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Topics - Joshmaul

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1
Holocrons and Info Nodes / Politics by Other Means
« on: 07/31/17, 09:55:47 AM »
"We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means."
- Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831)


----

Imperial Dreadnought Warspite
High Orbit, Iokath


"Insolent bastard! I'll have his head on a plate for this!" Darth Metheius was livid. "Who does he think he is, threatening my servants in this manner? And why hasn't Heermann done something about this? He's supposed to be curbing the fool's excesses, not encouraging them!"

Lord Ammenkayn stood near the door to her old teacher's private quarters, arms folded across her chest. "Heermann has the support of the Ministry of War, Master. The Empress herself gave him the command. And the core of his command's naval forces is the former Reydovan Sector Defense Fleet. He gave it to Heermann himself about a year ago, when Insomnius took control of Reydovan Prime - attempting to undermine her and increase his stock with the Imperial Military. It worked, all things considered."

"If I didn't know any better, Ammenkayn, I would say that was a hint of admiration in your voice." Metheius' blue eyes flashed red for a second. "Don't tell me he softened you up during your visit to his new pleasure palace."

"He mutilated my father's corpse, Master. I have no admiration for that man." It was only a half-truth, and Ammenkayn knew it. She knew Metheius would, too.

Before Metheius could respond to that, a transmission came from the captain. "Apologies for interrupting, Lord Metheius, but there is a ship approaching. Sith transport Shadowlight, out of IC-711."

"Malagant's ship...where is he going?"

"They're on an approach vector for the Ziost Avenger, my lord."

Metheius set his jaw. "Reroute them. Bring them here."

"My lord, that is a Sith vessel assigned to Imperial Wild Space Command. The Avenger is their command ship. We --"

"I answer to the Empress, Captain, not Moff Heermann. Reroute them! Now!"

"Too late, my lord. They've already landed."

Cursing angrily, Metheius looked over at Ammenkayn; her expression was implacable, but something in her eyes told him she was not all that put out about it. "Then open communications. I want to speak with Darth Malagant."

"Yes, my lord."

----

The Ziost Avenger - Flagship of the Imperial Wild Space Command
Low Orbit, Iokath


One of Heermann's military adjutants was waiting as the Shadowlight's ramp lowered. He bowed. "Welcome aboard, Lord Malagant. Colonel Tekan."

"Good to be here again," Darth Malagant said with a smile. Then he looked around, not seeing someone he had expected. "He is not here?"

"The commander is currently attending to personal business with the Governor of Belkadan, my lord. But I have word from the bridge that we're receiving a message for you. It's Darth Metheius, from aboard the dreadnought Warspite."

"Of course it is. He doesn't like the fact I'm not running around in sackcloth and ashes." He snorted. "I'll take it in the comms room, Lieutenant."

"Yes, my lord. If you'll follow me."

As they followed the adjutant in the corridors of the ship, Colonel Menrim Tekan leaned over and spoke in a low voice. "He must be sniffing around us again, my lord. What do you think she told him?"

"We'll soon find out," Malagant replied. As they entered the comm room, the adjutant patched the transmission from the Warspite, then nodded to the Sith Lord. "Thank you, Lieutenant. You may return to your duties...oh, one last thing." He pulled a small datapad from his coat. "The report from IC-711 from the colonel and I, for the commander when he is unoccupied." The adjutant took the datapad, bowing, and then departed.

The image of Metheius appeared on the holoprojector. "I knew you couldn't keep your hands clean. Building another pleasure palace so soon after we took your old one?"

"My personal finances remained solid even after you plundered the Temple of Introspection. I still had that house on Nar Shaddaa - you know, the one you came grovelling on your knees to me in, fleeing from that eyeless whore who usurped me and tried to give the sector you now rule over to Numair and his army of the dead?" Malagant smiled icily. "I made something of a killing, so to speak. Floating palaces on the Smuggler's Moon are at a premium nowadays...but I don't suppose you're interested in Huttese real estate, Metheius. What do you want?"

"I want to know what you and Heermann think you're up to with this business on IC-711. Installing yourself as a king already?"

"Commander Heermann and I have discussed the possibility of my overseeing this new colony as governor, yes. Not quite a sector, like you've got, but it's a start. Say, how is the weather on Reydovan Prime nowadays? Or has your patriotic duty kept you from overseeing the sector that our Empress granted you?"

Metheius seethed. "We're not here to discuss my conduct, Malagant."

"No? Perhaps we should be. From what I hear, you haven't left your ship since you arrived. How many of Tyth's machines have you waded through? How many Republic soldiers and Jedi have you killed?" He tilted his head slightly. "You don't look like someone who has been down there, dealing with our enemies. You look...rather comfortable, actually. Kind of like how you were on Dromund Kaas, safe and away from the fighting, while I was away on Zakuul for four years, two of them rotting in a swamp. Constantly wary for any threats - Knights, skytroopers, Heralds of Zildrog...even the wildlife."

"Enough! I will not --"

"I will not be spoken to like a slave acolyte," Malagant replied coldly. "I am not one of your pets for you to whip into compliance. I do not answer to you, Metheius, nor will I ever. Your proximity to the Empress has inflated your sense of self-importance. You think because you stayed in the heartland at her side, you're better than me. Tell me, when the uprising came on Reydovan Prime, when did you arrive?" He snorted. "Too late, that's when. She called you...and by the time you got there, it was over." He raised his nose imperiously. "Now, then, if you don't mind, I have real business to attend to here, and I don't have time for your paranoid inquisitions."

Metheius was absolutely livid. "Listen here, you pompous --" Before he could finish the sentence, Malagant had closed the communication.

Tekan looked uneasy. "We could be looking at a repeat of Yavin 4, Lord Malagant. He could try and convince the Empress to shut us down again."

"Then the Empress will see what a fool he truly is, Menrim. And he'll find I'm a lot better prepared this time..."

2
Media Gallery / Malagant's Manaan Madhouse!
« on: 07/12/17, 12:16:27 PM »
Otherwise referred to as the Palace of the Eternal Ocean on Imperial Colony IC-711. And I remembered I had an Imgur account from way back when, so finally, somewhere other than Photobucket... (So be warned. Lots of pics, and they're all .pngs.)


















3
Holocrons and Info Nodes / A Knight is Sworn to Valor
« on: 06/02/17, 06:57:01 PM »
A Knight is sworn to valor.
His heart knows only virtue.
His blade defends the helpless.
His might upholds the weak.
His word speaks only truth.
His wrath undoes the wicked.


