Star Wars Roleplay: Chaos

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Self-Immolation

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XinMmcZpBbI&index=8&list=PLDA8AB0D75771F1DA
EPWtOPl.jpg

The Wastelands
Maena


The small transport rocked as it came down quickly and steeply into the dark side of Maena. The side that was barren, blackened and devoid of life.

A pinprick against the dark skies, it left a small vapor trail marking it's route to the wastelands. The lava flow and open plains guided him in, and gave plenty of place to put down.

The Alliance would probably be after him. The Silver Jedi would search for him. The First Order would want him to answer for his role in Skor.

Connor Harrison had escaped from the custody of those after him in a one-man emergency craft. With only the wrist blade fixed to his arm and the cowl strewn beside him, not even his lightsaber had been retrieved in time before he fled.

The view opened up before him, and he swallowed hard, knowing this was the end. It was what he had to do. There was no other way.

He had made peace with those he could; those who cared. Somehow, someway, he would be stronger for them all this way. Not that any would probably care by now, and who could blame them. Still. The Force had guided him here, and he was ready to end it in the darkest corner of the galaxy.

Connor set out the landing skis and circled around the wasteland, and came down, kicking up ash as the small craft settled on the planet. Rubbing his beard gently, Connor looked out at the nightmarish land before him - the side of the planet he hadn't seen yet.

She would know he was here. That much he counted on. She had to be here. She was the only one to carry out the deed.

The only one who could finally kill Connor Harrison.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj5SmL20RyE

“My Lady,” came a soft, robotic voice as one of the Atrisian droids padded in to Matsu’s workspace. “An emergency shuttle has put down in the Wastelands.”

“And security out there hasn’t taken care of it?” the Sith Lord replied, not taking her eyes from the petri dish full of agar she was placing specimens on.

“They believe you will want to tend to this one yourself,” the droid replied.

“Why is that?” Matsu asked, a thin bead of irritation flecking her tone as she put the dish down near the arrangement Xander was preparing to incubate the dishes in.

“It’s Connor Harrison, my lady,” the droid finished, unblinking eyes watching its master as she froze.

“I’ll be back,” the Atrisian said to Mavros before sweeping from her labs and out the door.

_________​

The Unit wasn’t so far from the swath of dead things as the New City was, and therefore she was there in less time than she might have been. Her one-seater, as slick and mean-looking as anything else she owned, hissed out of the sky towards the dark ground where the emergency craft had landed.

Time, distance, and the inevitable search for meaning had seen her lose contact with the ex-Jedi. She supposed it must be difficult, searching for purpose when his old family had given it to him for so long. She held a place with no large group, building her own network - and for some that was not satisfying. There needed to be a struggle, some age-old war to win. But she knew she’d see him again. They always did.

Still, as she emerged from the dark paneling that followed back to allow her to hop from her ship, she couldn’t help but feel he was changed in the Force. Not absent like his severing had been, not light as if he’d turned back, nor totally dark as if he’d embraced himself. Wavering. Tortured.

“It’s been a while, Connor,” she said, the glow of lava trailing up to haunt shadows in the hollows of her cheekbones as she walked towards him.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Pulling up the cockpit door, the humidity of his surroundings hit him. For a second the air seemed to block his airways and his eyes stung, but it passed as soon as it came. This side of the planet, if he remembered right, was more dead than the beasts under it.

He had opted not to send out a transmission to her. Connor hoped she would understand, at least for now. He was doing this for the right reason. It was the only way now. As he landed softly on the ashen ground, he trailed off in thought and stared down at the black ground. At nothing in particular, just...lost for a moment. The sound of the planet's core could almost be heard in the crevices and the glow of lava signalled he was indeed in the living Hell that he belonged in.

Less a Jedi, or Ren, or whatever he called himself, Connor simply wore his black tunic, sleeves rolled up, and that was it. Hair stuck to his brow, and he walked forward on the wasteland with no weapon and no motive. Just a reason.

As a trail came towards him, he swallowed and felt a cold tease upon his neck. The tease she brought with her whenever they met. With a word muttered quietly for only he to hear, he shook that feeling off. He was in control this time, not her.

