: their deaths weren't entirely Maesterus's fault, and there's a lot more to him than you already know. I don't have time to say more, but I can see that you'll learn soon enough." Dynn had breathed her last and passed away. Zolph then gently laid her back down on the floor and closed her eyes with his left hand.

    "Goodbye, Dynn." Zolph stood up and walked away.

    Grein was waiting right outside the Blazing Manta when Zolph walked out of the temple.

    "It's done. She's gone now." Zolph then activated a detonator in his hand and collapsed the temple, in lieu of the typical Jedi funeral.

    "I'm sorry about your friend. However, you seem to be more at peace now."

    "Not entirely, but I think this is what I really needed. Thank you, Grein, for stopping me and telling me about this. I was too angry to sense she was still alive at the time. As emotionally detached as you usually seem to be and as questionable as your teaching methods are, you really are one of the best friends I've ever had."

    "No problem. I'm not sure if you knew this, but it was because of situations like this that the old Jedi Order discouraged emotional attachments. Of course, incidents like this are yet another reason we have to defeat the Forceless Collective."

    "Yeah. No one else should have to experience what I've been through today."

    "Anyway, I gave the all-clear signal to Skywalker and the Alliance Fleet. They should be arriving tomorrow. As traumatic as today has been for you, you should still get some sleep. We've got a big day tomorrow, and I want you well-rested should you have to fight Belluzub."​
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  16. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 15: Belluzub

    The next day on Krantisi and after near-restless sleep and a quick meal, Zolph Vaelor and Grein contacted Luke Skywalker and Alliance Fleet Admiral Cephal to discuss the battle plans.

    "It's a good thing you two came first, otherwise the whole fleet would've been wasted before the attack began," Luke told them.

    "Um…yeah. It sure is," Zolph said still thinking about yesterday's events.

    Luke could notice the scars from Dynn's finger-tooth marks on Zolph's neck - even though they were chatting through monochromatic holograms - and asked with concern. "Zolph, are you alright? And what's with those scars? Did something bite you?"

    "I don't want to talk about it right now."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Let's just say he had a really bad day yesterday," Grein answered him. "I would not recommend pushing the questions further, for now."

    "I understand." Luke changed subject and directed his attention to the Mon Calamari admiral's hologram. "Anyway, Admiral Cephal has something to say."

    "I understand your highest priority is eliminating this Belluzub guy – whatever he is – but we've got another problem: that space station is armed with a superlaser capable of destroying our cruisers and Star Destroyers. We've lost three ships to that menace, and we already have enough trouble with the Valkoran fleet," Cephal told them.

    "Well, looks like we were correct about that technology." Zolph said. "And this is exactly why we called you over to blow this thing up in the first place."

    "It would go a long way in helping us disable this thing permanently if you got on board the station and shut down the laser and the shield."

    "I'll prioritize that as well, because we planned on boarding the station anyway to make sure our target doesn't get off before we blow it up."

    "Convenient. We'll send some support to help with getting to the laser, but we'll really need you alive if the stories about these Archfiends are true."

    "Thank you, Admiral. We'll get on that thing, now. Vaelor and Grein out." Both holograms then turned off.

    Grein headed for the cockpit and Zolph manned the quad-laser turret.

    The Blazing Manta took off and exited Krantisi's atmosphere. Zolph and Grein were then greeted to the site of the Alliance and Valkoran fleets exchanging fire near the Rakatan space station – nicknamed the 'Death Star Forge' by Zolph and Grein due to its hybridized appearance. Fighters and capital ships on both sides were being destroyed.

    The Manta ignored them and headed towards one of the three fins on the Forge while Zolph gunned down any Firaxa-class starfighters and Shyrack-class bombers that came near, either to help out along the way or because they would set their attention on the freighter.

    A few X-Wings came to their side to escort them to the Forge. Grein then picked up a few Alliance MAAT Gunships escorted by more fighters heading for the Forge. A few of the X-Wings and MAATs were shot down getting close to the Forge's hangar fin, but a good number of the transports and the Blazing Manta eventually made it while the surviving fighters retreated.

    Zolph and Grein exited the Manta's loading ramp and were greeted by a platoon of Valkoran troopers and a Gundark walker for support, but they were promptly gunned down by a squad of Alliance soldiers.

    "Commander Vaelor, the transports have made it aboard. We lost a few, but we've got enough," the squad captain told Zolph.

    "So far, so good. Let's try not to lose as many men on here as we did getting here. Now let's move out." Zolph ordered the squad.

    "May the Force be with you," Grein told him walking back up the loading ramp.

    "You're not coming? Not even to help me with one of the best in the Collective?" Zolph asked her.

    "Someone's got to keep the ship ready when we blow this place up."

    "Oh yeah."

    "The other squads are already progressing to the superlaser gunnery station as we speak. Let's not keep them waiting," the squad captain interrupted.

    "Try to do your best to stay alive. From experience, the mortality rates of you Alliance troopers are still not that spectacular when fighting alongside me. Now, for real this time… Move out!"

    "Yes sir!"

    Zolph and his squad fought their way through many Valkoran troopers and battle droids, as well as the more specialized infantry units such as Exo-Troopers, Hazard Troopers and Black Guards. A few Alliance troopers were lost along the way, mostly to the more advanced enemies. However, the lost troopers would be quickly replaced along the way from the other squads still making their way to the superlaser.

    They eventually made it to a spacious multi-floored room with the superlaser gunnery platform suspended over a large pit. They noticed the laser fire another time, confirming the destruction of another Alliance capital ship. Zolph's comlink then rang.

    "Admiral Cephal to Commander Vaelor. We're running out of ships!"

    "Yeah, we noticed. We're very close to the gunnery station, so your laser problem should be over soon. Hold on just a little longer, Admiral. Vaelor out." He then turned off the comlink.

    Zolph's squad then moved up several more floors and eliminated more Valkoran personnel that got in their way. They eventually got to the platform and eliminated the crew when they tried to fire on them.

    "Okay, now that no one's trying to kill you guys at the moment, we can shut this thing off now."

    Before Zolph could destroy the control, an automated voice interrupted him. "Alert! Alert!" An eel-like security droid with electrified mandibles and a single red eye then emerged from under the platform. "Eliminating program start!"

    "I think the Valks goofed up on converting that droid's Rakatan to Basic," Zolph said.

    The droid then lunged at one of the troopers and grabbed him. It suspended him over the abyss before dropping him to his death.

    "Sir, I think we should take this thing a little more seriously," the captain told Zolph.

    The soldiers fired at it, but it dodged every one of their shots.

    The droid grappled another trooper, but instead of pulling him to his death, it electrocuted him and caused him to disintegrate. The squad captain then fired on the droid after the lunge, but the shots bounced off. "Oh, blast it!" he yelled. The droid then lunged for him, but he quickly somersaulted out of its path.

    "I've got this." Zolph said as he tried to cut the droid with his lightsaber. The blade bounced off its armor too. "Oh, come on!"

    As the troops continued to avoid its attacks, Zolph realized something: if the droid tried to avoid the first blaster shots, it must have a very obvious weakpoint. "Captain, get that thing to aim for the terminals. I've determined its weakpoint."

    The captain moved towards the control terminal and drew its attention with more blaster fire. The droid lunged once more and the captain dodged, but the droid got its head stuck into the terminal. Zolph then stabbed into its single photoreceptor.

    "Eliminating program failure," the droid said as it shut down.

    "Well, looks that piece of junk did our job for us," Zolph said observing the damage the droid had done. "Now, all that's left is Belluzub and the shield generator."

    "Let's move out!" the captain said.

    "No, Captain. I'm doing this alone. Last time I brought a squad to kill an Archfiend, it killed someone by collapsing his insides on him and gave the rest of the squad PTSD. There's no telling what Belluzub is capable of, especially since I hear he is one of the more dangerous Archfiends."

    "Yes, sir… and no can do, sir. We'll hold the hangars until you take down the shields if he tries to get out, but just in case he is too much for you alone, I'm sending a few to help you out."

    "Alright, but I can't guarantee they'll survive this. Let's move out, men!"

    With the superlaser disabled, Zolph's squad moved upward through the Forge. They plowed their way through more elite Valkoran forces and defense systems but there weren't as many casualties on his side since Zolph had fewer troops to protect.

    They eventually made it to a data library. After downloading a map of the installation, they determined that Belluzub's summoning chamber was way up on the viewing platform, conveniently next to the shield generators. Of course, Zolph figured Belluzub had to be eliminated first in case he was successfully summoned.

    Going further upward and getting closer to the viewing platform, they also encountered not only Black Guards but a few Force Sensitive acolytes right next to the platform's turbolift. They were somewhat troublesome for the troops, but Zolph had almost no trouble with them due to his experience fighting Archfiends and Maesterus and dispatched them quickly. They proceeded up the turbolift.

    Zolph's squad entered the viewing platform, where they noticed two more acolytes and an interdimensional portal had been opened.

    "You are too late, Vaelor!" one of the acolytes boasted to them. "The summoning ritual is complete! Soon the galaxy will learn to fear and respect Lord Belluzub!"

    "Looks like we came just in time," Zolph said before directing his attention to the acolytes. "Well, not if we kill him first."

    A black reptilian claw then emerged from the portal followed by the rest of the creature: a large, somewhat bipedal mix between a reptile and insect that moved on all four limbs, had a blade-tipped tail, sharp teeth, a hard shell forming what looked like a helmet and a single Forceless eye on its forehead above what were once regular eye sockets. This was definitely Belluzub.

    The acolytes turned their attention towards the beast. "We are honored to have you among us, Lord Belluzub! How may we serve you?" one of them asked.

    Belluzub then looked down on the relatively tiny creatures and spoke with an echoed voice. "The gatekeepers, I take it? You must be some of Emperor Valkor's puppet minions."

    The other acolyte asked in confusion. "Wait…puppet minion?"

    "You said you wanted to serve me? Well, you can help me out BY FEEDING ME!" His mouth opened up and a long tongue with a humanoid head – with features including a single eye and a wide grin - on the tip lashed at one of the acolytes, engulfed him in its mouth and swallowed him whole as he struggled.

    "M-monster!" The other acolyte then activated his lightsaber in defense.

    Belluzub then said to him with his tongue still out and holding one of his claws up, "I wouldn't do that if I were you, weakling." He then sprayed out a stream of black acid from his tongue onto the acolyte, dissolving him quickly and painfully into a puddle. He then looked towards Zolph's squad.

    "I know you. You're that little Jedi who's been giving us trouble lately."

    "I didn't even think you could speak Basic," Zolph responded. "And how did you know what I look like?"

    "Oh, please. We don't always need to use other creature's vocal cords to talk. We've been learning your languages over the course of our campaign here. As for your other question, we Forceless are somewhat part of a hive mind. We can sense what our other brethren sense." Belluzub then repositioned his tongue. "But enough chit chat. Now that you foolishly brought yourself before me, I can kill you and maybe get a higher position."

    "We'll see about that." Zolph then activated his lightsaber. "Ready your weapons, men!" The two remaining soldiers with him pointed their rifles towards Belluzub.

    "Three against one? That's hardly a fair fight."

    "So? If you're one of the best this Valkor guy has to throw at us, we should hardly be a…."

    "Children! Dinner is served! You can finish that guy inside me later." The mouth on Belluzub's tongue opened up and out of it came swarms of tiny flying insects that vaguely resembled him.

    The soldiers fired on them and managed to kill a few of them, but they still managed swarm the troopers and eat them alive until they were nothing but armor and bone. Zolph cut down any of the insects that got close to him, but when they tried to swarm him, he Force repulsed all of them, causing them to disintegrate.

    "Wow, you Jedi sure have no qualms about murdering children," Belluzub told him.

    "Well, whose fault is that? And you sure have no qualms about letting your kids eat people."

    "Oh well. There's more where they came from."

    "You get more and more disgusting with everything I see you do and say, throwing away their lives so casually. And what would their mother say about this?"

    "Their mother? Hah! I can easily make more of them by myself! I haven't even required a mate since I joined the Collective!"

    "Joined? Give me a break, parasite. I already know that you robbed this poor creature of his free will."

    "Really?" Belluzub lifted one of his claws off the floor. "Can a mere possession slave DO THIS?!" He then shot blue lightning from his claw towards Zolph and sent him flying several feet.

    Zolph was surprised. "Force Lightning?! But how?!"

    "I don't think you really understand what an Archfiend is. We serve the Collective willingly! I truly am Belluzub! Since I have been such a good boy, I can do whatever I please while I benefit from their powers."

    "What were your reasons for joining them? Did they break you into serving them?"

    Belluzub then mockingly laughed at him. "Break me? I joined them right from the start! Nothing feels better than slaughtering and feasting on your enemies!"

    Zolph got back up on his feet. "So, you're just a psychopath. You know, I may still have a grudge against the Valkoran, but guys like you make them look like legitimate freedom fighters."

    "Either way, I need to get back to killing you, and I'm going to enjoy every second of it!" He lashed his blade-tipped tail at Zolph, who quickly but barely dodged backward, putting a cut into his mechanical arm. He then lashed his tongue at him, but that was avoided as well.

    Zolph tried to slash at Belluzub, but he then climbed up to the viewing platform's ceiling, being careful not to depressurize the room by shattering the windows. Hanging from the ceiling, he sent another swarm of his larvae down to devour Zolph, but while he was focused on them, the Archfiend shot more Force lightning and acid down at him.

    Once Zolph had killed all of the larvae, Belluzub jumped down from the ceiling and pinned him to the floor with his left claw. He lightly pushed down on Zolph's chest, but not enough to kill him. He then positioned his tongue and tail towards him while he glared menacingly at him.

    "Seriously?! This kid is what Valkor is so worried about?! Absolutely pathetic! Either way, time to die, Vaelor! And I'm sure you'll be seeing your girlfriend in hell!"

    Zolph then snapped. "Shut up!" He yelled as he violently Force pushed Belluzub off of him and into the ceiling before he fell down. "You do not talk shavit about Dynn!"

    As Belluzub got back up, he tried to slice Zolph apart with his tail again, but he got that cut off instead. Zolph then charged towards him and cut the head off of his tongue and slashed at his limbs, crippling him. He was then flipped onto his back.

    Zolph jumped onto Belluzub's chest and pointed his lightsaber towards his throat.

    Belluzub sadistically chuckled. "So you're still shaken by what you did yesterday? I may not be the one who gets to kill you, but this? This is even better!"

    Zolph then punched into Belluzub's ribs while his eyes turned gold again. "I thought I told you to shut up!"

    Belluzub then pushed him further. "Ooh, there are those eyes again! Someone's getting really angry! Forget your stupid cult's ideals and satisfy your thirst for our blood! Go ahead! Kill me!"

    Before he could stab into Belluzub's chest, he realized that Belluzub was clearly gaining satisfaction from his anger, and that he was trying to repeat what the rest of the Collective tried to do to him yesterday. He then deactivated his lightsaber, his eyes turned back to brown and said, "No!"

    Belluzub was shocked by Zolph turning down his opportunity for vengeance. "W-what?!"

    "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Dynn didn't want me to be like this, and she wouldn't even after death, and it took one of my other friends to keep me from making that same mistake yesterday. I am not giving you the satisfaction of watching me slip to the Dark Side!"

    "Why?! That completely defeats the purpose of why you chose to challenge me! Your journey here and the sacrifices those soldiers of yours made will have been in vain!"

    "I'm not going kill you, but I'm not going to let you live either."

    "That is the stupidest thing I have ever…" Zolph then used the Force to throw him into a conveniently-placed, oversized force cage and activated the force field, trapping him. "What is the meaning of this?! And why did those damn Builders put this cage here?!"

    "I think they predicted that you would try to eat them should they have successfully summoned you at the time. Anyway, you are just stupid as hell today, Belluzub. Incredibly sadistic, but also incredibly stupid. I came here to stop you from terrorizing this galaxy, and should I have failed to prevent your coming, kill you, but I'm going to let the Alliance fleet do that now."

    "But doesn't that go against everything you just said?!"

    "Maybe it does, but I'm not leaving you here to die for personal reasons. I'm leaving you here because you're a serious threat to the galaxy. Besides, I'm not making your own demise satisfying for you." Zolph then turned his back on the imprisoned Archfiend. "Goodbye, Belluzub."

    As Zolph walked away, Belluzub shouted as he weakly banged on the force field. "Let me out, you hypocritical bastard!"

    "Do you ever shut up?" Zolph asked as he headed towards the turbolift to the shield generators. He then left the Archfiend to wait for his fiery fate.​
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  17. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Epilogue: Revelation

    After imprisoning Belluzub, Zolph Vaelor fought his way through more Valkoran personnel, but they were nothing compared to the Archfiend he had just fought minutes ago. He eventually reached the shield generators and cut down the pylons supporting it. He activated his comlink and contacted Admiral Cephal.​
    "Admiral. The shield is down and Belluzub has been neutralized."

    "It's about time!" the Admiral responded. "We don't know how much longer we were going to last! Now get out of there before that finned Death Star look-a-like comes down on you!"

    "Way ahead of you!" Zolph said as he was rushing out of the generator room. "I'll contact the surviving squads and tell them to get out too."

    "We'd appreciate that. Good luck." The transmission then ended.

    Zolph hadn't made it to main level since talking with Admiral Cephal and alerting the surviving squads to evacuate the station. Suddenly, a loud explosion rocked the station followed by a siren and an automated alert message.

    "Alert. Primary stabilizers have been compromised. All personnel evacuate immediately."

    Zolph was less than amused. "Oh, sure! Blow this place up before I get off, why don't ya!" he shouted to Cephal despite not being in hearing range.

    He then continued to make his way towards the Blazing Manta's hangar, cutting down any Valkoran personnel that decided to attack him rather than evacuate.

    Zolph eventually reached the Blazing Manta's hangar. However, he was also greeted to the sight of a character he had not seen and didn't want to see in six months: a man with four wings and black armor. Zolph naturally groaned in annoyance.

    "You don't seem very happy to see me, Zolph," Maesterus said with a tone of disappointment.

    "I am not in the mood, Maesterus!" Zolph yelled. "Between today's and yesterday's events, I just want to go home and call it a day!"

    "I think that's exactly what you need. However…" Maesterus activated his lightsaber and extended his wings out. "As usual, you're going to have to fight me to get out of this one."

    "Are you serious? This place is going to blow up! Shouldn't you be fleeing?!"

    "Don't worry. We've got a lot of time before that happens."

    "Oh, come on, Maesty. I have a clear getaway. What's stopping me from just flying out of here?"

    Grein's voice then came from Zolph's comlink. "Sorry, Zolph, but I can't bail you out this time.
    Maesterus is literally keeping the Manta grounded and the loading ramp shut. He's even disabled the defense systems."

    "Your friend is right. You've gotten off easy the last three times we fought, so if you don't want to join me, you actually have to defeat me this time. And considering how those last three fights went, I don't see this encounter going in your favor."

    Zolph realized Maesterus had a point. Every time he fought him, he always lost and last time, it cost him his right arm. Every time, he got lucky, whether it was because Luke Skywalker or Grein bailed him out or Maesterus just decided to give him a pass. Of course, he still didn't feel like siding with him.

    Zolph drew out his lightsaber. "My answer is still no."

    "I admire your persistence, but let's see if this persistence actually helps you this time."
    Maesterus ascended into the air and fired three bone spikes at Zolph, but they were quickly cut down.

    Maesterus then used the Force to slam several heavy cargo containers into Zolph, but he caught all of them and then hurled them back at Maesterus, who quickly cut them down. While Maesterus was distracted by the containers, Zolph jumped towards him and slashed at him, but his attacks were parried before Zolph fell back down to the floor.

    "You're getting better!" Maesterus told him with amusement. He then got a look at Zolph's new lightsaber hilt, noticing the claw-like emitter similar to his. "I also see that I've rubbed off on you a bit."

    "Don't get any ideas."

    "However, we're not done yet!" he yelled as he swooped towards Zolph with his blade out. Zolph quickly jumped over him and then threw a docked Firaxa-class starfighter into him.

    Maesterus then dashed out of the wreckage towards Zolph with only a few scratches and burns on his armor. He slashed at Zolph, but he quickly blocked those slashes and knocked
    Maesterus's lightsaber from his hand.

    Maesterus jabbed at Zolph with a bone spike coming from his left palm, but Zolph retaliated by grabbing his arm and then throwing him over his shoulders onto his back. Zolph then lowered his lightsaber blade towards Maesterus lying on the ground.

    "Well, Zolph. You've finally beaten me. So, are you going to finish me off and avenge your parents, even if it falls in violation of the Jedi Code?"

    "No." Zolph answered coolly as he deactivated his lightsaber. "I may have some resentment towards you for that, but I realized two things: revenge is overrated and that there are creatures far worse than you out there."

    "You've learned well." Maesterus quickly got up on his feet and pulled his lightsaber back to his hand. Zolph naturally put his guard up in case he was going to pull a fast one. "No tricks. You've earned this victory. I will let you two leave, but I have another present for you, Zolph."

    "Present? What are you up to now?"

    "You've probably wondered who I really am."

    "If you tell me you're my father, I am not going to be amused."

    "If it's any reassurance, no, I am not your father. You saw both of us at the same place he died. However…" Maesterus then grabbed his helmet, deactivated the seals and removed it, revealing something Zolph was not expecting to see: a human with long brown hair and facial features similar to his own along with the usual symptoms of Forceless possession. "That's not to say we aren't related by blood."

    Zolph was shocked. "Im-Impossible! Who are you?!" He then asked with a tone of annoyance. "And why the hell did you wait until now to tell me this?!"

    "I would have told you sooner if you had just complied back during any of our previous encounters."

    "You could have just told me right then and there without nailing me to a wall or cutting my limbs off!"

    "Oh, please. Would you really buy it if I just told you 'Zolph, I am your distant ancestor' out of the blue, especially from a man who allegedly dresses like a Sith Lord and during military operations? What I look like underneath doesn't help either."

    "Good point. And you say you're my distant ancestor? How distant are we talking?"

    "More than 3,000 years."

    "Well, that might explain your creepy obsession with drafting me. But how are you still alive? And why do you still look so young?"

    "The Force can already allow someone to live longer than usual, but it's this symbiote that has made me partially immortal."

    "Okay, now for a question I actually need to ask. If you really are related to me, then why did you kill my father?"

    "I tried to tell you this back on Ossus, but you refused to listen: I didn't want to kill him. I tried to reason with him and when he refused, I merely attempted to incapacitate him. Of course, that symbiote hijacked my body and made me kill him."

    "So what's stopped it from making you kill me the previous few times? From what I've gathered, if a Forceless possession victim does not willingly follow their cause, they are subject to being trapped in their own head."

    "It can no longer control me. I became immune to it shortly after that event, while I still benefit from the mutations. I could explain more some other time, but you know what's going to take place not long from now, so we should leave." Maesterus then put his helmet back on.

    "I guess Dynn was right after all. I've been blaming you for something that wasn't completely your fault, and that I'd learn pretty soon."

    "Dynn told you this? When?"

    "They were her last words. I don't know if you're aware of this yet, but she's dead, Maesterus."

    Even with his helmet on, Zolph could tell through his red-tinted visor that he was shocked and somewhat heartbroken. "No! I could feel it, but I refused to believe it was true. Please tell me, how did she die?"

    "That arm that was grafted on her took over and mutilated her body, while she was trapped in her own head. In the process, I was forced to kill her."

    Maesterus then clenched his fist in anger. "Damn you, Valkor!"

    "What is she to you? And why didn't you remove that arm?"

    "She was like a student to me, and by extension, like family to me. I opted for a standard cybernetic arm when you cut off her original arm on Tatooine, but Valkor refused and Masochus grafted that abomination on her stump. Even as I saw the infection get worse, Valkor still kept me on his leash. I get the feeling he has it out for me since I refused to kill you or your parents."

