Author's Note: I hold no copyrights here. The Old Republic belongs to Bioware/Lucasarts, and the Star Wars label is Disney now, I guess? Either way, I don't own any of the related trademarks.

The Dread Lord of the Sith

The tomb was still, save for the incessant hum of the machines that filled the final chamber and the pained grunts of the pathetic creature that now huddled on the floor, clutching at numerous wounds. The occasional moan of shifting air through the myriad passages that honeycombed the planet's crust formed an eerie chorus, a mournful dirge to echo the pain and misery of the denizens of the world prison.

While Belsavis was hardly what any sane being would call hospitable, the Sith Lord Kallig thrived in this lost little corner of the Galaxy. The icy surface of the planet was nowhere near as cold as the wastes of Hoth had been, but they were just harsh enough to inflict pain and inspire misery in those lacking the Spartan comfort of one of the planet's nigh-infinite jail cells. Those who roamed the prison freely, both prisoner and guard alike, took perverse pleasure in tormenting one another. Here, a group of prisoners meted out brutal and often lethal punishment on any who suffered the favour of the guards, while there a single maniac stalked the shadows, looking for blood-soaked vengeance on his guards. In still another cell, one guard interrogated a prisoner, driven witless by his captor's ceaseless abuse.

The corrupting hatred seeped down still further into the core, with thousands, millions of dormant minds simmering restlessly in their shackles. Minds the size of starships boiled at the heart of the planet, their raging lust for chaos burning as brightly as the stars above.

Kallig drank deep from the raging maelstrom, the unending cascade of pain, fear and fury stirring the dark side of the Force like nothing he had ever witnessed. The hateful place brought its raw potency closer to the surface of reality, so close that Kallig could taste it on the air, the tang of blood. Lesser minds went mad from it, as could be seen by the depravity of the Republic forces present on the planet.

Gleeful amusement filled the Sith Lord as he contemplated his enemy. The Republic had thought to claim Belsavis, to take its secrets and use its vaults to contain their own darkest creations, but ultimately the planet had claimed them. It's own darkness had seeped into their minds, corrupting soldier and criminal alike until finally the smallest of pushes from the Empire had sent the entire planet plummeting into anarchy. To see the so-called champions of light and freedom make such a blunder, to see them stumble into and then fall prey to the darkness that the Sith Lord himself called home, was a delectable sight to behold.

Kallig, of course, was not one to be overwhelmed by the planet. Where others choked on the raw darkness of Belsavis, the Sith Lord gorged himself, feasting on the hatred and fear. His power swelled to the point where he felt as though his very veins might burst, and still he drank greedily from the source, his sheer will keeping the corruption of the power at bay. He was not going to lose himself to the power. After all, he was no longer some lowly Sith acolyte. Not any more. He was Lord Kallig, Sith Lord and descendant of Sith Lords, heir to Tulak Hord's legacy and Master of the dead. He would drain the planet of its power long before it overwhelmed him, if necessary. The power locked within this tomb, however…

Kallig strode past the broken Esh-kha cowering on the dusty stone floor, stepping up to the stasis chambers that held his goal. Six chambers, each with a single occupant wearing luxurious red garb, crowned by a series of frightening masks that seemed to be a part of the owner's face. Horns, teeth, glaring eyes, each one was different, but all were also the same, giving each of these valuable prisoners a sense of kinship with his or her fellows. The legends said nothing of the Dread Masters being related, but one could be forgiven for assuming from their garb that they were brothers and sisters.

The power seeping from the caged Sith was incredible. It coiled around Kallig's mind like a nest of snakes, smoky tendrils of poisonous darkness probing at his power. Kallig had no doubt that the Dread Masters knew that he was there, regardless of whether they could do anything about it. Minds of such immense power could not be fully restrained. That was why they had been moved here, to the deep tombs of Belsavis' Vault system, where even the most intrepid of Republic forces had hesitated to tread. Only the bravest and strongest guards came here, those ideally suited to resist the insidious power of the imprisoned Sith.

A scraping sound made Kallig turn away from the chambers, looking back to his companions. The irrepressible Talos Drellik looked up from where he was kneeling, turning a shark of shattered masonry over to inspect the runes on it. While not an Imperial or Sith ruin, the ancient facility still fascinated the eager archaeologist, his face brimming with excitement as he'd followed Kallig into the Deep Prison.