Matsu Xiangu seemed to become more and more a woman each time he saw her, preserved by god knows what Dark Side magic, while he seemed to unravel each time she laid eyes on him.

"It has been a while, Matsu. And why is that? Where did you go? Do you know how much you let me down?"

He closed the gap. Two small figures, standing there, dwarfed by the magnificent landscape around them.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3Cgnp634M0

There was silence for a time after he spoke, as the Sith Lord came to a halt. The seemingly constant breeze ghosting through that barren stretch of moor tangled over Matsu’s shoulders as she stared at Connor, unblinking and unmoving.

She was the sort of predator who’d grown strong on the backs and marrow of others, picking her teeth with broken tibias and lounging in the shade of her surety. She was no fool to take it for granted. She realized her tenure and longevity made her a target. But they never came. Those who did walked on eggshells, tentative and fearful of what she might do if angered let alone outwardly provoked. She grew used to the isolation of her reputation, the boredom of the lack of challenge, filling that time with pursuits that made her even stranger - a card wild enough to be best left alone.

So when he accused her of letting him down she went perfectly. still.
Another heartbeat.
And then she smiled.

“Still blaming others for your problems, I see,” she breathed, barely suppressing a shudder at the thought of coming out from the edges of her web to wrap him up in silk and watch him rot.

All of the sudden she let out one massive, powerful thump of a surge of emotion from her mind. Angry. Bitter. Hopeless. Hurt me. I ruined everything. You ruined e v e r y t h i n g.

She still hadn’t moved besides the smile, her hands at her sides as roiling amber eyes tracked even his slightest movement. Despite her perfect stillness her excitement would be obvious if he looked at those irises long enough to see the streaks of red and gold reaching and wrapping around her impossibly large pupils as she stared at him. (Unblinking. Can’t miss a move. Destroy. It will feel so good to destroy.)

“Where did you go? Off to fight for another cause besides your own? Still throwing your chips in for the benefit of others who would use you for their own ends?”

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Connor felt a sudden...urge to lash out at her. Just to walk up to the near-silent Sorceress and crush the life out of her. Of course, this was one of his little daydreams when his emotion rose too high. No. No more of that.

He narrowed his eyes at her gut-punch, always knowing what to say to irk him as she stood upon a planet that may as well have been a galactic throne she deserved toppling from sometimes. It was still love/hate with him as much as he tried to deny it.

"Where did I go? Answer that yourself. I gave it all up, and followed my heart right to your door to embark on a journey YOU set out for me." He shook his head and shrugged. "You weren't here when I came for you. But, yes, I have been serving the First Order and their pathetic band of Dark Side brats in need of a Supreme Leader as babysitter and it's driven me...crazy."

There was an uneasy tension in the air, and with each word spoken and each jab at her impenetrable defense, he felt it was drawing closer. He just had to face it head on.

"You let me down, Matsu. I trusted you."

She didn't move. Connor stared into her eyes, where nothing shone or even hinted at life.

"WHERE DID YOU GO!"

He shouted all of a sudden, his face twisted in disgust, fists automatically clenching by his side. He wanted answers. He demanded answers from her. He wasn't afraid.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
"WHERE DID YOU GO!"

Matsu might have been a mannequin for all her movement as he yelled. That wasn’t to say that she was immune from the tension that festered in the air. She just chose to sink in to the Force, to wallow in the Dark as it rejoiced in Connor’s anger.
rTdHWx0.png


She took a breath.

“You were boring.”

The world seemed to fall out from beneath their feet, the force of the blast she pressed out in the Force enough to suck sound from the air and break apart the volcanic rock supporting them. Though the explosion momentarily deafened anything living in the immediate area, anyone unlucky enough to be in the wider expanse would most likely have fallen to their knees and desperately covered their ears. It moved outwards, reaching Matsu’s one-seater first, tearing it apart bolt by bolt until it was nothing but shrapnel screeching and screaming in the opposite direction of her detonation. And then it reached Connor’s ship, pushing it up and out and away to crush somewhere outside her radius - perhaps salvageable, perhaps destroyed.

When the air cleared, there was once again the total silence that epitomized the Wastelands.

