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Topics - Joshmaul

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16
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.

17
((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..."

18

House of the Traders' Council
Sandstead - Capital City of Jaren
Five years after the Zakuulan invasion


"We've been dealing with a mysterious loss in our sensor detection net for the better part of the last three months," Rodryck Ellus, chairman of the Traders' Council, said in a grim tone of voice. "Now we know why. The sensor stations have all been destroyed, and there is no trace anywhere of the identity of the attackers."

"Could Zakuul have turned against us?" one of the Council members asked fearfully. "We gave up our independence and swore willingly to Arcann! Could they have turned on us?"

"Arcann has proven to be somewhat unpredictable," another spoke up. "Even against those who joined him willingly."

"That sister of his is even worse," said another. "Vaylin kills simply because she feels like it, more often than not; there is no rhyme or reason to her madness."

"Be that as it may," Ellus - who had seized control of the Council four years earlier for the express purpose of aligning his world with Arcann - said firmly, "we are loyal subjects of the Eternal Empire, and sworn to its laws; that is why we have not had a Star Fortress placed over our world, unlike the worlds of the Republic, the Sith, the Hutts...we are trusted enough to keep our own house in order. I will not assume that has changed until a Zakuulan official is here in person to say so."

Just then, the holoprojector at the center of the table began beeping. An incoming transmission on the priority channel. Ellus frowned, then toggled the projection... It was a heavyset figure wearing a heavy robe, a mask concealing his features. The hood and tabard were embroidered with runes. "So, I have you all here. Good."

----

The
Corvidae - Terminus-Class Destroyer
High orbit, Jaren


"You made a mistake four years ago, Rodryck," he continued. "Was the amount of money I paid you to maintain a sanctuary here not enough for your greedy little heart to accept?"

Ellus looked confused for a moment...and then his eyes went wide in horror. "No..."

"Yes, Rodryck. You made a mistake, and now your pathetic little kingdom in the desert will pay for it along with you. Consider this recompense for what you have taken from me." He cut the transmission.

Admiral Bardin Krysiak looked up from the command station at his master, who stepped away from the holocommunicator. "Lord Malagant, we are approaching optimum firing position. Communications are now jammed, so they can't send word to the Eternal Fleet patrols." He hesitated, then said, "Atmo-dev projectiles are loaded and armed. We await only your command."

Malagant looked out the viewport, down at the surface of the desert world below, the ship currently cruising over the northern polar desert. He had invested a lot of money in the sanctuary here, as he had said to Rodryck Ellus - a lot of money that went down the tubes as a result of the Traders' Council betraying him to Arcann, forcing him to flee. He had spent four years on Zakuul, and had returned to find his fellow Sith still debating what to do next, and wasting their resources on futile engagements.

He would show the Council the price of their betrayal. Just as he had when he had destroyed Nikaea, Khyrador, and Sergoratha, when they had aligned with Verulam and the Revanites five years earlier. Now, he had found a potent weapon developed by Imperial engineers in the pre-Zakuul days - atmospheric deprivation projectiles, essentially turning the air that people breathed into an inferno. Jaren would burn for its defiance.

It would not be the first world Malagant had consigned to oblivion - and it would not be the last. He considered it a metaphor of sorts...for how he intended, along with those of sufficient courage, determination, and intelligence, to fight against Arcann. The so-called Emperor had thought he would burn the Core Worlds.
This is how you burn your enemies, he thought.

Krysiak consulted his board again, then looked up at Malagant. "My lord, we are in optimum firing range."

Malagant was silent for a moment, looking down at the desert planet. Then, finally, he nodded. "Then let us begin."

----

Ellus stood outside the Council House, watching as the projectiles began to streak across the sky. He was absolutely dumbfounded.
He wouldn't do this, he thought desperately. He wouldn't!

But he was. With a dull boom, the projectiles began exploding...and the fire began spreading like a stain in the orange sky. Sweat began pouring from Ellus' face and down his back, and he slowly realized that it was getting a lot warmer than it usually was on this planet. More like the hot air inside a mining crawler in the Great Desert between the poles...and then higher. And higher. He felt his skin begin to burn, like standing in the sun for too long without protection...and then higher, and higher. Screams began echoing through the city streets, as they began to burn, too...quite literally now, people began to immolate in the streets.

Ellus now realized what Malagant was doing, as his entire world went white...then black, and he knew no more.

----

The blackness began to spread with fire at its edges, as the surface was vitrified by the intense heat. The stain would spread across the entire northern polar region, and probably go as far as the equator. He was content with that. Sandstead was the only settlement on this planet anyway...and even if there
were anyone living in the southern polar areas, the heat in the air would spread far enough to make it just as unlivable as the Great Desert.

Malagant stared, mesmerized, for a long moment...before his silence was interrupted by the admiral clearing his throat behind him. He turned in silent question. "My lord," Krysiak said evenly, "our primary objective is achieved as you ordered. Where shall we go now?"

Where, indeed. Malagant had contemplated that question since the admiral had returned, this ship being the only one not destroyed or scrapped for parts in the flotilla sent to fend for itself five years earlier. The
Stormwatch had been destroyed, and Admiral Durant killed, some three years before, when they ran afoul of an Eternal Fleet patrol. But now, he felt the time had come to complete the unfinished business he had begun when he had returned from Zakuul. The latest word from Varan was that nothing had been done beyond the reporting of intelligence regarding Jadre and his Star Fortress. That inaction would now be addressed.

"Set a course for Reydovan Prime," he said finally. "I believe it is time to call upon an old friend...and reveal to her the truth."

19
Outside Realm / Need a computer person's expertise
« on: 01/04/16, 12:33:38 PM »
I have a bit of a problem here, and I'm not finding a whole hell of a lot of help for it on Google.

