This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!
The planet burns following the Sith Eternal strike at the world, it's surface pulsing with the darkness left behind. Yet the plan to taint the surface of the world had failed, the obelisk being purified and shattered during the Red Dragon's plummet through orbit - pieces of the dark artifact raining down upon the world alongside chunks of fiery wreckage. A new plan is needed. One that will forever shake the world and destroy its connection to the Celestial menace. Darth Vulcanus, first of the New Canonized and Great Khaan of the Graug Horde has answered this call, summoning forth his greatest warlords to descend upon Ossus. The Black Flame has claimed the world as his dominion and ordered that no quarter be given to the Jedi who still cling to the rubble and ashes, the Jedi will perish through death or conversion.
It will be no easy task.
Hundreds of Jedi Knights and Padawan's have been captured, marched in great oceans of pity and fear towards the Graug Slave Camps being erected across the surface. The Worm's wishes to see these Jedi turned to the truth has been made known and The Graug torturers have been ordered to assist any daring Sith looking to do this holy work. But a Jedi's mind is resilient and the captured are simply the weakest link of a stronger foe. The Jedi temples and military bases across the planet are filled, still, with scores of Jedi Masters and their men who did not flee the planet upon news of Bryn incursion. It is the duty of the Sith to raid these temples and military installations - not only to root out resistance but to loot them for any knowledge that could be useful or dangerous to The Grand Plan. To keep the lies of the Celestials from spreading, all knowledge deemed useless to The Eternal shall be destroyed in a ritual pyre outside the once Grand Temple of Ossus.
Yet the Jedi are only the physical foe The Sith must face.
The planet of Ossus is home to a strong light side energy that must still be erased. The Graug colonization of the planet will drain what light the world has left to offer, but the process is long, grueling and brutal. Sith are encouraged to assist The Graug colonization by protecting excavation sites and bringing civilians to the camps as labor for Graug slavery. Once Ossus has been overrun the Sith Eternal will have undisputed dominance over the region of space, including Deservo.
Objective I: The Truth in Pain
Pain brings out the truth in us all. The captured Jedi have seen their comrades die and their temples burn - watched as their order was forced to flee in face of Bryn might and Sith persistence. Darkness nibbles at their ear. The lies of the celestials have faded in the sight of such tragedy. All that is left now is to help them see the truth. Go to the slave camps of The Graug and speak to the Jedi captured there. Do whatever you must to turn them from the lies of The Jedi and their Celestial masters. Talk. Torture. Preach. No price is too great.
Objective II: The Lies in Hope
The hope and faith of The Jedi in The Force is like that of a child being led by a father. They know no better than an infant and this lack of understanding has led to Jedi holdouts in temples and military complexes across the planet. Descend upon them with all the fury and power of a true Sith - extinguish their light and loot their temples for any and all knowledge. Material found important to The Grand Plan shall be brought to The Worm and preserved, all else is to be destroyed in a great fire being erected outside the Ossus Grand Temple.
Objective III: The Darkness in us All
To be truly Sith is to be stronger than the pull of The Force. Stronger than the arbitrary morals The Force pushes onto living beings in order to control their destiny. The completion of The Grand Plan may cost you a piece of yourself - but the victory of The Sith Eternal is paramount. It is by order of The Worm that The Graug be allowed to colonize Ossus - to churn the soil and rid it of its lightside presence. The Sith must secure the initial excavation sites from Jedi holdout incursion and see to it that the newly chained slaves of Ossus' civilian population make it to the work site without incident.
But perhaps this work is beneath you. Perhaps you are much more interested in baring witness to the Kaggath being held at the center of Graug excavation, where Darth Vulcanus has issued a challenge to The Fist of The Emperor.
Objective IV: Bring Your Own!
Have fun! That is the primary goal! There are many stories to tell on Ossus (or perhaps you are eying a Kaggath for rulership of Deservo?
Far from the once-glamorous temples of the Jedi, a dark feld stretched on for many acres. So thick was the woodlands that the ground could not be seen from above, the bramble thickets keeping prying eyes from peering too deeply. Even those who approached the forest on foot could find no path forward, their way suffocated by vines and thorns. Those who dared to harm the woods would suffer mightily, as the trees themself came alive and pulled those who raised their hands against the wood into the darkness never to be seen again.
Their cries would echo for days, a taste of the terror that lurked within.
Not even the Jedi could pierce such shadow, not for lack of trying. Eventually, the Jedi conceded the forests to their own devices and focused on rebuilding the temples and libraries that had been desecrated by the Sith. Now those temples were again falling to the Sith, the fires sending plumes of dark acrid smoke into the open sky.
The forest watched, wary of these new Sith. Those who trespassed would suffer the same fate as the Jedi.
