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Messages - Joshmaul

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Events and Occasions / Re: Dancer's Palace
« on: 09/09/19, 02:00:26 PM »
I never seem to have a free Friday these days; my racing season has kept me busy most weekends, and I've got five more (two this month, three next) before the season ends. I need to get back into the swing of things one of these eons...

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Darkening Sky
« on: 06/19/19, 07:09:30 PM »
Galen Tavener had seen his fair share of worlds both during his service to the Eternal Throne and since teaming up with Tergahn and Lucia, but this had to be the first he had seen outside of Odessen that appealed to him. Minus the pirates and Imperials blasting the place to hell, of course. He could see why Lucia had such an attachment to the place, and no doubt why her father did as a different age, he could easily see himself trying to spend his twilight years in peace in a place like this.

Of course, in this day and age, peace and quiet was a fleeting dream...

Ever since the collapse of the Eternal Empire, Galen had remained on Odessen as part of the Alliance; a number of Knights of Zakuul had pledged themselves to the Outlander after Arcann had been deposed, and he had been among them. A number of others he had commanded during the occupation of Reydovan Prime, and had escaped with him when Illuminopolis was all but annihilated by the Star Fortress' solar reactor weapon, had scattered to the astral winds at first to avoid being murdered by Vaylin and her Horizon Guard. When Vaylin was killed, they had come to join him. Other Knights ended up joining mad cults, like the Order of Zildrog. He had even heard of some going to the Empire, no doubt becoming Sith in short order.

Galen often wondered, should the Alliance ultimately collapse and its members return to their former factions, if he would ever find a place in the Republic. Tergahn had promised that if he ever returned to the Republic, he would vouch for him; gods knew he would never be able to return to Zakuul. At the same time, however, he was in his early fifties, far too old to consider becoming a Jedi - given that they tended to begin training when barely out of their infancy, in order to more readily weed out emotional attachments to family or home. He also had to admit that his ego was slightly in play here as well; the idea of starting from the bottom up again was just a bit insulting, though he would not say so aloud to Tergahn. (No doubt the Togruta Jedi Master was already aware of that thought anyway; he seemed to be aware of a lot of things.)

As he stepped down the Direwolf's ramp behind Tergahn, he noted the glances in his direction, a number of them hostile. Dantooine had more or less escaped the notice of the Eternal Empire, but that didn't mean that some of the people here had. He wore his battered Knight armor openly, so he was more or less used to the angry stares. In time, he hoped, perhaps people would look more at the man and less at the armor. Perhaps that time would even be now...

"Welcome, Master Jedi." The militia officer inclined her head in greeting to Tergahn. "It's been a long time since I've seen the Direwolf around these parts. No doubt Captain Zherron - er, the elder Captain Zherron, that is..." She inclined her head to Lucia, who returned the nod. "...will likely think the same thing."

"No doubt," Tergahn agreed with a smile.

"Where is the captain now?" Galen asked. "Out in the field?"

The militia officer glanced first at Tergahn, who nodded, before answering the Knight's question. "He's on his way back from a patrol, yeah. Damned pirates fouling up the wind turbines, or Imps planting bombs on the dam and blowing up the transport tracks."

"Not what I expected from our captain's descriptions," he mused. "Rather modern setup here for a pastoral world. Especially this dam."

The officer snorted. "Yeah, and that went over just great with some of the old timers. They think it's the next step towards turning this place into an industrial cesspit like Balmorra, or a crowded city-planet like Coruscant."

"Have faith, Lieutenant," came a voice behind the officer. All turned to see Eidan Zherron riding up to them; he had eschewed his long coat and hat in favor of his more functional utility vest, his blasters hanging from his belt. "We're not about to be turned into worker drones just yet."

Galen raised an eyebrow at the captain's mode of transportation. Behind him, he heard Lucia speak up. "What the that a kath hound?"

The elder Zherron grinned. "I'm a Dantooine boy, honey, born and bred. Makes sense that I ride a proper Dantooinian steed into war. Plus, she moves a lot quicker than my speeder." Though his eyes were artificial, Galen could swear there was a mischievious glint to them as they looked at him. "Still running around with Tergahn, I see. Here to bring some of that Zakuulan justice to the Imps and their pirate scum friends?"

Galen smiled thinly. "Something like that, Captain."

My understanding is that Sith Intelligence is basically its own separate branch of service, just as Imperial Intelligence had been. The difference is primarily in the name, and the interpretation thereof; though they still answered to the Dark Council, Imperial Intelligence could operate a lot more freely without constant Sith oversight. My understanding is that Sith Intelligence has no such autonomy - the Sith are in charge, and you do as they say, period.

Cantina / Re: Theme songs for your toons
« on: 06/16/19, 09:13:03 AM »
Been a while, a few updates...

