In Ockla Prime’s orbit, Admiral Marx Gravlek watched from the Doomsayer’s command bridge as the Valkoran Empire fleet was diminished by the combined efforts of both the Galactic Alliance and the Valkoran Separatists.
“They’re running out of ships. Keep pressuring them. We’ve almost won this battle.”
Suddenly, the cyborg’s implanted comlink started ringing, prompting him to activate it and receive a transmission from Maesterus down on the planet’s surface.
“Good news, Lord Maesterus. Most of Valkor’s ships have either been destroyed or forced to retreat. It looks like we’ve got him cornered.”
“I wouldn’t celebrate yet if I were you, Admiral. We’ve got another problem coming this way.”
Gravlek then patched the transmission so it could be heard by the rest of the forces under his command. “May I assume that Valkor’s calling in some reinforcements?”
“Yes, and not the type we’re used to fighting.”
Gravlek then gave an order to the scanner operator with a worried tone. “Ensign, be on the lookout for any hyperspace activity.”
“But we’re not picking up any…” the young ensign said before being interrupted by another bridge operator.
“Admiral! We’re picking up multiple wormholes!”
“Wormholes?” Gravlek looked out the viewport to see the spacial rifts and some Levioths - massive dark-skinned beasts that slightly resembled starships except with a face for a bow and another growth for a command bridge – along with some juvenile specimens serving as frigates emerging from the rifts.
“By the Force! We were working for these things?” The Admiral asked himself in astonishment. He then made sure to contact Admiral Cephal.
“We know, Gravlek. Commander Vaelor just told us about the Forceless fleet. I’m assuming Maesterus told you the same thing?”
“Yes. For future convenience, let’s go ahead and link our comm. channels so the rest of our forces can communicate better.”
“Link established.” The communications operator reported.
As the Levioths advanced towards the fleets, a set of their “cannons” fired some blobs of purple goop at some of the Valkoran and Alliance frigates, sometimes dissolving away their hulls and exposing the crews to the vacuum of space.
Among the fighter squadrons, Hiriss Moraana readdressed the warning Zolph gave her to Arcidus and the Valkoran ships.
“In case you weren’t already told about this, beware of any possession attempts. They probably can do that in space too.”
R9-C4 emoted a bit of enthusiasm. “Forceless ships = What Seefor was waiting for.”
“Says the little droid who’s most likely immune to possession.” Hiriss then turned her attention back to the squadrons. “For now, let’s take out those acid cannons.”
As Guardian, Hammer and Shade Squadrons charged towards the Levioths, swarms of Eyewings - bat-like creatures with a single eye taking up most of their body that served the same purpose as a starfighter albeit unmanned - poured out of the massive beasts’ bellies and retaliated against the fighter squadrons with the laser cannons grafted into their shoulder blades.
Meanwhile, the Levioths also deployed squads of Demolusks – freighter-sized cyclopean squid-like creatures with shells made from asteroid. They slowly moved towards some of the Valkoran and Alliance ships. Suspicious of what they could do, some of Hammer Squadron pursued them in defense, but soaked up a lot of blaster fire without fighting back before just one Demolusk was killed. Any fighters that flew too close to the creatures were swatted into pieces by their tentacles. Reaching one of the Mon Cal cruisers, a trio of Demolusks quickly destroyed it with a payload of energy bombs larger than most bomber craft could carry.
In response, Admiral Cephal desperately issued an order. “All corvette and gunship-class vessels concentrate fire on those… asteroid squids!”
Arcidus turned the Phantom Razor to assist in the defense of the capital ships. “If I can offer a suggestion, their weak spots are most likely around their mouths, but keep clear of those tentacles.”
Arcidus charged towards the Demolusks to slice off the creatures’ tentacles with his fighter’s bladed wings and allow the other fighters to attack it safely. As per orders, several of the Alliance and Valkoran’s corvettes and the Kur’Ada’s Hatchet-class gunships destroyed the Demolusks by exploiting their weak points, all while losing only a few more capital ships in the process.
While Hiriss’s squad dealt with the Levioths and Eyewings, some Valkoran Obliterator-class destroyers, Demolisher-class missile frigates and the Doomsayer fired their plasma cannons and diamond-boron missiles at the Forceless fleet in support. Meanwhile, the remains of the enemy Valkoran fleet either fled into hyperspace, sided with the Alliance out of fear of this new group or sided with the Collective due to their loyalty to Valkor.
As some of the Levioths were killed by the barrage – either via excess damage or the destruction of the heads on the bow and the bridge – some more wormholes were created, with even more Levioths as well as some obviously artificial starships – most likely other cultists and possession victims – coming out of them. The Levioths then let out – in addition to more Eyewings – some insect-like creatures slightly bigger than mynocks with elongated stinger tails, which charged for both starfighter and capital ships alike.
With some of the capital ships, they simply injected their stingers wherever they could, but for the fighter craft, they injected them directly into the cockpits, sending some Black Matter into the ships to possess their crews and then excreting another substance to plug up the injection point and prevent depressurization as it removed the stinger. This resulted in them being named Matterbugs.
The capital ships were more difficult to possess – and not always successfully – as they had defense crews to deal with the boarding parties, but the fighter pilots were at the Black Matter’s mercy, with some of them committing suicide to prevent possession either by shooting themselves with a blaster pistol or – as the more defiant of that group would do - by ramming their craft into other Forceless ships. Other pilots killed themselves accidentally.
One of the Matterbugs climbed onto the Manthis’s canopy, attempting to possess Hiriss, but before it could inject its stinger or Hiriss could use the Force to throw it off, Seefor popped her flamethrower from her dome and set the creature ablaze, causing its grip on the ship’s nose to loosen as it burned to death. Afterward, Hiriss made a quick spin to fan out any remaining flames on her ship.
“Seefor. Please zap before you roast them next time. This isn’t my ship I’m flying.” Hiriss told the droid.
“Ship fire = No problem. // Seefor + flame projector = Does it all the time with mynocks.”
“Fine, only if the zapping doesn’t kill them at first.”
Meanwhile, Arcidus was also experiencing similar troubles with the Phantom Razor, but V7-L20 took the more practical approach of electrocuting any Matterbugs that tried to possess his master from behind, though it took multiple shocks just to kill one. Arcidus himself just used the Force to incinerate any that tried to get him while V7 was preoccupied, and others were just sliced apart by the Razor’s wings whenever it spun.
