Dark Shadows

18 years after the Battle of Yavin...
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Dark Shadows

Post by Cadden »

The Ronu system was desolate and lifeless, as usual, as the Inferno dropped out of lightspeed between Ronu II and Ronu III. The six occupants of the YT-2000 freighter were silent, those accompanying Jerik casting an uncomfortable feeling upon the young Jedi Knight. The Taylon soldiers knew not of the Force, but understood Jedi well enough to be weary of Jerik's motives. And Lobair Cean, he was giving Jerik the hardest time of all.

Jerik was preparing to head for Ronu III, when he felt the Dark Side energies of Ronu II once more. Even several years later, the planet still reeked of the Dark Side. Common sense told him to avoid the world, come back another day when he had more support from the Jedi Order, to eradicate the Dark Side from the place.

But Jerik was not one to abandon a mission.

He brought the ship around and proceeded en route to the planet. Lobair entered the cockpit moments later, no doubt having felt the Dark Side energies. "That place," he nodded ahead, "I can feel the Dark Side steeming off of it. It's powerful... gripping. I don't think we should travel there, Jerik."

"Afraid?" he responded. "There is nothing to fear in the Dark Side of the Force, Lobair... it should fear me."

"This crusade of yours won't end well, Jerik," the other said. "We should turn back... gather support, before touching down on this planet."

"There is nothing down there I cannot handle." Jerik continued toward the planet, until they were only kilometers away. "The Dark Side must die. This planet is a blight on the galaxy. It is my task to purge it of its darkness."

Jerik could feel the power coming from the planet. Indeed, at one point in time, it must have been a place of significant importance. It seemed as though not one square meter of the entire surface was left untainted. And while the power felt good to the taste, Jerik was not here for power. He was here for justice.

The ship entered the atmosphere, and began its descent planetside. "No turning back now," he muttered. There was plenty of wildlife on the surface; Jerik guessed much of it was probably hostile, and so they would have to tread lightly. Amidst the jungle landscape, he found a suitable clearing for landing, and touched the Inferno down on the grassy surface. "Come, we have a job to do."

Merely out of obedience to Guan's request, rather than Jerik's order, Lobair followed. The Taylon soldiers grouped with the two before the boarding ramp. From here, Jerik lowered the ramp, and the six descended to the surface. They looked around, the soldiers' weapons out and ready to fire on any hostile movement.

"Steady yourselves," Jerik said reassuringly. "The planet is dangerous, but even the most savage of beasts do not cause wanton destruction." The soldiers relaxed, but refused to lower their weapons. This was, after all, considered hostile territory. "Whatever tainted this world died a long time ago."

"Can we be certain on this?" Lobair asked.

Jerik nodded. "This planet has been the subject of monitoring from the nearby Ronu III for the past decade. Anything suspicious would have been picked up by now." Granted, Jerik was uncertain of half that time, but he was sure that, had anything happened in the past five to six years, it would have shown. "We should split up, monitor the surroundings. Lobair... take two soldiers with you and scout our parimeter. I'm going to go look for the source of this taint."

"We should go together," Lobair argued. "Two Jedi hold a better chance than one."

"I could be wrong about this planet. If there is any danger, the Inferno needs to remain intact for an escape. Four soldiers cannot hope to stand against a worst-case scenario."

"Well, if you're wrong, we should head back, come back with a larger task force." Jerik frowned at the statement. "I agree, this place is in need of cleansing... but can we really do it alone?"

"Master Wyn has confidence in my abilities," Jerik said with a harsh tone, "I would suspect that is good enough for anyone stationed at the City of the Jedi."

"At least if we bring the rest of the Guardians with us, we hold a better chance."

Jerik shook his head. "They won't help us," he argued. "My brother's too cautious. If we don't act agains the Dark Side now, more attacks like Onderon will surely follow." Jerik motioned two soldiers to follow him. "Do your patrols, Lobair. You can reach me on my comm. link if anything comes up."

At least your brother's not stubborn, he mused. "Be careful," he said.

"Don't worry, we'll be fine." There was a short pause. "May the Force be with you."

"And with you."
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Post by Cadden »

Jerik trekked through the jungles of Ronu II, his two Taylon soldiers flanking his sides, maintaining a ready alert for any sort of ambush, from a native creature or a sentient being. Jerik, however, was unafraid, and far from edgy. He could feel the pull of the Dark Side, and used that pull to track it down to its source. He was told he had much of his father within him, but Jerik had never realized he inherited Cadden's ability to track down objects, whether it be through skill and intuition or through the Force.

As the Dark Side called to him, Jerik followed its echoing beckons deeper into the jungle, until he eventually came across an ancient tomb, dug into the surface of the planet. The jungle had overtaken the place, swarming vines and other flora throughout the entrance and down into the tomb itself. Jerik turned to face the two troopers. "Stay here," he instructed them. "You will only get in the way if you go beyond this point."

With a deep breath, Jerik stepped forward, and began his descent down the slope into the tomb below. His trek was dangerous, but he took it in stride, before his footing finally failed him and he went sliding down the rest of the way. Landing at the bottom level, bruised and scraped, Jerik picked himself up and dusted himself off. He looked up at the trail that could have taken his life, and merely strengthened his resolve. Looking around, it was not hard to spot an entrance, and so Jerik approached. He looked for a way to open it, and when he found none, he used the Force. The barrier slid out of place, and to the side, allowing Jerik passage into the catacombs.

The further he pressed, the colder he felt. Not externally, but internally. The stale air indeed was cool, but it shied in comparison to the darkness he sensed and felt as he continued inward. He reached the end of the hallway, and heard the rumbling of a large rock, Looking around, he suddenly snapped around to face the entrance, and dashed forward. It was a trap. He reached the barrier too late, as it had already slid back in place. A chill ran down his spine.

A deep echoing laughter filled the catacombs. "I can feel your presence, young Jedi." Jerik looked around, uncliping his lightsaber and igniting the green blade. "Your efforts are in vain. And in the end... the Force will betray you to me."

Not if I can't help it, Jerik mused, and knew that he had but one direction to go. Collecting himself, he pressed onward, deeper into the catacombs. He followed the icy touch of the Dark Side through the maze, and kept vigilant, expecting around any corner to be a challenge that could end in death.

Each time he was mildly disappointed.

Jerik reached the end of his trek, a decent-sized burial chamber, and approached the tomb. "I will purge you from this place," he swore to the darkness, "and you will never again feed off the living!"

Another laughter echoed the room, this time from much closer. Jerik turned and looked around. "Show yourself!"

A ghostly apparation appeared before him, seemingly on Jerik's command. "You weak fool," it taunted him. "You came here, ready to destroy me... and yet, you do not know how." It grinned. "Young Jedi... are you ready to meet your end?"

Jerik brought his blade before him, though he knew it would not do him any good. "I intend on leaving this place alive," he said. "I am Jerik Blackthorne... I am your end!"

Before Jerik could make a move, however, the spirit knocked him back with the Force, and ripped the lightsaber hilt from his hand. The weapon scattered across the floor, leaving Jerik defenseless. "And I am Darth Nefarious... Dark Lord of the Sith," he proclaimed. "You Jedi are all the same. Your belief that you are doing the right thing only spirals you further down a narrow, dark path. The Jedi Order's ignorance is disgusting."

Jerik frowned. "If you are Sith, then I will personally enjoy ending your afterlife."

"And what is wrong with being a Sith?" the spirit asked. "The Jedi and Sith are very similar. They both strive for more power."

Jerik could almost laugh at the statement. "If the Jedi desired power, why is it that they put the galaxy's safety first and foremost?"

"Oh, do they?" The spirit closed his eyes, stretched out with the Force. "I told you, young Jedi, the Force will betray you to me."

Jerik watched, curiously, then suddenly, his mind was flooded with visions. Visions of war, death, destruction. "Ah, yes, the Jedi are involved yet again in galactic struggles," the spirit continued, as Jerik watched the replaying of the two battles of the City of the Jedi he participated in, the aftermath of Onderon, the holo reports of various Xen'Chi and Gait attacks and skirmishes. “Look a them. Do you honestly believe that you are fighting for a cause? The Jedi wish for those like me to be wiped from the face of the galaxy. Never to return.” The vision continued, and progressed toward events of the past, evidently those witnessed by the Sith Lord himself. Then, it ended. Jerik looked at the appration.

“The Jedi fight against evil,” Jerik persisted against the Sith spirit. “The Sith are evil, they’ve attempted time and time again to take over the galaxy. Once, even succeeding.”

“Take over the galaxy? Young Jedi, the Sith desire what the Jedi desire – peace. Our methods may be different, but we still wish the same thing. You wish to destroy evil, and yet you came here, came to me.”

Jerik paused for a moment. “My quest for the destruction of evil got me here,” he emphasized. “The Sith are evil, and must be destroyed.”

“The Sith are no more evil than the Jedi.”

“The Sith have been responsible for several atrocities in the past,” he responded.

Nefarious laughed. “And how do you think those atrocities came to be?” he inquired. “The galaxy sees anyone who claims the title ‘Sith Lord’ to be a maniacal beast. They do not understand. And so, those that hate the Sith do not see reason, and that costs them their lives.”

“My hatred for the Dark Side of the Force presses me onward. I want to see it die.”

Nefarious’s spirit grinned. “The Dark Side was not responsible for you coming here, Blackthorne. You were. Your Jedi Order was.”

“I am not acting out on orders,” Jerik said to the spirit behind him. “This quest is my own.”

“And what quest is that?”

It was a good question, and one that took him a moment to respond to. Finally, Jerik’s eyes narrowed. “Justice.”

“I see.” Nefarious grew silent for a moment, contemplating on Jerik’s statement. “Then would you not like to see those who committed that act be brought to justice?”

“I want nothing more than to see them burn in Chaos.” Jerik’s tone was dark and gloomy, filled with hatred.

“And I could provide you with those means.” Jerik turned to face the Sith spirit. “Join the Order of the Sith Lords, young Jedi, and you will learn how to defeat any opponent. Including those responsible for the destruction on Onderon.”

Jerik was silent for the longest time, what seemed an eternity to him, as he thought it over. “The Sith are the Jedi’s mortal enemies,” he proclaimed, at last. “If I join you and your order, I will never see my brother, my father, nor my friends, again.”

“Did they not tell you to avoid your quest? They wanted to keep you from the power I can grant you, keep you from your justice.” There was a long silence. Finally, Nefarious spoke again. “The man who killed your grandfather is still out there, Jerik. As a Jedi, you will never hope to kill him. But, as the Dark Lord of the Sith, your power will be absolute.”

“Yes,” Jerik admitted. “It would provide me with the ability to find him, and end his life.”

“Join me… and I will teach you all I know of the Dark Side of the Force.”