Darth Malagant - The Destroyer Resurgent
Instrumental: "Bridge of Death" by Hildur Guđnadóttir (Soundtrack to HBO's Chernobyl) -

Darth Velariya - The Scholarly Schemer
Instrumental: "Main Theme" by Marcus Fjellström (Soundtrack to AMC's The Terror) -

Orten Yaitz - The Itinerant Chieftain
Instrumental: "Tino Mori (Medieval Era)" by Geoff Knorr (Macedonian Theme from Sid Meier's Civilization VI) -

Captain Eidan Zherron - The War-Weary Watcher
Instrumental (Personal): "Harrogath" by Matt Uelmen (Soundtrack to Diablo II: Lord of Destruction) -
Instrumental (Battle): "Dust and Light" by Twelve Titans -

Master Tergahn Dai'lo - The Guardian in the Dark
Instrumental: "Zeratul's Warning" by Blizzard Entertainment (Soundtrack to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty) -
Instrumental (Alternate): "Protoss Theme 01" by Blizzard Entertainment (Soundtrack to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty) -

Ediren Lorath - The Penitent Wanderer
Instrumental (Main): "The Gates of Paradise" by Robert Fripp (Soundtrack to AMC's The Terror) -
Instrumental (Alternate - sounds similar): "12 Hours Before" by Hildur Guđnadóttir (Soundtrack to HBO's Chernobyl) -

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Darkening Sky
« on: 06/15/19, 01:08:42 PM »
Agent Merelan Kinsale began to wonder what it was about backwaters that made them so magnetic to the fire of war. When she was in Imperial Intelligence, it had been hell-pits like Taris, Tatooine, and Quesh. In the Marines, Ilum and Makeb. As the years went on, she noticed that most of these vipers' nests tended to be targets with sentimental value to either the Republic or the Jedi, or perhaps both. Most recently, as part of Sith Intelligence, she had been on Ossus...and she was due to meet with her commander for another assignment. Based on the rumor mill, it was likely to be Dantooine, another backwater with some symbolic meaning to the Republic.

Landing at Vaiken Spacedock, she straightened her jacket and descended the ramp of her old Phantom, the Blood of Adasta, making her way into the station's core to the cantina. Within five minutes, she was approached by a Chiss in a similar uniform. "You are late, Agent Kinsale," he said without preamble.

"Apologies, Commander Indizar. Bug hunt back on Ossus. Damn Malora and her experiments."

Commander Indi'zar'kleoni, or Indizar as he preferred to be known among non-Chiss, gave a light snort at that. "Typical paranoid Sith," he said in a low tone. "Is there any other kind?"

"None that I've seen," Merelan admitted.

Indizar shook his head. He had come up the ranks of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force, Imperial Intelligence, the Imperial Military, and finally Sith Intelligence, all alongside his friend Torv'ara'nerasi. He had remained in Varan's corner even after he ran afoul of the Families back on Csilla. Varan had ultimately run afoul of Sith politics as well, killed by Darth Insomnius because he had supported Darth Malagant's shadow war against Zakuul - and against her own increasingly unstable rule. It made Indizar wary of Sith-led initiatives, especially given the reputation of the lunatics who tended to lead them.

This one, however, seemed to be an exception. "I've had orders come down from on top," he said. Under the "load-lightened" Dark Council, there were five seats instead of the original twelve, and Darth Xarion now headed the "Sphere of Galactic Influence", which included Intelligence. "Another farm world, except this one's not radioactive. You've heard the rumors, I'm presuming."

Merelan nodded. "I figured as much. Did we really turn to these clowns as a front? The last we heard of them was on Rishi, and they were working for Revan."

"Times change. We seem to be going for the 'softly, softly' approach - fighting without fully committing, using proxies..." The Chiss looked amused. "Gives us more work to do, at least."

"Something I'd been thinking when I was on the ship: What is it about these backwaters that makes the planners want to fight over them?"

"Location more than anything else. Dantooine is close to the border, and it serves both a tactical and sentimental purpose to the Republic. Similarly to Taris, minus the rakghouls, the toxic lakes, and the general state of ruin. Ironically, it also connects to Revan in a small way. He trained there, and his ally Malak was responsible for bombing the Jedi Enclave there." Indizar shrugged. "Modern history, however, is partly what brings us there."


In response, Indizar handed her his datapadd. It showed an image of a weathered man with shoulder-length white hair, shrapnel scars in his face, and goggle-like cybernetics in his eye sockets. He wore a beaten floor-length black leather trenchcoat, with a pair of blasters at his hips. "Captain Eidan Zherron," he said. "Republic war hero and Jedi privateer. Formerly the captain of the Custodian's Watch."

Merelan skimmed the file, about to ask how they would know such a man would be on a planet like this. And then she saw it: Homeworld of Note: Dantooine. And that homeworld was under attack. Of course he would be there. "Where will we find him?"

"Where else?" Indizar replied with a smirk. "Right in the middle of it all."

Trouble and Feedback / Re: Creating Website
« on: 06/12/19, 09:12:57 AM »
Have you and your pals come back here and save yourself the trouble? *grin*

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Darkening Sky
« on: 06/11/19, 11:07:18 AM »
For all that it was a radioactive backwater, Ossus remained a battlefield.

That came as no surprise to Colonel Ashmara Danrei. Anywhere a Jedi so much as sneezed became a target for the Sith. It had been that way for as long as she could remember; indeed, ever since there had been Sith and Jedi in the same place. And whenever Jedi and Sith started wars, people like her had to clean up the kriffing mess. Usually by mowing down Imperial soldiers with an assault cannon, in her case.