Afterward, as Hiriss and Arcidus eliminated every Matterbug they could, some bulkier insect-like creatures and cultist transport ships started making their way to Ockla’s surface.
Admiral Cephal then made an announcement to the ground forces. “They’re coming down to the surface! Brace yourselves!”
On the upper levels of Ockla City, Neur’s squad caught sight of the bug-like transports – known to them as Loderoaches – setting down either on top of buildings or landing pads accompanied by escorts of Eyewings and bombing runs from Demolusks. As the Loderoaches dispensed various Forceless infantry units, some other large creatures with three long claw-tipped legs and a giant red crystalline cranium – Silicths, also known as Cthulopods and genetic relatives of the Demolusks - either dropped down from the sky or climbed up from the lower levels.
“Whoa!” Lieutenant Will Helms yelled in astonishment. “Those things are Forceless? I’ve seen Maesterus, but I wasn’t expecting the rest of them to be this weird.”
Suddenly, a platoon of masked, four-eyed Forceless warriors armed with rifle-pikes – similar to the ones Zolph encountered on Sleheyron over one year ago – came pouring out of the building Neur’s party was heading towards.
With the warriors opening fire on her platoon, Neur deflected as many shots as she could to protect them while they fired back. However, some puddles of Black Matter slithered out from under the warriors and towards her squad.
Some of the troopers fired on the Black Matter and vaporized them, but others found themselves possessed and killed by their own allies.
Terrified, Private Varson addressed Neur. “Mistress Neur, this isn’t like anything we’ve fought before! What are we going to do?!”
“Calm yourself, Varson.” Neur responded. “I’m scared too, but I’m more terrified of what will happen if we don’t win this battle.” She then addressed the rest of her squad as she continued fending off the Forceless warriors. “Alright everyone, listen up! We opposed Valkor to prevent something like this from happening, but now that it’s happening right before our eyes, we’re going to undo it! Are you with me?!”
“YES, MA’AM!” All the troops replied.
“Then we’ll win or die trying!” As more warriors poured out from their destination, Neur used the Force to toss the entire Forceless platoon over the walkway. “Forward! We continue to the Industrial Sector!”
Meanwhile in the lower levels of the Valkoran capital, Juganak, Machinus and Luke Skywalker’s team have almost made it to the security station, a building that stood out from the majority of the capital’s structures by being pretty small in comparison.
“Okay, so the building that holds a key system is smaller than the rest.” Luke commented.
“Well, we wouldn’t want it standing out for enemy bombers, now would we?” Machinus answered.
“Cut the chatter.” Juganak interrupted. “As our fleet admirals just told us, we’ve got some Forceless on our hands. In fact, I can sense some inside the station right now.”
Luke immediately sensed another disturbance. “And I sense some around us right now.”
Some of the allied Valkoran troops fell on their knees and screamed in pain, with some black growths suddenly piercing out of their armor. The possessed troops then got up – and one of the allied Gundark-class walkers turned towards the team - and opened fire on their allies.
After some of the less armored troopers were gunned down, the Forceless troopers were immediately cut down by the Kur’Ada warriors while the walker was toppled by Juganak. A possessed driver then climbed out, only to be quickly shot by Machinus.
“What the hell just happened?!” One of the Alliance soldiers asked with shock.
“I suspect these soldiers were Forceless sleeper agents.” Juganak answered. “From what I understand, Valkor placed a special type of symbiote inside them that goes dormant and remains undetectable until it awakens and possesses them. He must have placed them in their sleep sometime before we defected.”
“Is there anyone else you may suspect of being a sleeper agent?” Luke asked.
“Like I said, we can’t tell who’s been infected ahead of time. But I think we can rule out the Force-sensitives and Machinus since they would have been able to detect a Forceless sneaking up on them, Machinus is a droid and Armogeist is a living suit of armor.”
“So you’re saying any of us normal people could potential have some freaky alien parasite inside us?” The same terrified Alliance trooper asked.
“Just the Valkoran troopers. The Kur’Ada, Skakoan Commandos and any other third-party mercenary groups have never even set foot on Ockla Prime until today, and the Alliance doesn’t need to worry about having any sleeper agents.”
The trooper than raised a blaster pistol. “Then how do I know the rest of your men aren’t going to suddenly turn on us?!”
Luke promptly took the blaster out of his hands. “Stand down. We are not going to kill anyone just because they may be a sleeper agent. And you don’t point a blaster unless you intend to shoot.”
“Yes, Master Skywalker. Sorry about that.” Luke then handed the trooper his blaster back.
Machinus then interrupted. “I’m picking up some seismic activity right beneath us!”
Suddenly, four massive Forceless worms with hand-like heads – with a single eye in the “palm” and two thumbs and three fingers for mandibles – erupted from the ground, and one of them quickly grabbed an exo-trooper. The trooper cried for help, but in vain as he was promptly crushed to death in his own suit and then dropped like a wadded up piece of paper.
“Terraris? I thought Vaelor killed him!” Another Valkoran trooper – this one a veteran of the Tatooine expedition – asked. “And why is there four of him?”
“No.” Juganak answered. “If I perceived the ink patterns in Valkor’s tomes on the Archfiends correctly, these are less powerful members of Terraris’s species, the Planara Manos.”
One of the walker drivers then barked a directive to the rest of the team. “Everyone, get inside and get that security system sliced! We’ll hold these worms off!”
The walkers fired on the Planara Manos while the rest of the team rushed into the security station. Three of the Planara Manos were killed, but they proved to be too fast for the Gundark walkers individually, most of which were easily toppled by the creatures. With only two walkers remaining, the surviving Planara Manos turned its attention to the security station and went back underground.
The walker battalion officer immediately contacted Juganak and Machinus. “Juga. Mach. The last one’s coming right for you. You’ll have to deal with the worm on your own, but if any more glowing-eyed freaks even think of trying to get in from this level, they’ll be painting our Gundarks with an even darker shade of black.”
Meanwhile in the cathedral, Grein had fought her way through a few Valkoran soldiers and acolytes – and a few Forceless-possessed ones once the Collective made their presence – to get to Masochus. She eventually found herself at the cathedral’s rooftop and face-to-face with Masochus, who had nowhere else to run.
“I see you survived my pet, but that idiot lizard didn’t.” Masochus attempted to taunt Grein.
Grein then rebuked his taunt with a smug smile on her face. “Actually, ‘that idiot lizard’ survived and killed your patchwork rancor. It didn’t even get to swallow him like some other creatures have.”
