Chapter 2


Zakuul


"Hold on tight." Said Xigolo as he landed on a landing dock before taking off again for a higher one. Xildroll just looked around, looking for anyone that might be trying to catch them.

"This extraction point, is it close?" Asked Xildroll, not exactly happy that he was a damsel in distress.

"Just need to do two more jumps." Said Xigolo. "Hopefully Koth and the others have it secured. If they don't, we're going to have to fight until they do." Xildroll groaned at that. Despite his abilities with the force, he was still weak, weakened from the Carbonite freezing. If they had to fight, they better not fight any powerful force users.

While Xigolo was a capable bounty hunter, able to take down both Sith and Jedi warriors, he wasn't powerful enough to face someone like Darth Malgus or Marr in a one to one fight. In fact, during the battle against Darth Malgus, he and the other non-force users were, essentially, stuck supporting Xildroll and other force users like the Hero of Tython and the Emperor's Wrath while they did the work on Malgus.

If this Vaylin was as powerful as Lana indicated she was, then they had no chance.

"Hold on tight cause I just ran out of fuel." Said Xigolo as his backpack and thruster packs ran out of fuel, sending them crashing to their destination. Grunting, Xigolo covered Xildroll as they tumbled onto the landing platform. Once they stopped rolling, Xigolo lifted Xildroll up and escorted him to the designated platform.

"Koth! We're at the extraction point! Where are you!?" Asked Xigolo as they went to the landing platform, seeing no ship or Koth anywhere.

"Uhh, little busy!" Yelled Koth as he maneuvered his ship from laser fire coming from a Zakuul fighter. "Got a bogey on our tail! Give me a minute to shake him off!"

"We don't have a minute!" Yelled Xigolo. "Just give HK a missile launcher and he'll take the fighter out!"

"Are you kidding?! I'm not trusting that robot with a launcher after last time!" Said Koth as he did an aileron role. "And don't bring up the Jawa! I'm also not trusting him!"

"You bastard! If we die here because of your mistrust, I'm going to beat your ass up once you come to the afterlife!" Yelled Xigolo.

"Duly noted!" Yelled Koth as he continued to evade the fighter.

"Stupid Zakuulian." Said Xigolo as he went over to Xildroll, who was leaning on some crates. "Looks like we're staying here for a while. Got any questions to pass the time?"

"What happened to the others? The Empire's wrath? Cypher Nine?" Asked Xildroll as he looked at Xigolo. Upon seeing him sigh, Xildroll knew it was bad.

"They're dead. Along with all the other Republic heroes. The slayer of the emperor. The leader of the rift alliance. The Voidhound. The leader of Havoc squad. They're all dead. Died in the war against the Eternal empire." Said Xigolo.

"How?" Asked Xildroll, stunned beyond belief. Those six were some of the greatest warriors and force-users in the galaxy. How could they fall to the Eternal Empire?

"Things went to hell after you and Marr were gone." Said Xigolo. "About a day after you guys went missing, the Eternal Empire declared that you assassinated their emperor before declaring war on us. About a second after that, give or take, massive fleets of star ships invaded key systems in both the Empire and the Republic, taking them with minimal losses. Isotope-5 equipped ships. Silencer dreadnaughts. Voss Mystics. Weapons that helped turn the tide in the Galactic War only slowed the Eternal Empire advance. Within a year, they blockaded both Dromund Kaas and Coruscant. That pretty much ended the war and both sides surrendered within the beginning of the 2nd year. And because of the war, both governments have to pay a heavy tithe to Zakuul, usually in raw materials." Xildroll couldn't believe it. All his work in getting the Silencer project going. The Isotope-5 operation. It all was for naught.

"What happened to Moff Pyron and my silencers?" Asked Xildroll. The old Moff was a competent officer and a man he respected.

