THE CRIMSON BLIGHT
Chapter 3: Together in the shadows
OUTER RIM: On board the Silent Fang
Tikala awoke from her sleep, disturbed by the presence of a great darkness getting closer. Her first action was to take a quick look around the cabine, as she had trouble getting a sense of where she was and how she ended up in this place, until she noticed her newly discovered sister still asleep to her left, then she remembered yesterdays events. She had been ordered to share the bed with her sith lord of a sister.
"The darkness I am feeling, must be their home world of Dromund kaas." Tikala tried to calm herself through meditation, but the strong presence of dark energies made it difficult. "I hope... I'm not making a huge mistake by coming to the imperial capital." She worried inside herself, she seriously doubted anyone on the council would approve of the actions they were undertaking. But the feeling that this was the way the Force wanted her to take, still felt as clear as ever, even if it was pointing her to a world engulfed in the dark side.
"Go back to sleep. You'll get used to the sith world soon enough." Briza mumbled with her eyes still closed.
"I'm sorry if I woke you." Tikala apologized quietly in a soft voice. "I just feel this cold darkness getting closer and I have trouble shutting it out." She said in earnest.
"If I hadn't experienced your power from yesterday, I would have called you a weakling." Briza mocked her sister, despite still all too clearly remembering, how she fought this tornado of a jedi and how she was bested by her superior speed. Not forgetting about the injury under her arm could still be felt, despite the kolto treatment.
"It's not weakness to show you are worried." Tikala argued in a low voice, then added for emphasis. "I have seen you worry for Terrow, that's not weakness... that's the good in you."
"Just go back to sleep." Briza mumbled blankly, not bothering to argue the point with a jedi, and turned around in her bed to face the other way.
Tikala sat up for a minute or two, before thinking to herself. "I might as well get used to it now, since it's only going to get more difficult from here on out." And she too moved under the blanket, trying to relax. She silently recited the jedi mantra in her mind a few times before sleep came to her again.
DROMUND KAAS: orbiting the planet.
Mathorn watched out of the viewport, as the Silent Fang reemerged under the thick carpet of storm clouds, to a world where the sun seemed to have vanished, a world where only the gloom of night remained, just luminted by flashes of the constant roaring lighting in the sky. With the sound of heavy rain hamming on the hull of the ship, Mathorn spoke with a clear hint of fear in his voice. "I have never felt so much darkness in my life."
Tikala who stood besides him nodded, but said nothing as she didn't want to take any chances with her cloaking ability at this moment. The aura of the darkside made her unsure if she would remain unnoticed when they made their landing.
The Silent Fang touched down in a hanger on the outskirt of Kaas city.
The crew, including Terrow, departed the spacecraft as the first, with Briza and Mathorn descending the stairs with Tikala following in their shadows.
"...At least I don't think anyone noticed me." Tikala though as she tried to be positive, but the overwhelming feeling of this nexus of darkside energy ran as icy chills through her body. The planet itself was definitely the first challenge she needed to overcome... and she needed to use her force flash ability on every camera she would encounter on her way, pointing in her directions. Were it not for Briza and Mathorn blocking the view from the front, this would have been an impossible feat.
As they walked through the halls of the large spaceport, people moved out of their way, to let the sith lord pass. Some even bowing in respect for the black caped figure.
Mathorn looked around at the different people present there, noticing their behavior. He liked the respect he got just by being beside his sith Sister. "I could get used to this kind of respect." He muttered in a cheerful tone. As they moved passed a hanger entrance, he saw dozens of slaves being held in cages there. "This! I hope I will never get used to though." He thought to himself while his anger flared up to an explosive level, from seeing a large bearded slaver backhand a yellow-skinned female Twi'lek.
A speeder was hovering at the front gates of the spaceport ready to pick them up. However, before they reached the speeder, Briza angled her head slightly downward and whispered to her little sister. "Once we reach our initial destination, you will need to stay hidden in the cap. The meeting shouldn't take too long."