Masochus then shouted, “Blast it!” He then shifted back to his usually smug tone. “Then that means Gestroma killed him.”
Grein then countered him again. “Wrong again. He’s still alive and fighting Gestroma as we speak.”
“So you left him to die like your sister.”
“Nice try, Masochus. I’m not falling for that one again. Besides, he volunteered to hold off Gestroma so I wouldn’t waste my time with him.”
Masochus snarled before Grein continued taunting him.
“If one so powerful in the ways of the Dark Side like you can’t kill him, what makes you think a Forceless-possessed mercenary will?”
“Because he’s a lucky idiot, and his luck has just run out!” Masochus then jerked his arms forward and tried to shock Grein with Force lightning, only for her to quickly ignite her lightsaber’s main blade and block it.
“Come now, Masochus. You should know there is no such thing as luck. It would seem the Force is capable of favoring fools like Gahmah Raan, but is he really a fool, or does he just act like one so his foes will underestimate him?”
Masochus then levitated his lightsaber from his belt and activated it. “Then I’ll just have to ensure that his sacrifice was meaningless!”
In the cathedral’s main hall, Gahmah Raan and Gestroma were still trading blaster fire and were both on equal ground, despite a few of Gahmah’s severed hands littering the floor.
“Sweet Cardosh! How long have we been fighting?” Gahmah panted.
“Long enough, lizard.” Gestroma fired another volley of blaster fire from his repeater, shooting off a piece of Gahmah’s left hand again as the Krishari charged at Gestroma. Once Gahmah was close enough, he dodged a punch before using his left gauntlet blade to cut off Gestroma’s right arm and kicking him in the chin, putting a small crack in his visor.
“Now I know it’s the symbiote that’s in control of your body, because Gestroma is one of the only people in the galaxy who hasn’t insulted me with that term.”
From the bleeding stump, Gestroma suddenly sprouted another black-skinned arm.
“Oh, that’s just cheap!” Gahmah complained before regenerating the lost half of his hand and calling his blaster pistols back to his hands. “Okay, now we’re even.”
Gestroma suddenly hoisted Gahmah up and threw him into an altar. As Gahmah recovered, Gestroma drew his concussion rifle again and fired a powerful blast at Gahmah. However, the Krishari suddenly used the Force to repel it back at Gestroma, knocking off some of his body armor and exposing the tooth-filled mouth on his belly.
“Thank you for working, Force powers.” Gahmah told himself before looking back at the mutant. “And what big, ugly teeth you’ve got there, pal.”
“Enough of your games, Krishari! You’re way too predictable!” Gestroma yelled at Gahmah.
“Me? Predictable?” Gahmah then pointed at Gestroma. “Then why haven’t you noticed that time bomb that’s just about to go off?”
Gestroma then turned back to look for the bomb, unaware that there was indeed a timed explosive attached to his back. While his back was turned, Gahmah tried to fire two charged shots at Gestroma, only for him to dodge and fire another concussive blast at Gahmah that knocked off his helmet.
“Like I said: predictable.”
“You still haven’t found the bomb.”
Gestroma then heard a series of beeps and turned his head backward, realizing too late where the bomb was. As the bomb exploded, his helmet was blown away and his three now-red face-encompassing eyes exposed.
Gestroma roared and tried to fire another concussive blast, only for Gahmah to shoot at his rifle just before he pulled the trigger, causing the weapon to overload. The mutated bounty hunter then threw it towards Gahmah before it could explode.
With no other weapons left, Gestroma tried to spit a purple corrosive acid at Gahmah, but the Krishari barely dodged it and watched as it dissolved the flooring near his feet. Gestroma then followed this up by spitting out two globs of Black Matter, which slithered towards Gahmah before forming into Forceless Newborns.
“Hello!” Gahmah exclaimed with shock. As the vaguely humanoid blobs prepared to swipe their elongated arms at him, he killed both Newborns at once with a shot to their central eye, causing them to collapse and evaporate. “And goodbye!”
Just after killing the Newborns, Gestroma lunged his elongated tongue at Gahmah, scaring him into dropping his blasters again. However, he grabbed Gestroma’s tongue rather than let it grab him and allowed him to pull Gahmah towards his tooth-filled stomach. Once Gahmah was pulled in close enough, he flipped out the gauntlet blade on his free arm and thrust it into Gestroma’s chest, theoretically where his heart would be. After Gahmah pulled the blade out, he flicked off any Black Matter blood that got on it.
Luckily enough, Gahmah had guessed correctly where Gestroma’s heart was, as Gestroma fell down to the floor on his back. He found himself in a puddle of Black Matter and his skin was changing from Forceless black to his natural pale-blue skin tone with black eyes.
Gestroma then gave a cough, indicating that he was still alive, but near death. This prompted Gahmah to pull one of his blasters towards him and aim at Gestroma in case he had a trick up his sleeve.
“Well played, Raan. You’re much more intelligent than I thought you were. Now I can see why Maesterus favored you and why that pink-armored Mando partnered with you.”
Gahmah then clicked his blaster in agitation. “He had a name, you know. Violo Jod.”
“I know. I just didn’t remember it. So, are you going to blow my brains out and avenge his death?”
“Not yet. As a fellow bounty hunter, I know you were just doing your job as a hired gun, even if you did take some perverse pleasure in it. If there’s anyone I should be seeking revenge against, it’s whoever hired you to kill Violo. Now talk, and I will let you die a quick and dignified death.”
“Take a wild guess.”
“Well, it’s been my suspicion that the other Mandalorians ordered the hit since some of his philosophies on warfare were against the standard for that culture.”
“Is that what you really thought? You’re still a fool, Raan, but a clever one nonetheless. A lot of Mandalorians may be pretentious when it comes to glorifying warfare, but most of them aren’t that petty. Try harder.”
“Stupid, stupid me. I forgot that despite their disagreements with him, they still respected him as a warrior, but my judgment of other Mandalorians was clouded as a result of the circumstances of his death and my own experiences with religious fanatics back home. Then that means…” Gahmah then put his palm against his face. “Son of a Hutt! Masochus isn’t even a Mandalorian; he’s just a sadistic manchild that throws violent fits over anything he perceives to be wrong with the galaxy! I am going to shove my wrist blade up that schutta’s-!”
“You guessed correctly.” Gestroma interrupted him. “Now aren’t you going to kill me as you said?”