"Don't worry, just because I said your silencers only slowed them down, doesn't mean they all went boom. The old man is still alive, and the majority of your silencers are fine. I can confirm that much. Last I heard, empress Acina last orders to him and your fleet was head for the unknown regions of space to rebuild the empire's military." Though he was relieved to hear that, he was confused to hear that Acina was empress.

"Acina is empress?" Asked Xildroll, recalling the woman that was the latest dark council member in charge of the Sphere of technology, after the deaths of the others that took the seat.

"Oh yeah, your number two girlfriend slash fellow council member is now the queen bitch of the entire Sith empire. No offense to you and her." Said Xigolo. Growling a bit at how Xigolo titled Acina as queen bitch, Xildroll motioned him to continue.

"Anyway, she became empress without much argument from the other Sith. Reason why was because nearly everyone else in the council was dead or missing. Mortis, being the coward he is, ran away when the Eternal Empire came for Dromund Kaas, abandoning the world to save his own hide. Ravage, out of stupidity, fought them on Korriban when they came for it and got him and his fleet killed. Out of all the remaining councils, only Vowrawn remained and he supported Acina's ascension to the throne. No idea why. Then again, the guy is getting it with the age, even with the force on his side. Whatever the reason is, he and Acina surrendered to the Eternal Empire once they came for Dromund Kaas, sparing the city from a lot of destruction. Some Sith call them cowards for it, but honestly, they made the right call. Not like the Republic."

"What do you mean?" Asked Xildroll, wondering what the Republic did in the war.

"Know that bitch Twi'lek Chancellor? The green one with a name starting with S?" Asked Xigolo.

"You mean Saresh?" Asked Xildroll, feeling anger at the mention of the Twi'lek chancellor.

"Yeah, crazy bitch kept fighting against the Eternal Empire even when Coruscant was blockaded. To make matters worse, during the war, she fought both Sith Empire and the Eternal Empire, wasting resources for both sides." Said Xigolo, shaking his head at Saresh, remembering how he had to save a vital Imperial space station from a Republic fleet that was supposed to protect Balmorra while the Eternal Empire was attacking Balmorra. "If it wasn't for the Republic Senate impeaching her and replacing her with a more level-headed guy, Coruscant would be in a state even worse than what you Sith pulled during the first Galactic War." Xildroll growled in anger at Saresh. Was she that short-sighted in her hate to ignore the fact that there was another empire that wanted both Republic and Sith Empire blood.

"What about the heroes. The Hero to Tython? The Empire's Wrath? What happened to all of them?" Asked Xildroll.

"*Sighs* Remember how we used to say that, if we were all together, both Empire and Republic heroes, no one can stand against us?" Asked Xigolo. Upon seeing Xildroll nod, he continued. "Well, the others didn't. Because they all died separate from each other." Xigolo sighed again, remembering everyone and how they died. "The Barsen'thor, think that's how you say it, died when the Eternal Empire attacked Balmorra. Since Balmorra was a part of his Rift Alliance, he had to defend it. Even with his Esh-kha horde, the Voss mystics in his command, and his own Force powers, he couldn't turn the tide. From what I've heard, he sacrificed himself to buy time for civilians and wounded to escape."

"He always was selfless." Said Xildroll.

"Damn straight." Said Xigolo. "As for Havoc squad and Cypher nine. They were sent in to attack Arcann himself. They had no chance in a straight up fight, so they infiltrated into his flagship with a stolen shuttle and tried to overload the reactor, taking out Arcann." Xigolo then clenched his fists. "But somehow, I don't know how, Arcann figured out their plan and was waiting for them in the reactor room with some of his best knights. They retreated, but they knew Arcann would be on their tail in a matter of moments. So, to make sure that some of them escape, the Meteor along with his droid and his Weequay sealed themselves in a room with Arcann. They died to ensure that the others escape." He sighed again. "The fact that Cypher Nine escaped and not him was a sore point for the Republic and they never worked with the Sith Empire ever again."

"The hero of Tython and the Voidhound? What about them?" Asked Xildroll.