But then darkness, more wicked than that which pulsated at the heart of the forest, descended from the stars and into the very depths of the woods. The trees parted for their passage, for the trees recognized He who walked forward without fear and with grim purpose. The steward of the woods, the mighty Coniferous, emerged from the thicket to meet the man, nay the God, which had walked into his midsts.
"Harumph," grumbled the bark-skinned Dalan, "It has been many years since the forest had heard your song, Master of Darkness. We had thought you lost."
The figure drew back his hood, revealing the face of Darth Carnifex. "Long has been my absence, Lord Coniferous. But I have returned once more. The Jedi are being driven from this world, their acolytes cast down with their masters. In their place a new scourge comes, that of the Graug and of their master Vulcanus."
It was no surprise that Coniferous and his acolytes despised the brutish Graug, for they were anathema to the forest, to the weld.
"So Ossus is to be consigned to the same fate as Mandalore, devoid of nature's beauty." Coniferous shook his head, "Flesh and blood are barbarous but fleeting, but we will weather this storm as we had all others. Our roots are deep."
"I have no doubt that they are, mighty Coniferous, but I fear that this will be a contest that you cannot win. The very air of Ossus will become a poisonous fume, the smog clouds of pollution will blot out the sun, and the soil will turn to naught but ash. All will be lost to you unless you cast your seeds onto a new world untouched by the hatchets of flesh and blood."
Coniferous scratched his moss-covered chin, "I am listening."
The booming sound of their laughter made her ears itch. Laying her gaze upon them brought her nothing but spite, what a despicable lot of pathetic creatures the graug were in her opinion, filthy and disgusting, oppressors of those weaker than they were by nature, the perfect tools for the Sith to spread their influence throughout the greater galaxy. Lunafreya refused to have those things under her command, beauty and grace were everything to her when it came to the tools used to her bidding, they were too wild for her taste, barely scraping the bare minimum to reach sentience. As she walked past the camp’s road, Lunafreya felt as many of those chained turned their heads to basket on the sight of elegance that surrounded her, dressed in a crimson dress, followed by the dark armored figure of Ecliptor and Belias, while at her side Silifant was trotting his way, sounding that whimpering costume of his that annoyed so many people.
“MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm...”, slowly he reclined his long neck and avian-like head to speak in her direction, his breath had the scent of cinnamon. “Slaves look much more befuddled than should be, so uncivilized these graugs. There!”
Her head didn’t care enough for moving, only her eyes followed his clawed long fingers. As pointed by him, they revealed a group of those violent beasts, seven of them, surrounding a group of four humans in bounds. They were mocking them while one was being harshly punished with kicks and punches by two others while the others laughed… that fucking laughter. Slowly did she glide in their direction, bringing a small astonishing expression in Silifant’s beak as she approached them, taking the vanguard of her party, never would he had allowed her to speak to them directly. The avian creature was much smaller than they were, and even as they approached, the group did not move to face them, forcing Silifant to clean his throat three times, each one louder than the other before they acknowledged their presence. Growling something on the foul thing that was their language.
“What is the meaning of this squabble, graug!?”
"Sak adhn. Azsnor.”, the look on Silifant’s face as he opened his mouth full of keen teeth made Lunafreya’s eyebrows frown. He looked at her before turning to face Ecliptor with that same look on his face, howling in anger he used his talons to scratch the graugs back. “How dare Graug speak to me that way! I am the Duchess’s Cham-...”, was all he had time to say before the graug he scratched turned already gnarling at him while using both of his strong arms to push him away. Silifant went straight at the ground, falling on his back, twitching like a rotting lizard, howling in anger, Ecliptor was faster and stood in front of his fallen body to protecting him from the beast’s fury. A strong and violent punch came, slamming his fist against Ecliptor’s chest plate with all his strength, the sound of cracked bones was quite an entertaining thing to hear, as he howled in agony raising his fist in the air, Silifant raised his clawed four-digit hand growling something foul as the graug was raised from the ground midair, chocking to death.
His brethren drawed their weapons, much like Ecliptor drew the sword on his sheet. All stood still as the flying graug was still being choked to death, Silifant continued doing it so until his body had stopped twitching, falling to the ground completely lifeless.
“Next time have proper respect!”, he wailed as he fell on the ground, and Belias, probably with a cruel smile on his lips while waiting behind Lunafreya almost whispered.
“And by the Astral’s speak some basic.”, his words came in an amiable way that caused Silifant to repeat those words at the dumb graugs.
“And speak basic!”, Lunafreya rolled her eyes on that as she simply muttered with her lips a single order.
“Get him up, now.”, walking towards the graugs, Lunafreya kept noticing that they were ready to attack but yet unsure if they were allowed on doing it so. They weren’t as dumb as they seemed, apparently. As the largest approached, he tried his best on howling in his horrendous accent towards them in galactic basic.
“Only reason the weakling coward won was due to your magic!”, the others nodded their heads, growling in hatred. Animals, resentful about the death of their brother. Pitful.