Army does all the flying and the dying, and the Jedi get all the kriffing credit, she thought uncharitably. Just another day in the life of a gropo. It seemed more so for her men - the New Talaos Irregulars, soldiers who had been listed as missing or dead, or dishonorably discharged, by Leontyne Saresh's regime during the Zakuul years, and been granted pardons by Chancellor Madon after the fall of the Eternal Empire. For all that their only crime had been displaying independent thought, they were kept at arm's length by the Republic High Command, considered to be criminals, deserters, cowards...until they needed bodies to feed to the meat-grinder.

Like here, for instance...

"Evening, Mara," a gruff voice greeted her.

"Evening, Toral. How goes?"

"Passing well." Toral - better known as Sergeant Major Toral Linavil, Republic Army, retired - was one of her closest friends. Mara had served under Toral's wife Ketana during the Great War, and had interacted often with their daughter Melena, who was a captain in Special Forces. Both had been killed by the Sith between the devastation of Ziost and the Zakuulan invasion. Toral had retired after the Great War, but when Zakuul came knocking, he left Coruscant and ended up with the Irregulars on Tatooine, finding sanctuary with Mara and her ally, Jedi Master Alieth Taldir.

"Any news?"

The old Mirialan gave a shrug. "Picked up some Imperial chatter about a certain friend of ours from Odessen haunting the ruins."

Mara couldn't help but chuckle, knowing full well who that was. "I see he's not changed much since Yavin."

"No indeed, Colonel." Mara nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of that voice directly behind her. "It helps to keep people on their toes."

"You did a bit more than that!" the Zabrak soldier snapped, giving him a glare that could have set him ablaze if she had the ability. "Have I threatened to strangle you for scaring the shit out of me lately, Tergahn?"

"Indeed," Tergahn Dai'lo replied, completely deadpan. "Yesterday."

She shook her head. "Well, you scare the Imps a lot more, I'll give you that. They've been going on about some red-and-white ghost from running around the Jedi ruins, picking off patrols with a saber-pike."

"You don't honestly believe everything you hear, do you?" The Togruta Jedi Master grinned mischeviously. Upon joining the Alliance, he had taken up armored robes similar to those worn by the Scions of Zakuul; the lightsaber pike was a gift from Galen Tavener, a former Knight of Zakuul who often accompanied Tergahn and his ally, Captain Lucia Zherron, on their missions. He was here now, in fact, going around the ruins fighting Imperials...still in his battered white Knight armor. She couldn't help but shake her head at that; he made himself about as inconspicuous as a Wookiee at a dinner party wearing that getup, and plenty of people on both sides had bad memories of the days when people dressed like that...

On the topic of the captain, she spotted her walking up to them. Mara immediately knew something was wrong; the young human looked like someone had died. Gods, not her father, she thought; Eidan Zherron had been a friend of the Linavils almost as long as she had. "Good, you are back. Not to leave our friends here high and dry," and at that she nodded at Mara, "I think we'd better go."

"Now?" Tergahn noticed something was wrong too. He gently grasped her shoulders. "What's happened, Lucia?"

"I just got off the horn with my father. The Imps are on Dantooine." Mara felt a twinge in her left leg at the mention of Dantooine. She had been there at the end of the Great War, and had had her left knee and hip replaced with cybernetics after sustaining serious wounds in an Imperial attack. It had been nearly twenty-five years, and the old wounds still pained her.

"Kriffing hell." Toral looked both sad and angry at the same time; he had been there as well, as had Ketana. "That planet can never seem to catch a break."

The colonel turned sharply to him. "Is this the first we've heard about it? Nothing on the comms from Command?"

The old sergeant raised his hands to placate her. "Honest to Ashla, Mara. If they'd told us, I'd have told you."

She seethed, but she also knew he was right. And she knew Eidan's reputation; Dantooine was his homeworld, and he wouldn't exaggerate about a thing like that. "Then we're here until they tell us otherwise." Which will probably be soon, if it goes to hell the way everything seems to, she thought. She turned to Tergahn and Lucia. "You guys, on the other hand..."

Tergahn's head tilted slightly. "Are you sure? We're still at your disposal if you should need us here."

"Right now it's just a pissing match over old scores here. Dantooine's a hell of a lot more important." She thumped his shoulder. "Don't worry - if I need a Jedi, I've got Alieth and Heldeon. We'll be fine."

Tergahn was silent for a moment, then turned to Lucia. "Prep the ship, Captain. We're leaving."

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: The Darkening Sky
« on: 06/11/19, 07:38:09 AM »
In her residence near the Citadel on Dromund Kaas, Darth Velariya was watching the HoloNet reports - not just the Imperial channels, but also the Republic ones. A chat show on Carrick Station claiming to have the Commander of the Eternal Alliance, for a start. Ridiculous, she thought. For someone who supposedly removed the Emperor's blight from the galaxy, I expected someone less...plain. Must be a decoy. Gods know the Emperor used his fair share of them...