Behind him, the young former Jedi Ashara Zavros looked about with a preoccupied air, uneasy in the shadow of the prison's power. That disappointed Kallig a little, his efforts to sway the young Togruta to the teachings of the Sith still having not truly seeped into her soul. She still chose to fear the dark before embracing it, recoiling instinctually from the shadows that roiled around her. The rot of the Jedi was still too deeply ingrained in her mind, but she would learn, given time. Eventually the hypocrisy of their teachings would become clear to her, and then her liberation would be truly complete.

Watching over the pair with bored indifference, Andronikos Revel kept a blaster in each hand, ready for any of the tomb's automated defences that might reveal itself.

Kallig's gaze finally shifted to the hulking monstrosity that stood at his side. Towering over the Sith Lord, the creature known as Khem Val watched his every movement with a predatory gaze. The Dashade was a horribly twisted creature, his body a network of scars pulled taut across enormous muscles, both rewards of a long and painful life. His skin was pale, a by-product of his consumption of the Force energies of countless thousands, the main source of the creature's long life span and combat prowess, although he possessed no really discernible Force potential. At least, none of the kind that a Sith or a Jedi would recognise. The Dashade watched Kallig silently, weighing every move he made, judging whether the time to challenge the Sith Lord had arrived yet. Aware of the beast's feral stare on his back, Kallig turned to the stasis chambers once again.

"Why do you hesitate, little snake?"

A shimmering blue mirage coalesced in the air before Kallig, the spectral figure of the hooded Sith Lord, Darth Andru. A smirk played across his ghostly lips as he stood before the young Sith, both his captor and his victim.

"Surely that's not fear I see in your eyes?"

"Hush now, Andru!" Another apparition flickered into being behind Kallig, its icy cold voice right by his ear. Horak-Mul's tone was sharp as he addressed his fellow ghost, but Kallig couldn't fail to detect the mocking tones under his words. "It's a wise creature who recognises power far beyond his own. Our slithering little friend here simply recognises the truth: that he is outmatched by what is locked within this tomb."

"The Dread Masters have been terrorising Republic and Sith troops alike since before he was even born." Lord Ergast taunted, pacing behind Andru. "They've more power in their fingertips than he can even grasp the magnitude of."

"The rodent would be wise to go find a rock to hide under." The spectre of Kalatosh Zavros leered, his voice loud even as he refrained from appearing visibly.

"Be silent, all of you!" Kallig spat. In spite of the size of the tomb, it was getting all too crowded in the chamber. The pressure the ghosts exerted in his brain grew into an acute pain, making conscious thought difficult.

The ghosts vanished in a flash, the pain fading with them to be replaced by the concerned stares of Kallig's comrades. Ashara walked over, stepping carefully around Khem Val.

"My lord, is something wrong?" She asked.

"It's the ghosts again, isn't it?" Andronikos stated, his question already answered in the certainty of his words.

"Its getting harder to think straight." The Sith Lord answered.

"All the more reason why we must progress in our search for a cure to your affliction. Our mission here could be vital." The sultry voice of Darth Zash escaped from Khem's mouth, the contrast between her alluring female tones and his lurching physique almost comical. "It's possible the Dread Masters could offer some guidance. They are masters of the mind, and madness is their domain."

"You must not release the abominations!" The Esh-kha on the floor, the defeated Heart Rend, grunted urgently. "Their poisonous dreams tear through the skies of this world, laying waste to all in their path. Many more will be lost in shadow if they are allowed to awaken!"

"Sounds like my kind of world." Kallig sneered, using a slight flick of the wrist to send a firm shove through the Force, knocking the beast to the floor again. "Be silent!"

Turning from the blabbering alien, Kallig moved towards the console located before the Dread Master that his mission dossier had indicated went by the name of Lord Raptus. In mere moments, he had the stasis chambers powering down. Around the chamber, the six Dread Masters dropped to the floors of their chambers, taking a moment to recover and stride forth.

In that instant, the energies that twisted around them began to boil, like flames rekindled by opening a door to bring in a rush of nourishing air. The raw heat of the power of the Dread Masters washed around Kallig, bathing his body in cleansing fire. Even the ceaseless voices of the ghosts in his head quietened, the spectral quartet sensing the power just as clearly as he did. Andru, Ergast and Kalatosh slipped into stunned silence, overwhelmed by awe, while Horak-Mul seemed to thrill at the sensation, excitement tingeing every shred of his mind as he watched on in contemplative, hungry silence.

