Episode VII: A New Order
Through years of conflict and strife the Galaxy has briefly achieved an uneasy state of peace. The Imperial Remnants have established diplomatic relations with the New Republic while engaging in sweeping social reforms. The many warlords and other para-military factions which plagued the Galaxy in the wake of the Empire's fall have been defeated while Luke Skywalker has rebuilt a New Jedi Order from the ashes left by his father's rage into a powerful force for order and justice hundreds strong.
After millennia held in check by the Chiss Imperium on the ancient world of Pesegam the Sith race, hereditary enemies of the Jedi Order thought long extinct have emerged once more into an the galaxy. Longing for a continuation of peace and diplomacy, for which so many have fought so long and so hard for the New Republic has successfully pressured the Chiss Imperium into allowing the Sith to re-integrate into willing governments across the galaxy.
Vehemently opposed politically by Grand Master Luke Skywalker and the New Jedi Order the Sith skillfully manipulate public sentiment in their own favor while causing a rift between the New Republic and the New Jedi Order by placing all Pureblood members of their race capable of manipulating the Force under direct military authority of the New Republic, a move which the Jedi themselves have long resisted. Encouraged by public sentiment and the example of the supposedly evil Sith the New Republic votes in favor of measures approving the use of force to bring the New Jedi Order under military control or to be disbanded and prosecuted as criminals.
Prologue: Shadow in Twilight.
Pesegam, 31 ABY
Ineke Brael absent-mindedly stroked the silken smooth wood of her hand carved mask with the kind of absent minded obliviousness bred from years of familiarity and habit.
Tall and stately with finely chiseled features a flat stomach and full, pert breasts, her piercing black pupils haloed by irises of rich bronze resembled nothing so much as a solar eclipse. With her skin, the hue of a rich burgandy wine and cleanly cropped scalp absent even the hint of stubble Ineke would have been considered beautiful even by the exacting standards of the Pureblood Sith if only she boasted a battle-won scar or three.
Often the young Sith Lord had reflected that they need not even be plainly visible to the casual observer. No, far better they be known of, hinted at through the hushed whispers of fearful enemies or cowed subordinates an alluring promise to be slowly and teasingly revealed to those fortunate enough to be taken as her lovers in the height of shared passions. This would never be so, at least not without the accompaniment of shame's hot rush.
Ineke Brael had her scars, though they were meant as cruel reminders of the consequences of transgressing the teachings of the Sith. Years ago in callow youth Ineke had sought to render to herself a measure of the allure she craved and bartering her youthful sex for an artist's needle-work had an intricate and beautiful series of tattoos inscribed across her thighs, winding upwards to frame her pubis and buttocks before wrapping almost hypnotically about her labia.
Not simply unearned but wholly without the deeper meaning of those ritualistic scars earned by within her Order the youthful mistake had earned young Ineke a series of cruel and seemingly endless punishments at the hands of her Lord throughout the duration of her apprenticeship.
Though having earned the right to remove the offensive tattoos and hide the shame that they represented to all right thinking Sith, Pureblooded or otherwise Ineke had resolved to keep the tattoos along with the pierced and branded nipples that marked out a whore in secular Sith society.
The hapless artist had fared the worst in the end, though by some tenants of Sith Law he acted admirably, employing the skills he practiced to bring himself pleasure without thought to its cost to another her Lord's interrogation's revealed that Ineke had enjoyed the experience. Education and punishment being the responsibility of any Sith to witness it in regards to an Apprentice of the Order the man found himself guilty of having provided pleasure instead of pain and therefore allowing the foolish young girl to profit in an irrevocable manner from her disobedience.
Ineke could no longer recall the name of the hapless artist, a victim of her own sins, nor could she suppress a shudder at the thought of his fate, to which she had been forced to bear witness moments before her master's far from gentle assaults publicly began her own punishment.
For the same reasons that she kept the visible reminders of her failures Ineke had crafted her True-Face, the Face of a Lord of the Sith in the form of a hideous, sneering crone with lumped and saggy features. Never again would she hide from shame or seek to avoid it, instead each time a lover came to her bed (and she took many, her own ravenous appetites had already become the source of many rumors) or a detractor whispered aspersions about the form taken by her True Face, she felt again her shame and again gained strength in the Force by the humiliation and rage it provoked within her breast.
Tending to the instructions of the Grand High Lord of the Sith Order Ineke began her twenty-four hours of cleansing and meditation, staring deeply into the eyes of Darth Rigantia, Seventh Lord of the Sith High Council; her own True Face.