“You’ve earned it.” Gahmah then shot Gestroma though his head before the Black Matter broke down what was left of his body. Gahmah then collected his other blaster and helmet. He quickly put the latter of the two back on, wary of any head injuries he usually gets from not having it on. “Now, to find the hands with my gloves on them…”
Suddenly, a large laser was shot through two of the cathedral walls, greeting Gahmah to the sight of several colossal Forceless attacking the capital and groups of Nidracha spider people coming through the gaping holes created from the laser.
“If we survive this battle, Arcidus better be paying me enough for this.” Gahmah then made his way upstairs as he gunned down any Nidracha and other Forceless that tried to approach him.
Meanwhile in the palace throne room, Zolph and Maesterus were reeling in shock from the turn of events as they gazed upon the nightmarish blob holding Valkor’s upper half on a tentacle like a puppet.
“Did you really think you could catch me unprepared by not telling Maesterus in advance when your forces planned to attack?” Valkor taunted Zolph. “As soon as this galaxy’s branch of my empire split apart, I knew one of the traitors would get the word out, even if it wasn’t Maesterus, and that was all I needed to confirm that an alliance and an attack was imminent. Besides, you should’ve already known about the Collective army, and some of them were laying dormant beneath the planet’s surface long before you attacked.”
Zolph followed up on that. “I never forgot about them. I just didn’t think it was actually big enough to challenge the combined forces of the Galactic Alliance and the Valkoran Separatists without leaving its territory unguarded. And you did a very good job convincing us that the war had turned in our favor.”
“But surely you could have deducted that it got exponentially bigger with every galaxy I conquered, and I’ve already conquered a few before this one.” Valkor then tilted his container’s head towards Maesterus. “And since you would be one of my champions had you not been immune to my influence, you definitely should have seen this coming.”
“Of course I factored them into this.” Maesterus back.
“Wait! You thought about them and you didn’t bother to tell me?!” Zolph exclaimed before Maesterus continued.
“I just decided to ignore the odds, and because you allowed me to live so long without going into deep sleep, changing bodies or being consumed by the Dark Side, I was able to study what allowed ragtag freedom fighter groups to overthrow an exponentially bigger force. In fact, the Galactic Alliance traces its origins back to one such group, and it can take one well-placed shot from a single man or woman to take down a colossus.” Maesterus then looked to Zolph condescendingly. “You haven’t been forgetting to study your own government’s history, have you?”
“That was before I was even born; before it started taking superweapons and Super Star Destroyers for granted. So I can’t really relate all that much.” Zolph turned his attention back to Valkor. “That reminds me, Valkor. I don’t understand you. Why are you so intent on creating an empire where everyone is possessed and thinks almost alike? I don’t think any sane man would stand for the idea of a government where everyone was forced to think alike, not to mention it sounds unrealistic.”
“Every government has proven somewhat inefficient by allowing too much deviation. Even Palpatine’s empire suffered because of some squabbling, ambitious warlords. Because I have the means to create it, I desire to create a universal empire unified under one singular, collective vision: mine.”
“From what I understand, nearly every would-be galactic conqueror before you had that same desire. What makes you so much better?”
“Like I said, I actually have the means to enforce that instead of just merely motivating them by fear of death, and creating too much destruction only causes problems in the long run. Under my rule, there wouldn’t be any more pointless conflict over resources or ideals.”
“Then why do you allow some of your Archfiends to retain their free will?”
“I like to think of it as a reward for loyalty. For example, Belluzub and Facadma may have hated each other, but they never tried to kill each other despite desiring to, and everything they’ve done was in my name at the very least. And those who lose their freedom of will can eventually gain it back should they fully convert. As far as potential converts go, you’re an uncontrollable element, Vaelor, and that is why you and your bloodline need to die.”
A blade-tipped arm suddenly ruptured out of the bulk of Valkor’s body towards Zolph, but he slashed it off with his lightsaber before it could skewer his chest.
Maesterus flew behind Valkor in an attempt to flank him, but the number of eyes decorating his body made it impossible to perform any further sneak attacks. Valkor then positioned a Black Matter arm towards each of his enemies and fired a red-sparked imitation of Force lightning that sent them both flying into the throne room walls.
“What the…?!” Zolph exclaimed as he reeled from the shock. “Was that…?”
“No, that was just another form of magic.” Valkor answered Zolph. “You know I can’t use the Force, but I can still find ways to fight you on your level. I can’t possess you, but I can always eat you.”
Valkor then transformed his arms into jaws and tried to bite at his crippled prey, but both Zolph and Maesterus retaliated by stabbing into their throats. Afterward, Valkor tossed a few blobs of Black Matter off of himself and created some Newborns, whether they took on a somewhat humanoid form or a more bestial one.
“Looks like he’s decided to stop holding back.” Maesterus observed.
“By the way,” Valkor continued. “Your forces up in space are about to deal with a new toy I’ve secretly been working on; a backup weapon in case Mortaqa died. You know how Forceless are created, correct?”
Zolph answered him. “Grein and I theorized that they are created as a result of simultaneous mass casualties in a concentrated area, such as the destruction of an entire planet. What does that have to do with this weapon?”
“You two theorized correctly. This Collective was created as a result of a similar circumstance, but on a smaller scale. Other collectives are rivals to be devoured and assimilated, and I’ve been using them both to increase my army’s size quickly and provide resources for the weapon. The Sith and their followers unwittingly did most of the sweaty labor for me by creating those resources, and I made the finishing touches on the weapon recently.”
“So, there was more to destroying Christophsis than just trying to torment me. So what is this weapon?”
“The Ragnirathan. Not that any of you will live to tell the tale should you refuse to surrender.”
Back in space, the Alliance-Valkoran forces, against all odds, were able to eliminate a large portion of the Forceless fleet due to the quick thinking of Admiral Cephal, Gravlek, Hiriss, Arcidus and the more-experienced fighter squadrons. Even a seemingly endless wave of reinforcements proved ineffective once they knew the tricks to fighting this unusual enemy.
“I don’t know how we did it, but it looks we’ve got them on the ropes.” Hiriss commented.
Hammer leader then elaborated to her over comlink. “It’s how the Rebellion persevered against the Empire. We mostly relied on starfighters to take down their larger war machines. In other words, we dance like flies, and bite like skettos.”
Cephal further elaborated. “Said larger war machines also included superweapons.”
Admiral Gravlek then gave a warning. “Don’t get too excited. We’re not finished yet, and the Collective may have another nasty surprise waiting for us.”
