They will find out.

His mind had succumbed to the thought with every labored step he took through the apocalypse that had befallen Coruscant. Ander had aimlessly drifted across the battlefield that engulfed the seat of the galaxy. Though his stormtrooper armor had been damaged to the point it had become unrecognizeable, he’d still stripped most of it out of caution. His boots had stuck painfully into the soles of his feet, mashed into a burning adhesive from war’s gruesome wear and tear.

But still he carried on, taking only a moment’s time of reprieve. He was completely lost in the vertigo of Coruscant that his sole guide had become the furthest distance as possible from the sounds of blaster fire and artillery shells. Yet, even in the near silent confines of a hardware store that a missile had shredded to rubble and the tracks of war had already passed over, the thought still rang in his mind.

And surely enough, the premonition had come true when a military police squad had cornered him down in a demolished cantina. Some would call it self-fulfilling prophecy, but Ander somehow knew it was much, much more than that.

They took him away, placing cuffs on his wrists and a black bag over his face.. For added measure – or sadistic pleasure – someone had knocked him out cold with the butt of a rifle to his head. The world remained dark until the hum of engines and the familiar pull of jumping into lightspeed woke him.

Relief washed over him.

His fate might be unknown, possibly even a summary execution for the murder of Lord Mor’zhul, the Kaleesh Sith Lord. But anything was better than the golgotha that was Coruscant. In the dark world of the blindfold wrapped around his face, Ander had nothing else to do but think until his senses dozed off into a slumber; he thought of General Kroeger and whether he had been captured to and what fate may await him as a higher ranked officer, he wondered what befell his squad – Boom Squad under Roxy Rizzan – and their platoon, and he deeply pondered on the strange instinct – or luck – that had kept him from certain death during the advance towards the Senate Rotunda.

But he never thought about what would his life had been if he had stayed put on Raxus Prime.

Not even the looming execution pressed his mind in that direction.

When he woke up again, he could barely lift a finger; his entire body refused to obey his commands, battered as it was. The bare sensation of steel piercing his flesh suddenly lit his senses ablaze and Ander jerked up from his sleep bathed in cold sweat; pain flared all over his body with no pattern and rhythm, just endless waves of anguish washing over him with such chaos he could not pinpoint a single source of his agony. The blindfold was pulled off from his head and he recoiled from the blinding white light washing over his sight, his hand instinctively shot up to protect his eyes. Shapes and colors began to slowly materialize in a dizzying carousel, threatening to hurl his guts onto the floor before a robotic voice cut through the haze:

"Bacta and adrenal injections administered successfully."

Several seconds later, Ander breathed in life free of pain. The stimulants coursing through his body would keep him up and alert for a few hours before a long rest was needed. As he staggered back up on his feet with the heavy toll of weariness and exhaustion still pressing down on his shoulders, a broad-shouldered officer stepped inside the medbay carrying a long and thick coat of fur in his hands. His uniform and epaulette marked him as a major in the military police of the Stormtrooper Corps.

“Come on.” he ordered and Ander did not protest. The Raxian looked down to find he was still in the torn bodysuit and pieces of shattered armor marred in sweat, blood, ash and dirt; his own stench of the same filled his nostrils and quickly was made to recall he was still a prisoner headed for the gallows.

The officer tossed the coat at him and he placed it over his shoulders before he fell into step behind the man. As they marched through the corridors, Ander realized they were on a shuttle – not too different from those used to deploy platoon of stormtroopers on the ground. Curious and disgusted glares followed his passing until he and the officer disappeared into the exit hatch chamber.

The doors slid open with a loud hiss. Ander involuntarily stepped back, raising his hand to shield his eyes as a bone-chilling wind rushed over his face and body. He tugged his hands inside the coat and shut it close and tight over his large frame. A smell of Wookie assailed his senses and Ander wondered whether this was some Trandoshan slaver’s prized coat.

A tug at his back from the officer barely made him flinch and he heard the man grumble.

Move it, ya brick shithouse.” he hissed.

Ander gave him a side-eyed glance and a petty smirk before he lumbered forward. The wind subsided almost instantly as if sucked into vacuum the moment he stepped down from the ramp. Up ahead a lithe woman awaited him, her face half-hidden by a hood that flowed into a dark robe. Ander’s attention quickly shifted away from her and at the large pyramid of irregular angles looming behind her. The surface caught the bleak sunlight in unsettling ways, casting jagged shadows that seemed to writhe. Only glimpses of ancient carvings were visible through the frost, their sharp, angular patterns. The pyramid’s apex was lost in a swirling mist, giving it an otherworldly, almost malevolent presence.

The cloaked woman uttered no word and merely turned heel towards the massive structure’s entrance but with a step that commanded him to follow. Ander did not have much choice, anyway. She led him down massive, weathered steps, partially buried under snow that took them to the entrance of the pyramid where a gaping maw of a dark corridor that conveyed nothing but darkness within.