----

Senate Plaza Spaceport, Coruscant

Tergahn had been right after all. His trip to the Custodum Enclave had been worth the risk, and it had proved most illuminating. While he found some views narrow - the focus of some solely on the defense of the Republic, but primarily the way the old Zabrak talked to the people in the room, himself included, like prepubescent children - he also found them...comfortingly familiar. After all, he had been raised under a code...a code that was perverted by the childish aspirations of insane tyrants. It distressed him that he had once sworn himself to such...evil. In hindsight, he saw that for what it was. His homeworld had been set ablaze because of pride and insanity. Where once it had ruled an Empire, now it was ruled by the Alliance of Odessen, which was now where he resided.

But he had not come to them from the Core Worlds. Until relatively recently, he had been among those who had helped to conquer the Core Worlds. He was a Knight of Zakuul.

He had spent most of his life as one of the golden armored warriors who used the Force to serve the cause of justice. He had been among those who had once marched behind Arcann and Thexan as they raided the holy worlds of the Jedi and the Sith in the name of Valkorion, and marched again across both the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire at Arcann's command when Valkorion fell. But that was over now; the gold had worn away, showing the true, battered surface beneath. He found that somewhat appropriate. The Eternal Empire had begun in glory, as all dreams do, but then it had descended into insanity and destruction before, finally, it had collapsed, swiftly and totally. In a thousand years, no one would even remember Zakuul except as a footnote in a distant, blood-soaked era.

It felt like so long ago already - even though it had all begun less than a decade ago, when the princes had led their armies into the Core. While Arcann and Thexan had plundered the Jedi ruins of Tython and the Sith tombs of Korriban, his introduction to the rest of the galaxy had begun on a border world of the Sith Empire, one that would play heavily in his realization that the Eternal Empire would not, in fact, last forever...and that those who commanded him had not been truly worthy of his loyalty.

----

Seven years earlier...

"According to what information we have, there are two major cities that play a part of the false Empire's command structure on this planet: The planetary capital, here, and a city of museums, libraries, and institutes of high learning. Admirable goals, though doomed to failure by the heathen ways of the planet's leadership."

He listened attentively as his captain gave the briefing. He and his fellows were aboard one of the Eternal Fleet battlecruisers of this small task force, sent to worlds along the borders of the Sith Empire to pacify them for the greater incursion that was no doubt to come under Arcann's command - his sole command now, ever since Thexan had fallen to the foul Outlanders. Strangely, however, most of the forces the brothers had commanded in the Core had returned to Zakuul, and there was no explanation as to why.

"I will lead the main force into the capital and seize or eliminate its leadership. This is their Sith governor, a bloated, self-important bulk of a man." The captain showed a holoprojection of the figure in question. While not "bloated" per se, he did seem somewhat rotund, and the smug expression on his face spoke volumes about the arrogance within. He wore heavy armor partly concealed by an embroidered robe, and carried a lightsaber in one hand. The captain disabled the projector, and looked up. "Knight Tavener, as my lieutenant, I am charging you with the seizure of the other city, and whatever records, artifacts, or other items of value you may deem suitable for salvaging. I doubt you will find anything of any real value - we've learned enough from our prior interactions with these 'Sith' to form a clear picture - but I will leave that to your better judgment."

"As you command, my captain," Galen Tavener replied with a solemn nod.

The captain smiled. "Don't think you'll be missing out too much, Galen. If knowledge is as important to these people as having an entire city to contain it implies, you may be in for a fight."

"If I am, so much the better, Hedrath - for you," Tavener returned with a slight grin. "The more I have to deal with will be the less you will need to worry about when you seize the capital."

Hedrath Jadre chuckled. "Ever the pragmatist, Galen. I like how you think." He looked around to them all. "To your drop pods. In Valkorion's name."

"Forever may he reign," the Knights replied in unison.

4
Colonel Ashmara Danrei was not happy. Not happy at all.

She had been prepared for deployment to Iokath with the rest of the Republic forces, commanding the "New Talaos Irregulars" - the company of disgruntled soldiers whose records had been faked to indicate they had died in battle, while instead joining with the colonel and Jedi Master Alieth Taldir at the Jedi's sanctuary on Tatooine. It had been a form of protest of sorts against the authoritarian regime of Leontyne Saresh, maintained even after she had left office. Danrei and the Irregulars had returned to Coruscant when the Eternal Fleet had gone on a rampage, protecting evacuees against hordes of skytroopers. When she had admitted the ruse to Supreme Commander Malcom, he had granted them full pardons.

The day before her departure, however, Master Taldir had put Captain Eidan Zherron, the ex-privateer who had commanded the Jedi Custodum's flagship Custodian's Watch during the recent battle, in touch with her. He had asked her to join a group of Jedi to confront that chest-thumping blowhard Colonel Exephos with his crimes. They had, and it was not what she had expected. Not in the slightest. After leaving Exephos' stronghold, she had gone to the Custodum Enclave, searching for the captain. She had found him on the enclave's balcony.

"You underhanded son-of-a-bitch sneak," she growled at him. Zherron turned at the sound of her voice, not having heard her come out of the enclave. "Why didn't you tell me this was all a ploy?"

The captain's cybernetic eyes hid whatever expression they might have had, but he still looked mildly confused. "What do you mean?"

"Exephos, you bastard! Why didn't you tell me this was all some kind of conspiracy? And that your Jedi friends here were in on it, for that matter! I didn't even want to be back in uniform, Zherron! My leg has hurt like hell for twenty years and still gives me a bit of a limp, so you can imagine I'm not thrilled with having all this damn weight on it."

"Now just back up for a minute, Colonel," Zherron said, anger in his voice. "What are you talking about? You went with Master Reymark and them to confront Exephos?"

"I did. And I found out that this whole mess is a sham." She explained what Exephos had revealed about the cabal, about his son, and what had become of the meeting in his stronghold. "Reymark kept looking around the room, and it took me until now to figure out what she was looking at. There was a spy camera in that room."

When she had finished, Zherron had the same look of confusion (sans the eyes) that Danrei had seen on the face of Colonel Artheer, the man Exephos had accused of being an Imperial spy. It was then that the Zabrak colonel realized he had no idea what the hell she was talking about. "You didn't know, did you?" She laughed. "You're blind more than physically, it would seem."

Zherron did not reply - he was still dumbfounded by the revelation. It sounded like a bad holonovel, but he knew Danrei was not one for exaggeration. "What is to be done?"

"What is to be done, Captain, is that I am going to Iokath with the Irregulars as planned. I did not get called back into the service by the Supreme Commander to get involved in witch hunts. This is a problem for you and your Jedi pals. So you deal with it." Without another word, she turned on her heel and marched back into the enclave, making her way to the exit.

Zherron just stared after her, still stupefied. He knew Exephos hated Jedi, but murder and torture seemed off the mark, even for him. "It was all for show?" he asked aloud, even though no one was listening to answer.