The space forces suddenly received a transmission from Zolph.
“Vaelor to the guys in the sky.”
“Aren’t you too busy fighting Valkor to be talking to us right now?” Arcidus asked.
“Admittedly, yes.” Zolph answered, with the sounds of battle also displaying over the transmission. “Whoa! And he almost cut my head off just now!”
Hiriss chimed in. “Then I take it you’re calling us for a very good reason.”
“He hasn’t told me much about it, but there’s a Forceless superweapon called the Ragnirathan coming your way.”
Suddenly, everyone’s attention was drawn to a massive, purple-glowing tear in the fabric of space. What first looked like a crack expanded into a portal. A black long-necked beast partially emerged from the portal with four hooked-claws clinging to the edges of the portal, and the portion of the beast that made it out of the portal was even bigger than the Doomsayer.
“By the Force! That thing is HUGE!” Hiriss exclaimed.
Seefor nervously whimpered at the sight of the beast. “R9-C4 = Very scared now.”
“Let me guess: the Ragnirathan?” Zolph asked.
“I believe so.” Hiriss answered. “Any tips?”
“I don’t know what it’s capable of or how we can kill it, but I’ve talked long enough.” Zolph’s transmission ended.
The Ragnirathan turned its serpentine neck towards Ockla Prime’s moon. The inside of its throat glowed purple before it roared and launched a fiery beam that destroyed several ships in addition to the moon.
“We can’t handle that much firepower!” Admiral Cephal yelled. “We need to retreat!”
Hiriss replied. “That’s tempting, Admiral, but we can’t turn back now. We can’t keep this thing and Valkor unchecked.”
“Besides,” Arcidus chimed in. “If we do retreat, the Ragnirathan will just hunt us down and kill us anyway, so better we do something about it now.”
Admiral Gravlek directed an order to his ships. “All Valkoran ships, concentrate all firepower on the Ragnirathan. We need to destroy this thing before Zolph kills Valkor, or else it won’t have reason to not destroy the planet itself.”
The Doomsayer, Obliterators and Dread frigates fired their plasma cannons at the beast while the Demolisher and Judicator frigates fired their missiles, but it only served to slightly agitate it despite being entirely organic matter. The Ragnirathan simply fired another blast at a portion of the fleet.
“It looks like we’ll have to kill it the old-fashioned way.” Hammer leader commented. “Hammer Squadron, let’s scout for a weak point like usual.”
Arcidus and Hiriss echoed the same order to their squadrons and followed the Hammers.
Cephal provided another order to the other fighter squadrons. “All other squadrons, cover the capital ships while we continue wearing away its armor.”
In the lower levels of the capital, Luke’s team continued fighting their way towards the security station’s control center, dealing with automated turrets loyal to Valkor’s half of the empire.
“How did those worms get to the lower levels so quickly?” Machinus asked.
Luke answered him. “Perhaps they were waiting here since before the invasion.”
“I would have detected their underground movements.”
“And I would have sensed them,” Juganak followed up. “Unless they were dormant, similar to those sleeper symbiotes.”
Suddenly, the last Planara Manos emerged from the floor several levels into the building.
Machinus shot at the worm’s eye, prompting it to strike at the droid-Nautolan, but Juganak jumped on top of its head to bind its mandibles open. While the Planara Manos was preoccupied, Luke used the Force to crush its crystalline eyeball into several shards and easily kill the creature.
“At least we don’t have to deal with this guy anymore.” One of the Alliance soldiers sighed.
Suddenly, a swarm of Forceless warriors and Rapthounds – quadruped reptiles with hook-tipped forelimbs and an eyeball inside a throat protected by several razor sharp teeth – came pouring out of several doors, overwhelming some of the troops.
“Mach, we could really use those turrets right now!” One of the Valkoran soldiers yelled before getting pounced by a Rapthound. Machinus immediately shot the creature just after it killed the soldier.
By some miracle, the sentry guns stopped firing on their team and started shooting at the Forceless. Some of the other Forceless were suddenly gunned down from behind with a barrage of blaster fire, revealing Bad Kitty with his repeating blaster. Spectre then leaped over him, throwing her metal-plated hat at an approaching Rapthound and breaking its neck. The rest of Besh Squad followed to eliminate the remaining Forceless in a less flashy manner.
“Captain Varessi?” Luke asked Xadisall. “What are you doing here?”
“Colonel G’Jan ordered us to eliminate the security systems after we took out the Fortress Tanks.” Xadisall informed Luke. “So everything on this planet with artificial intelligence works for us now thanks to our favorite Gand engineer.”
“It’s just too bad we had to destroy those giants, or else we’d have an advantage against those ugly blobs.” Bad Kitty lamented.
“Having those still around would actually make things worse.” Xad responded back. “We wouldn’t want the Collective using those things against us, now would we, Banir.”
The heavily-built Cathar made an annoyed growl at the Mirialan.
“What about the other security stations in the capital? This isn’t the only one.” Machinus asked.
“Boltz already took care of them.” Boltz answered him. “Boltz has dealt with more complex systems before.”
“If we survive this battle, you and I should talk some more.”
Spectre chimed in. “I hate to interrupt, but we should keep going upward and try to seize some of the other key sectors. The lower levels aren’t quite as safe as before the invasion.”
Back at the cathedral’s roof, Grein and Masochus were still engaged in a duel that already lasted half-an-hour. While she was locking blades with the floating lightsaber, Masochus prepared to hit Grein with some more Force lightning. Foreseeing the attack, Grein liquefied a part of her left hand before throwing it at Masochus, causing him to electrocute himself instead and drop the lightsaber.
While he was struggling to lift himself off the ground, Grein casually kicked his lightsaber off the roof, walked over towards Masochus with her blade still ignited and reclaimed the excess water to reform her hand.
“It’s over, Masochus. But before I finish you, I would like to know something else: Why haven’t you tried to backstab Valkor yet?” Grein asked. “I thought you Sith were all about being ambitious.”
Masochus suddenly lifted himself up and Force-choked Grein.
“My current position is enough because Valkor gives me the power to do as I please. I never cared about the Sith’s ages-long vendetta against the Jedi nor their desire to rule the galaxy. I just like to see things suffer as I see fit.” Masochus elaborated as he got up uncomfortably close to her and pulled out a knife before squeezing on one of her breasts with his bony left hand. “In exchange for you removing my pleasure part, let’s make you even more like Emilin. The only difference is I get to hear you scream.”