As a Sith scholar as well as a sorcerer, the history of past glories had always been an interest for Velariya, ever since her days as an acolyte in Korriban's tombs. Her most recent voyage, in fact, had been to the Emperor's former homeworld of Nathema, which had been officially rediscovered in the latter days of the Alliance's war with Zakuul. Nathema's very existence in Imperial records was limited to the "fact" that it had been destroyed by the Jedi more than a millennium before. Of course, witness testimony from those who had been there - namely anyone still left from the "Tenebrous Gospel", a cult that had worshipped the Emperor as a god until they realized he had no use for them, other than as food - gave a description of the place almost like that of Ziost after the Emperor's "feast" there. Which meant that it had been the Emperor himself who had committed the act, and then lied about it - though if he intended to consume the galaxy, it made one wonder why he bothered restoring the Empire on Dromund Kaas... or creating another one on Zakuul, for that matter.

With the Emperor destroyed forever, the Void's grasp of Nathema had loosened (much to Velariya's relief; she found being without the Force uncomfortable, to put it mildly), and life had begun to return there, offering an opportunity to study the planet and to perhaps discover whatever artifacts had not been already looted or destroyed by the Cult of Zildrog. Whenever things go wrong, it always seems to be something with cults, the Rattataki sorceress thought. Cults to gluttonous madmen or genocidal AIs. Darth Nox had the right idea with the one on Nar Shaddaa...having a flesh-and-blood focus of devotion.

And then came the news from Dantooine. Formerly a Republic backwater, now it was a battlefield. She vaguely remembered it as being one of the last battlefields of the Great War, more than two decades before. She'd still been a slave on Korriban back then; it had only been after Coruscant, during the Cold War, that she'd been allowed to train at the Academy. She had Overseer Charva to thank for that; the elderly human had proven to be a far more open-minded (if still ruthless) teacher than that racist idiot Harkun, and had remained as her formal Sith master even after passing the trials. It had been Charva who had recommended Velariya's apprentice to her.

Speaking of... "Eliphas!" she shouted.

A moment or two later, her nineteen-year-old apprentice was standing in her doorway, breathless from having bolted down the hall from the library. "Yes, Master?" Eliphas Aximand finally said, once he caught his breath enough.

"How goes the work?"

"I've only got two and a half or so tablets left, what we picked up from that temple on Nathema. I have..." He realized that he in fact didn't have. " notes are back at my desk."

She couldn't help but smile. He was a bright student, enthusiastic to learn...but a little too eager to please. Part of her couldn't help but think that if she wanted something eager to please, she'd have picked up a mooka or a Kowakian monkey-lizard, not an apprentice. "Leave them. I have a task for you. Take a shuttle to Vaiken Spacedock and pick up the Stalker. I'm sending you to Dantooine."

His blue eyes went wide. "Sending me? Alone?" All of his trips thus far had been at her side - learning the ways of the Force, acting as her research assistant, and piloting her Fury interceptor, the Grey Stalker. He had, in fact, been on track to become a pilot back on his homeworld of Reydovan Prime, but the awakening of the Force within him when he was about twelve years old - triggered during the Zakuulan invasion - had changed that. Hedrath Jadre, the paranoid Exarch who ruled the planet, had made it a point of barring any Force-sensitives from going to Korriban, fearing that new Sith would be the genesis of a revolt against the Eternal Empire. It had taken Eliphas' mother going in secret to Darth Insomnius, the nominal Sith governor, to arrange for his escape. Impressed by his resilience during his trials, Overseer Charva had recommended him to Velariya as an apprentice.

Velariya's expression was one of amusement. "Have you suddenly forgotten how to use lightning or fly a ship?"

"Well, no, but --"

"'But' nothing, boy." Her expression was now sharp, cold. "If you are ever going to become a proper Sith, Eliphas, you'll eventually have to learn to operate without someone holding your hand." The young human had the sense to look angry at the insult. Good. Perhaps he is not as timid as he seems. She smiled. "Temples and libraries are all well and good, but blood must occasionally be shed as well. There is a battle ongoing on Dantooine - Sith Intelligence had sent the Nova Blades pirate crew to stir the pot and pave the way for us. Except now the damned pirates are shooting at our soldiers as well as the Republic's. It's low-key, at least at the it will be an opportunity for you to have some much-needed solo experience."

He now looked thoughtful. "Dantooine...didn't we wipe out some Jedi enclave there centuries ago?"

Velariya nodded. "Indirectly, yes; Malak was a front to keep the real Empire hidden until the time was right. So cheer up, boy - there may be some education in the midst of all the destruction." Her smile widened a bit. "The speeder is waiting to take you to the spaceport. I'll finish with the tablets - if your past excellence in note-taking is any indication, it will not take long to pick up where you left off." She raised a slender finger to silence him, as he had been about to thank her for saying so. "That said, if you were not content at the idea of being a chauffeur for morons back on Reydovan Prime, I can't imagine you'd want to be a glorified archivist, either. You are a Sith sorcerer, not a library clerk. You don't have the power to summon lightning simply as a party trick, you know."

Again, the anger. The way his ice-blue eyes narrowed, like he wanted to flay her alive with a glance, impressed her far more than his eagerness did. "I understand, Master," he said finally.

"Good. Now off with you. Who knows? Given the place's history, you might even run into a Jedi or two. An extra feather for your proverbial cap."