    Suddenly, the ceiling collapsed on Maesterus and knocked him out. Also coming from the ceiling was someone Zolph was not expecting to see: Belluzub, completely restored to full health and with his tongue and tail regenerated.

    "I'm back!" the Archfiend yelled. "By the way, I forgot to mention I can regenerate."

    "Damn it! He got out!" Zolph yelled. His comlink then rang and he answered. "Before you nag me for not killing him, Grein, I want to let you know that he tried to play on my insecurities and make me fall to the Dark Side, so I just decided to cripple him and lock him in a force cage to be blown up with the station."

    "I could tell," Grein said observing the beast from within the Manta's cockpit. "Unfortunately, I'm still stuck in here, so I can't help you with this either." The comlink chat then ended.

    Zolph turned his attention to Belluzub. "Well, looks like I'm going to have to kill you myself, after all. How did you get out of that cage?"

    "The power to it went out, so I decided to enact some sweet vengeance! Of course, I had a few snacks along the way." Belluzub licked his main teeth and the head on the tongue then burped.

    "I don't need to be reminded of that," Zolph said with some disgust. "Quick question: How do you plan on getting out of here? I don't see any ship big enough for you to fly out of on this station."

    "Oh, I'm not worried at all. The vacuum of space has no effect on me."

    "Then why didn't you just depressurize the room in our earlier fight?"

    "I didn't want you to die too quickly."

    "Like I said, you're very sadistic, but very stupid, too."

    "I don't care about pragmatism as long as I can have fun. Anyway, back to Plan A. If I can't watch you go insane, I'll make your death as agonizing as possible!" Belluzub then tried to swipe at Zolph with his claws, but Zolph dodged back.

    Zolph tried to slash the Archfiend, but he dodged back too. He then picked up a cargo contained and threw it at Zolph, but that was immediately cut down. He then tried to spray him with acid shortly after, but that was evaded in response.

    Zolph slashed at him once more, but Belluzub blocked it with the blade on his tail. They clashed blades repeatedly and eventually locked. In the lock, Belluzub spit a small drop of his acid onto Zolph's leg, distracting him and allowing him to cut his mechanical arm off.

    Belluzub then grabbed Zolph with his right claw and held him up to his face. "Hah! Not so powerful without your rage, are you, Vaelor?"

    "If you're trying to make me mad, then you're only succeeding in annoying me." Zolph said as he struggled.

    Belluzub then lightly squeezed him, but still enough to hurt Zolph's ribs. "As long as I live, I don't care if you're utterly broken, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun with how I kill you." He then continued to squeeze Zolph.

    From the Blazing Manta, Grein watched helplessly as the Archfiend tortured him. The defense systems were disabled and she couldn't the exit the vessel. However, that also meant Maesterus was still alive and unconscious. Realizing she had no other options, she telepathically communicated with Maesterus.

    "Hey, Seferin. Wake up!"

    Maesterus was then coming to his senses. "Oh, it's just you, Ze'grein'aradi."

    "Still referring to me by my full name, even in a telepathic conversation. One of the things that hasn't changed about you."

    "Yeah. Anyway, what do you want?"

    "You see that monster holding Zolph? That is an Archfiend."

    "I guess my suspicions are confirmed."

    "And now you know one of the reasons I left. So, where do your loyalties lie?"

    Zolph was beginning to tire out from the squeezing, enough that he was running out of breath.

    "Had enough, have you? Well, you can take a rest… in your grave!" Belluzub then readied his tongue to devour Zolph.

    "How do you plan to torture me in there? I'll suffocate first."

    "Oh, don't worry. I'll provide enough oxygen to make sure you feel every drop of my stomach acid until you die." The jaw on his tongue unhinged itself like a snake's and prepared to engulf him.

    Before he could do so however, a red-bladed lightsaber was thrown and severed Belluzub's right arm, freeing Zolph. Belluzub then looked to see the sender: Maesterus.

    "Get away from him!" Maesterus yelled to the Archfiend.

    "What is the meaning of this, Maesterus?!" Belluzub yelled to him.

    "You know my name? I'm flattered."

    "You're one of Emperor Valkor's favorite lackeys…or rather, you will have been. You've really been a thorn in his side, recently. Now answer me: why have you betrayed him?"

    "He is one of my descendants. Make me kill my own family, and I've got a problem with you."

    "I've got a better idea of dealing with you two. Your symbiote has been dormant for too long! How about I make you watch yourself kill him!"

    Maesterus then casually cut off the head on Belluzub's tongue.

    "WHAT?! How is this possible?! Wait… I didn't really care until now, but now I get why Valkor wants that brat dead. His family line has developed an immunity to our possession! If he wasn't trying to be subtle and saw this threat sooner, we would have killed you and the rest of your kin!"

    "Well, he really screwed up there, didn't he?" He then looked toward Zolph and lowered the Blazing Manta's loading ramp. "Leave me! This one is mine."

    "Are you sure?" Zolph asked.

    "I said go. Besides, you're in no condition to fight right now."

    Zolph did as he said, retrieved his lightsaber and the rest of his arm, and headed up the Manta's ramp. The ramp closed and the Manta left the Forge's hangar.

    Maesterus redirected his attention back to Belluzub. "Now, where were we?"

    "Disposing of a traitor!"

    "Yes, and you're it."

    Belluzub slashed at Maesterus with his tail, but he flew over him, landed behind him, and cut his tail off. Belluzub then tried to swipe at him with this left claw, but that was cut off too. Belluzub then attempted to bite him, but all of his teeth and part of what was left of his tongue were trimmed down in a few slashes.

    Maesterus then used the Force to lift Belluzub into standing on his hind legs. He put away his lightsaber while holding him, extended two bone spikes from his palms and pulled Belluzub's chest onto them.

    "How about we take a trip, demon," Maesterus said before deactivating the hangar force field and flying out of it with him.

    Upon exiting the hangar and with some assistance from the Force, Maesterus swooped downward with Belluzub towards Krantisi's sun.

    "No! You wouldn't dare!" Belluzub panicked, realizing his impending doom.

    "Oh, I'm doing exactly what you think I'm going to do."

    Getting dangerously close to the sun after propelling himself some more, Belluzub continued panicking. "Are you mad?! Do you really intend to kill us both?!"

    "No, just you." Maesterus then detached the spikes skewering the black beast and kicked off of him, propelling himself away and Belluzub into the sun to be incinerated to death.

    Maesterus then flew towards one of the Valkoran ships getting ready to retreat and away from the space station as it exploded.

    In hyperspace, the Blazing Manta was en route to Ossus.

    Grein spoke to Zolph. "Congratulations. We've just dealt a crippling blow to both the Valkoran Empire and the Forceless Collective. In fact, word from Headmaster Skywalker has it that the Head of State is preparing an award ceremony for you on Coruscant. Looks like you'll actually be remembered for something other than an embarrassing accident."

    Zolph had a saddened look on his face. "I dunno. This war is far from over, and I feel like I've lost more than I earned in the course of this mission. I don't feel like being there, right now."

    "Still depressed about that, huh? Come on, Zolph, you've really earned this. It would be a disservice to the Alliance if the Hero of Krantisi didn't show up for his own award ceremony."

    "Maybe I will show up, but right now, I just want to be alone." Zolph then headed towards the crew quarters.

    "Take your time, Zolph. These past two days have been quite rough for you. Between losing a loved one and learning the truth about Maesterus, your life's taken quite a turn."

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  18. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Prologue: Raid

    Six months have passed since the Galactic Alliance's victory at the Battle of Krantisi, marking at least one year since their war with the occultist Valkoran Empire started. Zolph Vaelor, a young Jedi Knight who had a hand in the Alliance's victory at Krantisi and foiled at least four attempts to summon the Archfiends – the key generals in the extragalactic group known only as the Forceless Collective – has now earned appropriate recognition from the Alliance as a whole.

    In addition to the enigmatic Maesterus, a few more Force users leading the Valkoran have taken prominence in their war to remove the Alliance from power, and have pushed their efforts to summon more of the Archfiends. However, with every Archfiend that was successfully summoned, they were effortlessly slain by Zolph, as none of them have compared to Belluzub at Krantisi.

    Meanwhile, on Charros IV – homeworld of the Xi Charrians, and Valkoran protectorate after the technophobic Yuuzhan Vong nearly shut down the Xi Charrian manufacturing industries when they took over the planet in the previous galactic war – Zolph Vaelor has been captured shortly after landing on the planet's surface in an attempt to raid Valkoran Data Archive Obelisk. Sitting in a holding cell near the archive, Zolph plots his escape before continuing his mission…

    "My name is Zolph Vaelor, but you can just call me Zolph. My life has been… more than ordinary. I'm a Jedi and so far, I've had to deal with threats most beings in this galaxy would refuse to acknowledge the existence of, like alien invaders with a culture based on masochism and organic technology and currently, some creatures that fall in conflict with the natural order of life and can possess other creatures. Between the creatures' generals and the cult trying to summon them, the Galactic Alliance's war with the cult has surprisingly not been too catastrophic compared to the previous war, but I've lost a few people close to me in the course of this one. After killing a few of the creature's generals, I am now sitting in one of the cult's prisons… and …uh…"

    Zolph came to a pause as the Valkoran guard – decorated with a red bird-like symbol in various places on his armor – posted outside his cell questioned him. "Okay, who the hell are you talking too?!"

    "Nobody. I'm just narrating how my life has gone so far as if I were writing a journal."

    "Well, quit it. It's annoying and your narration sucks."

    "Hey, can you blame me? I'm in a prison cell, for kriff's sake! I've gotta keep my sanity in check!"

    "Well, you're passing your insanity to me like a virus by doing that! Entertain yourself some other way!"

    "Okay, fine! Can I ask you a question?"

    "As long as you don't ask me how I keep coming back, because you do remember what happened last time you asked me that, right?"

    Zolph remembered what happened last time he asked the trooper – Will Helms, a low-ranking trooper notorious for being repeatedly killed in embarrassing ways and then coming back – during his incarceration. Last time he asked him, a broken power cord randomly fell from a loose ceiling panel and electrocuted him to death before he could answer.

    "Don't worry. I've given up on that and just assumed that the Force has a sadistic sense of humor. Is that right?"

    Still paranoid, Helms responded, "I'm not answering that."

    "Okay. So when was the first time you died?"

    "From what my mother told me, I died before I was even born."

    Zolph's eyes widened as he was disturbed by the implications given by that statement.

    Helms nonhalantly asked him. "Why are you giving me that look? It's not like I had a miserable childhood. Although, some curiosity-induced accidents have worried my parents sick a number of times, like that I climbed into the Nexu pen at the zoo, but that's neither here nor there."

    Still, Zolph wondered how he wasn't mentally screwed up. "Okay, I'm bored now." He said.

    "Yeah, so am I."

    Zolph then waved his hand. "You want to let me out so something exciting will happen."

    Helms responded in a bored tone. "I'll let you out." He then deactivated the force field keeping Zolph in.

    Zolph walked out of the cell towards Helms and waved his hand again. "You screwed up really badly."

    "Yeah, I really screwed up there."

    "You want to give me your blaster and security key and take my place in the cell."

    Helms handed his rifle and security key over to Zolph and then walked into the cell. Zolph then activated the force field as Helms came to his senses.

    "Ngh….What the?! Why did I think that was a good idea?!"

    "That's how Jedi mind tricks work. You can feed any ideas into the heads of the weak-minded, regardless of how stupid they would be, like swimming in molten carbonite."

    Instead of demanding to be let out – as doing so would be pointless – he simply responded. "Oh yeah, forgot about those. And that sounds like something Masochus would do, and believe me, he has done that to us before."

    "I have yet to meet him, and I would not stoop that low. Anyway, I gotta get back to getting that data and my lightsaber back." Zolph then spoke as he headed out of the detention center. "Well, see you later, Private Helms."

    "It's Sergeant!" Helms yelled in annoyance.

    "Oh yeah, I forgot that you were promoted after surviving Krantisi and aiding in one of our defeats. See you next time you kick the bucket."

    After retrieving his equipment minus his lightsaber, Zolph almost stepped out of the detention center when a patrolling Gundark-class walker passed by the entrance. Usually, these things weren't a big problem for him, but right now he was at a major disadvantage, so he let it pass by before stepping out onto Charros's surface.

    He noticed a large building not too far away from his location, which he assumed to be the Obelisk Data Archive. He then tried to sneak over to the structure.

    However, there were very few places to hide on the grounds of the Valkoran compound on this planet. While the Valkoran troopers would try to gun him down when spotted, the Xi Charrians – a race of scissor-legged quadrupeds with tear-drop shaped heads and red eye slits – paid no heed to Zolph's antics as some of them were just there to help with base maintenance in return for protection from others who would threaten to shut down their cathedral factories permanently.

    Zolph eventually reached the archive building after fighting his way past a few Valkoran troopers. He then entered the structure with little trouble.

    As Zolph snuck his way up Obelisk, he quickly dispatched each armed Valkoran guard that tried to stop him, whether with headshots from his trusty blaster pistol – which he definitely favored over that rifle he took from Sergeant Helms as a placeholder – or neck snaps from behind. He also had to deal with sentry guns placed by combat engineers throughout the structure because Zolph's raids on these archives had almost become routine for the Valkoran.

    Still, Zolph had yet to get his lightsaber back, and he didn't really use his blaster much in combat aside for throwing enemies off guard or initially have his enemies not suspect him of being a Jedi. But thankfully, he still had the Force on his side too.

    Eventually, Zolph reached a turbolift that would take him to the section of the archive that contained the data he was looking for, and hopefully, he would get more data than he usually gets from these raids due to the enemy repeatedly interrupting his downloads.

    When the turbolift reached Section O - the area made for keeping track of the current Valkoran military operations - Zolph greeted several Valkoran troopers in the section after the doors opened. "Hey, cult troopers. I'm looking for information on those weird monsters you're summoning. Am I in the right section?"

    The troopers' typical response was to gun him down, but their shots missed and Zolph just shot each of them down in turn. Zolph sighed. "Can't they just tell me for once instead of trying to kill or cripple me?"

    Zolph then quickly skimmed the archive hoping to get enough Archfiends downloaded before he gets forcefully interrupted again. He found it rather quickly.

    Within one minute, he had downloaded data on six Archfiend locations to the disk. But before he could get all the planets listed in the archive, Zolph heard another turbolift coming down from a few floors above. Zolph, knowing how this would go, started counting down. "3…2…1…"

    When the turbolift reached the floor, the door opened up to reveal a man in black wearing a long leather coat and a mask with red goggles, a rebreather mask and a black cloth hanging down the back of his head from a band and holding out a blaster pistol. He fired at the data terminal a second after the doors had opened and destroyed it. This was the man that had repeatedly interrupted his downloads.

    Zolph sighed as he removed the disk with what data he had gotten. "Hello, Arcidus."

    Arcidus did not respond back.

    "I see you're as quiet as usual, and still the ever loyal Akk Dog of Maesterus."

    "The data you just downloaded. Hand it over. Now." the enforcer demanded.

    "Oh. Now you say something." Zolph then mockingly asked, "What if I say 'No'?"

    Arcidus then fired another blaster bolt at Zolph, but he blocked the shot with his prosthetic arm. Zolph then took a glance at Arcidus's belt and noticed his lightsaber right next to the enforcer's own saber.

    Arcidus fired again, causing Zolph to take cover behind one of the data shelves. "I see you've got two lightsabers now. Why don't just use those on me?"

    "I would prefer to fight on even terms."

    Zolph then leaped out from behind the shelf and fired at Arcidus, prompting him to dodge in turn. He then used the Force to throw a data terminal at the operative.

    Arcidus, in turn, used the Force to remove some panels from the ceiling and threw them at Zolph.

    Zolph leaped over the panels to avoid getting shredded and landed right behind Arcidus. He then used the Force to pull his lightsaber from Arcidus's belt and ignited it. "You should've used them when you had the chance."

    Arcidus then drew out his lightsaber – or more accurately, a stealth lightsaber, or darksaber – which emitted a black laser blade with a dim white radial aura.

    "Ah. If it isn't the color physics-defying laser. I've always wanted to study that thing. How does that work?" Zolph asked out of curiosity.

    "How does sound travel through space?" Arcidus asked rhetorically.

    "Never mind." Zolph then slashed vertically at Arcidus, only for his blow to be blocked.

    While their blades locked, Arcidus drew out his blaster again and fired at Zolph to distract him. Naturally, Zolph dodged sideways.

    They continued to clash, eventually putting Zolph on the defensive. Arcidus drew out his sniper rifle and fired at him to herd him towards a window a few stories above the planet's surface.

    Arcidus approached Zolph with his darksaber activated. He then slashed at Zolph again, slightly singeing through his black coat's right sleeve. Zolph then circled around Arcidus, putting him between Zolph and the window.

    "Well, Arcy, it's been fun. But I've got one thing to say."

    Arcidus did not respond back.

    Zolph then smiled mischievously. "Window." Zolph quickly used the Force to defenestrate Maesterus's enforcer, crashing him through the glass and sending him to what would be his apparent death.

    However, Zolph, knowing Arcidus, looked out the window to see if he was dead. He saw what looked like his corpse, but when a curious Xi Charrian touched it, it dissipated into thin air. Arcidus had feigned his own death once again.

    Zolph, now having gotten what he came for, jumped out the window, using the Force like any Jedi would to control his falling speed and soften the landing. He startled the same Xi Charrian that was investigating Arcidus's "corpse" in the process, but he quickly apologized.

    Soon after, every Valkoran soldier in the compound was alerted to Zolph's escape and robbery, and tried to gun him down.

    Zolph dashed for the compound barricade, cutting down any troopers and walkers that got in his way now that he had his preferred weapon. He eventually reached the barricade, and jumped up several platforms before getting over the wall and away from the Valkoran.

    Zolph made his way through Charros IV's forests before reaching his personal starfighter – a modified T-65 X-Wing with blue decals, the face of some predator painted on the nose and s-foils that split into six wings, and he had yet to give it a name.

    The ship's astromech droid – an R9 unit with a black dome and blue panels – spoke to Zolph in what would be heard as annoyed beeps. "Zolph Vaelor = Late."

    "I was captured, okay?! And it's not like I was on a time limit, Seefor."

    "Zolph Vaelor = Bad at not being detected by the enemy. // R9-C4 = Could do better."

    As Zolph climbed into his fighter, he snarked back at the droid. "Oh sure, pass off as a droid model the Valks don't even use and is always seen with a one-of-a-kind X-Wing. Nothing could go wrong there." He then broke from his snarky tone. "Besides, I still got what I came for."

    "R9-C4 = Sees Zolph's point. // Zolph Vaelor = Still pretty reckless."

    "And in my defense, we were running short on Valkoran trooper disguises, which usually don't help when there's someone who knows me around, and the suits of armor at the compound weren't even near my size. Now let's just go home and call it a day," he said before noticing that his ship's holocom was beeping. He had received a transmission from Admiral Cephal.

    "Hey, Ceph."

    "Vaelor! We've been trying to contact you for an hour! And you put your comlink on silent."

    "Sorry, I was on a stealth mission."

    Seefor chimed in. "Zolph Vaelor + Mission Process = Totally Lacking in Stealth."

    "Shut up." Zolph barked to the sassy droid before redirecting his attention back to the Mon Calamari admiral. "So Ceph, what trap did you get into this time?"

    "Not so much a trap so much as the Valks giving us trouble over here. Now get your exhaust port over to Taris and help us out!" The holochat had ended.

    Zolph sighed and spoke as he exited Charros's atmosphere, "Well, Seefor, looks like they our need our help… again. Set a course for Taris."

    Seefor eagerly responded with some bloodlust unusual for an astromech droid. "C4 = Setting course for Taris. // Zolph + C4 = Ready to blow up some Valks."

    They then jumped to hyperspace.​
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  19. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 1: War Hero

    Zolph Vaelor dropped out of hyperspace into the Taris system only to be greeted by a massive space battle between Alliance and Valkoran forces and the wreckage of more Alliance than Valkoran ships littering the battlefield. The only other defense the Alliance fleet had left was a hypervelocity cannon on Taris's surface that fired at specific intervals. He quickly locked his modified X-Wing's s-foils into attack position, splitting the two wings into six. He then quickly released a volley of laser fire and destroyed an entire squadron of Firaxa-class starfighters that passed by.

    "Did someone call for a Jedi?" Zolph asked into his ship's built-in comlink.

    "Commander Vaelor. We're really glad you're here now." Admiral Cephal responded back. "This battle is going downhill fast."

    "Hang tight, Admiral. Seefor and I are going to reverse that." Zolph said as he took down a Fury-class corvette by blowing up its explosive charge as it was dropping out of the launch bay. Seefor then gave a series of electronic sounds similar to a mischievous laugh.

    "Well, you and your sadistic astromech can help us out by taking out those Dread frigates. Those things are doing the most damage to us at the moment and they're too busy putting us on the defensive for us to effectively fight back."

    "On it!" Zolph then flew towards one of the mentioned frigates.

    The Dread-class Assault Frigate was a new ship design introduced after Krantisi. Its command bridge was placed between a fork-like body, and on the prongs were the ship's primary weapons: twin repeating plasma cannons, with a few turbolasers mounted on the sides of the prongs for additional defense. Despite being lightly armored, these frigates could tear apart an entire Mon Calamari Star Cruiser when grouped faster than an Obliterator-class Star Destroyer.

    However, as Zolph dodged fire and took out more Firaxa fighters, he took advantage of two notable design flaws with the Dread frigate: first, the plasma cannons weren't turreted, so the ship had to turn itself to aim them and were almost useless against small fast-moving ships; second, there were no defenses placed between the cannon prongs. As such, Zolph flew between them and fired two proton torpedoes into the bridge, taking the vessel offline before it exploded. Zolph then rinsed and repeated the process with five more of the frigates, sometimes with less trouble since the frigates sometimes had to stop firing their cannons to vent the excess heat built up in them, just like with every other Valkoran plasma weapon.

    "And the Dreads are no longer dreadful." Zolph said after dispatching the last of the frigates. Cephal then spoke to him again.

    "Now you can help us take out the bombers and suicide Furys before our reinforcements arrive."

    "That shouldn't be troublesome." He then eliminated a few squads of Shyrack-class bombers heading towards the Mon Cal Cruiser Harmony to drop their payload. He also quickly dispatched - with some assistance from Nebulon-B frigates - any corvettes that got too close to the capital ships.

    Zolph then got another transmission from Admiral Cephal. "We've got another problem: they've sent Mailocs after us!"

    Zolph groaned with annoyance. "I hate those things! They're just as annoying as the creatures they're named after!"

    The Mailoc-class Boarding Craft's most distinguishing feature was a stinger-like tail, used to pierce through capital ships without depressurizing them after magnetizing its main body to the ship's surface. It would then release the boarding party into the ship, either to hijack it from their enemies or to plant explosives inside.

    Zolph quickly dispatched most of these boarding craft, with only a handful of them successful in deploying their platoons onto the capital ships. However, what little boarding parties that did make it onboard were quickly overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the defense crew.

    After a few minutes of defense, the Mon Cal Cruiser Independent dropped out of hyperspace with a fleet of MC30c torpedo frigates. Several of the submarine-like frigates sped towards some of the Judicator-class frigates and Obliterator-class destroyers and fired their many volleys of proton torpedoes on them, evening the Valkoran forces out.

    "Well, looks like everything's working out in our favor now." Zolph said over the comlink with relief, thinking that things were set for the fleet… until the hypervelocity cannon on the planet's surface fired at and tore apart one of the Alliance torpedo frigates.

    "I just had to open my big mouth!" Zolph yelled in annoyance.

    R9-C4 chimed in to tease Zolph again. "Zolph = Should stop tempting fate."