Matsu had done a few times before. Most of the time, trained. But this...reminded her of the first time. The time that had just been on instinct, the time Krius Syonis had finally crossed the line and she’d lost her grip and torn the earth on Skye in to a crater. As the last chunks of rock fell back down to earth from the sky, the hissing sound of dust as the world tried to settle, Matsu dusted off her cybernetics. Standing in the center of her reaction, she looked around for Connor. She was in a crater of her own design, her eyes ticking along the scenery in an attempt to find Connor before he tried anything foolish.

She reached out for his signature, familiar and therefore more easily found. She injected a small buzzing sound, maddening, unceasing, in to the connection between them in the hopes that it would throw him off-kilter as the world settled and they found each other again. “You had potential. But who would want to be around you? Spend their precious time building something with you?”

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Not the truth what he had expected to hear, but one he somehow…knew.

It cut a little at his ego, and before he could do anything or react, he was thrown backwards, and dragged down into the ground as a piercing explosion blew through his head.

So this was what death felt like. An almost seismic explosion or noise and light and then…nothing excepting a faint throbbing in his ears. He couldn’t see, and he couldn’t feel anything. No weight, no solid ground under his feet. The body seemed to float for a while, and he didn’t fight it. There was nothing.

And then, there was everything assaulting all senses at once.

The ringing in his ears got louder. The sensation of a battered, bruised and beaten body kicked in and it brought back memories of Ord Mantell – the last time Matsu Xiangu had dragged him through a crater it had near pebbled his body with stone and grit, and left him with a horrible reminder.

His hands burnt and again were embossed with small black stones as chunks rained down around him. Connor was a good few feet below where he had stood, in a crater torn up by the Force and he felt multiple aches across his body, the ones where it felt if he moved an inch more a bone would snap or an organ would tear.

Vision blurred and dust in his eyes, Connor wheezed and rolled over and struggled to stand, one arm holding his stomach and the other bleeding through the black stones.

He hadn’t made it to his feet before he collapsed back down onto a knee and his face contorted into a silent wince. Turning his head and twisting it to try blank out the noise that echoed around his cranium, ping-ponging off the sides and getting louder as he tried to mute it.

He span around and the figure of Matsu was standing there in the centre of her own destruction. A cloud of dust hovered above them and it broke up gently with the small breeze that carried it away, but the sky was dark and ominous.

Connor blinked numerous times to clear his vision.

"You..." he turned and spat out a mixture of blood and soot from a dry throat, "…you let me down when I needed you, but now I’ve seen it all and I will let you do what you wanted from the start."

He started to walk towards her, not exactly in a strong or imposing position.

"It’s over now. You didn’t get what you wanted. You’re a failure. I will always be the one you never could defeat."

Connor stopped, talking louder to drown out the buzzing in his head.

"My time is done. My pain is over."

There was deathly silence. He didn’t look away. He had stared death in the face many times, and now would be no different as it came for him.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
You’re a failure.

Now there was a new insult. She was almost inclined to thank him. It seemed most who found themselves in a position to sling aspersions against her went for the more traditional: monster, devil, abominable, cruel. She’d gotten soulless witch once - that was a favorite. But failure. That was new. She wasn’t particularly certain of the grounds on which it was based but it was novel all the same.

She stopped producing the screeching buzz humming across their minds.
It was replaced instead by the odd, oft-unexpected hum of her lightsaber crackling to life in her hand.

Well, it wasn’t hers. She’d lifted it off a Sith Lord she’d murdered on Omega, pilfered it off his body. At first she hadn’t realized what she’d stumbled across, at initial sight a poorly constructed throwaway tossed together by a man little better than his skills. But she soon realized it was perhaps the best thing he’d ever done with his life. Though heavier than she might have preferred, it made up for it in sheer inhumanity, its coruscating red blade giving off an unbearable heat unlike almost any other cool, plasma saber.

She began walking forward, to her side instead of a guard in case he tried to use it against her and burn her. But more importantly, the full weight of her power moved with her, rushing forward like the hush of a hundred, thousand, million little spiders searching for the cracks in his brain where they might burrow in and make a nest. Breed and burst. Make more. Take over. To resist was to distract himself at least partially and leave himself open to the burning of her blade, to his clothes being set alight by slight touch and burning to death on that plateau. But to listen...maybe that was rebirth.

