Always conscious of the most important rule of warfare – never let the enemy know what you’re thinking – Iurus coldly replied after a protracted debate, “more targets are arriving in-system.” He paused. “The Dark Lady’s forces are engaging them now.” It was the first time Iurus had shown any form of respect to anyone in the boy’s presence, but he didn’t look to see if the boy was surprised.
He turned to fully face the Jedi, and the battlefield – the entire brigade of Yuuzhan Vong had been demolished. “Now, I would recommend that you move about two hundred meters – unless you would like to see first-hand how a Sith ritual works.” The Chiss’s toothy grin implied that he would not mind if this were the case – not at all.
He spread his arms wide, fusing with an invisible stream of power radiating from ancient artifacts placed at key locations during the battle, and mentally prepared the incantation.
Power flowed through Iurus; he had almost forgotten what it was like to use a ritual this powerful on this planet – the air of the Dark Side was thick here, the spirits of the dead eager to grant him his wishes.
Deep in his trance, the Sith Lord did not worry about being attacked. Nemo was the type of altruistic fool who would let him live if only for the sake of killing the enemy – his trust in the Jedi implied that he really believed the enemy of his enemy was his friend. The Jedi seemed more wary than hostile, and anyone who struck him down would become part of his army – with the added surprise of possibly binding their body to his spirit. Not something that any Force-user would risk lightly.
Time began to pass, and he started to wonder if the ritual would work on the bodies of the Yuuzhan Vong. After all, the Living Force did not regard them as living beings for some reason – perhaps it would not consider them candidates for the undead, either?
While normally not one to let his failures get to him, Lord Iurus allowed himself to become angry. He allowed his anger to fuel his power, which he then used to assault the same impassable barriers, the failures of the living Force, and his rage increased. As this cycle reached its peak, he saw the forms of slaves and natives, risen from the dead as thralls, begun to combust from the purity of the Dark Side power flowing through their bodies. Flesh, already scarred and mutilated, was stripped from the bones of scores of Yuuzhan Vong bodies, until their skeletons lifted into the air.
Again, Iurus tried to use the Force to inject life into that which had none before, in much the same way he would trap a disobediant slave’s spirit into a cave, only to come across a startling discovery:
The midichlorians of the Yuuzhan Vong bodies were rejecting the Living Force! They had been stripped of the Force!
Iurus was certain that the Jedi had no idea of this fact. Skywalker would have tried some sort of truce, some sort of reconciliatory movement to bring the Yuuzhan Vong back to the Force, and the Jedi would have been annihilated in the attempt.
Switching up his technique, Iurus used his powerful rage to summon a Force storm, bringing the battlefield up like a wall of debris and bodies to pummel anything that stood in his way. The trapped spirits of the slaves only added to this tumult, bringing the turbulence up to deadly levels. Behind the cyclone walked a pitiful band of slave bodies, most of them missing limbs and generally good only as a psychological weapon.
It was too bad that Nemo or his Jedi pet had not stepped into the circle.
“Milady?” Lumiya considered whether to answer Bethrogg’s call or not. He was grating her nerves – mundane beings never understood that she knew what was happening well in advance of their “state of the art” instruments. “Lady Lumiya?”
“If you are about to feed me so-called ‘updates’ that I was aware of twenty minutes ago, you’re about to find yourself face to face with a dovin basal.”
“Un-understood, milady.” Lumiya was certain that she could hear Bethrogg swallow over the comlink. “Engaging the enemy now.”
A’Sharad soon grew weary of riding this living ship. It digusted him, as his captors disgusted him, as his new arm disgusted him. One day, perhaps, he would come to peace with the biots of the Yuuzhan Vong. Today, however, was not that day.
He had Vong to kill.
Using his new sense of Vong biots in the Force, Hett blasted a hole through the top of the yorik-et starfighter. The ship screamed in pain, even though he had removed his cognition hood, and the fallen Jedi basked in the mortal pain of one of his mortal enemies.
A’Sharad Force-leaped out of the skip, and watched as it crashed and burned on the surface of Korriban.
More enemies were arriving. Soon, he would be able to use the Yuuzhan Vong to remake the Sith in his image, in much the same way they had remade him in theirs.
Today, there would be a reckoning.
Supreme Commander Zheng Jamaane arrived in the Horuset system, commanding a fleet that consisted of a matalok, two clusterships, and numerous smaller ships. He shook his head at the dishonor that his predecessor in this system had wrought upon his warriors, and used hand signals to issue orders to his aides and Commanders. He was largely silent, in communication with the yammosk and observing as much as he could about the battle that had taken place earlier this day.
Then, he started selecting infidel ships to destroy.
Katanra’s fighter intoned that she was getting close to her destination. She has set the ship to alert her a full hour before she was to drop out of hyperspace so that she could regain her senses after a near week’s long journey to Korribian.
Shifting in her pilot’s chair, she once again drew her Sith blade. As she considered it, the blade took on a red hue, signaling the blood that it would taste soon. She caressed the blade with her spirit and bound the sword to her very soul. Lest something should happen to her the blade would now carry her spirit to the next one able to unlock it’s secrets.
