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Star Wars--So[m]ething Something Evil Rises (Jabba x Firesblood)

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Offline Firesblood

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Garin scowled.  He couldn't exactly prevent Reynik from dying if things went south in the test and it didn't seem fair that his family's lives should hang in the balance, but he wisely chose to remain silent.  He had Reynik's promise, and he doubted he would get anything better than that.  The pilot nodded grudgingly, rubbing at his tender wrists and wincing at the ache in his joints after the chains were gone.  "Thank you," he muttered, eyes scanning the ship with the critical eye of a man looking for anything out of place.  When he seemed satisfied that nothing had been tampered with, he rose from his sitting position on the floor and gestured to the stand of lockers against the far wall.  Leading the way, he opened the third one down and withdrew what could only be an extractor, along with a medical scanner. 

Esbern stepped forward first, muttering something about 'getting this over with' so that he could climb to the bridge above and get their traveling underway.  Garin was silent as he scanned the old man, the scanner sounding off when it confirmed the presence of a tracking chip embedded at the base of the old man's spine.  He set the scanner aside as Esbern shrugged out of his jacket, pulling the tucked length of his shirt out and lifting it up to his ribs.  Garin pushed the extractor against Esbern's back, and with a hiss, a shrill beep, and a grunt of pain from the older pilot, the blood-sodden chip fell into the small glass reliquary hanging from the bottom of the device.  The chip promptly dissolved in the viscous liquid at the bottom. 

Garin turned Reynik next and scanned him, but unlike Esbern, there was no chip to be removed.  "You're clean, Sith."

That done, Garin stashed the extractor in the locker once more and followed Esbern up the ladder to the bridge, where a prompt argument ensued regarding just who was going to be piloting the Bug to Savat.  Garin won out, but only after a few of the ship's quirks made themselves known.  He bowed out with little grace and insisted on standing nearby to watch and learn, a silent and glowering presence over the pilot's shoulder.  He broke from this only to work up two convincing dossiers for himself and Reynik to give to the rebels once they landed; Garin had been rather insistent that the information would be expected.

There was little in the way of trouble on the flight, though the path Garin took was indirect and more lengthy than a straight-shot would have otherwise been.  Eventually, the moon grew visible in their sights.  From the outside, the moon appeared to be as gaseous as the planet it orbited, the swirling atmosphere shot through with constant racing flashes of lightening and thunder.  Garin directed the ship towards the southern hemisphere, heedless of the roiling violet clouds and the electrical storms.

After descending through the soup, the clouds broke over barren, blackened and mountainous terrain, lightning striking everywhere in sight with no break.  There was no life on the surface, no plants or animals, nothing but scorched rock, twisting glass spires left bare by wind and time, and spare, scattered ruins of what must have belonged to the Savati people before their genocide at the hands of the Empire.  The electricity seemed attracted to the ship more than anything else, and further descent was anything but smooth as strike after strike pummeled the outer hull relentlessly without any obvious effect aside from turbulance.  A vast mountain towered ahead of them and he headed straight for it, already communicating with the hidden port ahead of their landing. 

"This is it," Garin called to Reynik.  "Five minutes to landing.  I hope you're ready."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik nodded grimly.
"My chip came out at Korriban."

Yet he still weathered the scan, just in case. It never hurt to be too careful.

For the majority of the trip, Reynik sat on the floor in silent meditation, knowing that he had laid enough threats for Garin to be trustworthy as a pilot.

Part way through the flight, he made his way over to Esbern and asked to review the dossier.

"It's good." He muttered, returning the datapad. "I've made a few minor adjustments."

When the call came, he made his way to the cockpit and stood just behind Garin, stooping to have a first glimpse of this strange moon.

He glanced at the pilot, pleased to see a note of concern, it meant that his ruse was working. It was the best way of ensuring that this man was fighting on their side.

"I'm ready. " He gave a confident smile, just before the expression was lost with the painful twitch that wracked his face.


Offline Firesblood

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Garin nodded, satisfied but still skeptical.  The mountain loomed before them, a massive spire of scorched rock littered with holes; hundreds of cave entrances dotted the surface of the stone, some naught but pinpricks at a distance, others large enough for a ship twice the size of the Bug to land in.