Jerik hesitated a moment, then kneeled to the tomb’s floor. “Yes… I understand this.” He took a deep breath, and thought of the possibilities. They would never understand, any of them. I am not doing this for revenge… but for justice. “I pledge myself to your teachings, Master Nefarious.”

Nefarious grinned. “You, Jedi, will henceforth be known as Darth Odium. For your hatred will carry on the name of the Order of the Sith Lords.”

Jerik looked up at his new master. “What am I to do, my master?”

“Take my lightsaber, and travel to my palace here in the jungles,” Nefarious instructed. “There, you will learn from my teachings, and become a powerful Sith Lord. When you are ready, you will take on your own apprentice, and follow the Rule of Two.”

Jerik bowed his head. “Consider it done.”

"Take this holocron," Nefarious ordered, as the artifact slid out from an encased chamber, "read about the Sith before me... learn from it, and use it to your advantage."

Jerik bowed, and received the holocron. Accessing the device, Nefarious's spirit faded, and he began his learning.

__________

Jerik Blackthorne, now Darth Odium, ascended the slope to the surface above the tomb. There stood his soldiers, awaiting his command. “Master Blackthorne,” the commander stated, “what happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Jerik responded. “Except, my name is Odium.” There was an eerie silence, and he knew what would have to be done. He unclipped his lightsaber and ignited the red blade. “Darth Odium.”

Jerik sent himself into motion, severing the commander’s head from his body. He turned and sliced the other Taylon soldie’s arm off, and raised him in the air with the Force. He looked around and began to panic, and attempted to shoot Jerik, who simply used the Force to batter the blaster away; then he slammed the soldier several times against the tomb’s wall, before he let the man drop, lifeless.

Disengaging his new blade, he looked at the handle carefully. “Never again will I follow the corrupted Light.”

He traveled back to his shuttle, and there disposed of the remaining troopers. Shortly after, the sole survivor of the group, Lobair Cean, returned to the shuttle, to see Blackthorne standing around the dead bodies.

“Jerik,” he said, “what happened?”

Blackthorne looked at the Knight, with a glimmer of darkness in his eyes. “The Sith have returned,” he responded.

Lobair looked confused. “The Sith? How? Who?”

He activated his red lightsaber once more. “Through me.”

His former ally was even more confused, and now horrified, as well. “Jerik… you didn’t….”

“Don’t call me that!” he yelled. “I no longer recognize that name! That Dark Jedi was responsible for whom I have become, and now I will end his life! I am no longer Jerik Blackthorne. I am Darth Odium!”

Lobair engaged his blade. “If that’s the way you see it, then.”

Jerik charged against the Jedi Knight, and the red and green blades clashed in a furious show of skill. Jerik turned and sliced against his former companion’s chest, only to have his blade blocked. He flicked his blade away and brought his hand around, as a large branch snapped from a nearby tree and soared through the sky, toward his adversary. Lobair was quick enough to slice the branch in two, and sent both ends Jerik’s way.

The new Sith Lord dodged both branches, and followed through with a lunge, sending his blade directly toward Lobair’s chest. Another block. Jerik followed through with a roundhouse kick, sending Lobair to the ground, followed by leaping on top of him and bringing his saber down to his neck. Lobair gripped Jerik’s wrist, and kept the blade at bay, while he attempted to bring his own around, but Jerik stopped it with the same counter move.

“I will destroy you!” he yelled, and swiftly drove his knee into Lobair’s gut, providing just enough of force to weaken his defense. Jerik’s blade pierced its target with swift brutality, and the Jedi Knight went limp, the lightsaber disengaging and rolling out of his hands.

He held the position for a moment, looking into his former friend’s blank stare, before disengaging his blade. He got up and returned the hilt to its new resting position. “No Jedi will keep me from my quest for justice. Not you, not the Council, not my father… not even my brother.”
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Post by Cadden »

The Inferno circled around the mighty palace that Darth Nefarious had built many millennia ago. He was unaware that Nefarious's palace was so big; it was practically a city in its own right. He found a landing pad in short time, and proceeded to touch the ship down.

Jerik soon discovered that Nefarious's palace was more of a fortress, and the fortress was more of an academy. Obviously the Sith Lord meant for something big to happen here; whether or not his plans came to fruitition Jerik was uncertain. He had a feeling he would find out soon enough.

It didn't take long for young Blackthorne to get acquainted with the place, and he soon found his way to the primary study. Nefarious's spirit appeared before him shortly after he entered. "Excellent, my apprentice," he said. "Your faith in the Dark Side will be rewarding. Located in this room is all you will need to know to become a powerful Sith Lord. I will teach you how to harness your hatred, fear, malice, and agression, into powerful weapons that you will use to slay your foes. You will learn the art of subterfuge, the methods of war, and the means to bring your enemies to their knees.

"A Sith Lord does not feel remorse for their actions, Darth Odium," Nefarious's spirit went on to instruct. "You will learn to neglect these feelings of weakness, and this will separate you from them. Welcome, Darth Odium... to the future."

Jerik, who had been kneeling before Nefarious's spirit as he was speaking, looked up. "Yes, my master," he responded. "You will find the faith you placed in me and my abilities will not go to waste."

"I trust it will not," Nefarious agreed. "When you are ready, you will take on your own apprentice," he continued. "For that is the way of the Sith. A master who instructs more than one apprentice is the ways of the Dark Side is a fool, Darth Odium. Remember this, for if you break the sacred Rule of Two, not only will you be shunned by the most powerful Sith Lords in history, but you will also see your inevitable death."

Jerik bowed his head. "I will remember, my master," he said. "I am ready to begin my lessons, to learn what I must to destroy my enemies."

Nefarious motioned him to rise. "Then begin you shall," he said.
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Post by Cadden »

"Peace is a lie, there is only passion," Nefarious's spirit instructed Jerik, who was sitting on the floor, meditating. "Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me." The spirit walked around his meditating apprentice. "Take these words to heart, Darth Odium. For they are far more than mere words.

"The Order of the Sith Lords are seekers, my apprentice," he continued. "We are challengers of the old, stagnant ways of the Jedi. We are in touch with the laws of nature and the universe. This is what separates us from the Jedi; they deny their natures, they are afraid of the truth around them. To think us creatures beyond the need of simple passions is a delusion. Mastery of our passions are what gives us the strength the Jedi lack.

"Unless victory proves your superiority, it is an illusion and merely temporary. Victory by any means is, therefore, not desirable. Victory may only be acheived by demonstrating that your own power is superior; else it is not a true victory. The stronger you become in the Force, the more power you can achieve; but always be prepared to fight for that power.

"The ultimate goal of any Sith is to free himself from restrictions, but not in the simplistic meaning of just being able to do whatever you want. The Sith desire to free ourselves in order to reach perfection and fulfill our potential. We want perfect strength, perfect power, and perfect destiny; which, in turn, allows us to do whatever we wish for the most part.

"In the end, Darth Odium, if you desire to achieve enough power to fulfill this quest of yours, you will have to kill what you love."

Jerik opened his eyes and looked at his master. "Kill what I love?" he asked.

Nefarious nodded. "You must rid yourself of emotional attachments; strive for ultimate perfection. You must kill what you love."

Jerik bowed his head. "I have left the Jedi Order, and I have denounced my own name, Master Nefarious. I have killed what I love."

Nefarious shook his head. "Separation, detachment, is not death, my apprentice," he said. "What you have done so far is merely renounce what you love. You must be prepared to strike down anyone, destroy anything, that gets in the way of your goals."

"Including my brother."

"Including your brother."

There was a long silence, before Jerik finally spoke. "Master Nefarious," he said, "my journey here was to destroy the Dark Side of the Force. I have come to know it was not the Dark Side I sought to destroy, but rather, specific users of the Dark Side. Those who get in my way can only become a liability."

"And liabilities cannot be afforded by Sith," Nefarious finished for Jerik. "Love leads to anger and hatred more often that not... but it also leads to mercy, which is far worse." He motioned for Jerik to rise. "Know the Code of the Sith well... live and breathe by its tenants, and you will be well on your way to greatness."
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Jerik struck out with his lightsaber, piercing the target before him with a mighty blow. Twisting his wrist, he brought the blade out to one side, and the object crippled before him. He picked up the pieces using the Force and sent them flying at other targets around him. Disengaging his blade, Jerik turned to Nefarious. "My skills with the blade, with the Force, are already exceptional," he said to the Sith spirit. "What more would there be to learn?"

"You must learn to use the unorthodox, Darth Odium," Nefarious responded. "If you were to battle an old Sith Lord in a lightsaber duel," he instructed, "you would find that you're only children playing with toys. The ability to master the lightsaber is as much important as the ability to master the teachings of the Sith. Many of your battles will be decided upon your ability to wield such an elegant weapon.

"As for your abilities with the Force," Nefarious continued, "I do not doubt your potential. But your ability to wield the Force is limited to your own perception of reality. The Sith do not believe in limited power, limited capability. If you cannot understand this, get over your limitations, then I can find another who will."

Jerik's eyes narrowed. "I understand this," he responded.

"Good... destroy that statue." Nefarious motioned to a large object atop a platform. It had to have been around twenty meters in height, with at least five meters in diameter. Jerik focused himself and concentrated, reaching out with the Force. Slowly, the statue began to wither, but the damage stopped there. "What are you doing? Why are you holding back?"

"I'm doing what I can," Jerik responded.

"No... you are restricting what you can do," Nefarious reprimanded. "You have anger... use it! You have hatred, feed off of it! Remember why you are here... and destroy that statue."

Jerik thought back, and recalled the very reason why he got here, how he got here. He felt the anger, the hatred, boil within him and used it to his advantage. Reaching out with the Force, he touched the statue, and caused it to begin to crumble. After a short moment, the statue collapsed under its own weight.

"Excellent... that is your lesson for the day, Darth Odium. Take it to heart... use it to your advantage."

Jerik turned and bowed to Nefarious. "I will, master."

"Practice what you have learned. Tomorrow we put it to the test." With that, Nefarious's spirit faded.

__________

The next day, Jerik traversed the jungles of Ronu II. He had been given explicit instructions of seeking out and killing a dangerous predator known as the karamo dragon. A massive, two-headed beast capable of taking on even the strongest of rancors, the karamo dragon was rare on Ronu II, and killing one was no easy task. Especially for a Jedi Knight.

But then, Jerik was no longer a Jedi Knight. He was now a Sith Lord, apprenticed by a powerful Sith Lord from a previous era. The task would be difficult, but not impossible.

He had been traveling for hours, and was considering changing his bearings when he heard the distinct sound of a karamo dragon's call. The dual-shrieking, heart-pounding call sent a shiver down Jerik's spine, something that he ignored and proceeded onward, toward the source of the sound.