The Dread Masters stalked free of their chambers, gathering before the cowering Heart Rend. The Esh-kha blanched under their gaze, shuffling back as best it could. In its crouched position, it couldn't move far before it tripped, falling onto its back. With shaking hands, it struggled upright, rising to stand and face the released sextet of Sith. The Dread Masters gave it a long, silent stare.

"You dare seek control over the Dread Masters?" One of the Sith, a woman whom Kallig recognised from his files as Lady Bestia, tilted her head to the side challengingly, her voice dripping with contempt.

"Abominations!" The Esh-kha growled, defiant even as it struggled not to bolt. "All of you, choking our skies-"

The alien's tirade was cut short as one of the Masters, a shorter male, raised a hand. With a voice that rumbled with barely constrained power, the primal roar of the dark side, he intoned one word, a swirl of red-tinged power underlining it.

"Fear."

It wasn't a suggestion, it wasn't a direction. It was a simple, inarguable statement of being. The recipient of the instruction couldn't possibly hope to deny it, any more than he could say that up was down or that day didn't follow night. To reject the Dread Master's assertion was to reject reality itself. Kallig watched with a morbid fascination, feeling his captive ghosts do the same over his shoulder.

"This should be interesting." Horak-Mul muttered.

Around the Dread Master, his fellows raised their hands, adding their power to his. More scarlet energy radiated from them, weaving together into strands that reached out to caress the Esh-kha's skull. Kallig felt the dark side swell as the Masters drew upon it, the full focus of their attention the single alien before them.

The first sign of a reaction from Heart Rend was a small gurgle. The strangled sound escaped from between tightly compressed lips as the creature's eyes darted about everywhere. Its nostrils flared as its teeth ground together, its breath coming in short gasps. Kallig reached out through the Force and sensed the alien's heartbeat, growing faster and faster by the moment. Blood pounded through its veins, threatening to burst arteries with the pressure. A further probe, cautiously, and Kallig touched its mind, feeling the storm of blinding terror within the Esh-kha's psyche. When the creature finally muttered something, it came out strained, barely intelligible.

"The darkness… growing! Drowning!"

Its words soon descended into pained cries as it fell to the floor, clutching at itself desperately. Its claws extended and it began to tear at its own body, slicing through skin without heed of the injuries as it fought invisible terrors. In moments, blood seeped from numerous wounds as it rolled about pitifully on the floor, still besieged by its nightmares.

Kallig couldn't look away, even as he heard first Ashara, then Tallos and finally Andronikos turn away in disgust, unsettled by the display. Khem continued to watch, unmoved by the creature's plight. Feeling a nudge in his mind as the trapped phantoms jockeyed for a better view, the young Sith lord reached out again to the creature, seeking to study every facet of the practice.

At last, with a sudden jerk, the Esh-kha's heart stopped, pushed too far by the physical demands the horror had placed upon it. Its body tensed, turning stiff as a board as its throat released a long, wet sigh, then the newly created corpse went limp, the last vestiges of life fading. Kallig maintained his connection right up until the last instant, feeling the alien pass from its ordeal. He watched the corpse for just a few moments, his emotions mixed. On the one hand, he felt the horror and disgust that such a display was meant to inspire, but on the other, he felt a twitch in his own heart, a quiet longing that burned with the intensity of a supernova.

"Such power." Horak-Mul leered over Kallig's shoulder. "You crave it... don't you?"

Kallig didn't answer the ancient Sith, but Horak-Mul's words weren't ignored. The younger Sith could feel his desire burning, an unquenchable hunger that sat in his gut like a stone. He continued to watch the Dread Masters as their apparent leader, Raptus, stepped forward to give the Esh-kha's corpse a kick, disdain oozing from every movement.

"None can contain us. Not this prison, not the Republic..." He glanced to the dead creature once more. "And certainly not these creatures."

"Big talk for someone who needed a lowly apprentice like yourself to rescue them." Kalatosh muttered.

