Author's notes: Usual disclaimers. I don't own any Star Wars characters. Anybody besides Revan and a certain other character is thought up by me. If it clashes with any cannon I'm not aware of or future ones, sorry. This is purely for my own recreation. This is a sequel to the Enemy's Hand. If you haven't read the previous two stories, it probably won't make much sense to you. I also won't be updating nearly as quickly as in my two other stories. But as always, constructive user feedback is appreciated.
Revan - Jedi Knight (excommunicated)
The Watcher - Overseer
Darth Malleus: Sith Lord - Reborn, The Butcher, Corrupter of Souls
Darth Victus - Reborn, The Weeper
Lucidae - Jedi Master (excommunicated)
T'shere - Commander of Aethon Cell
Mysteel - Member of Aethon Cell
Kynes - Sniper
Arctet - Member of Aethon Cell
Thalia - Mysteel's mother
Reeka the Hutt: Criminal Overlord of Darith
Racquile: Reeka's Bodyguard
Seratheem: Reeka's Personal Attendant
Matarl: Reeka's Henchman
Bandor: Reeka's Henchman
Matarl walked nervously behind his guide down the narrow corridor. The ship was excessively dark, with only pale red orbs illuminating his feet every few meters. The Twi'lek or 'Rutian' as his subspecies was called was sweating profusely and not from the excessive heat and rank air around him. He had arrived on the Sith ship Carrion for only five minutes and already regretted ever stepping onboard.
Simply put, it was a labrynth of corridors with no discernable architecture. He had already lost all his bearings and without his guide it would have been a hopeless task of navigation. The Rutian did not get the sense he was walking within the confines of a cold metal vessel but rather in the bowels of a living, breathing beast. It was like he was trapped in one of the monster's giant organs. Even the walls seemed to be alive, pulsing with an oily sheen.
Is that...blood on the bulkheads? Wondered the agent. It was hard to tell, since everything around him was bathed in the same red light.
Distantly, he could hear what he thought was a buzzing sound, followed by the screams echoing down the hallway. It sounded like someone was hacking off limbs while their victims were still alive. Matarl had heard all sorts of stories about these Sith, their savagery, their malice. But even among their wretched kind, the Cult of the Reborn stood out above the rest in invoking sheer horror and fear. Theirs was a depraved fraternity, immersed in all form of bloody rituals and hedonistic practices. Some of the things Matarl heard they had done were too horrifying to give credence to.
But having been on board their ship, he was beginning to doubt those doubts. Still their reputation was one of the reasons his master Reeka had sought them out. The gigantic bloated worm had recently cut a deal to receive an incredibly powerful weapon that he was planning to auction off. The Hutt believed these ...individuals would pay good money for something that had such destructive potential.
One did not simply court the attention of the Sith Lords however. It was somewhat of a miracle that they had even deigned to answer the Hutt's hails. Still these were Sith and their behavior was erratic at the best of times. Therefore Matarl had been sent as an…emissary to gauge their interest. That and he was expendable…another faceless grunt amongst the millions that milled about Darith's streets. The Rutian was under no illusion that Reeka would send another dozen soldiers to this ship if he wasn't heard from again.
Make sure the Sith Lord is properly…informed about the nature of this weapon. It will appeal to his sense of humor…Reeka had gurgled to his informant before sending him off to this unpleasant mission. Matarl hated the orders as much as he hated the bloated slug. If certain things had been different in his life, he could have just been as easily sabotaging the Hutt's plans instead of helping him.
The Twi'lek was mulling over his fate when his guide spoke.
"A word of advice," said the figure in front of him him, breaking the silence.
"W-what?" The noise startled him. Beyond the initial encounter, the guide had not said two words to him and with his cowled hood, Matarl never got a good look at his face. At least the Rutian thought it was a he. His formless robes and queerly androgynous voice made it difficult to be certain.
"Don't look at Lord Malleus' face." Cautioned the dark hooded figure. He had a sly tone to his voice "The experience is…unpleasant to those who have not seen the true path."