5
Holocrons and Info Nodes / 'Tis But A Change of Base
« on: 03/24/17, 07:35:35 PM »
Darth Malagant stood on the bridge connecting the main temple to the outer halls, looking over the dense jungles of Yavin Four with a pensive look. The woods, the waterfalls, the aura of the Force from the ancients' works, here and all around, soothed him. The Heermanns and their troops had departed for Belkadan, off to safeguard the frontier, with Valkorion dead, Zakuul fallen, and the Outlander ascendant on Odessen. Malagant did not envy them the task ahead.

"Lord Malagant." He turned to see his apprentice, Lord Lazhna, standing nearby. "A Fury and five troop transports have just landed outside the temple, and a number of cargo transports are en route. It's a delegation from Dromund Kaas, and they insist on speaking to you."

"Then they can wait. I am enjoying the view, the solitude, the time to think. This is my domain. I will not be interrupted by petty bureaucrats from Kaas City."

How wrong you are, Malagant.

Without warning, Malagant found himself picked up off the ground and hurled into the obelisk in the center of the bridge. Lazhna stood, expression grim, but stoic, as a dozen Dark Honor Guards approached, lined in formation...and behind them, three Sith Lords. A Chiss in a purple and red hooded robe and a Pureblood in heavy armor flanked the human in the center, his face branded with Sith iconography. He wore lightly armored robes of white and dark gray, trimmed with gold, an embroidered cloak running down his back. A gold-chased lightsaber hung at his belt.

"Metheius," Malagant hissed. "You backstabbing son of a --"

SILENCE! Darth Metheius' hand shifted, and Malagant hung suspended in the air, over the sheer precipice below. "You are not very difficult to find, Malagant. A single ship could wipe you out from orbit." His fingers shifted, and Malagant was slammed to the ground. "Is this how you spend your days? Resting on your laurels, playing king in your own palace? Wasting our resources to fuel your ego?" Metheius' blue eyes glared with contempt, and then glanced at the Togruta warrior. Her head was bowed, and she refused to meet his eyes.

Malagant looked up at her, then at Metheius...and then back at her, astonished. "You called him here?"

"Lord Lazhna understands her duty to the Empire. It is a pity that you do not." Metheius knelt next to him, grasping his face to force him to look up. "She has questioned your judgment in recent days. You took two Jedi traitors as your apprentices, made them Darths...and they betrayed the Empire. And then you killed them both to rectify your error. Darth Verulam trained your Master, and then betrayed the Empire. You fled...running and hiding on Jaren, on Zakuul...while true Sith defended the Empire. And then you return and kill an Exarch, and destroy his Fortress." He sneered. "You think a single victory makes you a hero? The way you act, you won the entire war for us. Nevermind the Empress and her fleet on Voss, or the losses we took on Dromund Kaas when the Eternal Fleet went rampant."

Malagant's look turned to Lazhna, hate evident in his burning red gaze; Lazhna could not meet his eyes, either.

Metheius stood and raised his voice. "By order of Her Imperial Majesty Empress Acina, and with the full support of the Ministry of Logistics and the Ministry of War, all artifacts and properties here are to be immediately confiscated and returned to Dromund Kaas. The garrison is hereby recalled, and will report to Vaiken Spacedock for reassignment. As will you." He looked around. "Where is the commander?"

"There, my lord," the Chiss said, pointing. "Colonel Tekan. One of Commander Varan's students. All of his men are light recon." She indicated the Cathar officer standing nearby in his light armor. "Commander, front and center!"

Tekan stepped forward. "My lords."

Metheius' gaze turned to him appraisingly. "Commander Tekan, assemble your men. You will be boarding the shuttles shortly."

"No!" Malagant staggered to his feet. "I will not allow this!" His lightsabers entered his hands as he charged at Metheius in a rage.

Metheius raised a hand and hurled Malagant back into the obelisk with a burst of lightning. "The ministries have given the order, and the Empress has endorsed it. Your self-centered idleness is over." He looked pensive. "As I recall, the newly-minted Moff Heermann is a friend of yours. He's recently relocated to Belkadan, where his wife is the new governor. Perhaps that will be your new home as well. You want to continue to cultivate a good relationship with him? Consider this your chance."

"I will not be humbled like some slave-born acolyte," Malagant spat.

Metheius snorted. "I am not giving you a choice, Malagant. You will either accept...or you will die." He glared at him. "The formal announcement will be transmitted on the HoloNet soon...the Empress has commanded me to clean up the mess you made of the Reydovan Sector. Your misjudgment with that eyeless witch nearly gave the sector over to that corpse-fondler Numair. I will allow General Daltyn the honor of governing the sector capital in my name, and the other planetary governors of the sector as well. Save for Sugilar, which you burned to a cinder in an act of spite. Acts that will be...restrained from now on. That is, unless you would prefer the 'other' option?" Malagant looked as if he wanted to spit curses at him, and yet shook his head. "I thought not. Now then, Darth Malagant...you are to take your ship and return to Vaiken Spacedock. There, you will await further orders from Dromund Kaas."

Malagant's hateful gaze now met his, but he said only, "So it will be."

6
The Custodian's Watch - Valor-Class Cruiser
Flagship/Mobile Enclave of the Jedi Custodum
Stronghold Adega - Two days after the fall of Reydovan Prime


Eidan Zherron excused himself from the discussion on the crew deck and walked into the archive room, not wanting to let them see how he was feeling. He had felt surprising anguish in his soul since the news had broken, even though he had seen the inevitability of it for nearly thirty years. The Imperial news media had just reported that the attempted rebellion in the Reydovan Sector had been quashed, and that Darth Insomnius, the rebel governor, had been executed. It was for her that he felt this pain, because he remembered her as someone else: Caradell, the former Archivist of this enclave.



Ever since they had found her on the destroyed Miraluka colony, six years prior to the Sacking of Coruscant, Zherron and his old captain, Vorian Tanis, had been wary of her. So had her eventual Jedi teachers, Aken Tyrell and Gadren Zulek. She had been nine years old - a year younger than her elder brother Huldref, who had been the oldest survivor - when they had found her. The Direwolf had landed with Master Tyrell and his old Padawan, then-Jedi Knight Saxtus Fayhan, in the destroyed village where the Miraluka had lived in peace. The brightest flame had been young Katran, who had been a fine Jedi Knight until she was killed on Nikaea following the Revanite war...ironically, by the same one who had killed Caradell, and Huldref, and most of the others.