Turn around. She kept walking, a physical representation of the bearing down of her power as she crawled upon him. Walk down the hill. Burn off the old life. She kept walking, reinforcing the idea to go down to the slow, constant lava flows that meandered through the Wastelands. He could fight her. She half expected him to. Her normally fluid movement was more measured, preparing for him should he choose that option. There’s little that fire doesn’t wash away. Get rid of it all.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
His eyes, blue as the once clear sky he looked up to on Voss, looked to her crimson lightsaber framed by the black planet he now stood on. He was overwhelmed with a sense of failure and fear. With little power to stop her, he knew he truly had given up.

A step back, and hand clenched ready to fight as much as he could.

She seemed to blur before his eyes, and his vision became clouded. A horrid sensation washed over him, as if thousands of tiny screws were pushing outwards in all direction from the centre of his mind, tearing through the organ that was so fragile, severing all the lifelines, puncturing the skin and bone.

Connor shivered and was rooted to the spot, trying to work through the pain that started to make his arms shake and his eye to weep blood.

In the next moment, she was on him. The Sorceress illuminated by her crimson blade that warmed his cold, frozen body. The blue tunic smouldered and stuck to his flesh across the right arm as the blade burnt his clothing and his body. The belts melted, and his cape started to burn. But Connor felt nothing, and only heard her words inside his head.

He was so cold….so cold…

The lava that bubbled up from the core was the warmth. The inviting warmth to end the pain, the suffering and he could be at rest. No more pain. It took seconds to turn his head where the incline of the crater led down into the surface and the orange glow of the molten river.

Connor forced his head back to her and reached out, slowly curling his fingers around the back of her neck. It was almost a pained goodbye from a lover; holding onto the woman who had been in his life on and off and now letting go. Except this was no lover, and no tender goodbye. This was a final stand against the darkness he had tried so hard to convince himself he was part of, but now Connor knew he was always going to be the one to fight it.

The Jedi in him had never died.

"You die with….me."

The murmur against the pain in his brain caused saliva to seep from his mouth, the body and nervous system shutting down.

With all the strength he had, he stepped back, clamping his hand into her neck with some imaginary, deluded final act of bravado where he saw himself dragging the Sith with him, through the flame eating his skin and burning his body, and he would end her reign of terror in a burst of fiery flame in the planet that called for blood.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
Force, she loathed touch.

And that was a holdover from him wasn’t it? Krius. Bones beneath a sky she’d nearly become the same under. And that had been by fire as well, hadn’t it? Burned away. Desperate and ageless. Since then she’d become a temple unto herself, a holocron useless when all the secrets would be forever locked in her head. She’d spent decades spectating in the minds of others as they expired. But fire was never something she felt the need to experience again.

She trailed forward with the fool, her footing sure, kept deep and heavy to avoid a stumble. He in front, operating under the illusion that he was defying her in some way that she was oblivious to and not entirely allowing as she dominated every crack and crevasse of his mind. Her mouth opened as his hand grasped her slender neck, her head lolling as if in throes of passion despite the sudden heat that rushed in and left her tongue dry and teeth aching.

Were this anything real though, anything other than another illusion she tortured him with as they drew closer and closer to the boiling edge of gleaming orange - he would not have let himself stand in front of a woman and her blade. Surely the cut would be no surprise then as a flash of crimson swept neatly between them, aiming to sever his arm directly at the elbow.

“No, thank you. I have burned before.”

A telekinetic shield bloomed between them as his fire bent to his final will to bring her with him, a technique she used rarely due to other pursuits but had been trained in to her by none other than Ashin Varanin. It exploded, just enough to throw him away, down that last stretch of rocky hill towards the floes of lava below.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Just a little more. He was so tired….so tired of fighting.

He didn’t even know why he was fighting, or who he was fighting. Himself? The Sith? The Jedi? What a mess.

Still, he’d had a good run. He’d tried, and failed, but somewhere along the way hopefully he had made a difference – maybe a few eager Padawan’s had gone on to become great Masters, and the ones he had failed would see the error of their way one day. The warriors he had faced left with scars and reminders of his defiance and his once great leadership.