“I still don’t regret that. You got what you deserved.”
“Now scream, you little c-!” Before he could even cut into her breast, a cyan-bladed lightsaber pike pierced through his right shoulder from behind, cutting it off and causing Masochus to scream as he was interrupted. The pike then returned to its sender: Armogeist.
“If you’re going to talk that way to her, it would be most appropriate that I cut your tongue out next.” Armogeist commented to Masochus as he approached.
“Oiren?! I thought you would have just given up and died once you ran to Maesterus!” Masochus yelled back at him. “Valkor isn’t even restricting you from dying anymore!’
“As empty as this existence may be, I have decided that I will not rest until both you and the Forceless Collective are dead. And because Valkor is no longer holding me back, nothing’s stopping me from killing you right now.”
“If you want revenge, you’ll be competing with the Chiss right behind me.”
“Ahem.” Grein coughed to get Masochus’s attention, alerting him to the fact that his grip on her had broken. “I’m insulted that one of the people who had a hand in torturing Emilin – namely the snitch and the butcher - is a smug idiot. You’re just begging to be killed.”
Armogeist continued. “I’m perfectly fine with sharing, as I know everyone in the galaxy who’s met you wants you dead. Besides, this isn’t only for revenge. Your very existence is as much of a threat as the Collective.”
“Insolent fools!” Masochus yelled at both Grein and Armogeist. “You think you can kill me? I have the advantage!”
“What advantage?” Grein dryly asked. “You lost your lightsaber, you only have one arm and you don’t have any regenerative abilities.”
Masochus then chuckled. “Valkor gave me some of his blood before the invasion.” Masochus tried to make a pose as if he was being empowered, but nothing was happening to him. Masochus’s eyes then dilated and his previously smug tone turned into one of dread. “Why isn’t the blood rebuilding me?!”
“You may have one of those sleeper symbiotes inside you, which only become active when Valkor wants them to.” Grein answered him. “If that’s the case, apparently even the man you supposedly worship doesn’t trust you enough and placed that thing inside you to keep you in check.”
Masochus then instinctively tried to fire some Force lighting at both Grein and Armogeist simultaneously, forgetting that he only had enough arms to hit one of them. Unfortunately for him, he hit Armogeist, and the animated suit of Ancient Ocklanite battle armor simply blocked the electricity with his shield, while any that conducted through him didn’t affect him in the slightest. This allowed Grein and Armogeist to impale him from both sides and scissor him in half.
As Masochus lied on the roof bleeding out Black Matter, Armogeist pointed the irony of his predicament. “That’s funny, my old master. If you hadn’t tormented me, robbed me of my body and come to this planet, you would still be alive. But alas, your time has finally come.”
Masochus then laughed maniacally as the Black Matter slowly dissolved his remains. “You kriffing idiots! You may have killed me, but because of Valkor’s gift, I still get to live on as part of him! It may seem a fate worse than death for all of you, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve attained what other Sith can only dream of!” Masochus continued laughing until the puddle completely consumed his remains and evaporated.
“DAMMIT!” Armogeist yelled as he threw his shield against the ground. “We served him justice, and he still got off easy!”
“Let it go, Balos.” Grein told him. “I didn’t find the circumstances of his death satisfying either, but at the very least, he’s gone now. Even if he got what he wanted from his point of view, he cannot harm anyone else.”
“You Jedi are better at controlling your anger than I am, but you speak truly. The galaxy no longer needs to fear him if that’s the case.”
Suddenly, Gahmah Raan came up from one of the stairways with his blasters drawn. “Alright, you depraved, skinless freak! I am going to tear you a new…!” Gahmah then lowered his guns as he noticed both Grein and Armogeist, but Masochus nowhere to be found. “Kriff, you already killed him, didn’t you? You didn’t even leave a corpse for me to shoot at?”
“You told me that you didn’t have a grudge against him, Gahmah.” Grein dryly reminded him.
“Not until recently. Gestroma made me realize that Masochus hired him to kill one of the only hunting partners I ever had away from home. But I guess I shouldn’t complain since I learned too late, and that guy was giving damn near everyone a reason to hate him. And there wouldn’t be enough pieces of him for everyone.” Gahmah reholstered his blasters.
Grein addressed both of him and Armogeist. “I may have had my share of this too, but seeking to inflict pain on someone can make you more susceptible to the lure of the Dark Side as was the case with Masochus. You may be barely Force sensitive, but this applies even to you, Gahmah. However, both of you seem to have either strayed significantly from it or haven’t even fallen into its grasp. That is not to be taken lightly.” She then turned her attention back to Armogeist. “Now that Masochus is dead, what will you do now, Balos?”
Armogeist answered. “The Forceless Collective still lives and Masochus may still be able to live through it. However, I only seek to save this galaxy from the Collective now, so I can bear to stay bound to this body until then.”
“Then let’s waste no more time. Zolph and Seferin are dealing with Valkor as we speak.”
Meanwhile, Neur’s team had reached the Industrial Sector – a series of factories clustered together under one spacious dome – and already seized control of a large fraction of the factories from the Forceless Collective and their supporters. With only a few more relevant checkpoints to claim, Neur’s comlink rang to give her a message from Machinus.
“Neur. This is Machinus. Report.”
“Hi, Cid. We have almost the entire Industrial Sector under our complete control, but not only are we running into creatures we haven’t seen before, the Forceless have been finding ways to make our more biologically-disadvantaged allies into dangerous enemies. They can force the Kur’Ada to grow eyeballs or keep the Skakoans from immediately exploding if their suits get breached.”
“That’s horrible! Anyway, there’s one particular target I need you to keep out of the Collective’s hands. It’s the HyVel cannon for an incomplete Fortress Tank.”
“I need you to explain two things, Cid: Why a Fortress Tank is incomplete and why we need to claim the cannon.”
“For the first one, this planet’s third Fortress Tank was still in early development around the time the Empire split. Second, that cannon is still an operable and potent weapon even though it doesn’t have a clear view of the sky from its position, and our fleets are already having enough trouble with the Ragnirathan as it is.”
Lieutenant Will Helms interrupted the conversation. “If I can make a suggestion, Machinus, instead of destroying it, could’t we take control of the cannon and kill the Ragnirathan with it?”
“You’d be firing blind for the first shot, Lieutenant, not to mention maybe accidentally hitting our own ships.” Machinus answered him. “And I don’t think it would be enough to kill that monstrosity either. Are my orders clear?”