"Coruscant happened. If Saresh hadn't ordered the fleet to attack, they might still be alive and be here getting you out." Said Xigolo, causing hatred to burn in both him and Xildroll for Saresh. "Smuggler bastard and his whole fleet tried their best, but they got overwhelmed by the sheer number of ships that Arcann brought for Coruscant. Crazy bastard smashed his own ship to stop an Eternal empire battlegroup from bombarding Coruscant with turbolaser fire. Took them all out, but he lost his life. As for the Hero of Tython. He faced Arcann himself. Alone. None of his crew around to help him out. He ordered them to help evacuate or save people from the Eternal Empire. His lover, Kira, claimed they fought for hours until eventually, due to exhaustion from fighting the Eternal Empire on Coruscant for days, he fell, his head sliced off by Arcann."

"Arcann fought him to a standstill?" Asked Xildroll in disbelief. The hero of Tython was the strongest of the four Republic heroes. Out of the four Sith heroes, only the Empire's wrath was able to match him in force powers and skills. While Xildroll outmatched him in force power, that was his only thing. The hero of Tython bested him in martial skill and will power, something that was not so an easy feat. Even Marr was reluctant to face the Hero of Tython in battle. To hear, Arcann not only fought him to a standstill but best him, left Xildroll quiet. After a minute, he spoke again.

"Cypher Nine and the wrath are dead too, aren't they?" Asked Xildroll. Xigolo nodded.

"Yeah, they fell on Korriban. They faced Vaylin, the one that Lana was scared about. Even with their combined power, they fell to her." Said Xigolo, frustration in his voice. "Bitch fought them when they were exhausted from fighting Zakuul knights and droids. If she faced them when they were at their best, she would be dead." Xigolo sighed.

"What about you? How did you survive?" Asked Xildroll. Xigolo sighed.

"I was on Alderaan during all this, protecting House Thul and Girard from the Eternal Empire. Officially it was because house Thul paid for my assistance. Unofficially…*Sighs* wanted to protect my kids and wives." Xildroll shook his head at that.

Some years ago, during a celebration of house Thul over some great battle against Organa, that Xildroll, having been invited along with Xigolo to attend, learned that Xigolo had gotten the head of house Girard, a supporter of House Thul, pregnant along with Lady Elana, someone that helped him during his time as an apprentice to Lord Zash. Upon hearing that, he shocked his friend hard, claiming he better be paying child support. Xigolo just said he deserved that before falling unconscious.

To the Empire's wrath horror and Xildroll's disappointment, both Lady Elana and lady Aitalla were fine with it, even open to the idea of Xigolo falling in love with another woman. Alderaanian nobles.

Shaking his head as he remembered how conflicted he was upon hearing of it, Xildroll looked at Xigolo.

"Are they both alive?" Asked Xildroll.

"Yeah. Aitalla, Elana, and the kids are fine." Said Xigolo. "Alderaan wasn't hit as bad as Balmorra or Correlia, but the Eternal Empire sent enough ships for Thul to hire me and some of the best mercenaries in the payroll. We fought a good fight, but Acina eventually ordered Thul and the Imperial garrison to surrender. Smart move, because the Eternal empire sent a big fleet on us just days after that declaration. Organa, likely due to Saresh, fought them and paid for it dearly. Lot of jedi and republic soldiers died that day and Organa isn't too happy with the Republic. Anyway, both houses are still fighting, but Arcann doesn't care. Long as they pay their tithe on time." Xigolo shook his head. "All in all, things are going to hell." Xildroll couldn't help but lower his head, wrapping his head in astonishment.

"What about my crew? Are they fine?" Asked Xildroll.

"Yeah. They're…" Xigolo couldn't say anymore when he spotted some Skytroopers coming at them. "Shit. Koth better be here soon." He then brought out his blasters before aiming them at the incoming Skytroopers. "About god damn time you droids showed up. I was playing twenty questions for at least ten minutes. Are they skipping out on processors?" He then looked around, counting at least a dozen Skytrooper droids. "*Scoffs* You're going to need more than droids to take me on." As if to punish him, two men in golden armor appeared, their blue visors burning brightly. "Shit. Knights of Zakuul."

