And so the next installment of the Veneficus Trilogy begins! Many thanks to all those who have read and reviewed on Power of the Dark Side, (and if you haven't read that yet, I highly recommend you do so now... I'll wait... done? good, we may proceed then!) Enjoy!

The Rise of

Darth Veneficus


The Oncoming Storm

868 BBY

The Republic Orbital Space Station: Code named Lighthouse, hung in orbit over the planet Tund. The sector was genuinely quiet, with very little activity from the outside Galaxy to venture into the smaller Centrality quadrant of the northeastern part of the Galaxy, aside from a small mishap of a foreign freighter carry Force-knew-what to the planet's surface, only to blast away hours later with a Jedi Master hot in pursuit, but that had been almost two decades previous. After that event things quieted back down to trace amounts of activity from the occasional pirate scouting the sector before moving on.

The Republic had greatly reduced its military forces since the end of the New Sith Wars, as per the Ruusan Reformation, which left this now mostly observational station greatly undermanned. The once defensive platform, which had been prepared in the event that the Force wielders of the planet below ever delved back into their races ways and became a threat to the Galaxy, once sported a crew well into the thousands, but now only a scant hundred were left with a bare handful of Jedi Watchmen to keep an eye on the remote section of the Galaxy.

Jedi Watchman Geeka Drald stood on the main observation deck, letting the Light Side energies from the planet Tund flow through him, expanding his senses to keep a continual watch on the surrounding areas of space. Most of the Repuclic's security detail, along with a few of his fellow Jedi on the station thought that Watchman Drald was taking his position far too seriously, when there had been no activity in the sector in well over ten years, but they were not under special obligation from the Jedi Council to monitor this region, and protect the Light Sided Sith race from their ancient dark tendencies, or outside influences that may seek the same.

Still, he wasn't without a few supporters in his task. Pausing in his meditations and probing of the immediate area for signs of danger, Watchman Drald looked across the deck to where his close friend, Jedi Knight Nrin Dyz, was working with his new Padawan. The Quarren Jedi Knight was extremely gentle and outgoing for his race, even speaking in basic with his human apprentice, which was generally considered a demeaning thing for a Quarrel.

The boy, Allamar Rosham, was also a very outgoing and adventurous youth, wanting to pursue his training to the best of his ability, and Geeka knew that the few months they had spent here on the Lighthouse had greatly displeased the Padawan. Of course, his Master had made all the arrangements possibly for the pair to take frequent trips away from the station to other parts of the sector, so that the learner had many opportunities to experience a very different part of the Galaxy.

Currently, the pair was working on Lightsaber forms, namely the first, Shii-Cho, which was the Quarren's preferred style. Watchman Drald remembered fondly when he and Dyz were Knighted, and he had shared with Drald the reasons for his choice to stay with the basic form. 'My Rodian friend, when one chooses to Master the basics, he is able to see clearly all the possibilities that are held within something…'

It had been a mantra that the Quarren had quite stuck to, and it seemed that he had passed on the philosophy to his Padawan, and the young Human had also taken up Shii-Cho as his primary form. Watchman Drald observed the pair for a few moments more, contemplating the idea of returning to the temple someday soon and requesting to train a Padawan of his own. Knight Dyz's example was always an inspiration his the Rodian, and even their friendly competitivness wouldn't allow Drald to allow the Quarren to ascend to the rank of Master without a fight over who would be first.

Sinking back into the Force, Geeka Drald lurched as something… unnatural… entered the space near the station. Even Dyz and Rosham sensed it, stopping their practice and turning to look.

"Sir," spoke the station commander over the intercom, "unidentified ship just emerged from Hyperspace, and it appears to be a capital class cruiser. What are your orders?"

Watchman Drald activated the large holoscreen to allow those in the room to see the craft for themselves. What they found was rather disturbing. Like a hulking relic out of a past age, an old Sith Interdictor-class Cruiser lumbered into range of Lighthouse Station.

Even as Watchman Drald attempted to hail the phantom-like ship from the Jedi Civil War, they were all jolted as the vessel opened fire with its entire ordinance, rocking the station for a moment before the shields went up full force. Alarms blared, signaling all available personnel to battle stations.

"Communications are jammed!" called an engineer over the intercoms.

"Man the anti-fighter turrets!" Geeka ordered, "I want several pilots to get to the long range fighter to jump to Lightspeed and warn the Republic, go!"

Even as he gave the commands, Watchman Drald sensed an impending darkness from the ship on their scopes, but it seemed far too large of a Force signature to be a single or even a dozen individuals. He had little guess short of an entire regiment of Dark Side adepts being on board that ship, and there was only the hope of reinforcements from the nearest Republic base to save them.

"Boarders detected in engineering!" yelled another technician over the scream of blaster fire. Geeka slammed the console before him in his haste to check the sensor radar. he hadn't seen any fighters or transports launched from the ship, so how could there be any boarders from the ship?