“Yes, sir.” Neur answered him “Neur out.”
A few moments later, Neur’s party had made it into hypervelocity cannon’s control room, but it had already been taken over by a platoon of Forceless and possessed Alliance and Valkoran troopers as well as a few Skakoan Commandos who were swelling up and ready to burst any minute. To everyone in Neur’s party, especially fellow Commando Captain Tey Hasha, they could tell the possessed Commandos were in agonizing pain in this state.
“We’re too late. They beat us to it.” Neur dreadfully commented. “Everyone, get ready!”
As soon as Neur activated her lightsaber, Captain Hasha stopped Neur and the rest from going forward while returning fire to the Forceless. “We don’t have time for this. If we fight them directly, more of those black beasts will come in to overwhelm us.” The rest of the Skakoans accompanied her. “Everyone else, get out of here. We’ll handle this.”
However, before she and any of the other Skakoans could breach their own pressure suits, Lieutenant Helms interrupted them and stepped forward as he gunned a few Forceless down. “Stop, Hasha! Enough Skakoans in other parts of the city have already given their lives for us today. And we humans are already pretty damn numerous.” He then barked an order to his squad. “Everyone, give me any explosives you’ve got and get out of here!”
“Don’t be a fool, Helms!” Neur yelled to him. “You’ll die!”
“Thanks for stating the obvious, now get out!”
“We better do as he says.” Medical Officer Cham Beneska advised Neur. “I know Lieutenant Helms a lot better than you do.”
“Everyone, give any thermal detonators you have to Lieutenant Helms and run.” Neur reluctantly ordered her squad. Everyone then tossed belts of thermal detonators to the Lieutenant.
While Helms gunned down any Forceless or slashed them with his wrist bayonet, Neur’s team fled the turret. Once they were clear of the vicinity, Helms activated a timed detonator, threw it into a key location and repeated until he was out of detonators.
Just as a blob of Black Matter was ready to force itself into the filter on his helmet, Helms defiantly yelled “BOOM!” All the detonators went off and engulfed everyone in the cannon, and the possessed Skakoans only added to the effect of the explosion. As a result, the cannon was completely destroyed.
Outside, Neur’s party watched outside as the HyVel cannon collapsed. Neur was saddened by Helms’ sacrifice, but the rest of the team knew better.
“Don’t worry, Commander.” Private Varson assured her. “Helms will be back before you know it.”
“Don’t lie to me, Private! He’s dead!” She yelled back at him.
“I’m being serious, Commander. Why do you think his codename is ‘Phoenix’? This isn’t the-!”
Private Varson was interrupted by Tey Hasha. “Heads up! More Forceless!”
A trio of Forceless Kur’Ada warriors armed with vibroswords charged towards the team. While everyone else tried to gun them down to little avail, Neur charged right at them so they wouldn’t get near the Skakoans, as low-rank Forceless had no problems with killing themselves to advance their cause.
After killing two of them, the last warrior slashed off both of Neur’s cybernetic head-tails before he himself was slain. As some Rapthounds and Nidracha climbed over a ledge to attack, Neur’s personality went from sorrowful to bombastically aggressive.
“I’ll get the repair kit ready…” Beneska dryly commented as he listened to Neur shout at the Forceless.
“Insolent beasts!” Neur yelled. “You have the audacity to lay claim to my people?! Well, I, Princess Neur, say to you, THUD AND BLUNDER, MAGGOTS!”
Neur then unleashed a wave of Force lightning from her fingertips that caused all the Forceless to disintegrate all the while laughing maniacally as they combusted. Everyone else was disturbed to say the least.
“And that was for Lieutenant Will Helms!”
A voice then tried to get her attention. “Neur?”
“WHAT?!” She angrily yelled back, before noticing Lieutenant Helms – distinguished by his armor decorated with a few phoenix symbols – alive and well, and with a slightly dirty suit of armor.
“I’m back and ready for duty once the Doc gets your lekku reattached.” Helms responded.
“Impudent worm! How dare you fake your own death and make me despair!”
Helms then got defensive with her. “Seriously? I’ve been part of this army since before the war, and you didn’t know?! I sacrificed myself so the rest of the squad could live!”
“And lekku reattached? Are you implying that I have brain damage?!”
“To be honest at the risk of you killing me again, yes, ma’am.” Helms answered bluntly.
“THUD AND BLUNDER!”
“Don’t you mean blood and...?” Helms tried to retort before Neur interrupted by pointing her lightsaber at his face.
While Neur and Helms were having their verbal duel, Doctor Beneska had just finished welding the lekku back on and reactivated them before she could suffer the pain backlash would result from not having the implants for too long.
“Okay, the Neur we all know and love is back to normal.” The red-skinned Twi’lek doctor assured Helms. “I might not be as much of a technical genius as Machinus, but I know lekku on half-breeds aren’t all that different from those on pure Twi’leks.”
As Neur regained her senses, her temperamental demeanor dropped. “Helms? You’re alive? I’m sorry about those nasty things I said to you.”
“It’s no problem, Commander.” Helms responded back. “If you want to know why I did what I did, you people only get one life. I have plenty to waste, but don’t get any ideas.”
Neur then pulled out her comlink. “Cid, this is Neur. The HyVel cannon has been destroyed.”
Up in space, the fleets were still struggling with the Ragnirathan. A few dozen capital ships had been destroyed in addition to at least one-hundred starfighters while scouting the beast’s exterior. They couldn’t go inside the dimensional portal without imploding and any proton torpedoes were more likely to be destroyed before hitting anything if fired directly into the mouth.
“It’s no use! We can’t find any other logical weak points!” Hammer Leader panicked over comlink.
“Then we’ll just have to make one.” Admiral Gravlek announced. “All fighters, pull back and regroup with the Doomsayer. We’re going to blow that monster’s head off.” He then made an order to the rest of the ship’s crew. “Set all plasma cannons to overload and divert power to the engines. All non-essential personnel, get to the ships or escape pods. All essential personnel, do the same once your part is finished. I’ll stay aboard to ensure the Doomsayer’s safe passage.”
Despite Gravlek’s orders, a select few volunteered to stay onboard to ensure that the Admiral’s plan happened without fail.
Hiriss protested the Admiral’s decision. “You can’t be serious, Admiral! You’ll kill yourself!”
“We don’t have any other options, Moraana. I need you and the rest of the squadrons to cover me while I prepare my attack.”