“Is that so?”, her lips muttered once again, causing the graugs to turn their gaze at her, unsure of their position. “By all means let us put that to the test... strike me down.”, his expression was that of confusion as he gazed at his peers to see if they understood what that madwoman in front of them was talking about. “O, come now, filth show some bravery... Or is your kind not just dumb but also stupidly craven?”, that was the last drop necessary for that, the graug raised his gigantic fist and struck Lunafreya with the full power of his freaking monstrous body while his brothers laughed about it. His arm stood still for what seemed to be an eternity until they all stopped laughing and finally noticed why his arm was still erect. On the end of the full might of his fist, large enough to cover her entire face in his filthy palm, a single finger of her hand sparred his blow, the tip of her sharp nail sank in his flesh causing him nothing but pain. “See? A lesson is found here to this lot; Thus remember... There is always a bigger monster somewhere...“, her throat made a brief laughing soundless tone for a moment before uttering with pride. “Ecliptor.”, the droid swang his blade and with a single blow, he cut the graug’s arm off, raising a bashing sound as it fell on the ground.
Almost with haste had the beast howled in pain, moving in circles as it raised the chopped-off stump of his arm to the air, showing others his misery until Lunafreya already sickened by the creature's painful display snapped the same finger she had previously used with another one, causing the monster's head to hurl backwards in his body until it reached his back, neck broken. “She killed Tûka...”, one said in his native tongue.
“She killed Tûka!”, the other agreed. Silifant, already standing once again at her side, whispered at them angrily. “Now back to stations,animals!”, and as if whipped by the Beast Vulcanus himself, the five remaining graug ran back from where they came. Leaving Lunafreya’s party alone with the slaves, as the beaten female on the ground, raised her head, whispering towards her with relief stamped on her voice.
“Thank you...”, Lunafreya took her words and remained looking at her for a long time.
“Release them.”, Silifant nodded his head at her, agreeing to her bidding as he gestured his head towards the armored black android. Ecliptor approached their gleeful faces raising his free hand as one of them reached for his own, his vambraces expanded, and the gatling gun embedded inside came to light already shooting their tiny shards against the poor group of slaves, the whole thing took about three seconds. One of the slaves behind the electric fence howled in desperation.
“You said to release them!”, Lunafreya flirted her head in his direction, whispering at him in spite.
“Death is liberation, not punishment.”, she continued to walk down the road from the graugs ran to, ignoring the sad looks on all of their faces. Silifant rushed his pace to walk by her side, giving special attention to her lips as they spoke. “Get those slaves to work, Chamberlain. There is much to dig in this... cesspool. I want the Imhar Canyon plundered within the fortnight!”
“Thy bidding is my command, my princess.”, he bowed his head at her back to show his devotion. “What will be done with remaining Jedi on camp, hm? Nearly thirty Jedi. Full of hope, full of light, full of life.”, Lunafreya stopped her pace, the blasting sounds of the troops’ forces ransacking the canyon was getting louder as she approached the field, they were nearly done for, it would not take long.
“Send half of them to Carn Ravaryn, let them serve as nourishment for the Samna Melko. Provide Evann with his lot so that he may perform the ritual, is the crystal already at our disposal?”
“Kyber Crystal, yes. Purest substance found in galaxy.”, Silifant said already back at her shoulder. That creature moved with the wind, always lurking his shadow over her every step, so subserviently ready to serve her designs.
“Good... Have the rest be brought to me. I will break them myself.”
Stone, tree and living thing were mashed and churned - the air becoming thick like jelly as rot, dust and ash choked every breath. Soil and dirt mixed into drowning lakes of mud as the claws of Folloik Draagha ravaged the surface and forced their way deeper into the ground, springing leaks in ancient waterways that had been untouched by mortal hands for untold generations. The sky rumbled with the thunderous crack of whips as the beast's of The Horde drove their slaving legions further and deeper, backs tattered and arms aching as they carried stone and metal into the growing hollow. Agonized howls and the endless cries of these damned had become ceaseless since the Graug arrived, in many ways worse than Zygerria as the new slaves were taken right from their homes and thrown into the work pits.
Vulcanus stood gazing into the excavation site, eyes fixated on the deepening hollow. Slaves skittered about along ill-kept walkways winding around the jagged walls of the vertical tunnel. Slaves cried and howled, some periodically falling victim to a hungering war beast or an unstable stone in the path - their screams fading into the shadowy deep. In all this first tunnel was more than three hundred meters across and several hundred more deep. When completed this seemingly pointless hole would serve as a hub of the Graug hive, a place where thousands of small tunnels connected to the hanging fortress The Graug would erect at the center of the hole. A first step to infesting the entire planet with their kind.