"Knights?" Asked Xildroll as he got up behind some crates, ready to fight if he had to.

"Force users. Basically, force users that are special police dogs." Said Xigolo as he aimed his blasters at the knights. "Only sending two? I'm a little offended. You need a lot more if you want face us." The knight didn't listen and faced the two as the droids surrounded both Xigolo and Xildroll.

"Outlander! You're guilty of assassinating our immortal emperor!" Yelled the bigger knight. Xildroll can feel the hatred coming from both knights.

"And you are guilty of freeing him!" Yelled the shorter one. "Surrender now and face judgement for your crimes!"

"Blah blah blah." Said Xigolo. "Can you knights do anything other than talk? Here's my answer for both of us." Xigolo then blasted two droids before going to the ground and firing a missile at the feet of four, taking them out. Xildroll, confident that he healed enough, unleashed force lightning on the remaining six, destroying them and sending robotic parts all over the landing pad.

"So be it!" Yelled the shorter one before bringing out a staff, which soon emitted a single blue blade from a tip. He then charged at Xigolo, who rolled out of the way and fired at the knight, keeping his distance from the force user.

The bigger one went for Xildroll, also bringing out a lightsaber pike, charging at the Sith with righteous fury. Sending force lightning, Xildroll watched as the knight used his pike to endure the lightning as he got close. Gritting his teeth, Xildroll used one hand to send a crate against the knight, only for the knight to force jump out of the way. Looking up, Xildroll rolled out of the way as the knight slammed his pike at the floor where Xildroll used to be.

Seeing him try to get his pike out of the floor, Xildroll sent force lightning again at the knight, this time landing a hit.

Screaming, the knight endured the lightning and used the force to send a crate at Xildroll. Sensing it, Xildroll used the force to hold the crate in place, inches from his body. Overwhelming the knight's own hold on the crate, Xildroll sent it flying at the shocked knight, forcing him away from his pike and away from his lightning.

Xildroll was about to cast more lightning when waves of pain coursed through his body.

"Not now!" Thought Xildroll as the pain prevented him from concentrating. Despite the fact his opponent was weak, the knight decided it was time to leave. Force jumping to another platform, he yelled his companion to retreat before taking off.

Unfortunately, his companion was too engaged in his fight with Xigolo to hear him. The knight was deflecting bolt after bolt as Xigolo tried to keep him back. He tried firing a missile at the knight, but the knight jumped toward him, aiming his pike at Xigolo's heart.

Stopping himself from firing his missile, Xigolo jumped back to avoid the pike, but the knight, anticipating this threw his pike at Xigolo.

Widening his eyes in shock, Xigolo tried to avoid it, but the pike still managed to hit his right calf. Yelling out in pain, Xigolo went to the ground in pain as the pike stayed in his calf. As the knight approached the bounty hunter, he spoke.

"This is what happens to all that defy Zakuul!" Yelled the knight as he grabbed his pike from Xigolo's calf. He was about to send it crashing through his head, when another pike was sent through his chest.

"Not this time." Said Xildroll before sending the pike deeper into the knight's chest. As the knight choked on his own blood, Xigolo aimed one of his blasters at the Knight's head and peppered it with energy bolts, killing him. As the knight fell to the ground in a slump, Xigolo got up, ignoring the pain in his calf, before firing more bolts at the knight.

"Damn. Please tell me you can heal me." Said Xigolo as he went to the ground to examine his calf.

"Yeah. Just give me a moment." Said Xildroll as he went over to Xigolo, ignoring the pain coursing through his body. Knelling down, he healed Xigolo's calf using the dark side. Once he was done, the wound was completely healed.

