A few years ago in a galaxy far, far away….
THE SITH ZERO
-LEGACIES OF OLD-
As tensions mount between the Empire and the Republic, Louise, apprentice to Darth Zash, leaves the confines of Imperial space in search of the lost artefacts of the legendary Dark Lord of the Sith, Tulak Hord.
Darth Zash believes one of these artefacts to be hidden on the demon moon Dxun, where a team of Jedi archaeologists uncovered a secret temple built by the Sith Lord Freedon Nadd.
But to recover the artefact, Louise must first discover a way to deal with the Jedi who guard it and delve deep into the long-forgotten chambers….
Chapter 1 -Act II- Memories of Times Since Past
Inside a tent of wood and cloth, Sasha sat scrutinising a strange ivory sword. Before her, lying unconscious was the presumed owner of the blade; a young lady in her mid-twenties, with a head of long strawberry blonde hair and ashen pale skin. She was dressed in quite primitive clothes, a tan tunic and some linen undergarments.
Absently, Sasha repositioned a lock of her own blonde hair behind her long-pointed ears, as she turned to the unconscious girl, who had just moved. The Elf herself was garbed in a deep green dress that ended just above her knees, which she also repositioned as it was creeping up her legs. Once sure the girl was still asleep, she turned back to the sword. It was a hand-and-a-half, with a pragmatic and angular design, though the make of the blade was merely a curiosity as it was the metal she was finding herself enamoured with. It was a higher quality than the bronze that most swords were crafted from and similar to the elven made swords, but the entire thing was completely alien to anything she knew of metallurgy.
Not only that but when touching the sword, her runes would alight and feed information to pull of some surprising feats with it, such as deflecting projectiles. Not that Sasha was willing to try that at any point in time.
The unconscious girl moved again, and Sasha narrowed her eyes, "I know you're awake, there's no use pretending."
If the sudden stiffening of the girl was any indication, Sasha had been right. Slowly the girl pulled herself up, opening her hazel eyes to glare at the Elf, her eyes flickering to the sword and the glowing runes. The mysterious girl was suspicious, confused and untrusting, that much could be told by the body language, as she pushed herself into a cross-legged position on the bed. Though, there was a hint of another thing playing across her eyes, as every so often, the girl would wince. The cause was obvious when she brought a hand up to massage her head. "Who are you," she asked in a tone that brooked no argument.
"My name is Sasha. And yours?" the Elf prompted, not wanting to annoy the girl as she placed the sword atop a pile of carefully folded dark robes and armour, out of arms reach of the mysterious girl.
The glare intensified as she recognised the intent behind the action as she spoke again, "Where am I?"
"You're in our village, Nitabelio," Sasha replied, brushing off the lack of cooperation easily.
"Planet?" the girl continued, raising an eyebrow.
"…I'm not sure what you mean."
"The planet, what's the planet called?" explained the hazel eyed girl as if speaking down to a child, "Which star system are we in, the sector? Where in the galaxy are we?"
Sasha tilted her head like a curious bird, "What is a star system? Galaxy?"
"What do you mean, 'what is a star system'!?" the girl questioned, rubbing her head.
"I don't know what you are asking." Sasha replied, "I've never heard of a 'star system' before."
Hazel eyes narrowed dangerously, "What about the Sith Empire? Korriban, Ziost, Tulak Hord, the Jen'Jidai?" and with every word, her voice grew more and more incensed.
Sasha sighed, looking sympathetic to the girl, "I've never heard of any of those things. Listen, you are far from home and none of us know about the things of which you speak. You're far from whatever world you originate."
The girl sat there, looking at Sasha for the longest time, a troubled look marring her features. But before the Elf could ask if there was anything wrong, the girl took a deep breath, centring herself, before saying, "I apologise."
Sasha shook her head, "You needn't do so. I can understand where you are coming from. But for now, could you please tell me your name?"
"Yes, I am Teralyn, Lord of the Sith." she replied, somewhat hesitantly.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Teralyn." Sasha said, "Though, I must now explain how you came to be here. What do you last remember?"
Teralyn paused, seemingly thinking over her words before saying them, "I… was being chased, hunted by people who served the Betrayer. I was cornered, near death and ready to fight. And then… I felt the Force scream as it was torn asunder and felt its pain, and there, as if it had always been, was a green mirror… a portal. It was either through the portal or death, so I chose the portal. You know something about this portal?"
"Yes," Sasha replied uncertainly, "You were summoned by Brimir and his tainted magic."
"Brimir? Who is he and why would he summon me?" Asked Teralyn, though there was no malice, just confusion and suspicion.
"It was an accident," Sasha was quick to amend, as to not cause any misunderstandings, "He's very inquisitive of his magic and created a spell to summon and bind a beast to be his companion. It works for others, as many of those who have come of age now have animal companions, but his own tainted magic brought you and another."
"I see… and who is this other?" she questioned.
"I doubt you would know him," Sasha explained, "Eric Shadeslayer did not speak of any Sith Empire or anything else you spoke of. When he was summoned, he was thankful. Much like you, he was being hunted down by someone he has only referred to as 'the Betrayer,' and was very well near death when summoned. Though, we were not sure it would be the same for you. That is why I am here, to make sure you were all right and that you wouldn't kill the barbarian-er Brimir."
Teralyn considered the Elf's words then said, "I will not, you have my vow. Being stuck on a backwater planet is better than the alternatives anyway. What now?"