Rigantia was the youngest among the Nine Lords in living memory and according to popular belief at only twenty-six years of age the youngest Lord to ever hold the Seventh seat. Her mind swirled downward into Rigantia's eyes as Ineke contemplated the circumstances that had earned her seat barely a year before.
The hapless smuggler's name had eluded even her Lord and Master Hhanish Raig but the name had never been important it was the star ship itself, the Runner Runner. A decidedly aged, or at least hard used vessel the sixty odd meter long ship had ever-so courteously been equipped with a small star fighter, it's apparently illicit cargo and had touched down in near perfect working order. Like a wind from the heavens the Runner Runner represented the potential for the Sith Order and the Sith race to rise up once more and be blown on the winds of fortune to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
On the resource poor planet that the Sith race and their small consort of Human chattel had been stranded this vessel was seemed a sign from the Force itself that the galaxy must lay ready once more for their conquering attentions.
Lord Raig and the rest of the expedition, having extracted all they could from the smuggler through interrogation slew the man and begun the cunning Sith maneuvering to seize the greatest advantage from this unprecedented opportunity, or eliminate the greatest number of rivals.
Pausing Ineke thanked the Force for Lord Gitec's foolishness. If not for him her Lord and Master's thumb would still rest firmly on Ineke (or perhaps in her given his mood) and Darth Rigantia would not have come to be. Gitec had never been particularly clever or subtle, only strong and lucky. He chose boldness over subtlety one too many times, rushing alone to the star ship while the others warily dueled with words, insinuations and promises of favor.
No matter how ill-fortuned the Captain of Runner Runner had been the man was clever. Before setting off to reconnoiter his surroundings the man now all but canonized simply as Ship-Bringer had armed several powerful anti-personnel devices around his ship, insurance against hostile meddling. Gitec's carelessness and bravado triggered a massive explosion killing the ass along with Darth Tletense and two of the accompanying apprentices in one fell sweep.
Violence begets Violence and awaits only opportunity. Ineke reminded herself carefully once again repeating the lesson she believed to have been found in the incident.
With only Lord's Dhread and Reive remaining along with their apprentices, whose names Ineke took great care to block from her mind, as befitting for those who fell, ingloriously, as mere apprentices Raig and Ineke had immediately been forced into open battle. Ineke's command of the Force was strong, as was right for someone who had endured first hand so many of the Sith's "lessons," absorbing them to strengthen her resolve and power.
The battle itself had been brief, Ineke accounted for both the apprentices in the span of moments, conserving her strength by dispatching first the wounded pupil of Reive before destroying Dhread's protégé, whose momentary uncertainty as to her intent in dispatching his opponent cost the fool his life. As expected of a pupil she'd rushed to her Master's aide, adjudging at a moment's surveillance that Reive was the superior duelist she interposed herself on Dhread, hoping to conceal her treacherous intent until the last possible moment as a hedge against failure.
Did Rhaig know then my intentions? Ineke paused to contemplate the possibility, deciding it to be irrelevant given the outcome.
Lord's Rhaig and Reive had dueled furiously while Ineke all but toyed with Dhread, though his Force assaults did press her raw power she had dealt the Sith Lord a painful wound in the act of surprising him. In tandem with Darth Dhread's startling lack of creativity in either sword play or the employment of his clearly powerful command of the Force the Lord proved an easy opponent, failing even to draw blood on the cunning Ineke.
Opportunity did not force Ineke to remain patient for long and as Lords Reive and Rhaig had danced past herself and Lord Dhread the apprentice seized her destiny. Disengaging ever so briefly from Lord Dhread she had struck out in a powerful sweeping blow amputating Darth Reive's right leg on which rested the full weight of his retreat. Lord Rhaig's light saber had struck off first his wounded adversary's hand then, on the back cut his head even as Ineke buried her blade to the hilt in his rib cage from behind, thrusting his body with her hips effortlessly onward and onto the probing cuts of Darth Dhread who stumbled to the ground under the dead weight of his accidental victim.
The work of a moment concluded the pitched contest as Ineke had simply pivoted through the motion used to tumble her late Lord and Master onto Dhread's blade to complete her circuit with a powerful two handed cut that bisected the recovering Sith from shoulder to hip.
Disposing of the bodies in a way which would prevent her story from being openly contradicted had proven more easily said than done. Basking in the rising elation that her first open duel had engendered Ineke had lain herself down in the midst of slain enemies to drink in her unlooked for good fortune.