"Great Burned One" a gravely voice addressed from behind The Black Flame, who turned over shoulder to find one of his priests bowing before him, its body encased forever inside a skin of Tal'beskar, "the lesser you sent for has arrived. His ship is landing just outside the camps."
"Good" Vulcanus mused, his burning gaze turning back towards the work at hand, "bring him to me."
"At once, Black Flame."
"And what of The Sith forces? Have they stood in the way of our occupation?" This planet had gone much differently than Zygerria had. There was no resistance by The Sith. No acolytes rising to defy him. It was almost too casual.
"Only a few, My Burned God. A lesser female and her dogs killed and maimed warriors at the slave camps" no concern to him, Vulcanus thought, if they failed to kill her then they deserved their fate, "and the heretic leader was spotted entering the forests."
had continued to be a continuing factor in The Great Khaans plans - him and his legion of freaks. The question was, what was the Once-Emperor's gambit this time?
"Send a warband into the forest after him, this planet is ours now. I will not have him skulking around in our shadow."
Maliphant watched as smoke rose from the Jedi's eyes, embers swimming in the abyss serving as his eyes glancing over them as they slowly tilted forwarded then planted themselves into the dirt face first. He brought his staff back up to full height as he pulled in a long breath - only to release it low and slow, watching the corpse twitch periodically. With no mind left to control it, the meat attempted to find purpose in random signals - but it would be fruitless, the body slowly stretching out before falling still.
His gaze finally lifted itself to the next in the tent - who's eyes were cold and empty, staring at their dead friend. Tears had long dried, but left paths of dirt down their face that almost blended with their freckles. Red hair twisted in curls across their face as their jaw hung open, a mixture of paralyzing fear and confusion fighting for control of their features. Maliphant simply watched them for a moment, waited to see if they'd break free of the hold their emotions held on them - but eventually surrendered his hope for them and sighed.
The base of his staff dig into the dirt as he turned and left the confines of the tent - one of his personal legionaires closing the flap behind him as he walked back to his quarters within the camp. Men carried goods back and forth, some argued with a Graug who had ended up in the wrong camp - already assumed Vulcanus's authority on the planet was absolute. More still were sorting prisoners - from the young who were being boarded into transports to be sent back to the academy on Korriban, to the knights and masters left here.
Maliphant ducked his head beneath the tent as he let his staff fall from his grasp - its form falling into black smoke that wafted across the ground. He tucked some of the alabaster hair he carried behind his ear as he moved to find a seat at his makeshift desk - making some quick marks on it. He read them out loud as he did -
"Forcing truth into the mind's of Jedi seems to burn the life from them. Experiment 18 was a failure - recommendation to adjust the length in which truth is implanted.", he said to himself before signing the holopad and tossing it back onto the desk. Then he let his head fall forward into his hands as he let out a grunt of annoyment - at the fact Ossus was being taken by the Graug when their own people needed planets to develop, that it would mean Voss and Nepsis would no doubt fall to Vulcanus's conquest.
That the Jedi were so damned stubborn in their attempts to keep their eyes closed.
Lightning cracked across the sky as the overwhelming nature of the Dark Side began to corrupt the very planet they stood on. The Jedi had fought valently, nearly undone the work the Worm had done and very nearly overwhelmed his immense strength. Yet they had failed; as the prolonged combat the Sith had given them sent rippling cracks across the hyperlane until the Bryn'adul struck out at the Silver Jedi and broke their transit into the planet. Now all those that were left were simply holdouts, left to the siege.
From the Royal Adonis Transport, Praetorians began to fetter out and forced the Graug back. Those who didn't move quick enough found a blade at their throat, thrown to the ground, or tossed aside; and in the empty void that was formed between the crowds come to catch a glimpse of who had come, they would see two figures leading one other. The Worm Emperor, tall as he was, towered above the crowds as he journeyed forth - while the First, a massive bone crowned Sith Spawn with no eyes carried on his shoulder a sword more hunk of iron than weapon. Following behind them was the shaven blue head of the Chiss Sith, Darth Bourous - with no sight of Qual'Al-Selim, enigmatic as she was.
As they closed the distance to Darth Vulcanus, the Worm would speak first;
"Darth Vulcanus.", the Worm greeted him with his title - a trend for the Worm.
"I see you have done what Darth Apedemak could not - and broke the holdouts that persisted. Now you challenge him for the right to lead the Eternal's Legions.", the Worm said with a quiet coyness - like an excitement in the eldritch beings regal tones.
"A New Fist."
"A New War.", voices chimed in after the first.
"Has the Canonization Ritual settled in your bones, then? Do you feel all your potential bubbling to the surface? Are you ready to face my chosen?", the Worm asked.
The Fist, behind him, grunted something behind rotting black teeth as he let the block of alchemized impervium fall from his shoulder and into the dirt next to him blade first. It shook the ground with its weight, and the wordless Apedemak exhaled something dark from its blackened mouth as what should have been eyes stared upon Vulcanus's features.