Matarl had no idea what that meant but nodded in mute reply. The sooner he was done dealing with these debauched creatures, the better. As they continued to walk through the dim corridor, Matarl could hear wet crunching sounds in the doors around them, accompanied by the occasional snarl and grunt. By the savagery of the noises, he doubted it was livestock.
Beasts of burden?
"What kind of animals do you keep around here?" asked the Twi'lek nervously. The sounds were quite disconcerting.
"Animals?" echoed his guide stopping momentarily. There was a tinge of amusement in his voice.
"You're feeding something right now aren't you?"
The other man gave a curious noise between a chuckle and a hiss.
"Our aspirants are eating right now as is my Lord" replied the guide simply. The words chilled the Rutian's blood.
Matarl couldn't fathom what sort of monsters these Sith recruit into their ranks but if their eating habits were any indication, they must be pretty awful. The Rutian's dark eyes couldn't pierce the guide's dark cowl but he could tell the Sith was enjoying his sudden distress. He hastily tried to change the subject, forcing his voice to be nonchalant.
"What's your name anyways?"
"Mine?" replied the guide in mock surprise. He always sounded amused, like he was privy to a joke know one else understood. "I was once known as Victus…but most who know me well call me the Weeper."
"You don't want to know." Something in the man's tone made Matarl stomach queezy. He decided not to try and ask anymore questions. The guide resumed his purposeful strides down the corridor.
After a few more minutes of walking through the maze like corridors, the pair approached a set of iron blast doors.
"We are here." Said Victus quietly. "My Lord is feasting in the banquet hall at this moment…but I am sure he will deign to entertain an ambassador from someone as august as Reeka the Hutt." The voice was mocking as he said the words and Matarl felt a surge of anger at the insult. He wanted to make a colorful epithet concerning their hygiene but decided it would be suicidal so he simply glared at the other man. Without further ceremony the guide pushed the heavy metal doors open. The cold rush of air immediately greeted Matarl and for some reason he felt like he was about to enter a mausoleum.
The sound of a crunching meat welcomed them as the Twi'lek was led into the mouth of chilly room. It was even darker in here than in the corridors, light seeming abhorrent to these Sith. Matarl squinted in the darkness and he could make out what seemed to be a scarecrow figure sitting at the end of a long rectangular stone table a dozen feet away. From this distance, he couldn't see his face but Matarl could tell the Sith Lord was gorging on a bloody pile of meat. Another huge platter of it was piled up on the center of the table. From his vantage point, Matarl couldn't tell what kind of flesh Malleus was devouring and had no desire to know.
"Wait here" commanded Victus before approaching his master.
This diner paid no attention to the new arrivals and continued ravenously with the food in front of him. Matarl took a morbid fascination to his eating habit. Pieces of bone were cracked apart by sharp long fingers as the diner sucked the marrow out of them and chewed at the lechy strings of flesh attached. Not a creature of etiquette, he made disgusting slurping noises while he feasted, the sounds more akin to a savage beast.
"Reborn." The guide murmured. Matarl saw him prostrate himself in front of his living god. The Twi'lek wondered if he was supposed to do that later as well. The one who he had addressed as Reborn stopped devouring his meal long enough to turn his head around. Matarl still could not see his face in the dark shadows but he knew for a certainty the Sith Lord was looking at in his general direction. For some reason when the Sith Lord put his scrutiny on him, the Twi'lek felt an overwhelming urge to kneel.
"Speak..." The dark figure gurgled. The command was spoken with a hissing lisp. Even from this distance he could hear the weight of command in his in tone.
"We have the visitor."
The Sith Lord paused at that piece of news then started tearing into another haunch of bloody meat again, gnashing his teeth together. It dribbled down his chin back onto his plate.
"The man comes on behalf of Reeka the Hutt, master of Darith"
At those words, the monster looked up from his meal.
"Darith has no Master," the thing whispered quietly. "It is simply a world, fashioned in our image."
The other Sith corrected his error hastily. "Forgive me Lord, I meant Reeka is the self proclaimed leader, which is recognized by the crime lords on that world. The Twi'lek here is sent on his behalf to discuss a potential...event."