Heat spreading across her body she'd found herself unable to suppress the pleasure that the death of Darth Rhaig and the others brought her, perhaps even more than gaining possession of a star ship, an event she doubted she had even truly recognized to be real as of yet.
Able to contain herself no longer Ineke recalled her actions with a vivid clarity. I dipped my fingers in their blood, each in turn, Rhaig's I gathered up first and last. It began with my stomach but soon I had all but bathed myself in the warm sticky fluids of enemies, taken by force from them in battle.
The stiffness of the piercings transfixing my nipples came first their mere being though an expression of shame brought heat between my legs and sent my mind spiraling into the bliss of sexual satisfaction. It seemed to take an eternity. A vacant smile played across the face of the meditating Sith as echoes of the sensation stirred the flames of arousal even a year later.
Pleasure earned must be partaken of, that is the Sith way. Should I have descended forever into that harmonious delight? Time and meditation led Ineke to believe that she had chosen the proper path as she had lain among the corpses created by her hand shivering in the wake of the first of many orgasms that day.
It had been the work of moments, the barest whisper of fingernails on her labia to stimulate the young woman, shuddering violently, once more into the sensual embrace of release. Ineke could never clearly recall how many hours had passed in the after-glow of victory but the time must have been considerable for she recalled each quaking, trembling convulsion of each orgasm that her victory had allowed her to induce.
Every nerve ending of her body had seemed to be bursting with its own violent life and she recalled the sensation of the force flowing, raw and magnificent into every fiber of her being as she brought herself to climax over and over.
The mere memories possess the power to bring on a fresh climax. Quivering on the stone floor of her chambers Ineke wrapped her focus around the vivid recollections of those seemingly endless spasms of ecstasy drinking in the power their mere evocation could birth.
When she had regained control of herself Ineke had spend hours carefully examining every external aspect of the vessel Runner Runner. Her senses expanded and her being fairly vibrating with power she had carefully searched every inch of ground in a ten meter radius around the ship before inspecting the vessel itself with the same exacting care.
Only when satisfied that no threat which she could possibly be expected to identify existed had Ineke searched the body of Ship-Bringer. Though the archives held that nearly fifteen thousand years had passed since the barren planet of Pesegam had seen a functioning ship those same lovingly maintained databanks held volume upon volume of information regarding the form, function and employment of star ships. Every Sith Apprentice was required to acquire some familiarity with long ago abandoned technologies and methods, star ships in particular.
Though her information was fifteen millennia out of date Ineke was an intelligent woman, having mastered not only the information provided but a far more advanced understanding of that information than many, even highly regarded Lords. It took the young Sith the better part of an hour to successfully identify the ship's locking mechanism from Ship-Bringer's possessions, taking incredible care to examine each item to ensure that its use would not damage the Runner Runner.
Having opened the ship she discovered that the language of its controls bore not even the most passing resemblance to anything with which she had encountered within the vast knowledge of the Archives. Doubtless, she knew, had the Lords allowed her participation in Ship-Bringer's interrogation the information necessary to decipher the strange characters accurately and quickly would already be in her possession.
Ineke's plan to dispose of the bodies in such a manner as to rob potential accusers of the proof necessary to act on her betrayals required the use of the vessel's laser cannons. Unable to satisfactorily discern the alien language or to find a cognate which would allow her to translate it into an older language she could translate through cross-reference Ineke had been forced to spend nearly an entire day in careful, deliberate experimentation before she grew confident enough in her identification to employ the vessel's laser cannons at a relatively low intensity to burn any traces of light saber wounds from her victims.
Her alibi completed Ineke had slipped into an active meditation to complete the final step required for the success of her plan.
As dawn broke on her chambers Ineke looked one last time into the eyes of Darth Rigantia. It had taken nearly two days, even aided by a state of active mediation for Ineke's True Face to emerge under the obsidian knife. Guided by the Force Darth Rigantia had been birthed like all other Sith Lords onto a plank of Yyrwood.
The newly created Sith Lord had effortlessly and immediately made her name apparent to Ineke. Darth Rigantia, "Sovereign of Humiliations."
Piloting Runner Runner to Pesegam's capitol city of Moraband had been a task of heroic effort, served not at all by the Force in the unfamiliar task Ineke had nursed the engines just past their minimum threshold, stalling the vessel twice in the attempt the first instance nearly stopping her heart with anxiety over the possibility that she had damaged the ship's landing gear beyond repair.