Sasha gave the Sith a confused look for a moment, before saying, "Well, that's difficult to discern. We could give you supplies to leave, but it is much too dangerous to do so. With the Varyag stalking the plains, you would end up dead within the week"
"I am Sith, and I could weather any beast or man." Teralyn boasted.
Sasha only sighed at the confidence, "While that may be true, the Varyag are not just men, but demons of innumerable numbers who swarm all they oppose. Even now, my people are being killed in droves. They are dangerous, with minds as intelligent as our or even more so, able to adapt to anything we try to use to defeat them. Except, that is, Brimir's tainted magics. It would be best to stick with the tribe, at least for now."
Teralyn hummed, "I would very much like to meet this Brimir."
"He should be in his home. Get dressed and we'll go see him as he would very much like to see you." Said Sasha, moving from her chair to the tent exit, "I'll wait out here for you." And with that, she disappeared behind the tarp.
It was ten minutes before Sasha was joined by Teralyn, and in that time, she had snuck off to grab her own sword. She still did not trust the newcomer as something felt… off with the woman and all she touched.
When the so-called Lord of the Sith left the tent, Sasha found herself surprised by how good the girl cleaned up, but also how intimidating she looked dressed in her armour with her sword by her side. Though, Sasha supposed that anyone would look less intimidating if they were unconscious. Not for the first time had Sasha cast her mind to the origin of the girl and what exactly she would do for or to the tribe. Whatever it was, she would protect those she cared for.
"What's wrong," Teralyn asked, pulling the Elf from her musings.
Cursing internally, Sasha thought she must have been staring a bit too hard and quickly tried to down play her interest, "Nothing" she said with a dismissive wave of the hand, "It's just that I've never seen that type of armour before. It's not Elvish, nor Varyagen, nor Manish."
"This is the battle armour of the Sith!" Teralyn replied pridefully, "It might not be as flashy as some Lords in their golden dress, but it's much more suited for combat. I even made it myself, and the sword." She continued, pulling the blade from its scabbard.
"Oh, damn! That's a nice piece of metal!" shouted a voice with a metallic tinge.
Sasha could only sigh in disappointment, remembering exactly why she hadn't brought her sword into the tent with the Sith. Meanwhile, Teralyn was looking around confused, "Who said that?"
"Down here, lady." The voice called again, though this time, the Sith managed to pinpoint the location of the voice, which happened to be the sword by Sasha's side.
Unsheathing her sword, Sasha held it up for the Sith to see, who immediately become curious, "Your sword talks?"
"Yeah, I do." The sword said, "What? Don't have any talking swords from where you're from?"
"Is it some kind of droid? An Artificial Intelligence perhaps?" Teralyn inquired, looking over the blade with an appraising eye. It may have been primitive in make and metal, but it certainly was some fine craftsmanship.
"Hey, I might be artificial, but I am just as intelligent as you are!"
Ignoring the sword's outburst, Sasha explained, "This is my blade, Derflinger. I made him a while back, sometime after I was contracted."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, now why don't you let me see that sweet sword in your hand?" pressed Derflinger once again.
"My… sword" questioned Teralyn.
"Yeah, I wanna get a better look at that hot piece. Perhaps get to know it better."
The Sith raised an eyebrow, glaring at the sword, "Do not hit on my sword."
"Oh, come on. Can't I admire masterful craftsmanship? I promise I'll be gentle"
"Derflinger, be quiet!" Sasha hissed, sheathing the sword roughly causing the blade to cry out in pain, though it was muffled by the scabbard. "Well, then. Shall we go?" she asked, forcing a smile on her face.
The village was less of a village and more of a large collection of tents, some bigger and some smaller, each with different purposes in mind, though most were housing and storage. Even from the short walk to Brimir's tent had them pass a few goats that ate the long grass around one of the bigger tents used for animal husbandry. That aside, the village itself was completely transportable, built to make it easy to dismantle and move, as was expected of the nomadic tribe.
Soon enough, they arrived at Brimir's tent, one of the highest to represent his status as Chieftain. A blue flag flapped in the wind atop the tent's canopy and it was decorated with a few more furs than others. However, before they could enter, the sound of flapping drew their attention, but before they could see the source, a massive beast descended from the sky, landing on the ground.
Easily towering over the tallest tent in the village, the creature looked like the demonic amalgamation of a bat, serpent and a lizard with its scaly hide of purple hue. To her side, Sasha could see Teralyn tense, tightening her grip on her sword, ready to attack at a moment's notice. But before she could go to blows, a man leapt from its back, dismounting like one would a horse.
The figure was a sandy haired man with sharp eyes and what seemed to be the beginning of a beard growing. He was dressed in leathers, tough leathers, and had his trusty bow and a pike by his side. Stumbling slightly as his feet hit the ground, he quickly pulled himself up and rushed towards the tent, that is, until he noticed Sasha standing there.
"Eric, what has gotten into you!?" A worried Sasha questioned, stopping the man who looked quite alarmed.
"The Varyag, they're coming!"
Sasha noted that all activity around the village, from people doing their chores and jobs to those relaxing, stopped what they were doing. "Are you sure?" she questioned, looking him dead in the eye.
"Yes, I saw their forces coming towards here. At the rate they are moving, I expect them to arrive in the next thirty minutes." Eric replied, looking quite shaken up, "They had their archers shoot at us. The only reason I'm still breathing is because Arael flew higher than their arrows could fly."
"Let's get Brimir."
"No need! I'm right here." A man shouted. Looking over, Sasha saw a grim looking Brimir standing just outside of his tent, dressed in his robes with his wand in hand, "Everybody!" he called, gaining the attention of the silent villagers, "We've faced this threat many times, their arrival was abrupt, but we can't be unfocused at this time. Eric, where were they coming from?"
