The jungles of Lugar Mau
The tall figure pushed his way through the deep undergrowth of the jungle, the untamed wild area of Lugar Mau, home to many ancient and “forgotten” Sith temples from the time of Marka Ragnos.
Rumours had always abounded of Massassi surviving in small groups and eking an existence in the jungles of Lugar Mau, but there had never been any evidence found of these extinct peoples alive and well still. It had been four days since the soldier had left Kar Alabrek on this bout of survival training. The old clone had always been one to push himself harder than the other Sadowans around him to make up for the innate abilities they had that he lacked.
He had been alone these past four days, tracking through the jungle to reach the end point about 100 miles North West of his starting position. Most people thought the best way through a jungle was to attack it hard and fast, but that was a good way to get yourself killed. Instead, you had to take it slow and steady, stopping every so often to listen and take your bearings.
While the Keibatsu had a machete with him to cut through the vegetation, he instead sought game trails, following the small paths cut through the jungle by the creatures living there. In his other hand, he held a long stick, which was used to part the vegetation. It enabled him to avoid touching the brush or vines, as some of them in the jungle had irritating spines, and others, sharp thorns.
He paused, checking his bearings on the small waterproof sealed map in his possession, before taking note of his GPS bearings. Water had been conserved, but he was running low. If he could find a natural water source, the Sadowan had water purity tablets to ensure it was potable.
The light on his commlink blinked, the faint red enough to get his attention, but not attract the scopes of enemies. Koji smiled at the thought. There wasn’t anything in miles that would consider itself an enemy. No, out here, in the thick of the wilderness, there was only survival. He made his way toward a thicket of vines, the plants crawling up each other, weaving themselves together in an attempt to reach the stars. He slipped down next to them, using them as a break from the weather, concealing himself as he decided to click the button.
The image fizzled into view, blue lines congealing into an image of Sanguinius the Sentinel pushing his hood back to stare into the recording. Koji’s eyebrow went up. He had expected Hades, perhaps even Bentre or the eldest Keibatsu, but not the former Consul. “Kojiro Keibatsu, you are hereby summoned to the Temple.” The lightsider shuffled uncharacteristically before continuing, a detail that Koji did not miss. “Please report as soon as possible.”
Kojiro released the button, watching as the hologram evaporated in the heat of the equatorial jungle. The path was less than clear, the goal equally murky. Why they would have summoned a battleteam leader to Sepros was beyond him. He had long since given up the political machinations of the summit, deciding instead to sharpen himself, his skills, his lethality, his team. All of the slick words and subtle positionings meant nothing to the harsh realities of the battlefield and even less to the teeth of a Tu’kata. He brushed the thought aside, pressing forward.
Koji lowered himself to a knee, a gloved hand touching thick tufts of hair. The prey animals of this part were hardy creatures, shedding heavy coats as the bitter winters boiled away in the hot months. He tilted his head, listening for a moment, the subtle mash of mud under hooved feet in the distance making him squint further down the path. They were mottled in the summer, their coats evolving to blend in with the greenery and the bright sun. He recalled the first time seeing one, the stripes and spots blurring as it moved through the overgrowth enough to wobble his senses.
Koji smiled at the memory, stepping carefully toward the sound. He debated taking it, his fingers working through muscle memory even as his stomach reminded him of the fruits he had filled himself with not long ago. No, there was a better purpose here.
He watched it as it raised its head, sniffing the air, eyes darting before it saw him. A flurry of activity erupted from the area as it and several others leapt away, leaving the path and skittering through the overgrowth, vanishing into a swirl of green and brown. Koji watched them go, then swung his head back toward where they had stood, a twinkle in his eye as his instincts and training paid off.
The spring bubbled quietly under the din of the jungle, insects and birds calling out to each other in songs that only they could tell apart. Songs of plenty, of hunger, of love, and of loneliness all caressed his ears, making him wish he understood them better. Koji dropped to a knee, his canteen seeking the deepest part of the spring, where the water would be coldest. Propping his staff against his side, his other hand fished out the purification tablets. The water was probably pure, but that wasn’t a chance he was willing to take. He’d seen all too often the hazards of bad water.
Several gulps later, he lowered the canteen for another refill, his mind tracing his path. The end of his course had a wide opening, a spot where he could call for a transport. He looked to the sky, the bright sun peeking through the leaves at him to say that he had several hours of daylight left. If he was lucky, he’d have time to shower and refresh himself before heading to Sepros. He chuckled to himself as he stowed the canteen, opening up his commlink.
Twelve Hours Later
Koji stepped through the door, the chamber large, with tall ceilings, the stone pillars at the sides carved to see like men holding the roof up. Dark tapestries fluttered between them, the narrow windows near the roof letting the cool night air in. Torches sputtered in their sconces, bands of smoke reaching for the heavens as Koji stepped forward. This was not a chamber he had seen yet. It had to have been one of the last bits carved out, the plans taken from hidden chambers on Yavin when the Clan had been adrift.
Eyes adjusted to the dim light, and he could see them ahead of him, familiar faces from the clan. Friends, allies, family. They looked up to see him as his boot hit the carpet, stepping toward them, standing beneath the massive statue. He let his eyes be drawn up toward it, the helmet and face unmistakable as the ancient Sith Lord whose legacy they had all sworn to continue.
His eyes drew back down, seeing Bentre step forward, Sanguinius and Locke moving with him, the treelike Malik not far behind casting a wary eye at the helmeted Macron. Muz and Ashia stood with Shikyo and Manji, all four turning to watch him approach, a subtle nod lending assurance to him. He knew them all, from Teu and Jade to Malisane and Robert. His mind spun as he recognized what they all had in common, dropping to a knee, his fist grazing the flagstones.
“Kojiro Keibatsu,” Bentre began, his voice strong. “You have had your works judged and found worthy of inclusion into our august order, the Sons of Sadow, charged with upholding the Clan’s legacy. Will you swear it?”
“Aye, I so swear..” The words seemed to echo, reverberating throughout the chamber, settling in all of their chests. Sanguinius stepped forward, stopping directly in front of him. “By word and deed, may you be recognized, may our traditions become your own.” He moved away, Macron taking his place, his helmet held in his arm rather than on his head..
“By blood and toil, may your works continue to bring honor and glory to Sadow, so that we may fulfill our destiny.”
Muz moved to replace him, black eyes staring into him. “By the chains broken by the dark side...” He reached a hand down to help Koji to his feet. “...stand and be named...”
The single word response flowed from the other sons and daughters mouths in unison, the sound flowing through the chamber. He let the sound wash over him, the power of this place renewing him, focusing him. The sound solidified in his mind, in his heart, the meaning behind it burning into him.
Today, the Assembled Sons and Daughters of Sadow have the pleasure of announcing the recognition of Kojiro Keibatsu as the most recent inductee into our ranks. Please join us in thanking him for his work and congratulating him on this recent achievement.
Son of Sadow
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