"There is no emotion, there is peace" was the first line of the Jedi Code. Zherron had worked around Jedi for most of his adult life, and he liked to think he picked up on their Code and their philosophy. Certainly, he had a greater appreciation for what the Force was capable of than most men like him. But he was not a Jedi...a Jedi did not feel anger, despair, and grief, or at least they did not allow those emotions to sway them. He tried not to let them sway him, either, but there were times he could not help it.

He looked around the archive room, seeing the banks of holorecords, the datacrons, the artifacts. She should be here, he thought. She should be in this room, maintaining and cataloguing the records and items in here. She should not have been a Sith Lord...and she should most certainly not be dead. He let out a tired sigh. There are a lot of people who shouldn't be dead these days. His mind went to them all, all people he wished were there, fighting the good fight against Zakuul - Saxtus Fayhan, Kieran Devaneaux, Aken Tyrell, Gadren Zulek, Ketana Linavil and her daughter Melena, Katran, Huldref, Corlam, Caradell...

Elmira, Mina, Arabella... As he thought of the dead, his mind always went to his beloved Mira, and the two of their three daughters that had died with her. He silently thanked the Force - or whatever else was listening - for at least having one of his children. Lucia had been believed dead too, but had shipped off with an old friend of Tanis', Davyd Lorath...and he, too, had died, killed on Makeb while trying to aid the people against the Hutt takeover. Lucia worked on Odessen nowadays with the Alliance, often in the company of the Jedi Master Tergahn Dai'lo. The Republic had declared them both renegades, just as they had the Custodum.

He had told Telline he would see if he could ask Tergahn for Alliance help in getting more supplies. He had not heard back...yet. He wondered if Lucia had found herself caught up in the ongoing mess after the Outlander defeated Arcann on Odessen. Admittedly, despite being a man born to flying ships (even gargantuans like the Watch), Zherron looked forward to the day when the worst things he had to worry about was eating properly, getting enough sleep, and getting to the next destination on time - not whether there were enough parts for the gun turrets, or whether the hyperdrive would give out at the wrong moment, or whether the Eternal Fleet would find them and blow them out of the stars.

Someone out there - Rooks, he believed - had said something about the trade of fresh air for recycled air...he had to admit, after five years on the run, he looked forward to setting foot on terra firma again. Preferably not while freezing his balls off waiting for rescue, like that incident on AZ-1194...

Enough of this, Zherron chastised himself. It can't do for the aging, battle-scarred, yet still handsome captain to be feeling maudlin. He chuckled to himself as he stood up, then winced as his knee cramped, before he went back out to join the others.

7
Storyboards / Ending the Reign of Nightmares (Closed)
« on: 12/17/16, 04:52:01 PM »
((The first IC post is yours, @LarhrNaor - this is just to set the stage, as it were, heh heh...))

"The invasion of the Eternal Empire was the darkest hour for the Sith since the Great Hyperspace War, more than a millennium ago.

Back then, the Jedi were the enemy, and we were deceived into following a creature that sought to consume us all. The cataclysm on Nathema had been blamed on the Jedi, but I discovered - in my brief period as a mindless zealot of the Tenebrous Gospel - that it was in fact the work of Lord Vitiate, the creature who would call himself our Emperor. I had never thought to see such events repeated in my lifetime...a world consumed by a hungering would-be god, and the Empire for which we fought brought low.

And yet, in a short span, both occurred.

Following the death of the planet Ziost came Vitiate's new form - the Immortal Emperor Valkorion - and his grand 'Eternal Empire' of Zakuul. Within a year, his bloodthirsty scion, Arcann, brought both the Republic and the Empire to the brink of annihilation with disturbing ease. We surrendered, choosing to live to fight another day.

For the next four years, an uneasy peace - much like that which followed the Treaty of Coruscant - reigned over the galaxy, and I spent those years in a sort of exile. It could not last. It took one individual, known as 'the Outlander', to rally like-minded folk to make war against the Eternal Empire, and perhaps even topple it.

Yet there were those, like me, who saw those who answered the Outlander's call as traitors for abandoning their homelands to fight for a 'better cause'. Even with my own doubts as to the future of the Empire, which began with the revelation on Nathema, I could not follow the herds who flocked to Odessen. Thus, I returned to fight against Zakuul - not for the 'Alliance', but for the Empire. A new Empress had taken the throne in my absence, one who could act as a beacon of unity for a fractured society. Though I doubted her at first, she proved worthy to wear the crown.

Yet there were those who chose to fracture the Empire further, believing it to be weak and unstable, ironically making it more so with their selfish desires. One such was Darth Insomnius...a former Jedi archivist, and a nightmare of my own creation. Fortunately, however, I was able to awaken with that nightmare.

But I could not do so without an ally...and the ally I found was not who I expected."

- from the journals of Darth Malagant

8
...I could be Admiral Underwood instead. *grin*


9
Darth Insomnius stood on the balcony of Whitesoul Spire, gazing over the assembled crowd numbering in the tens of thousands. She wore her finest robes of dark gray and blood red, and had donned her gold-trimmed veil. Holocam drones flittered around the balcony, transmitting her image to the entire planet, and from there to the entire sector...and beyond. Standing beside and slightly behind her was a thinly-built Sith Pureblood in an ornate robe of black and crimson.

"We have come to a crossroads," she said without preamble. "The Eternal Empire has begun to falter with the recent victory by the Outlander's Alliance at the Battle of Odessen. The mad tyrant Arcann is toppled." With that, the crowd began to cheer. She let it go on for a moment before raising her hands for silence. "Yet the news from Zakuul has indicated that a far greater threat has assumed the Eternal Throne, in the form of Arcann's psychotic younger sister, High Justice Vaylin. From what we have heard of her, she is even less inclined to restraint than Arcann, and will not be so inclined to sit idly and allow this Alliance to continue to challenge her."

The Miraluka paused to let that sink in. "There are many within both the Republic and the Empire who are content to disregard the commands of their apathetic leaders on Coruscant and Dromund Kaas, and have left to join the Alliance, who have proven to be the only successfully organized resistance movement against the Eternal Empire. The Empress is content to sit idly on her throne and revel in her self-declared power, while the Republic's Chancellor Madon only responds to commands from his puppet mistress Saresh. All the while, we here on Reydovan Prime are made to suffer. Our sector defense fleet taken from us. The bureaucrats in the War Ministry demanding that we also give up the soldiers needed for our defense, to be assimilated into the greater Imperial Military - and then forced to sit and watch as the galaxy tears itself apart. One would think that this would be an opportunity to formally declare ourselves for the Alliance."