There, in a small clearing, with the giant beast. He looked it over, studied it, and planned his attack. Patiently he waited, utilizing the lessons he had learned so far from Darth Nefarious to his advantage. Masking his presence through the Force, he had become invisible to the beast, even by scent, which had turned the hunter into the hunted.

An opening. Jerik took it, lunging forward from the jungle with his lightsaber, now ignited, in hand. He leapt up and sliced at the karamo dragon. The beast managed to dodge the attack just on time, but not without a scratch against one of its necks. Jerik landed and dodged one of the heads of the creature as it attempted to devour him. It brought one of its arms forward and clawed at Jerik, whom instinctively sliced off three of its four claws. The creature roared in pain and anger, and snapped at him ferociously.

Jerik would not have any of that, however, and he lunged his lightsaber at one of the heads attacking him. It pierced through the jaw of the creature, and he jerked the lightsaber aside, severing its lower mouth. Leaping up in the air, he finished the blow by severing its head. The other head of the creature came around and attempted to snatch him up, only to find an unearthed tree's trunk slamming into its head. The karamo dragon was knocked off-balance and fell backward onto the ground.

With its vital regions exposed, Jerik took immediate action and plunged his lightsaber directly into the creature's chest. It screeched in pain, and attempted to throw him off. Jerik, however, managed to keep his position, and sliced upward, tearing open the creature's skin. He jabbed down again, directly at the heart, and after a final screech, the creature went limp.

Leaping off its stomach, Jerik disengaged his blade, and turned to face the Sith spirit. "Good... good," Nefarious spoke, clearly pleased. "You used your anger, your hatred, to strike down the creature. The unorthodox was your advantage, and you utilized it perfectly. Darth Odium, you are well on your way to holding the right to claim your own apprentice."

Jerik bowed. "Thank you, my master," he responded. "What is it next that you will have me do?"

"Return to my palace. Continue your studies. Your exercises are over for the time being. I will instruct you again when it is time."
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Jerik meditated on his daily lessons. The ways of the Sith truly would grant him the power to destroy the Cult of Shadow and his other enemies. He could feel his power in the Force growing, and he was getting stronger. Stronger than ever before. It would not be long until he became the Sith Master, and would take on an apprentice of his own.

"My master," he spoke to the presence of the Sith spirit, "what is your will?"

"There is one, powerful in the Force, coming for you, Darth Odium," Nefarious spoke. "He wishes to see your life end, and usurp your power as the new Dark Lord of the Sith."

"Then he will be disposed of, my master."

Nefarious nodded. "Beware, my apprentice," he said. "Your studies in the ways of the Sith have not made you immortal. I sense he is strong in the Force."

"Do not worry, he is no match for me."

__________

A lone shuttle touched down on the surface of Ronu II. The pilot of the craft looked out the viewport at the jungle around him. So much darkness, so much anger, hatred. He was wise coming here. Here, he would become far more powerful in the Force than he had ever imagined.

And yet, he also sensed something very distinct here. He stretched out with his senses, and found what he was feeling. A powerful darksider. Perhaps he holds the solution I seek, he mused. But then... perhaps he would prove more useful to me dead.

As the individual traversed through the jungle toward the palace in the distance, he got the distinct feeling he was being watched. Detaching his lightsaber from its resting place, he kept it ready, and his senses aware.

A branch nearby broke, and the man turned and faced the direction of the sound. Nothing. He could hear the fluttering of the leaves around him, and the flow of the Dark Side influencing every sound.

Suddenly, a nearby tree broke, and came toward him. The man ignited his blade and sliced upward, breaking the trunk in two, and used the Force to push both sides away from him. He looked around. "Reveal yourself!"

A man, not much different in age as he was, leapt from the trees opposite from the falling tree's position. Igniting his blade, the attacker brought himself down on the the newcomer to the world. The attack was blocked. "You have come to take my power away," the other said. "That is not something I will allow."

"Your power in the Dark Side of the Force is superficial. I shall grant you my name, so that you will always remember in the afterlife who it was that slew you in combat. I am Roth Sorabac, Darkness incarnate."

The other chuckled. "Roth Sorabac... indeed. A Sith Lord stands before you now, Roth Sorabac. I am Darth Odium. Your skills are no match for me."

The two clashed their blades. Roth swung his around to meet with Odium's head, who in return blocked with ease, then returned with a mid-section jab. Roth saw the counter-attack coming, and parried, then sommersalted away from the fight. Odium relentlessly followed, delivering a powerful Ataru attack on Roth's solid Soresu defense. The defense held, but only barely.

"Do you not see?" Odium taunted Roth. "You are no match for a Sith!"

Roth refused to respond, and delivered his own Ataru attack, spinning around to slice into Odium's chest. Odium's utilization of a Djem So counter attack led to Roth being pushed back as Odium progressed forward with sheer determination in his red eyes.

The battle would not be over so quickly. Though Roth was forced to adapt a Soresu-style defensive screen, he was able to utilize an opening in Odium's progressive attack, and brought forth a powerful blow with his lightsaber against his opponent.

Odium managed to move out of the way on time, and flipped back into a crouched ready position, eyeing Roth intently. "You have skill, I'll grant you that," he taunted. "Had we met under different circumstances, I would have named you my apprentice."

"I don't need a master," Roth countered. "Only power!" He charged after Odium, and brought on an underhand sliced toward his torso. Odium reversed the grip of his lightsaber and leapt into the air, dodging the blade. He came down behind Roth and swung back at him, only for the other to have fallen to a knee and brought his blade behind him to defend.

The duel continued for several more minutes, with neither making any significant advances toward the other. Odium was growing tired of the charade, and pushed Roth away with the Force. Followed by a burst of speed, he took a large, violent swing at the Dark Jedi. Roth defended, but the attack was pressed so hard that his lightsaber came loose in his hand and flew off. Odium kicked Roth in the jaw, sending him falling back, and called the other lightsaber to him with the Force. Holding each, ignited, in both hands, he crossed them before Roth.

"Good... good," a voice came from behind Odium. The Sith Lord spared a glance to see the spirit of his master appear. "You have been well trained my apprentice. There is little more I can teach you in the ways of combat."

"You orchestrated this?" Odium asked, angrily.

Nefarious nodded. "This was your final test, my apprentice," he responded. Odium looked back at Roth, who was awaiting his demise. "And now... you are ready to take on your own apprentice."

The two glared at each other, Odium debating on whether he should kill Roth, or tutor him. Finally, Odium disengaged his enemy's lightsaber. "You are a skilled warrior," he told Roth Sorabac. "You came here for more power. Accept my offer to apprentice you, and that power shall be granted."

Roth looked at Odium for a moment. "I told you," he finally said, "I have no master."

"Then I have no use for you." Odium brought his blade back to bear on Roth. As he swiftly brought it down against the Dark Jedi, Roth spoke.

"Wait!" he yelled. The blade stopped but inches away from the man's head. Odium knew that the threat of death would change Roth's mind. And even had he been wrong, there would be others he could apprentice. "I had not come this far just to see my end." He closed his eyes for a brief moment, before opening them again. "I accept your offer."

Odium grined, and let his blade fall away from its death blow. "Good," he responded. "Then arise, Roth Sorabac." The Dark Jedi obeyed. "You are no longer known as Roth Sorabac. Bow before your new master, Darth Dolosus."
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Darth Odium looked through the manuscripts in Nefarious's palace. The Sith Lord had left a wealth of knowledge for him, and for that, he was grateful. He had recently discovered the ancient science of Sith Alchemy from Nefarious's notes, and noted something that was in reference to Ronu III. He looked through the texts, and found something rather interesting.

The Scorpion People that inhabited Ronu III were a product of Nefarious's experimentations in Sith Alchemy. However, the project was doomed to failure simply because of the inherent nature of their originating near-human race. Evidentally, they were violent and rebellious by nature, and this caused much dissention amongst the race. Instead of eradicating the entire populace, however, Nefarious condemned them to a lifetime on Ronu III. What worse fate could one suffer, than to live in a form not of their own design?

Over the generations, however, the people survived, and reproduced, thus turning Nefarious's experiment into an eventual success. This was evidenced by Jerik's stay with Renalla and his three brothers nearly a decade ago.

If I were to take Master Nefarious's experiments to the next level, he thought, then perhaps I could succeed where he had failed. I need an army, and these Scorpion People would provide me with the very foundations of one.

He sensed the spirit of Darth Nefarious appear. "I see you have found my notes on Sith Alchemy," he said. "Take note, only a master can control what he has created."

"Were you a master?" Odium asked.

Nefarious nodded. "To a point, yes. Though I could not control the Scorpion People."

"Why not just kill them off?"

Nefarious grinned. "It was far worse a fate to let them live, my apprentice," he said. "Sometimes, the fate of life is far more agonizing than the fate of death."

Jerik nodded. "Would it be possible to make them loyal?"

"With some applications of Sith Alchemy, you could make them into whatever it is you desire."

Jerik flipped through the pages of the manuscripts, and eventually turned up a particular one of interest. Mechu-deru vitae, a method of developing a technovirus that could turn its victims into a droid hybrid upon contact. He grinned. "How?"

__________

Darth Dolosus was a bit intrigued by Nefarious's palace. His new master, Darth Odium, had stumbled upon a true treasure. A wealth of knowledge and a firm grasp of the Dark Side were both present, bringing a wave of satisfaction to the former Dark Jedi. There had been a time in his life where he would kill to have full control over this place, but since the other day when Darth Odium had bested him in combat and named Dolosus his apprentice, he had found himself rapidly changing.

His thoughts still dwelled on the eventual usurping of his master's role as Dark Lord of the Sith, but he knew that patience would grant him what he desired most. Patience, ambition, and above all... dedication. Oh, master, if only you had not taught me so well, he mused. His old master had suffered the same fate that Darth Odium would. Darth Dolosus was not one to bow down to another, but in this instance he would begrudgingly do so, until he learned what Odium had learned, and then he would become the master.

Of course, much of this he would have to do on his own, as he knew Darth Odium would always keep him no less than one step behind his own level of knowledge in the ways of the Sith.

And so, he would wait, patiently, for his time to strike and show this upstart what is like to be a true wielder of the Dark Side of the Force.
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The task was complete. Within the giant canister was the virus that would transform the Scorpion People into the perfect loyal soldiers. Darth Odium would finish what his master had begun.

It took him several days to perfect the technique, with Nefarious's tutelage along the way, but the result was more than worth the time necessary. Lifting the canister off the ground using the Force, Odium looked over the piece of work with pride.

"You have done well, my apprentice," Nefarious stated. Odium glanced behind him to see the Sith Lord's spirit standing, watching him, nearby. "Now you need only unleash it on the unsuspecting population of Ronu III."

Odium nodded. That was exactly what he would do. Darth Odium was now Dark Lord of the Sith, and as such he needed the basis of an army. The Scorpion People would be that introductory stage, and they would be used to conquer worlds in the name of the Sith.