"That's because you can never force the issue," she said, announcing her presence to Darth Maliphant
. The Lady of Secrets had traveled to Ossus to observe what had become of it, and seeing the Graug so prevalent had brought an intense wave of dislike from her. Vulcanus was taking another planet for his brutes, one that was impossibly more significant in the galaxy than Zygerria was, and Darth Arcanix did not like it one bit.
"Knight Foralis was a cautious zealot of the Jedi, one of Coren's early followers," she continued, looking at the datapad and the file open of the deceased Jedi. "It's why I never attempted to recruit him myself during my time among the Jedi."
A swish of her hand, a swirl of purple and black smoke, and a seat appeared that she would take across from her fellow Lord.
"I've found for a conversion to really stick they have to choose to join the darkness. Forcing them by implantation or Sith poisons or corruption can only last for so long, and the Jedi always seem to redeem them as irritating as that is. Reasoned argument gets the point across so much better in many cases."
It was a debate that she and Carnifex
had had endlessly. What was the most effective method to turn someone to the dark side? Was it brute force and torture to the point they just snapped? Was it quiet manipulation and reason to reveal the hypocrisy of the Jedi?
"I know the door is fabric, but you'd do well to at least try to knock, Darth Arcanix.", Maliphant offered her with a testing stare. He readjusted himself, leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. A quiet message to someone outside through the Force, and a servant would soon be in to pour them a bottle of wine - a rare luxury on a planet soon to be overwhelmed with the crude industrialization of the Graug.
"I was not attempting the tried and true, but rather a method to force truth's known to the Sith unto them. Instead of a prolonged philosophical debate intermixed with torture, rewards, Pavlovic nonsense crowned with their fall to the Dark Side by killing their 'master' or 'friend' or some nonsense. Sure, it works - but it takes up valuable time I'd much rather be spending doing something more productive.", Maliphant said in his short rant.
"Alas, the Worm Emperor wants to engorge our ranks with Fallen Jedi. I can't blame him, I suppose, but I'd prefer a faster methodology. Not the aged techniques of Sidious.", he said with a sigh.
"You can't usually rush the results, but I can understand why the Worm wants a whole cadre of fallen Jedi to swell the ranks," she reasoned, nodding her acceptance of the wine, but not touching it. From what she had gathered, the recent attempt to take Ossus from the Silver Jedi before the Bryn'adul advance had been costly for the Sith Eternal. They didn't have nearly the forces necessary that any losses would be felt badly. No wonder a certain reliance had been placed on Vulcanus and his Graug.
She tapped her fingers in thought on the arm of her chair. A faster method for conversion would be useful, she couldn't argue with that, but it needed to be something that would stick. That a Jedi could not be redeemed from to then turn valuable information over to the light, as she knew many could do if they were high enough in command.
"Trayus Academy could be an inspiration," she finally said. "If I recall correctly, Malachor's dark side energies combined with the Wound there significantly weakened the will of captured Jedi, made them very easy to turn. Something about the unnaturalness of the Wound. If we could replicate that effect on a localized scale, it might speed up the process without burning out their minds."
Darkness fell heavy on the world, as it always did when The Worm was present. Even with his dulled ability to force sense Vulcanus could feel the inky black slipping over the planet like a blanket. The priest he had dispatched never did make it close enough to lead The Worm to Vulcanus, he was lost in the mob of claws and teeth that took to the shuttle with ravenous curiosity. Claws played the outside of the vessel as the ramp fell open, the horde surging forward - only to be promptly pushed back by The Emperor's Guardians.
The Graug learned quickly to provide the entourage with a complete ring of space after having witnessed the ferocity of the Praetorian. Yet still, the mob of teeth and claws followed them all the way to the gates of the camp before dispersing back into the fading greenery of Ossus. When finally The Worm and his followers arrived, they would find Vulcanus still studying the progress of the construction.
"Itis obvious that the 'Eternal Legion' is unworthy of my leadership." Vulcanus answered, back still turned to The Worm and his fist, "The head of the beast has poisoned the body - and sick warbeast is worthless. Better to be put down and replaced"
Vulcanus then turned, eyes looking past the masks of The Worm as Apedemak's sword crashed to the dirt. "The Legion is unfit to fight this war, the battle here proved as such. It shall be decimated. Destroyed. Replaced.
"The time of The Legion is done. The time of The Infernal Horde begins."
Wrapping using claws around the pommel of his Sith Sword, Vulcanus turned his firery gaze upon The Worm, "The ritual has shown me the truth. Given me new purpose. The Graug will be the beginning and the end of the war to come. First your fist. Then you. Then The Celestials."
Bone shrieked as it was withdrawn from Vulcanus' sheath, The Inferno blade glowing with malicious fire as it fell into the beast's hand. Gripping the massive blade in a single hand, Vulcanus returned his firery gaze to The Fist.
