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They all flickered there, distance causing artifacts in the projections as they fell across the stars. With the clan in perpetual motion as of late, it had been difficult to arrange an in-person meeting. It had been some time since they had been brought together for this sort of thing, and that fact hung over them as much as the sense of doom that they had felt upon leaving Orian.
It was the Neti's voice that broke their silent consideration. "We have seen his deeds."
Teu nodded her head slowly, the hiccup of the holonet distorting her image as she spoke. "I agree."
"He is ready." The madman grinned widely beneath the helmet, hidden somewhere far away from anything beside his own experiments.
Locke cleared his throat, leaning forward in his seat. "He has done remarkably well, considering the troubles we have seen." Sanguinius nodded, uncrossing his arms as his predecessor continued. "I can't say that any of us could have done better."
The Lion stood, nodding slowly. "I'll make arrangements."
One month later
Bentre slipped the holopad away, his hand gesturing to the two knights at his flank to continue onward down the hallway. They were working on a precise timeframe here, and the dull roar of fighter patrols made their way down to their ears with alarming frequency.
It is time.
The words came across his mind like gravel and fire, incinerating his senses. He resisted the urge to raise a cool hand to ears that hadn't actually heard that voice. It wasn't the first time he had heard the man this way, but this time felt raw, more intense. He staggered forward a step before regaining composure, following his knights deeper into the sandstone and dust of the antique ages.
The words twisted his head and he turned on his heel, the dim corridor leading to a narrow stairwell. His mind raced, recalling the plans from the probe droids. They had somehow missed this passage, or he hadn't remembered it, which felt far less likely. Boots scraped the steps as he found himself alone in the dark, a sliver of torchlight visible ahead of him that grew as he approached.
There was a scent that hung heavy in the air, something he hadn't smelled since his days at Lyspair. It reminded him of those brutal months, the rapid and brutal training that almost everyone pushed themselves through in their first years. The passage opened up into a larger hall, grim statues holding the ceiling up as they glared hopelessly at the stone pyramid in the center of the room. Eyes adjusted to the pale torchlight quickly enough to recognize some of the engravings as ancient sith before he realized that he was not alone.
"Bentre Kairn'tel Stahoes." Ashen stood, drawing his diamond sword. "The Sons have seen you."
He dropped to a knee, his mind racing. He had known that the Grand Master was infuriated by the loss of his beloved Tarthos, but he would have guessed that his anger would have congealed earlier.
"They have judged you." He stepped closer to the consul, bringing the sword ever closer to his neck. Bentre found himself holding his breath.
Ashen twisted his hand, and the blade nicked his ear, blood dripping onto the blade, onto his shoulder. Almost involuntarily, he reached up, finding the slick crimson beneath his fingers. "And found you worthy."
"By word and deed, by blood and toil, I will honor our Clan." The words fell from Bentre as if by rote, his mind still struggling to accept what was happening as he watched him flick the blade back, sheathing it as he stepped forward, a parchment in his hand. Bentre looked up at him, taking the parchment, the seal of the clan locking oath ribbons from every other Son to the decree.
"Then stand and be counted among the Sons of Sadow, for it has been signed and sealed in blood."
Today, the Assembled Sons and Daughters of Sadow have the pleasure of announcing the recognition of our Consul, Bentre Kairn'tel Stahoes as the most recent inductee into our ranks. Please join us in thanking him for his work and congratulating him on this recent achievement.
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