"South West, Chief," Eric replied dutifully.
Brimir nodded, turning towards the crowd that had gathered around him, Sasha, Eric and Teralyn, until he found who he was looking for, "Lagunaru, find Shinglsier and tell him to form protections on the South East side, and you take the West on the hill. I'll take my Men and face the army. The rest of you, start getting ready to leave!"
"Do you require assistance in the coming battle?" asked Teralyn, speaking for the first time.
"You're the girl I summoned. Are you alright? Can you fight?" asked Brimir, obvious concern for the girl showing.
Teralyn shrugged, "I am Sith, it is what we do."
"Then I guess you're coming with me," Brimir said though he did not look pleased.
"Good. I do not want you lot having all the fun, especially with this headache," Teralyn replied, a cruel smile playing on her lips.
"Okay…" Brimir trailed off, his concern shifting from the girl to those near her, "Everyone move out."
"The Varyag…" Teralyn breathed, looking at the oncoming army. Though the word 'army' was quite the misnomer as it was more like a swarm. The number of those known as the Varyag was unknown, not that anyone wanted to be daunted by the actual knowledge of how many thousands to tens-of-thousands there were. About four hundred metres away, the Varyag were an intimidating and scarily organised foe. Yet they will not be organised for long…
At the front, was what she assumed was cavalry, men dressed in primitive yet intimidating horned helmets and chainmail garbs, with their foot soldiers just beside them dressed similarly. They were all armed with a variety of weapons from pikes to swords, clubs and rectangular shields, with set groups of archers. It all reminded her of a much, much more primitive Sith Army, with the discipline shown and the intimidation factor of the army.
Though, from what she could sense, this 'Markay' tribe was more like the Sith than the Varyag with their… abominable abilities she had seen on the walk over. It was not the Force, that much was sure, especially as each time they used their powers, it seemed like the Force was screaming in pain, but it was similar, if primitive.
It was a word she was describing a lot of things on the new planet she found herself on. If only father had not been so ambitious, if only he had stuck to being a general…
Teralyn shook her head. Now was not the time to be thinking of that, but to be thinking of what was to come. And right now, that ended with the Varyag. She needed to defeat this force so she could finally take a breather and sort out her priorities. Though victory would be hard pressed with the low number of people on her side. Despite the unnatural abilities shown, their dangerous animal companions – ranging from winged beasts they called Dragons, to lizards and serpants writhed in fire, to the more normal Tuk'ata like creatures called wolves or stange floating eyes – and the advent of a Sith Lord, their chances were not likely.
From the front of the army, Teralyn could make out their general, one dressed in the nicer looking armour with the more decorate mount. He slowly raised his right hand before lowering it, causing the advancing army to slow. Then, quite unexpectedly, they began howling like beasts.
Teralyn was taken back by this action, but not because she was scared, but because it was a bit surprising. Part of her wanted to see how well the army would deal with a Sith's scream, one empowered by the Dark Side. She filed this away for later, and focused on the task at hand, which seemed to be 'hold the line.'
Once again, the army began marching, slowly, but upon their tenth step, they howled again. This continued for a few moments until they reached three hundred meters. Tension was high around her, and she could feel the fear, determination and anger around her. All good emotions that would be helpful in the upcoming battle. To her right, she heard Brimir began to speak in a clear tone, "Eoru-Sunu Yarunsakusa…" the language unknown, but the power in the words was simply… invigorating.
Suddenly, her senses tingled, and from the ranks of the Varyag, came arrows. Briefly, the sky darkened as the sheer volume of arrows blanketed the sky, but the Force told her to not move.
Then Sasha spoke up by her side, to the man atop his dragon, "Eric, now would be a nice time!"
"Atra du orya anori raudhr vel iet fjandi medh äfbrisingr!" With those words, the Force screamed, though now little more than a silent cry and the palm of Eric's hand lit up like the sun as the arrows burst into blazing blue flames above them. The projectiles reversed trajectory completely and began to rain fiery death upon the advancing Varyag.
Yet this did not deter the enemy. They continued marching forwards, most intelligent enough to try and block the arrows with their shields. Yet the fire was not normal fire and continued to burn despite the Varyag's attempts to disperse the flames.
As Brimir continued chanting, another storm of arrows launched into the air, only to be blown back and ignited by Eric's sorcery. Yet still, the army marched forwards, this time, forgoing their archers until they reached a distance of one-hundred metres.
The general raised his arm, ready to single what Teralyn assumed was for them to charge, but she would not let such a thing happen. Calling upon a Sith ritual, she summoned the Dark Side of the Force, condensing it in her palm and stretching it out until she had what was known as the Darkshear. Readying herself, she drew back and launched the spear of the Dark Side at the Varyag general before he ordered his men.
The spear hit true, and the man was flung off his horse by an invisible force, a small hole appearing in the centre of his chest.
Silence prevailed the battlefield as everyone's eyes turned to Teralyn, who only smirked defiantly, "Varyag!" she shouted, amplifying her voice with the Force, "Turn back now, or face the full might of the Dark Side!"
For a second, it seemed like the Varyag would have just left that moment, but her hopes were quickly dashed as they howled once again and charged. For a moment, she was surprised that they could move so fast with what seemed like heavy armour but quickly brushed that aside as she unsheathed her sword. She could hear Brimir once again begin chanting and once again, the strange feeling flooded her system, invigorating her once again.