Another pause, then a shake of her head. "I say no. The Alliance is a good idea from a diplomat's point of view, yes, but as a Sith, and as loyal citizens of an Empire that no longer exists, we will not allow ourselves to be subsumed by an organization tainted with Jedi ideals. I speak of such things from experience, for - as I am sure many of you know - I was once a Jedi myself, until I was shown how to break my chains, and gained my freedom." She indicated the man standing behind him. "This was once an acolyte of the late Darth Verulam - his head is the bald one there." She pointed into the plaza, where four heads were mounted at the corners of the central square. "Darth Verulam believed that the Empire was temporary, and that it would inevitably fail. He looked to the Order of Revan for deliverance, believing that the path of Revan would be a more palatable choice than the path of a failing Empire with an absentee Emperor. For that, all Sith, including the one standing behind me, turned on him, and he met his end in the cleansing of Nikaea."

The Pureblood did not so much as blink or move a muscle in his face as Insomnius spoke. He simply stared at her, listening.

"At the time, we declared him a traitor, a faithless coward. Yet look at what had occurred since. Darth Verulam's beliefs have all been vindicated! The Emperor has revealed himself as the architect of our galaxy's demise, and both of the empires he has created are tainted by his hunger. The Empire of the Sith is doomed to fail, and the Empire of Zakuul will soon follow suit. And we are being pulled into the maw of death right along with them." Insomnius' mouth - the only part of her face still visible - contorted into an enraged snarl as she shouted, "WILL WE ALLOW IT?!"

A resounding negative roared from the crowd.

"NO! We will not shackle ourselves to what is clearly destined to fail! We will find others who have rejected mutually-assured destruction! From this day henceforth, we are no longer slaves of the Sith Empire - we are free!" She raised her hands in a beseeching gesture. "Claim our freedom with me - together!"

The roar threatened to shake the transparisteel windows out of their frames. Satisfied, Insomnius turned to the Pureblood. "As we discussed," she said simply. He bowed his head, and departed.


----

Shadowgarde Palace, Nar Shaddaa
Two days later


"She is more ambitious than I realized. She did not take kindly to my withholding the RSDF...but this was a move I did not expect."

Darth Malagant sat back in his throne as the recording faded. Standing before him were four of Insomnius' most trusted advisors, now having forsaken her due to the announcement Malagant had just watched. They were General Arik Daltyn, commander of the Imperial Reydovan Defense Force; Malagant's former apprentice, Lord Lazhna Dai'lo, the Minister of Planetary Security and Defense; Commander Menrim Tekan, successor to Varan as head of the IRDF's Special Forces Division; and lastly, Darth Metheius, who had offered aid after the destruction of the Star Fortress - and had helped oversee Malagant's "indoctrination" as Insomnius' robot-brained slave.

They had all sat idly while he suffered Insomnius' torments - even Lazhna. Now they came crawling to him because now, finally, the eyeless bitch had gone too far for them. The Force is whimsical, he mused.

"And what is it you expect of me, you dribbling pack of backstabbing traitors?" Malagant said with an amused sneer. "Besides having four more heads to put on pikes and place as decorations, that is."

"We cannot allow all the blood and treasure that has been expended in Reydovan Prime's reconstruction and defense to amount to nothing, my lord," General Daltyn said uneasily. "We suspect that she may be looking at aligning the sector with the Shadren Hegemony, another warlord in the service of the so-called King Dorian. Given your recent...dealings with the Imperial War Ministry, we would suspect that they, and you, would seek to prevent this."

Malagant was indeed aware of the possibility. Insomnius had said she supported them as an alternative to the Empire, which she declared a "failed state" and a "vassal of the Eternal Throne". While she may not have been far from the truth - Malagant himself confessed to wondering about the apparent apathy of the self-declared Empress Acina - the fact that she publicly declared her alignment with a nest of seditionists was not something that could be tolerated. He would have to speak with Heermann; the Under-Moff had already dispatched the Fourth Fleet against the Hegemony in the Belsmuth sector. "Thank you for this," he said finally, after a long silence. "That is all."

Daltyn was wrong-footed. "But...what do you intend to do, my lord?"

Malagant stared coldly at him. "That is for me to decide, General, not you. If I were you, I would be thankful I was alive and leaving of my own volition, rather than being hurled to my death from the balcony. Now get out." The others took the hint. "Lazhna, not you." The Togruta warrior stopped and turned to face him. Malagant stood from his throne and stepped down to the ground...then, with a lightning-fast movement, grasped her by the throat, lifting her off the ground with strength enhanced by both the Force and cybernetics. "You betrayed me."

"Master...I..."

"Oh, so it's 'Master' now? You think that will sway me?" Malagant let out a disgusted snarl, then released his grip. Lazhna crumpled to the ground, coughing and gasping. "Make no mistake: I will not forgive or forget this affront. But prove your loyalty to me, and to the Empire...and you may yet live to see the end of this war."

"I...thank you...Master," Lazhna gasped out.

"Now go. I must think." Malagant returned to his throne, and began to consult star charts. But it was not the Reydovan system he was looking at.

Lazhna did not remain in his presence long enough to find out.

11
Whitesoul Spire - Insomnius' New Residence
Montagne Noire, Reydovan Prime
Two months after the fall of the Star Fortress


The dark side had begun to take hold in the Reydovan capital city. Like on Dromund Kaas, the storms were constant here, a testament to the power of hate and anger that had rendered this city to ruins not once, but twice...and to the hate and anger of the planet's rulers that sought to rebuild it not once, but twice.

Darth Insomnius stood in the archive room of her new residence, a home built more to a modern Imperial style. Rather than rebuild what Cyanoculus had wrought here, with golden spires and pyramids, she decided to go to "Imperial architecture" - simple, modular, and functional. The new Palace of the Mountain Shadow, which would serve as the headquarters of the IRDF and other planetary government offices, would be built like the Citadel in Kaas City, or the People's Tower in New Adasta on Ziost, as it had been before the cataclysm.

The Temple of Introspection had served its purpose, and was now left to be claimed by the forests of the Caymarnian foothills. She would not live in his shadow any further; that building had always been his, even when she had resided in it. This was her sanctuary now.

Who knew - in a few thousand years, maybe someone would find the old place, and wonder how a Massassi temple from Yavin 4 got all the way out here...

Insomnius had been receiving reports from Varan, now acting on her behalf again with his master "gone", regarding the ongoing struggle with Zakuul. The results had not been promising. Even as Exarchs and Star Fortresses were removed, the grip was as tight as ever. Arcann burned five planets looking for this "Alliance", and kidnapped, tortured, and/or executed anyone suspected of sheltering them. For everything this "Alliance" did, it seemed, nothing changed for the better. If anything, it was made worse.

Perhaps she would have a skifter up her sleeve for that...