On his way out of the palace, Odium encountered his apprentice. "Darth Dolosus," he acknowledged, "I have something you would be interested in watching."

Dolosus was careful not to raise an eyebrow. Indeed? he wondered. Aloud, he said, "What is it, master?"

"A weapon," Odium responded. "Come... I will show you."

Dolosus followed behind Odium and the large cylinder he trailed behind him with the Force to the Inferno. There, the cylinder was loaded into the cargo bay, and the two strapped in the pilot and co-pilot seats in the cockpit.

The trek to Ronu III did not take long, and once they entered the planet's atmosphere, Odium took them to the heart of the territory belonging to the Scorpion People. Finding a suitable loation to set down on, Odium had Dolosus take the canister outside, then return to the ship, where they lifted off once more before the Scorpion People could reach their destination.

"I don't understand, master," Dolosus said.

"You will," Odium responded.

He had placed a counter on the canister, and soon the device popped open, and out seeped a yellowish gaseous substance. Odium looked, while his apprentice watched with curiosity.

The closest Scorpion People were effected first, with others in the vacinity soon following. Those effected soon began to wither in pain. Odium grinned. Success.

Time passed before the results were finally known. Dolosus looked at the resulting machines - or whatever they were, now - with a bit of awe and surprise. Truly he had underestimated Darth Odium. But that didn't mean anything had changed.

"And now, an army," Odium announced. "Incapable of higher thought, they are now warriors for the Sith."

"And if they do not recognize us as their masters?" Dolosus asked.

Us? Odium thought, but refused to let his apprentice be aware that he was not about to share his power with one he trusted so little. "They will," he responded. "They won't have a choice. The toxins will clear in a standard day, as the virus cannot survive without a suitable host. At that point, we shall return, and stake claim to the prize."
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Several days had passed since the Scorpion People had been subject to Odium's twisted experiment. A relative few members of the race were able to avoid the plague that was released on the planet, and those few had soon met their end in the combined might of Odium and his apprentice, commanding the Sithspawn humanoids.

The mechu-deru vitae had eradicated the free will of the Scorpion People, making them mindless slaves to the two Sith Lords. The very nature of the virus made them fully obedient to Odium, but he made it clear to both the Scorpion People and Darth Dolosus that they would follow the apprentice's command, as well.

What Odium refrained from telling Dolosus was that no command would be obeyed if it were used against him. It was the ultimate test of loyalty, as well as a way for Odium to maintain his position over his apprentice.

"We are now ready," Odium told his apprentice, as the two overlooked their success on Ronu III. "Our enemies will cower in fear of our might, and the galaxy will once again know the true power of the Dark Side of the Force." He paused for a moment, formulating their plan of attack.

"We will strike at all nearby systems," he finally continued. "Our objective is not domination, but acquisition. We have the loyal Scorpion People, but we will need to expand upon our forces, and build up our might, should we be successful in our objectives." Odium paused for a moment. "The Order of the Sith Lords shall be reborn, and we shall have our vengeance."

OOC: Short, but I really haven't been much in the mood lately. :(
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OOC: Due to the very inactive nature of this thread, this post is serving mostly as an update, of sorts, to get people up to speed on what has been on "autopilot" for these past three-ish months.

IC:

Darth Odium looked on at his new army. It was magnificent. The Star Destroyer Impervious was at the lead of half a dozen cruisers, ready to take on any foe that dared challenge the Order of the Sith Lords. His apprentice, Darth Dolosus, was out finding Dark Jedi to rally for an organized strike at nearby systems; they had already claimed the planets Usau, Cortivin, and Emadi. Nearby there were other worlds, such as Cathar and Delth, or Sistooine, or even the more unknown worlds such as Quintus.

Indeed, the Sith were returning. He even occupied the loyalty of several scientists and engineers to create for him a Sith Trooper armor, based off of old Phase II Clone Trooper armor, and had several thousand individuals properly trained to fight, and die, for the ideals of the Sith. Additionally, his travels even granted him encounters with unlikely allies. The Dark Jedi Burx Ludo, the mercenaries Joryn Vise and Kryl Seseu, and the mysterious warlord Dalekel It-ke Osh'ddama, to name a few.

And now, Darth Odium found himself observing all that he had acheived these past few months. His plans were progressing faster than he had originally anticipated, and he had the tutelage of Darth Nefarious to thank for that. Odium thought back on how he had arrived at this point. He was a different individual, now. Jerik Blackthorne was weak, the name and identity had to be destroyed. What Jerik Blackthorne did not realize, was that his quest to destroy the Dark Side was futile.

And so, Darth Odium had to kill such a weak individual. While he was content with his current power, he would require more - much more - if he were to hope to stand up to the likes of Sivter alone. Unsheating the dagger Daer'Gunn had given him back on Onderon, the Dark Lord of the Sith looked over the artifact. He could still feel the Dark Side lingering on in the blade, and the stench of Sith poison reeked from its metallic surface. While the poison itself was gone, its effects yet remained. It still housed a few good uses left in it before it would have to be reapplied.

But so long as it idled, it would last a long time. Long enough for him to drive it into Sivter's heart, and do unto the Dark Lord what he did unto his granfather, Faarel. It would be a fitting end for the Darksider, killed by his own blade. But Odium would have to wait to get his chance.

"Lord Odium," the voice of the mysterious warlord, Dalekel It-ke Osh'ddama, spoke from behind, "your troops are ready for deployment. Where shall I lead them?"

Darth Odium dwelled on the thought for a while. Cathar itself was an independent world, as was Quintus. But from what he understood, both Delth and Sistooine had powerful governments laying their claim to those lands. And while he relished at the thought of devastating a world in the name of the Sith, for all the galaxy to see, it would be the beginning of the end at their current state.

Finally, he said, "Launch our forces against the people of Quintus. When we crush them, we will progress forward with our plans." The creature bowed, and left Odium to his thoughts. He had just encountered Dalekel It-ke Osh'ddama weeks ago, but already the other earned his respect and trust. In return for the opportunity to lead his armies, and other relatively-substantial requests to be fulfilled at a later date, the creature pledged his loyalty to Odium.

The benefits were already visible. And yet, Odium could not help but feel as though there was untapped potential to be found in Dalekel. It was something he had been meditating on, dwelling on, searching for, but somehow it always eluded him. Not even Darth Nefarious, or Darth Dolosus, could sense it, but it was there. Lingering, as if it were something waiting for the opportune moment to escape.

It was because of this that Nefarious warned the young Sith Lord to be weary of the trust he placed in the warlord. While it would be secured, for now, there was no telling what could happen later. It was advice Odium took to heart, and made precautions not to be caught off-guard if, or when, the time came for whatever it was to be unleashed.

OOC: More to come later. :)
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Quintus

Several dozen dropships landed upon the unsuspecting planet of Quintus, bearing no markings of distinction. One such ship, patterned black and white, touched down on the front lines, and from the lowering boarding ramp exited the menacing figure of Dalekel It-ke Osh'ddama.

Standing at just over 2 meters tall, the avian-looking creature, equipped with his cortosis-weave double-sword, lead forward the Sith Troopers of the order he served.

Opposite the newly found battlefield was the organized militia of the people of Quintus. The indepdenent world would pay the price of opting for no support from either the Empire or the Republic this day.

As Dalekel charged forward with his troops, blaster bolts flared in their direction. Several of the Sith Troopers fell in battle, while exchanging firepower against their enemies. The armies of the Sith were better organized than those of Quintus. The planet was destined to fall to the might of the Order of the Sith Lords.

Dalekel leapt forward once in range and dealt a swift blow to a small concentration of militia. Five of the twelve individuals were not fast enough to move out of the way, and those that were were pursued relentlessly by the creature.

Upon the last militia member standing from the group, Dalekel approached and used his free hand to pick him up by the throat. "You weakling," he said. "You stand no chance against the might of the Sith!" Throwing the man violently aside, Dalekel was satisfied to hear the crack of his neck upon impact against the ground. "Do not falter," he spoke into his comm. link. He would have loved to order no survivors, but his orders were clear, and the price would be hefty if he disobeyed his masters. "Run them into the ground, until they beg for our mercy."

A large dropship soon followed, and produced three heavy hovertanks and half a dozen BARC speeders. Dalekel grinned. Their enemies were about to know true fear.

The battle swiftly turned in favor for the Sith, as the tanks and BARCs made short work of enemy fortifications. Soon, the battle was over, and the remaining forces of the militia surrendered. As the Sith rounded their prisoners, Dalekel ordered the advancement to the capital to claim their prize.

Hours later, the region was theirs. With the capital under their control, the entire planet soon followed.

Ronu II

Darth Odium was studying ancient Sith manuscripts when the call came in. He approached the holoreceiver and activated the communication channel. Dalekel It-ke Osh'ddama stood at the other end, flanked by two Sith Troopers, commandos by the customization of their armor.

"Lord Odium," Dalekel spoke over the comm., "Quintus is yours."

Odium did not show any sign of emotion, though internally he grinned. Dalekel was proving his worth more and more after each battle. It was wise of him to invest in such a warrior and general. "Excellent," he said. "Fortify your position and await my word."

"Yes, my lord." The communication ended.

Odium turned and faced the masked man behind him. "You are early," he said to the newcomer. "How fared your mission?"

"Everything went according to plan, my lord," Burx Ludo responded with a bow. This time, Odium did grin. "However, there was a slight complication." The grin faded, replaced by a raised brow. Burx brought up his hand and motioned two Sith Commandos forward. With them was a limp individual, weakened by battle. "I found her."

"I see," Odium responded. He approached the individual and lifted her chin up. His neutral look faded, however, when he took note of what it was he was looking at. Jedi. Those that did not join him, died. He let her weaked state loose again by letting go of her chin. "Do you know why you were kept alive?" he asked her. No response, but he could feel her hatred begin to escalate. "Because my disciple here deemed you competent enough to join my forces." Still no response. "The alternative is death." Odium motioned the Sith Troopers away, and looked at Burx. "Report to me when she has an answer. You know what to do if she refuses." Burx bowed and followed the three out, leaving Odium alone to resume his studies.
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It had been weeks since their campaign had kicked off. Darth Odium found a valuable ally in the likes of Terrand Neyrr, and conquered dangerous enemies with his armies.

Everything was proceeding well.

As he sat in his private chambers, meditating, Odium stretched out with the Force to acquire a glimpse in the future. He looked onward, past his own limitations, into the expanse of the Force for clues as to his next plan.

Then, without warning, a vision had come to him. It was dark, but the environment suggested the location was on a barren world. Darth Odium was observing recent reports of the progress of the Order of the Sith Lords when his apprentice, Dolossus approached.

"My Lord," Dolossus spoke, "everything is set for the next phase of our plans."

"Good," Odium responded. "I trust that you are prepared to do what is necessary?"