It was one of those large entrances that Garin flew them into at a careful, slow speed.  The entrance opened into a bare stone tunnel, lit by hundreds of tiny blue lights along the top, sides, and bottom. 

Then, in no time at all, the tunnel opened on a vast cavern.  Nestled within the hollow mountain was a city carved of stone, lit from above by countless luminous spheres seated in the uppermost recesses. 

Garin navigated them to the northernmost part of the city where three empty landing pads waited.  As the ship lowered, a group of people emerged into view.  All but two of them wore the same armor and gear; Savati guards clothed in sleek black, tattoos of the same color decorating their deathly pale faces.  Only the tattoos differed; Garin explained that the marks beneath their left eye denoted the house they belonged to, while the marks under the right eye revealed their chosen career path. 

Garin climbed down from the bridge and led Reynik and Esbern down the ramp of the ship to meet them.

One of the two men escorted by the guard embraced Garin like a brother, a brilliant smile on his face.  "Welcome home, Garin.  What have you brought us?"

Garin glanced at Reynik and Esbern.  "Two hopefuls.  One is a pilot, the other is a former slave turned Sith chattel.  They wish to join the cause."

The man nodded, sobering as he looked Reynik and Esbern over.  "Excellent.  I am Novash Kin.  Welcome to Savat.  I assume Garin explained the intake process?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik nodded.
"For the most part, yes."

They had discussed the approach a little during their flight, with Garin obviously worried about whether they'd pass the tests that they would face. Perhaps a little nervousness would work in their favour, although Reynik was confident that they would pass.

He stepped forwards as directed, ready for their tests. They were taken through to a large chamber and made to line up, along with some other of what Garin had called hopefuls.


Offline Firesblood

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The intake process was lengthy and tedious.  Novash Kin led them to a featureless room where five other people stood waiting, each taken to another room off to the side to answer in-depth questions about themselves and their motivations, the reasons for joining up with the Exiled.  Two Savati guards stood watch at the door, remaining silent and watchful, their grim, tattooed expressions never once betraying any underlying emotion. 

After a few hours, once everyone had been taken aside, Novash Kin returned and led them to a vast chamber, lit with the same soft, recessed lamps high above.  They were directed to line up and wait, and no further explanation was given.  Esbern stood at the head of the line, hands shoved deep within his pockets. 

Some several minutes later, a woman glided in from one of the other offshoot corridors of the chamber.  She was small, and so pale that she seemed to glow even in the gloom of the room.  She wore plain dun robes that seemed over-sized for her stature, the bottom hem trailing behind her on the floor.  Dark hair was loose, hanging down to the backs of her knees.  Savati tattoos marked both of her cheeks, though the one denoting her path was one that none of the Savati they had seen so far bore.  Her steps were slow, pale eyes fixed somewhere above their heads.    Esbern sucked in a soft breath. 

Novash Kin frowned when she halted beside him.  "Doma Marigon, I did not expect to see you.  Where is Master Sika?"

Marigon tilted her head towards the man.  "There was an emergency in Kunik.  Sika's presence was required.  I am here in his stead."

Novash Kin nodded immediately, gestured to the line of hopefuls.  "Very well, Doma. They await you."

Marigon inclined her head and turned to the line, staring above their heads.  "This is your third and final test, Initiates.  I will probe your mind to discover the truth of your intentions.  Know now that if you have anything you have been hiding up to this point, I will discover it.  If you are here for any reason other than those which you have given in your previous testings, I will see it.  If your motives are not pure, you will not leave this chamber alive."

A few of the initiates glanced at one another, but no one spoke.  Without another word, Marigon moved to the head of the line where Esbern stood, raising her hand inches from the old man's face.  Esbern bore it in silence, staring at the woman who had freed him.  A small smile touched the woman's lips, gone as quickly as it had appeared. 

She lingered for less than a minute before moving onto the next, repeating the same palm-out gesture.  When she was satisfied, she moved down the line. Onto the third, the fourth...Marigon's head tilted, sweat beading on the Initiate's face as she delved into his mind.  The man's face twisted as if in pain, a grimace scrawling itself across his face.  Without a word, Marigon's hand closed into a fist.  The sickening wet crack of bone echoed too loudly in the vast chamber, and the man abruptly crumpled to the ground, his skull grotesquely misshapen beneath his skin.  Two Savati guards moved forward, dragging his body away and out.  Marigon's expression never changed. 