Holocrons and Info Nodes / The Darkening Sky
« on: 06/04/19, 02:52:10 PM »
Nearly a quarter of a century after the end of the First Great War, and more than three hundred after Darth Malak had rained fire from above, Dantooine had become a sort of sanctuary again. He certainly saw it that way, anyway. After forty years or so of rattling around the galaxy, most recently with all the hubbub on Ossus, he was hoping that finally, finally, he was home to stay - and that the war would stay off his front porch.

Not that he didn't keep abreast of developments, of course. He kept in touch with his daughter, who was running the Direwolf out of Odessen and trying to keep out of the rising conflict between the Empire and the Republic. Not that he felt that was possible anymore, and he was sure she knew it, too. The Alliance had been going downhill ever since the Eternal Fleet and the Gravestone had gone up in smoke, and it was only inevitable that the great coalition to fight Zakuul would at last collapse, and everyone would go back to where they came from. Which meant that she'd come home. Maybe.

Lucia had always been a stubborn one, though - which was why (though it pained him to admit it) he was not surprised that of his three daughters, she had been the one who lived when the Empire came at the end of the First Great War.

That homecoming had been bitter, partly due to being blinded by the grenade that had killed his old captain, Vorian Tanis, during the liberation of Reydovan Prime, and not being able to see it until he'd gotten the cybernetics. (Though he mused it was probably for the best, he didn't have to see the actual attack...dealing with the aftermath was bad enough.) He had signed on with the old spacer to avoid this pastoral life he now was hell-bent on preserving. It had also been because he had wanted adventure and excitement, but didn't think he'd get it following in his father's footsteps and joining the Republic military. All those rules and regulations. He knew that rules had to exist, but did they really need so many?

All these years later, he couldn't help but smile as he remembered the old saying about how you could take the boy from the farm, but you could never take the farm from the boy...

Out in front of the house, he heard a noise in the air. Ships flying in low. Damn hotshots, he thought, until he realized he recognized the colors of the ships. Of all the pirate crews that had to come and spoil the peace and quiet, it just had to be the Nova Blades.

"Ah, well," Eidan Zherron said to the universe in general, as he turned to head back into the house to get his gunbelt. "No one said it would be a quiet retirement."

My attentions are currently on a Rishi stronghold, particularly the storm carrier that came with it; I've had the idea of a sort of "mobile academy" mixed with Malagant's usual outdoor garden area with it, added to by the arena on the sky deck.

Spoiler: Academy Skydeck • show

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Visions in the Void
« on: 02/21/19, 11:12:42 AM »
The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth — not a different truth: the same truth — only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.
- Shelby Foote

Ossus, home to the ancient archives of the Jedi, and site of probably the greatest loss the Order had ever experienced - far greater even than the Sacking of Coruscant, or the Revanite attack on Tython, or the dispersal of the Order following the invasion of the Eternal Empire.

At least, that was how Master Alieth Taldir, lately archivist of the Jedi Custodum, saw it.

As she stepped off the shuttle onto its surface, her robes rustling in the radioactive dust, she hoped that she could help in some small way to ensure that the work of the past several years done by Master Gnost-Dural and his people were not for nothing. As an archivist, she was struck by the history in every gust of wind, every grain of sand, every ray of light that touched this planet. And like Eidan Zherron, she had thought Ossus lost forever. So had much of the Jedi Order. Being turned into a toxic dust bowl by a massive cluster of supernovae does not typically invoke the idea of ever seeing it again. Yet she had been assured the planet was safe...ecologically, at least.

Militarily was another story. The Empire had left a garrison, and the Republic - having evacuated the colony - were determined not to let them stay. For her, however, she was more concerned with the past than the present. There had been many relics of the Order left behind in the libraries of Ossus after the cataclysm, and with the planet shown to be more or less intact (albeit a blasted desert), there was a chance that the lost lore of the Jedi could be recovered. Perhaps that was why Gnost-Dural, the chief archivist of the entire Jedi Order, had settled his colony here after the rise of Zakuul.

As she thought this, she could not help but wonder if she should have come here herself, rather than settle at the homestead she'd sardonically called "New Talaos" on Tatooine. Going home to Makeb had been more or less out of the question, since it was now part of the Republic and thus made it impossible for her to stay out of sight. Which was ironic, seeing as after she'd settled on Tatooine, she'd not stayed that much out of sight anyway. She had her friend Ashmara Danrei to thank for that. Rumors had reached Alieth during a visit to Anchorhead of the colonel's intention to lead a humanitarian expedition to help those whose worlds had been left to fend for themselves in the wake of the Zakuulan occupation, and she'd gone to Coruscant to volunteer. Mara had been reluctant at first; her old boss, General Ketana Linavil, had been killed by Caradell when the Miraluka had turned to the Sith, and she had seen all Jedi as "Caradells in the making". Alieth had convinced her otherwise, and they'd struck up a solid bond ever since.

The colonel had since gone back to the Army, leading the "New Talaos Irregulars" - the battalion of deserters who'd refused to die because of Saresh's ignorance, and had joined Alieth and Mara on Tatooine; they'd all been given full pardons by the Senate upon their return. She wondered if they were here now...