I have an Asus ROG GL551J (that's just J, not JM) laptop. I've had it for about a month and a half, two months now. Within the last week, I have had two unexplained shutdowns, when I was right in the middle of something. The first was writing on this very forum, with no real strain on the system. The second was ten minutes ago, when I was in the middle of playing WoW. This has not happened before. Yet after I turn the thing back on and go through the updates, it works fine. In both cases, the computer had been on for less than an hour.

On both occasions, it has thrown something in my face about Windows updates. On the first, it said "we couldn't complete the updates", so I went through and did the updates with the computer actually ON to do them. The second, it actually went through and DID the Windows updates. I'm wondering if this random shutoff is just a Windows thing telling me "time to update, sonny boy", or if this is indicative of a real problem.

Thanks,
- J.

20
The Trading Floor / Looking for Darth Malgus Lower Body Armor
« on: 12/26/15, 04:23:10 PM »
This might be a bit more lucky for me, since it's currently in circulation...I've managed to obtain the upper and supplimentary parts of Darth Malgus' armor set, and am now looking for the lower. But it seems that the lower armor is often posted for obscenely high prices; the last "good price" I saw for it was two million, but it ain't there now. Lowest I'm seeing it at the moment is 6.3 million (!), which seems a tad excessive to me.

Given that it was how much I paid for the other two portions of the set combined, I am willing to pay 1.5 million for the lower body armor box (that's pants AND boots). If that's not enough, I'll up it to two million; I can probably get that wth a bit of heroicking, heh heh.

21
The Trading Floor / For Sale: Trailblazer's Armor Set
« on: 12/12/15, 02:07:06 PM »
As I've mentioned to a person or two, I've had this armor set for about a week - and I can't seem to get rid of the damn thing. It's not posted on the GTN (or at least it wasn't when I looked last, I haven't checked today), so the prices I've been asking for it have been kind of...optimistic, lol. To be clear: This is the "just Trailblazer's" set, not the Classic Trailblazer.

I am willing to negotiate on price.

22
WARNING! Spoilers Beyond This Point! Discontinue Reading Now If You Have Not Completed Chapter 9!



The Temple of Introspection
Caymarnian Mountains, Reydovan Prime
Five years after the Zakuulan invasion


Standing at the gates of the temple, he could see sentry turrets posted around the landing pad, the doorway, and on the roof of the main temple. He could see that its occupant was not taking any chances. He stood alone before the doorway, a plainly obvious figure in a white robe, trimmed with red and embroidered with gold patterns; the hilt of a saberstaff hung from his belt. His face, headtails, and montrals were all a deep red with a white tattooed pattern across them, and his eyes were the amber color of a rich whiskey.

"Who steps into my domain?" The voice was harsh, not easily identifiable by gender.

"I come to parley with the master of this temple, in the name of the Alliance," he replied calmly. He looked up, seeing the great Star Fortress in low orbit, protected by a shield generator in the city of Illuminopolis, and wondered if such a statement was a mistake. The sentry guns were all of a Zakuulan design. So, he could see, were a number of other artifacts in the main temple.

After a long pause, the voice replied, "Proceed. You are awaited in the Sanctum, beyond the bridge."

The Togruta nodded his head, as if the master of the temple could see him, and walked into the Hall of Light. This had been the audience chamber, but instead of the throne at the end of the room, there was a statue of a throned Sith Lord. He recognized the carved face of the statue as that of Darth Malagant, now five years dead - killed on this very planet at the beginning of the Eternal Empire's war of conquest. It was strange that she chose to honor him in this place...though perhaps it was more for the benefit of the people of this planet than for herself.

At the stairs leading to the upper gallery, a pair of Imperial troopers in full armor awaited him. Without a word, they marched on either side, escorting him upstairs through the gallery, out to the bridge over the waterfall connecting the main temple to the outer grounds. Two smaller sanctuary temples had been set up there, and the troopers directed him to the rightmost of the temples. It was a cavernous building, but smaller than the greater temple through which he had previously gone. In the room, he could see three Sith holocrons - one rather small on an altar of skulls, and two more of much larger size on the floor - and a quartet of salvaged Rakata statues, holding blades up as if in salute.

Seated on the Sith throne at the end of the room was just who he had expected, wearing a hooded robe embroidered with runes, done up in crimson and violet, hidden by an armored mask. It was a parody of the outfit worn by the renegade Scions of Zakuul. "Darth Insomnius, I presume."

"Master Tergahn." The voice was much as it had been as he had heard at the front door, though he swore he could detect a hint of amused malice. "Come to pay a call on your sister? Sorry to disappoint you."

"Strange as it may sound, I am here to see you." Tergahn Dai'lo crossed his arms over his chest, not rising to the bait. "I have been dispatched by the Alliance to seek out individuals willing to fight against Zakuul."

"Have you, now." Insomnius sat back in the throne, as if looking him over. "I don't suppose you happened to look up on your way in and see exactly why no one here has done that?"

"I have seen it, yes. And I have seen what they can do." News of the burning of Bothawui had spread like...well, wildfire. "The Star Fortresses are potent tools, but not invincible. Our specialists are coming up with plans to neutralize them."

"It is not simply the Star Fortress that concerns me, Jedi," she said coldly. "It is the man that commands it. With Malagant gone, he merely waits for any excuse to burn the rest of this planet to a cinder for what happened five years ago." Even in spite of his humiliating injury at the hands of Malagant's HK-51, Hedrath Jadre had remained in the Knights of Zakuul, and was one of those risen to the ranks of the Exarchs - powerful Knights enhanced by new technologies to act as Arcann's regents on conquered worlds. His replacement right hand was just one of the many "gifts" he received as a result of this.