"I decided your fate at Exegol. Let us see if you are strong enough to defy it."
"Unfortunately, the obelisk the Sepulchral spent so long creating got damaged - so I don't think we'll be able to create such a thing on the planet for at least a few weeks.", he nodded to himself as he took the wine and drank a heavy portion of it - letting the red liquid dribble slightly down his lips before wiping them with a sleeve. Obviously parched from a long day of harassing Jedi captives.
Setting it back down, Maliphant crossed his arms and leaned back as he considered alternatives.
"My staff can create localized wounds, I'm sure of - but I doubt it'd be enough. Perhaps cutting the Jedi off from the Force, exposing them to the aura of a Sith's control as we explain the falsehoods they've known to hold dear might help alleviate the Force's ability to resist us. In the end, it'll be hard to keep them - as you said - but if all else fails I suppose we simply send them back to Korriban."
"At least there, there won't be a time limit on their awakening.", he said gruffly.
"Whatever is done, it needs to be partially finished before Vulcanus turns his sights on Voss. The planet is still under siege - and while the Silvers there are on a time limit, I can imagine without interference they could hold the planet down indefinitely."
"A bold claim.", Bourous offered from behind the Worm, his frown seeming his most defined feature as he watched the Graug Lord pull his blade from its sheath. Flame's created shadows even in the middle of the day, dancing there way across the collected forms.
"Were it anyone else, we would laugh.", the Worm replied.
"The Graug have their purpose, but they are hardly the most dangerous horde in the Galaxy. When you conquer the Bryn'adul, cut the head from the beast Tathra - perhaps we will acknowledge their strength.", the Emperor mused.
"Please, let the Kaggath begin. The Dark Council, albeit without Qual'Al-Selim, acknowledges the validity of your claim. Begin."
With that, the Worm seemed to float back besides Bourous, who had already ensured he was far enough away from the others to watch from a safe distance. His red eyes glanced over the fight with pupils that could not be seen - where his attention was focused as mysterious as the voids of the Worm, who's many masks also watched the circumstances unfold.
The Fist, picked up the massive metal blade he carried - and on ashin gray legs, furled with tight muscles bound by the opaque skin laid over it - rushed forward bringing the blade through the dirt. The strike plowed the ground like a horse - creating a deep divet in a wide arc that threw dirt at the surrounding crowds, at Vulcanus, and into the air; but trailing just behind the soil was the massive weapon. Once, a single strike of it had sent the monster of a fight Judas of Vahl
soaring - and with the same force of a freighter, it would bear down on the equally as massive Vulcanus.
With a single arm, the Fist threw the blade so quickly that Vulcanus would be pressed to react; were it not so obviously televised through his motions. It was a testing strike, that despite having no eyes and only a bone plate for a face - the Fist was capable of strategy in the barest sense. His words were formless, but the emotion was thick on the air - like a miasma.
A rough and brutal cry of anger bellowed deep from the monster's gullet.
Battle was a fierce animal, baying and bucking you never quite got a hold on it. The most you could hope for is a bit of mutual respect, but it was something he understood something he loved. A Graug conquered world though? He'd heard tales, but this was something he could only believe when he saw it with this own eyes.
They were literally killing a planet, and he'd helped them to do it. Conquest he understood, and even good spirited looting he understood. This plan though was near insanity. Emotions often ran hot after a battle, but this wasn't even directly after it was a cold decision to simply turn the world to madness. It reminded him of the old tales of the Empire coming to mine the heart out of his people's home so many years ago, but this was worse.
Had he misunderstood the goals here or had he simply been naïve? There was a third possibility but he didn't want to look it in the eye, not yet at least. Not here.
Looking over the excavation site as his herd stood watch he remained silent and troubled by this. Was this the Worm Emperor's vision? Is this what he sought to turn the entire galaxy too?
"I'm surprised that a backup ritual obelisk wasn't prepared, considering this was to assault one of the worlds within the galaxy with a strong Jedi heritage," she said. It seemed like such an oversight on behalf of the Worm and the Sepulchral to not be prepared for the Jedi to focus all their efforts on destroying whatever ritual they had planned for the world. Ah well.
"Cutting them off from the Force might engender despair within them, but defiance in others," she said, pondering, fingers drumming on the arm of her chair. "But they would recognize the manipulation regardless if we tried to seize control of them during the process, to alter their minds with the Force and words. I feel we are dancing around the answer, as it were, besides taking them to a world like Malachor or Korriban."
She could always propose just giving her and her power base the captives to work on. Many within her command were still the same she converted during her mission among the Jedi. They would have familiar faces to guide them, familiar voices of mentors and former friends urging them in public now and not through a side comment or two to gauge interests. Her fingers stopped drumming mid movement as Maliphant stated what world was likely to be claimed by Vulcanus next. The thought processed, and immediately, severe waves of disdain would be flowing off of her.