"Your Excellency." Insomnius looked up from the archive she had been consulting to see the chief technician in the doorway. She had brought in a team of cyberneticists and droids to work on her "latest project" since they had returned to the capital. Work progressed in both Montagne Noire and in the damaged city of Illuminopolis, thanks to a generous business deal with Krayt Industries, the conglomerate owned by Darth Karmic.

Setting aside the archive she had been consulting, she walked up onto the raised floor to him. "Progress, Doctor?"

"Progress, my lady. I think our team has done exceptional work with this one. The Sith trainers have been equally impressed; Darth Metheius, Lord Lazhna and Lord Ammenkayn all agree he has progressed in leaps and bounds."

She walked with him towards the upstairs chambers. "He is still strong with the Force?"

"He is, but the changes to his body have resulted in their being funneled into his physical strength; he himself recognizes the limitations to his Force abilities brought on by the cybernetics. His circulatory system is largely dependent on them, given the damage done to his chest by the plasma beam. His respiration was tricky, but we preserved enough of it where he could operate without a mask or helmet under non-combat conditions. We have spent a great deal of time testing with our Sith guests to determine how long he can go without requiring artificial respiration in combat, and it improves day by day as his body adjusts to his implants. The kolto injectors also come in handy for that."

"Better than Cyanoculus, you reckon?"

"Much more so, physically. Taelios' records indicated he had had to do a near-total body rebuild for Darth Cyanoculus, and the cybernetics - while highly advanced - made some of his movements slower. This was much less to replace, but much more work to adapt them as you wished us to."

As she entered the audience chamber, Insomnius watched as two Sith were engaged in lightsaber combat. One was Lazhna Dai'lo, the Togruta Sith Lord who served as Insomnius' chief enforcer. The other was a human with brown hair running to his shoulders, one side of his face scarred by burns, which were partly hidden by the elaborate Sith tattoo around the eye. He was in battle armor, and to Insomnius' surprise, carried a pair of lightsabers - one with a straight hilt, one his usual curved-hilt. And he was holding his own, without a helmet - though she could see that his breathing was becoming somewhat labored.

Darth Metheius, standing in front of the throne, clapped his hands twice, bringing an end to the duel. "Enough. The governor is here." Lazhna, stepping back, raised her lightsaber in a salute; after a moment, her opponent returned it, then disengaged both weapons and hooked them to his belt.

Insomnius looked pleased. "Leave us," she said to the others, who bowed respectfully as they filed out of the room. Once they were alone, she said, "You have adapted quite well, all things considered."

"I'm sure this was part of your plan. By enhancing certain skills...and hampering others."

"Of course. I couldn't very well allow you to think you could dominate me...as I now dominate you." Insomnius grinned wickedly. "Command word: Eagleshard." The man suddenly froze, standing straight at attention, his facial expression going utterly blank. "Are you ready to carry out the work of the Empire, Darth Malagant?"

"I am ready, my lady," Darth Malagant replied at once, his voice mechanically flat - though that was not the response he had wanted to give...

12
Lucia Zherron slumped onto the couch in her ship's hold, wiping sweat and grime from her forehead as she lay her head back on the headrest. Finally, the repairs were done, and the ship was ready to fly. She looked to her side to see a glass of whiskey held out for her, by her lean-muscled and often close-mouthed first mate, Liam Branscombe. "You're a lifesaver," she said gratefully.

"I try." Branscombe shrugged. "The Jedi is coming?"

"So Tavan says. And so she said, if anything happened." Lucia knocked the glass. "We'll see. Either way, we're underway first thing in the morning."

"Have faith." Darias Tavan sounded amused as he stepped out of the cargo hold, having checked and rechecked his battle gear. "She'll be along. I think she has as much a stake in your father's return as we do, Captain. And with Ediren involved, I think it's good we have a Jedi, since Tergahn is off being...well, Tergahn." All Tavan knew was that Tergahn was involved with this mysterious "Alliance" fighting against Zakuul, beyond the remit of the Republic or the Empire...and so was Nelys Lorath, Ediren's cousin and captain of the Brigantia. They never said where they were going, and it was not like they could put trackers on them; both men checked and rechecked the ship and their cargo for such measures before departure.

"Ediren might not appreciate a Custodum Jedi being in this mix."

"Probably not, but I'm not overly concerned about soothing his feelings. He's gone too far." Tavan shook his head grimly, then smiled and said, "Get some sleep, Lucia. She will be along in the morning before we go. I am certain of it." With that, he headed back to the cargo hold, where he had set up a cot to sleep on. Branscombe nodded his agreement, before heading to his bunk to get his own shuteye.

Sighing, Lucia curled up on the couch in the hold, and quickly dozed off...

13
Planet: Reydovan Prime
Location: The Outer Rim, Republic-Imperial Border
Suns: 1 - "The Unblinking Eye"
Moons: 3 - Serenia, Derania, Torania
Atmosphere: Type I - Breathable
Climate: Alpine
Gravity: Standard
Primary Terrains: High rocky mountains, valleys, coastal flatlands
Surface Water: Oceans, mountain lakes, rivers
Government: Sith Governor
Capital City: Montagne Noire (de jure, under reconstruction), Illuminopolis (de facto)
Primary Exports: Munitions, Cybernetics, Luxury Goods
Main Currency: Credits (Imperial Standard)

Basic Information

Reydovan Prime is the first planet in the Reydovan system, and has a series of natural rings around it. There are three moons - Serenia, Derania, and Torania. There are 61 provinces, settled around four continents. Fifty percent of the planet's landmass is mountains; the highest peaks are the Caymarnian Mountains, on the northwestern continent. Much of the remainder of the planet is forest. The major flatlands are located on the coasts of the southern continents.

The planet's capital and largest city is Montagne Noire, centered around the solitary Black Mountain in the eastern coastal flatlands of the southwestern continent; after its destruction by Zakuul, it was abandoned, but rumors of reconstruction efforts have abounded. Other major cities are Caymarnian City, the planet's industrial center, and Illuminopolis, the City of Light, a city of museums and universities and the temporary planetary capital, both situated in the Caymarnians on the northwestern continent; Amesport, across the channel from Montagne Noire in the southeastern continent; and New Avalon, in the Deadwood Valley west of Montagne Noire on the southwestern continent.

History

Reydovan Prime was settled by the Galactic Republic four centuries ago, referred to by some as "the Alderaan of the Outer Rim" due to its similar climate, carefully-preserved natural wonders, and the establishment of noble houses. Around the time of the Jedi Civil War, the system and its surrounding sector had made itself independent of the Republic and established its own nation-state led by an Emperor, a system that lasted for over 250 years. Shortly before the Great War, the system was brought back into the Republic. However, a small number of noble families had secretly made an alliance with the Sith Empire, which (unbeknownst to most) was only a short distance away.

