"Thatâs the last of the guards," commented Cawel as his lithe form became visible again. The White Current Masterâs form blurred into view holding a vicious-looking cortosis vibrosword. Beside him the body of a Republic guard dropped to the ground with a bloody cough and gurgle, her throat neatly cut and spraying gelid gore. The Zabrak prodded her with his pressure boot in curiosity. One splayed hand placed on her chest drained the last few ergs of her life energy forth to re-invigorate the Falanassi. "Thanks." He had little regard for the dead. "This place is a hell-hole. Bet this bitch rots down to festering slime in just a few hours."
Around them vines and creepers festered like verdant snakes greedily clutching at the scenery. They grew a half meter a day, on average. A gaping moss-covered maw yawned before them both. Republic script identified it as "Security Level Ten-Off Limits". Although the hoary verdigris and soil of many millennia covered the metallic mass, recent archaeological excavations identified the opening as part of an ancient space-faring vessel.
"This is the spot," nodded Narg Morko as he clenched his hot azure lightsaber in one tight fist. "The Clone War records our employer provided from his contact were accurate, it seems. This must be the wreck of the Dazilomswi." The man peered into the darkness with eyes brimming with the Force as his sizzling blade provided scanty illumination. Motes of dark red swarmed before his sight like flickering swamp gas. âFortunately the old Separatists werenât thorough with their saturation bombing.â His newly battle-scarred face clenched in a grimace as he checked a device on his belt. âNot too many rads on the counter. Old times, pretty clean. Lot of Dark Side rot as normal for these old cans.â
"Agreed," replied the Zabrak Fallanassi. "It must be the place. The aura is intense. It reeks of the Dark Side and mold." His eyes closed, seeking for eddies in the White Current. "It is Very, Very Old. Old....Older than the Sith even. Older than the Republic. It is.... Bogan." The Zabrak Elder drank in the emanations of the site. "It reeks of power, frustration, and pent-up hate. I can see them so long ago....The Dark Side has forever tainted this place." All around them faint desperate screams echoed in the Aether, subtle emotions heard only in the mind of those who could feel them. The ancient evil that radiated from the shattered bulkhead wall was almost palatable.
One thing was strange however. It almost seemed to beckon them in, rather than push them away.
"In we go," remarked the human Fallen Jedi. Morko had given up his Jedi view of the Potentium some time ago and now served a much darker Master with vast resources. One he feared much more than any ancient stinking shipâs hold. "We have our orders. Letâs move out. Or are you willing to risk the Fallen Oneâs wrath?" He held his lit lightsaber in front of him like a chalice.
"I am most certainly not willing to risk it," commented the Zabrak Force Adept dryly. "In any way."
Or his madness. Both of the Darksiders stepped into the breach gingerly, casting about with enhanced senses for danger. As they began to pick up items from the chests and walls, they had no idea that danger had already found them. In fact, it found them to be delicious.
Narg Morko grasped a vile-looking blade that radiated a faint red light with a gingerly-gloved hand and then pulled it from the bulkhead wall. The wicked weapon had completely pierced the entire bulkhead. It had been cast aside in some ancient battle, to then lay in the greenish dust that coated everything. "This ruptured their seal and led to their eventual doom. The Sword of Lysu Thren," he whispered as greenish dust sifted down from the ancient blade to coat his hand and chest. "My Master will be pleased." The twenty thousand year old Bogan-imbued blade pulsed in his hand, faintly emitting more phantasmal azure light as it awakened. The Sword was immediately wrapped in metal foil.
The powdery cysts of Threnâs Horizon Plague began their molting stage from the warmth of the invaderâs bodies as the looters rummaged in the forbidden treasure box. They were evil beyond the Dark Side, an abomination within the Force and Science both. Now the disease had those who used the Force to cruelly infest. Dinner was served. Soon they would begin to spread as their long-dead Creator had foreseen. They would bring pure Dark Side horror to all who encountered them. Exactly as planned.