At last she stood before Reynik, hand extending to hover in front of his face.  Her invasion of his mind was gentle, so subtle that it could be missed by one not trained to recognize such things. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 12:16:51 PM by Firesblood »


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik weathered the initiation process, remaining steady; he had spent most of the journey preparing himself mentally and he was confident that he was ready. He answered their questions carefully, sticking to the dossier that they had concocted. It worked well, following mostly on the truth, with only a few minor details omitted.

Even if he had not recognised the Savati woman after so long, Reynik would have been sure from Esbern's subtle huff of surprise. It was an emotional reaction that the pilot needed to be more careful about; if someone like Cygius ever caught wind of it, they might end up trying to use it against him. It was certainly a chink in his otherwise inpenetrable armour.

Marigon's eyes looked strange, different from how he had remembered them. As she neared him, he realised with a start that she was blind, navigating using the force alone. Indeed, she was strong in the force; Reynik could feel it radiating out from her.

His expression did not change as the man beside him fell to the floor, twisted and broken beneath her force grip. Of course, there was the question of her loyalty, whether it had been swayed by the group she remained with or whether it was still loyal to the Sith, but Reynik did not want to take any chances. He kept his mind as he had prepared for; besides, it was too late to change it now.

His entire plan had been to hide certain aspects of his mind simply by overshadowing them by a more important part of him. By giving his interrogators something to pick over, it meant that they missed the gaps in his mind. With Reynik not appearing to resist, she would be able to see his faint memories of being dragged away from a home that he could no longer recall the name of and his time in the labour camp. What was still as raw and vivid as the day it happened was when the guard used the laser cutter across his face, in retaliation for a small act of defiance. His memories of being released were sketchy, as he had spent most of that time in a haze of agony.

In contrast to the memories that he left there for her to see, Marigon's touch was strangely gentle. If she had not recognised him before, she would do now. They had been at Korriban together, although Reynik doubted that they had ever spoken. They would all have known him though, what other child would have had a face like his?

He waited, ready for the next step in the process.


Offline Firesblood

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Marigon pieced through his offered memories, weathering the remembered emotion that came with each one.  Even when she pushed beyond what he offered her, her touch within his mind felt unobtrusive.  Recognition flickered quickly in the brief furrow of her brow, the slightest tilt to her head.  Her second hand rose, fingertips skimming feather-light over his features, his terrible scar, verifying that she had indeed recognized him for who he was.  Her touch did not linger, withdrawing the moment her suspicions were confirmed. 

Without a word, Marigon turned away and moved on to the last initiate, completing the testing process shortly thereafter.  She returned to Novash Kin's side, folding her hands within the loose sleeves of her robe.  She nodded towards Esbern, and then the third man in line. "Pilots, well versed in engineering and mechanics.  The one at the head of the line is a skilled slicer.  Both will do well with Gideon.  The second, sixth and seventh should be sent to Sarilla." 

Sightless eyes fixed somewhere above Reynik's head. "The fifth man will be brought directly to me after his intake is finished.  He is a force user.  Sika will want him."

Novash Kin nodded promptly, inclining his head towards her in a small bow.  "Of course, Doma."

With that, Marigon turned and glided back the way she had come, and Novash Kin led them out the opposite way to begin the final processing and assignments.  The atmosphere was a great deal more relaxed once the testing was finished.  Novash led them through seemingly endless tunnels, their number gradually tapering off as he directed them to the specific places Marigon had designated for them.

Reynik's destination was the last on the long walk.  Novash led him down a series of twisting corridors, easy to get lost in without knowing the way.  It eventually opened up into a moderately sized wing, comprised of living quarters, a common room, and a few other simple amenities.  There were only a few people there, one in meditation while the other two sparred with one another.  They paused when the two men entered, eyes promptly falling to Reynik. 

"This is Reynik," Novash Kin introduced the sith. "Please help him settle in.  I believe Marigon wished to see him after."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik did not pull back as she reached up to touch him gently. Ordinarily, he did not permit people to touch him, particularly on his face, but he understood the need to verify his identity. As she withdrew, Reynik's face twitched painfully, although as it happened to him with such regularity, it was not clear whether it was as a result of her contact or not.