From Victus' tone, there seemed to be a hidden connotation behind those words that Matarl didn't know about. He shuffled uneasily.
The diner turned back to his meal, apparently disinterested with this piece of news.
"Should I allow him to speak my master?" Inquired his subordinate his head still on the floor.
The Sith Lord did not say anything but turned one of his lidless eyes back at the speaker while he ate.
"Bring...him…closer." said the Sith Lord before returning to his meal.
"Your will Lord Malleus."
With haste, the guide turned back and grabbed the surprised Twi'lek with a bony arm. The informant was startled by the sudden strength the guide exhibited.
"Let me go!" Snarled Matarl. He struggled uselessly as his escort dragged him bodily across the floor. The bony arm had locked him into painful grip, the dirty nails digging into him painfully. If he took the time to look, Matarl would have noticed that they were missing patches of skin. The informant cursed liberally as he was dragged like a witless child to stand within a few feet of the Corrupter of Souls.
"Abase yourself!" Victus snarled. The hooded figure kicked the Twi'lek onto the floor. Matarl glared up defiantly and instantly wished he hadn't.
When the Twi'lek saw the legend of Darith up close, he stopped his struggles. Malleus Sith Lord, Butcher of Darith was truly horror to behold. The flesh on his head was palsied and rotting with liberal patches of bone showing. Parts of his skin was missing and he breathed through a bloody hole filled with dark mucus. There was virtually no flesh to call lips, and a great deal of the bone above and the jaw showed through his hideously gory teeth.
As best as Matarl could tell, Malleus was a human, but that might have been a grave insult to anybody actually belonging to their species. The man's mouth was locked into a rictus grin, the muscles on either side of his jaw having long rotted away, leaving only strands of flesh to support the lower jaw. The visage was made even more hideous by the meat stuck between his teeth. It was somewhat of a miracle this shambling mound of flesh was still alive, attributed somewhat to the Sith Lord's divinity
Matarl retched then, a thin spew of acidic bile pouring through his mouth.
Even after he finished gagging, the informant didn't dare to raise his head up lest he look into that horrid face again.
The Sith Lord continued eating as if nothing happened, like he wasn't there. It was clear Malleus was waiting for the informant to say something useful. After several agonizing minutes, the Twi'lek finally found the nerve to speak.
"Lord Malleus." He stuttered in galactic standard. "Reeka, lord of Darith, sends his respects. When your ship was reported seen in orbit, my master sent me...to inform you of an upcoming auction he is holding for the most powerful individuals within this sector. In recognition of your...efforts within the past, Reeka has bade me to extend a personal invitation for you to attend. He believes one of the items will be of particular...interest to you."
Again the Sith Lord made no reaction to this piece of news. The Twi'lek exhaled nervously, unsure of whether the Sith Lord could even hear him. Without looking up he took a data slate from his jacket.
"To show you the veracity of my master's words, I have been ordered to show you a visual recording of what this item is and does."
He held up the data slate plaintively, hoping someone would take it off his hands.
Malleus looked up from his macabre feasting. With a wordless flick of his hand, the disk was ripped away from Matarl's hand and into his bony grasp. For many minutes, Malleus regarded the recording without comment. Matarl had no idea what Malleus was thinking as his hideous expression did not change. At one point Matarl's keen hearing caught a muttered phrase.
"...is this how…the path will unfold?"
After what seemed like an eternity, the Sith Lord placed the slate next to his bloody plate. He raised his unblinking eyes towards the Twi'lek. Matarl tensed as he felt the other-worldly presence settle upon him. Malleus continued his musings.
"Wait…I am missing something…I am not seeing…the whole vision"
Matarl dared to raise his head fractionally at these strange words and to his utter surprise, the Sith Lord was suddenly there next to him, leering down. Truly, this ...thing was the epitome of fear itself. Matarl had never seen something so hideous...yet powerful. Malleus gripped the alien's aqua lime head with a cold metallic hand. The contact sent death shivers up the Twi'lek's spine as the death specter leaned in millimeters from his face. Behind the blood red eyes, Matarl could see the insanity...the burning hatred.