Dolossus nodded, and Odium heard a lightsaber ignite before him. "Yes... my master."

Odium turned his head to see Dolossus, noting his sheer determination. "You believe this to be wise?" he asked. "You dare challenge me?"

"It will not be much of a challenge." Dolossus swung, and Odium ignited his own lightsaber, bringing it up to block.

The image faded away, and Odium opened his eyes. He could feel another's presence nearby. "Betrayal is the way of the Sith," Nefarious's voice spoke up.

"You saw my vision?" Odium asked, turning to face his mentor. Nefarious nodded. "Is it accurate?"

"The future is always in motion," he said. "Sometimes it is inevitable, other times a simple change can mean all the difference. I had a vision of my own apprentice's betrayal against me, yet despite all my efforts, my vision still spoke the truth."

Odium nodded. "And what if I kill him before then?" he asked Nefarious.

The spirit just frowned. "Do not toy with the Force," he cautioned Odium. "It is a dangerous thing to attempt to control, and instead you will find yourself being controlled by it." The spirit approached. "I sense Dolossus still has some use left in him, before he betrays you. Let this vision of yours become reality. You are still more powerful than he is."

"And if he defeats me?"

Nefarious grinned. "Then you should be thankful that there is someone greater than you in the place of master."

"It will do my mission no good."

The grin faded. "Do not cloud your judgement, my pupil, with your personal ambitions. Your first loyalty is to the Sith. Finding and killing this Sivter you have spoken of will do nothing to resurrect our order."

"It is the very reason why I am in your order," Odium retorted. "Or do you not recall when we first met?"

"Watch your words, boy," Nefarious snapped. "Your arrogance will be the end of you."

Odium looked at the spirit for a moment, letting the silence take over, before finally nodded. "Very well," he finally said. "I shall let this vision stem into reality."

"Good. You have just learned a valuable lesson about manipulation." Odium raised his eyebrow. "You shall understand it in time." Nefarious's spirit faded before him, just as another individual entered the room. It was Terrand Neyrr.

"My lord," the Koorivar dark Jedi master spoke with a bow, "we have received a lead on the information you seek out." Odium looked at the Koorivar straight in the eyes. "Intelligence reports that one of the Massassi Temples on Yavin IV is, in fact, the burial grounds of an ancient Sith Lord." Odium raised an eyebrow. "From what we have gathered from various historic records, Exar Kun built up his own personal empire on Yavin IV, and was eventually toppled. His spirit, however, remains on the world.

"Sixteen years ago, a group of scientists excavated one of the temples, and when they returned, they were... possessed... somehow."

"This news is nothing different than what I could find in some holonews archives," Odium said. "What information is of use?"

Terrand grinned. "My lord," he responded, "it is very possible that, like most Sith, Exar Kun created a holocron."

Odium thought on this matter for a moment, before finally nodding. "Very well," he said, "this shall be dealt with discreetly." Odium motioned Terrand away. He did not like going on wild goose chases, but it was clear that, if there was knowledge to be had on Yavin IV, that it was worth a look. Through the Force, he summoned Nefarious's spirit before him once more. "Lord Nefarious," he said, "it would appear as though one of the Massassi Temples on Yavin IV houses the tomb of the ancient Sith Lord, Exar Kun."

Nefarious mused over the information for a moment. "If the legends of Exar Kun are true, then this could be a valuable find for us." Odium nodded in agreement. "You already know Dolosus's loyalty is questionable, at best. Nevertheless, he will not dare betray you until he feels he is ready. Send him to the tomb."

"This is a very dangerous piece of advice you give me," Odium noted. "If he finds something of use, and learns from it..."

"It is as I have said before," Nefarious interrupted, "if he has bested you in the ways of the Force, then it is for the better of the order."

Odium bowed. "Yes, Lord Nefarious." He paused a moment. "There is a possibility that Exar Kun created a holocron."

Nefarious mused over the thought. "This would make sense," he concluded, "Legends speak of the spirit of Freedon Nadd teaching Kun the ways of the Sith. Darth Bane, the founder of our order, successfully recovered Nadd's holocron on Dxun. I would not put it beyond Nadd's student, Kun, to have learned of this ability as well. If it this theory is true, then it will serve you well."

Darth Odium bowed. "I shall send Lord Dolosus to Yavin IV immediately," he said. Nefarious's spirit faded, and Odium proceeded to summon Dolosus, to instruct him on his assignment.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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It had been weeks since Darth Dolosus returned. He had nearly come back empty handed, reports of the temples on Yavin IV were not even close to pleasing. However, he did manage to retrieve a holocron, and narrowly die for it.

Darth Nefarious's instructions proved to be accurate, it seemed. Dolosus had no intention of betraying his master. Yet. But he still held tight to his vision. He had not had another one since, but he cared not to receive them. If they continued on the trend that had formed when he sent his apprentice off on his own, then Odium's end was to come at the blade of another. It was not a thought he enjoyed, and as such, he had dedicated himself to learning more.

In his hands was the holocron of Exar Kun. Already it had granted him valuable insight into Sith magicks, and the Sith Lord even left behind his own teachings on skills with the lightsaber, particularly with Niman and Jar'Kai. He studied both of these forms from the teachings left behind by Exar Kun rigorously, having already begun to catch on to the concepts of both. He was impressed with the knowledge that was left behind and that, despite the fact that Yavin IV was practically run dry of its Sith artifacts, this single holocron managed to last as long as it had.

He was also on his guard for any trickery that could have been the result of this oddity of events. SInce Dolosus reported his success and what he had found - or, rather, what he had not found - on the moon, Odium was not about to take any chances. He bolstered the defenses of both the Ronu System and the other systems they had claimed since they had resurrected the Order. While their fleet, if one could call it such, was not significant, by any means, it would have been sufficient to ward off any potential threat that resulted from the acquiring of the artifact.

It was a tactic that seemed futile, but well worth the risk of being labeled a fool.

An individual entered the room, but it was not Dolosus. Odium frowned, and turned to see Trucido Severus approach. He bowed before the SIth Lord. "Lord Odium," he said, "we have received word from holonet channels that the CIty of the Jedi was recently destroyed." Odium raised an eyebrow in response. "There were few survivors, including a Jedi known as Cazzik Wyn. It is claimed the city was attacked by Sith."

"Sith," Darth Odium echoed. He beckoned Trucido to rise, and turned to face the main window of his chambers. Gazing out at the jungles before him, Odium said nothing for a moment. Trucido stood behind him, patiently. Finally, he spoke. "Then it is true."

"There are many that call themselves Sith," Trucido said, "but few that can back it up."

"And if this group can back it up," Odium cautioned, "what does that mean for us?" Sith were not known for getting along with each other... or anyone for that matter. The core belief of the order was the strongest ruled the weaker, and when the weaker became the strongest, it was time for a shift in power. Cooperation with other Sith could not end well. "I do believe it is time that we accelerate our plans, general."

"What would you have me do?"

"The prudent measure is to find these Sith, before they find us." Odium thought on this for a moment, before continuing. "If they can take out the City of the Jedi, war is not in our best interests. But we might be able to strike an alliance, based on possible common ground. Organize a detachment, I want you to lead them personally. I will send the details of your orders to you." Trucido bowed, and left the room. Left it to Odium, who dwelled on the news he had received. He was stationed on the City of the Jedi, and defended it from both the Cylon Imperium and the Xen'Chi. He knew what it was capable of. And yet... it had been destroyed. True Sith or not, if this group could cause that much damage on such a fortified Jedi bastion, it would not bode well for him if they were also hostile to other factions of Sith.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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Darth Odium had received word from Trucido several hours ago that they had a lead. It was a long-shot, but Cylon space was a potential location for this mysterious force. It made too much sense for Odium to ignore. The forces that destroyed the City of the Jedi were clearly from Cylon origin, as the reports they had managed to salvage indicated that there were designs of Cylon origin present. And at the helm of the attack was a powerful individual with an impressive command over the Force, whom Cazzik identified as a Sith Lord, much like the previous assault on the city, hosting a small army of darksiders.

No, it had to be the one that he learned of not long ago. He had issued the go-ahead to travel to Cylon, for Trucido to act as a dignitary on his behalf, and gave him his proposal to relay to this Sith Lord. He only hoped it would be enough. Chances were, if it was not, he would not see Trucido again, and losing the Alarian general would suffer a great blow to his cause. He would have to show an uncommon trait for a Sith Lord. Humility. But not at the expense of his projected importance for this individual. It was the only way to retain Trucido yet, at the same time, ally with this Sith Lord.

"Lord Odium," a man spoke, approaching him from behind, "we have received a priority signal from General Severus."

Darth Odium frowned. The Alarian was reporting back quicker than he expected. "I will take it here. Leave me." The other bowed and took his leave, as Odium turned to the comm unit. "General Severus, your report indicates to me that my offer has been accepted."

"Yes, Lord Odium," Trucido responded. "However, you should hear this."

Once Trucido finished telling Odium of the Sith Lord's conditions, the Dark Lord was furious. "He what?!"

"My lord," Trucido pressed, "if this is not accepted, my life is of forfeit." He did not speak this out of fear, Odium noted. The Alarian knew what he had gotten himself into, and Odium could tell the other was willing to accept this compromise. "Through that, I have gained a distinctive feeling that he would be able to discern your location... and wipe the entire Order out." Odium frowned. The Sith Lord certainly had such power under his command, indicative of the reports from Taylon, but would he go to that extreme to leave himself so unguarded, just to eliminate a minor nuisance? He took a deep breath.

What choice do you have? a voice whispered in his head. Had Odium been paying more attention to it, he would have been able to discern whose it was. But who it belonged to was of little importance. It was, all the same, the voice of reason. He pitched his offer, and the acceptance of it depended upon the giving of Trucido over to this other Sith Lord. He had to be methodical about this. It pained him to do so, but he conceded to the agreement. "Very well. Tell... your new master... that this offer is acceptable. I await his next move."

Trucido bowed. "Lord Odium," he said, "my loyalty to you will always be first."

Odium frowned. "Tread lightly, general," he told the other. "This is not a game you should play."

"There is no need for such concern, my lord, I have this under control." Odium simply terminated the communications link in response. He had heard enough. He lost his best general to this Sith Lord, but at the gain of an alliance that would, hopefully, in the end, bolster his own power and achieve his goals. All he could do is wait to see if this gambit would pay off.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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Darth Odium finished his work at the table, and looked down upon what was before him. "I see you have been busy," he heard someone speak up behind him. Odium turned to see Darth Nefarious's spirit before him. "You've been quite busy with that holocron of yours."

Odium nodded. "It has provided me with useful information. Exactly what I needed to know, as it would turn out."