So tired.

His fingers relaxed a little and he closed his eyes as the heat became uncomfortable suddenly.

And then he stumbled back a little down the soft incline. There was a flash, like lightning. His arm was tingling, and he opened his eyes just in time to see the smouldering lower half of his arm fall down Matsu’s shoulder to the ground.

The severed left arm held out by his side was singed black and orange from her blade.

Let her cut away the dead flesh that now rotted Connor’s body – let it be taken and destroyed.

As if a beast had hooked it’s claws around his legs and pulled him back, Connor was thrown away from the Sorceress and sent down the black, burning incline of the crater towards the lava that snaked through the ground. He landed, rolled twice and twisted on the loose gravel in a disorientating few seconds.

So, so tired still.

He let out a long exhale as his body gave up, and the immense heat from the lava below the depths of Maena’s surface started to slowly burn him. Droplets of the lava inches below spat up from the bubbling depths and landed on him body here and there, burning tiny segments of his clothing and thus the skin below.

The body itself began to burn gently, as if left on a horrid heat. Connor’s hair started to burn, and only a few groans in pain could be mustered, but nobody could hear him. Or wanted to.

Fingers clawed into the dirt with his right hand.

Soon, the blood would boil and the organs burst – a slow death was granted then, but it was nothing less than he deserved. The planet of darkness and the actions of the Sorceress who he had failed would finally take what they deserved.

"I’m so sorry," he hissed to himself.

Connor passed out, with the final thought he had was laughing his old friends in the Silver Jedi helping to build the temple that he once called…

home.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
She watched him roll down the hill.

Slowly, she followed.

She watched as his hair caught fire, chasing itself down dead strands to a scalp that begin to curl and bubble around his skull as he burned. The severed arm was cauterized imperfectly, singed and closed over in some parts and raw and weeping in others due to the strangeness of her saber. Blood poured out of it in heavy, slow pumps, cascading towards the edge of the lava flow until it made such a pool that his own flame glittered in its puddle. Flames licked further, searching for more fuel.

Matsu had seen Connor at the height of his glory as a Master in the Silver Jedi. For whatever unhappiness he had wallowed in there, he had at least had purpose. Whatever one could say of the man burning to death in front of her now...he had once been proud.

So then, should she feel guilt for having a hand in helping him fly from that place? If she were capable of guilt, then most likely the answer would be yes. The man that lay before her now was a shadow of the powerful thing he’d once been. Alone, without direction, pathetic. But it was he that had allowed it to be so.

There was a way to shed the unhappiness that had plagued him among the Silver Jedi, and be proud once more. If could have found that place in him that was motivated by selfishness, the desire to see one’s own ends met instead of clamoring for the purposes of a group...he would find that the galaxy came to him instead. And for some strange reason, Matsu wanted to see if he could do it.

It would be entertaining.
And all failed experiments could be disposed of.

Sighing, she pulled out her commlink and called the Unit. One of its top coordinators - a Rodian named Re Irmiee - answered almost immediately.

“Irmiee - I have a severely wounded human male here in the Wastelands. Send a pick-up team to my coordinates. He will need immediate medical, so preferably in a carrier equipped to tend to him. Have the surgery suite prepped, as well as whomever is available to perform extensive operation. And...a cybernetics expert as well, please,” she finished, watching the Rodian’s slightly tilted head as she looked to her datapad to write down the instructions to be followed exactly.

“Right away my lord. Expect the carrier within the next five minutes.”

Matsu hung up. Irmiee would not give a time estimate she wasn’t confident in. She knew better.

She waited and watched Connor burn.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
I didn't always want to be a Jedi Master, not since I was in my early....twenties, I think.

You hear SO many stories over the years. From Jedi to Sith and the monsters in-between. Battles sprawling over planets and whole sectors - starships clashing in space, soldiers blasting across battlefronts and Light and Dark Force users locked in a lightsaber duel. I wanted to have it all.

The Skywalkers were the heroes I read about as a boy on Anaxes, and the First Order and...others, I can't remember. Military types for sure and Sith Lords with burning eyes, blood-red sabers and a power beyond any mortal man.