Briza was the first to enter the speeder, with Tikala quickly, but silently, occupying the middle, and Mathorn seating himself to the other side. "First and foremost, we need to report to my superior, Darth Imperious and personally explain the situation." Briza stated as a matter of importance. Right before they had landed on Dromund Kaas, they had been ordered to the office of law and order.
"Imperious? Is he as evil as the rest?" Mathorn asked partly as a joke, partly serious.
"If he is evil?..." Briza repeated the odd statement. "I don't know much about him, but he is the one who keeps law and order on Dromund Kaas, answering directly to Darth Mortis."
Mathorn had heard of Darth Mortis, one of the tolv members of the dark council. "So is Imperious like some sort of mayor or chief law enforcer?"
"Sort of both actually. He is the one that sees to it that the law is being upheld on Dromund Kaas, while directing all the administrational sides of the city." Briza explained.
Mathorn nodded. "So no jokes I take it?" He asked with a grin.
"Mathorn! I want you to be at your best behavior, and speak only when spoken to." Briza commanded. She was already in deep water from failing the mission, but at least she was relieved not to originally having been the leader of the operation. Had she been, her situation would most assuredly have been met with severe repercussions. In fact she, at least on paper, was the one who had made sure the rest of their task force hadn't been vapourized.
"Sure, I know my part." Mathorn tried to reassure her, but even he himself, was feeling uneasy about the situation. If this sith overlord even suspected their cover story to be what it was, he would definitely be tortured until he revealed everything.
Tikala settled in and made herself as motionless as possible. "At least the driver is a droid..."
They landed on a platform attached to the towering office complex, a citadel of duracrete and transparisteel, and Darth Imperious seat of power.
Like half a dozen other rainsoaked beings, Briza and her apprentice ascended the large grey permacrete slabs that made up the stairs in front of the entrance. The pale bluish lightsource built in to each slab guaranteed independence from the sporadic flashes of light produced by the crackling lightning above and provided relatively secure footing on the rain slicked paving. As they reached the gates a number of imperial guards eyed Mathorn with suspicion and distaste. Past the open blast doors and the security check-in, a large grey hall stretched out before the arrivals. As with the spaceport, the entrance halls soaring walls were bare aside from the red banners displaying the hexagonal symbol of the sith empire. Between the banners were enormous pillars reinforced with durosteel beams built to withstand the blast of a proton bomb. Further two rows of pillars ran parallel along the halls central aisle. Following the red carpet, past eerie looking golden statues, they reached the end of the hall and the reception desk, which blocked the only way into the heart of the complex, namely a series of intricately etched golden elevators built in to the far wall. The hall in general as well as the reception area in particular, were busy with grey clad bureaucratic looking beings, imperial officers and low ranking sith of multiple species, all inroute to their various appointments.
They stepped out of the elevator and entered the antechamber, where a sith pureblood female was seated at a desk writing on a console. She looked up at them and politely greeted them. "Good day, Lord Briza. Darth Imperious will see you in a moment."
"Very well." Briza polity replied and continued, now smiling softly as she went over to take a seat. "I hope you have time to talk afterwards, Deedrah."
The sight of this beautiful sith caught Mathorn a bit off guard. He just stared at her. He was amazed how good looking a sith pureblood could be. "I had no idea, they came in a sexy edition!" He mumbled to himself with a wide grin, unfortunately he was just loud enough that both Briza and the pureblood Deedrah heard it clearly.
Briza was perplexed. She had never expected a jedi could be this rude and gave him an angry glare in response. "Behave or die!" She threatened with venom in her voice.
Deedrah was used to unintelligent compliments about her looks, but never from a jedi. They were always so overly polite to the point of stupidity and apologized for every little thing that in the slightest could be construed as being inappropriate. So the only conclusion she could come to was... "He is definitely no jedi." She muttered and just gave him a disapproving look in return.
Mathorn was certain he was in trouble. "Ahm… My bad girls, we are all friends... Right?" He said in a more or less pleading tone.
"My lord will see you now. Please keep the ill-mannered jedi in line, My Lord is not in a good mood." Deedrah advised with a grim expression on her face.