"Reminds me of Iridonia," commented her companion - her old Padawan, Heldeon Araen. She had almost forgotten he was there. "The black rock mainly. Add a few acid lakes, and there you go."

Alieth chuckled. "Probably just as much fun trying to farm there as it was here. Although I'd imagine the soil is not nearly as toxic." She sobered. "We may well end up finding nothing here, Heldeon - nothing but Imperials and the inevitable fighting that will result."

Heldeon shrugged. "Another day, another band of megalomaniacs out for our blood. Welcome to the Jedi Order."

"Watch it, bucko. That's my line."

"Apologies, Master," the Zabrak Sentinel replied with a thin smile. "Merely reminded of your wisdom." Alieth was pleased at how he'd come into his own in the years since his Knighting; she'd commented that he had been "born old" when she took him on as her apprentice, more than a decade before. Always so serious, as if the idea of levity was beyond him. Her good humor and zest for life had rubbed off on him over the years, however, and he'd been as much a help with his wit as he had been with his weapons during the Hutt war on Makeb, calming the refugees as they'd been packed into the Ark when it seemed Makeb was doomed. He'd taken to staying on the move when Zakuul invaded, only returning to the Republic after the war was over.

Sounds like someone else I know, she thought. She'd been in meditation back at New Talaos when news came of the attack on Ossus, and of what had become of Dassalya Nasadee, who had been among those who'd come to recruit Alieth into the Custodum near the end of the war with Zakuul. She'd also learned that Ediren Lorath, by some strange whim of the Force, had joined those who had ventured into the ruins of Ossus' Jedi temple to rescue Dassalya. Alieth remembered the one-eyed Onderonian giant quite well, him having more or less stumbled into New Talaos (and nearly getting shot by the Irregulars for his trouble) after he had experienced his crisis of faith on AZ-1194 - something else Dassalya had been there for. He had also taken up the path of the wanderer, and from what she'd heard, he'd also thawed quite a bit since his days as the patriotic "Jedi commander" fighting for Saresh's regime.

For all that the ruins of the past seemed to be bringing out the worst in many people, the tales of Dassalya's rescuers - penitent wanderers, crusty captains with hearts of gold, and even a Sith Lord with a conscience - gave her hope that perhaps it brought out the best in others...

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Visions in the Void
« on: 02/17/19, 01:42:09 AM »
I should like to believe my people's religion, which was just what I could wish, but alas, it is impossible. I have really no religion, for my God, being a spirit shown merely by reason to exist, his properties utterly unknown, is no help to my life. I have not the parson's comfortable doctrine that every good action has its reward, and every sin is forgiven. My whole religion is this: do every duty, and expect no reward for it, either here or hereafter.
- Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

The years had been kinder to Eidan Zherron...though not by much.

After decades as a privateer, an "auxiliary" to Jedi, and finally as a captain in the Republic Navy, Eidan had gone home to Dantooine, thinking that finally, finally, after nearly forty years of rattling around the galaxy (first on the old XS freighter Direwolf, then on the Custodian's Watch, the Valor-class cruiser that had been the Jedi Custodum's mobile enclave), he could finally retire. He was nearly sixty - not exactly ancient, but definitely not fresh, either - and he'd fought in several major wars already: two against the Sith Empire, against the Hutts on Makeb, and that whole brouhaha against Zakuul. That was plenty.

Plus, when he'd tendered his resignation in protest of the Custodum Council letting the SIS have free run on "his" ship, he believed he'd had enough of Jedi to last him ten lifetimes. He didn't know how, after all those years, he managed to keep associating with them. So damn smug, the lot of them. The Force made them arrogant, just like it did with the Sith. The only differences were that the Jedi didn't do torture, and they didn't tend to use lightning. So far as he knew, anyway...and for a relative layman like himself, he knew a lot more than most non-Jedi, having been around them for so long - particularly the folks from the Custodum. And even making a few friends out of them, too. Iaera Farworlder, Telline Wymarc, Dassalya Nasadee...even Merrant, to a degree, with the technical wizard keeping the Watch running while the Eternal Fleet was blasting the hell out of them during that final bombardment on Coruscant.

But ever since he'd left, Eidan had not spoken to anyone from the Custodum, or any other Jedi for that matter. He'd only had contact with two Force-users since leaving Coruscant, and both of them, for better or for worse, belonged to the Alliance. One was a former Jedi Master, Tergahn Dai'lo, who was the Alliance's chief sponsor for Eidan's only surviving daughter, Lucia, the current captain of the Direwolf. The other, much to their mutual surprise, was a Knight of Zakuul named Galen Tavener, who worked regularly with Tergahn and Lucia. He'd had been part of the garrison on Reydovan Prime when Malagant (Eidan still could not think of his name without at least mentally voicing some particularly vile curses, in at least five different in Huttese involving a lightsaber, a can of industrial adhesive, and a live k'lor'slug springing readily to mind) had stormed the Star Fortress in orbit of that planet and killed the Exarch. Galen spent the time since defecting to Odessen with Tergahn, learning about the Jedi. He'd even visited the Custodum enclave once or twice, he'd said...