It had begun.
**Shera Colony IV
Outer Rim Territories**
"Scanners indicate sizable human encampment, but the technological signatures are pitiful."
"What else should it be? A theme park? These people survived years of constant war. Let's give them some hope."
"Heh. I think I'd rather be dead."
"I can make that happen."
Two troopers moved brusquely down the ramp of a shuttle equipped for stasis transfer of unwilling passengers. Though there was a medical team on board, they were equipped to quickly poison any who proved to be more difficult. The Iron Throne commanded strict obedience or death. There was no middle ground; negotiations would not happen.
Both men flicked signals from their left hands, the opposite brandishing weapons that were as intimidating as they were destructive. Two brigades followed them across a temperate field, quickly succumbing to desert. It might have been a fertile plain in the not so distant past, yet scattered around were the unmistakable scars of orbital bombardment. Even the ruined husk of a Vong warship, yorik coral stained carbon-black from the heat of re-entry betrayed the battle that had been fought over this planet. Both men led their teams in roughly opposite directions, skimming over the battleground; each would approach the camp from positions that would prevent a mass escape.
Yet, when Alpha squad arrived, its commander surveyed the derelict community and cursed through his mouthpiece. "No way will we find any usable bodies in this dump."
A tall woman, shapely despite her purple hued robes drilled him with vibrant eyes in a paint-filled face. "We go in anyway. Even but for one. You know the drill, the Dark Council is always seeking new... recruits."
"We'd be better vaping them from up top, frell; it'd be doing them a favor. Burn them frackers to the ground."
"Just get in there," Zahsim Simsizi snapped impatiently. The Nightsister was not known for patience. especially not in this case- her fellow Brotherhood servants did not know she was a double agent. Nor were they to find out on pain of death. Nightsisters had a peculiar influence on their subordinates, and Zahsim was no exception. Even now she used her abilities to mask any suspicion.
Indicating direction with three more gestures, his brigade divided into three squads. Unleashing screams and shouts amplified by their vocal equipment, they broke into a run, firing shots randomly into closed doors, into the sky, and generally causing carnage without regard for safety.
The Priestess touched an inner strength, her voice echoing across the din. "We come in peace, we come to help you. Gather in the center of this village. We bring food, medicine, and peace to those who will stand with us."
"As we burn their shacks down." The commander mocked. "You know."
"Hush." Her painted face turned to his, and fear seeped into his pores. Nightsisters had mastered the art of intimidation of their subordinates.
Cattle were treated more humanely being led into a slaughterhouse. Struggling civilians resisted in small waysâat least those who had enough strength to consider fighting. These were publicly shot. Most were simply too weak to consider taking up arms, even if weapons had been available. Slowly, the Obelisk warriors herded them into the open central square of the sprawling shanty-town. A pitiful sight, to take them all in at once. The Priestess surveyed the gathering, noting the positions of the twenty four soldiers that had successfully rounded up several hundred. Another, smaller team was going door to door, searching for those who might have hidden, or were simply too weak with disease or starvation to move. The occasional explosive report echoed into the unforgiving grey-cast clouds.
"We come in peace!" The Priestess repeated. "We mean you no harm. You have fought enough!" A nameless figure in tattered, filthy clothes tried to run. A red bolt caught the fleeing form. The hapless body tumbled headfirst into a roll and lay still, smoking in scrabbling death.
"Kriffing Darksiders!" A nameless voice shouted out of the anonymous crowd. Murmurs of discontent rippled through the crowd. Several more shots fired, and silenced those who would have protested. A score lay dead at the perimeter.
"All between the ages of sixteen and forty are to step forward for inspection." The Priestess shouted, "If you try to hide, you will be killed." She motioned quickly. "Form a single queue, starting here."
"What a ragged bunch."