"Vulcanus cannot be allowed to take Voss," she stated, venom dripping from each syllable.
"Specially made, highly attuned Force Artifacts don't tend to grow on trees, Taeli.", Maliphant offered back cooly.
"Perhaps, you misunderstand. There is strength in the person, surely, to resist our efforts through sheer will - but a Jedi is harder to turn because the corrective nature of the Force. It doesn't want to give up its Knights; so it supplies them with strength. To be shrouded in our control of it, that Dark Side taint helps weaken the pool in which they draw their power - their fortitude."
Though he stopped for a moment as a finger went to his cheek - his vision suddenly focusing on something a thousand miles away.
"... Perhaps if we could mimic the Force, make them believe the cues of the Force are to drop their guard in specific manners. So many Jedi simply rely on it's guidance entirely, they likely would simply go along with it. Though, tricking them initially might be the issue...", he said to himself.
Though he glanced away from his thoughts as Arcanix took on a venomous tone of her own -
"Do you intend to stop him or his graug hordes?", he said increduously.
"The Legions need time to recover, and the Graug are now prepared to dominate the entire sector to Nepsis. Even if we were prepared - Vulcanus is a beast of a Sith. We would have issues challenging him before the canonization ritual - but now?"
Long had the boy been away, yet the war on Ossus was still burning; after the Sith were done, it was said, the Bryn'adul had clawed their way to the planet's surface and finished the job. Left a vacant opening on the world. One which would be filled with Graug.
Thesh was not a particular fan of Graug. Their ways were cruel and primitive and they were not above a little slavery. Or a lot of slavery. It didn't sit right with him.
Yet he had come all the same, at the order of his Master. He walked a very thin line, he knew, and to further defy the man who had practically raised him would be a mistake. One which would no doubt cost him his life. He had to toe that line. So he had returned to the scene of his great treachery.
After leaving Maliphant that day in his office on Korriban, Thesh had quickly recovered Nwit from the room of Ishani Sibwarra
before she could discover it. There were none who really knew he was back within their ranks, save those shades who had followed him through the Academy. Whoever they had been. He'd preferred it that way.
But this broke that isolation he'd placed himself into.
Burned shards of Force-knew-what crunched underfoot as he approached the aged temple. There were no others here yet that he knew of, he'd purposely chosen one of the temples furthest from the main one which they had invaded that fateful day. Half a planet away, he hoped he could be free with his thoughts while still doing as he had been bid.
Siphoning through old texts and artifacts... That was something he could do. He didn't have to face his fellow Sith. He didn't have to face the remnants of the Jedi. And he didn't have to deal with monstrous slavers.
Ishani was there more out of obligation than anything else. She stumbled around the camp, trying to make it look like she was being useful, but truth be told there wasn’t much she could do. No converting the Jedi prisoners to the ways of the Sith, no helping the fething Graug rape the planet. She would have joined the preservation efforts, but her attitude even to that soured once she saw the bonfire being built. They were going to destroy anything deemed useless. Maybe she should climb on that pyre herself. Wouldn’t that make for a great joke.
There was snow on the ground, crunching under her feet with every step. A little farther out, the snow gave way to wet ashes and charred rubble, forming a black mud that sucked at her boots. Much of the Jedi Temple had been blown up, pillaged, etcetera during the initial invasion. Which had technically failed, she thought with a smirk. The Bryn were the real reason the Sith were still here, as they had cut off the Silvers from Ossus. She’d say the lobsters were good for something after all, but she didn’t consider what they were currently doing to Ossus much of a good thing.
She exhaled, her breath coming out in a cloud of vapor, her nose nipped red from the chilly air. Her fingers felt like icicles, even hidden inside gloves. She clapped her hands together like a child and stamped her feet, trying to get the blood flowing…
Something caught her attention. The vaguest hint of a familiar presence in the Force. It was a long ways off, but she caught it, grabbed hold of it, scrambled to confirm its identity.
Him? Here? Now?
“...Are you fething kidding me?!” she screamed. Already she had broken into a run, crashing into a Sith soldier who grabbed at her, thinking she was an escaped prisoner on the run. “Move!” she yelled, shoving them aside, putting quite a bit of the Force into her push. The brief obstacle barely broke her stride.
She commandeered the nearest vehicle and blasted off without so much as an explanation. Let the others try to chase her, or take it up with Maliphant.
M’lord, some crazy blonde stole a speeder and left!
Oh, that’s just Miss Ishani Sibwarra, going after my apprentice.
Is he in danger, sire?
Yes, you could say that. Extreme amounts of danger.
It was too bad Alina Tremiru
and Melydia Gold
weren’t here, or at least Ishani hadn’t seen any of Arcturus Thesh’s other friends around. Oh well! More for her!