They could level buildings, rip apart space-stations, disintegrate a man, all with the blink of an eye. It was scary, but fascinating.

But my heart was pure, I guess. Power was a drug, but I knew those who abused it could lose it all. I wanted to have power, but I wanted to have respect and to help others. To lead brave soldiers into battle, and defend those who couldn't. That is power - to do the right thing. To be called a Jedi! The guardian of peace and justice. Yes, break a few rules, but you have to in order to really make a difference. Lots of Jedi did, so you can't say I was the first nor was I the last.


Good things can't last.

I was always going to die - yes, yes, I know, of course - but it was how I never saw. I thought I'd be old and wise and go in my sleep. Hell, even in battle but after doing something brave and helpful, to be thought of as a good man. A brave man. A hero.

A hero.

I've seen people think they were heroes, but were nothing but failures. And then the failures, they were the heroes. Kyra. She was a hero. She is a hero. She will be the Master to many Jedi and bring hope back where there is none. Maybe she can help the souls I lost. Wow, there's so many. That's when you know you're not a hero - when you have led so many down a path they can never turn back from. Aria. Chastity. Nagate. All lost in their own way after meeting me.

Death is welcome. Death is the best thing now.

I've paid for my sins, and I know my heart belongs to the Light. They know it. They knew that, and they always will. They never lost faith in me, even until the end. Thank you, Coci. Thurion. Thank you for letting me try to be the hero.

Death is welcome. De -


It felt like seconds, but it had been beyond time when Connor's eyes opened. Not of his own will, but of the drug in his system forcing him to stir.

Even death had rejected him it seemed.

Hopefully it was just part of the final breath and then it would be over.

He blacked out again.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
“Oh,” breathed Re Irmiee as the man was floated in to the surgical suites on a stretcher. She managed to contain the majority of her horror to that one syllable and a slight widening of her already enormous star-gazer’s eyes. Those who worked in the Unit were under no illusions as to what was happening in their place of employment. But few of them - especially those who worked in Coordination or more secretarial or management positions - ever really saw what happened within.

The burned man would haunt her nightmares.
How was he alive?
And then Lord Xiangu came around the corner.

Irmiee had risen to her current position for two reasons. First, she was avidly efficient and ran the Unit more smoothly than could possibly be asked for. Secondly, she was good at doing her job even when she was scared. And that was a good quality when working for a Sith Lord.

“Are we ready, Miss Irmiee?” came the smooth sound of Matsu’s voice, at odds with the sharp, cold beauty of her face. Despite Matsu’s cool kindness to the Rodian throughout her tenure, she got the distinct impression it was only because she continued to be good at what she did. There was something behind the older woman’s eyes that terrified her. They looked at her, but they looked inside her too. Suppressing a shiver with militaristic diligence, the Rodian nodded.

“Yes, my Lord,” came a voice with no hint of a waver. “There were four surgeons on hand and they’ve already scrubbed in. Several assistants were also available and are ready. And the cybernetics specialist you requested will be on the premises within the next ten minutes.”

“Excellent,” the Lady replied, sounding pleased. “If I may ask one more thing of you, please make sure one of the more secluded recovery rooms is made ready for this patient.”

“Of course, my Lord,” said the Rodian with a polite nod of confirmation.

“You’ve done well, Irmiee, as usual. Keep this up and I’m sure you’ll make your parents proud,” said Matsu as she turned to walk towards the observation suite, her metal hands clasped gently behind her back.

“Thank you,” uttered Re even though she doubted Matsu was still listening. That was good, because the blue-green’s woman’s voice was thick with the thought of her destitute parents dreaming of a better life for their daughter as they’d sent her off Rodia. That was the thing wasn’t it? Logically, she knew Matsu Xiangu had done terrible things. She knew she was a monster. But Matsu Xiangu made you love her. She made you want her praise, to make her proud.

And that felt like the most evil part of all.

____________________​

The surgery took eight and a half hours. Matsu sat within the observation deck for all of it, occasionally funneling instructions to the surgeons when they had questions about how she would like to proceed. The cyberneticist sat with her and discussed plans, settling on something simple. They would not bother with artificial flesh. When Harrison awoke Xiangu could discuss specifics with her of what he wanted to change. But let him see the new him - the stronger him.