Hiriss reluctantly complied. “Understood. All craft, protect the Doomsayer.”
As the rest of the Doomsayer’s crew evacuated, Gravlek made a point to contact Maesterus and leave a quick message. “Gravlek to Maesterus. I don’t wish to hold you for too long, but I regret to inform you that I have to sacrifice your favorite ship.”
Before Maesterus could protest, Gravlek cut the transmission.
As the plasma cannons charged up and the Doomsayer turned its pointed bow towards the Ragnirathan’s body, Hiriss, Arcidus and the fighter squadrons defended it from any attacking Eyewings, Demolusks and Matterbugs while the capital ships and bombers defended it from the Levioths.
Once the plasma cannons were almost fully charged and the Doomsayer in position, Admiral Marx Gravlek gave one more message to his allies.
“Everyone, it has been an honor fighting alongside you for this cause. May my sacrifice carry you to victory.”
Moving at full sub-light speed with some fighter craft escorting it, the Doomsayer pierced through the roots of the Ragnirathan’s neck. With the mighty vessel now embedded in the creature, the plasma cannons overloaded, obliterating the Doomsayer and decapitating the Ragnirathan with the explosion.
While the head was sent flying towards Ockla’s atmosphere and landed at the base level of the Imperial Palace, the tear in space closed down on the Ragnirathan’s remains, cutting off what little came out of the portal.
The Ragnirathan’s death seemed like cause for celebration, but the rest of the fleet knew there was no time to do that or mourn Admiral Gravlek’s death now. The rest of the Forceless fleet remained and the Collective was still at large on the surface.
Back at the throne room, Zolph and Maesterus were beginning to tire from their battle with Emperor Valkor that had already lasted at least an hour.
“I could do this all day. Just give up and I’ll let you die quickly.” Valkor taunted them.
After slashing off a few more arms and dodging more jaws and sorcery, Zolph and Maesterus were able to land a several slashes on the bulk of Valkor’s body and do enough damage to actually cause him pain and make the mass of the Black Matter shrink down.
“Okay, you were actually able to hurt me, I’ll give you that. However, even if you defeat me here, you’ll only have destroyed an avatar, as I actually exist away from this galaxy. You’ll have a hopeless battle ahead of you.”
“Then we’ll just keep fighting to our last breath.” Maesterus retorted before stabbing Valkor again.
“And defy all odds like we usually do.” Zolph added.
“It’s getting awfully cramped in here.” Valkor said. “Let’s take this outside, shall we?”
Valkor suddenly sprang through one of the windows and fell down to the base level of the palace and the capital where the severed, slowly-decomposing head of the Ragnirathan lied. Valkor extended his mass to the head to assimilate it, and many lesser Forceless gathered around him to be assimilated as well.
As more and more Forceless became one with him, Valkor transformed into a Black Matter colossus that dwarfed most of the capital’s buildings. While he had a somewhat skinny body with elongated arms and clawed hands, his head was mostly a giant glowing mouth with an eye in the back of it. Instead of having legs, he created a sea of Black Matter that devoured every living being on the surface level of the capital.
With his newly created body, Valkor swatted at the turret the throne room was situated on, forcing Maesterus to carry Zolph and fly away to the roof of another building. He then devoured what was left of the palace and all the occupants inside it.
All the while, the rest of the Alliance and Valkoran forces gazed in awe upon this massive abomination.
“Shavit!” Zolph cursed in awe. “How many tricks does this freak of nature have?!”
“I never actually thought my old Emperor could get this big.” Maesterus added.
The mighty creature that Valkor had turned into boasted at his enemies. “Now you know the power of the Forceless Collective! Do you still wish to oppose me, mortals?! Or will you bow to the only god this universe needs?!”
Zolph didn’t hesistate to backtalk Valkor as he and Maesterus drew their lightsabers. “Jedi don’t believe in gods. We only believe in the Force.”
“Then, like all the others who reject my right, you shall suffer!” Valkor raised his right arm towards the two of them and a dozen scythe-tipped tentacles jetted out of his palm and slashed at the duo. This was more than the number of blades they had to deal with at once before in his previous form.
As they parried the blades, Zolph tried to jump out of the flurry of slashes and jumped onto Valkor’s wrist in an attempt to get close to him, but the titan simply grabbed him with his other arm, slammed him back on the roof and tried to press him death.
Noticing the fighting from a distance, some Alliance and Valkoran troopers fired some rockets at Valkor, but that only scratched him very little and he retaliated by having a giant maw emerge around the building they were standing on and consume them.
Other groups tried to similarly retaliate with artillery strikes from tanks and walkers or bombing runs, but those attacks were similarly countered with attacks from razor-tipped tentacles or energy projectiles coming out of other parts of Valkor’s body. Meanwhile, the other Jedi-led parties were rushing to get to Zolph and Maesterus’s aid.
With no other options, Maesterus flew away from the blade storm and slashed off Valkor’s left hand to free Zolph. He was successful in doing so, but this also allowed Valkor to skewer him from behind through his shoulders and palms, making him drop his lightsaber in the process.
“SEFERIN!” Zolph cried out.
Valkor then chuckled as he lifted Maesterus into the air and held him out for all in the capital to see.
“Well, Maesterus, you were always one of my favorite servants,” Valkor said as he callously sawed off one of Maesterus’s primary wings, causing him to scream in agonizing pain. “But I don’t take treason too well.” He then cut off the other wing.
Not far away, a distraught Grein attempted to throw her lightsaber to cut off the tentacles, but Armogeist and Gahmah restrained her before she could so.
“LET GO OF ME!” Grein cried. “CAN’T YOU SEE HE’S GOING TO DIE!!?”
“Don’t be a fool, Grein!” Gahmah retorted. “We’re too far out of range!” Inside, Gahmah also hated himself for losing his sniper rifle beforehand, or he would have been able to help Maesterus.
“We want to help him too, but there’s nothing we can do from here.” Armogeist added.
As Maesterus’s allies watched helplessly, Valkor positioned three more blades towards his chest. “Since those who admire you are no longer on my side, I no longer have to worry about turning you into a martyr to rally behind. There are only a few proper punishments for treason, and I have decided: Public execution!”
Valkor then thrust the blades into Maesterus’s heart, and let them stay in for a few seconds before pulling them out and then dropping his body.
However, Zolph used the Force to catch and bring him over to him rather than let him be eaten by the black sea that made up Valkor’s base.