With a feral smile, Teralyn charged into battle with a mighty scream. Her legs carried her across the field with unnatural speed, before she leapt high up into the air and crashed down among a gathering of Varyag.
Teralyn quickly found that her sword was sharper and stronger than any others as she carved their weapons, pikes and swords, in twain while tearing through the Varyag ranks with monstrous ferocity. With her right hand, she summoned storms of lightning of impressive power, unleashing death and destruction wherever she went. Varyag tried to overwhelm her with numbers, but with the Force by her side, she sent them flying. The amount of blood and death was simply delicious to her, so much so, she did not even care that the supposed demons she was killing were actually humans; or, at least near-humans.
She swung her sword, cleaving another Varyag's head from his shoulders, before blasting another with so much lightning she could smell his flesh cook, and all she could do was smile. It was like she had bathed in a nexus of Dark Side energies with all the power that she could feel pumping through her veins, so much power! It was orgasmic. However, annoyingly enough, she soon found the amount of Varyag to kill, halved by the arrival of the elfin lady called Sasha.
Part of her called for the death of the interloper who would dare steal her kills, but she stayed her blade by impaling another Varyag through the face with her Sith Sword. The non-human had saved her life, from the sounds of it, or at least helped in some regard. And despite how the near-human had annoyed her by stripping her of her weapons and armour, she would forgive as it was something she'd do in the same position.
Fire burned around her as she saw Eric with his dragon begin to ignite the Varyag around him while stabbing and hacking those who got around the dragon's weapons with his pike. Him, Teralyn liked as he fought with a strange type of bloodlust one would expect from a beast, and soon, the three converged, bringing death and destruction in their wake.
But it was not enough to stop the Varyag advance, luckily, they were not the only ones on the battlefield as her senses alighted with the Force's screams, though once again dimmer than before. She supposed the Markay had joined the battle.
Then, as she was about to try and find Brimir to see his supposed tainted magic at work, light exploded into existence.
The Taint was unleashed.
An orb of light exploded into existence at the centre of the Varyag forces, and like a hurricane tore through the ranks in an unholy display of chaos and destruction. Sasha, using the abilities gained by the runes, endured the shockwave. Just a way away, she could hear Eric summon a shield to protect him and Arael against the onslaught as well.
Teralyn, however, had no such protections, and stupidly, they had forgotten to inform her of what the Barbarian's tainted magic entailed. Lost in the bodies of Varyag and the burning white light, Sasha prayed for her safety, calling to the spirits to save her.
After the initial shockwave and the winds disappeared, and Sasha could see again, she set out to find Teralyn. Passing the unconscious, dead or otherwise injured Varyag – as their more able-bodied men fled – Sasha soon found the girl, which was quite easy considering her hair colour.
The woman was standing in the field, surrounded by dead Varyag, looking like she was suffering from the worst migraine of the millennium. Quickly, Sasha rushed over to assist her before the Sith fell to the floor in an undignified heap. For some reason, Sasha thought that the girl would not like that.
Not a moment too soon, she arrived, steading the girl. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?" she asked, looking over the girl for any obvious injuries, yet found none.
The Sith did not respond immediately as her eyes rolled around in her head as she tried to focus on the Elf. When she did respond, it was slurred and uncontrolled, "My… head… the Force is screaming. It hurts…"
Then, she promptly collapsed in Sasha's arms.
Hoisting the girl up, Sasha took her back to Brimir, who looked to already be ordering people around. With the battle one, they'd only need to retune back to the village and help pack up the remaining tents. While Teralyn lay in the tender care of Arael, who did not seem to like the Sith, even when unconscious. Not that Sasha could blame her, the ashen grey woman was scary at times.
Soon, the Markay was ready to depart. The Chieftain began chanting, not too dissimilar to how he was before, but the words had changed. It was also shorter, but not by much. With the final syllable, he flourished his wand towards an empty space and from the ground came a doorway leading to new lands with wild trees and hilly landscapes.
A scouting party was ordered through first, then civilians – including the unconscious Sith – than the rest, soon leaving only Sasha and Brimir who made sure everyone else was gone.
And as Sasha the Elf walked through the portal, their unseen observer disappeared as well.
Louise opened her eyes to reveal her bedroom, now fully furnished and decorated with all the items she had collected over her time in the Empire. Which, admittedly, was not a lot. Atop her desk was her personal terminal, Paracelsus' Holocron, her dagger, lightsaber and some of the surviving creations she had forged, turned into a makeshift stand for her other lightsabers.
Lord Ogathu's saber – belonging to the Lord she had killed in Darth Skotia's bunker – was displayed in the forefront, with the Jedi's beside it. The ancient lightsaber was on the other side, with the four sabers of Darth Skotia's apprentices around the three main ones in a tight semicircle. It was all stuck to the desk with a weak adhesive that would break should she pull them off, as Toovee had informed her that any turbulence would likely destroy the project.
All and all, it was a nice art piece that she hoped was a conversation starter.
That aside, she had also hung up the Trandoshan relic on her wall and relocated the banner of the Sith Empire from the bathroom to her bedroom, hanging it up on the wall behind her bed. Other than that, the bedroom was a bit sparse, fit to be filled things from her upcoming endeavours.
Louise stretched, finding her muscles quite tense. She assumed she had been seated for quite a while, and a quick check to her datapad confirmed that fact.