Briza nodded solemnly and pushed Mathorn inside Imperious office.
At the far end of the office, behind an elegantly ornate obsidian desk, adorned with a gilded relief containing scenes depicting eerie figures resembling those from the hall, Darth Imperious sat with his back to the door looking out across the cityscape before him.
Entering the office, Mathorn felt intense dark power emanating from the Darth before him. He began to feel a cold spreading through his body, even his spine began to shiver. With the cold, negative emotions started to creep into his subconscious, fear most of all.
"My lord, I have returned as you requested." Briza said formally, while falling to one knee and bowing her head, with Mathorn mimicking his sister, fearing the consequence of failing to doing so.
"Lord Kallif was a powerful warrior, one of my strongest, yet he is not with you now." Imperious swiveled his chair slowly, turning towards his subordinate. "Tell me why you survived, when all my other servants did not?" Imperious asked damningly as he fixed his gaze on her.
Briza swallowed a lump in her throat, before speaking. "Lord Kallif was strong, but he underestimated our opponents. He was killed before we were able to intervene-"
"He attacked me! I kinda had to kill him, so I wouldn't be killed." Mathorn bluntly loudly stated.
Briza wanted to punch her Brother for speaking out of turn, but Imperious just casually rose from his chair and walked closer to take a better look at the jedi. "A jedi renegade. One with no honor and loyal only to himself." He tentatively presumed, his expression changing to one of slight eagerness as he inspected the beige skinned Zabrak more closely. "I sense your raging anger, burning under the surface, a volcano on the cusp of eruption. Use it, and you will be able to unlock the potential hidden within you."
Mathorn's memory of the slaver abusing the Twi'leks was still lingering in his mind and was only becoming more vivid with each passing moment, filling him with rage.
Imperious turned to Briza issuing the order. "Make sure to teach him properly in our ways. He could be of use to us."
Briza bowed for emphasis and replied. "Your wish is my will."
With a nod of acceptance, Imperious turned to Mathorn and spoke with a clear hint of his aristocratic heritage present in his voice. "Leave us."
Mathorn made a small hasty bow, like he had seen Briza do, rose from the floor and left with the door sliding shut behind him.
Imperious made a small gesture of his hand, signaling Briza to rise from the floor.
"You have found an unusual specimen. I don't sense much of the jedi calm in him." Imperious continued in a foreboding tone. "It's as if, he have been trained by someone who wanted him to go to war, rather than to become the archetypical pacifist we so despises."
"He is strong in the force, one the jedi could never truly control. I believe He will become a powerful sith warrior." Briza stated her belief with emphasis.
"If you are able to handle him, that is. See to it, that you succeed." Imperious ordered and changed the topic. "From what you have submitted in your report, it seems clear that the station was being rigged as some kind of a death trap, that would simultaneously cover their tracks from potential pursuers. And none of you felt the faintest hint of the dark presence from earlier?"
Briza thought for a moment before replying. "No... However, Mathorn told me he and his companions had felt a dark presence before our task force arrived. I suspected it was us, it was interested in, not the jedi."
"As our friends on the other side would say: it's seems like the force has chosen you for this task... You will continue this assignment and be granted use of the Silent Fang until it has been completed or you die trying." Imperious uttered in a sarcastic yet firm tone.
"I am honored my lord, and I assure you, I will do everything in my power to hunt this thing, dead or alive." Briza told truthfully. "Even working directly with Jedi to do so." She thought to herself, knowing full well that her jedi siblings most likely would be her key to victory.
In the meantime in the antechamber.
The meeting with this dark lord was one of the most intense none combated experience Mathorn had ever witnessed. "I survived... and he didn't seem too pissed at us."
The doors of the elevator slid open and a tall, highly muscled male sith pureblood entered the chamber. Mathorn barely noticed the sith, now speaking to Deedrah, before he took a seat opposite the jedi.
"Look what the kath hound has dragged in! A jedi. You will end up squashed, like little gizka in a garbage compactor." The tall sith laughed sinisterly.
Mathorn just casually looked up at speaking sith lord and replied. "Shut up. Can't you see I have better thing to do then humor a stupid tub of bantha fat."