Nowadays, Eidan avoided the news whenever possible, but rumors still spread. The Eternal Fleet and the Gravestone, the two greatest guns the Alliance held to the collective heads of the Republic and the Empire, had been destroyed, Zakuul had broken ties with their conquerors and gone independent under democratic leadership, and people began filtering back to their respective factions. Tergahn, Lucia, and Galen had remained on Odessen, however - the first two because they were motivated by some sense of duty, and the third because he felt there was nowhere else for him to go. Now war was in the offing once again, and Eidan hoped that, if they were forced to choose, Tergahn and Lucia would side with the Republic. Perhaps Galen would too. A veteran like that might be useful, especially given his distaste for the Sith...

But it seemed peace and quiet would not be in his future. A call came in from somewhere near the end of the Perlemian Trade Route, not far from the Imperial was from T7-J5, the astromech that had belonged to his old friend Saxtus Fayhan, whose body was laid to rest in the garden outside the Zherron homestead after he was killed on Reydovan Prime more than a decade ago. Jayfive had spent the period since the near-destruction of Coruscant wandering the spacelanes with an ex-Jedi Knight named Ediren Lorath, someone whom Eidan remembered with far less fondness than other Jedi. Ediren had nearly killed him and his friends and shipmates several times, back when the Jedi "commander" had been a rabid Sareshian zealot during the Zakuulan occupation of the galaxy. But when Lucia had tried to kill him, Eidan had stayed her hand.

It became clear that Jayfive was calling for help, on behalf of Ediren. They were on Ossus, the droid said...a planet Eidan had never expected to hear about outside of the history books. Unlike Ediren, he'd paid more attention to Jedi history; plus, during the Zakuul years, the Custodum had made its base near Adega in the Cron Drift, the remnants of the combined supernovae that Exar Kun had caused to burn Ossus to a radioactive cinder nearly four hundred years ago. Or so he'd thought, anyway. Apparently the Jedi now had a colony there, and Ediren was part of a search party that had gone into the ruins. He had been out of contact for days, and the Empire was making its presence known there; Jayfive wanted to help, but the old astromech wasn't sure he could fly Ediren's ship in the middle of a war zone.

Eidan was tempted to say "sorry, I'm retired", or "he's a Jedi, he can help himself". But when the little droid had explained that the party was led by the Custodum...and who, specifically, they were looking for...he had not hesitated. He was a prideful and contentious son of a bitch, and he knew it, but he was not heartless. He still felt affection for people he considered friends...and this one had been a good friend.

He donned his old gear, charged up his twin pistols, and caught the first transport off-planet.

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Re: Visions in the Void
« on: 02/12/19, 10:09:03 PM »
"Leaves, some the wind scatters on the ground—So is the race of man." Leaves, also, are thy children; and leaves, too, are they who cry out so if they are worthy of credit, or bestow their praise, or on the contrary curse, or secretly blame and sneer; and leaves, in like manner, are those who shall receive and transmit a man's fame to after-times. For all such things as these "are produced in the season of spring," as the poet says; then the wind casts them down; then the forest produces other leaves in their places. But a brief existence is common to all things, and yet thou avoidest and pursuest all things as if they would be eternal.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The years had not been kind to Darth Malagant, Lord of the Sith.

In the months since Heermann had disappeared and the Wild Space Command began to lose importance in the grander scheme of things, Malagant had begun to rely more and more on his younger brother, General Andav Undjo, as his link to the Imperial military. Andav and his superior officer, Moff Matthias Caudell, had decided to reveal the truth of Andav's survival to him. Admiral Bardin Krysiak, the commander of the 14th Fleet, had elected to follow Caudell, a fellow naval veteran, after Heermann had vanished, and were no doubt seeking glory elsewhere. Then a message had come to Malagant from another Moff, Arik Daltyn, the military governor of Reydovan Prime. The former general had expressed displeasure at the hands-off administration of Darth Metheius, who had not left Dromund Kaas at any point since assuming control of the sector.

Malagant had elected to take that matter into his own hands, both as a means of expediency - Daltyn would officially take control of the sector, without a Sith holding his hand (he didn't need it, so far as Malagant was concerned) - and as a means of getting back at Metheius for years of humiliation. Accompanied by a pair of HK droids, he had entered Metheius' residence in Kaas City. While the HKs killed all of Metheius' bodyguards, Malagant himself had entered Metheius' sanctuary and impaled the other man with one of his lightsabers, forever removing any chance of his interfering with Malagant's life and work again. As he had watched the sorcerer slowly die at his feet, he had wondred if he had not done Acina a favor by removing him. But Metheius had also been a devoted chronicler of ancient history, just as Malagant himself had been trained to be.

So, as half-insult, half-compliment to his slain rival, he had decided to make Metheius a part of history. He laid out the body in a sarcophagus and left it in the audience chamber of the Temple of Introspection, his old sanctuary on Yavin Four. Then he had sealed off the temple, marking the entrance stone with the dead Sith's name and the markings that had been branded in the Sith tongue on Metheius' face: "Knowledge is the path to power, and ignorance is the true enemy. Power is good, but only in the hands of those who can wield it wisely. The sadist and the powermonger cannot be trusted." As a final twist, Malagant had added: "Let this be a warning to those who do not heed their own advice."