Sufficed to say, that particular session had been… interesting. Seeing her ancestor fight in such a way had been inspiring, to say the least, and she found herself warming up to the woman, though her thoughts on Aloysius were still sour. Away from the more visual aspects of the vision, where the answers she had been given, though many, many more questions came to mind; Who are these mysterious Varyag? Why did they call Brimir's magic tainted? Who is Eric and what magic did he use? Questions, questions, questions, ones Louise could not answer, nor could she find out without delving into the Gandálfr runes again. But even then, there was a chance she could never find out.
Being tied to Sasha the Gandálfr was both a blessing and a curse. She could listen to any conversation she had, learn all the Elf had learned, but aside from that, she could only learn what the Elf had learned, only go where the Elf went, and nothing more.
Standing from the floor, Louise moved and sat at her personal terminal and opened a text document, wanting to record all she could of today's session. She lamented that she should have been donning this since she first got the visions on Korriban. Though I doubt the terminals would have been as protected as a personal one would.
Louise began to type, an awkward thing even now, but it was slowly becoming second nature to her. As her fingers hit the holographic keys, she recounted the events since Teralyn awoke. She recorded the strange headaches Teralyn had, the armour and weapons belonging to her, and included a few paragraphs on the layout of the village. After that, she continued on to recount Eric and the Varyag's arrival and the battle that took place, ending with a short few paragraphs with all she knew of Brimir, Sasha, Eric and her ancestor.
Once again, Louise thanked her ability to retain information as she was now, something that had helped during her studies, both on Korriban and on her home world. Once done, she added a few blank spaces in her document, before writing 'Ancient Spells'. What followed, was Louise trying to recall the spells Eric and Brimir had used. Though she did not know how to spell the words he used and had even forgotten a few of them – while she could retain information, she would still need to listen or read things multiple times to remember them verbatim – she managed to write the incantation mostly phonetically.
Staring at the phonetic mess that she could at least remember how to pronounce (she hoped) she felt the urge to test the spell. Yet she knew she could not. Not without a wand.
Frowning, Louise tried to remember the lecture she had with a paranoid Gallian teacher who explained in her first year how one would create a wand. Yet, she could only remember bits and pieces of the 'ritual'.
Her eyes flickered to her dagger, and something clicked. Taking the Blade of Woe in hand, she began scrutinizing it as her mind worked in overdrive. It certainly looks like wand-like, that is if a Sith designed… it…
Immediately, Louise froze, her heart hammering in her chest. No… it can't be…
The memories of the slave child being killed flashed before her eyes.
Louise dropped the dagger on the desk, somewhat forcefully as it clanked to the desk. After saving and closing the document, she stood up and got dressed. She needed to get her mind away from her homeworld, and to do that on the ship, she decided to go check up on her crew and perhaps get a bite to eat.
Once dressed in her casual clothing, she left her bedroom and headed to the hold.
The ship was quiet, which was expected considering the lack of people aboard, but compared to the other times she had flown in a starship, it was slightly unnerving. However, the lack out noise did not halt Louise as she quickly found herself in the cargo hold. Inside, she found Toovee taking inventory – as she had learned early on, the Droid preferred being thorough when taking stock than dismantled.
"Toovee?" Louise called, frightening the droid a bit.
"Oh, master! I didn't see you there." The droid said, somewhat frightfully. Truly, Louise felt sorry for the droid and wished he would stop acting so skittish around her, but unfortunately, nothing she said had helped, "Is there something you wish?"
"Yes. I wanted something to eat."
"Is there anything you prefer?"
"We only have supplies for a food synthesizer," Louise replied, slightly annoyed, "We discussed this on my first night on this ship. And the night after, and the night after, and the night after, and tonight. Please don't ask until we arrive on a planet when I can actually get some stock." Like I should have done before leaving Dromund Kaas. Stupid dock workers, not stocking my ship up fully…
"Yes, master. I do apologise master." Toovee replied, bowing his head in submission, before leaving to the small kitchenette which housed the food synthesizer.
Louise sighed, looking around the cargo bay as she waited for the droid to finish making dinner. She noted that the cargo had been arranged in different piles, from foodstuffs to supplies and emergency things, to the mysterious recon technology. It did not take long, but Louise did not have much else to do other than wait, so when the droid returned, she was still annoyed at Toovee.
After the droid handed her a small tray with the unappealing reddish-brown paste in the centre, it asked, "Is there anything else, my master?" And her annoyance quickly diapered. How could she stay angry at a droid she was ninety-five presents sure was programmed to sound so pathetic, yet helpful.
Louise scooped up and quickly ate a piece of the paste with the available spoon. It was not gourmet, but it was not slave food either, so she found herself feeling quite 'meh' about the taste. Once she had finished off that spoon full, she answered her droid, "Yes. How long until we arrive at the Japreal system?"
Toovee froze up for a second, before replying, "Approximately three hours from now. Anything else?"
"Stop taking inventory and go to the bridge. I'll join you after making a few calls." Louise ordered.
"Right away master." And with that, the droid left the hold with Louise following a little bit behind. However, as the droid continued on until arriving at the bridge, Louise stopped upon entering the lounge and sat down at the conference table to finish off her food-paste. And with every bite, she prays that she will eventually find a neutral or Empire aligned planet to stock up on. Four and a half days of synthesized food was not good on moral.
Eventually, she finished the nutritious, yet bland paste. Louise then stood up from the table, leaving the tray, and walked to the holoterminal where she quickly navigated the small screen which showed a list of contacts she had saved for ease of access. A short second later, and she had begun calling for her master, Darth Zash.