Kallig couldn't help but agree, a train of irreverent thought running through his mind as he felt his ego swell, irritation tingeing his heart. Without his intervention, the oafish forces of the Imperial Guard would have still been wrestling with the Republic troops back at the landing zone. It was only thanks to him that they'd advanced through the entirety of the prison to find their prize this deep in the forgotten tombs. He, not the Dread Masters, had proved strong enough to break the chains the Republic had placed around the Sith prophets and prevent the Esh-kha from draining their power. And yet, even as they faced their saviour, the Sith who had been weak enough to find themselves at the mercy of both Republic and Esh-kha forces refused to acknowledge his contribution? Before he could think, his anger took control of his tongue.

"You'd still be the Esh-kha's playthings if it weren't for me."

Even as the tide of dread and regret rose within his throat, Kallig sensed the cackling retreat of his deceased captives, fleeing to the dark recesses of his mind as they left him to whatever retribution lay ahead. Judging from the swell of glee within his thoughts, Kalatosh had been the one to nudge the words out. Strangely, though, even as both Ergast and Andru joined their comrade in laughing at Kallig's impending misfortune, Horak-Mul simply sighed, the young Sith getting a strong sense of impatient irritation from the elder one.

There was a deathly silence in the tomb, even the air growing still as the temperature dropped dramatically. The Masters stared at Kallig for a long moment, then the same short male who had begun the mental assault on Heart Rend raised his arm, all of his focus on the younger Sith. Once more, his voice rumbled forth like a proclamation from the heavens.

"Fear."

Blood-red energy flowed from the hands of the Dread Masters, striking Kallig. In a flash, his vision became nothing but swirling scarlet. Shapes arose from the blood, clawed hands that reached out to scratch at his skin, beasts that screamed in his face. His ears filled with the screeches of countless dead and dying His skin began to itch as he felt thousands of burrowing beetles crawl about beneath his flesh, devouring him from the inside out. A snake slithered in his throat, causing his lungs to tighten as he failed to draw in sufficient breath. A strained groan was all that he could manage as darkness pulled at his mind.

Kallig tried to close his eyes, shaking his head to dismiss the visions. When his eyelids parted again, all that he could see before him was six hideous golden masks, twisting into terrifying contortions that no real face could have managed. When the foremost of the disembodied faces spoke, his voice was absolute, unending. Whatever he said could not fail to be, and there was no room in the universe for anything else.

"We are the Dread Masters. Show your respect."

Kallig's will vanished, crushed beneath the weight of the combined power the Masters brought to bear. All-encompassing terror filled him.

Then, in a flash, Horak-Mul stood before him, his face stern as he regarded the Sith at his feet.

"Is this to be the legacy of my power? Crushed beneath the heel of six overblown fear mongers?" His voice rasped. "No! Stand up, little serpent. You must be master of your fear. How can you aspire to true power without first mastering the passions and drives nature has already granted to you?"

"Why..." Kallig gasped, his voice little more than a breath. "Why are you helping me?"

"Because you are too proud to ask for aid, and too potent to be wasted as a slave to Sith such as these." The Sith growled in explanation. "Besides, what kind of Sith would I be to allow lesser beings such as these to deny me the pleasure of driving you insane myself?"

"That's... not... an answer..."

"It is the best you shall receive, now do as I say!" Horak-Mul snapped. "Take hold of the fear in your heart, crush it within your fingers, transform it into the blazing core at the centre of your power..."

With a grunt, Kallig struggled up into a kneeling position, raising himself painfully until he finally stood tall. His eyes glowed a virulent purple, a bright flash that echoed through the Force itself. In an instant, Kallig's mind became a bastion, an impenetrable fortress that the attack of the Masters simply washed off, their dark energies swirling around him ineffectually. As the Masters took a step back uncertainly, their power rebuffed, Kallig leaned to one side, folding his arms as he tilted his head mockingly.

"You cannot scare me." The young Sith sneered.

"Impossible!" Lady Bestia gasped.

"You are strong with the dark side." Raptus admitted, his tone ponderous.

"You have no idea." Kallig drawled. In his mind, Horak-Mul shrank back into the darkness, watching carefully. As the elder Sith retreated, the hunger in Kallig's soul awakened once more. He knew he wouldn't have another chance like this. "Your power would be of use to me. I would learn it from you."

"Such arrogance." The short male, Lord Tyrans, sneered. "Perhaps that is where your strength flows from?"

"You think to take the power we wield for yourself?" Raptus watched Kallig carefully. "This is not something we share lightly. We must deliberate over the issue. Once we have come to a decision, we shall contact you."