Her movement through his mind was not what he had expected either; as Sith apprentices, each of them had learned what it was like to give as well as receive this mind probe. The Sith method was painful and brutal, without exception, until now, that was.

He followed the others, noting what route Esbern was directed to, along with the other pilots and engineers. Gradually, the others split off, leaving him as the last to follow Kin. He nodded to the others, remaining silent as his eyes swept over the area.

He turned towards the bunk rooms, noting that there were more rooms available than there were people.
"That one's vacant." Reynik turned at the voice behind him and the green skinned Twi'lek man who had been meditating stood in front of him, gesturing to one of the rooms.

"Thank you." Reynik nodded and headed inside, dumping his pack onto the bunk.

The Twi'lek hovered in the doorway, watching him.
"He said you were Reynik?"
"Yes." Reynik glanced at the room briefly before turning back; it was plainly furnished, but that was still more than Reynik was used to.

"I'm Skendar, over there is Dajid and Vorrag. You must be a force user if they've brought you here."

Skendar paused, obviously waiting for him to elaborate, but Reynik remained silent, heading back out into the main common room. The others had finished sparring and were heading over.

"All right then." Skendar did not seemed to be put off by his silence. "Come this way, he said Marigon wanted to see you."
"Thank you."

He was led down a long corridor to a room that seemed to be completely dark. Skendar left him to it and he knocked on the door and waited.


Offline Firesblood

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"Come," Marigon's voice bade him in response.  The room beyond the door was dark, its occupant having no use for them.  When Reynik entered, however, she uttered a soft command which activated them.  The lights were still dim, but made all the difference.  She sat utterly still on the floor in the center of the room, only a few meager possessions visible; a few spare robes and tunics, a walking stick leaned against the wall by the bed, a dual-ended lightsaber resting within a small set of recessed stone shelves, empty save for the weapon. 

The door slid closed behind Reynik, and Marigon didn't rise.  Rather, she gestured to the place in the floor in front of her, features impassive.  "I remember you from Korriban, and I heard much about you in the years that came after.  It is good to finally make your acquaintance," she said quietly.  "I am correct in assuming that you are here because Cygius wanted me found?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik obeyed, entering the room. He spared a glance to his surroundings before he approached Marigon and settled down in front of her, cross legged.

"I hope that what you've heard has been... fair."

He had no idea what people like Cygius said about him behind closed doors, but if it was too negative, then he doubted that he would have even been selected for this mission.

"I've been sent primarily to ensure that your mission is carried out. Cygius wasn't sure if you were even still alive, so that was a secondary part of my mission."


Offline Firesblood

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Marigon tilted her head, a ghost of a smile hovering around her lips for the briefest of moments.  "The stories were...impressive," she finally replied.

She listened while he spoke, contemplating his words.  She had known that he was there at Cygius' behest, simply from her quick delve into his mind.  He was fortunate that it had been her committing the scan and not Sika, for Sika was far stronger in scanning the mind than she was, but she did not say as much. 

"I suppose there is little purpose in keeping this from you.  I have no intention of carrying out the mission that Cygius has given us," she replied, her voice never rising above that same quiet octave.  "For many reasons.  The most important reason is that the Exiled are correct at their core.   The Empire holds life to be utterly meaningless.  They enslave without prejudice, kill without thought, and have no plans but to consume, conquer and control."   

Marigon hesitated, sightless fixing on his face. "I fear you came here for nothing."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reynik was silent for a long moment, letting her words sink in.
"Thank you for your candour."

Yet her words had major implications. If she was not going to assist in their mission, that she had changed her loyalties to lie with the Exiled, then it stood to reason that she would try her best to prevent him from completing it also. The news of what had happened at Nar Shaddaa would have hit them now, surely. She must know what he had done.

"Yet my own experiences contradict what you have just said. It was not the Empire that had me enslaved, it was a group of marauders out to make credits. It was the Empire who saved me."

There was no point in skirting around the issue.
"Where does this leave us?" He watched her steadily, watching for any changes in expression to give him a warning.