"We can deal with him too," Tergahn replied. "But we will need your help to do it."

She tilted her head curiously. "That must be a difficult thing for you to admit to. What would your friends think? I know you've been to see Farworlder and her ilk. What do they think of this?"

"What Master Farworlder does in her own enclave is her own business, and not for me to judge. I, however, have chosen to set aside what has become the smaller war in favor of the much larger one, just as I did during the conflict with the Revanites - and this is far worse than that. We need any ally we can find." Tergahn gazed calmly at her. "I find the idea of working with Sith abhorrent, I will admit. You, especially. You are a traitor, and nothing that has happened, that will happen, will change that. But I recognize that you are also strong in the Force, and better for our purposes as an ally rather than an enemy."

Insomnius was as still as a statue, and just as silent, for a long moment as she gazed at him. Finally, she spoke. "And what of Ediren?"

Tergahn was wrong-footed...and then his eyes narrowed. "Why? Are you seeking to turn him?"

"He will not turn, of that I am certain," the fallen Archivist replied. "But I confess that I am surprised...I cannot sense him. It is as if a shroud has fallen in the wake of Arcann's war of conquest."

The Togruta Shadow-Master bowed his head; he had felt the same thing. "I have not seen him since before the attack on the Custodum enclave...but I do not think he has gone to the Force. His story is not yet over."

To his surprise, the fallen Archivist nodded. "Indeed..." She sounded uncertain for a moment, then leaned forward. "Tell me more of this 'Alliance' of yours."


----

The Rehevkor - Defender-Class Jedi Corvette
En route to Tython
Three months before the fall of Reydovan Prime


Ediren Lorath sat alone on the bridge of the Rehevkor, having reclaimed it from the hangar on Carrick Station after centering himself at home and fully healing his body (and to a degree, his mind) after the ordeal at the enclave on Coruscant. Now he was on his way back to rejoin the enclave in its mobile headquarters onboard the Custodian's Watch, hoping to continue his training.

But as he brought the ship out of hyperspace, he frowned as he felt out in the Force, then consulted the sensors. Both told him the same thing: The Watch was gone. The ship had not left Tython in all the time since it was commissioned, and now it was gone. There had not been any answer to his communications to Captain Zherron, serving as the naval liaison to the Jedi captain, Master Fen Corus. Now he knew why.

He opened a channel to Tython Orbital and requested docking clearance...

----

The Jedi Temple - Archive Room
Tython - Ten minutes later


After taking the shuttle to the surface, he had gone to the Archives - the very room he had met his Master - hoping to find someone who might be able to point him where he needed. He saw an elderly-looking man confined in a powerchair, though his lightsaber could still be seen at his belt. "Pardon me, Master," he said.

The man looked up at him. "Ah, you have come back. Ediren, isn't it? I'm Eran Heskin. You may have met my old Padawan, Master Tergahn Dai'lo; he has told me much of you, and of your former Master's...departure from our Order." Heskin looked him over, noting the scars, the cybernetic eye. "You seem to have borne things up rather well."

Ediren bowed his head. "Thank you, Master."

"If you're looking for Tergahn, though, he's not been seen here in a bit; he's gone to chase up some rumors coming out of Wild Space. Some new fleet out of that region has been attacking Imperial and Republic outposts."

"I have heard the rumors, Master Heskin...but no, I am not looking for Master Tergahn. I am looking for somebody...actually, a lot of somebodies. The Custodian's Watch wasn't in orbit when I came in."

"Ah, that's right - you're with Iaera Farworlder's flying enclave. They broke orbit four days ago - and I have a feeling, from what I've heard of young Master Farworlder, that she's got the same idea in her head as Tergahn. I don't know exactly where they were going, though. It's a fairly large area to cover."

"I see." Ediren was silent for a moment. This meant, for all intents and purposes, that he was on his own. He was concerned at this for a moment...then he nodded to himself. "Then I will find them," he said finally, "when the time is right." He bowed to the chair-bound Master. "Thank you, Master Heskin." Without another word, he turned on one heel and made his way back to the shuttle.

Heskin watched him go, his worn, battle-scarred face crinkling slightly in a smile. You know your path, he thought. Now go and follow it.

23
As anyone who has been reading my recent posting might be aware, I'm having Malagant and Company batten down the hatches; I'm already putting Varan inactive (he'll pop up later, don't worry, I'm not slaughtering anyone...yet). Pub-side, Ediren is already down for the count until I can remake him with the free 60, and everyone else will just "do what they do".

Which takes us to a concern that has been brought up to me - that I might be moving too fast. I know that some are looking at waiting until New Year's for the RP timeskip, and I'm all for that. It gives us time to actually play the damn thing, heh heh. However, from what I'm left to understand of the material shown, the actual KotFE story does not begin with the timeskip, but in the fairly immediate aftermath of the last game-related event - the cataclysm on Ziost. In other words, the war with Zakuul is technically supposed to be right here, right now.

The way it seems (to me, anyway) to be set up, the timeskip comes after a bit of playing around, while the actual start of the story is intended to be in the just-after-Ziost present, and there are certain things from the "Sacrifice" cinematic that appear to already be done by the time the actual campaign starts (and I will not spoil it any more than that for those who make it a point not to be spoiled beforehand, though I've put the "possible spoiler" tag here just in case, heh heh). I think this point has been brought up before in a late night chat, if my memory serves.

We're all going into it differently, I have no doubt of that...but with the release in 2-3 weeks (depending on whether you're getting in early or not, heh...I don't think I am, alas, I came back after August 10), is it "too soon" to be watching out for gold-armored crazies?