Matarl did his best not to breath, the rank smell of rotting meat almost unbearable.
"M-My Lord!" gasped Matarl. He fought the urge to hurl into the disgusting face.
Malleus didn't seem to hear his words, instead he brought his horrid scrutiny closer, the heat almost unbearable. The agent was paralyzed, partly in fear but mostly because he had forgotten how to control the rest of his body.
"You…I sensed something…you are the source"
There was a sudden tugging sensation in the back of the Twi'lek's mind then. Matarl sensed the violation, like sharp tendrils intruding into his grey matter. At that moment he experienced the awesome power of the Corruptor, like a scorching heat of the sun. It was like an ant standing against the might of a hive queen, his will threatening to utterly consume him. No thought or experience was hidden from the Sith Lord, his entire being laid bare for his scrutiny.
This lasted for several agonizing seconds before Malleus withdrew his death grip on the poor informant. The Twi'lek collapsed on the floor, gasping for air. Through the haze of pain, he heard a queer wheezing sound. Like air squeezing through a broken pipe.
Matarl after a moment realized what the sound was.
It was laughter.
"Hahahahahaha." The Sith Lord's skeleton frame trembled like a rumbling earthquake, his gaunt form shaking the ebony floor with his violent trembling. "I see it…yes…the strands of fate have woven. The path is clear…"
Matarl had no idea what the words meant and his head still rang painfully from the jarring laughter of the Sith Lord.
"Lucidae...after all this time. I will take back that which is rightfully mine."
How...How does he know that name? Wondered Matarl. From my mind? Or did he always know?
The Sith Lord turned his head fractionally to look at Victus.
"This one is part of the whole…he will help complete our works."
Victus seemed surprised at those words. "Truly Lord? Has the time come already?"
"Yes…the hand of synchronicity is upon us. I knew at the bottom of my core that I had to return here…and I thought it was for the war and possibly to gather new meat."
"Is it not?" inquired Victus curiously.
"Ultimately…it will be. But before that, before one cycle can begin anew, I must finish the first." There was a moment's silence. Victus posture gradually became more relaxed, as if he came to a sudden understanding with his Master.
The Sith Lord turned his attention back to Matarl breathed a single word through his frozen features.
The Twi'lek took in a gasp of air. "My- my master has not set a proper location and date yet! He only said it would be soon. If-if your eminence is interested, you can send a delegation to Darith to finalize the details."
After a long period of tense silence, Matarl managed to venture a question of his own. "My Lord...is pleased? Shall I inform my master that you wish to send a..a..response of your own?"
The Sith Lord's posture became more relaxed suddenly. "Of course. I shall send Victus as my…emissary."
He assumed a thoughtful pose then, his bloody claw brushing the tip of his chin
"But I am being discourteous. You look tired...and ill fed. Perhaps you would care to share my meal?"
Matarl couldn't think of anything less that he wanted to do at that moment. He knew it would be close to suicide to deny this madman but he tried anyways.
"You are too kind, my Lord, but I am quite…"
"I insist," replied Malleus in hissing rasp. The Sith Lord continued to wheeze through his ragged hole as he forcefully hauled the Twi'lek to the table and into his chair. Matarl closed his eyes refusing to look at the bloody contents on the huge plate on the table. He didn't want to know what it could be.
"Eat." The Sith Lord commanded. His voice held the undercurrent of a threat.
Without looking, the Twi'lek hesitantly took the carving knife next to the plate and stabbed the huge haunch of bloody meat Malleus had been carving through. He took a thin sliver that had not been abused by the man's gnashing teeth and put it into his mouth. The Twi'lek took a deep breath and chewed.
It tasted raw and bloody, the sensation horrible but undeniably potent. The Twi'lek forced himself to swallow and he felt a heady sense of dizziness even as the juices trickling down his chin.