Katanra knew she faced a battle like she had never before encountered. It would challenge her. The time counting down to mere minuets now, Katanra ran her ship through a system check. Her heart rate quickened in expectation as the timer for the transition to real space hit zero. The stars resolved themselves and Katanra was now looking directly at a very large Vong fleet.
She held her position on the edge of the system, taking it all in. She had not been back to Korribian for many years now. But this was still her home and these things were now attacking it. She viewed it as her duty to defend the sacred ground of her ancestors, even though they spurned her in the past.
Kicking in the sublight drives to full power, Katanra activated the one feature that made Arian fighters stand out from all the rest. Along the curved edge of the fighter’s wings, a red glow lit up as a million silhouette blades activated and thrummed their hunger to slice the flesh off of the offending Vong war craft.
The closer to the planet Katanra came the more determined she grew. A wave of coral skippers detached themselves from the main group and blasted their way towards her. Katanra kept to her course, pouring all the ship’s energy into maintaining a straight course and shields. The coral skippers didn’t have a chance if they stayed in front of her, for Katanra never blinked when it came down to the game of seeing which warrior would swerve first. First one, then two skippers became prey to her laser cannons, a third one becoming victim to Katanra’s efforts to slice the pilot out of the cockpit.
More and more skippers fell into line behind her as Katanra speed onward to the surface. In front of her loomed a large Vong ship, a frigate equivalent. With the skippers to her rear, pounding plasma into her stern, an idea came to mind. At the last moment, Katanra changed vectors, cutting the thrust into reverse and having the skippers’ plasma fire eat into their own ship.
Katanra then flipped the toggles on her yoke and the lances that tipped the wings lit up in a continuance of the blades that ran along the edges of her wings. Throwing the ship into a sharp spin, Katanra tore through a good number of the skippers that happened to be clustered together. Thrusters set to full and still spinning, she tore chunks of living flesh out of the larger Vong vessels. Her computer beeped at her indicating that a lock was being placed on her course by the dovin basals, but she was just moving to quickly for a lock to be placed.
She repeated her pass a few more times an then continued on to the surface of the planet Her reasoning was that the fleet defending Korribian handle what was left of the Vong cruiser. Her own ship has taken a beating due to her single mindedness and she needed to land quickly.
Making a belated planetfall, Katanra spotted a group of Vong encroaching upon a warrior that wielded not only two light staffs, but had a profound control of the Dark Side as well. Zeroing in on the squad of Vong, Katanra set her ship to auto pilot and popped open the cockpit. Gathering the energy of the planet around herself and leapt with the grace of a falling leaf dancing on the fall air into open space.
While she dove to the ground, Katanra continued to gather the Dark Side into herself. As she continued through the clouds, she transferred the kinetic energy into power. A minuet later, Katanra quite literally landed with a bang.
Readjusting her body in mid – air to land feet first and simultaneously drawing her lightsaber to use alongside her Sith sword, Katanra built up a shock wave of Force energy and made contact with the ground. As she did so, she sent out the wave of energy in the way a ripple affects a pool of water but only with much more devastating effects. The wave knoced the approaching Vong back and the ones that here closest to Katanra’s impact were thrown into the air and back into their comrades.
While the army halted as it considered the best way to react to this new threat, Katanra moved to the side of the elder Sith with a curt nod and readied herself for the next wave of attack.
Lord Iurus marched over a mile, shepherding his Dark Side cyclone along with a small batallion of slave zombies as he went. Finally, he sensed a target. Or rather, he didn’t sense a target – and on a world alive with the Dark Side, that was the biggest target of all.
Even closer, he sensed a more powerful, malevolent presence in the Force – another Sith, this one talented in arts that were both comforting and distressing in their pure malevolence. She was a being fashioned like himself – an acolyte of the sorcery of the Sith, though her true power lay in her victims’ minds rather than the physical aspect of the ancient magicks.
He watched as she landed, waiting patiently for her to reveal her true intentions just as he waited patiently for his known foe to come within visual range. The Sith Lady – an Arian, it seemed – hit the ground and released a maelstrom of telekinetic force that threw the disciplined ranks of the Yuuzhan Vong legion into disarray. Iurus took in the visible extent of her power, gauging her usefulness as an ally and her potential as a threat. When she rebounded to his side, nodding an unspoken alliance with her fellow Sith, he gave her a similar visual example of his power.
The tall Chiss lifted his gloved right hand into the air. While the glove concealed only an armory of cybernetic parts and weapons, the gesture was more of a visual aid than a true aspect of his control over the Force – a fact that many Jedi still failed to grasp, even after millenia of doing battle with the Dark Lords of the Sith. He balled his cyborg hand into a fist, and punched at the air, commanding his cyclone to finish what the Arian’s maelstrom had started.
He exchanged a look with his fellow Sith. Iurus still commanded his own mindless warriors to throw at the other mindless warriors – unless he had reason to throw them at this woman.