24

((Soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_4OFL1paK0 ))

Estate of House Valmy
The Apalis Coast, Alderaan


"We didn't know who else to call, Captain. This whole mess with the civil war, the Revanites, and now this 'Zakuul' bunch. But you knew these folks well enough, and you're probably the only one we could reach who does. We tried getting to the daughter, but the squad's out on assignment..."

"Thank you, Commander. We'll take it from here." Eidan Zherron strode across the courtyard and into the house, long coat fluttering in the breeze; beside him, in similar attire, was his daughter Lucia on one side, and the stoic figure of Master Tergahn Dai'lo on the other, in a white robe trimmed with red and marked with gold patterns. When the war had started, Saliya Taldir had retired and gone back to Makeb, and left the
Direwolf to Lucia, bringing the ship back to the family, as it were. Now with two ships, she had turned the Brigantia over to Nelys Lorath - bringing it back into that family - and entered into a partnership with him, officially called "Zherlor Shipping", based from the Brigantia's home port on Onderon.

Entering the estate, the younger Zherron went pale. "Kriff me..."

There was blood splattered all over the walls, and priceless artworks and other artifacts were broken. As they entered, the bodies were initially guards and servants...as they went deeper into the house, though, the corpses had far richer attire. And some of them were considerably young - some barely out of infancy. "Not even the children were spared," she whispered.

In the main study, Zherron saw what he had hoped not to find: the body of the family matriarch, Lady Estelle, surrounded by her personal guard. Of Captain Tavan, her loyal bodyguard commander, there was no sign. That could mean he was alive...but whether that was good news or bad, he could not say. Yet.

As he looked, he saw something else. "Master Tergahn...do these look like lightsaber strikes to you?"

Tergahn knelt next to the body of Lady Estelle, and nodded in concurrence.

"Could it be these Zakuul Knights?" Lucia asked, showing the effort at not being sick at the atrocity. "They wield these weird lightsaber pike things."

"This is brutal even for Zakuul," Zherron replied. "No...I think this is a Sith hit."

"Now? With these maniacs on our doorstep?"

"Never underestimate the Sith's self-centeredness, Captain," Tergahn said grimly. He looked around, seeing the security cameras. "Is there a holoterminal somewhere in here we can access the security files?"

"Let me look." Lucia was glad to leave the room, and her father didn't blame her. This was horrid...and a moment later, it was about to get worse. "Guys...?"

Tergahn and Zherron left the room to find Lucia at the security terminal, looking over the footage of the killer going through the house. Her face was clearly visible, and she wore robes of ornate design, as she twirled a saberstaff around, killing everyone she struck. Lucia froze the image just as the figure struck the killing blow against Lady Estelle...and her voice was shaky as she asked, "Is that...?"

"Yes," Zherron answered bleakly. "Caradell."


----

The Temple of Introspection
Caymarnian Mountains, Reydovan Prime
One year earlier




She stirred, feeling sensation in her limbs again. She looked up to see moonlight coming through the grate in the ceiling above, wondering for a moment where she was...and then she remembered. The temple on Yavin, the heads in the plaza, the confrontation in the throne room. She was on Reydovan Prime.

Malagant had not killed her.

That alone made her start...then she smiled tightly to herself. If he expected her to play the obedient servant, he would have another thing coming to him...eventually. For now, however, she would take advantage of his earlier offer...

"You are awake. Good." The harsh tones of the Imperial medical droid overseeing the medbay looked her over, then handed her a cup of hot tea. Deciding to take a chance - he would not leave her floating in a kolto tank just to poison her - she sipped it, taking in the robust flavor. "Darth Malagant instructed me to give you this when you came to, and then to send you to him. He awaits you in his office. Downstairs, left of the throne."

She finished the tea, handed the cup back, and walked out of the medical bay, past the statue-like figures of the Imperial soldiers at each side of the small hallway back into the Hall of Light. The great audience chamber was empty, save for the Massassi who stood somewhat like statues themselves. The throne itself was vacant.



To the left, the droid had said. She peered down the staircase, with no light sources that she could detect...although she did spot what looked like a datacron on its pedestal, next to some kind of ornate pottery. She began the descent down the stairs, for what felt like an eternity.



She was surprised to note the roots and fallen masonry here. It seemed that Malagant desired to keep everything about his transplanted temple intact, including all signs of wear and tear. From the outside, it looked like it would have stood here for many long centuries before she had set foot in it....rather than having been transported in from lightyears away in a matter of weeks.

At last, she reached the bottom of the stairs, and looked into the rather cozy office. A desk was set up in front of what looked like a Sith lightsaber forge, and there were artworks and artifacts set along the walls; behind the desk stood two more Massassi brutes and an HK assassin droid...and her host.

"Malagant...I am here."



Malagant swiveled in his chair to face her, smiling. "Ahh...you are back among the living at last, Caradell. Good."

"I do not answer to that name anymore," she replied. "I am Insomnius now."

"I see." Malagant's grin widened. "Already thinking ahead and choosing a name for a Sith. But you're not there yet."



"If you require another demonstration, I can easily give you one," she replied coldly.

Malagant laughed. "I am sure you can, but it's not me you need to prove yourself to. It's everyone else. You came here as just another rogue Jedi...but I may have an opportunity to help change that. I have been on the line with one of my allies amongst the overseers on Korriban. She has agreed to oversee your instruction in the ways of the Sith."

The former Archivist scowled, taking exception to this. "I am not just another initiate fresh out of a slave camp, Malagant."

"I know that, but you must prove that you are not just another pretender with a head bloated by ego, that you are worthy to bear the mantle of the Sith. I made that mistake with Kieran Devaneaux, giving him too much too soon; he preached his weak 'Sith democracy' and then turned to the Revanites...and I ended up killing him for it. You may think because you have Jedi training, you can come and be Sith right off the bat. But Korriban is more than a world of tombs, and the Academy is more than a training center. Together they are a sieve, where the weak will be shaken out like so many grains of sand, until only the treasure remains."