Though taking the ship high into the atmosphere and piloting it at more appropriate speeds for a time would have likely given her confidence and ability a much needed boost to ease the execution of her task she did not dare. Seizing pleasure was one thing, but to create the impression that you might have done so over the swift execution of your duties to the Sith Order would be unforgivable. Particularly so in Ineke's case as she endeavored to scheme and barter her way to high position through the delivery of the star ship, her Order's passport back to galaxy spanning power and influence.
Her decision was not a difficult one, though the journey could have been accomplished in a span of half an hour by a competent pilot Ineke strained and worried at the controls for nearly three hours before her elevated vantage point revealed the Palace and Temple complexes of Moraband to her eyes.
Reaching within herself Ineke had summoned every bit of might she could grasp from the Force to do her bidding, unleashing a respectably powerful wave of telepathic power sufficient to encompass the entirety of the Sith Order's seat of power.
"I am Darth Rigantia!" an image of her True Face took shape within Ineke's mind before dissipating like fog to be carried on the wind to every Sith, Pureblood, Consort and Chattel alike. "Having slain the the Sith Lord Darth Rhaig, Lord and Master to Ineke Brael, the Sith Lord Darth Dhread, Lord and Master to a worm without honor or Face, the Sith Lord Darth Reive, Lord and Master to a worm without honor or Face, the Sith Lord Darth Gitec, Lord and Master to a worm without honor or Face and the Sith Lord Darth Tletense, Lord and Master to a worm without honor or Face I have seized by Right of Conquest and Cunning a Star Ship, which I pilot even now above the Temple of Flames! By Right of Possession I offer this Ship, my property over to the profit of the Sith both Race and Order.
By Right of Blood and Deed having been so named I demand a Seat among the Nine Lords and submit to the Sith that I be permitted to claim the Seventh Seat of the Nine, vacant on the death of Darth Rhaig free of interference or opposition!"
In retrospect the success of her daring scheme had been assured. Only one Lord, Darth Khyron had been foolish enough to challenger her in the execution of her rights. Khyron's apprentice had paid with his life for the foolish hubris of his Lord and Master. Striding forward as Ineke piloted the ship through a careful descent Khyron had unleashed an impertinent and, swelled as she was with the strength of so many powerful emotions somewhat feeble seeming telepathic challenge through the Force. Unlike Ineke's own Force empowered telepathy few of those in Moraband not gifted with a command over the Force even noticed his interference.
Smiling Ineke reminded herself, Seek advantage always for yourself, act always on the disadvantage of others.
Khyron had challenged her openly, at the helm of a heavily armed Star Ship as she gifted it to the Order for the benefit of their entire race, his boldness was arousing and would earn him his life against the possibility that it might prove both useful and pleasurable in the future. More importantly his challenge would allow the Sovereign of Humiliations to demonstrate her right to the name.
Carefully targeting the blissfully ignorant Sith Lord's equally unaware Apprentice Ineke unleashed a blast of full strength from the Star Ship's nose mounted cannons. Though their maximum power output was far inferior to the ventrally and dorsally mounted guns it still proved sufficient to annihilate the hapless Apprentice in a shower of flaming, ashen gore, much of which impacted the former Apprentice's Lord and Master with a chorus of wet smacks.
Demonstrating precisely the belatedly expressed wisdom Ineke had hoped for Darth Khyron dropped immediately to one knee, bowing his head toward the ship as he did so without even pausing to extinguish the flaming gore which had begun to set his cloak alight, smoke rising from beneath it.
With a feral, satisfied smile on her face Ineke had left him there in his obsequious position as she dropped the ship somewhat ungracefully to the flagstone courtyard of the Temple of Flames. Striding out of the Ship's belly with her cloak set to billowing behind her by Force-stirred wind currents it was with immense gratification that Darth Rigantia commanded "RISE!" as she strode past Darth Khyron's kneeling form toward the council seat she had claimed.
A year later, a nearly identical smile painting her face once more Ineke's ceremonial cleansing period ended as did the dawn and Darth Rigantia arose from her position on the chamber's floor. The time had come to convene the Nine Lords.
The Seventh Lord along with her eight fellow High Lords of the Sith Order would hear the deliberations of the Grand High Lord of the Sith Order, the First-Among-Equals and would search his words for the knowledge, power, secrets and advantages that they might betray before hearing what course of action his deliberations led him to dictate for the future of their People.