"Dyz, Roaham, go investigate engineering," he ordered, and his good friend and the Quarren's Padawan dashed from the deck to the turbolift. Another volley from the cruiser raked across the station, its few turbolasers cannons seeming petty and insignificant in comparison.

Scanning the space between the station and the attacking ship quickly, Watchman Drald spotted their handful Aurek-class strikefighters fly out to counterattack the capital ship, like gnats swarming at a giant.

The massive ship made no moves to deal with the smaller vessels, not even launching a single fighter of its own, and the laser cannons of the dozen or so strikefighters started to pepper the Interdictor's shields. This went on for several agonizing minutes, with the Jedi Watchman wondering how he was to keep such a powerful foe at bay for the Republic to send aid, when Geeka felt the softest, almost imperceptible brush of the Force nearby, and whirled with his saber igniting in hand.

Somehow, unknown to him, several legitimate-looking Sith troopers had appeared out of thin air in the observation deck, blasters drawn and firing at the Republic security forces and engineers. The Jedi Watchman charged into the mass of soldiers, his yellow blade batting aside powerful bolts of energy that were clearly not standard blaster bolts.

Cleaving the first troopers arm at the elbow, the Rodian rolled under the sights of a second, swinging upward as he launched himself to his feet, carving a path up the chest of the third. Despite their spontaneous appearance, the half dozen soldiers in Sith trooper armor went down just as quickly.

"Fighters have launched from the Sith ship, Sir!" one of the engineers yelled from across the room, and Watchman Drald turned to see several wings of Sith fighters emergy from the belly of the Interdictor, lead by a strange spherical vessel as they pelted toward the station, only a few staying to dogfight with the Republic strikefighters.

"Scramble more fighters, we need to buy more time!" Drald commanded, and the Engisn at the communication array relayed the order throughout the station. "No response from the main hanger, sit, I think its overrun!" the young man replied after a moment, and Drald clenched a fist in irritation. The fighters were drawing closer, aiming directly for the same hanger. "I will go and meet our uninvited guests," Drald stated, and he departed quickly, using the Force to run all the way to the lifts.

When the doors opened on the same level as the Hangar, the Jedi Watchman had to reignite his blade as a small barrage of blaster fire erupted around him. The hanger was swarmed with many more Sith armored troopers, and Geeka desperately wondered where they all kept appearing from. It didn't make any sense for what was happening.

Even as Watchmen Drald pushed his way through the first ranks of troopers and out into the hangar proper, he found his fellow Jedi closing in from several other directions. Mir Jasaar cleaved many enemy soldiers with her dual sabers, the blue and green blades cutting shimmering arcs through the air in the Iridonian's hands.

On the other side, Daris Kormun flipped through the air to cover more ground as the Duros launched into wide flourishes with his blue Saberstaff. From behind Geeka the turbolift doors reopened, and Dyz and his Padawan charged in behind him, and together the five Jedi started the battle over the hanger bay. But the fight seemed decidedly one sided, even with the superiority of the Jedi Knights, with waves of enemy soldiers pouring in from somewhere, appearing in mid air in groups of twos and threes for every one they struck down.

Security forces swept in behind the Jedi, laying a suppressing fire on the swarming Sith troopers, just as the strange, spherical ship entered the hangar from outside. The Sith fighters split on either side behind it, pulling immelmann so that they could continue to attack the station and whatever Republic fighters remained.

The ground forces flowed into defensive ranks as the perfectly round, almost eye-like ship set down in the middle of the hangar, weapons raised and ready to fend off any counter measures. They were clearly waiting for orders from whoever was piloting the ship.

A pair of seams appeared in the side of the ship, and afterward the ramp descended, granting exit for the ships two robed occupants. Watchman Drald froze as the powerful Darkside Auraliterally wafted like a miasma from the interior of the ship, and from the taller of the two black hooded figures. There was only one title for those who caused such a feeling as these figures did.

"Sith Lords …" he said, the very words chilling him to the bone.

The smaller robe Sith ignited a double bladed saber, the crimson energy blade striking an intimidating figure, while the obvious leader of the pair kept his hands empty as they advanced on the now clustered knot of Jedi.

The troopers on both sides watched passively, not daring to hit one of their own sides with a stray blaster bolt. Uncertain of how they were to handle these knew assailants; Geeka exchanged a glance with Dyz, silently communicating that they ought not to allow Padawan Rosham to content directly unless absolutely necessary. Gifted though the boy may be, this was a unknown threat, and needless throwing him to be slain was not something that either senior Jedi wanted.

Knights Kasaar and Kormun on the other hand had no thought to the protection of their own, and charged at the two Sith Lords, sabers raised and ready to cut the pair down. It seemed a sure thing, but Watchman Drald knew better than to expect such a quick victory. The taller raised gloved hands, and unleashed a volley of bluish-white lightning at the advancing Knights.