She considered this, then looked down at herself, wearing only her underclothes. "I don't suppose you have something to wear. It's...chilly down here."

Malagant smiled, and gestured to one of the ornate tables, inscribed with Sith runes, up against the wall on either side of the door. "Based on what you wore when you came in, I had some made for you for when you awoke."

She walked over to the table and, while Malagant politely looked away, put on the attire. It was well-fashioned, and of a rather curious Sith style. Finally, when she felt more like a sentient being again, she walked over to stand in front of his desk. Malagant grinned, seeing her. "Now you begin to look more the part."



"And now you wish me to act it," she said bluntly. "You wish to send me to Korriban."

"Yes. First, to properly acclamate you to your weapon." He held up the weapon she had brought in - the lightsaber of Master Aken Tyrell, her "Grandfather" and rescuer from the colony nearly two decades before. "When he defeated Saxtus Fayhan in combat, Tethik took his lightsaber as his own. But this weapon...you are too emotionally attached to it. I will have it dismantled, and the working parts prepared for you. When the overseers have deemed you properly worthy to be Sith, you will return to me, and I will have you assemble a new weapon using the pieces. Consider it a symbolic gesture - ripping apart your past to build a new future."

She looked hesitant...and then nodded. "I like the sound of that."

"I thought you might." Malagant stood from his desk and circled to the holoprojector, toggling its display.



"We will need properly trained Sith soon enough. There have been incoming reports from the frontier, telling of golden warriors wielding lightsaber pikes, led by two men - reflections of one another. One in black, one in white."

"This 'golden tide' you mentioned in the throne room."

"Yes. We have lost contact with a number of border outposts, who only sent back fragmentary reports of this army. Basically making it sound like the kind of ridiculous tale a spacer would spin in a cantina. However, my apprentice Lazhna, who should be coming back from her sojourn into the war for Bandomeer shortly, experienced a vision of this very 'golden tide', and the twins in mirrored colors, leading them...and her visions indicated it would happen shortly after you arrived here. So, as you can see - given that she saw you in her visions, and now here you are - I take these reports very seriously."

"And...you need me for this. You want to prepare me."

"Precisely. You have strength and power, but they are unfocused, untempered. Forge yourself into a weapon in the heat and sand of Korriban. Then, when you return to me, you will be a true Sith, and may take the name of one. Until then...you say you are not Caradell anymore. In that case, you are nothing. Make yourself into something."

She smiled...and bowed mockingly. "As you say...my lord."

"Now go. Your transport to Korriban awaits." As her footsteps echoed up the stairs back into the main temple, Malagant stood in the doorway, illuminated by the moonlight, as he gazed across the foothills - across his domain. "Let us hope you are a quick learner," he said, as though she was still there. "Time grows short..."



----

Sith Academy Shuttlepad
Valley of the Dark Lords, Korriban
Four hours later


She stepped off the ramp of the shuttle and out of the shadow of its uptilted wing to stand in the dust and the hot sunlight.

Korriban.



As one who studied history, and had a great respect for artifacts and ancient lore, this had been a dream long in the making - that the Empire would be destroyed, allowing historians and archaeologists to study the ancient ruins and fill in the gaps in their histories. Now, she was here at last, but not as a Jedi...the irony was not lost on her at all.

She smiled, and looked up towards the Academy. It still showed signs of damage from the Revanite-instigated attack, but was largely intact. She walked along the dark and broken pathways to its entrance ramp, where an elderly human woman in flowing robes stood. "You are the young Jedi, then. I am Overseer Charva."

"I am no Jedi," she replied. "Not anymore."

"We will see about that, Jedi," Charva replied, twisting the dagger further. "Darth Malagant has left your instruction to me. We will see if his faith in you is deserved."

25

As the Devourer returns, a world dies,
The darkness falls over the blind.
The path leads through where Ancients dwelled,
And from there, to where their halls now stand.

As the blind one's journey continues,
A shadow and a torch come from beyond,
Directing the path of a golden tide,
Ending the wars without and within.

Enemies become earnest allies.
Allies become bitter enemies.
The battle lines are drawn again,
And smudged by the crashing wave.

As the golden horde marches onward,
The damned will herald the visions of death.
In the light, the seer will become the blind.
In the dark, the sightless will begin to see.


- From the writings of Darth Malagant, based on the visions of his apprentice, Lazhna Dai'lo

----

Carrick Station - Docking Ring
13 ATC


"Nothing? Nothing at all?"

"Not a kriffin' thing, Cap'n Zherron," the guard captain said grimly. "We've been through 'er three times, there ain't a sign of life anywhere. Even the young Jedi kid's not pickin' anythin' up with the Force...it's like yer friend's up'n'vanished."

"Damn it!" Eidan Zherron thumped the outer hull of the ship in frustration. Standing next to the boarding ramp, Ediren Lorath jumped slightly, surprised at the movement; still, he could understand Zherron's feelings. In a more controlled way, he shared them.

After discovering the Rehevkor had left Coruscant, they had tracked it (again with the help of Zherron's daughter Lucia and her ship, the Brigantia) to Carrick Station...only to find it empty. And its pilot was not listed on any of the passenger manifests for any long-distance shuttles or large transport ships from the time the Rehevkor arrived. It was possible she was still here...but Ediren felt no sign of her. Then again, it was hard to tell, with the amount of people that came by this station every day, and how many were there now.

Zherron, sighing as he controlled the shaking of his hands from the rage he felt, looked over at Ediren, who met his gaze stoically - with his right eye, his left covered by a cybernetic eyepatch, his face scarred by the claws of the Dashade warrior Trakis Mal in the ruins of Nikaea. "Walk with me, Padawan," he said curtly, as he turned and left the hangar.