"Force powers. Really useful." Said Xigolo as he got up. "Koth better be here before more show up." To ask the man himself, Xigolo contacted Koth using his helmet. "Koth, you better be quick. They found us. And it's only a matter of time before Vaylin shows up."

"Don't worry. We lost our bogey. We're coming to pick you up. Just give us under three minutes." Said Koth as he piloted the ship to the extraction point.

"Three minutes!? That was what you said while that guy was on our tail! And it took ten minutes for you to…" Xigolo cut the comms off before he could hear more, not interested at all to hear the argument. Looking over at Xildroll, he saw him looking over the city that they were in.

"Thinking?" Asked Xigolo as he went over to his friend.

"Yes." Said Xildroll. "So much has changed. Much not for the better. Can we really win against this Eternal Empire?"

"Not sure, but it's better than not trying at all." Said Xigolo, causing Xildroll to nod. Before they could speak more, Xildroll sensed a power presence in the force. Something that reminded him greatly of the Sith Emperor.

Looking over his shoulder, Xildroll saw a woman with black clothing coming over to them, a squad of Skytroopers with her.

"Ah shit. Vaylin." Said Xigolo as he brought out his blasters.

"The same one that killed the Empire's wrath?" Asked Xildroll as he readied for a fight. Even from here, he could feel her immense powers with the Force. It surpassed even his own force powers when he had all four ghosts of previous Sith lords in his body.

"The same." Said Xigolo as he backed off. "We can't fight her. We need to run." Normally, Xildroll would comment on this, but Xigolo was right. With his weakened state and him out of fuel for his thrusters, they weren't ready to take this Vaylin on. Especially if her presence in the force is an indication of her power. As the two backed away, Vaylin laughed.

"So, this is the great Darth Imperius? One of the greatest Sith in his generation." Said Vaylin, examining Xildroll. "I'm not impressed. Your friend, the Empire's wrath, was more impressive than you. He was able to give me some fun before he died along with that blue-skinned alien. I hope you can do the same." Fury gathering in him for what she said about his friends, Xildroll was about to launch lightning on her when a gunship appeared before him.

"Get down!" Yelled Koth as the gunship fired its guns at Vaylin and her guards. Though the Skytroops were easily dealt with, Vaylin managed to rip a piece of metal from the landing pad to shield herself.

"Run! To the ship!" Yelled Xigolo as he rushed toward the bay doors of the gunship. Xildroll, knowing when to retreat, ran with Xigolo as the gunship's doors went fully down. As Xigolo entered the gunship, Vaylin launched her piece of metal at the gunship, damaging it, causing fires to come from both the outside and inside of the ship, sending it in an uncontrollable spin, just as Xildroll made it in.

As the ship spun, Xildroll was sent tumbling out and nearly fell if it wasn't for Xigolo and another, slimmer hand.

"Got you!" Yelled Xigolo as he pulled his Sith friend up. "Mako, don't let go!" Looking up, Xildroll could see that the other hand that grabbed him was Xigolo's tech specialist and closets compatriot, Mako.

"Come on!" Yelled Mako as they lifted him up with great effort. Once they did, they quickly got out of the landing ramp and into the ship. Closing the ramp, Mako went over to a raging fire that was currently being attended to by a Jawa and a yellow and black HK unit.

"Koth get us the fuck out of here!" Yelled Xigolo as he went over to the cockpit.

"You think I'm not trying to do that!?" Asked Koth as he stabilized the ship enough for it to fly them out of here. "Just need to get out of the city and we're free." Just as he said that, he flew past some anti-air guns, which began tracking them and open fired on them, hitting them several times, causing more fires to break out.

"Damnit." Said Koth as alarms blared out throughout the ship. "Come on. Come on."

"We're going to die." Deadpanned Xigolo as he braced himself for a fiery explosion. "And I wanted to see my kids grow up." Before Xildroll could force lightning him, the anti-air guns suddenly stopped firing. As everyone tried to comprehend this, Xigolo got a transmission from a secure line. Knowing who it was, Xigolo answered.