"The moment they leave this tomb, you shall never see them again." Horak-Mul piped up. "If you truly seek their power, you must seize it now."

"I released you from your chains. I saved you from having your power siphoned off by a pack of rabid beasts." Kallig paced back and forth before them. "You don't have the luxury of refusing me my request."

"You think to intimidate us?" Lady Bestia's tone was incredulous. "Surely you have gone mad!"

"We would never grant our power to a lowly creature like you!" Tyrans spat.

"If you will not give it to me willingly, then I shall take it." Kallig threatened, placing himself in the centre of the tomb, blocking any avenue of retreat the Masters may have had.

"You have experienced but a taste of our potential, child." Raptus' voice growled. "Do not incur our full wrath."

Kallig shifted his feet, frustration bubbling up in his throat like caustic bile. The raw anger this provoked within him flared brightly, summoning forth rippled of darkness that surged through his blood. He regarded each member of the troupe before him, silent, arrogant, trapped in their old ways, symbols of everything he sought to change within the Empire. A his dark power roared in his ears, he sized up each one of the Masters, his gaze finally settling upon the tallest, most heavily muscled member of the group, Lord Styrak. Physically imposing as well as possessing great potential in the dark arts, he was the perfect candidate for setting an example.

The younger Sith Lord's arm lifted, purple-black tendrils of energy surging around it. In response, the Dread Masters raised their palms, sending shafts of pure darkness streaking towards Kallig. He braced himself, erecting a mental barrier to deflect the initial assault. Horak-Mul's consciousness rose up under his defence, bracing it further with the echoes of his own power. Moments later, the other Sith ghosts joined him.

Confused by the sudden helpfulness of the ancient Sith, Kallig realised he didn't have the luxury of questioning the sudden turn of events. Even with the power of four mighty Sith at his disposal, he could feel the pressure on his brain. The Masters, the risk of losing their power having given them access to new reserves, were slowly beating their way through his barriers.

"Strike quickly, child!" Kalatosh's voice was little more than a whisper, all of his focus pouring into holding back the flood of mind-breaking terror. "We will not shield you forever!"

"Apprentice!" The young Sith gasped from behind clenched teeth. "Shield me!"

Behind him, Ashara started at the sudden command, stepping forward with a tentative air. She flinched back as the storm of conflicting power raged around her master, then took a deep breath before reaching out to him, calling upon teachings she recalled from her days as a Jedi.

Like a beam of blinding luminescence cutting through the night, the power flowed from the former Jedi, bouncing off Kallig's shield of black fury and then working its way around to encase the Sith's mind, deflecting the Dread Masters' assault. Their attacks not anticipating this combination of both light and dark teachings with a single purpose, the Masters hesitated for just one brief, golden second.

"No!" Horak-Mul gasped in Kallig's ear, tension vibrating through his essence to infect the younger Sith.

Kallig's mind narrowed to focus on the task at hand, his thoughts becoming a double-edged sword that ripped through the Force. He reached out, sensing through the dark side every facet of his target. The momentary confusion in Styrak gave him his chance, and he dove in, slicing at the elder Sith's defences with the burning brand of his passion.

Watching from the outside, Kallig's companions stared in amazement and fear as their master struggled with the recently liberated Sith. Suddenly, the Master known as Styrak lifted off the floor, his torso pulled forward as if a massive hand had taken a hold of his ribcage and pulled upwards. Flickering ropes of purple energy connected the Sith Lord to Kallig's outstretched hands.

Weakened from the stasis chamber and distracted as he was, Styrak could offer little resistance as Kallig connected with his consciousness, their two minds momentarily fusing. In that instant, their beings merged, nothing hidden from Kallig as he regarded the Dread Master at his mercy. His heart surging with excitement, Kallig reached out, grasping at the pulsing black heart that formed the Sith Lord's connection to the dark side. Every twisted secret, every forbidden knowledge, every scarp of potential flowed from there. Taking his blade of pure, unadulterated power, Kallig held the blackness tight and sliced through the tendrils that connected it to Styrak.

A terrible, heart-wrenching shriek tore loose from Styrak's lungs. As his connection to the Force was abruptly cut off, all sensation of anything outside of his own body fading in a flash to utter nothingness. Desperately, he tried to claw back the retreating power, fighting with all of his will to keep his connection to the darkness that had sustained him for so long. In that second, the brief struggle sent a ripple through the Force that made the whole tomb shudder, Styrak's fellow Dread Masters being cast to the floor by the shockwave. Then, with the finality of a door clanging shut, the power was gone, taken forever.