Ediren followed and matched his pace, as they headed back into the central hub, where the cantina was located. "It's as if she tried to wipe away all traces of her being here, both physically and in the Force," he said as they walked, as soon as they were out of earshot of the men.

"This doesn't make any sense, though!" Zherron snapped angrily, though his rage was not directed at the Padawan himself. "Where the hell could she be going? She was practically shivering like a rancor on Hoth when she finally got back, afraid to ever leave Coruscant again - and then she up and vanishes?!"

"I have consulted the Archives, including her personal files. I think I know what she's up to." Ediren met Zherron's metal-eyed stare. "I think she's going after Malagant."

The surety in Ediren's voice convinced Zherron that he was right. "Go on."

"There were sixteen originally, as you well remember, Captain...with one exception, they are all dead. And whether personally or through his minions, one man was responsible for it all. I think her path will take her to Reydovan Prime, to Malagant's stronghold." He paused, thoughtful. "But not directly. She has taken her steps down the dark path...and I fear that she will become her enemy in the process of working to destroy him. She will gather power to her, before she makes her move."

Zherron nodded. "What do you suggest?"

Ediren looked up, seeing Lucia walking by. He waved her over. "Captain," he said, now addressing her, "I have a commission for you to undertake."

----

Imperial Military Headquarters
Sobrik, Balmorra


"Sir," the adjutant reported, "a visitor."

A Chiss with a smart bearing approached, wearing a long red coat, a GR-14 XT rifle slung over his right shoulder. "Moff Keriak?"

"Ah, Commander Varan, you're here at last." Alexander Keriak held out his hand, which Varan shook, his grip strong in spite of his rather slim figure. "Welcome to the war. I must say, I'm a bit surprised at your being here. Your hundred thousand is just a drop in the bucket, given that we have millions thrown into this meatgrinder. But a marksman of your caliber, I would have expected to be out on a more...glamorous battlefield."

"A marksman makes the kill beautiful regardless of where it happens, sir," Varan replied with a thin smile. "While I have the men deployed as we discussed on my way here, I have my personal team at your disposal for less...visible work." Varan had maintained an honor guard of Chiss warriors, given training in stealth and marksmanship, since he had originally been head of Special Forces for the IRDF.

"Well, I have nothing for you at the moment - just some cleaning up on the Beckett Line - but we are about to begin the second phase of our operation, which I am sure will require the use of your talents, as well as those of your team. Sending Republic commanders home in disgrace is all well and good...but sending them back in boxes would be a much clearer message, wouldn't you say?"

"Absolutely, sir," Varan agreed.

"Splendid. Have a look around the camp, and at your future battlefield. I'll have orders for you as soon as phase two begins. Carry on, Commander."

"Sir." He saluted the Moff, and walked out into the battle-damaged garrison that had been Balmorra's Imperial headquarters since they took control of the planet more than a decade ago. There had been a hell of a fight out at the line, no doubt of it - and there would be even more blood shed before the year was out...

Varan had been to Balmorra on a couple of occasions while working for Imperial Intelligence, usually to help the army (and Darth Lachris, once she had taken control of the planet from that idiot Melchiro - before being killed herself, by the Jedi, a year or so later) take out resistance leaders. It had been here, in fact, that Varan had killed his first Jedi, when the war erupted in earnest and the Republic officially backed the resistance. Each time he had gone out to eliminate his target, he remembered that the fighting around him had not been the "merry little war" that the propaganda made it out to be.

As his mind went back to old memories, it suddenly went to a conversation he had had with Malagant at Vaiken Spacedock, just before continuing on to Balmorra. Malagant had told him of Lazhna's visions, of the Jedi who might have been coming for him. "Is she sure of this?" he had asked.

"She appears to be," Malagant had replied. "But our friend's intention is unclear. She may be coming to serve me, as I have planned; she may be coming to usurp me, and take my position. We just don't know yet. But I am adding an addendum to your mission: Keep your eyes and ears open. If she is coming for me, her path will not be direct. Your path may cross hers. If it does, inform me at once."

Varan had nodded. "Understood, my lord." And that had been that...but now that he thought on it, he wondered what the game was. What madness had driven the Jedi to go rogue? What plan did Malagant have in mind for her? And why tell him? Why not ask Beniko for agents? Oh, that's right. After Ziost, she hardly has any, he reminded himself. Or so the word was from his old colleagues in those ranks, anyway...

Varan shrugged to himself. What would be, would be.

26

Ediren

He had spent the better part of the day waiting for a reply, but then he was not surprised. The ship he was trying to reach was on assignment...finally, the holoprojector came to life.

"Coruscant, this is the Republic transport Loudon. To whom are we speaking?"

"Good day, Loudon. My name is Ediren Lorath, Padawan of the Jedi Order. I need to speak to your captain."

"Padawan Lorath, I don't know what they told you down there, but this is a military HoloNet channel, not a long-distance call center."

"I understand that, and I would not be making this call if it was not urgent. Tell the captain that it involves a certain Archivist of our mutual acquaintance. He'll understand."

The man on the other line sighed. "One moment." The projection faded.

Ever since the return to Coruscant, his Master had been keeping things in, but something last night had spurred her to anger. She mentioned Padawan Merrant several times as she vented her frustration...but Ediren had a fairly good idea what had spurred it. Either she had led something slip, or Merrant was incredibly observant...but he had likely seen that something was wrong. She was sensitive to the feelings of others - and given how she had suffered these past years, being able to control her own had become increasingly difficult.