A few more minutes and the call went through; a large translucent and blue bust of the blonde Sith Lord appeared before her, smiling gleefully, "Is that you, apprentice? Excellent. I assume you're nearing the Onderon System?"
"I am, master. Just three more hours." Louise answered with a nod.
"Good, good. Now, I hope you're ready because you've got your work cut out for you. First, you will need to sneak by the various sensors and scanners to arrive safely on Dxun without the eye of the Republic or Jedi falling on you. For that, I've made things easy, though it came at a high cost. While the ship is not built for stealth, it is one of the higher end models with a few tricks up its sleeve. Your droid should be able to help inform you of most of the little additions this model has.'
"As for the planet itself. Well, this mission will take some time. The Jedi have not dug too deep into the temple, so you're going to have to watch their progress. I've taken the liberty, as you have no doubt noticed, to supply your ship with Reconnaissance supplies; two drones, a few bugs, and some camouflage gear…"
And you couldn't give me actual food. Louise grumbled while trying to keep up the appearance of a loyal apprentice. Bet your plan was to have me kill myself over poor food. Well, you-
"Also, considering what I've heard and seen of your skill with a blaster, I've also bought you a sniper rifle, just in case you need the assistance." Continued Darth Zash.
Forgiven! Louise almost shouted, her lips twisting into a feral smile as she tried to resist the urge to tear apart the crates filled with recon gear to get at the rifle, "Thank you, master, for the assistance."
"Now, what kind of master do you think I am? I need to give you an edge with this mission, especially considering your behind Republic lines." Zash said, smiling ever so benevolently, "Now, as I said, it will take some time before the Jedi will breach the main chamber, allowing you to get the stone – perhaps a week or a month – but once that is done, get the stone at any cost."
Louise nodded along, inwardly shocked by how long this mission was going to take, but then paused, "Are you sure the stone is there, master?"
"I am, my apprentice. I am quite sure about this," replied Zash, "Now, I have some business to attend to here. Good luck" Before Louise could even say another word, the hologram of her master vanished and the next second, Louise too had vanished to the cargo bay.
While it might have been easier to get Toovee to do so, Louise wanted to be a bit more independent and so she set out to try and find the sniper rifle all one her own. There were four main crates in the 'recon' pile, two of which were heavy and filled with the probes, the other two were other such supplies. It was in the last crate, filled with camo gear, macrobinoculars and a few other things, that she found the sniper rifle. While it was an off the shelf, mass produced Imperial rifle, it was the fact that she had one that counted.
Imperial weaponry, despite what the Republic said, was quite formidable and were not cheap at all, especially weapons reserved for higher ranking Imperials. So, Louise was quite sure, this could puncture through good quality armour if aimed at the right places. The rifle was only three heads smaller than her, with a simplistic pragmatic design common among all Imperial weapons, and was quite susceptible to modifications due to the needs of those high in the Imperial chain. With these thoughts, Louise knew the weapon would be a formidable tool, especially if she wanted to murder someone far away.
With the sniper in hand, Louise went back to the holoterminal to contact the second person on her list: Lyira.
This time, Louise did not have to wait nearly as long as she did for Darth Zash, and soon, Louise saw the pureblood's face smiling down at her, "Hello, Lou."
"Hello, Lyira." Louise replied with a smile, "I'm calling to let you know that I'll be 'going dark' soon. In an hour or two I'll be in the Japrael system, and I don't want the Republic knowing I'm there."
"I understand. I do hope you can complete that mission soon, though. I wanted to finish off what happened on Dromund Kaas."
Louise felt her cheeks flush red as she remembered what the Sith was implying, a smile creeping on to her lips; what was left uncompleted on Dromund Kaas had been something that Louise had thought much about during the late hours on the ship, and at times she could not help but curse Vette's name the more she thought about it. However, her smile quickly became a frown as she remembered, "Darth Zash said that this mission might take up to a month to complete."
"A month? Really?" Asked Lyira with a frown of her own.
"I know, I'll try to visit Dromund Kaas right after this mission, though." Said Louise.
The pureblood shook her head, "I'm no longer on Dromund Kaas. I'm on my way to Balmorra. Darth Baras seemed to have taken a page from your master's book and gave me a ship and a job to do."
"Really? That's great… well, aside from the Balmorra part," Louise replied, "I still hear there's some resistance going on over there."
"Yeah, there is. But hopefully I can help lessen the fighting," said Lyira
"Well, be careful. I want to see you and your ship back in one piece."
"I should be the one who's worried, miss I'm-going-into-Republic-space-on-a-stealth-mission."
"I didn't know my name was that long. I thought I shortened it."
"Oh, yes, miss Louise Françoise de Blanc de La Vallière."
"I'm not her anymore, Lyira. It'd be more fitting if I where Louise de La Kallig, or… something." Louise replied grimly.
"It sounds much more Sith like… I actually think I recognise that name."
"Yeah, it's my ancestor's last name," said Louise before standing up straight and waving at the hologram, "Hello, I'm Louise de La Kallig, heir apparent of Lord Aloysius Kallig." Her tone was joking, but the bitterness still seeped into her voice.
Lyira paused for a moment, looking as if she were going through a list in her head, before crying out, "You're a descendant of a Sith Lord!? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Slipped my mind," said Louise, smiling faintly at what exactly had caused her to let that piece of information slip.
"Well, at least mum and dad would approve," Lyira replied.
"As would mine."
There was a lull in the conversation, but it was quickly ended by Lyira asking a question, "I have to ask, what do you have there?"
"My brand-new sniper rifle. Darth Zash gave it to me, along with some recon stuff." Louise said as she lovingly caressed the rifle.