    "You know, Seefor, if you weren't so damn good at performing your role, I would've replaced you by now."

    Admiral Cephal then interrupted. "If you're done nagging your droid, I received a message from our ground forces near the cannon before it destroyed that frigate. Apparently some Skakoan sappers took out the cannon's defense force and now the Valkoran are using it against us."

    "Well, looks like I'm going into Taris airspace. You shouldn't have a problem after I take back the cannon."

    "I've already informed Colonel G'jan that you are assisting us on the surface. He's expecting you at one of our landing pads."

    "G'jan? I was hoping to see General Choi again."

    "Sorry, but Ven is stationed on Dagobah at this time." Admiral Cephal went back on topic. "Anyway, get down there, help us up here and down there. May the Force be with you."

    Zolph then entered Taris's atmosphere.

    Zolph flew past several stories-tall buildings – some of them damaged in the on-going ground battle – using the hypervelocity cannon's frequent shots as a beacon. Before he could get close enough to the cannon, he was alerted to the presence of many Valkoran Mobile Anti-Air Defense Pods.

    The MAAD Pods fired several missiles at Zolph, provoking an irritated response. "I hate it when they do that. Can I just fly to my objective points for once?!" He then turned his ship around and flew away from the cannon's proximity, throwing off several of the locked-on missiles as he retreated for the given coordinates of a nearby Alliance encampment.

    "Time to go see Colonel G'jan."

    As Zolph approached the Alliance encampment, he opened the cockpit, climbed out, and spoke to R9-C4 as the droid auto-piloted the fighter. "Seefor, you're going to be on your own for awhile. Go back and help the fleet while I find a way to deal with our cannon problem."

    "Zolph's Orders = Understood. // R9-C4 = Going to have a lot of fun."

    "And for the love of the Force, please don't kill any of our own men." Zolph then dived off of the fighter towards the encampment while Seefor flew off giving off more mischievous laughter.

    Conveniently, he landed right in front of a Bith colonel while he was briefing some Alliance troopers, surprising him in the process.

    "I was expecting you to crash in on us, but I wasn't expecting you to do it literally, Commander Vaelor." The Bith colonel commented on Zolph's flashy arrival.

    "Hey, I gotta put some variation in the ways I do things, Colonel G'jan. Besides, I thought I would put Seefor to some use while I'm down here."

    Birik G'jan then sighed, "We're all going to die."

    "Don't worry, Colonel. I'll turn that little psycho into a coolant barrel and put his brain in a Gonk if he so much as blows up a single X-Wing. And Admiral Cephal's monitoring what he tracks on my targeting computer. And so far, he's only targeted Valkoran ships."

    The Bith then went back to the situation at hand. "Anyway, I take it you tried to fly over to the cannon?"

    "Yep." Zolph simply answered. "And I was greeted by a bunch of MAAD Pods. So, do you have any quick ground-based transportation? Preferably difficult to lock-on to with missiles?"

    "We have a few Swoop bikes for use. That should be ideal for this situation."

    "Then I'm off."

    G'jan interrupted before Zolph could head for the garages. "Oh, and a warning before you leave: Are you familiar with a mercenary by the name of Gestroma?"

    "I've heard of him, but I've never directly encountered him before. But from what I've gathered from survivor reports, he usually kills his targets, especially if they're human. I'm guessing he's here on Taris?"

    "Yes. In fact, he's in-charge of the Valkoran ground-forces in this campaign. So be careful if you encounter him."

    "Don't worry. I've survived far worse." Zolph then headed off to one of the garages and drove a Swoop Bike along a road towards the cannon.

    "That's what some of his victims have said."

    Zolph drove his Swoop towards where he was fired upon initially. As he drove along the road and around any larger Valkoran vehicles that would get in his way, such as Gundark-class walkers and Rancor-class assault tanks, he logically concluded that the cannon was set in the planet's upper city so it would have a wider range of fire.

    Driving along he would also have to go around bomber squadrons making their runs, and would sometimes find himself being pursued by the newly introduced Tuk'ata-class Fighter Tanks – a repulsorlift vehicle with the usual cockpit of a Firaxa Starfighter or Shyrack Bomber, but design-wise, similar to the TX-130 series Fighter Tanks once used by the Galactic Empire – designed for pursuits or hit-and-run attacks. So he wouldn't have to deal with their missiles, he would back behind these pursuing tanks and slash at their engine systems, rendering them immobile.

    Getting closer to the cannon, he then took out all of the MAAD Pods that had given him so much trouble the first time around, paving the way for air support and allowing the Alliance forces to push towards the cannon. He also dealt with a few Valkoran soldiers and Skakoan Commandos when in the area, being especially careful when dispatching the latter of the two.

    Progress was going smoothly, until he received an urgent message on his comlink from an Alliance scout. "Vaelor! It's Gestroma! He's right behind you!"

    Zolph quickly glanced over his shoulder and saw a large humanoid armored from head-to-toe – with a helmet that had a face-wide visor, eye-like decals on the upper piece of it and a skirt blowing behind him – mounted on a Swoop bike - made for a being of his physical stature - pursuing him.

    Gestroma slowly drew out an assault cannon – a weapon that is usually mounted due to the high recoil – with one hand from behind his back and fired a rapid stream of blaster fire at Zolph. Zolph naturally strafed sideways to avoid these shots.

    Zolph did what he could to get Gestroma off his tail, including trying to trick him into crashing, but the ruthless mercenary wasn't outwitted that easily. Driving around the area in circles, he eventually got behind the mercenary's bike and slashed at its engine block, causing him to crash.

    Zolph then proceeded onward towards the cannon, only a few miles away from his location.

    As Zolph stopped towards the hypervelocity cannon, he noticed a few dead Alliance soldiers and blown out T4-B assault tanks that once guarded it and the exploded Skakoan Commandos that took them out.

    Zolph got onto the cannon's main platform and eliminated the Valkoran gunnery crew when they tried to fight back. However, Zolph was suspicious. A simple gunnery crew couldn't have taken out the rest of the cannon's defense squad that easily.

    Suddenly, someone appeared out of thin air from behind: a Valkoran trooper in black armor armed with stealth technology and a blaster rifle. This trooper attempted to shoot Zolph in the back, but he was swiftly decapitated. Apparently, there were Shadow Troopers involved in taking the cannon.

    Four more Shadow Troopers de-cloaked, drawing out weapons that could be described as a mass-produced, novice weapons-builder's attempt at creating a lightsaber, or mocksabers as Jedi like to call them. These weapons consisted of a hilt, a high-powered laser emitter and a receiver with a small metal blade at the tip to contain the beam.

    "Those are not lightsabers. Those are suicide-sabers." Zolph told the assassins in a deadpan tone.

    One of them leapt towards Zolph, attempting to cut him down. Zolph slashed back, but these troopers proved to be incredibly flexible despite how easily the first of these troopers was killed. He eventually slashed the rod separating the emitter and receiver on this trooper's mocksaber, causing the beam to pierce through his own head and into the sky. Zolph then quickly destroyed the saber before it could do any more damage.

    Zolph then fought the other three in a three versus one duel, being careful not to break the sabers except to shut them off. He quickly cut through two of the troopers' chests.

    The last trooper pulled out a device about the size of human skull from his belt and activated it. The device, resembling a robotic mask, sprung out a pair of spider-like legs and a mandible-equipped head. These Deathmask-class Pocket Assassin Droids were often sent by Shadow Troopers into places too small or hazardous for most humanoids. This trooper, however, tossed the droid at Zolph, causing it to latch on to his face.

    Zolph struggled to keep the small droid from injecting its mandibles into his skull. However, he sensed the trooper about to fire on him while he was preoccupied. When the trooper fired his blaster rifle, Zolph moved his face into the path of the blaster shot, with it only hitting the droid.

    Zolph removed the disabled droid as it loosened its grip and threw it at the assassin, and then Force pushed him into a high voltage fuse box, electrocuting him to death. The hypervelocity cannon had been taken back.

    As he waited for the Alliance to arrive to take control of the cannon once again, he noticed a Tuk'ata-class fighter tank approaching his position. The tank then fired two missiles at Zolph, to which he responded by using the Force to redirect them back at the tank, turning it into a flaming wreck.

    Suddenly, the tank's three-piece cockpit opened, revealing none other than Gestroma, who was alive and well, and the corpse of the tank's original pilot. He then climbed out of the tank with a bound Skakoan Commando slung over his shoulder.

    "Damn! How are you still alive after all that?!" Zolph asked the faceless mercenary as he walked up to the platform the cannon was mounted on.

    Zolph heard the mercenary speak, but it sounded like his voice was coming from his abdomen rather than his head. "I'm very hard to kill." Gestroma then dropped the Skakoan on the floor and pointed his assault cannon towards Zolph when he got to the top of the stairs. "So you're the brat that's been consistently giving my client hell for a while. I'll have a damn good time spreading you all over this place."

    Zolph sighed with annoyance. "Just to make it clear, Maesterus wants me alive, not dead or alive."

    The mercenary chuckled. "Maesterus isn't paying me." He then fired a rapid stream of fire from his cannon, prompting Zolph to take cover, as not even he could deflect all those shots with his lightsaber.

    "Then who is?"

    "Valkor himself, of course." He then looked down to the Skakoan on the floor. "Oh, Mr. Toothhead…"

    The Skakoan replied back with disgust, "You still haven't told me why you've taken me hostage! I thought we were on the same side!"

    "What happens when one of you squishies is exposed to a standard pressure atmosphere?"

    The Skakoan knew exactly where the psychotic mercenary was going with this. "You disgusting bastard!"

    "Exactly." Gestroma quickly pulled out a vibroknife and stabbed into the Skakoan's pressure suit. He then picked him up as his suit leaked methane gas and threw him over to Zolph's position.

    Zolph jumped away from the Skakoan – but just barely – before he explosively decompressed, remembering his experience with Bom Pintor, another Skakoan bounty hunter and former Commando he dealt with a year ago. He then sensed a disturbance coming from Gestroma – one he was all too familiar with. A disturbance he could describe as a hungering wound in the Force. That he was a mercenary with this nature just made him even more curious.

    "I sense something odd about you, Gestroma. And I know this oddity all too well." Zolph then ignited his lightsaber.

    "Every Jedi I've met has told me that, and they never told anyone else once they learned. Of course, you will be joining them soon." Gestroma proceeded to gun down Zolph again.

    Zolph took cover again. He then replied, "As for what you just did to that poor man, the Skakoan Commandos were founded in retaliation for the Empire pulling shavit like that on them."

    "I thought they didn't mind blowing themselves up for a senseless cause."

    "Ever since they joined the Rebel Alliance, there was a rule that established that they only perform suicide bombings on their own volition. And some of these guys are just hired guns now. Besides, if you wanted to blow me up, you could've just tossed a thermal detonator over here."

    "I wanted to know what one of them exploding was like. Speaking of explosions…" Gestroma then readied a thermal detonator and tossed it over to Zolph's hiding spot.

    Zolph responded by Force pushing the grenade before it could land and right back to Gestroma. It exploded as soon as it made contact with him. The most the explosion did to him was scorching his armor, but it gave Zolph enough time to get right next to him.

    Gestroma pointed his gun at Zolph, who quickly slashed off the barrel. He then drew out his knife again and tried to slash at Zolph.

    Zolph parried every blow until he knocked the knife out of Gestroma's hand, prompting the mercenary to resort to fists. He then punched at Zolph until he got his left arm cut off. This provoked a pained roar from him before he picked his severed arm off the ground.

    "You're a very lucky man, Jedi. You're the first one to survive me."

    "I'm very hard to kill, too." Zolph echoed to him while showing off his prosthetic arm and the bite marks on his neck.

    "You may have won today, but next time, I will mount your head on my wall!" He boasted as he limped away from the cannon with his arm and damaged equipment.

    Zolph then watched as several Alliance Gallofree troop and tank transports landed near the cannon. He then activated his comlink.

    "Zolph Vaelor to Colonel G'jan. We have retaken the cannon."

    "Excellent. We should be able to repel the Valks away from Taris now that we've got the upper hand again. But I heard you encountered Gestroma. How did you get through that?"

    "Like I said, Colonel, I've survived worse."

    "Well, you certainly do live up to your reputation."

    Zolph watched as the newly listed Alliance gunnery crew fired the hypervelocity cannon into space. He then saw several Valkoran Behemoth-class dropships flying into Taris's atmosphere.

    Admiral Cephal joined in on the conversation. "The Valkoran fleet is retreating."

    Zolph asked the Admiral. "So, Ceph, did Seefor behave himself?"

    "Well, your droid did kill a lot of people, but thankfully not ours."

    "Good. Anyway, I should be going back to Ossus like I originally planned before you dragged me out here. I need to get this data to Master Skywalker and Grein."

    A few hours later on Ossus, Zolph had reunited with Luke Skywalker and Grein.

    "I heard you were kept busy." Luke told Zolph.

    "Yep. First, I was captured on Charros, and then Admiral Cephal dragged me over to Taris. But I got a decent amount of data from the first of those planets. I even had a fight with Gestroma and lived to learn something previously unreported."

    "What about him?"

    "I sensed that he may be a Forceless host."

    "That's strange." Grein chimed in. "He's a hired gun, not to mention some of his previous contractors include the Hutt Cartel and Black Sun, and the latter of the two organizations was fragmented long before this war. I would think he'd be serving Valkor or the Collective for free."

    "This bears further investigation." Luke responded. "Next time Gestroma's on the field, we'll see if we can get a tracking beacon on his ship."

    "Now back to the data. So what planets did you get this time?" Grein asked.

    Zolph inserted the disk into the data terminal and displayed six results. "Dagobah, Guaymar, Kashyyyk, Krishar, Korriban, and Onderon. And Admiral Cephal off-handedly mentioned that General Ven Choi was stationed on Dagobah at the time."

    "And according to him, there is heavy Valkoran activity down there." Luke responded.

    "Let me guess: they're pushing for the summoning of whatever Archfiend is on that planet. Well, so much for my usual break between missions. Permission to take Archfiend elimination procedures?"

    "Permission granted. But be careful."

    "Aren't I always?"

    Grein gave him a warning as he left . "There are some things on Dagobah aside from the Archfiend that you might not be ready to handle, and Luke has had experience with these things when he was younger."​
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  20. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 2: Guilt

    In the academy’s hangar, Zolph Vaelor was preparing to take off, until he heard a somewhat familiar voice.

    “You’re leaving already?”

    Zolph reacted with panic. “Stay away!” He then calmed down when he got a look at the speaker: a red-haired woman that resembled someone else he knew, except she was a Mirialan and a few years older than him.

    “Is something wrong, Zolph?” she asked him.

    “Sorry. For a second, I thought you were someone else. And do I know you?”

    “Probably not, but I’ve been training at the academy longer than you have. I’m Hiriss Moraana, and that’s a nice ship you got there.”

    “Thanks. This is actually a consumer test-model for a new ship Incom’s marketing to the Order, and to promote the R9-units. Of course, I made some modifications to it myself.”

    R9-C4 chimed in. “C4 = Bored. // Green-skinned lady = Go away. // C4 + Zolph = Go to Dagobah now?”

    “Sorry, Hiriss. I gotta go.”

    Hiriss asked with some concern. “Like I tried to ask earlier: Already? You’ve been taking on missions like there’s no tomorrow ever since the Battle of Krantisi. You’re hardly ever here anymore.”

    “Except this time, I have another Archfiend on my hands.”

    “Zolph, I’m beginning to think you’re deliberately accepting missions just to avoid questioning.”

    As Zolph climbed into his fighter’s cockpit, he responded back. “Besides, I need to keep Seefor from getting bored. You wouldn’t like it when he has to entertain himself.”

    Seefor then responded back. “Zolph = Incorrect. // C4 = Actually feminine programming.”

    Zolph responded to the black and blue droid with a mix of surprise, embarrassment and shame, especially given he had unknowingly mis-gendered her out of her presence a few times. “Wow... I'm surprised you are only telling me that after three months of us being together.”

    "This conversation = First time Zolph included C4 in a more-than-two-person conversation. // C4 = Also wanted to surprise Zolph."

    "Well, thanks for letting me know so I don't make that mistake again."

    The cockpit closed and the two took off.

    Hiriss activated a comlink as she watched Zolph and Seefor fly away. “Master Skywalker. He’s doing it again.”

    A few hours later, Zolph and Seefor arrived at the Alliance mountaintop base Mount Yoda on Dagobah. In one of the bases hangar bays, they were greeted by a Duros Alliance corporal.

    “Commander Vaelor. We weren’t expecting you to come here until Master Skywalker contacted us.”

    “Well, I’m here now.” Zolph responded. “I got some intel indicating that there’s an Archfiend on this planet.”

    “Anyway, General Choi is waiting for you in the war room. Just follow the signs and you’ll get there.”

    Seefor popped out of the fighter’s astromech slot and followed Zolph to Mt. Yoda’s war room.

    In the war room, Zolph and Seefor met up with his longtime ally, General Ven Choi.

    “Koh-Toh-Yah, General Choi.” Zolph greeted the general in his own Kel Dor tongue.

    “Koh-Toh-Yah to you too, old friend,” the general responded before holding out his right hand.

    “Before losing my arm, I would’ve asked you to be careful with those fingernails, but you know…” Zolph then shook his hand with his prosthetic arm.

    Seefor then introduced herself to the general. “R9-C4 = Zolph Vaelor’s wingdroid, mechanic, bodyguard and enforcer. // Shriveled Masked General = Need any meatbags eliminated?”

    The general somehow communicated a confused look on his face despite the mandible-bearing mask and goggles.

    Zolph apologized in turn. “Pardon her derogatory naming. She tends to refer to people like that the first time she meets them. And yes, I know. I didn’t properly figure out her gender-programming until recently.”

    The general then asked with some concern. “I sense some uneasiness from you, Vaelor.”

    “General, did you become a Jedi sometime between Manaan and now?”

    “I was once part of the old Order, but I hadn’t even built my lightsaber when the Purge started. So my usage of it is limited to the senses.”

    “Why didn’t you join Skywalker’s academy when it was established then?"

    “I felt I was too old to continue my training, and I had a lot of catching up to do. So I improved on what I knew and applied it to military strategy. But getting back on topic, Skywalker also told me you just raided a data archive on Charros IV and assisted Admiral Cephal and Colonel G’jan on Taris. Don’t you think you’ve already done enough for one day?”

    “You know, General, that’s funny, because someone else asked me that before I came here. Are Master Skywalker and Grein onto me too?”

    “Possibly, but I still appreciate you coming here to help us out.”

    “Anyway, about that: what’s going on down there in that mudhole?”

    “My scouts report that the Valkoran are active down there, and they’ve been talking about someone or something called ‘Mandoculus’.”

    “Mandoculus, huh? That sounds like our Archfiend. Permission to go down into the swamp?”

    “Yes, but there’s something else you should know: Juganak’s leading the Valkoran forces here.”

    “I’ve heard of Juganak, but like every other Valkoran leader aside from Maesterus and Arcidus, I’ve never met him before. What’s he like?”

    “He’s an inhumanly strong Miraluka. You know: they look like humans aside from not having eyes and can see through the Force instead?”

    “Yeah, I know them. One of the Valks’ supporters is an entire clan of non-Force sensitive Miraluka called the Kur’Ada Equalists. But enough chit-chat, I need to get going.”

    Before he could leave, an alarm sounded and the base’s lookout officer contacted the war room.

    “General! Valkoran forces are attempting to scale the mountain! I repeat, Valkoran forces are attempt-!” The lookout officer said before being cut off by a blaster shot.

    “Well, there’s another delay in my plans for the day. Let’s defend Mount Yoda.” Zolph declared before heading outside the war room.

    Outside, Zolph saw Alliance troops fighting with Valkoran troopers that had used ascension guns to get to the base as well as grappling hook-equipped Gundark walkers. Of course, he also saw some plasma artillery fire coming from down below. He looked down to see some Starmantis-class Artillery Droids clinging onto the mountain walls and firing from there.

    One of the artillery droids fired a shot past Zolph, but he caught it mid-flight with the Force and then let it fall back down onto the droid. He then proceeded to eliminate all the other droids firing at the complex through methods such as using the Force to loosen some rocks on the mountain to make the tripedal droids fall to their deaths.

    However, he then noticed some Valkoran troops entering into the base itself. Zolph immediately contacted General Choi over comlink while he pursued the troops. “General Choi, get ready for some fighting in the base.”

    “Don’t worry about me. I’m already doing a fine job of that.” The General said as he was cutting down several Valkoran troopers with his vibrosword. Elsewhere through the comlink, Zolph heard a strong whooshing sound along with some agonized screaming.

    “What the hell was that?” Zolph said with a disturbed look on his face.

    “Apparently, your droid had a flamethrower hidden inside her. You didn’t know that?”

    “Apparently not.”

    He then heard a Valkoran trooper through the comlink. “You have a weapon, so what?! You’re still just a measly little astro-!” And that was followed by a tearing and cracking sound along with some more agonized screaming. “MY SPINE!!! HE TORE OUT MY SPINE!!! HOW AM I STILL ALIIIIVE???!!!! AND NOW HE’S BEATING ME WITH IT!!!! WHYYYYY????!!!!” The screaming then died down with him.

    “I did not know she could do that, either.”

    General Choi then asked Zolph. “Zolph? Where did you get that droid?”

    “Truth be told, she was originally manufactured and modified for a crime lord named Girdretto.”

    “What happened to him?”

    “Sleheyron happened. So I thought it would be best not to let her go to waste and it would be safer to have her in my hands than other potential criminals since her original commissioner kicked the bucket. I already knew she was pretty bloodthirsty, but I didn’t think she was as lethal outside the astro-socket.”

    “Well, I can defend the war room just fine. I’ll have Seefor aid our troops in defending the hangars. The Valks won’t know what to expect from her until it’s too late.”

    Ten minutes later of cleaning the base of Valkoran troops, Zolph received a message from Seefor.

    “R9-C4 + Soldiers = Need assistance. // Hulking, blind-folded, half-naked man = Threat.”

    “Can you be more specific?”

    General Choi then joined the conversation. “Juganak is in that hangar bay.”

    “Oh. That’s my cue to go kick his butt, then.”

    Zolph then rushed to the hangar.

    In the hangar, Zolph saw the corpses of both Alliance and Valkoran troops before noticing Seefor backed up against the wall.

    “R9-C4 = Cannot do much else. // Zolph = Take on huge man?”

    Zolph then looked to see a muscular, bald, shirtless - minus two metal pauldrons on his shoulders connected to his belt by leather straps - dark-skinned Miraluka with blue tattoos on his scalp and armed with an elongated lightsaber hilt.

    “I assume you’re Juganak?” Zolph asked him.

    “Yes, and you must be Zolph Vaelor. I came as soon as I heard you were here.” The two of them then approached each other.

    “What exactly do you want with me? Kill me? Capture me?”

    “What I want with you is of no concern.”

    General Choi then contacted Zolph over comlink. “Be careful, Zolph. Reports say he tore off an active AT-AT’s leg with his bare hands on Geonosis, and he lived on Hoth and Mustafar dressed exactly the way he is right now.”

    Juganak then commentated on the transmission. “That’s no exaggeration. I actually did all three of those things.”

    Zolph ignited his lightsaber and pointed it towards Juganak. “Then let’s see if those abs can handle my glowstick!”

    Juganak then ignited his in response, which produced an emerald-green blade a little longer than he was tall - essentially a light-claymore. He casually swung his blade and batted Zolph’s blade backward.

    “Well, I’ll be damned. More crazy lightsaber variants, but not the craziest I’ve seen. That would be the cross-saber.” Zolph then proceeded to keep his distance from the blade when Juganak swung it again, this time with both hands.

    Juganak leaped towards a landed X-Wing, grabbed it by its nose and lifted it off the floor. He then swung it around and threw it at Zolph, with him just barely dodging.