Finally, the holoprojector crackled back to life as a tall man appeared, wearing gear reminiscent of that of the Republic protectors on Makeb. His graying black hair had gone snow white, after he had given up trying to stop that from happening, and his face had a few more lines to it than it had four months earlier. His goggle-like cybernetics stared across the light-years. "Problem with your Master, young Ediren?"

"Thank you for responding to my call, Captain Zherron," Ediren said with all sincerity, before answering his question. "Yes, there is a problem. She has been in a...rather low state since we returned to Coruscant, because of what spurred us to stop our wandering around the war zones."

"She felt it, then?" Eidan Zherron asked. "I saw the HoloNet transmission about Nikaea."

Ediren nodded. "I felt the destruction, too...but Archivist Caradell felt it much worse."

"Little wonder. Now I know what he said is true about Katran." A sadness crossed his face...a face that had known nothing but sadness and anger for years. "My old captain and I had been there on that colony world when we picked up those sixteen kids towards the end of the last war. Now she's all that's left." Zherron looked down for a moment, then back at Ediren. "What do you need from me?"

"Advice," Ediren said. "I am...not sure how to handle this."

"Tell me."

27
Three months, and no change.

She fought him at every turn, and had not broken. He had to admit, he was impressed. As he stood in the courtyard of the Temple, he contemplated how best to proceed. Without her "dear sister" as a motivation, she would not bend, of that she was sure. But the wily Archivist had not been seen for some time. Nor had any of his other foes. It was a relief, but he had to admit it was also disquieting...

His erstwhile ally had not been seen lately, either, and he suspected he knew why: The fool had decided this mission was "futile" and gone back to his Jedi friends. For all the good it would do in the end, he mused; they would not be so willing to take back a Revanite, after all the trouble they had caused. Then again, he supposed, with the mess the unlamented former Emperor had made on Ziost, they would take any help they could get.

He looked up into the starlit sky, and frowned in puzzlement as he saw something moving...moving this way. Very fast. There were several more somethings following in its path. Then, like a lightning strike, turbolaser fire lit up the night around the Temple. And at last, he could see what the "somethings" were.

Imperial troop shuttles...and a Fury-class interceptor. The troop shuttles, and the armor of the soldiers in black and red armor leaving those shuttles, bore a strange mark along with that of the Empire: A white hand with the Aurebesh letter Mern - M - in its palm in red. And as he watched the Fury's ramp descend, and a hulking figure stride down it - flanked by an HK-51 assassin and a statuesque Cathar, and followed by a dozen Sith acolytes in dark robes and concealing masks - he understood.

Malagant...

----

Even after all this time and all that had happened, Darth Malagant thought, Nikaea was still a beautiful world. It would be a shame to lose it, but enough blood and treasure had been expended to make hanging onto it a wasteful venture. He would do what he should have done months ago, what he had done to Khyrador and Sergoratha - blast this planet to glass, ensuring that the so-called Nikaean Empire would never rise again. But first, he would make sure there would be no surprises afterward. It was no good to wipe out a planet if your quarry escaped, after all...

He had waited these past months, lost in meditation in the shadowed recesses of his fortress estate on Dromund Kaas...waiting for the right moment to put an end to the legacy of Revan once and for all - and to remove a black mark on his honor. Inquisitor Jaeden'laek, his Sith Master, had been taught by the man who he now hunted, and he knew in his black, twisted heart that Jaeden'laek would never have tolerated his Master betraying the Empire.

Now, the old man would be taken to task, at long last - and he, Malagant, would be the one who carried out the sentence.

"Dark Lord," the commander of the troop detachment reported, saluting, "we've had word from orbit. Admiral Durant says the fleet found and wiped out the barracks where the Taelios droids were kept."

"Good. One less obstacle to deal with." Malagant nodded approvingly. "Complacency is the enemy, Commander. One must always be vigilant. This is the price for becoming too sure of yourself, for letting down your guard. Remember it, so that you may tell your children and grandchildren." His voice hardened. "And in that spirit, keep in mind that our foes are both powerful and sneaky, and wait for you to make a similar mistake. If you should find them, or the Jedi they hold captive, inform me at once. Do not engage them. I have no use for dead heroes."

"Yes, my lord."

"Very good. Deploy your men." The commander saluted again, and moved off. There was a slight chill in the air; Malagant knew that it was the beginning of the planet's winter cycle, one that lasted for close to half the solar year. He smiled at the irony.

"It is fitting, Tethik," he said to the Cathar standing at his right hand, "that we arrive at the Nikaean Time of Death, the time where the entire world seemingly sleeps." His smile faded, his jaw clenched. "But now, there will be no Time of Rebirth."

28
Outside Realm / A formal farewell....at least for now
« on: 05/24/15, 12:43:29 PM »
Hello, BC.org. I'm posting from my tablet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and this small screen is hard to work with, lol...but to the point.

Some of you may or may not have noticed my absence these past couple of weeks. I will not reopen old wounds by explaining why, or ranting about this, that, and whatever. I have decided, in the best interests of both myself and all involved, to place all of my characters and contributions to stories here on hold for the foreseeable future, and step away from SWTOR. No doubt some of you may construe this as all of them being dead....it would not be the first time my characters have faked their own deaths, heh heh.

I bid you all a (hopefully) temporary farewell, and hope to return under better circumstances.

Yours,
J.

29

Darth Malagant couldn't sleep. Again.

Lying in his bed, which may as well have been a jagged block of stone for all the comfort he took from it, he stared at the ceiling, his mind unable to relax long enough to let him sleep. Since the war against the Revanites had begun, he had suffered from bouts of insomnia. Lately it was rumored that Darth Marr had made an agreement with the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, which had resulted in the death of Revan on Yavin Four. If so, Verulam and Netalis would find themselves cornered before long, and a major thorn in his side would be removed...permanently. It pleased him to think that they had been on the right track with Yavin.