It looked agonizing. Dead flesh was pared back to reveal the raw, new skin beneath. The edges of wounds cleaned and sewed. Bacta rags packed in to gaping wounds, gel applied to the edges and the surface of raw flesh. Metal grafted to flesh to replace a missing arm. Anesthesia was pumped constantly through the dead-man’s veins, keeping him far off and drifted lest he awaken to a hell all his own. And he would require round-the-clock care to keep him out of the worst of it when he awoke, and to prevent infection. The road back would be excruciating.

Good.

“The surgery is complete, Lord Xiangu. The anesthesia should wear off within the next hour,” reported the lead surgeon through the mechanized communication of surgery suite to observation room, his eyes bloodshot but expression satisfied as he stepped back from the table.

“Well done,” were the only two words that came back as Matsu stood to her feet.

When Connor awoke, he would find the tiny Sith Lord sitting, legs crossed primly, as she read through Xander’s latest notes on her datapad to pass the time. An ironic reversal of another situation they'd found themselves in once.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Passion in the soul roars to fight out. Thoughts disastrous and its a black out.

Played by the rules to be a part waste, the energy 'n drained, the heart,

Fingers rise to isolate and demons gather to desolate.

My land is left high and dry with not a human left to cry.

The marooned soul is free to fly,abandon the world and climb the high.

Revive now, to a raw life uninhibited and ready for a strife,

Nothing to lean on, its a rebirth and gather the dreams, buried under the earth


----------​
The eyelids opened fluidly, not staggered or straining or fluttering, with a new pair of amber eyes underneath. The colour was rich, sickly and bold. Two burning orbs where once ice-blue discs twinkled.

His body was heavy, and there was uncomfortable pain across each limb, up his torso and in his head and face. Parts felt like they were burning, others felt cold.

It was quiet and cool wherever he was. He didn't know. One blink. Two blinks.

Before him was the Sorceress. The one called Matsu Xiangu? Her face was small, as was her frame. Sitting there in a meditative position looking peaceful and serene and minding her own business. She came into focus after a few moments and the man raised his left hand, the one now a black cybernetic hand that looked as black as the night.

"This is your work," he mumbled.

Turning the limb around, hearing nothing but a whirr of the machine he was plugged into via various drips and wires, he turned his head to the woman.

"You are her. The demon of his dreams. Thank you," he said.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
As was her habit, she did not attempt to read any of his mind or emotions as he slept or slowly gained consciousness. Though this time it had less to do with a wish to keep life interesting as the sanctity of Harrison’s conversion. A strange peace from an unorthodox woman, it felt wrong to mold whatever the dark was creating within a man who’d so long struggled with its influence. What might it create in someone who for so long had managed to spurn it? Surely some mix of revenge and enthusiasm on the Dark’s behalf would make him magnificent.

A voice entirely its own was not what she might have expected, however.

Without looking she clicked off the screen of her datapad, leaving it on the side-table near her as she leaned forward in her seat.

“In part,” she answered to his assertion that the body he now lived within was her doing. “My surgeons did what they could and gave you cybernetics, limbs and otherwise, that would enhance you.” That was true. They had given him added strength, beyond what a stock cybernetic might provide. It would take some getting used to. His burns had been full thickness, deep and hideous. Synthflesh had been sewn carefully, the subtle seams obvious if one looked close enough.

But she doubted anyone would want to get that close.

She wasn’t sure what to say about being the demon in anyone’s dreams. She continually shirked off the yoke of being anything to anyone, even that. An arm’s length was comfortable. Strange.

His eyes were very different, nothing of the off-the-handle Harrison she’d known. This one was cold. Calculating.

“Who are you?”

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 
Enhancements. He looked at the cold cybernetic arm. The sensation was to move it up, but his brain told him the arm wasn't his, and it took a moment to move the limb up and down. Occasionally, the arm would move too high or too fast, as if a speeder lurching forward with a hesitant acceleration of power. A tiny frown formed on his brow.

"I see what you mean," he said quietly.