Nefarious approached him, and Odium could not help but suspect. "And now, my apprentice, it is time for your true purpose." Odium felt dark side energies began to negate from the spirit, and he brought his hand, stretched out, toward him. Immediately, Odium brought his arm around and snatched up the object he had finished, and brought it around before him. Nefarious's sinister grin turned into a bewildered look of astonishment. "What's this? What are you doing?!"

It was Odium's turn to grin. The betrayer was betrayed. "Succeeding you."

Nefarious felt... strange. "No! You can't do this to me! I made you who you are today! You can't destroy me!"

Odium laughed. Nefarious was losing his power. "You planned to betray me," he told the Sith spirit. "I'm not going to destroy you. The last thing I'll give you is the peace of death. I've got everything I need from you - now the power is mine, and mine alone. I am the Master, and and I am ready." Within seconds, Nefarious's spirit disappeared, and the octahedron in Odium's hand began to glow. He looked at the amulet he had created, the Force crystal doing its job of containing Nefarious's spirit beautifully, with no small thanks to the help of Exar Kun's teachings. "Nothing shall prevent me from having my revenge. Not even you."

He took the fibercord that attached to the amulet and hung the object around his neck, then securely tucked it underneath his garbs. Darth Odium made his way to Darth Dolosus's quarters, where he found his apprentice meditating. The other Sith noted his presence, broke from his meditations, and bowed before him. "The alliance has been formed," Odium spoke, "but our task is far from over. You will take Terrand Neyrr and Kryl Seseu to spearhead our part of the agreement."

"And what agreement would that be, my master?" Dolosus asked, already suspecting the answer.

"Along with our new allies, we are going to be instrumental in the success of a Jedi Purge."

OOC: Short, but meh. Better than nothing. Everything's waiting on the "Behind Enemy Lines" thread now.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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The Purge was going along well. Or, at least, Darth Odium thought so. Darth Dolosus had been able to root out five Jedi, and bring four of them to an early grave. The fifth was a padawan, barely into her training. She was fresh out of the academy on Onderon, and still remembered Sivter's attack on the world two years ago.

Two years. It seemed an eternity to Odium. He remembered that fateful day when he learned of his grandfather's death, and the one responsible for it. He produced the blade that Daer'Gunn had given him. The very blade that was used to fell Faarel Blackthorne in the depths of the Jedi Temple on Onderon. Darth Odium's grip tightened in hatred, before the comm unit clicked on, causing his grip to loosen.

"My lord," the voice on the other said said, "we have incoming."

Odium pressed a button. "Who is it?" he asked.

"We have been able to identify the ship as a VCX-820 Escort Freighter," the man reported. Something twinged in Odium, before his suspicions were confirmed. "IFF reports show the ship is called the Hellfire."

He frowned in disgust. So... his brother had come, at last. He had to admit, he was a bit disappointed that it took Guan this long to return here. "Make sure he finds this place," he ordered. "I will meet with him personally."

From the cockpit of the Hellfire, Guan looked at the planet covered with dense jungles, shrouded in the dark side of the Force. It was a place no man had dared venture in the past, a place that corrupted the very will of those who even orbited the world. And it was a place he was going to visit. Something called him there, pulled him to investigate the world.

The ship came closer to the world, and Guan could feel the dark side overwhelm him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Fear swallowed him whole, but he would not allow it to consume him. He stayed the course, and let the Force be his guide. The ship entered the atmosphere and, before long, he found himself looking at the planetary surface of Ronu II.

This was the closest he had ever been to the world. He could feel the manifestations of the dark side all around him. The planet reeked of it. And yet, somewhere, there rested a focal point of dark side energies. He followed his senses and piloted the ship in the direction of this focal point. Within minutes, he could see something stand out among the jungle terrain. A structure, of some sort. A temple, or a palace, not much unlike the style found on Yavin IV. He brought the ship closer, and landed in a small clearing not far from the structure, perhaps an hour's walk away. "Stay here," he told Ryy'Suuk and Neddac.

Ryy'Suuk roared in opposition. "Look, I don't know what to expect," Guan argued. "If the worst has happened... well...." He trailed for a moment. "Besides, someone needs to guard the ship."

He strode down the boarding ramp, alone, and proceeded on his way.

_________

"My lord, he is here," the masked figure said. Odium turned and saw one of his best, Burx Ludo, standing at the doorway. "Shall I intercept?"

"No," the Sith Lord responded. "Leave him to me." The dark Jedi bowed and departed from the command center. Darth Odium was not long to follow, and proceeded out of the main temple area and into the clearing that separated the structure from Darth Nefarious's underground tomb. He proceeded in the direction that Guan had touched down, but did not have to travel far, before the two were finally face to face.

"Jerik," Guan announced, as he pushed aside some brush and stepped into a small clearing, one that couldn't have allowed for anything larger than an escape pod to land, if it weren't for the two fallen trees that made for an engine's worst nightmare. He spied the trappings his brother wore, the redness in his eyes, and his general demeanor and stance, and knew that his worst fears had come to reality. Guan had heard of what happened in the outlying sectors of space, that a handful of Jedi had been slain, and one gone missing. On top of that, there had been much conflict, he could feel it. He could see it in his brother's eyes, feel it through the Force. "Stop this madness before it's too late."

"Stand down, brother," Odium responded. "My path is clear before me, and I would rather not have to strike you down." He unclipped his lightsaber, but stayed the blade. "Join me, Guan, and together we can bring Sivter to an end. You've heard of what is happening, just as I have. Don't tell me you refuse to believe in his power, in the threat he poses."

"I can't believe that you would bring yourself to this level," Guan retorted. He knew it was a mistake to let Jerik leave to Onderon alone, he should have gone with him. At least, had he been there, he could have tempered his brother out of making a fatal mistake. "What happened to you, Jerik?"

"Why, I've been enlightened," he said. "In my quest to destroy the dark side, I learned that one cannot truly defeat something which will never die."

"So you turned yourself to it? Is vengeance all that's important to you?"

Odium grinned. "I accepted my fate, brother. You should do the same. I will only offer you the choice to live one more time."

"Jerik, come with me... return with me to Onderon," Guan pleaded. "It isn't too late, we can get through this together!" The words tasted a lie to him, but still he wanted to believe what he said.

His brother's expression turned to one of disgust and hatred, and Jerik's red blade protruded from the hilt. A silent declaration that his decision had been made. Death.

Guan unclipped his own lightsaber. Perhaps if he could incapacitate Jerik, he figured, he could get him to the Jedi Order in time for them to help him. It was worth a shot, at least. The last thing he wished to do was to strike down his own brother. "Then may the Light have mercy on you," he said, igniting his own blue blade. Without warning, Jerik charged at Guan, and brought his blade down against his brother's own, already up in anticipating for a high assault.

Guan pushed his brother's blade off of him with enough force to cause Jerik to step back a few paces. He brought himself into a classical Soresu opening stance, bringing his open hand forward while his lightsaber was held back, facing Jerik. The fallen Jedi, however, took on an Ataru opening stance, before he attacked his brother once more, with a flurry of consecutive swings designed to strike at critical points in Guan's defenses. He maintained his resolve by keeping to tight, efficient movements, minimizing exposure to any target area his brother could exploit.

Within seconds, Guan was altering himself into the attack, and brought his blade against Jerik's abdomen, but the other blocked with ease. He swung his whole body around, using the momentary focus on one side to exploit the opening that Guan presented for himself, but the young Jedi was quick enough to see what was coming and leapt over Jerik's head, bringing his blade around as he landed behind his brother. Jerik ducked and swept his foot back in an arc, knocking Guan off-balance. As his lightsaber followed through with a vertical swipe upward, Guan was already regaining himself and retreated several meters.

The two paused and looked at each other for a moment. "Don't do this, Jerik," Guan finally said, breaking the silence. "Please... come back with me to the Jedi."

Darth Odium's response wasn't one of words, however. Suddenly, his lightsaber lashed forward against Guan's position. Surprised, Guan ducked out of the way as the red blade pierced through the tree behind him, cleaving it in two. The trunk began to fall on Guan's position, and he leaped up, slicing his blade clear through the falling obstacle, and used the two halves it created to launch himself further into the air. Odium sneered and retracted the fibercord attached to his lightsaber before following. Guan came down on him as he vaulted himself upward, and the two clashed in mid-air. Guan shoved his free hand forward, sending his brother back to the ground below, before free falling and landing, absorbing the impact by bringing his body down. His open hand touched the dirt, while his lightsaber was steadied behind him. He looked at his brother, who was already back on his feet.

Jerik twirled his lightsaber once, before charging, Guan mimicking the movement from his position. They brought their sabers together to form a cross, and stared at each other for a moment, before disengaging the lock and beginning a fatal dance with their blades as they each sought to exploit the defenses of the other. Jerik began to push Guan back, toward the palace in the distance, as their blades continued to impact, blow after blow, each parrying the other's attacks. A wide sweep from Guan's blade felled three nearby trees, and the trunks came crashing down on them. Jerik took note of the distraction and used his free hand to send a telekinetic wave of energy that pushed the falling objects away from the fight. Retaining his focus on Guan before him, he maneuvered to where his opponent had his back to the general direction of the palace, and launched a series of brutal attacks.

The tactic worked, as predictably Guan focused on deflecting each well-placed assault, and when an opening was found, the Sith Lord kicked his brother, causing him to flip back. As Guan landed on his feet, he took note that Jerik was focusing on the Force. Before he could react, however, he was launched back into the air, and several meters later he landed, tumbling along the jungle floor, until he managed to regain himself.

The only sound he could hear was the noise of nature around him. He looked around, opening himself to his senses. He sensed it, just as it was happening. From a small cluster of trees, his brother came flying after him, his lightsaber high above his head as he landed in front of Guan. The blade came crashing down toward his head, but Guan managed to roll out of the way. He came back to his feet just as the red blade pierced the air, but was deflected away mere centimeters from Guan's neck. He flipped backwards, giving himself enough room to regain his composure. It was barely enough, as his brother was not willing to grant him any opening. Jerik charged, and the two locked blades once more.

They pushed each other back, and began to circle. Guan studied Jerik's face as his brother looked on with anger. His eyes looked as furnaces as he kept his blade ready to strike. While he doubted that he could save his brother, Guan was still determined to stop him without having to resort to killing him. "Jerik, listen to me!" he said. "You must stop this. Come with me, we can still undo what you have done!"

Jerik growled. "I am no longer Jerik Blackthorne," he said. "I am Darth Odium, Dark Lord of the Sith!" He charged, and brought the blade down on his brother, and pressed with all his might. Guan's defense began to weaken, and he showed physical signs of strain as he struggled to keep his footing. He managed, however, to use the force to his advantage and quickly spun out of the way, releasing the opposite force exerted against his brother's attack. This caused Jerik to lose his own footing, but only for a moment, as he brought his lightsaber back behind him to block Guan's counterattack.