As they drew nearer to the entrance, torches lit up the darkness guiding their way inside. The icy chill outside was gone but the warm inside was anything but cozy… almost even cold itself. They passed half a dozen identical crossroads, each trailing off into the shadows cast by the torches, before the woman turned right and climbed a small staircase ending at a door. She knocked twice and the door slid open, then moved to the side, gesturing for Ander to enter.

He crossed the threshold with a wary step into a chamber dimly lit by torches, much like the rest of the pyramid. The room was spartan for the most part, except for a few paintings hanging on the walls and a wide, stone desk on the other side. A slender Pau’an calmly stood up from behind it as the doors shut close.

Far larger than the holo-recordings showed.” he noted, sizing up Ander as he approached him. “I am Lord Neveon of the Sith,” he said and Ander nodded in acknowledgment. "Your fate has been placed in my hands. Understand that this is no ordinary trial – there are no appeals, no second instances – what I decide is final.” Lord Neveon explained, then clasped his long hands behind his back.

"You are no friend of the Jedi or their Alliance." he stated, but Ander felt compelled to say something.

"What have they ever done for me?"

"Indeed." a grim smirk tugged Neveon’s lips. “A greasy salvager from Raxus Prime conscripted into penal service for the Empire – not much of an incentive for loyalty.

I followed my orders.” Ander said with a gruff tone, feeling he had to defend himself, but did not dispute the truth in Neveon’s words.

Did that include the murder of a Sith Lord?” his sulfuric gaze bore down on him, the smirk still plastered across his face.

Lord Mor’zhul’s orders were a mistake.

And so you had him killed – or rather did nothing to stop Kroeger.

Ander felt his heart begin to race inside his chest, but still pressed his point. “Mor’zhul threw the General’s men into a mindless slaughter. A suicidal advance that achieved nothing.

Yet, you survived.” Neveon said, then paused for a moment before continuing. “I saw the holo-recordings. You guided the General through the battlefield unscathed – a feat many would claim to be impossible.” Ander’s throat tightened.

Do you know why I had you brought to Carlac?

The Raxian slightly tilted his head, revelation slowly dawning upon him that this wasn’t a court-martial inquisition. “Not for a trial.

Correct. Your mind is sharp. Even at the face of adversity, it seems.” Neveon nodded, then unclasped his hands from behind his back, the long limbs falling to his sides. “You have witnessed the power of the Force on Coruscant, vividly demonstrated by Mor’zhul, and the Jedi, too.

Not only that, but you have also used it yourself.” Ander was left speechles. “Surely, you cannot be surprised? What else do you think kept you alive through that massacre?

Uh, luck?” the Pau’an burst into a laugh that sounded more like an akk dog’s howl than anything else.

Luck?! Ah, yes, indeed – those who do not understand the ways of the Force tend to believe such feats are manifestations of luck, instinct, or even a mother’s charm hanging around their neck. But that is not the case.” Neveon pointed a long, pale twig of a finger at Ander and continued. “You bear the gift of the Force; your talents – these special feats you may even recollect from your memories – are manifestations of the Force, and they have brought you here to me, to the Sith,”

Your untapped potential is greater than that of Mor’zhul, by a long stretch, but to serve you well you would need to be trained. Remain here on Carlac and you will be taught this power. Your penal service would be erased and the life you have known until now would be over.” Neveon continued. “You will learn the ways of the dark side and ascend into the ranks of the New Sith Order.

Ander blinked with the racing rhythm of his heart, struggling to process what he was told. That foreign instinct that had allowed him to do the impossible was the Force, an ability barely scratching the surface of what he could truly achieve. He could never forget the crimson blur of Lord Mor’zhul, head first into the fray, wrecking havoc across scores upon scores of Alliance soldiers as if they were simple target dummies.

His eyes drifted to the side as his past life flashed before them. A part of him still clung to it, perhaps it was fear of change, of evolution. But he vividly recalled what Saldau had once told him: Don't count on others for help. In the end each of us is in this alone. The survivors are those who know how to look out for themselves.

Only a fool would reject this opportunity.

It would be my honor, Lord Neveon.” he bowed his head with respect.

Very well…” the Pau’an nodded. “But you must understand – the Sith have no place for the weak. Those who fail are culled.

I won’t fail.” Ander said, an air of confidence manifesting

Many have said the same.” Neveon warned, then added, “Your new life begins now, Ander. Most who undertake the way of the Sith take up a new name for themselves, shedding their past behind.

What has there, in his past life, to cling to? The rewardless toil of scavenging the scarps of Raxus Prime? The betrayal of his once loved one Mira? The penal service and his tentative camaraderie with Boom Squad? For as long as he could remember, Ander sought means to escape his past, to begin life anew. This opportunity would not knock on his door again; he would either cross this threshold, this new divide, or be doomed forever to the perpetual failure of his old life.

Ander nodded.

He would be chained no more.

Then what shall be your name?

Throughout his journey, he had defied the odds. A constant struggle against stacked decks. He had defied the Commerce Guild; he had defied his penal service, and he had even defied a Sith Lord.

And this was just the beginning.

Defias. Defias of the Sith.