Her pace started to slow as she neared the far temple, wondering just what the hell Arcturus was doing here anyway. Had he been hiding here the whole time, trolling them? Ugh, she was going to kill him! He was getting an earful from her about all the crap she had been through, scouring the galaxy, investigating even the vaguest rumors that might be tied to him. She’d even gone to the fething Jedi Temple on Coruscant, thinking he might’ve been taken prisoner—
Despite her racing, hopeful thoughts and the roar of the speeder’s engine, she didn’t truly believe it was him until she saw him with her own eyes. That didn’t happen until after she had parked (well, more like brought to a screeching halt after nearly crashing into a tree) the speeder outside the temple, halfway across the planet from where she’d started, and gotten out. It hadn’t snowed as hard in this region, but it was still bitterly cold.
She headed for the ruins and the familiar presence within them, only she wasn’t running anymore. There were plenty of reasons for her to dread this reunion, among them the possibility that this was some kind of trick. Still she pressed on, pushing through what remained of the doors, picking her way over debris, until finally, he stood before her.
As soon as she saw him, she froze up, staring. Was he real? Did she trust her eyes? She trusted the Force, even when it was fickle. The Force was telling her, practically yelling in her ear, it’s him it’s him it’s him. She'd been waiting months for this moment. What was she waiting for now?
The pause was enough that he had time to spot her and react before she finally closed the distance between them. She couldn’t speak. There was nothing to say, not now. She threw her arms around him and refused to let go, no matter what.
It was eerie inside, like a breath had been held and with it all the air in the world.
Each step echoed through the structure, partially muffled by the scattered furniture which had no doubt been turned over by the Bryn'adul who hunted the former occupants. He couldn't say for sure, he hadn't been here when it happened, but just looking at that central chamber painted quite the picture.
His mind wandered back to his time on Coruscant, and the brief lesson given by Moondog. Was it worth trying it out a second time? To reach out and touch some of the scattered pieces in search of the truth?
He refrained from doing so, ultimately. He was not here to see the fate of those he had once foolishly aided, he did not care what had become of them. Instead he stuck his hands into the pockets of his jacket and continued on. Past the furniture, and toward another room which might hold more promise. Tomes, datacrons, that sort of thing.
Only he was suddenly aware of the fact that he wasn't alone. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled uncomfortably, and instinct bade him to reach for his weapon. So he did, fingertips wrapping around the dainty dagger he'd made in his youth. His turned, only half loosing it from its sheath, and then he halted.
It was as though his body had been seized and all he could do was stare.
His mouth dropped open, though nothing came out of it. And before he could even fully comprehend what it was he was seeing she was upon him. Her arms wrapped around him and for a moment he just stood there. Rigid.
Surely this was a trick. A test. There was no way she was actually here. No way she'd found him.
But as he inhaled a breath that familiar scent was caught upon the air. It was enough to shatter whatever spell he'd been under. The blade was released back into its sheath, his other hand fought to get out of the pocket, and then he enveloped her in his embrace. Buried his face in her hair.
He hadn't realized how bated his breath had been, how on edge he'd felt, how tense his muscles were, until that very moment when it all melted away. Their survival training felt like it had been years prior at this point, so much had happened since, yet all it had taken was for them to be reunited and he knew that what he'd felt then still held true now.
It hadn't been a heat of the moment thing. Not for him at least.
He didn't answer right away though, he gently squeezed her for reassurance despite his silence and mulled it all over in his head. Three questions, one of which she didn't complete. Was she afraid to speak her mind? Did she think they were being watched, as they had been on that uninhabited world?
Turning his head some, he kissed her hair and then pulled back just enough that he could peer down at her. She was hugging him like her life depended on it, like a constrictor snake. It wasn't unpleasant though, certainly she wasn't squashing his ribs like the scaly comparison.
"I didn't know what I'd say," was his immediate response, when he finally found the words at all. Truth be told he still didn't know what he was going to say. He owed her an explanation, sure, but none would come.
One hand lifted to settle on the back of her head. It still didn't feel real. He could see her, touch her, smell her, and when he drew upon the Force it was definitely her presence he felt. But he couldn't shake the surreal sensation which gripped him, it was almost as though he wasn't even really in his own body. There was a minor disconnect there.
Her whispered words were quite unexpected, but before he could speak on them she was up on her tiptoes; the kiss brought him barreling back down to earth, it grounded him into his body once more. He cupped her cheek, reciprocated gently. Very chaste indeed.
He was the one who inevitably ended it. He pulled back just enough that he could speak, his forehead settled against hers. He opened his eyes, tried to peek down at her. "You can't say things like that, Ish," he whispered, finally addressing her statement about him not coming back, "Please, don't get yourself in any trouble saying that again..." He had to come back.
He had known from the moment he'd left that he'd have to return. There was no other way.