He turned around and swung against Guan's exposed neck, only to be met with the blue blade of his brother. In response, he brought his free hand up and grabbed Guan's forearm, holding the lightsaber in position. Guan reacted by mirroring the maneuver, and the two locked together, pressing against the other. Guan managed to break free and spin back, bringing his lightsaber before him as his brother's jabbed forward.

In a swift motion, the red blade slid up Guan's own, and Jerik spun, thrusting the blade back fiercely with both hands. The sound he heard was not that of impacting against a lightsaber, but of piercing through armor. For a brief moment, he felt vulnerable, before he turned to face his brother, dislodging the blade from its mark. Guan was not fast enough to block his brother's sudden assault, and looked at the hole the blade made in his midsection, before collapsing to his knees. The lightsaber disengaged and fell to the jungle floor.

Guan felt weak, the life force leaving him. He looked at Jerik in the eyes for what seemed an eternity. "Brother..." he managed to say.

Jerik brought his lightsaber back behind his head, preparing himself to perform the deadly sai cha maneuver on his brother. Guan closed his eyes. "I am ready," the Jedi simply said. He struggled with the words. "Are you?"

Jerik stood there for a second, as the fire in his eyes faded. No, not like this. He brought his blade down, deactivating it. "Guan," he said, his voice calmer, now. What was he doing? "I..."

Before he could finish, the sound of a lightsaber ignited, and he turned to face its direction. Darth Dolosus came at him, launching into the air with an overhead strike. "You are weak!" the Sith apprentice yelled, bringing his blade down on Jerik just as he ignited his own and brought it up in defense. "The title of master will be mine!"

The apprentice lunged at the master, bringing his lightsaber forward with such force that would normally cut through any man's defenses. Jerik deflected the attack with a single-handed grip, bringing his other hand to push the apprentice back. He charged against the apprentice, hatred for the betrayal, for the fact he could not alter the vision he had of it, filling his veins, and brought his blade upward in a thirty-degree slash. Dolosus blocked the attack, and twisted his blade around Odium's, before lunging against his master. But Darth Odium, filled with rage and powered by the dark side, was too fast, and he spun, bringing his body around his apprentice's, and as he turned to face the other, Dolosus was unprepared to block.

Darth Odium sneered, and struck his apprentice across the back, shoulder to hip, cutting deep into the tendons and through his spine. Dolosus let out a painful cry, and collapsed forward. "You were a fool to think you could best me," he chided the fallen Sith Lord. "Perhaps some day, but you were too quick to seize my power." He brought the blade into a two-handed reverse grip and prepared to deliver the final blow. "You are not worthy to be a Sith Lord!" With those words, he lunged the lightsaber down into his apprentice's neck, swiftly ending his life.

Odium looked over at his brother, now fallen on the jungle floor. "You should have accepted my offer," he warned the body, before walking away. He had work to do.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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Darth Odium gazed out the window of the palace at the jungle terrain before him. He was deep in thought with all that had transpired lately. Since his fateful duel with his brother, he was unable to locate Guan's corpse on the jungle floor. Normally he would have assumed that he had become one with the Force, but there was no trace of Guan anywhere. No clothes, no lightsaber, nothing. Just an empty place where his body used to be. He could only assume, then, that he had not come to the surface alone, and that whoever had accompanied Guan had retrieved his body.

There was a hint of remorse for what he had done, but it ended there. Darth Odium had to focus on the future, not dwell on the past. He was beyond his former self, had the days that had passed since the duel he continually practiced to rid whatever fragment of who he used to be from his very being.

A man approached from behind. Darth Odium did not turn around. "You summoned me, my lord?" the distorted voice of Burx Ludo said. He turned, and saw the dark Jedi on one knee, head bowed.

"The fight with the Jedi cost me my apprentice," he said. This was no news, it became apparent, and well spread by Odium himself, upon his return from the event. He had thought on who better to replace Darth Dolosus with; the young dark Jedi, or the experienced and fallen Jedi Master. Ultimately, he played on the side of caution. While Terrand Neyrr was well-versed in both the Force and combat, Burx Ludo was less experienced and far less likely to usurp Odium's power. He had spent the past few days meditating on the matter, and did not come to this decision lightly. Even beyond his direct influence, Nefarious's teachings were still influential to Odium's actions, and he almost chose the more experienced Koorivar above the masked dark Jedi.

But there was something about Burx that Terrand did not have. A spark of potential to rise above any other candidate as Odium's apprentice. And, if the time was right, succeed him. "I now pronounce you Darth Furor," he continued after what seemed an eternity to Burx. "You will become my instrument against those that oppose the Sith, and when you meet our enemies on the battlefield, they will know true fear." He motioned Furor to rise. "I have been informed that the time to bring the Jedi Order to its knees has come. While our numbers are small, compared to those of our allies, our resolve is just as strong. You will lead our forces into battle."

Darth Furor bowed deeply. "It will be my great honor, my master," he said. With an indication, he turned to leave Darth Odium's chambers. He would receive word where to send the sword to strike. In the meanwhile, Darth Odium required meditation on what was to come.

He had only recently received the actual call for the real push to begin. No more skirmishes, it was time for open war. However, it had to be precise in its timing. Should anything be off, the entire plan would fall to pieces. This Darth Trayus was very meticulous in his planning, something that Odium admired, even if the existence of other Sith, much less the alliance with them, went against his own teachings. It was a necessary evil, and his time to rise would come on its own.

For now, however, he would play this game, and grow stronger.
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Re: Dark Shadows

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Darth Odium received word directly from his apprentice of Darth Trayus's failure at Ossus and Darth Furor's retreat with the rest of the Crimson Empire's forces upon Trayus's defeat. While Odium was displeased by this turn of events, he had learned of Darth Trayus's ultimate death not long after from an agent on the field. The opposing Sith Lord was now out of the picture, and while Trucido Severus remained unaccounted for, Odium was free to continue his previous objectives, even if he no longer had the strong arm of the Crimson Empire to rely upon.

But, then, perhaps it was for the better. Should he rely on anyone but himself, he would set himself up for failure. Maybe it was near time to step up his game and progress forward in his plans. It would require him to be extremely careful, however. They were down to a severely damaged Star Destroyer, two Strike Cruisers, and a Dreadnaught, after Ossus. They had lost their Vindicator-class Cruiser during their campaign to bring Cazzik Wyn into the open, and the majority of their fleet during the assault against the Jedi Order at Ossus. This, in turn, caused Darth Odium to take a step back and rethink their current direction and tactics.

He thought back on his teachings. Subtlety, subterfuge, manipulation. Yes, he would need to resort to more indirect measures to achieve his goals. With Sivter now dead, and his cult broken and scattered, he had to focus on a new objective. But Darth Odium found that to be more difficult than he originally thought. His fight with Guan and alliance with Darth Trayus changed him. He found himself desiring less to destroy the dark side and more to control it.

But he was young, and had all the time he required to grow in strength to bring the Sith back to their rightful place at the head of the galaxy. Furor had recently arrived in the system, the remnant of their fleet limping home and licking its wounds. This would set them back, but there was nothing they could have done otherwise. From what Darth Odium had gathered, if they stayed they would have perished. He'd much rather not have to replace another apprentice, especially one so promising, in such a short period of time. Not over something as trivial as this.

"My lord," Terrand Neyrr spoke up, approaching the Sith Lord and kneeling before him. "There is still no word on Trucido's whereabouts. I would consider him lost, at this juncture."

Darth Odium was displeased with this news, but nodded anyway. "Very well," he said. They had other objectives to fulfill, which required Terrand's valuable abilities. It was certainly a far better use than trying to locate a creature who's loyalty, while proven, was consistently under questioning. He still had valuable assets in Kryl Seseu and Joryn Vise, as the two mercenaries had proven time and time again both their worth and their loyalty. Though Odium suspected said loyalty was only paid for through credits. He couldn't predict if they would remain with the Order if their pay was to be terminated, nor could he determine whether or not they would keep their mouths shut in such a case.

"Consider Trucido lost," Darth Odium continued. "I require your skills to root out our most immediate threats. Those that stand in our way to ascension must be destroyed."

"I already have informants feeding me information, my lord," the Koorivar said. "Some say there is a Jedi wandering dangerously close to learning of our operations."

This was not new to Darth Odium. It wasn't the first time they were close to being discovered. "So deal with it," he said harshly. He didn't have time for such petty ordeals.

"If intelligence is accurate, his last name is Blackthorne." This caused Odium to turn to face him.

"Impossible," he said. Guan had died, by his very hand. Unless Terrand had rediscovered his father. "Gather as much information as you possibly can about him and what he's doing, as well as who he has with him. I will have to deal with this myself."

"My lord? Would it not be wiser to send someone else, say, Darth Furor, to deal with him? It may be better for you to focus on our recovery after what happened at Ossus."

"Whoever this is, he is a dangerous individual." He paused. "Either he is my father, or my brother. Even if he could easily be bested, any consequences would hold a dangerous rippling effect. Regardless of his abilities, he is one of the most threatening individuals to us alive. He must be stopped. This needs to be handled delicately." While he had no doubt Darth Furor was capable of doing so, Darth Odium was more concerned over this Blackthorne's abilities and losing another apprentice. Terrand was hoping to take Furor's place, it couldn't have been more obvious, but Odium had more use for him than the manipulative dark Jedi. He will get what's coming to him, soon enough, he mused. In the meanwhile, the Koorivar was still vital to his plans and operations.

Terrand bowed. "As you wish, my lord," he said. Darth Odium could detect a hint of distaste in his voice, but dismissed it. "We will learn what we can, and I shall inform you of what we know as soon as we have useful information for you."

"I will decide what is useful and what is not," he snapped at the dark Jedi. "As soon as you learn something, anything, I want to know." The Koorivar bowed once more and took his leave. Darth Odium turned and faced the jungle terrain of Ronu II. "Terrand Neyrr is becoming a pain," he spoke as Darth Furor approached. "With our numbers now spread so thin, we cannot afford petty struggles for power."

"I shall deal with him, master," Furor said.

Odium held up his hand to stop his apprentice. "No," he said. "Terrand's usefulness had not quite run out. Be mindful, my apprentice. He will attempt to turn on you, in time. And, perhaps, on me as well. He will determine when his usefulness has run out."

Furor nodded. "As you wish, my master." Darth Odium stared out the windows of the palace. "What is our next move? With the defeat at Ossus, we cannot risk exposing ourselves. The Jedi are likely on high alert for Sith activity. We should expect swift retaliation against any movements we make."

Darth Furor was right. The Triumvirate failed when Darth Trayus was defeated at Ossus. He had no allies, and as such nobody to take the heat away from any actions they performed. Darth Trayus was reported dead and his Sith in a state of civil war, and Darth Terris and his group had disappeared not long after the battle's end. It was up to him, now, to finish the legacy he had inherited. But he could not do so recklessly. They would have to rely on their single greatest strength, now. Subtlety.