    Zolph was both shocked and impressed at the same time. “Have you been taking stims or are you really that freakishly strong?” Zolph then looked outside the open hangar doors – which some of the Valkoran forces had entered through – to notice a few Scavenger-class Probe Droids.

    Juganak then tried to throw the same burning X-Wing at him again. Zolph ducked, and the burning fighter went flying right into two of the droids. He then heard the Miraluka’s voice in his head.

    “You see those probes? Take them out. But before you do, I need you to keep playing along.”

    Zolph responded back telepathically “Why are you telling me this?”

    “Just do as I say, dammit!”

    Juganak then charged at Zolph, ready to swing his saber again. Zolph dodged the swing and then lightly slashed at the hulking Miraluka’s chest, causing him to grunt in pain. He swung at him again, this time knocking Zolph’s lightsaber out of his hands.

    Zolph used the Force to throw a piece of a broken repair crane at him and then hurled him out the hangar doors. He then heard Juganak’s voice in his head again.


    Zolph drew out his blaster pistol and shot down all but two of the probes that were monitoring the fight. The remaining two then attempted to flee, which resulted in Zolph giving chase, jumping out the hangar door and grabbing onto one of the tiny droids, but not before reclaiming his lightsaber.

    As Zolph rode the droid, it tried to shake him off. While he struggled to keep his grip on its single arm, he drew out his blaster and shot the other droid. He then punched into the tiny, one-armed droid’s repulsorlift system so it would drop altitude into Dagobah’s swamp.

    As he descended, he let go of the droid and somersaulted in the marsh. After he got up on his feet, he noticed the droid still trying to flee, but unable to hover in a way that counts as flight. His comlink then rang. Zolph answered it and heard General Choi.

    “Zolph. Seefor told me she saw you riding away from the base on a probe droid. Are you alright?”

    Zolph responded as he continued chasing the droid. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m in the swamp right now. However, I have a bad feeling about those droids, so I’m trying to get rid of this last one before it can get home.” As he continued chasing, he passed by what appeared to be a long-abandoned hut, made for a creature much smaller than a human. “If you want specifics, I just passed a tiny abandoned home. There's just something depressing about an abandoned home in an unpopulated area."

    “I think I know where you are. Well, I’m relieved to know you’re still alive.”

    “While I’m at it, I’ll try to see if I can find this Mandoculus creature.”

    “Very well. May the Force be with you.” The transmission then ended.

    As the droid continued its escape, it flew between the roots of a gnarltree that made the entrance of a peculiar cave. Zolph then followed.

    Zolph moved deeper into the cave and noticed that the probe droid had stopped attempting to flee and was resting on its claw. He then ignited his lightsaber and threw it at the droid, slicing it in half. He then wondered why it had stopped trying to get away from him, until Juganak’s voice popped up in his head again.

    “Get out of that cave! It’s a trap!”

    “What’s wrong? Did someone put a bomb in here?”

    “No. Something much worse. Something that’s been there for generations.”

    Before Zolph could react to his warning, he heard a familiar voice he was never expecting to hear again.


    He then turned around and noticed a red-haired, green-eyed human female roughly his age.

    “Dynn Manthis?! Where did you come from?!” Zolph reacted with a slight tint of fear in his voice.

    “I’ve been here since before you got here, silly. Why do you look so nervous? Is there a ghost in here?” Dynn asked innocently.

    “You’re dead. You shouldn’t even be here.”

    “What are you talking about, Zolphy? I’m alive and standing right here?”

    “You died six months ago! You’re not even real!” Zolph defiantly turned around and closed his eyes. “If I just ignore you, you’ll go away!”

    Dynn’s voice then switched to a slightly more sarcastic tone. “Really?” Her voice then gradually turned into a more sinister familiar voice. “If I weren’t real, COULD I DO THISSSS???!!!!!”

    Zolph felt something wrap around his prosthetic arm and then tear it off, also tearing the nerves connecting it to his stump. This elicited an agonized scream of pain.

    He knew the voice too well and refused to open his eyes. He then felt that same tongue-like whip wrap around his waist and then pull him back to where Dynn was. Afterwards, he felt a creature biting into his neck and then lifting him off the ground. He then heard her again.

    “STOP IGNORING ME!!!” she yelled furiously at him as she slammed him into the ground.

    Zolph then opened his eyes to see something he was really hoping to never see again: Dynn, when she had been taken over and mutated by the Forceless symbiote arm and with the same unnerving features as she had then.

    She crouched down over his legs and then pinned his left arm into the ground with the teeth on her right arm. She then leaned her almost-featureless face towards Zolph’s.

    “What’s the matter, Zolph?”

    Zolph turned his head away and closed his eyes again. The horrific creature then positioned her tail-like left arm towards his face and cut open his eyelids, ensuring he doesn’t try to ignore her again.

    “Much better now.” She then positioned Zolph’s face towards hers. “Why did you kill me? I thought you loved me!”

    Zolph’s eyes started to tear up. “I didn’t even want to do it! I’m sorry! I just want to forget that ever happened!”

    She then spoke to him in a soothing yet insincere voice. “Now, now, Zolph. I’m not mad at you for killing me. I’m just a little upset that you’re rejecting me.” He then noticed her positioning her abdominal teeth to tear out his digestive tract again. “Eyes on me. We can start over and never be separated again.”

    Zolph felt her teeth puncturing into his stomach before suddenly blacking out.​
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  21. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 3: Remorse
    In pitch-blackness, Zolph Vaelor could hear what sounded like a heart-monitor.

    “Ughh. What happened? I feel like I’ve been punched in the head by a Wookiee. I’m surprised I don’t have any brain damage.” Zolph thought to himself.

    As he started waking up, he noticed he was no longer in the cave and now lying on a medical bench in an infirmary. He then realized his eyelids were still intact and his prosthetic arm was still attached. He looked around to notice the heart-monitor hooked up to him and several Valkoran troopers and medical personnel in the room.

    “Valks!” Zolph panicked at first, prompting the heart-monitor to beep faster. “You’re not taking me alive!” He tried to reach for his lightsaber, only to notice none of his equipment was there. The lone Valkoran soldier in the room – who Zolph recognized as Sergeant Will “Phoenix” Helms – pointed his rifle at Zolph.

    Oh no! I’ve already been beaten to death by an astro-droid with my own spinal cord! You are not killing me a second time while I’m here!” The trooper warned Zolph.

    The head medic – a light red-skinned Twi’lek male whose entire head save for his head-tails were obscured by a surgical hood - then yelled at Helms. “Phoenix! Pointing your gun at him is not going to calm him down! Besides, we’ve already been giving him sedatives and stripped him of his weapons. And don’t you think he’s been freaked out enough already?!”

    Helms then lowered his rifle and apologized to Zolph. “Sorry, kid. You know me. Just a little paranoid since the whole universe seems to have it out for me. Besides, this thing was only on stun. And before you ask, you are not a prisoner.”

    Zolph calmed down. “Where am I, anyway? Last thing I remember, I was in a cave, had my arm torn off, my eye-lids cut off, and almost killed by… something I’d rather forget.”

    The head medic then answered him. “We found you in that cave freaking out about something, but we didn’t see anyone or anything else in there. Juga then hit you in the head to calm you down, and now you are in our encampment on this planet. Even when you were unconscious, your heart rate was going crazy. Glad it’s stable now, because I was just about to do surgery on you, and I really hate doing surgery on conscious patients.”

    “For a while, I thought I was dead. How long have I been out?”

    “You’ve been asleep for pretty much the rest of yesterday.”

    “I don’t usually find myself saying this to you Valks, but thanks for saving my life.”

    “I’m not the one you should be thanking. Commander Juga went into that cave despite all the horror stories I heard about it and brought you back here. He’s waiting outside to talk with you, and he’s got your equipment too.”

    Zolph got up on his feet and unhooked the heart monitor.

    “Easy, there. You almost died from a heart attack. I wouldn’t get my blood pumped up just yet if I were you.” The Twi’lek changed the subject. “And I heard you talking in your sleep. Something about Commander Manthis?” The head medic then removed his surgical hood.

    “You heard? Yeah, she and I were really close friends before she sided with you guys. What do you know about her?”

    “I served with her a few times and she helped me out a few times, too. I even treated her arm when you cut it off.”

    Zolph suddenly got angry. “Are you Masochus?! If you are, she died because of that replacement!”

    The medic got angered in response as well. “Don’t you kriffing dare compare me to that skinless butcher! Masochus is no medic. He’s an ex-Sith Lord and a sadist that experiments on people for thrills – even our own men, dead or alive.” He then calmed down. “And I know what arm you’re talking about. I placed a standard cybernetic arm on her, but apparently that bastard overrode me without my notification and replaced it with that abomination. If I were in charge, I would’ve had that thing removed. I’m sorry for your loss. She was a good kid.”

    Zolph was now calmed down. “And I’m sorry for getting mad at you, Doctor…um….”

    “Just call me Beneska.”

    “Thanks, Beneska. I’m going to talk with your boss now.” Zolph then left the infirmary.

    Outside the infirmary, Zolph saw several parked walkers and tanks, some troopers practicing their marksmanship at shooting range to keep themselves from becoming too much like the Imperial Stormtroopers of old, and some Shadow Troopers sparring to keep in shape. He then noticed Juganak standing patiently next to the compound barricade and walked up to him.

    “I sense you’re doing a lot better now.” Juganak responded as Zolph approached.

    “You’ve probably already figured it out, since almost every Jedi or ex-Jedi I’ve talked to yesterday has been pestering me about it. So I might as well just spill it now: I’ve been taking missions twenty-four-five just to stay away from the academy and avoid being questioned about what happened with me on Krantisi.”

    “Denying the truth will not ease the pain. In fact, it only makes it worse. The Dark Side is strong in that cave. Whatever you saw in there may have been an apparition, but it was real enough to you. It would’ve killed you had I not gotten you out of there. I get the feeling that probe droid lured you in there knowing about your insecurities. But that’s not what I called you out here for.” He then handed Zolph back his lightsaber, blaster and the battery for his arm’s strength enhancer.

    “Why would your droids try to lure me to my death when you didn’t even want me in there? And that reminds me: Why did you tell me take out your own droids? And why are you now treating me like a guest after trying to throw a starfighter at me and attacking Mount Yoda?”

    “That’s what I want to talk with you about: those weren’t my droids. Valkor has become suspicious of traitors in the ranks, so he’s been sending those probe droids as glorified security cameras. If I destroyed them myself, he’d be onto me like a Mynock on power cords. But if they were destroyed in a freak accident or by the enemy, it wouldn’t confirm anything to him. Of course, I had to make it look like I was doing my duty when they were destroyed.”

    “You’re planning to betray him?”

    “I think he’s the one deceiving us all. As a Miraluka, I can see the Force, and I don’t see anything resembling the Force from Valkor at all. Instead, I see a monster. He’s not like any creature from this galaxy.”

    “Then why are you trying to summon Mandoculus? Don’t you know how dangerous that thing could be?!”

    “Yes, and that’s why I’m summoning him: So I can kill him.”

    “Is that really necessary?! Because that’s also incredibly risky! If he kills you instead, he will wreak havoc on the galaxy!”

    “These summoning rituals aren’t a case of releasing these creatures from an interdimensional prison. They’re actually opening hypergates for them to travel between galaxies. If we just destroy the gates or undo the rituals, the Archfiends will just be unable to get to our galaxy for the time being; they’ll still be alive and wreaking havoc elsewhere.”

    “I still think it’s an incredible risk with high stakes, but if he is summoned, I will aid you in slaying him.”

    “The Rakata temple is close by and we’ve already cleared it of most of the traps, but the summoning ritual is almost finished. Follow me.”

    Zolph then followed Juganak to the temple.

    As Juganak led Zolph through the alien temple, Zolph questioned the muscular blind man.

    “So Juga, if you’re against Valkor, why are you still working for him?”

    “Solo rebellions never work, boy. You need to build up support before you can pull them off. Besides, you don’t just openly betray Valkor and live. Some survivors from Manaan and Krantisi tried to decry him, only for them to never be heard from again afterward.”

    “You’re not the only one against him. Maesterus is doing it too.”

    “I already know my former pupil is opposing him.”


    “Like Maesterus, I’m also around four-thousand years old. Before we took the names we have now, he and I were once members of the old Jedi Order, and I was his master.”

    “What’s your excuse for living as long as he has? You don’t look like a Forceless host. And what is your real name, anyway?”

    “Argem Nylek, but you can still call me Juga. As for the longevity, I and several others were in cryostasis. Now getting back to my story: Sometime after becoming a knight, he became a master to the man you may know as Arcidus. After the Mandalorian Wars, he was expelled from the Order not only for participating in that war against the wishes of the Council, but for being romantically involved with another Knight, who was also a co-apprentice with him under my wing and expelled along with him.”

    “Why was the old Order against falling in love? That’s almost inhuman.”

    “Believe me: Even achieving the rank of Master, I never really bought into that ideal either. The Order didn’t so much prohibit it as discourage it. We didn’t enforce celibacy and prohibit marriage, but the romantic attachments that come with it can breed the possessive behavior that fuels the Dark Side, as history has shown time and again.”

    “Maesterus didn’t seem that Dark Sided to me.”

    “He never was. He never let his romantic attachments get the better of him, even after his expulsion, but the Council did not want him to set a bad precedent for our younger students. Unlike a lot of other Jedi who joined the Mandalorian Wars, he never joined Revan and Malak’s Sith Empire. Before the Jedi Civil War kicked off, I and a few others that revered him – including his lover and Arcidus - tried to follow him for various reasons, and we then found him, came across Valkor, and helped build up the Valkoran Empire. Of course, Maesterus and the lover had a child sometime after the founding, but she left while she was still pregnant for some reason and has not been seen ever since. But if your existence is anything to go by, that bloodline is still alive.”

    “How did you know I was his descendant? And what is his real name?”

    “I may not visually perceive the universe the same way you do, but I’m still able to catch some similarities between you and Seferin.”

    “And who was his wife?”

    “That’s not for me to tell you.”

    Zolph then gave an unconvinced response. “Nerfshavit.

    “All I can say is she is no longer with us, and whether she continued to cheat death after leaving us is something we have yet to confirm. And we don’t have time to talk more. The summoning site is close by.”

    The duo proceeded further, eliminating and bypassing any other leftover ancient guardian droids and traps.

    The two eventually reached the dimly-lit summoning chamber and noticed two masked Force acolytes performing the ritual near what looked like a balcony overlooking a nearly pitch-black arena.

    Before they could enter, Juganak stopped Zolph in his tracks.

    “Wait.” The dark-skinned Miraluka responded as he stopped Zolph.

    “What is it?”

    “My regiment and I may secretly despise Valkor, but there are many others that are fanatically loyal to him, especially some of those that were born in his empire. Case in point: those two acolytes. So let me go first.”

    “Very well. Do your thing, Juga.”

    Juga entered the chamber and addressed the acolytes. One of them then turned towards him and kneeled.

    “Lord Juganak.”

    “Spare me the kissing-up. I am just here to check on the ritual.”

    “You’ve arrived just in time. Lord Mandoculus should be here within the next minute.”

    Zolph then came through the chamber doorway speaking dramatically. “And I’d like to thank you, big guy, for unwittingly bringing me here to kill him!” He then ignited his lightsaber.

    Juganak ignited his emerald-green lightclub in response, with the acolytes igniting their lightsabers as well.

    “Zolph Vaelor?! Here?!” One of the acolytes panicked. “You’re a fool if you think you can defeat Mandoculus the Destroyer!”

    Zolph yawned. “And how many of these Archfiends have you successfully summoned without me killing them?”

    The summoning sigil then glowed, followed by the chamber shaking.

    “He’s here! Mandoculus the Destroyer! Emperor Valkor’s will is done!”

    A light briefly shined from the arena below their location. A large hand suddenly emerged from it, grabbed one of the acolytes and dragged him down screaming before there was an audible crunching sound.

    Afterward, the hand returned, followed by another one and the rest of the creature – a black twenty-three-meter tall, scaly and muscular biped with quills on its back, a head between its shoulders, and no visible eyes. Of course, only its upper body was visible. It then revealed its two red crystal ball-like eyes to be in its shoulders.

    “Lord Mandoculus! We are honored by your arrival.” The remaining acolyte then pointed towards Zolph. “I’m sure you know what to do with that brat with the ponytail and black jacket. Kill him!”

    The behemoth then spoke in a deep echoing voice – and in the process, revealed a third eye hidden in his toothy maw. “Tiny man tell who I squish? Tiny man go squish!”

    “What was that, my lord?” The acolyte asked with confusion before Mandoculus crushed him into a red paste in anger.

    “By the Force, what did they feed you?!” Zolph asked in awe of the creature’s size. This was the largest Archfiend he had seen so far. Thinking about the eye inside his mouth, he then asked. “And how the hell are you able to eat?!”

    Juganak then answered. “I don’t think he even needs to eat.”

    “The wonders of nature….”

    Mandoculus tried to smash Zolph with his fist. He barely avoided getting splattered. The creature repeatedly tried to squish him, only for him to dodge every time.

    Mandoculus was getting irritated. “Stop! Moving! I need to kill you!”

    Zolph responded in a slightly annoyed tone. “I don’t know…. Maybe that’s why I keep moving?!” He then slashed at the creature’s hand, only for his lightsaber blade to bounce off its thick skin.

    He then asked himself with annoyance. “Why is just about every other thing I fight resistant to my lightsaber? Has nature suddenly become one with every cortosis deposit?”

    Mandoculus spoke again. “Tiny metal man and black goo say kill you. If I not kill you, black goo not let me move body.” He tried to crush Zolph again, only for Juganak to dash right under his fist and catch it. The imposing Miraluka then twisted the Archfiend’s wrist.

    The poorly-speaking Archfiend roared in agony. “The pain! The pain! I not want more pain!” He then quickly closed his mouth shut, as if his eye were a very sensitive body part.

    Juganak then uprooted one of the stone pillars on his level and battered the Archfiend, causing him to react in pain again. He then spoke to Zolph.

    “Apparently, he doesn’t take strong physical damage or internal damage very well.”

    Zolph drew out his blaster. “And I know of a body part that is usually exposed and very sensitive.” He dodged another one of his blows before shooting him in the eye on his left shoulder.

    Mandoculus clutched at his shoulder in pain. This provided Zolph with an opportunity to shoot at the eye on his other shoulder too. He was then clutching both of his shoulders.

    “Can’t see! Eyes hurt! The pain!” Mandoculus then reluctantly opened his mouth wide, with his third eye popping out on a prehensile tongue-like stalk. The eye then glowed brighter than usual and started haphazardly firing lasers from it.

    As Zolph and Juganak dodged or deflected the lasers, Zolph responded with shock. “Okay, that’s new. I never thought I would meet a creature that had laser-vision.”

    “It’s a big universe, kid.” Juga responded.

    Once Mandoculus’s shoulder-eyes recovered, he withdrew the third eye back into his mouth and closed it again.

    “Apparently, he's very protective of is third eye if he doesn’t want to use it unless provoked.” Zolph then fired his blaster at his shoulder-eyes again, getting him to expose the stalked eye again.

    This time, Zolph jumped onto the eye and stabbed into it with his lightsaber. He roared in even more pain than before as he leaked some red mist from his glass-like eye. “No more! No more!”

    Juganak gave an unnerved response. “Why do most beings value having eyes again?”

    Suddenly, the beast fell on his knees and started clutching at his head. “Don’t hurt me! I do as black goo say! Don’t trap me in head again!”

    Mandoculus got up on his feet again and popped out his mouth eye, readying it to fire. He then spoke in a more intelligible speech pattern.

    “That stupid, cowardly hedonist! All he’s really good for is taking punishment and breaking things! I don’t even know why we chose for this oaf to be an Archfiend!”

    Juganak then jumped up to the creature’s eyestalk and pulled him down to the floor, immobilizing him. “Now, Zolph!”

    Zolph readied a thermal detonator and remorsefully said, “Don’t worry. It’ll be over soon.” He jumped into Mandoculus’s mouth – prying it open with his mechanical arm so it wouldn’t chomp down on him even if it meant biting off his own eyestalk – and shoved the grenade deep into his throat.

    Zolph crawled out of his mouth and got away from the creature as he exploded into many pieces, with the blast incinerating most of the blown off parts in the process.

    Juganak then walked over to Zolph. “We make a pretty good team, kid.”

    Zolph then responded to him remorsefully. “Yeah, except this fight left a really bad taste in my mouth. Mandoculus may have been willing to kill me like the other Archfiends I’ve fought, but unlike them, he was only harassed into doing so. After meeting Belluzub and hearing what he said as well as another incident, I thought all of the Archfiends were truly monstrous. I guess that’s not always the case.”

    “I know it’s not easy to kill these things, especially when you realize that the shells the Forceless are using are sometimes innocent beings, but we don’t really have much of a choice if we can’t find a way to undo the possession. Sometimes, we have to get our hands dirty.”

    “You kinda sound like someone else I know.”

    “I would like to meet this someone if the time comes when we’re no longer fighting.” Juga then changed the subject. “Speaking of which, you must leave now. As far as the war is concerned, we’re still officially enemies. And I’d like to look further into what Valkor’s up to and continue to see if I can build up some more support against him. So please understand if I start trying to bludgeon you with a tank or such next time we meet.”

    “I understand. Later, Juga.” Zolph then left the temple.

    After traveling through the swamp for a few hours via a speeder bike borrowed from the Valkoran camp, Zolph was shot down by an anti-vehicle rocket and sent flying off his bike. Zolph was then greeted by none other than Besh Squad.

    He scolded the squad leader. “Dammit, Xad! Are you trying to kill me?!”

    Xadisall Varessi, the Mirialan squad leader, then apologized. “Sorry about that. Boltz’s new turret is programmed to only target Valkoran vehicles and droids.

    Boltz, the Gand engineer, apologized as well. “Boltz is sorry, too. Boltz is still programming it to be able to recognize exposed riders.”

    Zolph accepted the apology. “No hard feelings. So what are you guys doing here anyway?”

    Xad spoke again while Patcher, the Nautolan medic, treated any wounds Zolph may have received from the blast. “General Choi lost contact with you ever since you went deep into the swamp and he also sensed the Archfiend’s arrival. So he sent us down for search and rescue.”

    “Well, I’m glad he sent someone to look for me. And he doesn’t need to worry about the Archfiend. I already took care of it.”

    “And what were you doing driving a Valkoran speeder anyway?”

    “I had a temporary alliance with some internal dissidents, so I was borrowing transportation from them.”

    Bad Kitty, the Cathar heavy weapons expert, got a little suspicious. “You’re lucky you didn’t get close to Mount Yoda before we shot you down or you’d be dead. You haven’t sabotaged us, have you?”

    “We just teamed up to kill the Archfiend, so don’t get your mane in a rough.”

    Xad spoke again. “We’ve got a transport ready to go back to Mount Yoda, and the General would like to hear the good news.”

    After reporting to General Ven Choi, Zolph and R9-C4 returned to the Jedi academy on Ossus and met up with Luke Skywalker and Grein.

    “Well, I’m back from Dagobah and another Archfiend down. So where am I going next.”

    Luke answered him. “You’re not going anywhere for now.”

    Zolph asked with a puzzled look on his face. “Excuse me?”

    “We need to talk about your…chronic hero habits.”

    “Oh…that. What about them?”

    “I sensed your anguish while you were on Dagobah.”

    “What are you talking about?” Zolph asked in denial.

    “You went into that cave, didn’t you? Well, I’ve been in there too.”

    Zolph then responded honestly. “Yeah, and you probably know the hell I was going through in there.”

    “You also never told me about what happened with you on Krantisi. And I know you’ve been constantly out in space just to avoid talking about it.”