Lyira smiled cheekily, "Well, you look absolutely adorable with it."
"I'm not adorable. I'm deadly!" Louise pouted.
"Sure you are."
She smiled at the playful jab, but it quickly turned to a frown once again as she remembered her mission, "Well, I have to go, Lyira. I need to be briefed on the plan for sneaking onto Dxun."
For a second, Lyira looked detected, but quickly smiled and said, "Bring me back something nice!"
"I'll try, but you have to bring me back something as well!" Louise replied.
"I will. I love you."
"I love you, too, and may the Force serve you well." The hologram of Lyira flickered out of existence, and Louise found herself slightly disappointed. Nevertheless, she repositioned her rifle before walking to the bridge where she found Khem seated in the co-pilot's chair while Toovee did something on a nearby terminal.
"What you up to, Khem?" Louise asked, passing the Dashade by as she sat on the captain's chair.
"I have been familiarising myself with the ship's controls, like you should have been doing, Pink Sith," Khem replied.
Pouting, Louise defended herself, "I've been busy researching how to properly sneak passed scanners and learning my biology… and other things that have occupied my time."
Khem shook his head, "One should always be familiar with how their ship works, Pink Sith."
"Yes, Khem. Now, how have you been these past few days?" Louise asked, "You don't join me for dinner and you've been busy when I've tried to talk."
"I do not need your worry, pink Sith."
"Fine," Louise huffed turning to the droid in the room, "Toovee, can you fill me in on the plan for sneaking by the Republic?"
"Yes, master. First, we will…" What followed was a long explanation, some of which Louise knew of already, of each step they would take to arrive on Dxun undisturbed. While the plan sounded simple, it still put her on edge as she thought about it.
The first step was something Louise had already anticipated; leave hyperspace early so the radiation caused will not be picked up by scanners. It was the first rule of arriving undetected into a solar system, yet many seem to forget it. Once that was done, all non-essential systems would be shut down and the built-in scramblers and other stealth systems would engage to make the ship practically invisible to any sensors – aside from direct line of sight. The final step was to hide between planets and moons to keep out of view.
Aside from the stealth systems, the plan was similar to what Louise had managed to cook up, and would take about the same extremely long amount of time to complete. Louise just knew that she would have to go toilet before they exited hyperspace, lest she need to go at an important moment.
And as the explanation ended, Louise was told that they were only thirty minutes away from exiting hyperspace. With those thoughts in mind, she quickly made a pitstop at the loo before getting dressed in her robes, just for appearance sake. Not a moment too soon, as the second she left her bedroom, the ship leached to a halt, entering real space once more.
Entering the bridge again and taking the captain's chair, Louise saw the Japrael system in all its glory. Eight planets' orbiting the large yellow star known as Prael, all floating in the void of space. It was a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight
Now, it was time to try and fly to Dxun. Louise wrung her hands together, nervous about the upcoming part of the mission. It was now or never, and a miss calculation could spell danger for her and her 'crews' wellbeing. The ship, set to move at a snail's pace, all non-essences powering down with a noticeable fading hum as the stealth systems engaged.
Despite the ships slow speed, it arrived at the closest planet they could see. Which, according to her datapad, was Caloma; the sixth planet orbiting the star.
Darkness enveloped the ship as they flew into the dark side of the planet. Using the Force, Louise reached out with her senses, feeling the nexus of energy that connected and bound the galaxy together. It was like looking into the neurological path ways of a brain – something Louise had the fortune to have seen on the holonet – pulses of energy zipping across the fabric of space-time, sending waves of cosmic energy everywhere in waves.
Deep within meditation, she pushed her senses out to feel anything nearby, but found nothing of note. All she could sense was the Force teeming from the gigantic gas giant the ship was desperately trying to not get caught in. An unease filled Louise's heart as the ship drew closer to the gas giant, the knowledge that the gravity and pressure alone would damage or destroy her ship being quite a deterrent from flying too close. Soon enough, this nervousness became too much to bear and interrupted her attempts at meditation, "Toovee, are we not able to hide among the moons?"
"Yes, master." The droid replied, and nearly thirty minutes later, Louise allowed herself to breathe properly as the ship steered clear of the planet, pulling around one of the twenty or so moons the gas giant held, soon hopping to the next planet on their way to Onderon: Fillata.
The flight was as slow going as ever and trying on Louise's patients, however, upon arrival to the toxic planet, quickly amended that her patients could use some work as she felt something brush against her senses in the cold void. Heart rate sparking, Louise whispered harshly at her droid, "I sense someone arriving, hide us quickly!"
"You needn't whisper, master. The idea that they could have bugged our ship with sensors to pick up this conversation is three-point-one billion to one."
Louise stared at the droid for a moment, factoring the numbers in before coming to the conclusion that the odds of that happening were useless next to the fact that they needed to hide, "I don't care! Just get us down on that moon over there."
The droid complied, yet did not pick up speed other than switching trajectory, quickly landing to one of the closer moons of Fillata. Despite the slow process, they eventually landed on the creamy white dust ball of a moon. Delving deep into her meditation as quickly as possible, which still took around three minutes, Louise stretched out her senses to try and find the presence in the Force, searching along the nexus paths and following the ebb and flow until she found it.
It was a small collection of blips, living creatures in a star ship. Other than that, she was blind as to who or what they were and could only speculate that they were flying towards the planet because they had picked her up on some sensor. It was then Toovee decided to interject, "Master, I am picking up some signals coming from a nearby ship. They seem to be searching for us. But I doubt they know we are here. I advise we wait for them to pass by."