Malleus simply stared at the Rutian with that hideous grin. He got the distinct sense the Sith Lord was amused.
"Is it good?"
"Very my Lord..." replied Matarl hastily, covering his mouth so he wouldn't spit out the contents of his stomach again.
Malleus regarded him with almost clinical detachment as if waiting for something to happen. As he continued to eat, Matarl felt his vision swimming. He tried to focus on something that wasn't the gore fest on the table. The agent looked wildly at the walls then, at the far corner of the room. Those dark bloody walls…with their hundred faces screaming back at him.
The Twi'lek paused as the he processed that thought.
That couldn't be right. Since when does a wall have faces?
Matarl stared, blinking rapidly. He realized he wasn't seeing things.
It was...a wall... A wall of flesh. The skin of the dead were literally stitched together in a hideous banner, their expressions all of endless torment. And right now, they were screaming in agony as he stared at them.
Noticing Matarl's quavering form, Victus gave a cruel smile.
"I see you've noticed the Wall of Remembrance. A fitting piece of art, wouldn't you agree?"
Matarl's lips trembled. "What…how?"
"Some are trophies of mine," answered Malleus quietly. "Others have a more…practical purpose." He gestured vaguely at his own face. "I'm afraid I'm not as spry as I use to be,"
The two Sith Lord shared a sickening chortle at that. The bile was building up in Matarl's throat again. He desperately tried to change the subject.
"If I may ask…what kind of meat is this? Bantha?"
The Sith Lord's seemed amused at Matarl's suggestion, although it was hard to tell based on his feral expression.
"No, I prefer a...higher quality of meat."
"Some exotic bird perhaps?"
"Look up," commanded Malleus.
Without thought, the Twi'lek found his head jerking upwards from his gaze at the table. He was looking at the huge serving platter where Malleus took his servings. He caught sight of what looked like a leg. It was hairless, probably belonging to a mammal of some sort, the flesh pale and pink. For some reason Matarl felt a tightening in his stomach.
"You must really try a hand. I find the appendages most delectable," continued the Sith Lord as if nothing was amiss.
The Twi'lek forced himself to focus on some of the smaller appendages on the serving plate. He saw the hands Malleus was referring to...they had opposable thumbs.
That sick feeling started swelling up in his gut. At that moment, the Rutian was beginning to understand what he was looking at
With eyes bright in fear, Matarl noticed the crowning centerpiece at the top of the platter.
It was a human head, the eyeballs gouged out but the face still maintained the effigy of horror.
The Twi'lek stood up back up in revulsion, knocking the chair down.
"What...what the hell is this?" Matarl shrieked. He tried to spit out the blood from his mouth.
"A former follower of mine." Replied Malleus calmly. He swept up to the platter and grabbed one of the appendages. The Sith Lord began to chew on it mechanically, peeling the skin off like a delicate morsel. "One of my former aspirants to be precise. Those that fail to be reborn under the guidance from the Book of Revelations are beasts only fit to be used as meat. We treat them accordingly."
The Twi'lek retched all over again, the sense of nausea and disgust overpowering his senses. Then he tried to bolt through the door. He didn't make it four paces when he was accosted by his guide.
"Not so fast."
When Matarl turned around he saw that Victus had removed his cowl so he could see him clearly for the first time as well. The guide's smile mimicked Malleus own. But what terrified Matarl beyond all his senses were the eyes.
They weren't eyes at all, just black orifices weeping a tar-like substance. It oozed like excrement sliding down his bony cheeks, a mockery of tears.
The Twi'lek lost control of his bowels then, the smell wafting up to mix with the thick stench of death and blood. He continued to scream hysterically.
"Weeper." Said Malleus calmly, his voice carrying clearly through the din. "Take our guest back to the planet and see to the arrangements. Remember the path."
"Of course my Lord," grinned Victus. With a shallow bow he hauled the terrified Twi'lek still screaming out of the tiny portion of hell Malleus had created.
Author's note: If you want to get a better idea of what Malleus (and by extension any of his subordinates) look like, go to rogermein1 (dot) deviantart (dot) com