    Grein chimed in. “Zolph, it’s time you stopped denying the truth. You know it happened.”

    Zolph started to tear up. “Okay, I’ll tell you what happened: Remember Dynn Manthis? I was forced to kill her. But it’s more complicated than that. You remember that Forceless arm I told you about? It possessed and mutilated her body while she was unable to do anything about it. It would’ve been win-win for the Collective regardless of what happened. Either the parasite would have killed me using her body or it would’ve broken me if I survived. The latter happened, and I wanted to get revenge on the Valkoran for taking everything that mattered to me. If it weren’t for Grein here, I never would’ve come to my senses and gotten that last chance to speak with her.”

    Luke then followed up on Zolph's confession. “You had a strong attachment to her. I can see why you didn’t want to think about it. When we come across grim truths, the first step is usually denial. But what happened in the cave?”

    “I was attacked by her, or rather an apparition of her as that Forceless shell. However, this was not like the Dynn I knew. It was like she was in full control of her body, and she was psychotically possessive of me. She would’ve killed me had some internal dissidents within the Valkoran not come to save me.”

    Grein chimed in again. “I thought you reconciled with her. That’s why I chased you into a Fortress Tank, after all.”

    “Yes, Grein. She did forgive me for what I did. However, I haven’t forgiven myself, and I don’t think I will anytime soon. I more or less caused this to happen to her by cutting her arm off in the first place. I thought that after six months, I would’ve gotten over it, but apparently, suppressing it has only made it worse.”

    Luke continued. “Zolph, you are going to be off-duty until further notice, and that is not a request. Grein had already agreed with me on this before you got back.”

    Grein added in. “Sorry, Zolph. It’s for your own good. Live warfare isn’t really the best form of therapy.”

    “I understand why you want to keep me here, but what about Seefor? I’m worried about what she’ll do if she doesn’t see any action.”

    “Don’t worry about your droid. Artoo has just talked to her and it turns out she doesn’t necessarily need violence to stay entertained. She just needs to have fun. Also you’re not necessarily being confined to the academy. You’re just not going to get involved in the war again until we need you, and we will let you know if there are any Archfiends that desperately need your attention.”

    Zolph headed for his living quarters - which he had not touched in quite some time - before he was stopped in his tracks by Hiriss Moraana.

    “So that’s why you’ve been away most of the time.”

    “Were you eavesdropping on us?”

    “I won’t lie. I was.”

    “And this concerns you because….?”

    “Dynn Manthis was my cousin. I also helped get her into the academy after those criminals orphaned her on Coruscant.”

    “Well, that does somewhat explain the uncanny resemblance and why I mistook you for her when I was leaving for Dagobah, but you’re not the same species.”

    “I’m actually half-human. As you might expect with most near-human species, Mirialans and humans are biologically compatible. They’re not all that different aside from range of skin tones. But that’s beside the point. I really wish you would have told us as soon as it happened.”

    “If I had known you were related or who you were, I probably would have told you instead of trying to suppress the truth. If you’re mad at me for killing her, I won’t hold it against you.”

    “Don’t worry, I’m not. You did what you had to do, and I know she would’ve rather died than be helpless again. If anything, I have more reason to be mad at this Collective for turning her into a monster.”

    “I’m surprised you even believe what I’ve said about the Forceless Collective.”

    “Let’s not forget that in the previous galactic war that only ended about two years ago, we were fighting extra-galactic aliens with organic technology and a masochist religion, and they weren’t even the first recorded encounter with unusual phenomena. It’s usually the more narrow-minded Force users and non-Force users that refuse to acknowledge the possibility of their existence.”

    “Good point.”

    “Anyway, I’m sorry for your loss. I guess I’ll be seeing you around more.”


    Zolph then headed for his quarters.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  22. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Before you ask, this chapter was written a year before Korriban's new name was introduced. However, since I generally post the chapters as a I finish them, I found a loophole to get both names into the story without having to go back and edit anything. Also, this is the beginning of where most of the chapters start getting longer than the Episode I chapters.

    Chapter 4: The Damaged
    Two weeks have passed since Zolph Vaelor’s mission to Dagobah. He has been prohibited from military activity until further notice due to psychological stress that had been suppressed for the past six months. While Zolph continued his therapy, Luke Skywalker and Grein have received word of increased Valkoran activity on one of the planets listed in the data that Zolph downloaded from the Obelisk Data Archive and have called him over to the ops room.

    “Oh no….” Grein said with worry due to the report.

    Zolph entered the ops room, this time without his black jacket he’s usually seen with and with his long hair loose. “Hey guys. What are you calling me over here for? You interrupted my Pazaak match with Hiriss, and I lost fifty credits thanks you to two.”

    Grein asked. “People still play that? If so, don’t blame us for your loss. You know Pazaak’s mostly luck-based.”

    Luke got them back to the matter at hand. “Anyway, we’ve got another Archfiend to deal with.”

    Zolph then responded with some enthusiasm. “About time! I was getting a little bored with Pazaak and thinking maybe I ought to buy a new single-player holo-game if I don’t have any sentient interaction.”

    “Except we’ve got a problem…” Grein said.

    “What is it?”

    “We’re going to Korriban next.”

    “What’s wrong with Korriban? Is it covered in nuclear radiation? If so, we’ll just bring hazmat suits.”

    “Korriban is a graveyard world for the Ancient Sith.”

    “I still don’t see the problem.”

    “The planet’s got a good number of Sith ghosts, and considering what’s been happening to you recently, it’s apparent Valkor has decided to milk the psychological warfare for all it’s worth. So, I’m coming with you on this one.”

    “Not that I have a problem working with you, but I didn’t ask for you come with me.”

    “You never ask for assistance. And given the scenario of this mission, I’m coming whether you like it or not.”

    “Why are you tagging along all of a sudden? Are you my mother now?”

    “No, but I’m certainly old enough to be.”

    “Nerfshavit. You don’t look a day over thirty. Besides, we’re not even the same species.”

    The purple-eyed Chiss then dryly responded. “I’m forty-one. Also, humans and Chiss are biologically compatible.”

    Zolph was baffled. Sure, forty-one wasn’t really considered old age by human or even Chiss standards, but she still looked too young to be even close to that old, and that she dyed part of her hair an unnatural color for her species suggested otherwise. “You’re teasing me again, aren’t you?”

    “Not at all. Let’s not forget that Force-users age slower and we Chiss are naturally in good shape, and combinations of both those things are incredibly rare.” She then switched the subject back. “Anyway, my point is you were lucky to have the Valkoran get you out of that cave, and they’re probably going back to shooting at you on this planet. So, I’m going to be your back-up on the off-chance you see her again.”

    “I’m glad you’ve got my back.” Zolph made his way for his quarters. “Let me gear up and I’ll meet you at the Manta.”

    Hours later, the Blazing Manta made it to Korriban. They flew past several statues before settling down in a valley. Both Zolph and Grein then exited the vessel and progressed through the valley.

    Zolph shivered. “Is it just me, or is Korriban pretty cold for a desert planet.”

    “It’s just you.” Grein answered him. “The Valley of the Dark Lords does that to non-Sith.”

    "So you're a Sith?" Zolph jokingly asked.

    "I've been here once before. It doesn't have quite the same effect on me now as it did the first time."

    “Ah. So it is just me being creeped out. So how far are we from our destination?”

    “We’ll know we’re close when we see any Valkoran troops or equipment around or start sensing dead spots in the Force.”

    Zolph’s comlink rang. It was Luke speaking on the comlink. “Skywalker to Vaelor: We just got some intel on the Valkoran leaders on this planet. They are Neur and Machinus.”

    “So I’m dealing with two of them at once now. But that gives me a little more of a lead to finish this mission sooner. Just being on this planet’s giving me the creeps.”

    “Try to find a way to keep your mind off the horrors of this planet.”

    “Okay. Can we talk about…” Zolph paused as he looked at his surroundings. “The sand?”


    “Why not?”

    “It’s sand. It’s just trillions of particle-sized rocks. Besides, I’m talking with my father’s ghost right now.”

    “What? Does he hate sand and how it’s everywhere on desert planets?”

    “Don’t. Push it.”

    Zolph shrugged. “I don’t get what the big deal is, but okay.”

    Grein then interrupted. “Shouldn’t we be getting back to the bigger issue at hand: the Archfiend?”

    “Sorry. I’ve got get to keep focused at the same time, but that itself was a good enough distraction while it lasted.” Zolph then turned off the comlink.

    Moving further away from the Valley, Zolph then heard a beastly howl. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

    Suddenly, a large quadrupedal, black-skinned creature with glowing red eyes, three horns and sharp fangs lunged at Zolph from behind a rock and pinned him down on the ground. The creature drooled over his face before attempting to bite it off.

    Zolph blocked the creature’s jaws with his prosthetic arm and then quickly snapped its jaws from in-between before snapping its neck in turn.

    “Well, that came out of nowhere. What the hell is this thing?” Zolph asked.

    “This is a type of Sithspawn. This particular kind is called a Tuk’ata, also known as a Sith Hound,” Grein answered him.

    “So, this ugly thing is what the Valks named their new fighter tanks after?”

    “Very curious considering the Valkoran are mostly against Force alchemy. I guess they both admire and fear these abominations enough to name a tank after them. But this one wasn’t an ordinary Tuk’ata.” She then examined the creature’s corpse closer, noticing several mutations as well as a familiar black goo bleeding out of it. She cautiously ignited the main blade of her lightsaber and tapped the goo, causing it to evaporate, but it reacted as if it were a living creature.

    “Oh Sithspit! The Collective’s here?! I thought we quarantined them on Sleheyron!”

    “I’m not sure. We didn’t really so much quarantine them as not give them ideas of what planets to invade next, because that was only a fraction of the entire Collective and they’re probably only waiting for their next orders or setting up other staging points. Thankfully for us, Korriban’s mostly unpopulated aside from native animals and Sithspawn. And that means we’re pretty close. In the meantime, expect more of these things as well as other types of creatures like that on this planet.”

    Zolph activated his comlink and contacted Luke again as a precaution. “Vaelor to Skywalker: We’ve got a new problem. Are there any unrecognized ships – mechanical or organic – in orbit or that have entered Korriban’s atmosphere recently?”

    “No. Just the Valkoran fleet, our scouts and you two. Why do you ask? Are we fighting any leftover Vong zealots that didn’t get the word?”

    “Negative. We just encountered a Forceless-possessed Tuk’ata. I’m making sure our friends from Sleheyron didn’t come here.”

    “We’ll talk more about this when you’re done with this mission. Skywalker out.” The transmission ended.

    Progressing further through the canyons, they fought more of the creatures – possessed or not - including Shyracks, a species of eyeless flyers that the Valkoran also named their strike bombers after. Moving further, they noticed some of the Korriban wildlife fighting with some Valkoran troopers. When the beasts were slain, the Valkoran troopers had the sense to shoot the Black Matter coming out of the Forceless-possessed beasts if it tried to move towards them.

    “Yep, we’re definitely getting close to the Archfiend.” Zolph said. Moving along and passing by a Sigma-class shuttle and Behemoth-class landing craft, they noticed two Valkoran troopers standing guard outside the entrance of some elaborate ruins. “And what do you know, a pair of ruins that isn’t in designated Sith territory.”

    “Careful.” Grein warned him. “These ruins still have signs of Ancient Sith influence in addition to that of the Rakata. So keep your guard up at all times, and not just physically. Don’t forget why I decided to tag along for this mission.”

    After quietly dispatching the troopers guarding the entrance, they entered the ruins.

    Moving through the ruins, Zolph and Grein fought through several Valkoran personnel as well as more Forceless Tuk’ata. They eventually came into a room with only a few pillars and what looked like a sarcophagus.

    “Okay, so clearly, we’re in another tomb, and it was built in a pair of Rakata ruins, but what’s it doing isolated far from the other dead Sith Lords?” Zolph asked.

    He then heard a voice echoing in the room. “Jedi…”

    “Let me guess: this place is haunted too.” He suddenly saw a ghostly but regally dressed figure with red skin and spiny protrusions coming from his face appear before his eyes.

    “You dare trespass into my kingdom!” The ghost proclaimed.

    Rather than be intimidated, Zolph asked him questioningly. “Your kingdom? You're dead.”

    “Insolent worm! I am Lord Azath of the Sith! You will show me respect! Have my people sunk so low?!”

    “Yeah, they kinda have. And they’ve been defeated again… and again. From what I hear, it’s partially because you keep killing each other.”

    “You dare mock our traditions?! Only the strongest shall rule and survive!”

    “And the results speak for themselves. But really, are drama classes a requirement in Sith studies? So, ‘Lord’, why weren’t you buried in the Valley like the rest of your fellow Dark Lords? Did they exile you?”

    “I sought a new source of power, left behind by the invaders that came millennia before my time. My people thought they had purged all of the invaders’ influence from this planet and made it completely their own. However, they didn’t know of this place, where a peculiarity in the Force lay. In my self-imposed exile, I sought to tame this power, but it refused to obey me. So instead, I replicated this power for my own use and became a god!”

    “Wait a second. You ‘replicated’ this power? Forceless aren’t even Dark Side constructs. How did you ‘make’ them? And how could you possibly control them? They’re parasites!”

    “You envy my power! Embrace the darkness and my secrets can be all yours!”

    Zolph then yawned. “Meh. I’ll pass.”

    “Foolish child! I offer you power, and you turn it down?!”

    “I’ve tasted the Dark Side before. All I can say is it’s overrated.”

    “You try to mask your feelings, but I can feel your fear and anxiety, young one. I will only offer you this once more!”

    “My answer is no. I’ve already tasted it before, and I was far from impressed.”

    Lord Azath got enraged. “Very well! If you will not embrace the Dark Side, then I will make you wish you had!” He then disappeared.

    “I have a bad feeling about this.” Grein said.

    “What’s he gonna do? Summon more possessed…” Zolph turned around to see the same nude figure with a second layer of skin he saw on Dagobah. “Sithspawn! Not you again!” He said with fear in his voice as he slowly backed away while putting his hand near his weapons.

    The grotesque apparition of Dynn Manthis then spoke to him in her distorted voice while she slowly walked towards him. “We didn’t finish our thing last time we met, Zolphy. Why don’t you ditch the blue schutta and we have our alone time.”

    “I-I’d rather not be alone with you!”

    Grein spoke with some worry in her voice. “Zolph! Whatever you’re seeing right now, it isn’t there! Do not give into it!”

    He spoke to the apparition again. “Maybe if I kill you, you’ll go away!” He then drew out his blaster pistol and fired at her head, causing it to explode into black smears – showing that she wasn’t even human anymore - before she collapsed dead on the floor and melted away. “Well, that was easily taken of.” He turned around again only to see her sanding up again three feet in front of him, but headless. “Shavit! I spoke too soon!”

    The abomination lifted her serpentine right arm towards him and moved it like a hideous sock puppet while she spoke. “That wasn’t very nice.” Of course, Zolph noticed that she was really speaking through her abdomen, and noticed her breast-eyes tilt upwards to look at and startle him. “Don’t you know it’s rude to stare at a woman’s chest? Of course, they never said anything about it staring back.” She then regenerated her head from the neck up. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

    Grein yelled to Zolph. “Follow me! And quickly!” Grein then dashed for a corridor and Zolph followed her, getting as far away from the monstrosity as possible.

    The apparition slowly walked towards him despite the fact that Zolph was running away from her. “Why are you running away from me?” She asked innocently. Of course, Zolph knew she was trying to lure him into a false sense of security and tried to ignore her.

    When it seemed the two had lost her, Zolph briefly glanced over his shoulder just to see Dynn standing right behind him.

    She asked again with frustration in her voice. “YOU DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION! WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?!”

    Zolph was briefly speechless before answering. “B-b-because I don’t want to die yet!”


    Grein got his attention again. “Ignore her! Keep following me and don’t look back!” She then kept moving forward and Zolph pursued, while dodging lashes from Dynn’s arm tongue.

    GET BACK HERE!!” She yelled at him as she pursued.

    Several minutes later of more run-ins with her around corners of the ruins, Zolph and Grein made it to a large and completely empty room. It seemed they had finally gotten away from her.

    “I think we’ve lost her!” Zolph said with relief.

    But suddenly, a black arm much like the mutated Dynn’s right arm lashed at him from above and made him fall on his back. He looked up to see a pitch black ceiling with a large single glowing red eye coming from it, as well as more arms reaching down for him.

    Dynn’s distorted voice echoed through the room. “NO YOU HAVEN’T! YOU’LL NEVER ESCAPE ME AS LONG AS YOU WANT ME AROUND!! JUST GIVE UP AND ACCEPT IT!!” The arms then grabbed around him and started pulling him up towards the ceiling, which then revealed a large gaping maw ready to swallow him whole.

    Zolph, feeling more hopeless than ever, yelled to Grein. “Go on without me, Grein! Just stop the Archfiend!”

    While she couldn’t see what Zolph was seeing – in fact, Zolph wasn’t really being pulled off the ground to be eaten alive by a bodiless Forceless -, Grein did realize that Zolph was under a lot of psychological stress, and she tagged along for this very reason. “No!” Grein responded. “I’m not leaving you behind to die like this!” She then raised her hand towards him. Suddenly, Zolph blacked out.

    Some amount of time later, Zolph started to regain consciousness. As he came to his senses, he could hear Grein freaking out about something.

    “I’m sorry, Emilin! I didn’t have any other choice! I truly wish I could have prevented this!”

    Of course, Zolph couldn’t see anyone else in the room, but given what he had recently been through, he knew Grein was going through something similar and felt compelled to return the favor for earlier. He got up and hit her in the head with his right hand, causing her to break out of her panic.

    “Ow!” Grein then clutched at the back of her head. “Next time, hit me with your other arm. But thanks for getting me out of that, anyway.”

    “Sorry about that. I sometimes forget how strong this thing is. By the way, who’s Emilin?”

    “Okay, so you apparently heard me. She’s my younger sister.”

    “Wait, you have a sister? You never told me about that.”

    “I didn’t exactly feel it was relevant before, but we’ll talk about it later.”

    “Anyway, how long was I out?”

    “About half-an-hour. I waited here to keep you from being eaten by Tuk’ata or Shyracks.”

    “I was out for that long, and you waited that long just for me? But what about the Archfiend?”

    “Don’t worry. They haven't been summoned yet, and we’re actually pretty close to them.”

    “I think I get it now. I’m not just incredibly screwed up; I’m subconsciously suicidal. When she died, I thought I had lost all reason to keep living. But I know this galaxy still needs me, and we’ve still got the Collective to worry about.”

    “Find something else to live for besides political or religious servitude. Don’t overburden yourself.”

    “You know, that’s funny. She told me that just before she died, and I’ve failed so far at doing that. Even though I saw her die and gave her a burial, I can’t shake the feeling that she’s still alive somewhere.”

    “I’m sorry, Zolph, but you’ll just have to accept that she’s dead. For now, think about something else. We’ve still got an Archfiend to dispose of.”

    “I’m right with you. And I should go ahead and get this out of my system: I! Hate! Sith ghosts! I hate 'em with all my hate!”

    The two then moved deeper underground in the ruins.

    Just a few minutes later, Zolph and Grein had reached the summoning room, which consisted of a platform surrounded by lava illuminating the room.

    Zolph responded to the site. “No wonder it started getting hot in these ruins.”
    He then noticed a figure among the Valkoran acolytes: an albino Twi’lek woman dressed modestly in black aside from an exposed midsection. Her head-tails and ears were covered by a headband, black stockings and metal coatings on the ends.

    Zolph addressed her. “Okay, the show’s ov-…”

    Zolph was interrupted when the Twi’lek turned around and enthusiastically greeted him. “Hi! Did you come to watch the arrival of Cinydra?” She had some black markings on her face and she was clearly only a few years older than him, even if she was chronologically centuries older than him.

    Zolph was a little baffled. “Ooookay. That’s new. Aside from Maesterus, I haven’t heard of the Valks being that happy to see me.”

    “Are you Zolph Vaelor?”

    “Which of you people haven’t heard of me?”

    “I’m Neur! And I am so glad to finally meet you! You’re actually kinda cute. And I was hoping you’d join our side sooner.”

    Grein then teased Zolph. “Looks like you’re very popular with the girls these days, Zolph.”

    “Shut up.” Zolph replied with annoyance.

    One of the acolytes then got up and spoke to Neur. “Lady Neur, may I remind you that boy is here to thwart our ritual?”

    “Oh, silly me! I forgot that you are our enemy!” Still cheerful, she then drew her lightsaber - which had a curved hilt with a metal spike on the end and emitted a magenta blade – with her left hand. “I’m sorry, but we can’t have you crashing Cinydra’s greeting party. Please leave now or surrender so I don’t have to hurt you, because I really don’t want to.”

    “Sorry to burst your bubble, Neur, but I can’t. That thing you’re summoning is a menace. If you don’t want to kill or maim me, you can always just turn your back on them.”

    “No can do, Zolph. The Valkoran are like my family. I can’t betray them after what they’ve done for me.”

    “Very well.” Zolph then drew out his lightsaber. “If it’s any comfort, I promise I won’t kill you.”

    “Okay, then! Just mind the lekku. I really need those things.” She charged towards Zolph and slashed at him. The two of them blade-locked, prompting Neur to steer the spike on her hilt towards Zolph.

    Zolph dodged backward to avoid being stabbed by the spike. Of course, Zolph was not used to fighting left-handed foes, so he did not know exactly what to predict move-wise. However, fighting someone with a different lightsaber type had become a little more common for him, since the acolytes he had fought in the past six months of the war had varying types such as double-bladed sabers, tonfa sabers and previously unheard of types such as lightclaws. Curved hilts had become nearly obsolete in style, so this was still unfamiliar territory for him, but that may have been the purpose of the design, and putting a spike on the end adds more tricks to the table.

    They clashed blades until Neur made a spinning strike, in which Zolph impulsively cut off both of her lekku at once. He then realized what he had done. “Whoops! I forget that I wasn’t supposed to touch those! Sorry!” He then noticed the fracture points were sparking and her eyes widening with insanity. Apparently, those head-tails were prosthetics.

    Neur then gave a wide grin and spoke. “What are you talking abou-?” She looked at Grein, who had been busy dealing with the acolytes. She then looked back at Zolph and got angry. “Who the hell is that?!”

    “Grein? She was here the whole time. You’re only now noticing her?”

    She then started slashing at Zolph frantically. “She’s using you! All women are users!”

    “Great!” Zolph said sarcastically. “First, I have to deal with a psychotic woman spawned by my twisted imagination. Now, I have to deal with a psychotic woman in reality!”

    Zolph slashed at her left arm – but not cutting it off - in an attempt to incapacitate her, but she did not even react to the injury despite the fact she got some of her flesh burned.

    “Are you even functioning?” Zolph then shot at her legs. She didn’t even try to block the shots and she didn’t even react to the wounds received from those either.

    She continued to make uncoordinated slashes at Zolph. “I’m the only girl who won't take advantage of you and you kriffing know it!”

    “Oh, come on. I’m not that interested in her! Hell, I’m not even interested in pursuing any relationships at the moment!” He then apologetically spoke to Grein. “No offense.”

    “None taken.” Grein responded as she finished off the acolytes.

    Neur spoke again. “You don't understand! She's going to hurt you!” She then charged at Zolph before suddenly collapsing on her knees.

    Neur started screaming and crying in pain, clutching at the spots not just where Zolph had wounded her, but in various other parts including her facial tattoos and lekku sockets. “My skin burns! Needles in my face! Everything hurts! And it’s so hot in here!” In the process of grabbing at the various wounds she may have received in her life, she knocked the broken lekku from their sockets, revealing the ports for her cybernetic replacements.

    While Zolph wondered what was going on with the childishly violent Twi’lek, another thought crossed his mind. “Wait a second. Wasn’t there a second Valkoran leader here on this planet? I only sense Neur and Grein here.” Suddenly, he was barraged with blaster fire.