"The fleet needs to be repaired," Odium announced. They didn't have the resources to fully repair and refit that which was damaged and lost. Not yet, anyway. "You are to find us new backing for our operations."

"As you wish," Furor said. "There are bound to be several systems in this region of space we can convince to join us." Their current count of half a dozen otherwise backwater systems would not be enough on its own to sustain their current state of momentum. But Darth Odium had a plan to create for them a far stronger support structure. He would create a confederation to rise against the oppressive New Republic.

He grinned at the ploy. There was no easier way to get people to rally together than to spur their emotions of anger and hatred. And with the New Republic being the prominent power on this side of the galaxy, there couldn't have been a better scapegoat. The grin faded. "You will be provided with basic instructions, though I shall leave the details of your methods to your discretion. Spur the people's emotions. Make them aware of how tired they're becoming of their New Republic." They would need an ultimate prize, however. The single best move to strengthen their forces and push them in the right direction for their destiny. In due time, he decided. Darth Odium was far more concerned with survival, at this juncture, than sustainability.

Over the next month Darth Furor had been working diligently on gathering their support for the formation of Darth Odium's vision. Terrand Neyrr continued to feed him information on this mysterious Blackthorne's investigations of their doings. Darth Odium opted to keep his distance, observe his efforts more passively, to determine what, exactly, he should do about the man. But with each passing day it was becoming clearer to him that her would only have one choice. He managed to throw him off the trail a bit by giving him false leads, which averted his attention from the growing Confederation, but he knew it wouldn't last.

It was close to another month before Darth Odium had to make his decision, and it wasn't an easy one to come to. If this Blackthorne were to die, it would bring unwarranted attention. But if he were allowed to live, they would be discovered and all would be for naught. There was no other choice. Darth Odium instructed Terrand to feed the Blackthorne information of Sith presence on Roxuli. There, he would wait for him, and spring his trap.

__________

The ship dropped out of lightspeed within the Roxuli system. The man at the controls of the ship worked diligently to plot a course for the system's planet with the same name. "This is it," he said to the other two on the ship. They had been investigating the presence of Sith in this pocket of the galaxy for a while, now, based on leads provided by the Jedi Council. It was to be one of many such instances of missions that would further strengthen the relations between the Order and their organization.

His copilot, a Zabrak, looked on with interest at the planet approaching them. "And we are certain that this will lead us to what we seek?"

"All leads point to Roxuli," the man said. He frowned and looked at the Zabrak. "What do you sense?"

"I'm not sure."

The ship made its approach toward the planet. There was something amiss about this place. The closer they got, the more they were beginning to grow weary of the plan. There were only three of them, but the organization's past experiences against the dark side, and especially the Sith, gave them a wealth of knoweldge to draw upon to sense that something was off about this whole thing. What, exactly, it was they could not be certain.

The ship broke atmosphere and the man guided it along the rocky terrain before the designated spaceport came into view. There wasn't much happening on the world to warrant investigating Sith involvement, but then the dark side was known to hide in the shadows. As the ship touched down, the Zabrak placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Remember, Daran," he said, "if we come across a Sith Lord, all three of us must be prepared to take him on. Together."

Daran nodded. Between the three of them, Lok was the only one was relevant experience against a Sith Lord. The Zabrak had accompanied Aaralyn to Ossus to provide his assistance in her trials. He had taken five Guardians with him. Of those five, only one had returned to Tython to report on the incident. It was there that Cathal and a couple others decided that it was time for direct intervention. The Guardians of the Force's numbers were dwindling, and taking a loss of four members was a heavy hit against them. They could not risk leaving Tython, but in the end it was decided that Lok would take Daran and another with him to investigate leads on where the Sith might be residing, based on the debrief that was provided. The way they understood it, the Jedi was investigating and hitting back at this Darth Trayus's forces, but there was word of other smaller, more hidden groups elsewhere in the galaxy. If left unchecked, this would not bode well.

The three Guardians left the ship and took a look around the docking bay. Everything was operating as normal. But there was still something wrong. Each of them could feel a disturbance in the Force. Subtle, nearly hidden. Something, or someone, was here.

"Be on your guard," Lok instructed. "Sith are not to be taken lightly." The three left the spaceport but found nothing outside the ordinary. The information they were provided pointed them to this locale, but there was nothing. Was it faulty data? Maybe they were being led astray? As they approached an outcrop a figure approached the rocky ledge and stared at them.

Darth Odium looked at the three of them before him. Not one of them was his brother, or his father. Terrand was playing him for a fool. He narrowed his eyes. He was mislead, likely so Terrand could dispose of him and take his place as the master. It was no matter. He would deal with these three then return to Ronu II to make the Koorivar pay for his treacherous ways. "Jedi," he announced, "you have meddled in affairs that are of no concern to you. Out here, you will find no friendly faces. No love for your Order or for the Republic. This planet will be your resting place."

Daran looked up at the individual. He watched the red blade come to life and they followed suit. His orange blade was a contrast against Lok's green and Namara's blue. They readied themselves for the inevitable fight. Darth Odium jumped from his position and landed in front of them, but meters away. He approached, calmly, lightsaber behind him and ready to strike. Daran brought his saber up in a block as the red blade came upon him, then dodged out of the way when Odium disengaged and reattacked from the opposite direction. Lok's lightsaber came in to meet their adversary's own while Namara leapt over an struck from behind. But this one was fast, and he blocked her strike while pushing Lok away with a powerful surge of energy. It wasn't enough to bring him out of the fight, but the Zabrak did fall back several meters. He steadied himself as Daran and Namara reengaged their foe, before running forward with increased vigor to rejoin the battle.

Darth Odium fell back as he realized he was not making any headway. There were too many of them, and they were not merely the run-of-the-mill Jedi he was used to. What was he up against, here? They only gave him a few second of respite before they made their move and attacked in unison. Darth Odium was forced to perform a wide sweep with his lightsaber to keep them at bay just long enough for him to find advantageous ground. He was backed up against the face of the outcrop. He spared a glace up and leapt to the ledge above. But if he could do it, then so could they. And follow him they did.

As they landed, a felled tree was flung their way. Lok and Namara flipped over the incoming projectile while Daran split it in two with a strong downward strike of his blade, the pieces diverging on both sides of him as he charged with his companions. Another tree came their way, this time a stray branch striking Lok in the ribcage. Namara slid underneath the trunk before stopping to assist him to his feet. This left Daran in the lead. He leapt over the third tree and brought his blade down upon their foe. Darth Odium swatted it to the side before landing a kick into Daran's hip flexor. The man grunted in pain and Darth Odium brought his blade around to take advantage of the opening. Just as he was about to swing he heard a lightsaber coming at him, the twirling sound unmistakable. He launched himself over the thrown weapon and brought his lightsaber around to counter Daran's jab. Namara came upon him and Darth Odium dodged out of the way of the strike. Now Lok was back in the fray with his lightsaber returned to him.

He was outmatched, here. Against all three, he could not possibly win. Darth Odium needed to make his retreat and assess what he was up against. Damn that Koorivar, he thought. This was likely his doing. He would deal with Terrand personally when he returned to Ronu II. In the meanwhile, he needed to retreat, and get away from them safely. Odium pressed a button and the blade fell from the hilt, attached by a fibercord. He brought the whiplike contraption back and snapped it forward, forcing the three Jedi to fall back. Two more strikes and Odium had enough ground to work with. He deactivated the blade and retracted it before flicking both his wrists and sending two large boulders their way. He knew this wouldn't do anything more than hinder them, but it was what he counted on. While the three were distracted, he dropped off the ledge and skidded down to the surface. In the distance was his ship. Darth Odium made a sprint toward the Inferno sensing the three Jedi were not far behind. He climbed the ramp and made his way to the cockpit, bringing the ship out of standby. It lifted off and veered to the sky before he was clear of the three below.

Odium looked back behind him and narrowed his eyes. He hated to run from a a fight, but it was clear the direction it was headed. He had more training to do if he were to survive another encounter with the three again. As soon as he broke atmosphere, Darth Odium plotted his coordinates and entered lightspeed.

Back on the surface, Lok watched the ship make its escape. "What kind of Sith Lord runs from battle?" Namara wondered behind him.

"The kind that knows he is outmatched," Lok said passively. "He was skilled, and even with your skills he could have bested you one on one, Daran."

"Forgive me, Master Tarkis," Daran said with a bowed head. Lok put his hand on his shoulder and gave him a knowing look.

"You did what you had to do," he said. He looked around. "However, I believe we must be on the move. We may be overstaying our presence."

Phu

The Hellfire emerged from lightspeed in the system, after Guan had heard of reports of civil unrest against the Republic. The Phuii had declared opposition to the Republic, and had opted to join something called the Confederation. Phu was not, by any means, a world that Guan could have ever considered to be anything but problematic. However, what didn't settle well with him was the means by which they declared their allegiance. The Republic did not have any activity in their system, and they certainly were not the first to make this move. It had been enough to pull him away from finding a means to confront his brother and, if possible, save him. Ryy'Suuk groaned a cautionary statement to Guan as the ship was veered toward the planet.

"I have to agree with Ryy'Suuk," Neddac said. "We really should not be interefering in intergalactic politics. If the Phuii wish to join this rising Confederation, then we ought to let them."

"That's not why we're here," Guan said. "Is it not rather unusual that we have all these worlds suddenly rising up against the Republic, declaring their allegiance to a central government that has only started to rise in power? Several of these worlds have no real reason to join this Confederation, much less those that were Republic leave for this new government."

"Hate to break it to you, kid," Kevin said, "but that's what governments do. They change. Planets join, planets leave, wars are fought and casualties suffer for some imaginary line drawn on a map somewhere. It happens. That's politics." Guan did not respond and maintained his course. "Your father entrusted me to keep you safe. And I'm telling you, you're biting off more than you can chew, here."

"Then why would a neutral system focused on the gambling industry need a Strike Cruiser to guard them?" he asked, pointing at the craft on the radar. The IFF identified the ship as the Osiris.

"That ship isn't guarding them," Kevin said. He stopped for a moment. "That ship isn't guarding them." This time, it was slower, quieter.

"What is it?" Guan asked.

"This ship is a sentry. It's in a guarding position, but it's clearly not here for that purpose. Note its trajectory. It would be forming a patrol pattern around the planet. Instead, it appears to be gearing up for a jump. Possibly a microjump to another part of the system. It was probably here to refuel and restock. Which is even more disconcerting, because a neutral gambling world shouldn't care to be a stopping point for an affiliated warship."

Guan nodded. "I'm taking us in," he said. "There's bound to be someone here that will be able to provide us with some answers."

OOC: To be continued. Just trying to get things back into gear, breathe some life into my works. You know how it is....
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