Caught off guard, both the Duros and Zabrak were throw back by the powerful torrent, leaving the field open for the smaller, Saberstaff wielding Sith to attack.

Watchman Drald stepped in, dropping into the superior defenses of his signature Soresu, and intercepting each of the wild Juyo strikes of the smaller assailant. Meanwhile, both Knights that were hit with lightning, as well as Dyz went for the leader, who produced a single crimson blade to answer their total of five multicolored weapons.

Allamar remained in the rear with the troopers, but as Geeka danced with his highly acrobatic opponent, he could see that the boy wanted nothing more than to leap in and help.

Thankfully the boy was smarter than that, and was able to restrain himself to obey the order of his master, however Geeka couldn't spare any more time to worry about the Padawan, as he ferocious opponent wasn't about to grant him any space for a breather. His saber worked furiously to keep up with the pair of crimson blades that seemed to call for his blood.

In the other conflict, Drald heard a scream of pain, and knew in his heart and the Force that one of their own had fallen to the other Sith Lord's weapon. "No!" shouted Padawan Roaham, and Geeka worried for a moment that the boy would rush to hois own death in trying to help the other two. When the boy's blue blade flashed between his and the crimson staff however, it surprised the Rodian Watchman. The boy was far more intelligent that even he had expected, and tactical as well, in assisting him so that they could both assist the other Knights.

Between their combined first and third forms, the two Jedi started to push the robed Sith Lord back, Rosham counterattacking and Geeka taking the brunt of the Saberstaff's attack with his greater defenses. Now that he had time to actually regroup himself, Watchman Drald spared a glance at the other group of saber wielders.

What he saw rationalized Allamar's choice of assistance for him. The other Sith was more than toying with the remaining two Jedi Knights, Daris Kormun having fallen to a saber strike across the chest. There was no clear way that the Padawan would have been of assistance in that fight. The staff wielding Sith growled in anger as he was forced away by Rosham's attacks, but a loud cracking noise sounded, and suddenly the other Sith was among the three combatants, single saber curving in long slashes that quickly turned the tide of battle.

If the Saberstaff wielding Sith was anything unexpected to the Jedi, this more experience foe was in a class all his own. The technique with how he control his weapon put many battle masters to shame, making the entire concept of lightsaber combat look like an art rather than a fight for one's life.

Within moments Geeka and Allamar were sporting many insignificant wounds, while the Sith Lord remained untouched. Knights Jsaar and Dyz arrived to help, but even the four Jedi against the two Sith were highly stacked against their favor. The leader was simply too strong, and blasted through their Force Aura with the strength of a freighter. Telekinetic blasts, bolts of lightning, even strange volleys of multicolored energy flew in every direction as the Dark Lord fought them.

"Enough of this," spoke the elder Sith, putting the Jedi on guard at the sound of his relatively young voice. Abruptly turning on his heel, the Sith lunged, planting his saber directly in the chest of young Allamar. The boy's eyes widened in shock, a small gasp of surprise being the only noise the boy made as his saber slipped from his hand.

The Padawan was dead before he hit the ground, and the Sith was still moving, leaping out of the way as the four remaining blades swung simultaneously at him.

Even as the main Sith took charge of the battle, the staff wielder was focusing on mowing through the remaining security forces, slaughtering the non Force users with impunity. Meanwhile, the other Sith had returned his saber to his belt, drawing in its place a small wooden stick, which had Watchman Drald confused for a moment, but highly suspicious. When the small thing started pelting energy with the speed like full-auto blaster cannon fire, his fears were confirmed that it was some sort of evil artifact.

All three remaining Jedi immediately switched to the defensive, blocking and redirecting as many of the energy bolts as they could. With another loud crack, the Sith vanished again, and only a strong warning in the Force saved Geeka. He whirled, spotting the Sith as he appeared behind them, firing a powerful green ray into the back of Knight Jasaar. The Iridonian was sent flying, hitting the ground to never rise again. There wasn't even a wound left by the energy bolt.

"Dyz…" Geeka said, breathing hard to as he deflecting another barrage of energy from the Sith Lord, "you need to get back to the Jedi Council, warn them that the Sith have returned.'

"But, my friend…" the Quarren said, and Watchman Drald knew what his close friend wanted to say.

"There's no time, go! I'll hold him off long enough for you to escape!" he yelled, and the Quarren hesitated for only a moment longer, before running for the turbolift with the aid of the Force. The Jedi's ships were stored in a different hanger.

Refocusing on their foe, Watchman Geeka squared up, his saber held high in his hands. The Sith Lord merely laughed, not even deigning to confront him honorably. With the tiniest twitch of his fingers, the Sith Lord sent a blast of telekinetic power at Geeka, blasting his arms backward.

The last thing that the Jedi Watchman saw was a jet of green light flying at his face.