And so, they waited, and waited, and waited. Louise had taken to fiddling with her sniper rifle, taking it apart then putting it back together subconsciously with either the Force or by hand. She needed something to do, and at this rate, she was glad to have her rifle as it stopped her from pulling her hair out.
Just out of view, she could sense the blips of life flying around her, from moon to moon they flew, but strangely enough, they never flew too close to any of them. Louise supposed they were lazy people just doing as they were told, but not really putting any effort in. Just in it for the money to feed their children. That is, if they were security.
After what seemed like hours, but had only been one, the ship left her immediate sensors, though it was left unsaid that they would wait an hour more to make sure they were truly gone. During that hour, Louise had quickly stopped for a drink, and another bite to eat as it was getting late on her internal clock.
But eventually, they renewed their journey to Onderon, and by extension, the Demon Moon. This time, there were no convenient planets to hide behind, but just the wide-open space of the Japreal system. It was the most nerve racking experience this day, as L'Inquisiteur flew through the void one that she would not forget as she sipped on her water to try and alleviate stress.
Yet the closer they got to Onderon, the more stress flushed through her. From the cockpit, she could only make out a few grey and red spots surrounding the green haze of the planet. She could tell they were ships, some different types of builds ranging from Republic to Onderonese. Fitting, considering their allegiance.
At this moment, Louise desperately hoped that they would not be able to pick up her ship on any sensors. Still, she ordered Toovee to pull the ship around one of the closer moons, making sure that the planetoid would block any line-of-sight sensors.
The droid did as commanded, and Louise once again had the wonderful time of stressing out in her captain's chair, reaching out to sense any nearby ships that could prove to be annoyances. Soon enough, they arrived near Dxun.
As the ship approached the moon, Louise could feel the Dark Side reach out to her. The moon felt like Dromund Kaas, if on a smaller scale with the pure Dark energies that flowed from it, stimulating her. Recalling all she could about the moon, she knew it to be the resting place of the Sith Lord Freedon Nadd and the stage for a key battle during the Mandalorian war and the Dark Wars.
Still, Louise felt annoyance rise up within as she considered the husk the star system had become. It had once been ruled by a powerful Sith Lord and his descendants whose nature had bled into the very people of Onderon. Now the Onderonese people were losing their roots, becoming little more than Republic dogs. Nevertheless, Louise was pleased that the planet was so alive with the Dark Side, as it would help hide her presence from the Jedi below.
Soon, the ship broke through the atmosphere of the Demon Moon which was when Toovee chose to speak up again, "Master, we will be flying as close as we can to mask our presence to their sensors."
"Would their sensors not pick us up as we do that?" Louise asked.
The droid bobbed its head, "Yes, master. I estimate that they have already spotted us already."
"What!?" the Pinkette screeched.
"I apologise, master, I had assumed you knew this," Toovee said, "I will amend to not make that mistake again."
"Enough of that, hide us!"
"Yes, master. I have found us a suitable place, an abandoned outpost nearby. Do you wish us to land there?"
"Yes, yes. Do it!" The ship quickly flew down, close to the tree line, so close in fact, that Louise swore she could touch the trees had she been hanging from the bottom of the ship as it passed harmlessly overhead. Nevertheless, the tree line soon broke revealing a small clearing of buildings. They were old in design, and obviously an old form of Mandalorian, near makeshift in make – Briefly, she recalled a bit of history concerning the Jedi Exile who brought the Sith Duumvirate to its knees. Though the entire compound was over grown with vegetation. There was really no place to hide, that is until she spotted a hanger, the door ajar held open by several large roots or vines.
"Toovee, is that hanger big enough for us to land in?" Louise asked her droid companion quickly.
"One moment, master." The droid looked to the hanger just ahead of them for a moment, before answering, "Yes master, it will fit our ship, however, there will be little room for anything else."
"Do it." The ship, only flying on the repulsors, hovered into the hanger, inch by inch, until she felt the ship lower, jostling as it landed. Yet Louise did not allow herself to cheer, as overhead, she sensed blips of life and the sounds of a shuttle fly quickly above them. As this happened, she tried to keep herself as quiet as possible, even shushing the droid when he tried to speak.
Despite knowing better, she was still paranoid that the Jedi would be able to hear her. However, after twenty minutes of complete silence, only broken by Khem's nigh-inaudible grumbling, did Louise allow anything to cause noise. This happened in the from her droid, "Master, I wish to amend myself. They merely picked us up on their scanners."
"And?" Louise asked, glaring down at the droid who wilted under the gaze.
Despite being unable to stutter, the droid sure sounded like it wanted to as it said, "It means that they do not know we are here, but that something big enough to trip their scanners has flown by."
"So, they don't know we are here?" inquired Louise, raising an eyebrow.
"They would be suspicious."
Louise sighed a long-suffering and tired sigh as she collapsed into the captain's chair. She really, really did not want to do anything like that again, and was pleased that the escape plan was just 'fly very fast out of the system'. It was not as stealthy, but at least it would not be tedious.
"I'm tired. Get the probes set up and make sure I am not disturbed unless it's an emergency – and by emergency, I mean Jedi." She then turned to Khem, "If anything attacks our ship, brutally murder it, unless it's sentient. I don't want to be disturbed."
For the first time during the flight to Dxun, Louise saw Khem smile, "With pleasure, Pink Sith."
"Good. Now I am going to go to bed. This has been a tiring trip."