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Author Topic: 'Tis But A Change of Base  (Read 737 times)

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Offline Joshmaul

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

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

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

How wrong you are, Malagant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tekan stepped forward. "My lords."

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

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

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

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

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

Malagant's hateful gaze now met his, but he said only, "So it will be."
Circled tomb of a different age
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Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows

Offline Joshmaul

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Re: 'Tis But A Change of Base
« Reply #1 on: 04/02/17, 12:31:36 PM »
Seated in his office at his Kaas City apartment, Darth Metheius examined the records sent to him from Reydovan Prime. Though as taken with the ancient histories as Malagant was, Metheius knew that in the era of this "New Empire", the days of Sith Lords living like kings was essentially over. He maintained residency on Dromund Kaas as he had pledged, choosing instead to leave on-the-ground administration to newly-promoted Moff Arik Daltyn, as military governor of Reydovan Prime and commander of the sector's defense forces. He had also seen to the confiscation of Malagant's supply of atmospheric deprivation warheads, the planet burners he had used to incinerate Jaren and Sugilar.

Having a house full of personal baubles was one thing; Metheius had his own collection of artifacts he had collected over the years, including a number of Zakuulan relics from the invaders he had killed. Hoarding military hardware for your own residence, and at the expense of the Imperial treasury, was something else entirely...especially if you had a less-than-stellar track record. Malagant had had a thousand men guarding a huge temple; Metheius made do with much smaller living space and a bodyguard no larger than thirty men, as well as his two HK assassin droids. If need be, he could do without the men, if they were needed to serve elsewhere. The HKs would suffice.

The last four governors of Reydovan Prime had been utter failures living on-planet. Darth Cyanoculus had proved that the son betrayed the Empire as the father did, first by being a Jedi, then defecting to the Revanites after Malagant had turned him. He and his military successor, Moff Euphrati Velade, had instituted a "Sith democracy" on the planet, which Malagant had feared would result in their voting to leave the Empire...and so Malagant had killed her, just as he had killed Cyanoculus for his treason. At the time, Metheius had approved. But looking back, he saw it as Malagant cleaning up his own messes. Malagant's own administration had done well enough, except for the millions he had spent on his "pleasure palace"...but then he had run away and hid in the frontier, faking his own death when the Zakuulans had attacked.

He understood hiding the truth from his enemy, but fleeing the Empire, living in the center of the invaders' realm...Metheius had often wondered if the years Malagant had spent on Zakuul had corrupted him. But again, looking back, he saw a pattern. Malagant flew under whatever flag he could use to his own advantage. First, he had served the Tenebrous Gospel, the cult to the late, unlamented Sith Emperor (now utterly, totally, and permanently dead, thank the Force), and then betrayed them. He had controlled the Reydovan Sector for the Empire, and then he had abandoned it. Now he played nice with Heermann.

There had been no doubt in his mind that if Heermann had stopped being "useful", Malagant would have betrayed him, too. Metheius had (he hoped) cut that idea off with one swift stroke, putting Malagant and the men he had gathered at his temple under Heermann's command. Based on his record, Heermann was of a mindview similar to Grand Moff Regus - he acknowledged the supremacy of the Sith, but did not obey blindly. He was a professional military officer, and would resist any amateurish interference from any Sith, be they an apprentice or a Dark Lord. And he would say so openly.

Perhaps being under Heermann's command, rather than simply being "associates", would teach Malagant some humility. That was the idea, anyway. Privately, Metheius had doubts as to whether Malagant would learn his lesson, but he was sure, based on the man's record, that the new Moff could handle himself if push came to shove...

His intercom beeped - the protocol droid near the door. "Master, Lord Nemiya is here to see you."

"Send her up." He set the datapad down on his desk and waited as his guest made her way up. After a moment, the robed and hooded figure of the Chiss Sith Lord entered. Originally known by her Chiss "core name" Thali, she had been apprenticed to Lord Tethik Nadun, the Cathar ex-slave who had been trained by Darth Cyanoculus. Tethik had remained loyal to the Empire when Cyanoculus had turned to the Revanites, and Thali had assisted her master in hunting down Cyanoculus' Revanite masters, Darth Verulam and Jedi Master Merken Netalis. After becoming a Sith Lord, Nemiya now acted beyond the whims of other Darths, as an enforcer of sorts for the Empress.

He stood and nodded politely to her. "Welcome, Lord Nemiya. I trust all is well."

"Well enough," she replied, inclining her head. "I do apologize for coming uninvited, Lord Metheius, but the Empress wanted a quick follow-up on our little visit to Yavin. Are they away?"

"Malagant and Tekan are en route now. I expect the remainder of the men and materiel will arrive at Fort Marr within the week."

"And Darth Malagant's weapons hoard?"

"Taken care of. Fleet Command has already inventoried and stored the warheads he didn't use."

"Good." A hint of relief showed in Nemiya's expression. "The Empress was most concerned that they be properly stored, their use restricted. These are not weapons that should be used on a whim."

"Agreed," Metheius replied, nodding. "If we are to set fire to the skies, we had best have a reason beyond 'making a point'."

"How fares your administration?"