Efficiently, but thoroughly, the two Commanders and the Brotherhood Priestess moved down the line. They probed weather-worn faces, lifted chins scarred by war. They inspected eyes that had seen death and destruction and terrors beyond belief. Here and there, one was thrown out of line, into another group guarded by one of the squads with weapons brandished to deter resistance. They culled the strongest of men and women from among those who had given up on life, or who had already died despite drawing breath into weary flesh. Soon enough, the three were satisfied.
"Where are you taking us?"
"You promised us food!"
"Don't take my boy!" A woman screamed, her son being the last thrown from the line into the central group.
The boy clutched at his mother's rags, and when he was too weak to hold on, burst into tears.
"Simpering fool." The Priestess spat, lashing out with a silver knife, and the boy traded rage for anguish as his mother's lifeblood poured from her opened neck onto the thirsty ground. She silently muttered an obscure orison to the Dark Side.
The boy's eyes went wide with shock, disbelief, but the rage that had quelled his tears burst like a storm. The Priestess waved her hand, and he fell silent. Zahsim grasped his arm and injected him with a hypospray.
"Take that one to the primary shuttle. He is for the Shadow Academyâs halls, not the Fistâs mundane front lines. The sedative will make him compliant."
"Take the rest of this trash, see that they do not resist, and load them."
"And the villagers?"
"Kill them all. Burn them down quickly and efficiently." She smiled evilly. No mercy for the weak. None had ever been shown on Dathomir. None had been shown in the Shadow Academy either, and none would be this day as well.
Her newest find shackled and roughly forced up the ramp of the waiting shuttle, the Priestess smiled grimly, considering the prospects. Four troopers disembarked just behind her, with heavy crates on repulsor-lifts. She suppressed laughter. Not too far distant, she heard one of the commanders over a loudspeaker.
"Stay in your queue, we'll start handing out rations."
Moments later, the reverberating sounds of repeating weapons fire barely overcame the screams of the dying. The ragged citizens fled in every direction, but the vibrations of anguish ripping through the Dark Side told the Krath that all were dying quickly, or in the slow agony of mortal wounds. She was well pleased. The fear they felt before death would surely please her Master. The warm bodies delivered to the Shadow Academy were needed.
And the bio-agent delivered to itâs target, a Trojan Horse to open the way for revenge. The double-agent relished her mission. If the Shade was eventually made flesh she would see her well-deserved reward. She would be one of the ones calling the shots.
One click west
Two figures stood on a hill-top. One held a pair of macro-binoculars, although the Dark Lord really didn't need them. He wished to see the results of the heretic Order's handiwork in as much detail as possible. The other could not have held an instrument; he was still but a faintly shimmering aura of spectral blue-white. Yet the screams of the dying were nourishment to his twisted soul. Both beings savored the terror and pain of the forgotten outcasts.
"It goes well. The vector is inoculated and proceeds as expected." The first said as he watched. Robes wavered about his lumpy form, obscuring the pointed armor he wore beneath. Twin lightsaber hilts hung at his hips, the sign of someone extremely skilled in the JarâKai Niman form.
The phantom gazed at the sky for a moment, almost as if listening to an unheard voice. "Voysss...unk why...t...arrr hannn..." The ghost moaned in a vacuous whisper. "Ke...batse. Iaggh. My....tha...ssss...ntha. My Skin."
"You don't even know what you are just yet , or what the trigger is." The hooded figure looked back at the swirling smoke of his companion. "The horizon is undetectable to their pitiful minds and methods. Our plan is safe. My traitor did her job well."
"Prods. Testsssss.... the steel, ...blood." A spectral grin spread, in deathly hubris. The form had enough substance now to form a visage. It continued to coalesce. With more deaths he would become more rectified. More corporeal, more powerful, more.... real.
"Do not concern yourself, my friend. Everything proceeds on schedule. The Dark Side will provide." It always does, for those who pay the inevitable price. Both figures removed themselves to the hidden Sith Infiltrator owned by the strange hooded figure.