    A mechanical, but male voice echoed from a distance. “Hey!”

    Zolph looked up to see what looked like a robotic Nautolan with silver plating, multi-jointed legs, wrist blasters, blue photoreceptors and a lightsaber. “Well, no wonder. The other leader’s a droid?”

    The droid Nautolan then flew down to the platform using built-in propulsion jets and landed right next to Neur, pointing his blasters at both Zolph and Grein. “What the hell did you do?!” He asked accusingly.

    Neur continued crying. “Cid, I’m hurting! Make it stop!”

    “Hang in there, Neur. I’ll get you home soon and fix you up.”

    Zolph apologized. “I’m very sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to hurt her that much.”

    The droid answered him. “Don’t worry about the part about the needles. That happened when she was little. She doesn’t react to injuries until minutes after she’s received them, and when she does react, she even feels every other injury she’s had in her life again and again. But her head-tails. Do you have any idea what those things are for?!”

    “Not really.”

    “Twi’leks are almost as common as humans, and you don’t know?! They’re part of her brain, you idiot! It’s bad enough that bastard Masochus keeps messing with her replacements to the point they malfunction occasionally. I don’t need some biology-ignorant kid making things worse!”

    Zolph then felt really guilty. More accurately, he felt like a jerk. “Again, I’m truly sorry, Mister… um….Cid?”

    “Cid Geero’s my name, but just call me Machinus. And hey, now you know something new.”

    “Can I help you with her?”

    “No. You’ve done enough to her. Just leave her alone right now and let me take care of her.” Machinus lifted Neur into his arms. “Besides, don’t you two have an extragalactic monster to kill?” He then flew away into a passageway and the summoning circle flashed, followed by the room rumbling.

    “Damn! Cinydra! I forgot all about them!”

    Suddenly, a large red-skinned creature emerged from the lava. This creature had a torso resembling a human skull – including facial features – with two large legs, a tail, and two wings that could only help it jump short distances. Coming out of the eye and nose sockets were three serpentine necks with heads that looked just like the torso on their ends.

    “Is it just me, or are these Archfiends getting weirder?”

    The Archfiend spoke with all four of its mouths. “Are you Zolph Vaelor?”

    “What do you know: another talking Archfiend. It still feels weird listening to a non-humanoid speak Basic.” Zolph then answered the multi-headed beast. “Yes, I’m Zolph Vaelor. I’m sure you and every other fanatical lackey of the Collective knows who I am.”

    “I’ve waited three months to fight you! Now you will pay for killing my sister!”

    Zolph asked with a puzzled look. “Sister? Who?”

    “Do you remember Orotice?!”

    “Uh…no. I don’t know who that is.”


    “Sorry, I’ve defeated a lot of Archfiends and I didn’t get to hear the names of all of them. Maybe you can give me a planet and I’ll remember?”

    “You killed Orotice on Belsavis.”

    “Oh yeah! Now I remember! But you two don’t have any resemblance aside from having multiple heads."

    “But enough talk! Now you will pay for taking her life!”

    “I hate to rain on your parade, but I killed her because she was going to kill many other people, including me.”

    “We don’t have a choice! We either serve the Collective or it makes us serve!” The mouths on Cinydra’s three heads opened wide, glowed bright yellow and hurled three fireballs at Zolph and Grein.

    The both of them dodged backward and evaluated their methods of attack while dodging more fire blasts.

    Grein voiced her observations first. “Lightsabers are out of the question since he’s obviously standing in lava right now. We’ll either need to use projectiles or try to get him on the platform.”

    Zolph responded. “If he can survive in lava, he’s obviously got some heat resistance, therefore blasters are out of the question too. Don’t know if lightsabers can still cut through him, though. However, I’m betting his insides are pretty sensitive. The same applied to Mandoculus on Dagobah.”

    Cinydra spat another fireball from his left head at Zolph, who then used the Force to redirect it right back to the sending head. The blast hardly scathed his skin, but it did cause him to flinch a little.

    “Just as I thought.” Zolph looked to Grein. “Grein, could you hold him still for me?”

    Cinydra then launched another fireball from his left head.


    Grein used the Force to immobilize the sending head while its mouth was still open. Zolph redirected the fireball back again, this time into the head’s mouth, causing the head itself to explode and for Cinydra to scream through his remaining three mouths.

    Cinydra then used his relatively small wings to hop out of the lava and onto the platform. Both Zolph and Grein jumped just before he landed so they wouldn’t be knocked down by the shockwave. “So you managed to scratch me a bit! But I’m not down yet!” The remaining two serpentine heads then shot streams of fire from their mouths, something Zolph and Grein could repel but not redirect.

    His right head lunged at Grein, caught her in his mouth, and bit into her after lifting her off the ground.

    “Grein!” Zolph panicked before watching Grein liquefy her entire body and slide down that head’s throat.

    Suddenly, the head started choking before passing out. After that head had died, a yellow lightsaber ruptured out of the neck and cut a full circle around, separating the head from the body. Grein then jumped out fully formed.

    “Oh, right! I forgot you could do that. Are you ever going to teach me how to do that?”

    “Not gonna happen.” Grein answered.

    “Why not?”

    “Just trying to do it can be dangerous.”

    The last and central head then tried to bite at Zolph, who had just readied a cryoban grenade to throw into its mouth. Once the grenade landed in his gullet, the entire head froze over and Zolph decapitated it with his lightsaber, but slowly due to the natural heat resistance. However, Cinydra was not dead yet and shot a much bigger fireball from its torso-bound mouth. It then formed some eyes on the points where the smaller heads were severed. Now, he just looked a giant skull with wings, legs and a tail.

    The torso head yelled to Zolph. “Fool! Didn’t you learn from fighting my sister that we only have one brain?”

    “Okay, so your torso is your actual head.” Zolph responded.

    Zolph distracted the creature while Grein attacked from behind, cutting his wings off as well as his tail to limit his balance, causing him to roar in anger.

    YOU WILL BOTH BURN!” Cinydra then sprayed a large stream of fire towards Zolph, but the lack of a tail and wings made him lose his balance and topple over on his back.

    While he was helpless and struggled to get up, Zolph ran up to him and dropped a thermal detonator in his mouth, which it couldn’t keep closed since the way it was formed, it was always at least partially open. The grenade exploded in his mouth, only frying his heart but not blowing him to pieces like it did Mandoculus.

    Cinydra muttered as he lay dying, “Orotice. Forgive your older brother. But at least we’re both free now…” His eyes then stopped glowing and fell limp.

    “Great. That’s two times in one day I feel like a complete jerk.” Zolph said remorsefully.

    Grein stood there silently thinking to herself. “Hang in there, Emilin. I’ll try to save you as soon as I can too, no matter what it takes.”

    Later, as the Blazing Manta voyaged through hyperspace back to Ossus, Zolph and Grein discussed what they had encountered throughout the day.

    “Grein, I’m very glad you stuck with me for as long as you have. If you hadn’t, I’d probably be in a mental ward, dead, or a nihilistic Dark Jedi.” Zolph complimented her.

    “Hey, you don’t have to keep thanking me. I don’t even think you’re a burden. Besides, you do a pretty good job looking out for me as I do for you.”

    “Thanks. Anyway, what was with that crazy Twi’lek girl and the droid?”

    “What I know about the Valkoran are from scattered outdated sources, so I don’t know much about Neur, but from what I can guess, she’s relatively new compared to the other Valkoran leadership. I noticed those tattoos on her face are Nightsister tattoos.”


    “They are one of the several matriarchal groups of Force-sensitive witches on the planet Dathomir, so that means she’s less than 600 years old chronologically. But these witches practiced the Dark Side. However, from what I know, the Nightsisters were not very racially diverse. They were mostly human, aside from cross-breeding with male Zabraks that were imported later in their history and creating a new species that became endangered during the Clone War. However, I can assume she’s from a time before cross-breeding was acceptable in their culture. They may have assumed that her lekku were some hideous tumors and had them cut off to mold her in their image, inadvertently lobotomizing her in the process. And from what I can also gather by her behavior when her prosthetics malfunctioned, they may have treated her as a reject for being mixed-species, and that may be why she lashes out at other women.”

    “That’s… a very messed up theory, and if it's accurate, I feel even worse for now. But what’s the deal with the droid?”

    “Machinus is the chief director and engineer for the Valkoran tech division. And in addition to weapons and droid technology, he’s also an expert in cybernetics, and that includes neural implants. And considering how protective he was of her, I can assume they see each other as a surrogate father and daughter.”

    “Still, he’s quite... lively for a droid. And why does he have a name instead of a serial number?” Zolph changed the subject. “As for the stupid ghost that traumatized me, he said he replicated the Forceless. Is it possible that someone or something created these things? And is it possible that not all Forceless are part of the Collective we are fighting against?”

    “It’s a possibility, and it may explain why the possessed creatures didn’t all prioritize you as their target, and why we didn’t see any of the army creatures we saw on Sleheyron.”

    “And it may explain that bounty hunter, Gestroma, if he isn’t really just another lackey of the Collective posing as a mercenary. I guess we’ll find out more about him once the Alliance has something to report about him.” Zolph changed the subject again. “And you said you had a sister?”


    “You don’t have to tell me everything, but can you tell me what happened to her?”

    “I lost her to the Collective some time before I met you on Sleheyron. I don’t know if she’s still alive, but if she is, I intend to free her.”

    “By ‘free’, you mean kill her right?”

    “Unfortunately, because as you well know, there isn’t much else I can do for her.”

    “So, that probably explains why you were so interested in the Collective before they became a public issue.”

    “That’s one of my reasons. But I can’t share them all with you at this moment. We still need to report our findings to Skywalker, and there are still four more Archfiends on that list. And thankfully, Valkor has just wasted the best planet to use against you.”
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
  23. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 5: Resolve

    One month has passed since Zolph Vaelor’s mission to Korriban, and staying away from the frontlines for an extended period of time has actually eased his mind significantly. In the meantime, the Valkoran have attempted false leaks of Archfiend locations on other planets heavily tainted by the Dark Side such as Dromund Kaas, Bogden and Malachor III, but scouting efforts by other Jedi have confirmed that they were all just bait for trying to torment Zolph. Over time and with enough social interactions between people like Luke Skywalker, Grein, Hiriss Moraana and R9-C4, he has gotten past his subconscious suicidal thoughts, but now the Valkoran have launched a campaign on another one of the planets on the list: Onderon.

    Zolph met up with Luke and Grein in the academy’s war room. To his surprise, Hiriss was there too.

    “Hi, Zolph,” the half-Mirialan greeted him before noticing the surprised look on his face. “What’s with that look on your face? Are you being tormented by hallucinations of my cousin again?”

    Zolph answered. “No, and so far, it’s only been in Dark Side-influenced areas that she’s tried to kill me, and to be honest, the nightmares are actually becoming less frequent. I’m just surprised to see you in here of all places.”

    “I’m a Jedi, Zolph. I still have a responsibility to peace-keeping, so I’m not really as much of a slacker as my recent time here seems to imply.”

    “Oh yeah.”

    Luke then interrupted their conversation. “If you kids are done, we’ve got a new mission, and as you would’ve guessed from me calling you here, Zolph, the Valks have prioritized another location on that disc: the Onderon system.”

    Zolph responded. “Alright, but this isn’t another false lead into a Dark Side-tainted planet, is it? As you well know, their bastard of a leader has been trying desperately to weaponize those planets against me.”

    Grein chimed in. “There isn’t much to worry about this time, Zolph. There is only one particular area in the system tainted by the Dark Side, and that’s the tomb of ancient Sith Lord, Freedon Nadd, which is on the jungle moon of Dxun. Speaking of which, the Valkoran seem to be launching their attacks on Iziz from there.”

    “So I take it that our Archfiend summoning site is on Dxun?” Zolph then followed that up sarcastically. “Fan-kriffing-tastic! More psychological horrors to deal with!”

    “If it’s any consolation, it’s only one part of that moon where the taint is, and if you’re lucky, you may not have to go through Nadd’s tomb.”

    “You’re not coming along again?”

    “I came with you to Korriban because I knew it would be too much for you to handle on your own, but I can’t look after you all the time. No one can get through every part of their life on their own, but like I told you in the earlier days of the war, some challenges you will have to conquer on your own. Sorry if I sound like a schutta, but a tainted tomb is nothing compared to a planet, and said tomb may be the ultimate test to see if you can overcome your fears. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem since you’ve experienced far worse last month.”

    “You know, Grein, some people – especially those really overprotective parents - would protest your teaching methods since they’re nearly ‘sink or swim’ in process…”

    “But a good teacher makes sure that her students are prepared to handle some challenges on their own.”

    “And that’s exactly what you’re doing.” Zolph spoke to Luke again. “But what’s Hiriss’s role in all this?”

    “While you’re on Dxun, Hiriss is going to help the Alliance forces on Onderon.”

    Hiriss then spoke. “I believe someone in the Valkoran Empire may have doctored the data you got from Charros to deliberately mislead you into believing that the summoning site is on Onderon, but the heavy activity on the moon says otherwise.”

    Zolph responded. “Now I’m starting to get the feeling that Arcidus deliberately let me steal that information from the archive before faking his own death. Speaking of leaders, who are the bigwigs in-charge of this campaign?”

    Luke answered. “General Choi is leading our forces while Machinus leads the Valks.”

    “So Machi’s in charge, huh? Since I’ve already met him before…” Zolph then showed an electromagnetic pulse grenade. “I’ve got a little present for him now that I know what he is.”

    Grein then replied sarcastically. “Good luck with that. I hear Machinus’s combat capabilities are nearly on par with any Force users, and given that he’s a tech expert, he’s probably too smart to fall for EMP grenades.” Grein then recalled some other information useful to the mission. “Before you two head out, I’ve got some other information on the Archfiend you’re dealing with in case he makes it to this galaxy. Unlike Cinydra, Fafniros can actually fly, so you may need to fight him via starship if he gets here.”

    “Noted. Now let’s get out. We’re not making progress standing around chatting.”

    Zolph and Hiriss then headed for the hangar.

    Much later, both of the academy’s students arrived in the Onderon system – Zolph piloting his prototype X-Wing along with Seefor and Hiriss piloting a T-65XJ3 X-Wing. They saw several Alliance and Valkoran ships skirmishing with each other, but grouped with the Valkoran ships were ships not of their design.

    “I’ve never seen those ships before, but they’re clearly not Valkoran.” Hiriss told Zolph. “I’m guessing they’ve hired mercenaries again?”

    “Those aren’t mercs, Hiriss. Those are Kur’Ada ships.”

    “You mean those crazy Force-disconnected Miraluka carrying out a crusade to purge the galaxy of Force users?”


    “Then why are they helping the Valkoran then? Aren’t their leaders Force-sensitive?”

    “Never met a hypocrite before?”

    “I was just about to say something along those lines.”

    Seefor then chimed in. “Seefor = Kill cyborgs?”

    Zolph answered the droid. “No, we’re to eliminate an Archfiend. The Kur’Ada are just a nuisance.”

    “Seefor = Disappointed. // Seefor = Kill Archfiend?”

    “From what Grein told us, this one can fly, so you might get the chance to.”

    “Objective = Satisfactory.”

    Suddenly, a squadron of the Kur’Ada’s Glaive-class interceptors teamed up with some of the Valkoran’s Firaxa-class starfighters started swarming both Zolph and Hiriss. “Heads up!”

    “Now would be a really good time to split up!” Hiriss said.

    Both he and Hiriss split off to head for their respective destinations while they fought off the fighters: Hiriss to Onderon and Zolph to Dxun.

    As Zolph approached the jungle moon’s surface, he spotted a pack of Behemoth-class dropships taking off, pretty much notifying him of where the Valkoran had placed their staging grounds, and a lead to where the Archfiend temple is. However, before he could get close enough, he was greeted by the typical MAAD Pod battalion, forcing him to fly away from the camp.

    “Again with the damn MAAD pods!” Zolph complained. “They never let me get the job done sooner!”

    Seefor then chimed in. “Zolph = Not let C4 have fun. // Zolph = Cheater.”

    “Just find the closest place we can land without getting shot down, okay?”

    “Landing = No problem. // Moon = Covered with craters.”

    As Seefor looked for the closest clearing, Zolph received a transmission on his communicator, and the source of the transmission was actually close by.

    “Varessi…Vaelor….Captain Varessi to Zolph Vaelor.”

    “Xad?” Zolph responded with surprise. “What are you doing here on Dxun?”

    “General Choi got word from Skywalker that the Valks may be using the moon as a staging ground, and that there may be another Archfiend there. So he sent me and Besh Squad to do some scouting. Since I assume you’re here about that, just follow the transmission source to find us.”

    “Gotcha.” Zolph then spoke to Seefor as he ended the transmission. “Change of plans, Seefor: find the closest clearing to Besh Squad.”

    Zolph then followed Besh Squad’s coordinates.

    After landing at the site, Zolph got out of his fighter and had Seefor stand guard and protect the fighter from any immediate threats, considering the carnage she inflicted during the Battle of Dagobah.

    As he moved through some of jungle passageways, Zolph was suddenly ambushed by a pack of Bomas, large green-scaled lizards with tusks. Zolph drew out his lightsaber, but before any could attack, the Bomas were gunned down. He then looked to see it was Besh Squad who took them out, with all their guns warm.

    “You guys sure do love your dramatic entrances, don’t ya?” Zolph asked the band of misfits.

    “Well, you’re one to talk.” Bad Kitty said back to him.

    Zolph noticed someone else with the squad: a female pale-skinned Kyuzo with long black hair, several scars, a cybernetic eye and armed with a sniper rifle, a heavy blaster pistol, a combat knife and the customary Kyuzo utility hat. “I presume you’re new to Besh Squad?”

    Xadisall answered him back. “Zolph, meet Spectre, our sharpshooter and stealth specialist. You’ve never met her before, but she’s actually been part of Besh Squad for a long time. In fact, most people don’t even know that she exists.”

    The pale Kyuzo then greeted Zolph with a simple “Hello.”

    “Not much for words, I see. I could understand where she would’ve been on Dagobah, but why wasn’t she with us on the Doomsayer infiltration?” Zolph asked.

    Spectre then answered him with a rhetorical question. “How often do you see my people serving major military powers?”

    “Good point. You probably would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb.” Zolph then spoke to Xad again. “Anyway, Squad, what have you gathered on this area?”

    “The Valks have set up a staging ground near the tomb of Freedon Nadd.”

    “Figures.” Zolph said with a sense of dreading. “I’m guessing Nadd was another power-crazed Sith Lord who sought to harness the Forceless for his own use, and that’s why he had his tomb built around Fafniros’ temple.”

    “Actually, I consulted with General Choi about this, and it turns out Nadd’s tomb wasn’t always on Dxun. The ancient Jedi Master Arca Jeth relocated it here from Onderon after it and Nadd’s spirit were corrupting the Onderonian Royal Family. However, the General also theorizes that Jeth may have relocated the tomb to this specific area hoping to mask the Force Wound with the Dark Side aura since he might not have known how to properly dispose of it and didn’t want a power that was possibly worse than the Dark Side to fall into the wrong hands.”

    “Well, that may explain why I’m having trouble sensing the Wound, because I’ve noticed the temples’ auras are barely noticeable compared to the Forceless themselves.”

    “Also from our intel reports on getting to the area: Aside from the wildlife, the Valks have stationed a few Rancor tanks and assault droids outside the temple. As part of the typical jungle patrols, they’ve sent a few Shadow Troopers, walkers, and Tuk’ata tanks. Of course, the Kur’Ada Equalists have dedicated some of their forces down here too.”

    “You think I wouldn’t have guessed from seeing their ships in the space battle above us. Anyway, thanks for the leads. I’ll be heading for Nadd’s tomb now.”

    “We’ve softened up the defenses a little, and Spectre will provide some cover fire for you when you get within the tomb’s limits.”

    Zolph then continued his trek through the stormy jungle corridors, fighting off other predators including the cat-like Maalras and occasionally, the bulky Zakkeg, which as he observed was capable of toppling a Gundark walker.

    As Zolph got closer to the tomb, he was attacked by squads of masked Kur’Ada warriors, who bore a large single photoreceptor – the details of what they look like without the masks best left unknown since they never naturally had eyes to begin with - and were mostly melee specialists, often preferring to use cortosis swords. Zolph, having fought with their warriors before, quickly drew his blaster and disabled one of their photoreceptors. However, even when blinded, they were still a threat, because the warriors were trained to fight with their photoreceptors deactivated and enhanced their other perceptual senses. Despite their training for fighting Force-sensitives, they were still no match for Zolph and were quickly dispatched.

    Getting into the boundaries of the tomb, he noticed other third-party transports in the clearings aside from the Kur’Ada’s Hatchet-class gunships. Before he could step out of the corridor, he caught the scent of methane and could hear what sounded like a gas leak behind him. Before he could react, a Skakoan Commando ambushed him from behind and grappled him, getting ready to self-destruct. Zolph struggled to break free of the pressure-suited alien’s grasp and threw him a few feet away before he exploded.

    “GAH! I hate it when they do that! I wasn’t expecting the Skakos to be here!” Zolph said while panting. “Why these guys are willing blow themselves up despite being mercenaries is something I won’t ever completely understand.”

    Zolph then fought his way through the Valkoran encampment while Spectre attacked from the shadows, and made sure to take out the Skakoans first so they wouldn’t try to suicide-bomb Zolph.

    After going through the massive defense force, including a Manticore-class war droid, some more Kur’Ada warriors and their Halberd-class battle tanks, Zolph entered the tomb of Freedon Nadd.

    As Zolph moved past the entrance of the tomb, he could feel the presence of the Dark Side much more clearly. He then activated his comlink.

    “Vaelor to Besh Squad. I’ve made it into the tomb.”

    Over the comlink, Zolph could hear Bad Kitty laughing maniacally as he gunned down Valkoran troops with his assault cannon. “I SAID ‘MEOW'!”

    “Is he always like that?”

    Xadisall answered him. “Only when he’s in intense firefights. Otherwise, he’s usually pretty tame. Anyway, we’ve got the entrance covered, and we’re taking out the MAAD Pods.”

    “Good, because I may need a quick airlift should something happen in here. Vaelor out.” Zolph then turned off his comlink and fought his way through the tomb.

    Within a few minutes, he got to a large door. He tried to cut it open with his lightsaber, but a mixture of various lightsaber-resistant alloys in the door kept him from doing so.

    Zolph sighed in annoyance. “Looks like I’m gonna have to override the locks... like I usually do.”

    Before the large door were two branching pathways, both guarded by Kur’Ada warriors. He took one of the paths and fought off the warriors. Moving through two corridors and fighting off a few Shadow Troopers, he eventually reached an ancient computer terminal.

    Since the terminal was very old, Zolph did not even need to perform any complicated computer slicing techniques to access the systems, and overrode the lock systems on the large door in the main lobby. “Well, that was easy.”

    Suddenly, a surge of lightning burst from the terminal and channeled into Zolph’s skull for a few seconds. However, he didn’t feel any electrical currents going through his body, but he knew something was wrong. “Okay, that might not have been painful, but I still have a bad feeling about this.”

    He turned around, and predictably, saw the grotesque apparition of Dynn Manthis standing right behind him.

    “Hello, Zolphy. Did you miss me?” The apparition asked in a deceptively innocent tone.

    However, he wasn’t quite as fazed by her appearance as he was on Dagobah and Korriban, and spoke back to her with his arms crossed. “Of course; Dark Side mind tricks. And to answer your question: No, because you’re not the Dynn I knew, and I kind of saw you coming.”

    The apparition then responded with disappointment while stroking his face with one of her mandible-fingers, and they felt somewhat slimy. “Oh come on. Can’t you be a little happier to see me? Or show some other emotion?”