"Moff Daltyn has reported that things are returning to relative normalcy on Reydovan Prime, and the other governors report likewise. Under-Moff Bensen has sent mining engineers to Sugilar to attempt to...salvage what can be spared of the planet for the Empire." Metheius' teeth ground together. Another waste, but one he was determined to make good on.

Nemiya observed him curiously. "There are those who wonder why Darth Malagant is not simply done away with for his incompetence. The Empress has not made her thoughts known to anyone but herself, but I admit to some curiosity...why have you not advocated his execution? You have certainly crusaded against everything else about him."

She was good, Metheius had to admit. The thought had occurred to him. But he answered honestly, "For the same reason the temple was cleared out and the men returned to the front, Lord Nemiya - he has his uses to the Empire. Darth Insomnius had him outfitted with considerable hardware after his near-death duel with Exarch Jadre. It would be a shame to let it go to waste, even if it is being used to sustain the life of such a bungler."

"So you feel that rather than simply execute him, you send him to possibly find death in such a way that will serve the Empire? In battle against rebels, perhaps?"

Metheius nodded. "Killing him ourselves would simply be another wasteful whim."

"Hmm." Nemiya considered this. "Your reasoning is interesting, my lord...and I can see the logic to it. But if I might ask, what if he chooses to...rebel against his place in our new Empire?"

"Then killing him will not be so much of a whim after all."
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows

Offline Joshmaul

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Re: 'Tis But A Change of Base
« Reply #2 on: 04/14/17, 11:52:54 AM »
The humidity was the first thing Darth Malagant noticed as he stepped down the ramp of the Shadowlight. Or rather, it was the first thing his shoulder-length hair noticed, as it began to curl up. Worse than Zakuul, if he was any judge...

There had been considerable work done to complete the facilities, and there were soldiers on alert all throughout the base. And not one of them looked in his direction. They went about their business as if there was not a Dark Lord standing there looking around. Across the way, he could see the transport that Commander Tekan had arrived on; he could see the commander himself walking down the ramp, heading into the base. No doubt he felt the humidity far worse, with all that fur.

As he walked towards the base himself, Malagant seethed with rage at the circumstances he had found himself in. This was a banishment, no matter what they said in the media. His home was violated, his possessions confiscated, and his men now answering to someone other than him. And now he was left to rot here in this kriffing swamp. At least he was kind enough to let me keep my ship, he thought sarcastically.

Lazhna was not here, at least not that he could see. "Keep that backstabbing bitch away from me," Malagant had said bluntly to Metheius before leaving Vaiken. In her presence, no less. Metheius had just laughed. For all he knew, he had sent her here, too...

Well...here we are, I suppose, he thought with a resigned sigh. Might as well make the best of it.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows

Offline Joshmaul

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Re: 'Tis But A Change of Base
« Reply #3 on: 05/02/17, 08:37:36 AM »
Aboard the Harrower-class dreadnought Sanguinar, Moff Matthias Caudell watched the HoloNet news with a concerned expression. He had worked with Darth Metheius as a Navy captain late in the Great War, more than two decades ago, and knew that Metheius was one of the few Sith who was tended to support the efforts of the Imperial Military. It was proper that a recon battalion be assigned to a command sent out on the frontier, especially if the rumors swirling around Dromund Kaas were true about this "weapon" on some machine-planet in Wild Space.

It was the Sith going with them that caught his attention...leaving his quarters, he went down the hall to where the commander of the Army support units - the snipers, sappers, and medics, among others - had his quarters, and toggled the chime. "Yes?" came the voice from inside.

"Moff Caudell, General. You have a minute?"

A pause, then, "Come on in."

The door opened, and Caudell entered to see the man he came for reaching for his uniform tunic. Without it, he could see the scars of years of warfare on his face, partly covered by the cybernetic eyepatch over his right eye...as well as a particularly ragged scar in his chest, which was mirrored by a similar scar in the near-exact location on his back. It was a wound that should have killed him - after all, it was taken almost as a given that being impaled by a lightsaber was an instant death sentence. But he had survived somehow, even though nearly everyone outside of a certain "circle" - the Empress, the Minister of War, and the men under the Moff's command - believed him dead.

As he put on his uniform and adjusted the cuffs, he looked over at Caudell. "Something on your mind, sir?"

"Just wondering if you've seen the HoloNet news coming out of Reydovan Prime lately. He's in a bad fix, looks like."

The general looked over at him with his one good eye, his expression giving little away. "I've seen it." He chuckled. "I've not had the heart to tell him. Of course, I don't have much of a heart left anyway. The Jedi saw to that." He clasped his belt around his waist. "He has spent all this time thinking me dead. So has nearly everyone else. And no one save the Empress and the Minister - and you - know of my connections to him, only that I come from an 'esteemed military family', and that someone in it had the fortune to be Sith." He snorted. "Not sure how much 'fortune' can be found here."

"A number of my contemporaries are calling it punishment for his excesses. Metheius certainly sees it that way...and I'll bet he does, too. If I may be so bold...he could stand to hear some good news for a change."