Styrak dropped to the floor, masked head striking the cold stone with a loud crack. Kallig, meanwhile, remained standing, arms still outstretched. Before him, a cloud of darkness, deeper than the blackness between the stars, hovered uncertainly. The cloud of raw power shimmered, in one second taking on the guise of a terrifying beast long since extinct, in the next assuming the form of a simple man, hooded and masked but emanating such a presence that he could only have been the Emperor himself. Kallig groaned, then pulled his outstretched arms back towards himself, dragging the cloud with them. His hands twisted, forcing the darkness into a smaller shape until he could hold it between his two palms, compressing it down into a ball no larger than a fist. He then pulled it still closer to himself, finally pushing it against where his heart lay, wincing as the electric feeling of the power surged across his skin. He staggered, falling to one knee as the totality of Styrak's power seeped into his flesh, then faded, becoming one with his own power.

The tomb was still for a long, silent moment, Kallig's breathing the only noise to be heard. After some time, the laboured pants slowed and the young Sith stood. Before him, the Dread Masters struggled to their feet.

"Well done, little snake." Ergast whispered next to his ear. "I'd have never assumed that my ritual could be turned against the living in such a way. To take the power without acquiring the mind of the previous owner... such is a rare gift indeed. And a dangerous one. Don't be surprised if the entirety of the Dark Council turns on you now, before you go after them one by one."

Kallig ignored the voice, instead looking to his victim, lying helplessly on the floor next to his brethren. The other Dread Masters stared at Styrak with a mixture of awe and terror, unable to sense him. Where the former Sith Lord was, only a hole in the Force existed now, an absence from all existence. Finally, the remaining five Dread Masters looked back to Kallig, eyeing him cautiously.

Before any of those present could speak, a tiny flicker of awareness shivered in the back of Kallig's mind, a warning of approaching danger. He reached out, sensing the trepidation of the Republic soldiers just outside the tomb.

"Perfect." He whispered, striding forward.

"You!" Kallig stood over Styrak, using the Force to take a hold of his body and lift him onto his feet. "Republic forces approach. Dispose of them."

Silent, numb, Styrak stumbled away from the Sith Lord, walking past Kallig's silent companions as he made his way towards the tomb's door. Before he was even halfway, the heavy stone door ground open, revealing a half dozen commandos arrayed before him, with Warden Graal, the officer responsible for keeping the Dread Masters contained, at their head. The Warden's piggish eyes narrowed, then widened in shock as he spotted the Sith in the tomb, unshackled for the first time in years.

"The Dread Masters are free! Initiate containment! Lethal force authorised!"

Raptus lifted an arm, seeking to summon his power to deal with the invaders, but Kallig silently rebuffed him, forcing the Sith and his fellows to watch in silence.

Styrak stumbled forward, raising a trembling arm before him. A tiny flicker of scarlet energy tumbled off the tips of his fingers, a wisp of smoke and nothing more.

"Fear!" Even his voice was drained of all power, nothing but the fearful squawking of an aged man. When nothing happened, he tried his stance once more, his cry even more desperate. "Fear me!"

"Open fire!" Graal commanded. The soldiers responded instantly, Styrak's pained screams filling the tomb with eerie echoes as his body slumped to the floor.

As the commandos manoeuvred to take aim at the rest of the tomb's occupants, Kallig stepped forward, feeling the power flow beneath his fingertips as he delved into Styrak's vast reserves of knowledge. The Republic forces, seeing the Sith approach with no sign of anxiety, slowed, caution instilling a measure of dread in their guts. Kallig raised his arm.

"Fear."

The word was a simple statement, but the power behind it sent tremors through the planet below, echoing back from the core to shake the foundations of the world prison. For miles around, weaker prisoners instantly went mad as rippled of the power struck them. Some turned on each other, devolving into a frenzy of blood and teeth as they attacked one another with crude knives, furniture, or their bare claws. Others simply fell into a catatonic state, their minds shattering from the brief contact. The stronger willed still felt a shiver of fear sink deep into their souls, cowering in their cells or resuming their escape attempts with renewed vigour.