In the 21st year of the Great War, Baron Artimus Devaneaux of the Deadwood Valley - descended from the old Reydovan Imperial Family - returned after having disappeared decades before, and was now called Darth Defileris. With his brutish apprentice Velenkayn, he ruled over the planet with an iron fist for seven years, until he was overthrown by a Republic strike team led by Jedi Knight Saxtus Fayhan and his Padawan, Kieran Devaneaux, the son of Defileris. The war ended shortly afterwards, though the planetary government remained somewhat unstable during the Cold War that followed.

After the war, Kieran eventually fell to the Sith himself, becoming the Sith Lord Darth Cyanoculus, and eventually took control of the planet with the guidance of his Sith master, Darth Malagant. Though Cyanoculus was briefly toppled by an executive committee seeking to keep the planet independent of both Republic and Empire, he reasserted control shortly afterwards and declared an "Imperial State", and undertook an extensive project to restore the planet's government and its fortunes in the wake of a decade of instability. The citizens of Reydovan Prime, human and alien alike, were given all rights as citizens of the Sith Empire; there were no slaves on Reydovan Prime proper, though it is rumored that the mines on the planet's three moons were run by slave labor.

As war resumed between the Republic and the Empire, Cyanoculus undertook the restoration of the planetary government under his leadership; while the planetary parliament was re-established as it had been prior to the Imperial takeover, it existed largely as an advisory body to himself as the governor of the Imperial State, as he held supreme executive authority. Under the direction of military scientist Lukas Indrick, the planet's industry was re-established, including his family's company, the Caymarnian Weapons and Armor Manufactory (CWAM).

As an ex-Jedi, Cyanoculus' decision to allow representative government and his attempts at diplomacy earned him the scorn of no small few Sith Lords, his teacher Darth Malagant chief among them; he was also vocal in his opposition to the methodology employed by Darth Thrax on Zythia, leading to speculation of a possible war between Thrax and Cyanoculus. That changed after the decision (advised partly by Malagant, seeking to stave off possible unrest) to fall in line with the more "traditional" members of the Empire in regards to foreign policy. Shortly afterwards, Cyanoculus abruptly decided to resign and leave the planet, and turned his executive power over to General Euphrati Velade, commander of the Imperial Reydovan Defense Force, who was promoted to Moff. Cyanoculus was killed sometime later, after being unmasked as a follower of the Order of Revan.

Moff Velade attempted to maintain the system of governance built by Cyanoculus, allowing the Imperial State to become more autonomous from the increasingly-distant authorities on Dromund Kaas. However, after the defeat of the Revanites and the cataclysm on Ziost, the Imperial State found itself in the crosshairs of Malagant, who decried the continued use of the "symbols of a traitor" (the Imperial State's insignia, the "Eye of Kieran", had not changed even after his death) and the "weakling" democratic regime, which had elected to make sending Force-sensitives to Korriban voluntary, rather than compulsory as it was under Imperial law. If left unchecked, Malagant believed, the planetary parliament could vote to declare its independence from the Empire, an action that could not be tolerated.

Aided by disenchanted members of the Imperial State's command structure, Malagant used his authority as a Dark Lord of the Sith to disband the Imperial State, executed Velade and the entire planetary parliament, and declared himself the sole legal authority on the planet, stating that Reydovan Prime would become "just another world" in the dominion of the Empire. Using the funds from the slain Council of Nobles, Malagant relocated an ancient Massassi temple from Yavin Four to the Caymarnian Mountains to act as his personal sanctuary, and ruled the planet with an iron fist - allowing life to go on as usual, but ensuring that all remembered who was in fact in charge.

Malagant's governorship ended somewhat abruptly shortly afterwards with the arrival of the Eternal Empire, based on the planet Zakuul in Wild Space; the campaign began with the destruction of Montagne Noire at the order of Hedrath Jadre, a captain of the Knights of Zakuul, their Force-sensitive elite guard. Malagant was declared killed in the attack, leaving his enforcer, Lord Lazhna Dai'lo, and IRDF Commanding General Arik Daltyn to face the invaders themselves. Illuminopolis, again the temporary capital, fell to the Zakuulans within two months, and IRDF commanders began defecting to the invaders to save their own lives. Lord Lazhna and General Daltyn were left to using guerrilla tactics, but soon came to the conclusion that further resistance would be futile.

At that point, another stepped forward to offer leadership to the broken Imperial forces - the Miraluka Sith Assassin Darth Insomnius, an ex-Jedi Archivist who had been brought to the Empire by Malagant a year or so earlier. Insomnius believed that the Zakuulans were too powerful in their current state, having taken over much of the galaxy in their war of conquest. But eventually, she reasoned, they would become complacent and weak. "In order to fight in the future, we must first survive the present," she is reported to have said. Reluctant to give any ground to the invaders, but recognizing the truth of their situation, Lazhna and Daltyn agreed to Insomnius' plan.

Insomnius called a meeting with Captain Jadre, commanding the invasion force, in Illuminopolis. She said that she was now governor of Reydovan Prime in the place of Malagant, admitted to the dire situation her forces were now in, and that to avoid any further effusion of blood, she would surrender the planet to the Eternal Empire. She had one condition, however: The IRDF commanders who defected to the Zakuulan side were to be turned over to her custody, so that they could be executed as traitors to the Sith Empire. Jadre was amused at this demand, but nevertheless agreed to the condition if Insomnius ordered all forces to cease hostilities. She did so, and Jadre turned the IRDF traitors over to her as promised.

The Eternal Empire placed a Star Fortress battlestation in orbit, and named Jadre as Exarch of Reydovan Prime - essentially military governor of the planet. However, as a gesture of his goodwill, Jadre allowed Insomnius to remain as Sith governor, to oversee her planet as she saw fit, so long as it remained in compliance with the Eternal Throne. This arrangement would remain in place for the next four years, until Jadre was killed and the Star Fortress destroyed during an unexpected uprising. Rumors have spread that Darth Malagant, who in fact survived the destruction of Montagne Noire, masterminded this effort, but this allegation has thus far remained unproven.

Infrastructure and Societal Information

Transportation: The major cities are connected by the standard series of atmospheric shuttles and skyhoppers. The capital city of Montagne Noire has a series of underground trams known known as the Black Mountain District Transit (BMDT), which connects the districts of the city, and the Channel Sea Connector, a rapid tram that connects Montagne Noire to Amesport through a tunnel beneath the South Channel Sea between the southwestern and southeastern continents.

Reydovan Prime's spaceports run regular interplanetary shuttles, particularly to the Imperial hearthworld of Dromund Kaas and other major worlds of the Empire, as well as to the neutral spaceports of Nar Shaddaa. A specialized processing center and spaceport in Montagne Noire sends shuttles with prospective acolytes to the Sith Academy on Korriban.