The black arm dropped, and he sat forward and pulled the sheet from his body. He was naked, but who really cared for physical flesh. Connor stooped a little and had to reach out and lean on the edge of the bad, noting dried blood patches he had been laying on, his eyes moving from each spot to the next. Crimson islands on an otherwise nice clean white sheet. It took another moment to stand and walk forward on legs that felt heavy, and he moved to a full length mirror to the far side. In it, he saw the body he was in and the Sorceress sat behind.

He saw the shell of the man who held him back. Some would say he was gaunt in comparison to the image of Dark Lords. Others would say he was a well shaped man; lean and toned. All that could be seen was patchwork. Flesh stitched on, gauzes over raw muscle still healing, crimson traces of scar tissue. The transition of flesh to metal on his left shoulder wasn't pretty, and wasn't something they had tried to make look natural. His veins seemed to be more prominent in his right arm. The eyes, once ice blue, were burnt amber, ringed by the blood red stamp of the Dark Side that turned his face into that of a cold manifestation of evil.

"I am the Connor that was buried beneath a life of lies and doubt. An entity brought forward finally to flourish, to grow and feed from the Force around me."

Curious fingers touched parts of the body as he stepped back, looking finally at Matsu through the mirror.

"They will all suffer. One by one, planet by planet."

While he finally turned to sit back on the bed, he pulled the sheet over his body and looked at the wall opposite, feeling her eyes on him.

"I'll need a foundation to work from. To build myself up. Gain allies. Eradicate his legacy." Connor turned his head to her without missing a beat. "Lords and ladies of the Sith will come and go, but my loyalty will be that to the one who freed me. I pledge my allegiance to you, Sorceress." He looked away again, and found an empowering smile crossing his face. "Tell me what you see, Sorceress. What do YOU see."

All the while, his cybernetic fingers flexed gently one at a time.

[member="Matsu Xiangu"]
 
His nudity did not bother her as he strolled across the room to see what monster he’d been made in to. These were things she hardly noticed as it was, but lately she’d found herself focused on… disturbing things, inhuman things. Things without blood or a heartbeat. Things cold. Things that watched her and thought and acted but weren’t beholden to her like every other creature. It was an obsession, one she should have hid but wouldn’t.

She blinked, pushing the thought from the forefront.

“I offered sanctuary to the shell you grew in, before you were born,” she said, speaking as if the Harrison of old had merely been a vessel and she’d witnessed the rebirth of this creature within. “That still stands. You may build as you please on this planet - either a place for yourself, or a place to work on something greater. I accept your pledge, but all I require is your protection of Maena should it ever be needed. I will consider you building something more interesting for yourself than another failed empire or some boring Sith club thank you enough.”

The other question was more difficult. Obviously the physical was unimportant here; many men were scarred, some even as extensively as this new Connor. But few lived to tell and more did not remain in the nightmares of those who worked the Unit. That was not easy in a place where desensitization was a learned job requirement. No, the important difference here was behind the eyes.

“Cold. Quiet. The potential for precision. The one before you I might have expected to awake and start spewing hatred, blame. Always blame. You awoke and accepted, and for it you see possibility instead of loss. I see someone who might be more effective, who will do things for himself and not the benefit of others, though sometimes those paths will align.”

A heartbeat passed before the door to the private room slid open with a hiss, a Koorivar in a white lab coat nodding his head in deference to the Lady before speaking. Matsu did not like showy bows or open genuflecting - it wasted time. And she didn’t need pointless gestures to know whether or not someone respected her. Getting their jobs done efficiently and keeping her planet running was proof enough for her.

“I am sorry, my Lord, but we would like to do some assessments on our...guest now that he is awake. The cybernetics are of quite new design and we are eager to see their capabilities.”

Matsu rose from her seat, grabbing the datapad from the side table and rising to her full - if petite - height. She had not slept in a few days, though to look at her wouldn’t make it obvious. Regardless, she was craving the solitude of her bed. But before leaving the doctor and his associates to their ministrations, she looked to this new Connor one more time.

“You know where to find me. Or at least, some dead part of you does,” she said, pausing before adding a nod of understanding to punctuate her farewell. She was out the door just as the rest of the Koorivar’s band arrived to help Connor adjust to his new physical power.

[member="Connor Harrison"]​
 

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