    Zolph promptly slapped the hand away from his face. “If you’re trying to make me uncomfortable, you jumped the Sarlacc on Korriban. If you’re here to make me kill myself with my own brain, you’re failing miserably.”

    “‘Jumped the Sarlacc’, huh? May I remind you that I'm part of you?!” Zolph’s mental integrity then slipped a little. “I’m not here to kill you, because you don’t have a death wish anymore.” Zolph then regained some of his composure before losing it again. “But if I wore out my welcome, then why am I here right now? By the way, I brought some friends.”

    Coming out from behind the walls of the terminal’s booth were what looked like Forceless-possessed versions of his friends and allies, including Luke, Grein, Hiriss, General Ven Choi and Besh Squad. Knowing that Dynn isn’t real, Zolph tried to break the illusion by attempting to contact Besh Squad on comlink, but he didn’t get a response.

    “Don’t even bother. They’re standing right in front of you.”

    “Join us!” They all said in unison.

    “But none of them would join the Collective! Oh, and Boltz does not refer to himself with first-person pronouns, singular or plural.” Zolph responded

    “Who said they joined by choice?” The apparition asked him before lifting him off the ground by his neck. “Just accept it, Zolph. This is fate. Will you join them and embrace the darkness, or will you be all alone in death?”

    “Fate?” Zolph coughed. “I couldn’t join them even if I wanted to! I’m immune to you parasites!”

    “But they aren’t. It will just be you, and the whole galaxy will be against you should you refuse this offer.”

    Zolph then calmed down and smiled smugly at her. “You want an answer? Here’s my answer: Kriff! You! The future hasn’t happened yet!” He then pulled his lightsaber from his belt and sliced the apparition in half, freeing him from her grasp even if it only stalled her. “And the nice part is it can change depending on our actions.”

    The other Forceless apparitions approached him with their weapons readied.

    “The same goes for the rest of you. You are just possibilities that can be prevented.” He then released a Force shockwave that incinerated them all. Of course, the Dynn apparition predictably regenerated behind him.


    “No, but I’ll just keep cutting you down until you go away, you ugly hag.” Zolph then ran from the terminal room and made his way back to the previously locked door.

    DON’T YOU DARE TALK THAT WAY ABOUT ME?!” Zolph didn’t respond back. “HEY!!! I AM TALKING TO YOU!!!” The apparition tried to lash her arm tongue at him from behind, but Zolph quickly slashed it off when it wrapped around his right arm.

    Zolph then responded in a mocking tone. “AND I AM NOT LISTENING!!!

    Zolph moved through the hallways, continuing to cut down the apparition as she ambushed him from around the corners.

    As Zolph got past the large door in the main hall, the hallucinations stopped harassing him, and he heard his comlink ringing. It was from Xadisall.

    “Hello?” Zolph answered.

    “Vaelor. You just tried to contact us and we responded, but you didn’t answer back for five minutes. What’s going on?”

    “You’d think I’m crazy if I told you.”

    “My C.O. is a barely-trained Jedi, I fought against some dogmatic aliens with organic technology, all of my squadmates have unusual backgrounds, and now, look what we’re fighting against besides the Valks. I’ll believe almost anything you have to say.”

    “I had a hallucination, and during said hallucination, I saw several Forceless-possessed people I knew, and you and your squad were among them. I tried to call you to confirm if they were fake or not, but I didn’t hear a response from you, hence why I didn’t respond back until now.”

    “Ah, so that explains the crazy talk we heard. Well, at least no one had to knock you out to keep you from killing yourself this time.”

    “Wait, who told you about that?”

    “General Choi, of course. He told us just in case it got that bad.

    Bad Kitty interrupted the conversation. “And we were just about to head into the tomb to save your butt.” He then lamented. “Thanks for ruining our fun.”

    “That’s too bad, because I’ve already had an absurdly strong Miraluka hit me in the head hard enough to put me in a coma and I’d rather not get a concussion from a Cathar doing the same thing, but I am glad to have heard your voices and that you thought to come in here. Anyway, continue keeping a look out, and if any of those MAAD Pods are still intact, man them. We might need them pretty soon.”

    “Understood. Besh Squad out.” The comlink transmission ended.

    Zolph eventually made it into the room where Freedon Nadd’s sarcophagus and a large reflecting pool lied and fought off a group of black-armored Kur’Ada elite warriors. They were a little more challenging than the standard Kur’Ada warriors, as they tend to also use ranged weapons such as blasters and explosive throwing knives in addition to their swords, but nevertheless, they were still no match for Zolph.

    Zolph then looked in the sarcophagus and only saw a mummified corpse inside, presumably Freedon Nadd’s. He wondered what was inside that was worth guarding. Looking around the burial chamber, he then noticed a lever. He pulled it, and the water in the reflecting pool started to lower; turns out the pool was a lot deeper than it looked – specifically thirty meters - and at the bottom was what looked like a passageway, possibly to the hidden Archfiend temple that the tomb was placed here to mask. Zolph then wondered if Arca Jeth deliberately left a path that can be opened so someone stronger could destroy the source of the wound.

    Zolph then jumped down into the bottom of the drained pool and entered the passageway.​
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
  24. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015
    Chapter 6: Sky Battle

    After Zolph Vaelor entered the passageway at the bottom of the reflecting pool in Freedon Nadd’s burial chamber and passed through what were clearly Rakatan ruins, he made it to the summoning chamber, where Machinus and two acolytes awaited. Zolph got their attention by immediately shooting down all of the probe droids monitoring the summoning.

    “He’s here, my lord!” One of the acolytes panicked.

    Machinus responded to the acolyte as he approached Zolph. “Focus on the ritual! You know I can’t summon Fafniros myself! I’ll deal with Vaelor!”

    “Yes, my lord.” The acolytes then continued their summoning ritual.

    The droid turned his attention towards Zolph. “Well, well. If it isn’t the idiot that broke Neur’s lekku…”

    “You’re not going to let me live that down, are you?” Zolph responded.

    “Not until you get smarter.”

    “Speaking of, you didn’t leave her unsupervised, did you?”

    “Don’t worry, Juga’s watching over while I’m here. The only people I wouldn’t trust her with are Masochus and Valkor.”

    “A lot of you seem to hate Masochus…”

    “More than you’d believe…”

    “Also, concerning you and Neur, what’s her backstory? My friend back on Korriban only had a theory suggesting an abusive childhood among the Nightsisters, including the lobotomized lekku.”

    “You can tell her that theory’s spot-on with what I know.” Machinus then pointed one of his wrist blasters towards Zolph. “Anyway, back to the present.”

    “That’s right: you’re a droid. By the way, I have a present for you.” Zolph suddenly pulled the EMP grenade from his belt, readied for it detonation and tossed it at Machinus. “CATCH!”

    Machinus casually caught the grenade in his left hand and started lamenting in a sarcastic tone. “Oh no! An EMP grenade! My most dreaded weakness! What a world!

    The grenade then let out on an electrostatic charge into Machinus, causing his blue photoreceptors to stop glowing and his body to go limp in place while the electricity was coursing through the tentacles on the back of his head.

    Zolph responded mockingly. “You should’ve thrown it back, dummy.” He looked to the acolytes, but they were untroubled and he looked back to Machinus, just noticing the electricity coursing through the tentacles.

    Machinus suddenly reactivated and his tentacles pointed towards Zolph. He yelled, “Just kidding!” and fired the stored electricity at Zolph, electrocuting him for five seconds and thankfully not killing him, as the grenade was designed only to disable machinery and not harm organics. Also thankfully, the way his prosthetic arm operated made it so it could move without electronic systems. Machinus’s tentacles then dropped back down.

    “You really planned ahead, didn’t you?” Zolph asked him, still recovering from the shock.

    “Oh please. You didn’t think I’d predict you bringing an EMP grenade after our first meeting? I’m an engineer, dammit! I made my body this way so I’d be almost as effective as before I became a droid.”

    Zolph was thrown off by that last statement. “Uh…run that last part by me again.”

    “Your confusion hardly surprises me, but also annoys me as it usually seems to suggest prejudice towards artificial intelligence. Do you remember hearing that I had an actual name?”

    “Sorry if I offended you because of that. Cid Geero, right?”

    “That was the name I was given at birth. As my body design suggests, I was not just a Nautolan, but I was also a Jedi. I transferred my consciousness to this droid I built – originally a battle droid made for combating Force users - after I was fatally injured. I may have lost my ability to call on the Force when I transferred over, but I found ways to make up for it.”

    “Wow. This organization keeps getting weirder and weirder, but as far-fetched as it sounds, I can’t outright refuse to believe that after all the other stuff I’ve seen in my life, especially those hallucinations. It also explains why you’re carrying a lightsaber.”

    “You mean those Dark Side-induced hallucinations? I’ve had those before in my flesh days, and that’s one benefit to being cut off from the Force.” Machinus dashed towards Zolph and grabbed his upper body with one of his taloned feet. “But we really shouldn’t be talking right now.” He then tossed Zolph backwards over his head.

    As Zolph got back up on his feet, Machinus drew out his lightsaber, which had a hilt-guard and produced a sapphire-blue blade, just like his eyes. The former Nautolan then jumped up into the air, with assistance from his booster jets, and made a plummeting strike towards Zolph.

    Zolph avoided getting crushed under his sharp talons and deflected a few blaster shots fired by him – although some of those shots did singe through the sides of his jacket - before clashing blades with him.

    As they fought, Machinus demonstrated that he had several other systems in addition to his booster jets and electro-absorbers to compensate for his lack of Force powers, such as repulsor field generators to substitute for Force push. He was even just as fast and agile as a typical Jedi. His mechanical body gave some advantages in the form of immunity to mental manipulations; however, he had a disadvantage in that he was still vulnerable to some Force techniques, although he had ways to counter some of them such as the electro-absorbers in the case of Force lightning and ionization.

    The two lightsaber-wielders continued their lethal dance until the acolytes finished the summoning ritual, causing the two stop. “The ritual is complete!” One of the two acolytes shouted.

    “Okay, now we can stop fighting.” Machinus said to Zolph. The two of them did not deactivate their lightsabers, however.

    Suddenly, a large winged creature erupted from the reflecting pool and faced his summoners. On the outside, Fafniros looked like a fully-armored dragon with some robotic parts and eyes on his jaws but when he opened his mouth, he revealed what resembled human-like gums and teeth and that he was organic on the inside, almost as if the armor was grafted on and there was no skin underneath it.

    The Archfiend landed on the ground in front of the acolytes on all fours. He then addressed them. “Are you the ones who summoned me?”

    “Of course, Lord Fafniros. By the whim of our Emperor. But we have a problem: the one who threatens his power is in this very room.”

    He then looked to Zolph. “And you want me to kill him?”

    “Uh…yes, my lord.”

    “And are you equal to me in strength?”

    “Uh… no, my lord.”

    “Then do it yourself! Unless you can defeat me in battle, I am not to be commanded by weaklings!”

    “Yes, my lord.” The two acolytes charged at Zolph with their lightsabers ignited, but Machinus suddenly pointed his left arm towards them, fired a flurry of blaster shots and killed them.

    “The ruse is up, I take it?” Zolph asked him.

    “For now it is.”

    Zolph then turned his attention towards Fafniros. “Alright, you archaic cyborg. How about a duel: A powerful Archfiend versus two squishy but empowered humanoids?”

    “A duel is not two-on-one, child, and aside from Valkor, you humanoids have failed to impress me so far.” He then spread his wings out. “If you any of you wish to fight me and gain my respect, know that you will have to face me at my full potential, and from what I know, most of you humanoids cannot fly, so you’re hardly worth my time right now.” He started flapping his wings to get him off the ground while Zolph and Machinus fired a barrage of blaster bolts at him, but they all deflected off his armor. He then activated his thrusters at the joints connecting his wings to his shoulders and dashed upwards through the ceiling, leaving a hole illuminating the temple with natural light.

    Outside the temple, Besh Squad spotted the Archfiend and fired their anti-air missiles at him, but his aerial maneuvers helped him fend off the missiles. He then left Dxun’s atmosphere.

    Back in the ruins, Zolph and Machinus lamented the Archfiend’s escape.

    “Damn. That’s the first time one got away from me.” Zolph activated his comlink and contacted his fighter. “Seefor, I need you to come by for a pick-up. We’re about to go dragon hunting.”

    “Command = Acknowledged. // R9-C4 + Zolph Vaelor + Escaped Archfiend = Opportunity for C4 to kill Archfiend?”

    “Yes.” Within a few minutes, Zolph’s X-Wing arrived through the hole Fafniros made and Zolph climbed into the cockpit. He then addressed Machinus. “You gonna help out?”

    “I’d love to. Really, I would. But I can’t, because I can’t be seen helping you. So sorry, you’re on your own.”

    “Oh yeah. We can't have that yet.”

    “I also have to make it look like you defeated me in combat, so I’ll be self-destructing soon. Don’t worry, that’s the nice part about being droid: you can be broken and rebuilt as many times as you’d like, and I can repair myself.” Machinus suddenly exploded into several pieces around the room, with his disembodied head sitting on the ground. He then pointed one of his head tentacles up towards the ceiling as if his head were a miniature octopus, causing Zolph to start cracking up. “For the love of the Celestials, don’t even think about taking any pictures and posting them on the Holonet, and not just for the sake my dignity. Now, go finish what I set out to do.”

    “Will do.” Zolph then closed the cockpit and flew out of the ruins, although he was trying to hold back his laughter in regards to what Machinus looked like as a disembodied head.

    As Zolph exited the ruins, he got a comms transmission from Xadisall.

    “Besh Squad to Vaelor. We spotted what looked like a dragon of some sorts, supposedly the Archfiend you were looking for. We weren’t able to able to kill it, but we were able to land a tracking beacon on it just in case. It has entered Onderon’s atmosphere.”

    “You five did alright. Seefor and I’ll handle the rest.” Zolph then exited Dxun’s atmosphere.

    Moments later, Zolph had entered the upper atmosphere of Onderon, where several of the Kur’Ada’s Katana-class battleships were in a skirmish with some Alliance Assault Frigates. Flying through the chaos, he eventually spotted Fafniros attacking both Alliance and Kur’Ada forces that dared to attack him.

    “If it’s a fight he wants, it’s a fight he gets.” Zolph commanded Seefor. “Seefor, lock onto the dragon.” He then fired his laser cannons at Fafniros, provoking him into trying to attack Zolph by charging at him and slashing his ship apart with his claws. Zolph dodged the charge, getting behind him and firing some proton torpedoes at him.

    The blasts did knock off some of his armor-skin, but not a lot of it. The dragon-like Archfiend then fired an energy blast from his mouth, prompting Zolph to fire some laser blasts to disrupt it. He then shot at his mechanical wings, burning away his wing flaps and impairing his ability to fly. He couldn’t fly for a prolonged period of time, so he landed on top of the Kur’Ada battleship, Dragoon to recover.

    With Fafniros now stationary, he was an easy target to bombard, but Zolph noticed Hiriss Moraana mounted on a Ruping – a four-eyed winged reptile native to Onderon commonly used as aerial mounts - approaching the battleship. The Ruping was shot by several passing Kur’Ada Glaive fighters, forcing Hiriss to jump over to the Dragoon, where she was confronted with Fafniros.

    “Seefor, fly me over to the Dragoon, and provide me some cover fire if needed.” Zolph started to climb out of his seat while his astromech positioned him above the battleship. He then jumped out of the fighter and landed right next to Hiriss.

    “Hello, Zolph.” Hiriss casually greeted him.

    Zolph responded back. “Hello, Hiriss. Do you care to explain what you’re doing up here and why you decided to travel by animal mount?”

    “This is the Kur’Ada attack force’s lead battleship, so I decided I could turn the tide of the battle by taking it down from the inside. However, I’m not much of a pilot like my cousin was, and Rupings are much better to use for upper atmosphere infiltration since they don’t fly too fast. And you?”

    Zolph then pointed to Fafniros. “You know, the usual.”

    “Wait. That thing is an Archfiend?” She asked in response to the cyborg dragon – also feeling the Forceless aura from him - before igniting her double-bladed lightsaber, which produced two green blades.

    “And if you think this is weird, I just met a droid who claims he used to be a Nautolan Jedi.”

    “Well, it’s a big universe. But this isn’t the time for idle chatter.” She pointed her blade towards Fafniros.

    Fafniros addressed Hiriss. “You have not proven your worth yet, child. Therefore, I refuse to challenge you.” He then looked to Zolph. “You, on the other hand, have proven to be very persistent. I accept your challenge.”

    “Let’s do this!” Zolph ignited his lightsaber before speaking to Hiriss. “I’ll handle this guy, you do what you came here to do.”

    Hiriss then headed for the battleship’s bridge, and Fafniros fired an energy blast at Zolph.

    Zolph used the Force to redirect the blast back at him. The Archfiend then retaliated by using his thrusters to dash at Zolph. He picked Zolph up off the deck and slammed him back down on it. As Zolph recovered his strength and got up on his feet, Fafniros waited patiently.

    Suddenly, Fafniros started clutching at his head and screaming in agony, speaking to himself as if there were two personalities inside him.


    “No! I will not strike down an opponent while he’s defenseless!”

    “Your sense of honor means nothing to us! Did you forget that you were born specifically to serve the Collective? Because we think you have! Since you’re holding back, we have deemed you fit for this body no longer!”

    Fafniros then changed from his honorable warrior persona to that of a madman. “Now, Vaelor, PREPARE TO DIE!”

    Just as Fafniros was about to fire an energy blast at Zolph, the latter dodged backward and redirected another energy blast back at him. “Well, I’m not quite ready to die yet. And I still have a duel to honor with that proud warrior you just hijacked.”

    Suddenly, a group of Kur’Ada warriors arrived on the scene, threatened by the beast.

    “Oh look! More fools that want to die!” The possessed Fafniros then swiped at a few of the warriors, throwing them off the Dragoon’s deck and plummeting to Onderon’s surface. The last few he killed either by energy blasts, breaking their bones, or eating them alive.

    “Focus on me, parasite.” Zolph commanded the Archfiend.

    “Now, how will I kill you? Immolation? Evisceration? Mechanical digestion? Or maybe all three!” He then charged at Zolph while his target stood in place. Once he was really close to him, Zolph stabbed his lightsaber through the Archfiend’s heart.

    "Or how about none of the above?"

    As Fafniros backed towards the edge of the deck, he reverted back to his original personality. “You have done well. There is more to you little humanoids than your appearances seem to suggest. I fought for the Collective my entire life, and as I grew up, I was exposed to concepts such as honor, but the parasites I grew up with do not carry such values. I believe you can challenge Valkor and destroy the Collective.” He then died and fell towards Onderon’s surface.

    “And I will.” Zolph responded back.

    Suddenly, the ship started to tilt towards the surface, and Zolph saw the engines smoking and several ships and escape pods fleeing from the vessel. Zolph then grabbed onto an emergency rail and Hiriss reunited with him.

    “Sorry, they’re out of ships and escape pods.” Hiriss apologized to him for the situation they are in.

    Zolph contacted Seefor, but the droid responded with some disappointment.

    “R9-C4 = Disappointed. // Zolph = Said Seefor would get to kill dragon.”

    “I never said you’d get to kill him. NOW PICK US UP OR WE’RE GOING TO DIE!

    Within seconds, Seefor arrived, and Zolph jumped into the cockpit, but he then realized something he didn’t think about when he called.

    “Blast! I forgot this is a one-man fighter! I didn't think this through!”

    “I don’t mind!” Hiriss said as she climbed into the cockpit as well.

    “Wait. WHAT?!” Zolph yelled in shock as Hiriss landed in his lap. The ship then flew away from the Dragoon as it plummeted towards the ground.

    As the three flew back to Iziz, Zolph felt rather uncomfortable with Hiriss sitting in his lap. For starters, he had trouble flying the ship with her between his eyes and the viewport, but thankfully for him, she was naturally lighter in weight than he was.

    “Please remind when we get back home to request that Incom extend the nose and install a passenger seat.” Zolph told Hiriss.

    “I’ll take note of that.”

    However, he wasn’t just uncomfortable physically. He’s never had a grown woman sit in his lap before, and it felt rather unusual, but what made it feel even less comfortable for him was that it was Dynn Manthis’s cousin – almost her split image if not for the species difference – sitting in his lap. He stayed silent and tried to purge himself of any thoughts that would trigger certain passive bodily reactions.

    Of course, Hiriss could sense his nervousness. “Um… Zolph? Are you alright? Your body temperature’s rising. And can you please stop breathing down my neck?”

    “Dammit!” Zolph thought to himself. He then ordered Seefor. “Seefor, can you take over the controls? I can’t fly the ship right now.”

    “Orders = received. // R9-C4 = Activating ejection seat in 5… 4… 3…”

    Both he and Hiriss yelled at her in unison. “NO! Just fly us back to Iziz!”

    “R9-C4 = Joking. // Zolph + Hiriss = Don’t try anything funny. // R9-C4 = Can feel everything that goes on inside ship.”

    “Alright.” Of course, that just made Zolph a little more nervous.

    When they got back to Iziz, Zolph helped Hiriss push back the rest of the Valkoran attack force.

    Hours later, both of them returned to the Jedi academy on Ossus to report their successes.

    “So, how did it go for you two?” Luke asked them.

    “Mission accomplished,” Zolph answered, “but the Kur’Ada might not take what happened there very well.”

    “Why not?”

    “Fafniros made it to Onderon’s atmosphere, and they apparently witnessed him killing some of their warriors.” Hiriss answered him. “Who knows if they’ll still be on good terms with the Valks after that?”

    “But it’s unlikely they’ll change sides considering they sided with the Valkoran because they hate Force users.” Luke responded.

    “And then again, they’re also hypocrites, because the Valks have former Jedi and Sith among their leadership.” Zolph said.

    Grein interrupted Zolph. “By the way, Zolph, did you happen to go anywhere near Freedon Nadd’s tomb while you were on Dxun?”

    “Yes, because the tomb was apparently masking the dead spot.”

    “And did you have any hallucinations again?”

    “Yes, except this time, she didn’t want to kill me. Instead, she brought along what looked like several Forceless-possessed duplicates of my friends and allies, including you, Grein. They wanted me embrace the possibility of a future where everyone has been assimilated into the Collective.”

    “Well, it’s good to know you’re not suicidal anymore, but how did you respond to this?”

    “I denied them. I did not consider it a certainty, but rather a possibility that can be prevented, so I fought back. And this time, I didn’t need to be knocked unconsciousness to break from the hallucination.”

    “Fighting back at them isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do, as it shows you still see them as real to an extent, but it’s a step in the right direction as opposed to just giving into them.”

    Luke then commented. “Zolph, you did very well this time. Because of this, your prohibition has ended. Still, just don’t accept missions like there’s no tomorrow and if you have any more troubles surfacing up, just talk with us.”

    “I’ll keep note of that.”​
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
  25. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Master star 2

    Feb 2, 2015

    Chapter 7: The Return

    One week has passed since the Battle of Onderon, and now, Zolph Vaelor, Grein and Hiriss Moraana have been dispatched to Kashyyyk, the homeworld of the Wookiees, where they are to repel the Valkoran and Kur’Ada forces stationed on the planet and to eliminate the Forceless Archfiend, Harphscor.

    After a few hours of traveling through hyperspace, the Blazing Manta entered the Kashyyyk system, where the Alliance and Valkoran fleet – teamed with the Kur’Ada fleet - were engaged in combat.

    “We’re here.” Grein alerted her crew, and they came into the cockpit.

    “So, this is Kazook?” Zolph asked.

    Hiriss then slapped Zolph in the face.

    “Ow! What did I do?!”

    “It’s either pronounced Kuh-sheek or Cash-ick.” Hiriss answered him. “And don’t reference that. Ever. Especially once we’re on the planet’s surface.”