For the troops accompanying the Warden, there was barely time to register the word before the Sith Lord's power struck them, instantly robbing them of their minds. Kallig reached out to touch each mind, savouring the sensation of their destruction. He made sure to spare Graal, raising a barrier around the Warden's mind. The Republic officer watched in horror as his men fell to the ground around him, reduced to gibbering echoes of themselves in seconds.

Kallig took a deep breath, soaking up every sensation of the sundering of their minds. Styrak's memories prompted him to pick out the highlights of each soldier's suffering. The dilation of the pupils, the tightening of the muscles, the rising hysteria replacing rationality, until finally...

The soldiers, as a single unified chorus, screamed the full extent of their torment in a deafening symphony. In their midst, Graal dropped to his knees, covering his ears in a vain attempt to block out the noise.

...The mind shatters. In Kallig's head, the memories of Styrak sighed contentedly, their lust for such ruthlessness satisfied, for the moment.

The soldiers continued to scream for a long moment, then abruptly fell silent as Kallig eased his assault. As a final afterthought, the young Sith placed a single image in the minds of each one of them, a single object upon which their new intellects could place the blame for their pain. As each soldier opened his eyes once more, reborn through the fires of his terror, he perceived the source of his suffering immediately before him, the alarmed Warden cowering in their midst.

The pack of maddened commandos fell upon their former superior, beating him savagely as they tore at him with strong fingers. Graal screamed as his former comrades fell upon him, dragging him away with murderous intent. In just a few moments, the tomb was quiet again, save for the faint echoes of the tormented Warden's shrieks.

"That was... skilfully done, my lord." Raptus commented. The last two words jammed in his throat stubbornly, only escaping thanks to a powerful sense of self-preservation. "You seem to have mastered in moments what took us decades to perfect."

"Don't try to lick my boots." Kallig retorted. "It doesn't suit you well."

"As you wish." Raptus' tone remained meek. He paused just a moment, then gazed at the corpse of Styrak wistfully. "A shame about Styrak. He was a powerful Sith."

"Had you not chosen to oppose me, he would still live." Kallig didn't even bother to look at the corpse. "When I desire something, I will take it. I can match the power of any opponent who stands against me. Is that understood?"

"Perfectly, my lord." Raptus bowed stiffly, mimicked by his four remaining comrades. "What would you have us do in your name?"

"Take their power!" Andru's ghost urged, flickering through the back of Kallig's mind. "Spare not one of them!"

"Be silent, you old fool!" Horak-Mul chided. "What good is becoming a Lord if you have no subjects to rule over? Their fear of our power will prove to be a most powerful leash, and their allegiance will cement our place in the Empire. It is one thing to be the Sith who killed the Dread Masters, but it is another to be the one who taught them the meaning of true fear!"

Kallig found himself nodding silently, jolting back to awareness as he realised those in the tomb still watched him cautiously. Clearing his throat, he straightened.

"Firstly, you must go meet with a Commander Calum, a member of the Imperial Guard. He had made arrangements to get you off this planet and back to Dromund Kaas." He instructed. "Once you have been debriefed, go forth and seek out new knowledge. Increase your power base, and through it, mine. Expand our understanding of the Force. Through this, we will rise to replace the ineffectual Dark Council and forge a new Empire that will rival the Rakatan domination of old. Soon the whole Galaxy will know the name of Kallig."

"As you command, my lord." Raptus bowed again, followed by the others. "We submit to your command, Lord Kallig. Henceforth, you shall carry the title of Dread Lord of the Sith, Master of Terror, and you shall lead us. Long may your reign continue."

Author's Note: Taking a bit of a break from ITU here. Just felt like I needed it, after everything that's happened in the past year.

So anyway, I had this idea after completing my Sith Inquisitor on The Old Republic, and decided to roll with it. Seemed like a cool idea.

I'd really appreciate hearing what you think.

For those of you who have read some of my stuff before, you may recall me mentioning a Star Wars story I wrote not long after the original KOTOR released. Well I went back and re-read it with a view to polishing it up and publishing it on here and... wow, it was pretty poor. I was a lot younger when I wrote that, and it shows. It'll take a while to make it internet-worthy, but in the meantime I wanted to write something Star Wars, so I did this. I may do more one-shots, or maybe even a short series, but I will keep working on the larger story I did all those years ago. Even though the quality is pretty low, there's still a lot in there I'm proud of.

I'll get back to work on ITU now. Chaper 51 is about halfway done now.

Fainmaca Out.