Then he had abandoned the temple and left Yavin behind - with all its ghosts, its leftover Revanite holdouts, and all the money he had spent on that damn place. Perhaps in a thousand years or so, someone would rediscover the temple...

He had decided to search for a new sanctuary, and found it on an uncharted planet not far from Voss, just inside Imperial space. He named the planet "Kelenek'che'sa", meaning "Halls of the Blind" in the ancient tongue, which referred to the magnetic asteroid field that made it difficult to navigate. He had established himself like an old hermit in the wreckage of a downed Republic cruiser. Near the wreck, he had also happened to find an old sky carrier, much like that used by the InterStellar Regulators on Makeb during the Republic's war with the Hutts. Andav had been good enough to loan him a few engineers to restore it. A place to look over my new domain, he mused.

Malagant presently sat alone on the makeshift terrace of his new home, gazing out across the beach where his ship was landed, and contemplating the weight that time and conflict had put upon him. His hair and beard, starting to show gray little by little over the years, were now entirely the color of ashen snow. He tired a lot more easily of late, and his body was plagued by aches and pains that the kolto injection system (put into him after his near-fatal victory over Exarch Jadre on Reydovan Prime some years before) could not alleviate. He began to face the realization for the first time in his life that he was merely mortal, no matter how many times technology, the Force, and sheer willpower had brought him back from the brink. He had begun to wonder in recent days if he would be better off retiring from active service, and instead pass on what he had learned to the new generation of Sith - essentially becoming like the old overseers back on Korriban when he was a boy, who he had mocked for being confined to the Academy while he got to go out and see the galaxy...

Gazing out towards the setting sun, Malagant couldn't help but laugh at the irony.

Holocrons and Info Nodes / Visions in the Void
« on: 02/10/19, 08:49:32 AM »
In time, even death itself might be abolished; who knows but it may be given to us after this life to meet again in the old quarters, to play chess and draughts, to get up soon to answer the morning roll call, to fall in at the tap of the drum for drill and dress parade, and again to hastily don our war gear while the monotonous patter of the long roll summons to battle.

Who knows but again the old flags, ragged and torn, snapping in the wind, may face each other and flutter, pursuing and pursued, while the cries of victory fill a summer day? And after the battle, then the slain and wounded will arise, and all will meet together under the two flags, all sound and well, and there will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say, "Did it not seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"

- Berry Benson, Confederate veteran, 1880

During the years the Republic spent under the thumb of Zakuul, he had been Commander Ediren Lorath, leader of the Republic Army's Sithbane Squad. He had been a Jedi Knight before, but had stayed to fight when the Order dispersed to the galactic winds, inspired by the rabid anti-Sith rhetoric of Chancellor Leontyne Saresh. That seemed a long time ago now. Circumstances had worked to change his perspective. That year he had spent on AZ-1194 had been an awakening. So had the period he had spent at "New Talaos", the sanctuary built by Master Alieth Taldir in the sands of Tatooine. And so had the battle for Coruscant, marking the end of the Eternal Empire.

Since then, he had not been seen in the "public" settings of the galaxy. No cantinas in Nar Shaddaa, no plazas on Coruscant, nor even on the battlefield of Iokath. He had donned his hooded cloak and concealing mask, travelling the spacelanes aboard his Defender, the Dream Voyager, with only the old astromech T7-J5 to keep him company...and sought to disappear. For the most part, he had succeeded. Few remembered him with any particular fondness, and those who did had their own lives to worry about. That was as it should be, so far as he was concerned. Worlds continued to spin on their axes, the stars continued to burn in the heavens, and life went on.

Yet there was a vision in his mind of late that brought him back to the Core...or at least to the edge of the Core, on the line between the darkness and the light. An ancient place, where toxic desert and snow-capped mountain combined amidst the ruins of the past. A place of importance in Jedi history, he could see, from the architecture, but he was not familiar with its name or location. He had been a warrior, not a librarian. He had not even known there was a colony here, which he discovered was the whole point of it - it had been established by a band of Jedi led by Master Gnost-Dural, the Order's chief archivist, as a sanctuary to hide from the Eternal Fleet - and they had been working around the clock to adapt farming techniques to deal with the radioactive soil.

Only then did he find out that he was in fact standing on the lost world of Ossus, and he began to remember the old tales he had paid half-attention to at the Academy on Tython, about how it had been the jewel of the Jedi Order for generations until Exar Kun had laid it to waste three hundred years ago. At that same moment, he saw figures he vaguely recognized, but only two of them he could put names to. One was Master Hawking Shatari, one of the leaders of the Jedi Custodum (the leader, he discovered later; Iaera Farworlder had gone off on her own voyage of seclusion, some months before). The other was the rogue Twi'lek Sith Lord, Quarasha, the mocking presence he had often seen at the old Dancer's Palace and other such places. And he could immediately see that they were here for a reason that had nothing to do with Gnost-Dural's colony.

It was then that he began to realize he was there for the same reason they were, even if he did not yet know what that reason was.

And that was why he approached them.

Though not for lack of trying, certainly. :D No death, no teeth, no problem! (Seriously. I have no teeth. Makes trying to eat anything more solid than pasta a lot of fun, that's for sure.)


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