    “I know! I was just having fun with you!”

    Grein interrupted their conversation. “If you two kids are done roasting laughably bad Imperial propaganda films, we’ve got a mission to carry out.” She then pointed towards the viewport. “And you should see this.”

    Away from the Manta, the Kur’Ada fleet was attacking the Valkoran fleet.

    “Called it!” Zolph blurted.

    “So the Kur’Ada have turned on the Valks. Now it’s time to see if they’re switching sides or not.” Hiriss stated before she spotted a Hatchet-class gunship destroying an Alliance Corellian gunship.

    “Okay. You know that saying ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’? The Kur’Ada apparently think it’s ronto dung due to their philosophy on ethnic cleansing towards Force sensitives and their supporters. But at the very least, this does make things a bit easier for us.”

    Grein spouted out an idea. “Since the Valks are preoccupied with the Kur’Ada’s betrayal, we can sneak down to the surface and deal with Harphscor. But first, we’ll make our plans in Rwookrrorro.”

    Zolph asked with her curiosity. “How is that spelled?”

    “You can drive yourself insane trying spell Shyriiwook words later, when we’re not in a war zone.”

    The Blazing Manta then flew past the battling fleets and entered Kashyyyk’s atmosphere.

    After carefully navigating past many wroshyr trees, the Manta docked on a tree-supported landing platform not far from Rwookrrorro, the capital city of Kashyyyk.

    Exiting the vessel, the three Jedi were greeted by a Wookiee lookout guard. Despite the species’ simple speech pattern consisting solely of grunts, they could understand him clearly, and not only because Jedi tend to pick up new languages quickly. Zolph had been to the lush forest planet before, back when he was traveling the galaxy with his parents; Grein once knew a smuggler with a Wookiee companion back on Sleheyron; and finally, Hiriss just picked it up from one of two Wookiee students at the academy, and Force-sensitive Wookiees were incredibly rare.

    “I assume you three are the Jedi that Master Skywalker sent?” The guard asked them.

    “You assume correctly,” Zolph answered, “although Grein’s ambiguously a Jedi.”

    “If the blue one has a lightsaber and Force powers and is on our side, that’s good enough. Anyway, our chieftain, General Choi, and Colonel G’jan await you in the conference hall.”

    “Lead the way.” Hiriss told the guard, and three Jedi followed him.

    As they walked through Rwookrrorro, they witnessed other Wookiees fighting off what was left of a Kur’Ada attack force, but the Miraluka were no match for the hairy ten-foot tall warriors. They even witnessed one Kur’Ada warrior getting his helmet thrown off, then having his photoreceptor violently torn from his eye sockets and being thrown off the treetop platform and into the Shadowlands below.

    Inside the conference hall, which currently doubled as a war room, the three Jedi met up with General Ven Choi, Colonel Birik G’Jan and the elderly Wookiee chieftain, Attichitcuk. Thankfully, the latter wasn’t anywhere near as unintentionally horrifying as the costumes from the propaganda film made him out to be. But what surprised the three was that headmaster Luke Skywalker was there too.

    “Wasn’t expecting to see you here, Master Skywalker.” Zolph told him.

    “Well, I can’t be sitting in the academy all the time. Besides, I thought this would be the perfect time for me to get some more experience with one of the Forceless after a while… provided we actually encounter the Archfiend.” Luke told him.

    “So we might actually get to see Skywalker fight some ancient alien monster for the first time.”

    General Choi addressed them next. “I’m sure you noticed the infighting between the Kur’Ada and the Valkoran on the way down here?”

    “Yep.” Hiriss answered him.

    “That gives us only a slight advantage since the Kur’Ada still aren’t helping us, but at least they aren’t helping the Valks either.” Zolph explained.

    “Exactly.” Choi replied. “Anyway, we’ve already gained intel reports on some Valkoran staging grounds, and we figured out where Harphscor’s summoning temple may be.”

    Suddenly, one of the troopers in the room – a veteran from the Battle of Polus - had a brief panic attack when he noticed Hiriss and pointed his blaster at her, causing Zolph to activate his lightsaber in her defense. After getting a good look at Hiriss, he lowered his guard and Zolph deactivated his saber.

    “Someone’s a bit jumpy today.” Zolph told the trooper.

    “Forgive me, Commander Vaelor. For a second, I thought the Mirialan was someone else.”

    “I can’t blame ya, when I first heard and saw Hiriss, I thought she was…” Zolph then slightly got defensive with the trooper. “Do you have against something against Dynn Manthis?”

    “Nothing sir, but please don’t forget that she was with the Valks.”

    “I haven’t forgotten.”

    General Choi then interrupted. “Actually, there’s something all of you must know. Early in the war, I secretly assigned Manthis to infiltrate the Valkoran Empire, to get as close and learn as much about them as possible, even if it meant switching sides. Unfortunately, this was before we realized this war was about paranormal creatures that could possess the living, and she stopped contacting us around the time she got the Forceless arm grafted on her. So I feel partially as responsible for her fate as you do, Vaelor.”

    “I don’t blame you for her transformation. None of us could have seen that coming. But I still wish you told me and Hiriss about her being a double agent sooner.”

    “As much I hate keeping secrets, especially after a similar incident with the old Jedi Council during the Clone War, I couldn’t afford to blow her cover. But now that she’s passed on, that cover is a moot point, and considering how much grief her death caused you and that her cousin is here, I felt the need to let you know about this.”

    “And you’re telling us this now because…?”

    “I haven’t seen you since Dagobah, and at that time, you were still trying to deny that your incident with her ever happened. I could sense your anguish then, but I didn’t know what it was about.”


    The briefly-panicked soldier then addressed both Zolph and Hiriss. “You two were that close to her? I’m sorry about my earlier behavior.”

    “And I’m sorry about getting defensive towards you.” Zolph responded back.

    Colonel G’Jan interrupted the moment. “Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to interrupt this sentimental discussion, but we’ve still got a campaign to finish.”

    Choi thanked the Bith. “Thanks for getting me back on track, Colonel.” He then activated the holoprojector table and displayed a hologram of a tower sitting on an island. “Anyway, the Valkoran seem to have been busy around Kachirho and this island, kilometers away from the Wawaatt Archipelago, and according to some ancient Wookiee historical texts provided by Attichitcuk, that tower is an alien lighthouse of some sorts.”

    Zolph responded to the intel. “Don’t tell me: Rakata, right?”

    Grein answered him. “Yes. In fact, they’re responsible for the overgrowth of Kashyyyk’s forests.”

    Suddenly, Besh Squad member Spectre entered the conference hall, just having gotten back from a scouting mission. She quickly greeted Zolph and his allies. “Hello Zolph. And Grein, and Hiriss Moraana if I’m not mistaken.”

    General Choi then spoke to the Kyuzo scout. “Spectre? Where is the rest of your squad?”

    “They’re catching up. Xad sent me back first to give you a heads-up that there is a Valkoran attack force heading for Rwookrrorro.”

    The Kel Dor general sounded the alarm. “ALL TROOPS, BATTLESTATIONS!”

    Zolph, speaking from experience, asked the general. “If the battles of Manaan and Dagobah are anything to go by, I guess we can expect them to be coming in from the forest floor?”

    “We can also expect air drops, even if the foliage covers up potential landing zones. In terms of forces, we can only expect infantry, light vehicles and gunships.”

    “What about plasma weapon technology? Wouldn’t that cause a planet-sized forest fire?”

    “They’re still using it here, because wroshyr wood isn’t as flammable when reinforced. If there’s anything I know about common Valkoran ethical values, they don’t condone genocide.”

    “Assuming whoever’s leading the forces here isn’t one of those psychotic exceptions.” Zolph then addressed both Hiriss and Grein. “Alright, ladies, let’s defend the Wookiees.”

    They left the hall and prepared for battle.

    On Rwookrrorro’s supported platforms, several Alliance soldiers and Wookiee warriors armed themselves and set up gun turrets for the oncoming assault while Spectre took a sniping position on one of the tree branches.

    Within moments, Zolph and the Alliance forces could hear the humming of several Valkoran Nexu-class gunships hovering above them. The planted anti-air turrets were able to shoot some of them down before they could drop off their infantry platoons, but there were more troopers rappelling from the gunships successfully than getting destroyed prematurely. Some of those gunships – designed for carrying light vehicles – dropped off some Gundark-class walkers onto the city platforms. While the Alliance forces had no light vehicles of their own for this fight, the Wookiees were able to supply their own aerial vehicles such as Ornithopters, and they still had portable anti-vehicle weaponry for eliminating the walkers and gunships.

    Before things could get too predictable to the Alliance and Wookiee forces, some grappling hooks tore into the platforms from below. Some small holes were cut through the platforms and out of those holes came Shadow Troopers. When any holes were cut near the Jedi, they simply tried to detach the cables and make the troopers fall down to their deaths, but the Shadow Troopers that did make it up provided some trouble to both Alliance troopers and Wookiee warriors while the Jedi had relatively little trouble against their mocksabers.

    However, some more gunships arrived, and deploying from them were foes that were even more of a threat than the Shadow Troopers – foes Zolph had not seen since the Battle of Krantisi, wearing black-bandaged helmets, cloaks and armed with plasma staffs.

    “Black Guard? Well, that can only mean one thing: he is here.” Zolph said as he deflected one of the guard’s blows.

    Zolph tried to Force push him off the platform, but the guard simply stopped his flight by striking his staff into the floorboard and kicking Zolph down. Zolph retaliated by slashing at his ankles while he was down and then stabbing him in the chest as he fell over.

    Grein and Luke had relatively little trouble fighting the Black Guard. Hiriss, on the other hand, had a bit more trouble than Zolph since she didn’t have any previous experience fighting them before, but she still had a bit of an advantage in the fact that they weren’t accustomed to fighting Jedi armed with double-bladed sabers.

    While there were a few casualties on the Alliance’s side, they were able to eliminate the entire Valkoran attack force in moments. However, they all suddenly heard a high-pitched shriek from miles away.

    “What the hell was that?!” One of the startled soldiers asked.

    “Probably just some really shrill bird.” Another soldier answered him.

    Hiriss responded to both of them sarcastically. “Yes, privates. That was most definitely a shrill bird native to Kashyyyk and not the Archfiend.”

    Zolph could sense a heavy Forceless presence coming closer to their location. “He’s already been summoned, hasn’t he?”

    Suddenly, a large creature - with a human-like torso, a human-like head - with two empty eye-sockets with glowing ethereal eyes and one corporeal Forceless eye in its forehead - some reptilian wings in lieu of arms, and a long prehensile stinger-tipped tail for its lower body – rapidly emerged from below the village, destroying one of the platforms in the process and sending everyone on it plummeting into the Shadowlands. The creature then let out another high-pitched and deafening shriek.

    “I swear! Every time we get caught in a long battle, the Valks are able to summon them! Even when the Force acolytes are killed, what’s already been channeled is enough to summon them!” Zolph complained.

    Luke asked Grein. “I presume this thing is Harphscor?”

    “You presume correctly.” She answered back.

    General Choi gave orders to the remaining soldiers and Wookiees. “Men! Do not underestimate this thing! Attack with maximum firepower!”

    The Alliance forces fired several missiles and concentrated laser blasts at Harphscor, but he blocked all of the blasts with his wings.

    The Archfiend taunted them back in a rather grating voice if his shrieks weren’t already proof of that. “Aw, was that supposed to hurt? Well, TOO BAD! Now it’s your turn to suffer, you stupid apes!”

    Harphscor’s ethereal eyes emitted lasers which destroyed some of the anti-air turrets and incinerated some of the infantry. He then sprayed a circle of acid from his stinger around the feet of another infantry squad, causing their position to break off from the platform and fall to the forest floor with them. For another squad, he just sprayed an acid puddle right at their feet, causing them melt down inch by inch from bottom to top as they screamed in agony.

    The Archfield cackled psychotically. “SUFFER! SUFFER! SUFFER!”

    As the Jedi watched Harphscor avoid fire and kill both Alliance and Wookiee forces, Zolph proclaimed, “That’s it! If blasters and rockets aren’t going to scratch him, then he’s getting a lightsaber to the brain! That is, if he stops being a sadistic coward and gets down low enough.”

    “I don’t think that will be happening, Vaelor! In fact, I’ve got some friends I would like you to meet.” The airborne Archfiend suddenly sprayed puddles of something else on the platforms, but it wasn’t acid; it was Black Matter.

    “Wait, this guy can self-generate Black Matter?!” Zolph watched as one of the blob-like creatures started crawling into one of the troopers’ face, but he mercifully killed him before the parasite could take over him.

    “Commander Vaelor! What are you doing?!” Another soldier yelled at Zolph.

    “These things can possess the living and use their bodies as weapons, but right now, there’s no way we can save the victims without killing them.” Grein told everyone.

    Zolph followed up on that. “In other words, do not let them get near you, and use energy weapons to kill them. If you don’t want to kill any of your own allies like I just did or suffer a fate worse than death, take my advice.”

    The infantry and Jedi proceeded to fight off the Forceless, with some of the blobs reshaping into vaguely humanoid forms with multiple eyes and clawed hands – quite different from and less skilled than the warriors Zolph and Grein encountered on Sleheyron.

    While the Alliance and Forceless fought, Harphscor got ready to leave. “Well, it’s been a lot of fun, but regrettably for me, I’ve got to go. Have fun killing each other!”

    Before Harphscor could fly very far, Zolph Force jumped and grappled onto his tail. “Where do you think you’re going, sleemo?!”

    Get off of me!

    “No. I’m very comfortable right here.”

    As Harphscor fled the scene, he struggled to throw Zolph off while the Jedi struggled to hold on.

    Minutes later, and when Harphscor had reached the Wawaatt Archipelago, Zolph was still holding on. It was situations like this that made Zolph sometimes think losing his right arm was a blessing in disguise. However, when Zolph was beginning to lose his grip, Harphscor was approaching the top of the Rakatan lighthouse that was shown in the briefing hologram.

    Once they reached the aerie, Zolph let go and collapsed on the ground. Harphscor then approached Zolph readying his stinger.

    “You just had to ride me all the way home, didn’t you?” The Archfiend told him. “Well, you can die here, too!”

    As Harphscor thrust his stinger towards Zolph, a red lightsaber pierced through his right shoulder, causing him to scream in pain and misdirect his stinger into Zolph’s left shoulder instead of his heart. Harphscor turned his head to see a man dressed head-to-toe in black armor with a cape and a red visor standing on his back. This man also had demon-like wings coming out of his back, and growing out of those two wings was another pair of wings.

    “Hello, Zolph.” The figure greeted him.

    “Hello, Maesterus.” Zolph greeted him back while he pulled the stinger out his shoulder.

    “You’re still alive?!” Harphscor yelled in shock.

    “Oh please, I’ve survived being drenched in acid rain, falling in lava and flying close to a star. It’s going to take more than a strong kinetic impact to kill me. Next time you try to kill me, make sure I’m dead. Oh wait, scratch that; there won’t be a next time. Now you will pay for killing my men, Harphscor, but I would still like to thank you for getting rid of those probe droids that Valkor programmed to spy on me.” Maesterus then spoke to Zolph. “And thank you, Zolph, for bringing him back here for me to finish off.”

    Maesterus then skewered the Archfiend repeatedly in multiple places, but he still wouldn’t die.

    “But…but… you’re one of us! How is your symbiote not taking over you if you’ve turned against me?!” Harphscor panicked.

    “I benefit from the symbiote’s mutations, but I’m in charge of my destiny now. Oh, and will you please stop moving your heart around? Your death will be a lot less painful if you do.”

    Harphscor tried to shake Maesterus off, but to little effect since the Forceless-mutated Jedi hooked himself into his back with one of his spike bones.

    “Um…gramps?” Zolph asked with concern to Maesterus as he clutched at his wound.

    “I may be over a thousand years old, but can you please not call me that? I’m still physically young!”

    “I’ve got some Black Matter in my wound, and now it feels like it’s infecting me! Aren’t I supposed to be immune to this?!”

    “Yes, but that shouldn’t be happening.”

    Suddenly, the excess Black Matter got absorbed into the wound much faster and Zolph began to brim with a mixture of both Force energy and Black Matter while he clutched at his head. "What' me?!" Zolph then flashed in a blackish-red light and a vaguely humanoid monster resembling a typical Forceless creature took his place. He was nude - but with no visible genitalia - with some bestial claws, a new organic right arm, eyes on the backs of his hands, a featureless face minus eyes and some lines, some flesh flaps on his head resembling his bangs in his human form, and a long prehensile tentacle coming out of the back of his head - like his ponytail - with a blade on the tip.

    “Well, well, well. Looks like you’re not immune to the embrace of the Collective!” Harphscor taunted the creature – who was actually a transformed Zolph – before trying to order him. “Now begin your service by killing the traitor!”

    Zolph looked toward Harphscor and spoke to him with angered fear in his voice. “I…only…serve… myself! You... Forceless scum! I won’t let you infect anyone else! I’ll kill you first!” He then raised his right arm and fired a blast of Force lightning at Harphscor, bringing him down to the ground. He then Force pulled the relatively larger Archfiend over to him and - forming a large aqua-colored energy blade from his right hand similar to his lightsaber - slashed off the creature’s tail, causing him to scream in intense pain.

    No…no! Mercy!” Harphscor cried out in pain as the transformed Zolph formed another energy blade out of his other arm. Zolph then slashed off Harphscor’s wings.

    “Like when you melted down my allies starting at their feet?! Like when you tried to have them possessed?! You don’t deserve that luxury!!” Zolph then used the Force to make Harphscor’s skull cave in on itself. Harphscor – now dead – collapsed to the ground.

    Zolph then approached Maesterus, seemingly intent on killing him as well. “The infected…must…be…purged!”

    Maesterus knew that his distant descendant had been corrupted by his personal fears, and that he wouldn't even try to kill him now under normal circumstances. Knowing how this newfound ability works and with his defense only slightly raised, he simply evaded Zolph’s attacks, but when he got held telekinetically, he simply broke out of his grasp by shooting spike bones at him.

    He waited it out for a few minutes until Zolph stopped and his body disintegrated as if it were a shell, reverting back to his original form which then fell unconscious on the ground.

    A half-hour later, Zolph regained consciousness and saw Maesterus standing next to him.

    “Maesty? What the hell just happened?” Zolph asked him before noticing the gruesomely mutilated corpse of Harphscor. “And did I really do that?”

    “Yes. As for what happened, you remember how Belluzub implied that our immunity to Forceless possession is genetic?”


    “And do you remember that holocron I got from Bast Castle?”

    “I almost forgot about that, but I don’t see how that is relevant.”

    “What was recorded in that holocron was information that Darth Vader felt was too dangerous to fall into the hands of the Emperor. At some point during the Jedi Purge, he and some of his men discovered and captured a Forceless symbiote. They brought it to his personal laboratory in Bast Castle, often testing it on rebel prisoners or fugitive Jedi. One of those test subjects - who wasn’t actually a Jedi during the waning days of the Republic but rather an independent with ingeniously-masked Force sensitivity – was your grandfather, Gerik Vaelor.”

    “So that’s why I never knew him: he died to the Galactic Empire’s experiments before I was born.”

    “From what I understand, that’s what also motivated your father, Alec, to fight for the Rebel Alliance. Anyway, Gerik was the only one of those people that didn’t actually get possessed by the symbiote, but his immunity to the possession was far more developed than mine, as he did not show any possession symptoms like I do. He was executed shortly after the possession attempt and the symbiote was killed shortly after as well, as Vader had everything he needed to know that the parasite was too dangerous for this galaxy. From what I gathered, the immunity develops more with every generation. In your case, you’re able to absorb any Black Matter that gets into your blood and somehow convert it into Force energy, using it as a weapon. Unfortunately, control over this power requires control over your emotional state, and when you’re feeling strong emotions, such as fear of infection in the most recent case, that emotion will dominate your actions, often turning you into an irrational lunatic in combination with other emotions felt.”

    “So it's more of that swirly whirly, Forcey-worcey stuff. Well, no wonder the Collective wants me dead: I can use them against themselves. Thankfully for my sanity, I don’t think they’ll be trying to possess me if they know they can’t control me, and I really don’t want to go through that again. The idea of turning into a berserk killing machine is already scary enough.”

    “You might have to use this power again someday, but hopefully when that time comes, you will have learned to tame your emotions in intense situations. And the good news for you is that the transformation only lasts as long as there's Black Matter to feed off.” Maesterus prepped his wings for flight. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to prepare my forces to retreat and report my ‘mission failure’.” He then jetted upward and flew down to the bottom of the lighthouse.

    Zolph activated his comlink. “Vaelor to Alliance Command: Harphscor has been exterminated.”

    “Very good. We’ve also eliminated all of the Forceless here.” General Choi commended him. “Please rendezvous back at Rwookrrorro.”

    Back at Rwookrrorro, procedures were being taken to clean up the battle site. However, Zolph had some information to share privately with General Choi, Luke Skywalker and Grein.

    “I had a run-in with Maesterus. I also learned something else about my immunity to Forceless possession. I got infected by Harphscor when his stinger got misdirected away from my heart to my shoulder, but rather than get possessed or be unaffected, I turned into some powerful creature brimming with the Force.”

    “Well, that would explain the energy we felt from all the way over here," Luke responded, "but I could sense you were in intense fear at the time.”

    “According to Maesterus, my body’s feeding off the Black Matter and for reasons I don't really understand, converting it into Force power. Unfortunately, the downside to this ability is that whatever strong emotions I feel when I channel it will dictate how I act when I’m transformed. When I transformed at the lighthouse, I was a fearful lunatic intent on killing all Forceless.”

    Grein chimed in. “So, from what I understand, it’s those emotions that typically fuel the Dark Side of the Force that you want to avoid when you transform. And the last hallucination you had was only one week ago, so you’re not in the mental state to be playing with this ability.”

    “I was thinking the same thing. Luckily for us, we haven’t had many encounters with shapeless Black Matter. And personally, I prefer to rely on my wits for fighting my enemies.” Zolph replied back.

    Moments later, when the Alliance was still cleaning up after the battle, Zolph was observing the scenery of Kashyyyk when Hiriss walked in on him.

    “So those creatures were what forced you to kill Dynn?”

    “You would be right, except in that case, that one was an entire arm with a mind of its own, and a clearly malicious one at that.”

    “Anyway, I heard your little ‘private conversation’.”

    “Can you not eavesdrop for one minute, Hiriss? And are you even familiar with the word ‘private’?”

    “I just happened to pass by and I got curious. From what I heard about your transformation, you really hate the Forceless Collective, don’t you?”

    “I won’t lie, I still do. In Dynn’s last moments, I wanted to kill everyone I thought was responsible for her disfiguration, but I was being irrational. I no longer hate the Valkoran as a whole for it, and I don’t hate Maesterus anymore since he didn’t kill my parents willingly, and he saved my life twice. I still hate the Collective because they’ve taken so much from me through an orchestrated sequence of events, just for the sake of destroying me. Before the month or so of psychotherapy paid off, I felt I had lost everything worth living for, but that’s not the case anymore.”

    “Judging by your actions in the war room, before the Valkoran attack, you still have some semblance of attachment to Dynn, even after her death, but you were very quick to defend me when that soldier panicked.”

    “To be honest, I still see a lot of her in you.”

    “Zolph, I want to clear this up: I am not a clone of Dynn with a species change. I’m an entirely different person. You can’t have me substituting for my own cousin.”

    “I know that, but it’s just an instinct of mine.”

    “You’re just going to have to let go. You can mourn for her and remember as much as you need to, but you can’t replace her.”

    “I understand. I won’t forget that.”

    “So, have you found anything worth living for again?”

    “I don’t know. I’m still looking for it.”

    “Well, keep looking. I’m sure you’ll find it someday.”​
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020