The sith brute turned angry, mostly because he hadn't expected the jedi to make such an insulting comeback at him. He responded in a very aggressive tone. "I'll Rip your flesh from your bones!"
Mathorn just laughed and replied. "Big talk coming from someone who've clearly been spawned from a hole in the ground. Why don't you just do us all a favor and throw yourself into an reactor core."
"YOU FILTHY WORM! I WILL TURN YOUR INSIDES OUTSIDE!" The sith retorted loudly.
"Hollow words, from a big stinking pile of red excrements." Mathorn countered, grinning from ear to ear, all the fear from earlier having vanished completely and replaced with pure exhilaration.
Deedrah was getting rather annoyed by the brutes increasingly hostile mocking. "If you are going to kill each other, do it outside! So I don't have to clean up your mess up afterwards."
"A fistfight! The landing platform! Now!" The sith demanded in pure frenzy and knew he would explode in mere seconds, if his challenge went ignored.
"Landing platform seven is free, lord Vendictous." Deedrah stated deadpanned, as she booked the platform under Special circumstances.
Mathorn grinned as he followed the brute out. "I hope there is a long way down." Despite the danger he was clearly in, the anticipation of the fight, filled him with untapped energy he hadn't felt in what seemed like forever.
As soon as they sat foot on the platform, Mathorn punched the sith hard in the face. "Tag! You are it!"
Vendictous staggered a bit, then unyielding rage engulfed him. He charged right into the grinning jedi.
Mathorn was quite certain he could out maneuver the brute with agility and superior food work... He was wrong. A huge fist hit him square on the cheekbone, slamming him backwards. His head was spinning from the vicious attack, he tasted blood as he realized that he was drawing dangerously close to the edge of the platform and at least a thousand feet free fall.
"Was that really all you got?" Vendictous taunted the jedi, somewhat disappointed.
Mathorn just rose up again, brushed his clothes and even with a clear purple mark on his face, he stood proud and ready. "Let the real fight begin."
Again Vendictous charged head first, with all his might and rage.
But Mathorn was taught in the acrobatic fighting style Ataru, which used the entire body as a weapon. As soon as he had jumped over the sith, a meter before impact, he kicked the turning sith in the stomach and followed up with a series of pummeling strikes, only occasionally having to jump away or dodge under a huge incoming red fist.
Vendictous felt the pain, but he gladly embraced it, as he only grew more powerful, the pain fueling his rage.
"What's the matter? Can the red sack of crap not keep up?!" Mathorn tormented the sith, punching and kicking him every time the sith missed his mark.
"YOU WON'T GET AWAY!" Vendictous retorted with venom in his trout and shifted tactic. Using the force, refusing to follow the agile jedi, he dragged him in close to finally end this nuisance.
As Mathorn was jumping over and around his opponent, to get into an optimal striking position, he was suddenly pulled toward the sith, like a rope had just entangled his entire body. The sith grabbed him with his huge hands and slammed him down onto the hard durasteel platform, his entire body screaming in pain and his head spinning once again from impact.
"Now you die!" Vendictous smiled sinisterly, about to crush the zabrak's chest under his large metal plated boot.
When Mathorn retorted. "No you don't!" and grabbed his boot. He knew he couldn't stop it physically, so instead he used the force to blast the sith high up in the air, slamming him into the platform above them and letting him crash back down onto their platform.
Vendictous couldn't remember the last time he wanted to kill someone as bad as he wanted to kill this zabrak renegade jedi. He reached out with his force and pulled the jedi in once again.
But Mathorn wasn't ready to be a rag doll for a second time, first he used momentum to gain speed, then he made a small force push to halt Vendictous force pull for just enough time, for him to land a kick strait in the sith's head, hard enough to cause him to stagger. He followed this up by jumping on top of the beast and use a force enhanced punch directly down onto his skull.
Vendictous felt the pain, but this time his force bobble took the worst of the punch, making him able to instantly grab this nasty piece of jedi filth and slammed him down on the floor with a loud crack.