But after what happened on Nathema...

The events of that whole day were a thousand times worse than anything he had ever experienced. All the torments he had suffered training at the academies on Dromund Kaas and Korriban, the period he had spent in stasis on Belsavis, every injury, every defeat...all seemed trivial by comparison. Even this conflict he now sought to finish seemed like child's play.

All he had known of Nathema was that it had been lost more than a thousand years before. Now he knew why. Koonto, in her madness, had been quite clear on that point. What he had seen and felt - the eerie, timeless ruins, the complete void of the Force, the washed out colors, the warped acoustics - was what the Emperor would have done to the rest of the galaxy. Even the worst weapons Thrax could unleash were as nothing compared to that.

Not so long ago, if someone had told him that the Emperor had sacrificed an entire world for immortality, he would have shrugged. "Greatness requires sacrifice," one of his old overseers had said when he was a teenager, training on Korriban. But seeing was quite a different thing than hearing, and what he had seen had made everything he had ever known, ever been taught, a complete and utter lie.

He began to wonder if that was what had motivated Magius to turn to the False Emperor, what had motivated respected veterans like Arkous and Verulam to become Revanites. Had they known? Had the masters they had chosen to follow in their treason against the Empire known?

From his office in the next room, he could hear beeping. Sighing, giving up on sleep, he walked out of his bedroom, bare feet on the cold floor, but he did not seem to notice - even wearing only his lower robe, it did not feel cold to him. He sat down at his desk and looked at the built-in computer monitor, which indicated the message had been sent from the spaceport on Jaren to his fortress there, and rerouted to him here. "Play communication," he said tiredly.

A slender figure appeared, wearing a hooded robe. "Malagant. I need your help."

Malagant was now completely alert.

30
Worldbuilding and Community / Planetary Databanks: Jaren
« on: 03/05/15, 01:21:38 PM »
<<The most current approved entry from the Independent Holonet Corporationís Galactic Factbook regarding Jaren>>

Planet: Jaren
Location: Northern Hutt Space, Far Rim
Current Government: Plutocracy
Capital City: Sandstead

Head of State/Government and Legislature: Traders Council
Primary Exports: Luxury goods, metal ores, refined metal, slaves
Primary Currency: Galactic Credit Standard

Demographics:
Population: 1,195,000 (not counting number of visitors on business)
Breakdown by species: 45% Human, 55% Variable (Twi'lek, Nikto, Nautolan, Togruta, Rodian, etc.)

General Planetary Information: Jaren is a predominantly desert planet much like Tatooine, located in a corner of Hutt Space near the Imperial border. The planet is located on what is known on Nikaea as "the Watcher's Path", a hyperspace route that ran from the boundaries of the Nikaean Empire into the Core Worlds before the Nikaean retreat into isolation many thousands of years ago.

The surface conditions make regular habitation beyond the polar regions all but impossible, ranging close to boiling point near the equator, with a regular occurrence of blowing sand and magnetic storms across the majority of the surface; the equatorial regions are also said to be highly radioactive, a possible origin for the planet's current conditions. The planet's only major center of population is Sandstead, a port city located in the northern polar regions, where the icecap provides the settlement's water supply. A sizable spaceport facility is located on the city's outskirts. Rumors have persisted that a powerful Sith Lord has established a fortified base somewhere outside of Sandstead, but there has been no way to confirm.

Transportation: Most of Jaren's surface is subject to electromagnetic storms, which interfere with spaceborne vessels' instrumentation; they do not regularly affect the northern polar regions, where the inhabitants live. A fully-equipped space station has been placed in orbit above the city of Sandstead for the supply of larger trading vessels, while Jaren's main spaceport on the surface handles standard transport shuttles and small freighters.

Travel through the Great Burning Expanse - as the inhabitants call the planet-wide desert - is restricted to officially sanctioned surveyors and mining crews; most of the vehicles involved in these operations rely on wheels or treads, given the unreliability of hover-tech in the vast deserts. Speeders are usually seen in Sandstead, and skyhoppers often ferry passengers from the spaceport to the entertainment facilities in the city itself.

Crime: Gang battles are fairly commonplace on Jaren - though some of a cynical bent say this is "fairly typical" for a world in Hutt Space. The Traders Council, the combined executive/legislative authority - made up of the wealthiest mining magnates and trade barons - regularly sanctions visiting bounty hunters to conduct their business and maintain the peace; in some cases, they have even employed some of the gangs with skills that could be used to the Council's advantage.

Economy: Despite the harsh conditions, Jaren is rich in mineral resources, and has made an extensive trade in selling both the ores mined on the planet and the metals refined on-planet. Vehicles and equipment that are specially designed for the harsh conditions often venture out into the Great Burning Expanse to conduct mining operations. Jarenite metals have proven to be quite durable, and are often used in the construction of the desert vehicles used in mining surveys and mine construction. They have also been adapted for starship construction, as well as for the construction of the orbiting space station.

Jaren also has its dark side, as the planet is also home to a bustling slave market. During the Imperial occupation of the Nikaean Sector (10-13 ATC), slaves from the three major worlds of that sector - Nikaea, Khyrador, and Sergoratha - were often shipped to the slave marts on Jaren and sold to prospective buyers, usually Hutts seeking gladiators for deathmatches or similar (and potentially fatal) occupations.

Intergalactic Relations: Jaren has remained largely neutral, its business open to all willing to pay, though the slave trade on the planet often precludes the Republic from engaging in any form of trade negotiations with Jarenite merchants. Though the Hutts are the most visible trade partners, the Empire has also made use of their "top-rate" slave transportation services, particularly during the Imperial occupation of Nikaea, though not as regularly since.

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