"Some guns that were firing on us stopped. That your doing, Lana?" Asked Xigolo.

"T7 is staying behind to monitor Zakuul. Good decision because it looks like he managed to save your lives." Said Lana as she flew a small Zakuul fighter. "I'm tracing your transmission right now, I'll be there as soon as possible."

"Good, I want to see that cute face of yours." Said Xigolo, causing both Mako and Lana to scoff at him. After ending the call, Xigolo looked at Xildroll. "Let's get back to twenty questions."

"Uh can you do that after we clear the fires?" Asked Mako as she put one out and went to another.

"Nope." Said Xigolo as he looked at Xildroll. "Besides, he needs to know what happened to his crew." Xildroll nodded before speaking.

"Where's Ashara? Khem?" Asked Xildroll.

"Relax man. They're all fine." Said Xigolo. "Khem, along with Andronikos, is waiting for us on some planet called Asylum. Place is free from Eternal Empire forces, so we should be safe there. For a time anyway." He then heard an explosion coming from the other side of the ship. "That is if we can actually get there in one piece." As the Jawa from before went to fix their ship, Xigolo continued. "As for Ashara…I don't know where she is. About a month after you went missing, she left, not telling us where she's going. She's still alive, from what my sources told me, but she's moving from planet to planet every so often, never staying in one place. If you want to meet up with her, it'll take some doing." Xildroll hummed at that before asking about Talos and Xalek.

"Your other apprentice is fine. He's currently serving Acina as one of top enforcers. Talos went back to the Imperial Reclamation Service branch, though I'm betting if you ask, he'll come back to you in a heartbeat. As for your droid…eh I don't know where he is. Along with your ship for that matter." Xildroll sighed at that.

"Can't have everything safe, can I?" Asked Xildroll, causing Xigolo to nod. "We need to contact the Empire. Get their help in this war against Zakuul."

"I don't know if we can get their help, man. Even with your girlfriend as Empress, it'll be suicide to attack the Eternal Empire with what they got. The Empire will get obliterated by the Eternal Fleet. No, we need to lay low, figure out a game plan." Xildroll sighed, knowing Xigolo was right.

"I still want to go to Dromund Kaas. See how much has changed." Said Xildroll, recalling the planet he was born. "And possibly get back my seat while I'm at it."

"We're do that once we get to Asylum and get rested up." Said Xigolo. "But first," Xigolo then looked at a burning console. "We get a new ship." He then went over to the cockpit. "Koth. You better land this thing somewhere hidden. This thing isn't going to hold for long. Got to steal a ship from somewhere. Preferably one with a hyperdrive."

"Yeah I know." Said Koth as he piloted the ship. "Stabilizers are shot, and the fuel lines are leaking. This thing isn't going to hold much longer. Hopefully it'll hold until we get to the Endless Swamp, we can bury our ship and hide out for a while, think of a plan to get a new ship."

"Uh." Said Mako as she heard Koth's plan. "Trekking in a swamp. Just what we needed."

"Come on, Mako." Said Xigolo. "It'll build up your immune system. Plus, think of all the cool animals that we'll get to meet."

"Cool animals that will kill us the second that they lay eyes on us. No thanks, Xigolo." Said Mako as she went back to trying to stabilize the ship and put out fires.

"Statement: I think meeting the native fauna will be most enjoyable." Said the HK unit as it brought out its blaster. "This unit needs more kills to its name."

"Don't worry, HK." Said Xigolo. "You'll get your kills. That is if Koth can land without killing us."

"I heard that." Said Koth as he resumed flying. Xildroll shook his head before thinking of how bad of a predicament they were in.

"No matter what resources the Eternal Empire throws at me, I will topple it." Swore Xildroll. "They will rue the day that they let me live." Xildroll then got up and looked at the cockpit window, already thinking of ways to win against the Eternal Empire.