Crime: The Ministry of Planetary Security and Defense handles both the military forces - the Imperial Reydovan Defense Force and the Reydovan Sector Defense Fleet - and the civilian police, the Planetary Security Enforcement Service (PSES). PSES headquarters is located near the headquarters of the IRDF in Montagne Noire. There are multiple precincts in the major cities, as well as a provincial sector house overseeing the security of every province.

With the dismantling of the democratic system, Imperial law is solely decided by the whim of the planetary governor. Capital offenses are about the same as they are in the Empire as a whole - murder, sedition, intentional destruction of Imperial property, and so on - but Cyanoculus also included rape and kidnapping as crimes punishable by death, especially if they involve children; he expressed his lack of tolerance for what he deemed to be "barbarism". There is also no bias regarding species; the crime and punishment are the same whether the victim was human or alien, and the same for the accused. These remained a focal part of the planet's law even after Cyanoculus' regime was dismantled.

Economy: Prior to the Zakuulan takeover, Reydovan Prime's chief export, like a great deal of planets in the Empire, was armaments and defensive technologies, many of which were developed for use by the IRDF with the intention of introducing them to the mainstream Imperial Military. Through collaborations with Taelios Genetech Industries, there were also advances in cybernetics, largely discovered through examinations of the work done on Darth Cyanoculus by Darth Taelios, the head of TGI. The Caymarnian Weapons and Armor Manufactory (CWAM) and Taelios Caymarnian Technologies (TCT) were the major producers in this regard.

The last five years have seen a drop in the productivity of arms, however; because Taelios sold a legion of war droids to the Order of Revan, Moff Velade arrested and imprisoned the employees of TCT (later freed by mercenaries hired by Taelios) and disbanded the company. Following the arms limitations statutes imposed by the Zakuul-Imperial Treaty, CWAM was also shut down, but reopened a year or so afterward under strict supervision of the Zakuulan authorities.

Interestingly, much like Erini, Reydovan Prime was also a known producer of alcoholic beverages. Its major contribution to the intoxication of sentients was a "fizzy" red ale developed by the Deadwood Valley Distillery, which was in fact the very first of the planetary industries to be restored under the Imperial State; it was the preferred beverage of choice of the troopers of the IRDF, and has made some headway in sales on Nar Shaddaa as well. It was rumored that there have been instances of Reydovan ale being smuggled to Republic worlds through a secret agreement with the planetary government in order to escape the embargo on Reydovan goods in the Republic (by dint of the planet's status as an Imperial member world), but the Ministry of Trade denied the allegations.

14
Roleplay Workshop / Timeline Alterations - A Bit of Confusion
« on: 03/05/16, 04:48:35 PM »
I began to notice something: Going through (and adding to, occasionally) Wookieepedia's entries regarding in-game stuff, particularly the KotFE storyline, there is a bit of a change regarding "what year it is".

Now, when the expansion released, it was implied that the events that took place after the Chapter 3 class story - Makeb, Revan, Ziost, getting ice-blocked, so on - all occurred in 3640 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin - as in, before the first Star Wars movie - for those unfamiliar with the dating), or 13 ATC (After the Treaty of Coruscant, the SWTOR dating system). The timeskip, therefore, would be five years later, in 3635 BBY/18 ATC. Except this no longer appears to be the case. All across the board, the events from Ilum onward have had years added onto them - according to a developer on Twitter, RL time has passed since the events on Ilum:



So, as a result, we got an additional three years tacked onto the timeline. Valkorion's death on Zakuul is now listed as being in 3637 BBY/16 ATC, and the timeskip is now 3632 BBY/21 ATC. So now, my brain is officially confused.

15
((A bit of a side trip from the whole Herald buildup thing, plus taking place in the present - and predominantly Pub-sided.))


Eidan Zherron sat heavily into the cockpit of his battered old SGS-45, the Legacy of Khoonda. It had been brought aboard the ship when it had returned a year ago - three years after he had left on a shuttle to respond to the massacre on Alderaan orchestrated by Darth Insomnius, the former Archivist Caradell. It was a bitter taste that refused to go away, no matter how much he ate, drank, or smoked to get rid of it.

He had been working himself into a rut for nearly two weeks, since the last supply run made by Zherlor Shipping - the freight company run by his daughter Lucia and her friend and adoptive cousin Nelys Lorath. Zherlor had provided supplies of food, medicine, and spare parts for the Custodian's Watch for the year since it returned from Wild Space, operating outside of the jurisdiction of the Republic. This had not gone over well with many people, he knew; the Mandalorian SpecForce colonel had been vehement in his condemnation of that decision, believing the Custodum to be traitors to the Republic. And according to Tergahn Dai'lo, the latest Jedi Master he had befriended over the decades, there were no small few among the Jedi who thought similarly - who subscribed to the dogma of ex-Chancellor Leontyne Saresh in calling for the war to be focused on the Sith, not on the Zakuulan invaders who now held the entire galaxy in a stranglehold.

It was damned stupidity, and Zherron knew it. So did Iaera Farworlder, the head of the Custodum. And so did most of the Jedi on the ship. Come to think of it, so did anyone with sense. And there were fewer and fewer of those every passing day...

His thoughts turned to the conversation he had had with Dassalya Nasadee on the bridge before he came down here. He had said that if he suffered the same fate as Tergahn and Lucia had, he did not want her to follow him. She had said that she would only do what the Force willed - and if that meant she would follow, then so be it. It reminded him of the other stubborn Jedi he had known...and what had happened to them as a result. She worried that he was walking into a trap; he knew that he very well might be. In his experience, the first step in avoiding a trap was to spring it, and see what happened...and then get the hell out, if at all possible.

He had been lucky so far. Perhaps now, his luck would run out...he shrugged, as he finished his preflight checks, and gently edged the gunship out of the Valor-class cruiser's hangar. He wheeled around, flying past the bridge, and then blasted off into hyperspace, en route to Coruscant - the last place that Tergahn and Lucia were believed to be going, according to the Watch's departure logs.

----

Admiral Ardenar'cad sat back in his chair with a tired sigh as he looked over at his guest. "He's on his way. I didn't have the heart to tell him."

"I wouldn't have, either, if it was my choice. The situation is bad enough...and it won't take him long to figure it out." The aged but still robust human sipped a cup of tea as he sat down across from the Twi'lek admiral.

"I do appreciate your coming back here. I know it's bad back on Alderaan, but..."

"It's no worse than it's been before. They can spare an old nerf like me." The human smiled grimly. "Besides, I've always wanted to see more of the capital..."

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