The general picked his gloves up from a nearby dresser. "I have spent twelve years keeping my continued existence a secret from him, Thias. I judged it an unnecessary burden on his duties to the Empire to keep worrying about me." He pulled his gloves on, flexing the fingers to ensure they were on properly. "I spent even longer than that keeping out of the shadow of my Sith Lord big brother. I made my own way through my own merits...and through the generosity of Bassel Krysiak, fates rest him, in rebuilding me after that blind bitch all but killed me."

The Moff nodded, though nonetheless pressed the point. "You know he'll find out eventually, Andav. Either through his own devices, or through Heermann's. He was the head of Sith Intelligence after Beniko betrayed us to the Outlander, and he no doubt still has a few fingers in that particular pot."

He was answered by a sad, bitter laugh, then, "We'll cross that road when we get to it. He's been kept in the dark this long, and I intend to keep it that way...for now."

Caudell shrugged. "It's your own affair, General, but you may end up regretting it if he finds out the hard way." The Moff's commlink beeped, and he answered. "Yes."

"Bridge, sir. We are approaching Dromund Kaas."

"Take us into a low orbit." He disengaged the commlink, and gave a single nod. "General." Then he was gone.

General Andav Undjo sat heavily on the end of his bed, contemplating both the news and his commander's concern about it. More than a decade earlier, he had been part of the Imperial Army's special forces, determined to make his way up the ladder without any "patronage" from his elder brother, Darth Malagant. Malagant's chief military advisor, General Bassel Krysiak, had been Andav's commanding officer early in the Cold War; Andav had been assigned to Balmorra to help put down the resistance, earning him the nickname "the Butcher of the Sobrikarill Valley". His ruthlessness was often compared to Malagant's, and part of him chafed at constantly being held up to the same standards as his Sith sibling.

Andav's last interaction with Malagant had been on Reydovan Prime; the governor at the time, Lord (later Darth) Cyanoculus, had betrayed Malagant and conspired with Republic forces to imprison him on Belsavis. Andav had taken his first war wound that day, a hit in the shoulder from the blaster pistols of Republic privateer Eidan Zherron. His path led him not to the Republic prison world, but to the hellhole dustball of Tatooine, where he had met with Darth Karmic, the ex-slave whom Malagant's apprentice, Lord Veerak, had approached to rescue Malagant. General Krysiak had instructed him to go on with an inspection tour of Imperial facilities on the planet. In the Jundland Wastes, outside Mos Anek, Andav had come into conflict with a Miraluka Jedi Padawan named Katran, the apprentice of Malagant's hated enemy, Saxtus Fayhan.

And she had killed him. Or so she, Malagant, and everyone else had thought. For a while, he had thought so, too. But the men from Mos Anek had taken him in, using their rather basic medical facilities to try and save him. Upon learning of the attack, General Krysiak had come to his aid, bringing advanced medical technologies. It had required a replacement of his heart and lungs, but he had managed to make it work. But that left the question: What about Malagant?

During his painful recovery period on Dromund Kaas, in which Andav was immobilized for more than a year with machines pumping his blood and breathing for him, Krysiak had offered to have Sith efficiency get him back on his feet quicker. "I can have word sent to him to help speed this along, Andav. I could use you out there." He had just received a promotion to Moff, to serve as military governor of the recently-conquered world of Nikaea.

Andav had flatly refused. "No. He has his own work to do, Bassel...and I must recover in my own way." Even then, having been brought to the brink of death, he had refused to be "the Sith Lord's little brother". He would be Andav Undjo, Imperial officer. Nothing more. Krysiak had understood, and had pledged to keep his secret. That had been the last time Andav had seen his old commander; that Miraluka witch and her "sister", Caradell - the future Darth Insomnius - had become embroiled in Malagant's plans, and had inspired the lizard-like Nikaeans to rise up against Imperial rule. The filth had murdered Moff Krysiak and most of his men.

With his missions protected by military secrecy, Andav rose quietly through the ranks after he got back on his feet, all without his brother's knowledge. By the time the Zakuulans had come around, he was a colonel, and had switched his specialties over the years from stealth to marksmanship - aided by the loss of an eye at the battle for Fort Barrow on Ilum during the Malgus uprising, and its replacement by the advanced cybernetic "eyepatch" he wore today. After the treaty with the Eternal Empire, and the secret rearmament of the Imperial Military instituted by Empress Acina, he had been granted the rank of general, commanding the logistical arm of the Army detachment assigned to Moff Caudell.

By that point, it had been Malagant who was believed dead, and Andav had begun to appear more in public. And it relieved him that no one ever mentioned - or even knew - that he had been Malagant's brother, not only because he avoided charges of nepotism, but because Malagant had made a fair number of enemies within the Empire, including a number of powerful Sith. Andav preferred to avoid being caught in Sith power struggles as much as he could; back in the "good old days", he had often wondered how the Empire was able to function with so many Dark Lords jockeying for a larger piece of the pie. Malagant had resurfaced about a year or so ago to take down the Star Fortress on Reydovan Prime, and Andav had made sure to keep his distance.

Yet he knew in his artificial heart of hearts that Caudell was right. The word would get to him eventually. But if it did, it would not be by him, or anyone here. He would see to that.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows