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About Digital Art / Student Premium Member Matt Mosher23/Male/United States Recent Activity
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One week has passed since the death of Facadma, and Zolph has requested Maesterus to take him directly to Emperor Valkor on Ockla Prime without warning.

Arriving in the Ockla System via Sigma-class shuttle, they bypassed the massive Valkoran fleet in orbit and entered Ockla Prime’s atmosphere. After getting through the layers of thick clouds, Zolph was greeted to the sight of a large city surrounded by a wall and an energy shield. There were a lot of tall buildings – some big enough to qualify as districts and have other buildings inside them. To him, it was like a smaller scale, but somewhat gloomier version of Coruscant. However, out of the all the buildings, one stood out in the center and extended past the shield dome.

The shuttle’s pilot then commented to Zolph. “Welcome to the Imperial Palace. I wouldn’t tell any of your senators about the size if I were you.”

Zolph responded with a question. “I know distinction’s important in this society, but wouldn’t a building that big just be an easy target for long-range artillery strikes? Especially since part of it is poking out of the shield?”

Maesterus then answered him. “We didn’t build this city. The Rakata did that. We just added to it after we settled here. Besides, the palace has its own ray shield as a back-up.”

As they approached the palace’s shuttle hangar several floors above ground level, the pilot prepared to fire some concussion missiles to blow open the entry hatch, seeing as they’re now enemies. However, the hangar opened without warning and let them in to dock.

“That was unexpected.” The pilot commented. “Then again, they didn’t fire on us as we entered the system.”

Maesterus answered his speculation. “Valkor already knew we were coming, and he probably ordered them not to attack us so he can fight us himself.”

Maesterus then peeked further back into the palace hangar to see two of his Black Guards operating the hangar controls: Ascana Vaso, a female Togruta with every part of her body obscured except for her head-tails and montrals, and Yanto Eko, a male Ithorian with armor designed specifically for him and translators built into his helmet’s two vocalizers – though granted, the Black Guard was an elite unit and each member recruited had their armor tailored specifically for them regardless of anatomy, even Ithorians, who are often stereotyped as a species of non-violent pacifists.

“I thought the Black Guard was loyal only to you.” Zolph told Maesterus.

“They are. Those two were assigned as inside men after the Great Split. Unfortunately, Valkor knows all too well about where their loyalties lie.”

As Ascana and Yanto approached the shuttle with their plasma staves activated, Zolph could not only sense that the two were possessed by Forceless, he also noticed that they exhibited mutations atypical for their species. Ascana’s head-tails were slightly moving on their own like prehensile tentacles and her montrals not only had eyes on the outside and spikes growing between them, they moved like an insect’s mandibles. Yanto’s limbs were noticeably longer and bulkier than usual, having torn apart his armor in the process.

Suddenly, one of Ascana’s lekku lifted up and swiftly stretched forward, penetrating the shuttle’s cockpit, wrapping around the pilot’s neck and suffocating him to death.

Zolph and Maesterus then descended from the shuttle’s boarding ramp and approached the possessed guards.

Zolph promptly made a deadpan but very bitter comment not to Ascana and Yanto, but to Valkor, who could see and hear everything some lesser Forceless could sense. “Force anyone else to kill their friends or family?”

None of the two answered, until Yanto let out a loud roar that broke away the mouthpieces on his helmet.

Maesterus somberly responded to his former allies. “Ascana. Yanto. I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have let you be assigned here.” He and Zolph then activated their lightsabers. “Don’t worry, my friends. It will be over soon.”

Ascana then used her extended lekku to throw herself up in the air and perform a jump strike on Zolph with her plasma staff, but he blocked in response. While their weapons were locked, Ascana grappled Zolph with her back head-tail, lifted him off the floor and tried to pull him toward her horn-mandibles to skewer him while searing him with her staff.

“Ow! Really!? Do you have to give me more flesh burns before you kill me?!” Zolph yelled at the Forceless before slicing off the rear head-tail holding him.

Ascana then tried to stab with her staff, but Zolph dodged and sliced the staff in half. The possessed Togruta then retaliated by whipping him in the face with her front lekku – causing him and trying to be bite him with her montral-mandibles. As Zolph held them back with his prosthetic arm, he used his left hand to grab for his blaster pistol and shot through her chest.

Meanwhile, Maesterus flew around the hangar dodging sonic blasts – no doubt amplified by the Forceless possession – let out by Yanto Eko in an attempt to disorient him. The hulking Ithorian then landed a hit on him and grounded him, followed by throwing his plasma staff at him like a spear.

Before it could impale him, Maesterus – too disoriented to use the Force - stopped the staff’s momentum by positioning both of his primary wings in front of him like a shield and letting it pierce through the flaps. He then casually separated his wings and let the stuck staff tear his flaps. He then followed this up by firing a few palm spikes into Yanto’s chest.

The Ithorian let out another powerful roar that shook the hangar as he charged at Maesterus to either smash him with his oversized limbs or make his brain explode from sound overload. Neither happened, as Yanto was promptly impaled by Maesterus’s lightsaber once he got close enough.

As the two Black Guards lay dying, Ascana spoke to Maesterus after he came to her and removed her helmet.

“I knew you’d come back to free us. Our term… has come to an end.”

Yanto echoed what his partner said in Ithorianese.

“But I’m kinda scared that the thing Valkor put inside us is going to eat us when we die, and considering what he said about those he’s eaten alive…”

This then triggered a worry in Zolph in regards to the possession victims he has killed over the last year. Are they truly free when they die? It is said that it takes a while for an individual to fully become one with the Force, and anyone consumed by the Forceless is prevented from joining the Force.

Suddenly, the Black Matter that was inside Ascana and Yanto started to crawl out of their wounds and envelope their bodies like pools of acid.

Even in the one week he spent training with Maesterus, Zolph had not properly mastered his Forceless channeling ability without letting his negative emotions control him. But if it meant saving these two from a fate worse than death…

“Just this once, I’m willing to use this power at the cost of my sanity.” Zolph then put his left hand into Ascana’s Black Matter puddle and used the Force to pull all of it into his skin pores, completely purging Ascana of the symbiote and leaving her body intact. He then rushed over to Yanto’s body to repeat the process.

Yanto let a weak, but satisfied bellow before he succumbed to his injuries.

Ascana then translated his last words. “He said that he is grateful for your sacrifice, and so am I. Now give our former Emperor what’s coming to him.” Ascana Vaso had breathed her last.

With the Black Matter absorbed from the two Black Guards, Zolph Force-channeled once again and transformed into an anger-induced creature.

Suddenly, a platoon of Valkoran troopers entered the hangar – having been alerted to Zolph’s and Maesterus’s presence - but were shocked to see both Maesterus and another freakish, black-skinned monster.

Zolph then used his amplified Force power to effortlessly throw the entire platoon backward out of the hangar door and hundreds of feet to their dooms.

As Zolph and Maesterus progressed through the palace tower, even more waves of troops came in an attempt to overwhelm them, but they were all quickly cut down in groups by Zolph’s arm blades while Maesterus watched from the sidelines before they reached a turbolift. This was promptly followed up by a rage-filled boast.

“Anyone else want to die for their Emperor!?”

Just a second after, Zolph reverted back to his human form and looked at Maesterus.

“Sorry about that, pops.”

“How many more times are you going to apologize whenever you lose your temper?” Maesterus asked him. “Anyway, this turbolift should take us directly to the throne room.”

Maesterus attempted to access the controls, but the door wouldn’t open up.

“Damn!”

“What’s wrong?”

“They locked this turbolift down, and this is one of the only lifts in the entire palace that can take us there. Apparently, Valkor wants me to take the stairs for the first time in four-thousand years.”

“How many floors until we get to him?”

“About a dozen or so.” Maesterus answered.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded throughout the palace and across the city.

“All forces, report to your stations. An enemy fleet has dropped out of hyperspace.”

Zolph then explained the situation. “Now you know why I didn’t give you a specific time frame for the attack and got you to bring me here without warning. It wouldn’t give Valkor enough time to fully prepare.” He then changed the subject. “And I’m sorry to embarrass you even further.”

“What are you doing?” Maesterus asked

“Dear Great God Emperor Valkor, I know you can see and hear me, and I know you think you have a major advantage by seeing what Maesterus can see and hear. I don’t know if you understand what this means, but I think you’ll get the context of it.” Zolph then made a gesture with his hands that was considered obscene by galactic standards. Maesterus sighed in disbelief. “See you in an hour or two. Signed, Zolph Vaelor.”

“That was it?” Seferin asked with annoyance. “You took advantage of Valkor’s disturbing surveillance method just so you could mock him?”

“It took a while for me to get the idea, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do so. Besides, I’m nineteen, so I’m not that above it.”

“Well, we better get going if we want to be seeing him soon, and my wings are still healing, so no asking if I can just fly you there.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile, a large Alliance fleet under the command of Admiral Cephal – in fact, the largest ever assembled for the war - has arrived in the Ockla System, greeted by the largest Valkoran fleet they had ever seen, although a lot smaller than it would have been if not for the Great Split.

The Battle of Ockla Prime has begun.

The Alliance fleet’s buildup included Mon Calamari star cruisers, torpedo frigates, Nebulon-B frigates, Corellian corvettes and gunships and other ship types. The Valkoran fleet, likewise, consisted of Obliterator cruisers, Dread destroyers, Judicator frigates, Demolisher missile frigates, Fury corvettes, and others that have been seen throughout the war.

Hiriss – piloting the Manthis - led Guardian Squadron – a contingent of X-Wing and A-Wing fighters along with some B-Wing and K-Wing bombers as part of the first attack against somewhat larger squadrons of Valkoran Firaxa fighters, Shyrack bombers and Nexu gunships as well as some Mailoc boarding craft backing up the rear.

“Alright, boys and girls. The Valkoran War ends today, but we need to give Valkor everything we’ve got if we want it to end in our favor.” Hiriss motivated her squadron. “I may not be one of the most seasoned pilots in the Order, and I may have only been brushing up on my skills for a week, but we’re all in this together.”

R9-C4 then gave her some advice in her own language. “Seefor = Fly Manthis and eliminate targets.  // Commander Moraana = Strategize and give orders. // Commander Moraana + Seefor + Manthis = Lethal fighting force.”

“Glad you’ve got my back, Seefor.”

“Master Zolph’s friends = Seefor’s friends. // Moraana + Seefor + Squadron = Destroy Valkoran fleet?”

“Sure, why not.”

Hiriss then got a transmission from one of the more experienced squadron leaders. “Don’t worry, Commander Moraana. If you need any suggestions, we’re here for you.”

“Thanks, Hammer Leader.” She then addressed the rest of Guardian Squadron. “Alright, Guardians. Let the Valks know we don’t take kindly to peace and order through oppression!”

The squadron then split into small groups to take on the Valkoran fighters. While most of the X-Wings and A-Wings dealt with the Firaxas, Hiriss focused on the Mailocs charging at the Harmony with their boarding stingers prepared for injection.

While a few Corellian corvettes and Nebulon frigates were boarded and destroyed from the inside, only a few Mailocs managed to connect with the Harmony and the few troops that boarded it were quickly eliminated by the Alliance marines.

Suddenly, Hiriss spotted a hypervelocity shot coming from the planet’s surface, tearing apart one of the Mon Calamari cruisers and some smaller ships flying close to it.

Admiral Cephal then made an announcement on the comm. channels. “All capital ships, break formation! There’s a Fortress Tank down on the surface!”

Suddenly, a second shot came from the surface, destroying only a frigate this time.

Two Fortress Tanks!” The Admiral corrected himself. He knew this from experience, as the hypervelocity cannons on Fortress Tanks have a significant cool-down time between shots.

“Perfect.” Hiriss responded sarcastically. “Is it possible there’s more than that?”

“It’s possible, but there can’t be too many down there, even if this is the Valkoran capital. Not only do they take an exorbitant amount of time and resources to build given their scope, they’re almost impossible to transfer from planet to planet without being disassembled. I hear only less than ten of them were ever constructed; disassembling, transporting and rebuilding them can take a lot time. It hasn’t been long enough since their Empire divided to bring all of the remaining ones to Ockla, and some of those may be in the hands of the separatist faction.”

“So, what’s the plan, Admiral?”

“We send our special unit to take care of them before we send the rest of the army to attack the citadel. I’m sure they’d be happy to take down one of those monstrosities or two.”

As the space battle raged in Ockla’s orbit, the Alliance started sending their ground forces down to the planet’s surface via GR-75 transports, although some were being prematurely shot down either by the Valkoran fleet or the Fortress Tanks, but an MAAT flew ahead of the rest of the landing force in advance.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


The MAAT, carrying Besh Squad, entered Ockla Prime’s atmosphere. As the gunship approached one of the Fortress Tanks, Captain Xadisall Varessi and his men were briefed via holocommunicator by Colonel Birik G’Jan.

“Are you sure you and your men are up to this task, Captain?” The Bith colonel asked the Mirialan squad captain.

Boltz then commented. “General Choi gave Besh Squad a training tour of a disabled Fortress Tank on Krantisi. Boltz and the Squad have the layout memorized.”

“But are you up to taking two down live fire?”

Bad Kitty then retorted. “Colonel, we infiltrated the Doomsayer in enemy territory. You think we can’t take on the largest tank in the army?”

“But you’re not posing as new recruits this time, Banir. The crew will know you as an enemy.”

Xadisall replied. “What my boys are saying is that we’re up to the task. And we’ll gladly take on two Fortress Tanks in the name of the late General.”

“That’s all I wanted to hear. No rationalizations. May the Force be with you.” The hologram of Colonel G’Jan disappeared as the transmission ended.

Suddenly, the gunship rocked as it was grazed by a shot from the Fortress Tank Vakaziz, named after one of the Forceless Archfiends defeated in the war.

“We’ve found one of the tanks, Captain, but we’re going down!” The gunship pilot yelled back to the squad.

“Well, sirs and madam. You said you wanted to fight a Fortress Tank.” Xadisall then loaded up his blaster rifle.

Patcher addressed a slight concern. “With all due respect, Captain, we’ve been in several rough spots throughout this war and the last, but I don’t think there’s any guarantee we’ll survive this.”

Spectre then answered the Nautolan medic. “There’s never been a guarantee for survival in the jobs we’ve taken, Patcher, and this won’t be any different.”

“And this is what, the tenth time you’ve said that?” Bad Kitty added. “Besides, if we do succeed and survive, we’ll have something to brag to Commander Vaelor about.”

“Brace for impact!” The gunship pilot yelled to the back.

The gunship then collided with the ground below, throwing the squad off their feet. All five of them survived, but the pilot did not. As they got up, Bad Kitty pushed open the gunship hatch, revealing Ockla’s dark gray sky.

They had landed in a gray dirt-patched field with a few massive footprints scattered on the outskirts of the capital city, just outside the energy shield. Bad Kitty also noticed two Fortress Tanks – turtle-like walkers that were roughly the size of a frigate – positioned outside the city walls and firing their back-mounted hypervelocity cannons into space. And conveniently, they were not far from the Vakaziz.

Bad Kitty then yelled into the crashed gunship. “Unless you feel like decorating the bottom of a giant foot, everyone out!”

All of Besh Squad’s members gathered their equipment from the wreckage and hustled out before – instead of being squished by one of the walker’s massive feet – they were blown up by the blaster cannons decorating its underside. There were also some snipers firing from underneath.

After adjusting her maroon-colored, metal-plated hat, Spectre raised her sniper rifle and shot down the Vakaziz’s snipers, some of their bodies tumbling meters to the ground below. She also picked off some of the underbelly cannons.

However, they weren’t quite done with the tank’s outer defenses yet, as plasma cannon fire rained down on them from near one of the walker’s leg joints. Xadisall pulled out his macrobinoculars and noticed some Starmantis artillery droids magnetically attached to the behemoth’s carapace and thighs.

Xadisall gave an order to Spectre. “Spec, we have a few giant, three-legged flightless droid fleas with plasma cannons strapped to their backs. Would you kindly take them out so can begin our climb?”

The Kyuzo markswoman then reloaded her rifle. “Flea treatment coming up.” She proceeded to shoot at the artillery droids near the walker’s left legs, sometimes at their heads and sometimes at their cannons, even causing some of them to magnetically detach. “Treatment complete.”

Xadisall then gave out another order. “Ready the ascension cables.”

All of the squad members fired their ascension guns into the knee of the walker’s left hindleg, but Patcher fired an extra ascension cable and hooked it up to Bad Kitty’s waist.

“Hey, Patch! Are you tellin’ me I’m fat!?” The large Cathar criticized the Nautolan medic.

“No, but you have been gaining weight recently, and that would be from muscle mass. Not to mention that heavy repeater you carry around all the time.”

Bad Kitty then gave Patcher a sarcastic reply. “Ah ha ha. Just shut up and climb.”

Besh Squad ascended the Vakaziz’s calf, and fired another round of cables into the thigh joint. The position of the thigh may been slanted enough for them not to need the cables, but they didn’t want to risk it moving to shake them off.

Once they got near the body, Xad spoke to Boltz.

“Boltz, you didn’t forget your toolkit, did you?”

The Gand engineer replied. “Boltz already has the fusion cutter out.” He then used the fusion cutter to cut a hole for them to enter. Unlike the other tools in his kit, he had the fusion cutter strapped to his belt from the start as he didn’t want to bother struggling to get it out of the kit at a great height. “After you.”

The squad then entered the Vakaziz.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Thankfully, traversing the inside of a Fortress Tank was surprisingly safe, as it had inertial dampeners and artificial gravity generators in specific sections to keep the crew from being thrown around by the walker’s movement and the inevitable tremors created from its stomping.

After getting in, Xadisall outlined the attack plan.

“Alright, we’ll split into two groups: one to take the command bridge and the other to take the cannon. Bad Kitty, Patcher and I will be part of the first group while Boltz and Spectre comprise the second group.”

“What made you decide on that group setup, Captain?” Patcher asked.

“You and I aren’t as specifically combat trained as the rest of us, but you can keep us alive and I can take over this monster while Banir provides the firepower to take the bridge.”

Bad Kitty responded with annoyance. “For the last kriffing time, Xad, don’t call me Banir. Nobody in this squad except for you even uses their real name. And Boltz since that became part of his actual name.”

“Continuing on, Boltz and Spectre’s roles in the squad aren’t those that necessarily pertain to personal combat, but they were both trained warriors in their cultures before they joined. And Boltz, you can sabotage some of the internal security systems along the way. Understood?”

“Yes sir!” All the other squad members responded.

“Move out!”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


As Xadisall’s team progressed to the bridge, he and Patcher provided cover fire for Bad Kitty with their blaster rifles while the Cathar mowed down everything in their path with his repeating blaster cannon, sometimes accidentally hitting a few cloaked Shadow Troopers.

Once they made it to the bridge, the command crew frantically fired their weapons at the squad, but they too were mowed down by Bad Kitty within seconds.

“Surrender, General, and no one else has to taste this cat’s gun.” Xadisall demanded the commanding officer on the bridge.

However, the officer in question, a masked Force acolyte, activated his orange lightsaber. “Fool! You dare make demands of a master of the Force? You shall know your place, worms!”

Bad Kitty sarcastically responded. “Oh look. A drama queen.” He then revved up his blaster cannon. “Well, time to shut him up.”

He let out another flurry of blaster fire, but the acolyte managed to deflect some of them, and a few were sent back and wounded Bad Kitty.

“Patcher.” Xadisall barked. “Take care of his wounds. I’ll end this Sith wannabe’s acting career.”

The acolyte laughed back at Xad. “Do you still want to die, Mirialan?”

“Not in the near future.”

“Then you are an idiot for coming here!”

The acolyte threw his lightsaber at Xad, but the captain quickly dropped to the floor before the blade could cut him in half and shot the acolyte through the chest.

“Im-Impossible! I can’t lose to an ungifted soldier!”

Bad Kitty then boasted to the acolyte while Patcher treated him. “Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it?”

“When Emperor Valkor rules this galaxy, you’ll all be begging for death!” The acolyte then succumbed to his injury and fell to the floor.

Patcher then commented on their situation. “The bridge is now ours, but no word from Boltz and Spectre.”

Xad then followed up on that. “I’ll contact them.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Elsewhere aboard the Vakaziz, Boltz and Spectre had made it to the hypervelocity cannon. There, they encountered the gunnery crew and two troopers wearing Minotaur-class exoskeletons.

They quickly eliminated the gunners, but the Exo-Troopers weren’t that easily eliminated.

“Shall we split our targets?” Spectre asked Boltz.

“Yes.” Boltz then drew out a retractable Gand shockstaff.

After blocking some blaster fire with her hat, Spectre retaliated by shooting off her trooper’s shoulder-mounted visual scanner, limiting his vision greatly. He in turn retaliated by firing a concussion blast from his right arm, forcing her to leap into the air and land on his shoulders.

He tried to grab at her with his claw, but she simply responded to that by jamming her hat into it, and the general composition of the hat made it difficult to break in half. She followed that up by drawing her vibro-knife, stabbed into his audio sensor to deafen him and then stabbed in through the faceplate’s eyes, killing the trooper. Afterward, she retrieved her hat from the claw of his still-standing corpse.

Meanwhile, after prodding him a few times with his shockstaff and dodging blows, Boltz stuck an EMP device to his respective Exo-Trooper’s armor, temporarily immobilizing him and allowing Boltz to rewire some systems in the armor. He then waited for the EMP to wear off.

“I don’t know what you just did, but you’ll pay for it, you ammonia-breathing gnat!” The trooper yelled at Boltz as he attempted to fire his concussion blaster. This only resulted in his armor – and himself inside – exploding into many pieces of metal.

Following the deaths of the cannon defense crew, Boltz and Spectre were greeted with Xadisall’s voice over their comlinks.

“Boltz. Spectre. Status report.”

Spectre responded. “We have control of the cannon. I take it you have the bridge?”

“Affirmative.”

“So what’s the next step, Captain?”

“Position the cannon as low as you can towards the other Fortress Tank.”

“Got it.”

Boltz and Spectre manned the controls for the hypervelocity cannon and aimed it at the other tank’s cannon. Meanwhile, Xadisall’s team already positioned the Vakaziz to have it facing in the same direction.

“Open fire!” Xadisall yelled.

The cannon opened fire and promptly destroyed the other tank’s cannon. This was followed up by Xad’s team firing the Vakaziz’s frontal laser cannons at the rest of the walker and destroying it.

“Aw yeah!” Bad Kitty yelled over the comlink. “That’s two points for Besh Squad!”

Boltz then commented over comlink. “Should Besh Squad go ahead and take out that tower poking out of the shield?”

“I think Valkor knows we’d try to do that and has a much stronger shield in case, so no. Besides, the rest of the Valks are most likely going to try to reclaim this beast, and the five of us aren’t really enough to keep control of it. Everyone, start planting the charges and get out.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


After the destruction of the Vakaziz, the Galactic Alliance’s ground forces deployed at the capital, finally leading to the ground battle of Ockla Prime while the space battle still raged in orbit.

Meanwhile, the Blazing Manta, with both Grein and Luke Skywalker on board, flew to a specific section of the capital.

After clearing a landing pad of some resistance via the Manta’s own guns, they docked and disembarked.

Luke spoke to Grein. “So what’s the plan?”

“Skywalker, I need you to cause them as much trouble as you can from within the walls while the rest of the Alliance pushes through.”

“But what are you going to do?”

Grein muttered only one word. “Masochus.”

Luke then addressed her with concern. “Grein, I know you used to be a Jedi and still follow their values to an extent, but you must still control your feelings. I’ve known the desire for revenge before.”

“It’s not just personal, Skywalker. Masochus isn’t like most other Sith Lords throughout history. Even some of the ones from his time considered him a monster. He was exiled for a very good reason, and not just pragmatism on their part.”

“I won’t stop you, Grein, but mind my warning.”

After getting to a junction, she and Luke parted ways.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________


Moments later, Grein had found herself in a macabre laboratory of some sort crossed with a morgue. As far as she saw and remembered, this was Masochus’s personal laboratory.

Aside from some mutilated corpses, there were some experiments shown to be on hold, whether it be playing with diseases, randomly mixing body parts of other creatures, or Black Matter-based experiments as sanctioned by Valkor.

As she progressed further through the chop shop of horrors, she came across what looked like a grotesque imitation of an astromech droid made from human body parts.

“K…k….kill….me…..KILL ME!” The ‘droid’ begged Grein in an impaired tone.

Another angry voice then echoed into the room: Masochus’s. “No!”

The puppet-like ex-Sith Lord then approached his creation to torture it with barely enough Force lightning to kill it.

“V2-S7! You are not a person! You are an astromech droid! You don’t speak Basic! You speak only in beeps!”

He zapped ‘Veetoo’ some more before asking him a taunting question.

“What is your name?”

Irritated with the psychopath, Grein impaled his creation and granted the death he desired.

Grein then followed that with some bitter snark. “Kill any tookas today?”

“What makes you think I’d kill a tooka?”

Grein didn’t answer.

“Fine! So, how does it feel to not see your sister before she died?”

“I did see her.”

“Don’t give me that ‘I saw her again through a holo-transmission’ shavit! She would have killed you had you even got within eyesight of her! Admit it: You’re a terrible sibling.”

“Shut up!” Grein activated her cross-guarded lightsaber.

“And now, you’ve come here to make amends for not being able to save her yourself by killing me. Not very Jedi-like, isn’t it? May I also remind you that it was your fault and her own that Emilin got possessed by Facadma?”

“Don’t you dare try to shift responsibility for that? You’re the one who sold her out to Valkor! Why did you do it?”

“I always wanted to make a Jedi suffer for once in my life. I just needed a valid reason as far as Valkor was concerned.”

“That is so typical of you, Masochus.”

“Of course, I also suggested to Valkor that he prioritize planets with Dark Force presences when it came to summoning Archfiends after Dagobah. Oh, how Korriban is the ultimate weapon for breaking Jedi.”

Another voice then came from somewhere else in the room. “Don’t ya mean Moraband?”

Suddenly, Masochus’s smug demeanor broke and his tone changed to that of a child throwing a temper tantrum. “I WILL FLAY YOU ALIVE AND FEED YOU TO A SARLACC!!”

To Grein’s surprise, Gahmah Raan – who she hadn’t seen since Krishar – suddenly dropped out from a ventilation shaft that collapsed from his own weight.

“Lovely. Both of those things have been done to me before.” Gahmah replied back as he got up on his feet.

With no straight-faced way to make a comeback, Masochus simply resorted to blasting Gahmah with Force lightning.

“Ow.” Gahmah responded dully.

Masochus got angrier and zapped him with a slightly more powerful surge.

“Ow.”

He increased the voltage and shouted at the top of his lungs, “SCREAM! WHY WON’T YOU KRIFFING SCREAM IN AGONY!?”

“Buddy, I live on a planet where getting zapped by Force lightning is an everyday occurrence.”

“Preposterous! The Sith wouldn’t accept an alien degenerate like you!”

“I didn’t say there were Sith on my planet.”

“But then…?”

“The trees do the zapping.”

Masochus flew into another fit of rage. “WHAT THE KRIFF IS WRONG WITH THIS GALAXY!? THE FORCE SHOULD ONLY BE USED BY SENTIENT BEINGS!”

“The Force flows from life.”

“THAT! IS! IT! ONCE I CONTROL THE GALAXY, I WILL DESTROY YOUR PLANET, ERASE IT FROM THE RECORDS, AND EXECUTE ANYONE WHO TRIES TO BRING IT UP!”

Masochus then activated a device on his wrist that opened a door to a cryogenic storage chamber, releasing another mix-and-matched monster created primarily from the corpse of an adolescent rancor.

“Rancen, you have two new playmates. As for the green idiot with the helmet, I WANT YOU TO SWALLOW HIM WHOLE AND DIGEST HIM ALIVE FOR HIS BLASPHEMY! Have fun!” Masochus then levitated and exited the laboratory.

Gahmah then sarcastically shouted. “Oh, sure! Just because you’re a sourpuss that can’t get his way, you try to pull the ‘kill him’ card and run away!”

Meanwhile, Grein had calmed down from just Masochus getting sidetracked from taunting her.

“That wasn’t very smart, Gahmah. If you weren’t you, he would have killed you. And you let him escape from me.”

“He would have killed you if I didn’t drop in. Being almost as old as him, you should know that taunting an enemy to unbalance them is a classic Sith combat tactic. So, I gave him a taste of his own medicine.”

“And how would you know that considering the Sith are all but extinct in your time?”

“On a contract prior to this war, Maesterus schooled me on some Jedi and Sith combat tactics in the event that I’d fight one of them. And I lost some limbs due to my temper a few times.” Gahmah then flipped out his gauntlet. “Anyway, we should talk after we kill this thing. Or re-kill it because… you know.”

The monster tried to swing at Grein with its claws, but she proved too evasive for it. It eventually grabbed her, but she simply liquefied herself to escape its grasp.

With Rancen distracted, Gahmah jumped onto his back and started pulling out the stitches in his neck with one of his blades. Once enough of the stitches came out, the head separated from the body and the creature died.

“And I’ll bet Masochus will be even more ticked with me once he learns I didn’t die, as is the case with a few other enemies I’ve made over the years. If he still had skin, I think he’d be redder than a Zeltron on fire.”

Grein responded. “It’s possible he may be of the Sith species, and they naturally have red skin too.”

“Okay, so he’d be redder than a Sith on fire.”

“What are you doing here anyway, Gahmah?”

“Arcidus hired me as an inside man because he said I’m too unpredictable to be entirely trustworthy. Also something about Maesterus worrying that Valkor sees and hears everything he does and his previous inside men going missing.”

“Then that means…”

“The Alliance is getting some backup. Anyway, let’s leave this slaughterhouse and get some fresh air.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile in Ockla’s orbit, another Valkoran fleet – accompanied by some Kur’Ada and mercenary vessels -  dropped out of hyperspace, led by the Doomsayer. The massive vessel introduced itself by firing five plasma cannons shots in succession at an enemy Obliterator destroyer, quickly destroying it.

Admiral Gravlek then gave an order to the rest of the ships under his command. “All forces focus on the Valkoran vessels marked as red on your scopes so as to differentiate friend from foe. And provide aid to the Alliance fleet as needed.”

Afterward, squadrons of Valkoran fighters and boarding craft, led by Arcidus in the Phantom Razor, charged into the battle. As they joined the skirmish, Arcidus took out three enemy Firaxa fighters pursuing Hiriss’s fighter. He then tried to contact the ship.

“This is Arcidus from the Valkoran Separatist movement. Who are you and why are you piloting Zolph Vaelor’s starfighter?”

Hiriss responded back. “This is Jedi Knight Hiriss Moraana. Zolph requested that I fly his ship in the battle while he met with your people. Seeing as your Maesterus’s top agent, do you know where he is right now?”

“He’s already in the Imperial Palace with my master, and he got here before you did.”

“So he was ahead of us. And thank you for the save. But now that you’re here, let’s finish these guys.”

At the same time, some Behemoth-class landing barges and Sigma-class shuttles were making their way down to the planet’s surface.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Back on the lower levels of the capital, Luke Skywalker aided the Alliance forces as they battled Valkor’s supporters. While the Alliance soldiers had some trouble fighting with the Exo-troopers – which could move surprisingly fast when given a lot of open space, but took a while to slow down their dash jets -, Luke had almost no problems at all given his previous experiences.

Just as another trooper has ready to fire his concussion blaster on Luke, another Exo-trooper charged at the firing trooper from behind and ran his claw through his back. However, the rogue Exo-trooper had the flag symbol on his suit blotted out.

Some other rogue Valkoran forces along with some Kur’Ada warriors and Skakoan commandos came in as well, led by Juganak and Machinus.

“Maesterus’s forces are with you, Skywalker.” Juganak told Luke.

“Glad to hear that.” Luke replied.

One of the Alliance troopers then alerted both parties. “More armored units incoming!”

As described, two more enemy Exo-troopers, along with a Rancor assault tank and a Nexu gunship arrived on the scene.

Machinus rhetorically asked Juganak. “Juga, how far can you throw one of those suits with a person inside them?”

“Allow me to demonstrate, Professor.” Juganak rushed at one of the Exo-troopers. The trooper fired a concussive blast at Juga, but the muscular Miraluka simply shrugged it off before effortlessly hoisting him over his head and then hurling him at the gunship, destroying both in the process.

The other trooper tried to fire on Juganak while he was focused, but Machinus drew his attention by firing a few relatively harmless blaster shots from his wrists.

“Hey, laserbrain.” Machinus taunted the trooper. “I invented that suit.”

“Then you’ll die by it!” The trooper yelled before firing a concussive blast. Machinus simply repelled it back with his repulsor generators.

While the trooper reeled from the blast, Machinus jumped behind him and quickly sliced his dash jets. After the trooper recovered from the shock, Machinus lured the trooper into facing the tank before he suddenly dashed into the tank at high-speed, destroying it and himself.

“Arrogant little punks like you stealing my tech is exactly why I don’t correct every weakness, and one of the few people who knew how to work around them was a naval officer, and he used the prototype.” Machinus retorted.

Some of the Alliance troopers watched in awe. “Well, I’ll be damned.” One of them said. “It’s a good thing they’re on our side.”

One of the rogue Valkoran troopers responded to him in turn. “I can say the same in regards to Master Skywalker, and Vaelor, and every other Jedi.”

With the enemy Valkoran forces in the area cleared, Luke addressed Juganak and Machinus. “So, what’s the plan, right now?”

Machinus then gave the details. “Admiral Gravlek and Arcidus are helping your forces in orbit. Neur, Armogeist and Lieutenant Helms have the upper city. We hired Gahmah Raan as a scout before the battle, and Maesterus and Zolph Vaelor got here before we all did and are inside the palace as we speak. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get to the security station so I can rewire the enemy’s automated defense systems to work for us.”

“So Zolph’s already going for Valkor? That worries me, but we really don’t have much of a choice in this matter.”

Juga responded. “You’re not the only one. Maesterus is also worried about Zolph’s personal problems, and I’m worried about Armogeist, as he may have to fight Masochus, and he’s more tainted than Zolph.”

Machinus also addressed his concerns. “And Neur’s… other half may pop up again, and I won’t be around to repair her lekku for some time if it malfunctions, but she made her choice to go alone.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Back in the upper levels of the city, Grein and Gahmah continued their hunt for Masochus, assisting the Alliance invasion force and Maesterus’s supporters along the way.

One of these groups that they came across was led by Neur and Lieutenant Helms. After helping them take down a Manticore droid on a bridge suspended between two buildings, Neur addressed the purple-eyed Chiss and the Krishari bounty hunter.

“Hey, I remember you. You came to Moraband with Zolph when he killed Cinydra.”

“I… remember you too.” Grein responded nervously, still recounting the time she went insane and tried to kill her out of misguided jealousy for Zolph. “And I see you’re one of those people that use one of the modern names for that planet without being executed by Masochus.”

“The only reason he didn’t was that Valkor wouldn’t let him when we were still on the same side. And don’t worry, my interest in Zolph is purely platonic, and I know about your real connections to him; if the… other me crops during the battle, you’re safe from my wrath.”

Lieutenant Helms followed up on the comment. “She speaks truly; she’s been taking some psychotherapy sessions, so she’s a little less unhinged.”

Gahmah then interrupted. “Getting back on topic, have you people seen the infertile pseudo-zombie passing by recently? And yes, I know because I have seen him…” Gahmah briefly shuddered in horror, “in his lack of a birthday suit.”

“Yeah.” Helms answered him and pointed towards an adjacent building, which looked like a cathedral of some sort. “We saw him over at that shrine, and General Armogeist decided to go after him.”

Grein then thought to herself. “Typical, Balos.”

“If you’re after him, make him answer for experimenting me and all those who aren’t cursed like I am.”

Neur added to that. “And for all the times he sabotaged my head-tails and tortured me to blackmail Cid.”

Grein then complimented her. “Thank you, Neur. It seems most of us have a grudge against Masochus, but you clearly have your own priorities. May the Force be with you for whatever you’re doing on this level.”

“And with you as well.”

Both groups then parted ways.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Following Lieutenant Helms’ directions, Grein and Gahmah made fought their way to the shrine, specifically one for training people in the ways of the Force and Forceless worship if the abundance of Force acolytes coming their way was an indicator.

Gahmah then asked Grein a question as they fought their way across a bridge leading directly into the cathedral. “Do you know which Archfiend this is the church of?”

Grein answered him. “I haven’t been here for a very long time, Gahmah, and last I remember, this building was abandoned, but a lot can change in the course of thousands of years.”

“Then why haven’t we started developing travel between different galaxies yet? It’s like we’re stuck in some sort of technological stasis no matter how much time passes.”

As Gahmah got ready to open the door to the cathedral, Grein stopped him.

“Careful. I sense a disturbance in the Force behind those doors, and it’s not Masochus.”

“Now that you mentioned it, I sense it too – my senses kicking in a little too late again –,” Gahmah angrily muttered to himself before getting back on topic, “and I think I know who it is.”

Gahmah opened the door and they both entered the catheral’s main hall. After cautiously moving past a few seats in the darkened hall, Gahmah and Grein sensed a shot of compressed air coming their way. They dodged just as the shot exploded into a concussive blast.

Looking to see where the blast came from, they saw a large humanoid figure armored from head-to-toe with a face-wide visor and armed with not only a concussion rifle, but a repeating blaster and some other equipment characteristic of a bounty hunter.

The monster of a man replied with an inhuman growl reverberating from his abdomen.

“Hello, Gestroma.” Gahmah greeted him as he drew out his blaster pistols. “Nice new set of armor you got there.”

“So he survived the destruction of his lab. Be cautious, Gahmah.” Grein warned him. “There’s something wrong here. Last I heard from Zolph and Hiriss, Gestroma was an independent Forceless herald building his own collective. If that’s the case, I find it strange that he’d be wearing armor of Valkoran design after his life’s work was destroyed. Unless, Valkor had him possessed by one of his symbiotes and assimilated him into his collective.”

Gestroma then switched his concussion rifle for his repeater and tried to gun down Gahmah since he didn’t have a lightsaber to deflect the shots with.

“This bastard’s just here to stall us. You continue after Masochus.” Gahmah ordered Grein.

“But what if…?

“Masochus may be one of the absolute worst people in the galaxy, but he hasn’t personally hurt me as he’s hurt you. This is your fight.” After firing a few shots at Gestroma, Gahmah continued. “And if he tries to push your buttons again, remember that his are far more trivial than yours, so you have an advantage over him. He’s just one of the worst of a culture of sociopathic spoiled brats, after all.”

“Very well, Gahmah. And thank you for your help. May the Force be with you.”

Grein then made her way deeper into the cathedral while the two bounty hunters dueled.

“Good luck, Grein.” Gahmah then turned his attention back to Gestroma. “As for you, you’re stuck with me, and I’m going to finish what Zolph and Hiriss started.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile in the Imperial Palace, Zolph and Maesterus – the latter now having his wing flaps regenerated - had finally made it near the top of the tower and an active turbolift connecting to the throne room.

“Well, the throne room is just ahead.” Maesterus told Zolph.

“It’s about time. I was beginning to think this tower extended all the way up into the stratosphere.”

“So now you can stop asking me if we’re there yet.”

However, they had one last obstacle before coming face-to-face with the Emperor himself: two of the strange guards Zolph saw on Christophsis, who quickly unsheathed their swords as soon they noticed the intruders.

“What are these guys, anyway?” Zolph asked Maesterus.

“Aside from Valkor’s equivalent of the Black Guard, they’re not a species from this galaxy.”

The two Force-users clashed swords with the Forceless guards, who put up slightly more of a challenge than the Black Guard did with Zolph. After a minute of traditional sword-fighting, they shifted their sword arms into whip-like tentacles to flail their blades and emitted a blinding flash from their x-shaped visors. However, the temporary blindness was only a minor nuisance, as Zolph and Maesterus could still sense them and quickly cut them down.

After recovering their eyesight, Zolph and Maesterus entered the turbolift to the throne room.

“No more obstacles.” Zolph said as the lift began its ascent.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Arriving in the throne room, Zolph and Maesterus were greeted to the sight of Valkor sitting on his throne with his clawed fingers crossed.

“So, did you enjoy the tour of palace?” Valkor asked Zolph chummily. “Although, I’m a bit disappointed that you skipped the base levels.” Valkor then extended a gray tongue out of one of his mask’s eyesockets to lick around the opening before retracting it back in.

“It was okay, if not a little tiring. Why did the architects have to make this place so damn big?” Zolph answered. “And can you please keep your tongue or tongues inside your mask? I’ve met depraved Chagrians who are more subtle than you.”

Valkor then turned to Maesterus. “As for you, Maesterus, how did you enjoy taking the stairs for the first time in nearly four-thousand years? I’m sure you noticed a few things have changed since the first time you scaled this tower.”

“Why are you so amiable all of a sudden, Valkor?” Maesterus asked suspiciously.

“You must be a bit exhausted after the tour, so why don’t you take a moment to rest. While you were busy killing my staff, both the Galactic Alliance and your little band of mutineers caught my other loyal subjects off guard.”

Valkor then stood up from his throne and redirected his attention back to Zolph.

“I would like to ask you a question, Vaelor. Why aren’t you dead yet?”

Zolph responded with a bit of snark. “I’ll give you the same answer as everyone else who has asked me that: I’m just hard to kill.”

“No, Vaelor. I’m asking how after all I’ve put you through, you still haven’t lost the will to keep living.”

Zolph then clenched his fists in anger. “What!”

“First, I order the death of you and your parents, but you survived that attempt on your life thanks to a miracle on Maesterus’s part and went on to become a Jedi anyway. Then, I ordered Masochus to have Dynn Manthis given an arm created from my blood, ultimately forcing you into a situation where either you’d kill her or let her kill you. Even in the aftermath of that traumatic experience and constantly being led into scenarios that made you relive that moment, you still didn’t give up. And even after I rendered you completely helpless while I tried to kill another one of your closest allies and ordered the destruction of an entire planet around you, you persevered.”

“So you did all that… just so you could break me and have me commit suicide!?”

“It’s worked before in my earlier galactic conquests, and you’re one of the few who have managed to resist it. You should be proud of yourself for lasting this long.”

“You tried to destroy my life… just because you saw me as one of the biggest threats to your plans for universal conquest!”

Maesterus then tried to calm Zolph down. “Do not give into his taunts, Zolph. Not only do you risk fueling the Dark Side, you will become unbalanced in the fight ahead. He might not be a Force user, but he knows about our combat tactics and weaknesses.”

“Yes, Maesty.” Valkor sarcastically responded. “Lecture him on the dangers of the Dark Side of the Force. Surely he hasn’t gotten tired of hearing about it from Skywalker, your wife and the rest of the Order.”

Zolph calmed down only slightly. “Admittedly, it does get a little tiring, but I keep getting reminded for good reasons, and it’s kept me from falling so far. And some of your more idiotic lackeys like Belluzub made the mistake of trying to tell me to give in. You may be attempting to unbalance me, but at least you don’t try to make promises about the lure of the Dark Side. But what led you to consider me a threat in the first place?”

“Some years before your war with the Yuuzhan Vong, a prophet told me that one of Maesterus’s descendants would pose a threat on the merits of being immune to possession by what you and Ze’grein’aradi call Forceless. Truth is, I knew Maesterus allowed her to desert from the Valkoran Empire in secret even before I gave him some of my blood, but I just let him and the rest of the Empire believe I didn’t know. And knowing my previous cult in this galaxy, I couldn’t even trust a compulsive backstabber like Masochus with this information. I just didn’t realize my appointed cult leader was already developing a weaker form of that immunity until it was too late.”

Maesterus came to conclusion. “So that’s why I found you sealed in this throne room. The Rakata predicted that – following some incidents with the Archfiends that they were able to summon - you would try to dispose of them once you and the rest of them were summoned over here. Yet, your emptiness in the Force still called out to me like a homing beacon when I first came to this system by chance.”

“Admittedly, a few stupid decisions in my time guiding the Infinite Empire have led me to be more careful with this Empire.” Valkor then looked to Zolph. “But since you’ve been such a pain to deal with, I couldn’t resist the urge to… give into some of my more personal pleasures. Even after I tried to minimize the amount of damage I did following Christophsis, I still lost half of my cult.”

“It can take one bad decision to shake one’s faith. But I think we’ve rested enough.” Zolph responded before he and Maesterus drew their lightsabers. “You know why we’ve come here, Valkor.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Valkor asked. “Last time, I squeezed on your heart, put you on the brink of death and had you hospitalized.”

“I made the mistake of underestimating you last time. And now, I know what you’re capable of.”

Maesterus commented as well. “And he’s got my support this time.”

“Very well.” Valkor then readied his claws. “If you two are eager to throw your lives away, so be it.”

Zolph proceeded to fake Valkor out by quickly taking his right hand off of his lightsaber, drawing his blaster pistol and firing into one of the Emperor’s eye sockets, leaving a temporary burn inside that regenerated shortly.

Valkor then leaped surprisingly high into the air and lunged at Zolph, quickly swiping the blaster away from his hand and tearing up some of the sleeve on his right arm. Zolph was lucky to have that arm be mechanical in this situation, as he would have lost his original arm a lot later and at a more inconvenient time.

Maesterus tried to attack Valkor from behind, but he quickly turned around and grabbed the lightsaber blade with his right claw. Zolph tried to get the drop on him too, but Valkor grabbed his blade with his left claw. While locking blades, Valkor had two puddles of Black Matter slither over from under his feet to his foes.

Knowing what was about to happen, Zolph and Maesterus jumped and flew away from Valkor respectively just as two spike traps emerged from the puddles.

Maesterus retaliated by firing four palm spikes from above, but Valkor simply erected a Black Matter barrier from one of the spike traps to absorb them and then fire them back at Maesterus, who simply deflected them. While he was preoccupied with his own spikes, Valkor turned the other spike trap into a tentacle, lashed at Maesterus’s leg and slammed him into the throne room walls, knocking him out.

Zolph tried to get the drop on Valkor again, but he saw another Black Matter puddle beneath his feet, this time turning into a giant tooth-filled mouth similar to the one Valkor tried to eat General Choi with. As Zolph jumped up into the air to barely avoid being eaten, he looked down to notice that inside of the mouth looked incredibly deep despite the fact there is a solid floor beneath the puddle it generated from. Zolph readied a thermal detonator and threw it into the mouth at just the right time so it would explode in the mouth itself and not whatever physically improbable stomach it had in its much larger interior. To his surprise, the detonation destroyed the entirety of the puddle while still revealing a solid floor beneath it.

“And I thought I had seen everything…” Zolph told himself just after landing on the floor.

“And you never will have…” Valkor said to him just before lashing a small Black Matter eel from one of his eye sockets. The serpent’s head grew a bit larger and bit around Zolph’s body, binding him in a way that would keep even his mechanical arm from getting him free.

“Did you really think I had shown off everything I was capable of? Even what I just showed you now is a small sample.” Valkor taunted Zolph while sinking his teeth into his arm. “If it’s any consolation, I’m not going to bother torturing you this time and kill you right now, and that traitor will soon follow, as well the rest of your allies should they not be possessed.”

While Valkor was taunting and gripping him, Zolph watched Maesterus – who had just recovered from his earlier knock-out - sneak up on Valkor from behind. Valkor realized the ambush too late just as he was bisected down from his left shoulder to his waist, causing the Black Matter serpent gripping Zolph to dematerialize.

“Thank you, Sef.” Zolph complimented Maesterus.

“We’re not finished yet.” Maesterus said as he pointed to Valkor’s upper half lying on the floor, which was still moving.

Valkor let out a slightly angered grunt. “He’s right. It’s not over yet.”

“Give it up, Valkor.” Zolph told the Emperor. “You’re on the brink of death and you’re outnumbered. You’re empire has come to an end. You’ve lost.”

Valkor then let out a slight chuckle that gradually turned into deranged laughter.

“What’s so funny?”

“On the brink of death? Surely you've concluded that this body is only a shell by which I can present a more comfortable image to influence my followers by.”

Suddenly, several gallons of Black Matter flooded out of both halves of Valkor’s robotic body – more than what that body could possibly hold - , creating a hideous blob-like monster covered in multiple Forceless eyes, limbs and mouths that didn’t consistently lead anywhere in his body, with the upper half of the shell still attached and active.

“Shavit.” Zolph uttered.

“And you say I’m outnumbered? The Valkoran Empire may be half as big as it used to, but I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about the rest of my army?!”

Zolph then activated his comlink to Admiral Cephal while Maesterus contacted Gravlek.

“Vaelor to Admiral Cephal.”

“Commander Vaelor.” Cephal replied. “It’s good to hear your voice and to know that you’re still alive. Whatever you have to say, I’m patching it through to everyone else.”

“Be on the lookout for anything coming out of hyperspace. We’ve got enemy reinforcements coming, and they’re not a part of the Valkoran military.”

“We’re not picking up anything ready to drop out of hyper-…. Wait a second! We’re picking up… some wormholes… and some creatures that vaguely resemble starships are coming out of them!”

“That’s the same group I encountered on Sleheyron. We’re now up against the Forceless Collective army. The Valkoran were just a proxy cult. But don’t let your guard down. Even their space combat tactics involve possession.”
Paranormalities: Episode II - Ch.16 War's End
I would highly recommend that you read this chapter at your own leisure. It's the longest chapter I've written by far (though it could be topped later).

Episode I
gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…

Episode II directory
Prologue: Raid gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 1: War Hero gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 2: Guilt gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 3: Remorse gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 4: The Damaged gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 5: Resolve gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 6: Sky Battle gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 7: The Return gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 8: The Enforcer gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 9: Lab Rat gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 10: Defector gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 11: Deranged gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…
Ch. 12: The Messenger gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 13: The Weapon gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 14: Facade gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 15: Ancestor gahmahraan.deviantart.com/#/ar…
Ch. 16: War's End - You are here
Ch. 17: Abomination
Epilogue: Compromise
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Ch. 16 of Paranormalities: Episode II is almost finished. Have been sidetracked by a few things.

And yes, I'm enjoying what the new Star Wars canon has been giving us thus far. A New Dawn was a good read (and I plan to create a concept sketch for Count Vidian) and Rebels has proven pretty good so far.
After a few hours of hyperspace travel in a Z-95 Headhunter, Zolph entered the Lehon system and was introduced to the sight of the largest Valkoran fleet he has ever seen, all ships repainted to have the Valkoran flag symbol blotted out to separate them from those still loyal to Valkor. This fleet included the Doomsayer, Maesterus’s personal flagship and the largest ship in the fleet. Thankfully, this also meant that the Alliance wouldn’t have to be fighting this Whaladon-of-a-ship in the battle ahead.

Not long after getting a good view of the fleet, a squadron of Firaxa fighters prowled around him like the sharks they were named after before sending him a communications transmission.

“You have entered Valkoran Separatist space. Identify yourself or we will open fire.”

The Z-95 he was flying was a massive downgrade from the Manthis and wouldn’t survive in a fight against Firaxas, but he didn’t come here to pick a fight with them anyway, so he complied and responded back.

“This is Zolph Vaelor of the Jedi Order and Galactic Alliance. Maesterus told me about the fleet gathering in this system.”

“Commander Vaelor, you have been cleared for entry. Please proceed to Hangar 6 on the command ship, Doomsayer. We look forward to working with you.”

This was an unusual turn of events for Zolph. The last time he was on the Doomsayer, he and Besh Squad were infiltrators stealing intelligence. Now, almost a year later, he’s a guest.

____________________________________________________________________________________________


After setting down in Hangar 6, Zolph was greeted by a contingent of Valkoran troopers and Skakoan commandos led by Lieutenant Will Helms. He was initially put on guard by the Skakoans because of his past experiences fighting with them.

“Calm down, Vaelor. They’re not here to blow you or me up this time. If their history is anything to go by, what Valkor did on Christophsis reminded them too much of that other Empire that enslaved their people back then.” Helms said to Vaelor.

One of the Skakoans spoke to Zolph as well. “Actually, only a minority of us are mad suicide bombers. Besides, we’re mercenaries. We are paid to fight, not kill ourselves.”

“Touché.” Zolph responded before turning his attention back to Helms. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re on our side, Helms, and not just because of your quirk.”

“Same here. Anyway, Admiral Gravlek is waiting for you.” Helms then gave an order to one of the soldiers accompanying him. “Varson. Please escort our guest to the command bridge.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ve been here before.” Zolph answered nervously.

“I insist. This is only the second time you’ve been here, and this is a really big ship.”

“Very well, then.” Zolph complied reluctantly before following Private Varson.

______________________________________________________________________________________________


As Zolph followed Varson to the bridge tram, Zolph noticed a few familiar faces along the way. One of them was General Colm Varek, the Fortress Tank commander he almost killed during his psychotic episode on Krantisi, and Zolph gave him an apologetic glance for that incident as he passed by. Another face was Doctor Cham Beneska, the Twi’lek medic who helped him recover after almost being killed by his first hallucination of Dynn on Dagobah.

Once they made it to the tram and took off, Varson briefly took off his helmet - revealing himself to be a bald human male with a thin mustache – and spoke to Zolph.

“So what has you worried about the Admiral?”

“You know what happened to his eyes? I kinda did that.” Zolph answered.

“And you think he wants to kill you for that?  He doesn’t hold grudges for injuries.”

“Oh yeah.” Zolph then remembered that Gravlek didn’t give any fuss for being left to die during the Battle of Ithor.

“Also, I’d like to say thanks for what you did on Christophsis. If you hadn’t talked me out of pulling the trigger on myself, I wouldn’t even be helping this movement.”

“It’s no problem at all. I just don’t like people going through the same despair I may still be going through after being forced to kill Dynn.”

“Wait, were you and Commander Manthis…?”

“Yep.” Zolph answered Varson before he could finish asking. “And we might still be even after her death if the last few months are anything to go by.”

“I think you should see a therapist.”

“I already have, and believe me, I’ve met far more messed up people.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________


Later, Zolph and Varson made it to the spacious crate-filled sections of the bridge module, a part of the ship he remembered all too well.

“Oh, I remember this place. Fun times.” Zolph said sarcastically before asking Varson. “So, what’s in these crates anyway?”

“Absolutely nothing.” An energetic, high-pitched female voice said to him from inside one of the crates. “These sections are actually a makeshift training course.”

“Well, that would explain why it is big enough to be chased by a rancor through.” Zolph then came to a realization before looking at Varson. “Wait a sec. If that wasn’t your voice, then…. Oh no. Sweet Force, no!”

One of the crates next to Zolph suddenly busted open and he was tackled and pinned down by Neur.

“Hiya, Zolph.” Neur greeted Zolph.

“Why were you in that crate?” Zolph asked with a confused and annoyed tone.

“I was… playing hide-and-seek with Machinus.”

Zolph wasn’t convinced. “You’re actually stalking me, aren’t you?” For him, it was the early days with Maesterus all over again, except the stalker in question was clinically insane and apparently had a bit of an unhealthy crush on him.

“No, really. I actually am playing hide-and-seek. And that reminds me, I need to get moving before…” Neur then heard the sound of Machinus’s mechanical joints sneaking up on her from behind. "Machinus figures out where I am.” She then glanced behind her shoulder. “Okay, you got me, Cid.”

“I told you that I could find you even without my x-ray scanners. Anyway, Neur, would you please get off of Zolph and let him up? You’re making him feel uncomfortable and he needs to see the Admiral.”

“Okay!” Neur then got her feet and apologized to Zolph as he did the same. “Sorry about that. You should have said something.”

Zolph then spoke Machinus. “Thanks. Anyway, nice you two are our side as well. Valkor’s not only lost half his army, but also one of his best scientists.”

“After he set up some of my colleagues deaths in his decoy superweapon scheme, there’s no way in hell I’d be inventing any more stuff for him, and I don’t want him or Masochus laying any or their ugly fingers on Neur. Even droids with artificial consciousness can have more empathy than those two. Was there really any doubt I’d join this rebellion? Unfortunately, Valkor’s loyalists still have access to some of the factories.”

“What about Neur? Did she join by choice? I wouldn’t want to think you just dragged her along with you out of some obsessive paternal instinct or that she only joined because you joined.”

Neur then answered Zolph in a tone that was uncharacteristically serious for her. “You’re right. I’d follow Cid no matter where he went, but that’s not the only reason. I’d never side with a man who kills planets to torture people, and Masochus reminds me too much of my so-called ‘sisters’. Real family wouldn’t forcefully cut parts of your head off just because they look out of place, constantly practice hexes on you and treat you like dirt.”

“You sound serious for once.” Zolph responded.

“Do you really think I’m cheerful and innocently clueless all the time? You’ve seen what I’m like when my lekku stop working. These things were designed to restore my higher thought processes, but all I did was act like a child in a grown-up body. When you’ve been denied a proper childhood, you sometimes try really hard to reclaim it.”

“I knew your personality had something to do with your childhood lobotomy, but I didn’t realize…”

“In short, it was all just an act, and I’m sorry if I came off as an insensitive stalker. I’ve had all the days before the war to be something I was denied from being, and I never really got a full picture of this galaxy and this war’s true nature until Christophsis. And now, you’ve given me a wake-up call.”

“You’re welcome.”

Neur then pointed Zolph towards the door leading to the bridge.

“You shouldn’t keep Gravlek waiting.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________


Varson and Zolph eventually made it to the bridge. With his back turned towards them and looking out the viewport, the cyborg Admiral Marx Gravlek turned around and looked at them with his somewhat-menacing glowing red mechanical eyes, surrounded by some burned skin tissue.

“Welcome back to the Doomsayer, Zolph Vaelor.” Gravlek greeted Zolph.

Zolph nervously replied back. “Uh…long time no see, Admiral Gravlek. Nice eyes you got there.”

The admiral sighed with annoyance before pressing a tiny switch on the side of his head casing that changed the glow from his eye implants to yellow instead of red. “Is this better?”

“It’s passable.” Zolph answered. “And no hard feelings about the last time we met, right?”

“My eyes glitch sometimes, but other than that, none. Besides, if we fought a third time, I’d probably be more machine than man than I am already.” He then looked to Varson. “Private, you may report back to your squad.”

“Yes sir.” Varson responded before leaving the bridge.

Gravlek then turned his attention back to Zolph. “Anyway, you seem a bit disappointed.”

Zolph answered honestly. “Yeah, I was hoping to meet with Seferin again.”

Zolph also thought about the irony of his statement. Before he knew who Maesterus was under the helmet, he was not only trying to avoid him like the plague, he also hated him. Now, he wished to know him more.

“Maesterus is away and making preparations for the battle ahead at the moment. He also has to worry about Valkor knowing everything he sees.”

“Right.” Zolph acknowledged. “Wouldn’t want to give that freak any ideas on how to further sabotage us, and he more than likely already knows about this gathering here.”

“We don’t need to worry about him sending his supporters to destroy us right away. It would take all of them to evenly match us, and that would leave Ockla Prime an even easier target for the Alliance than it is already.

But if you do want to meet with Maesterus, he should be returning soon.”

“Good. I have a lot of questions for him. Any other supporters I should know about? I already know Neur and Machinus are with us.”

“Arcidus is with us, and so are Juganak and Armogeist. Masochus is still on Valkor’s side, and we wouldn’t let him join us even if he begged on his knees. Gestroma is also part of the ground force.”

Zolph was surprised when he heard that name. “Wait a second. Hiriss and I threw him into a chemical vat and blew him up on Nelvaan. Are you saying he’s still alive?”

“Obviously. The only difference is that he’s now working for free.”

“I’m guessing Valkor assimilated him, because last time we met, he was a Forceless herald trying to create his own army.”

“You don’t say? Then don’t be surprised he survived the things that happened to him. You already know how resilient Maesterus is, after all.”

“Yeah, but not all of them are that resilient.” Zolph then changed the subject. “So, what do you plan to do once Valkor’s finished?”

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead.” Gravlek answered. “We’re already war criminals, so I don’t see a bright future for this Valkoran splinter faction. We’ve been involved in piracy, terrorism and genocide among other things before and during the war. We’ll most likely be tried and imprisoned, or worse.”

“But wasn’t Valkor the one ordering you to do all that?”

“You don’t get the full picture. Yes, he did order the attack that killed your parents six years ago, but we could have chosen to defy him.”

“But that wouldn’t have done you any good seeing as what he’s capable of.”

“However, Valkor wasn’t planning to carry out a galactic scale war so soon, so it actually was Maesterus who started the Valkoran War by carrying out the attacks on Ithor and the Jedi academy. And he’s aware of the damage he’s caused in the process of alerting the galaxy to the threat Valkor poses, even if he’s tried to minimize it in the process.”

“But why wait five years?”

“The Yuuzhan Vong invasion happened not long after the attack over Yavin IV, and that war was already catastrophic enough as it was, though not as catastrophic as legends make it out to be. We kept the Vong out of most of our territory, but we didn’t want to get caught in a three-way war with the Republic and the Vong. And we needed a credible excuse for going to war with the Alliance that wasn’t galactic conquest.”

“And what excuse was that?”

“The New Republic was economically efficient, but lacking in military strength. The Galactic Alliance had the manpower to fight the Yuuzhan Vong without relying on impractical superweapons, but they weren’t really in the position to be rebuilding planets so soon after the war without starting an economic crisis. After all, the Vong did destroy some of the Banking Clan’s power bases – including the one on Muunilinst - and they only have a few bases left such as the Vault on Scipio.”

“I’m not an expert on galactic economics, but I see one problem with that excuse. Sabotaging a planetary restoration project when it’s already started only ensures that the money was spent on it for nothing.”

“But it would have wasted more money had it continued and succeeded, and even more planets followed suit.”

“And where do you get the resources for your army if you claim our galaxy is a state of economic collapse?”

“The worlds the Valkoran Empire controlled were rich with resources and didn’t already have claims on them by other entrepreneurs. We thought the Alliance was a corrupt and broken system and we could have done a better job at rebuilding the galaxy. That was partially true, but you then learned we were primarily a cult that worshipped another would-be galactic conqueror, and now, we want to get out of that cult.”

Zolph then reassured the Admiral. “I wouldn’t worry too much about your fate. If you help us out in the attack on Ockla Prime, you’ll most likely get a lighter sentence than imprisonment, or better yet, receive amnesty for your actions under Valkor’s service.”

“That would be pretty nice. When does the Alliance plan to attack?”

“In about a week. But I have suggestion: Don’t tell Maesterus about the attack until then, and don’t even let him know you’re withholding that information.”

“I understand.”

The door to the command bridge then opened and Maesterus walked in with his wings folded down.

“Welcome back, my lord.” Gravlek greeted Maesterus. “The guest you admitted came while you were out.”

“Thank you for keeping him company, Admiral Gravlek. You may continue overseeing fleet preparations in my stead.” He then addressed Zolph. “Come with me, Zolph. We have much to discuss and our own non-military preparations to make.”

Zolph then followed Maesterus off of the bridge.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


As Zolph and Maesterus made their way back to the rest of the Doomsayer, Zolph skimmed over what he just discussed with Admiral Gravlek before Maesterus showed up. Once they boarded one of the trams, Maesterus removed his helmet and revealed his face to Zolph for the first time since Krantisi. Seferin’s appearance was still somewhat unsettling due to the glowing red Forceless eyes and unnaturally blackened skin for humans of any anthropology, but unlike most Forceless hosts, his face at least still translated as being human and a relative of Zolph’s. Zolph then took the opportunity to ask his ancestor some more personal questions.

“When did Valkor give you your symbiote? Before or after Mr. and Mrs. Sarlacc fused together?”

“Stop.” Seferin answered not wanting to go into too much detail or even think about it.

“Judging by Belluzub and Facadma’s kids, Forceless symbiosis seems to be inheritable. I’m just wondering if the gradually strengthening immunity in our bloodline is a result of…”

“Okay, I got it after Grein left. Valkor ‘rewarded’ me with it in exchange for selling my life to him. And unlike some of my longtime acquaintances, I didn’t get the luxury of sleeping through millennia of isolation from the rest of the galaxy, and I had to live with the regret of never meeting my first child. Juganak and Arcidus were people I could count upon and teach, and they were of sound mind, but still as mortal as other members of their respective species. The only consistent companions I had were Machinus and Armogeist since their conscious lives were preserved at the cost of their original bodies, but it also took a toll on their mental health. Machinus was well-meaning, but he had a slight disdain for most organics due to common Plaristean ideology from our day. I could sympathize with Armogeist and the abuse he suffered from Masochus, but he was still influenced by the teachings of the Sith, just to a lesser extent.”

That may explain why he threatened to stop us from progressing into the temple on Krishar  with violence when we could have just teamed up to take down Xixixix. Well-intentioned, but not exactly rational. People who aren’t Force sensitive sometimes like to romanticize Dark Force users, but really, all it does is make them broody, insane, stupid or any combination of those. Zolph thought to himself.

Seferin continued. “It wasn’t until Valkor sent me to kill you and your parents that I was reminded of who I really was. And you know the rest from there. Again, I am sorry for some of the pain I put you through.”

“And again, it’s not really your fault. The immunity wasn’t as strong as it is now.” Zolph then prepared to ask another question just as the tram made it to its destination and Seferin put his helmet back on to hide his face from the lower-ranking Valkoran soldiers, even though most of them already knew he was a Forceless due to the wings coming out of his back and the abilities he’s displayed on the battlefield. “I don’t really have a defined homeworld or nationality, seeing as my mom and dad were always going from place to place after the Galactic Civil War, and we humans have multiple homeworlds. I currently live on Ossus, but that’s where most Jedi live and that doesn’t count for much.”

“What planet were you born on?” Maesterus asked as they disembarked.

“My birth certificate said I was born on Coruscant, and my family did live there for some time before we started living on other planets for only a few months at a time. My mother was of Alderaanian descent, but I want to know what planet your side of the family tree originated from.”

“My birth family was from Corellia if that helps.”

Zolph then thought about the irony of his lineage. One of his ancestors was a Corellian, but he was inept at flying their freighters, or at least the ones with asymmetrically-placed cockpits. It was an interesting design aesthetic, but it was impractical to him.

“I heard you were worried about letting Valkor know of our plan by openly speaking with me, yet why are you doing it now?”

“I never got the chance to be a good father, and right now, you’re the closest thing I’ve got to a son aside from Aiken.”

“But why now of all times?”

“I’m not quite certain if I’ll survive the battle ahead, and like the Admiral said, even if I do, I don’t think I’d be able to get that second chance.”

“Even at the risk of giving Valkor more ammunition against us. But like I told the Admiral, I think we can work out an amnesty plan.”

“Even if the Valkoran Separatist movement in general is given amnesty, I doubt that I will get off as easy seeing how I started this war and was the public face of the Empire during the first year of the war.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________


A few minutes later, Zolph and Maesterus arrived in what was officially designated as a training ground. They witnessed Juganak and Armogeist – or if they’re being called by their real names, Argem Nylek and Balos Oiren respectively - sparring, both large men clashing suitably large lightsabers and the Force. They were using almost everything at their disposal. Juganak used his superhuman strength and Armogeist used his large, lightsaber-resistant shield.

Armogeist repeatedly jabbed his cyan-bladed lightpike at Juga, but the dark-skinned Miraluka dodged or blocked every blow from the animated suit of armor. Juga then gave Armogeist some advice as he played defensively.

“Remember, Balos. There is no pecking order of weapons, and even the so-called ‘ultimate warriors’ have a fatal weakness. What is the best weapon depends on the situation. For example, modern-day Mandalorians love to boast about having armor that resists lightsabers, but it isn’t as protective as they think. Not only can the alloy be worn down with enough force, there are still weakpoints in the armor so as to allow the wearer movement. A few even make the decision to not be fully armored so as to allow better freedom of movement.”

“That and a lot of them think too highly of themselves. They even act like they can kill Jedi by the dozen in a minute when they’re really just as mortal as any other soldier.” Armogeist answered as he blocked a few blows from Juganak’s lightsaber ‘club’ with his shield. “But don’t the Mandos have a rule saying they’re all required to wear full body armor?”

“They actually do not. Whichever one of them said that, I can only describe with one word: pretentious. For all their talk of individualism, that’s pretty hypocritical. If they really did want to be individualized, they wouldn’t act like it’s the end of the galaxy every time one of them goes against their social norms. That’s asking to be stereotyped as trigger-happy religious crusaders, in case going to war with the entire galaxy just because they want to fight wasn’t enough of a stereotype.” While Juga was answering, he Force-pulled a large training box towards Armogeist’s back. Armogeist quickly turned his left arm backward to block the box with his shield, but while he was distracted, Juga batted Armogeist’s lightpike out of his right hand.

“You must be alert to everything around you.” Juga told him.

Armogeist suddenly snapped and fired a stream of Force lightning from his right hand, but Juga effortlessly blocked it with his lightsaber before Armogeist stopped and realized what he did.

“My apologies, Master Nylek. It appears that I let my anger get the better of me again.”

“I understand your frustration, Balos. Now that we’re enemies of Emperor Valkor, you now have the opportunity for revenge against Masochus, and you have the longest history with him out of all of us.”

“I won’t lie, Master. I despise Masochus more than the Sith tried to get me to despise the Jedi. He not only robbed me of my flesh and blood and denied me death, he also forced me to skin my own parents alive among other things. And that’s just getting into the things he’s done while he was a Sith Lord. He got away with things just as horrific while under Valkor’s claws. For instance - and this happened while you were in cryostasis - he had a pregnant woman slowly melted down in a vat of acid just because she called the ancient Sith homeworld by a new name.”

“You have a lot of right to want him dead, but if you wish to overcome the Dark Side, you must learn not to revel in his death if you are the one to kill him.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You are a Jedi, and I am a Sith. The way we control our emotions was drilled into us at early ages.”

“Past tense, Balos. I left the Jedi Order because I didn’t entirely agree with it. The Council members could make wise decisions independently, but they were at their least efficient when deciding collectively. And you are no longer a Sith, even if the taint of the Dark Side is still within you. Not every person who was raised as a Jedi stays with the light, and not every Sith stays consumed by darkness.”

“I think Masochus has been a lost cause since the day he was born. I don’t just want him to die. I need him to die. Not just out of a desire for justice, but so he doesn’t inflict any more suffering.”

“You’re on the right track, and you’re doing a much better job of it than a long time ago, but you still need to keep your lust for vengeance in control. Then again, I didn’t necessarily think of myself as a model Jedi despite sitting on the Council. And like the rest of us, I found myself in the employ of another petty tyrant when it seemed we were in the process of creating the perfect society. As we all learned, a perfect society is unrealistic, and there will always be a few bad eggs in there.”

“For all your self-deprecation, I will say that you are the least messed up out of all the Valkoran leadership. You’re the only one of us without a traumatic past and keeps their emotions in check. I was apprenticed to the most monstrous Sith Lord of my time and lost my body, Maesterus got banished from the Jedi Order for being romantically involved with Grein and fighting in the Mandalorian Wars, Grein was a victim of racial persecution and forced to abandon her sister for thousands of years, Machinus lost his body and was subject to anti-droid discrimination, Arcidus accidentally killed his own parents when he was young and had a very sheltered life in the Jedi Order, Neur was brain-damaged and spat upon by her own people, and Emilin was possessed by an Archfiend for thousands of years. I can’t see anything having gone wrong with your life.”

“If you can call slightly regretting being Maesterus’s master and serving an abomination in the Force non-traumatic, then yes. And no, being blind since birth doesn’t count since it is normal for my species and I have the Force to see for me.”

Maesterus then interrupted and addressed Juganak. “All you did was teach me the good parts about being a Jedi, Argem. You can’t take the blame for everything Valkor’s done. And don’t even say that last part to the Kur’Ada remnants.”

“Welcome back, Seferin. And I sense that you brought Zolph as well.”

Zolph responded in turn. “Hello again, Juganak and Armogeist. Thank you for noticing us and greeting us. And the Kur’Ada are on your side again?”

Maesterus then answered Zolph. “We secretly helped what’s left of them escape total annihilation after Valkor ate their leader and ordered the destruction of their enclave on Alpheridies. And don’t worry, they’ve given up their crusade against Force sensitives.”

“Since when?”

“Since they’ve learned to reconnect with the Force despite their impairment and that all life is connected to it regardless of whether they can call upon it or not.”

“So they’ve acknowledged their hypocrisy and quit. And now, we have some more Force sensitive allies.”

“One of the only ways that could go wrong is that they’ve been learning to use the Force for only a few months now, and considering most of them have a vendetta against Valkor, they could potentially tap into the Dark Side.”

“Well, we can’t have an army of brooding psychopaths.” Zolph then looked at Armogeist. “No offense. I’m just saying that based on my personal experience with it.”

“None taken.” Armogeist answered.

Juganak then got them back on track. “So what brings you two down here?”

Maesterus answered. “We’re here for… a different type of training. I would recommend that you and Balos leave this area for an hour or two. Things could get pretty rough.”

Juganak then complied. “As you wish, my lord.” Juganak and Armogeist then exited the training ground.

Zolph then questioned Maesterus. “If this is combat training, I don’t think that’s entirely necessary. After all, I just recently killed one of Valkor’s most powerful Archfiends.”

“But we don’t know how much more powerful Valkor is compared to them. And this isn’t combat training, by the way.”

Maesterus then pulled out a syringe from under his cape, and this syringe had some Black Matter inside it.

Zolph then asked him with concern. “Why do you even bother wearing cape anymore? Wouldn’t that get in the way of the wings? But more importantly, where did you get that Black Matter from?”

“Myself, of course.”

“So you’re going to inject me with your own blood?” Zolph then got defensive seeing as he knew what was coming up. “No! No way! That’s way too dangerous! The last two times that happened, I became a homicidal lunatic!”

“Zolph, if things get really serious in the upcoming battle, this may be our only way to defeat Valkor. What I need you to do is control your emotions. Those last two times you were injected with it, you were in an intense state of emotion, and said emotions only got amplified by the Force-channeling.”

Zolph then reluctantly complied. “Okay, then. I’ll try to do better this time. It’s not like there’s anyone around to tick me off this time.” Zolph then took the syringe from Maesterus and injected the Black Matter into his left arm.

Like the last two times he got Black Matter into his blood, he transformed, but unfortunately, the results were the same. He still resembled a Forceless-like abomination and his rage was still amplified. At least there was no one to enact his bloodlust on this time.

“What the hell are we waiting around here for?!” Zolph yelled at Maesterus in a distorted voice. “Every minute we waste, that metal faced bastard continues to taint this galaxy with his existence!”

“We don’t want to attack Ockla Prime unprepared. Even after the Great Split, the Valkoran Empire still has enough forces to put up a fight. It also wouldn’t look good to have one of our champions be a rage-induced psychopath. Besides, I only gave you enough Black Matter to stay in that form for about a minute. And that minute’s almost up.”

Zolph then formed an aqua energy blade around his right arm and prepared to strike Maesterus. “You useless, treacherous mynock!”

Maesterus prepared to defend against the strike, but the minute promptly expired and Zolph reverted back to his human form.

Zolph then apologized for his outbursts. “Sorry about that, Seferin. Looks like I’ve still got a long ways to go.”

“Similar to Armogeist, you still desire revenge on Valkor, and I do, too. I know you already heard this lecture a hundred times, but if you want to tame this power of yours, you must not let your emotions control you.”

“Yeah, but the problem is every living thing has emotions. It’s impossible even for Jedi to be completely emotionless.”

“I’m not saying that you should completely purge yourself of all emotions, as that would make you only human in biology. If the Jedi didn’t have emotions, they wouldn’t even be able to show compassion or make wise decisions.”

“That’s true, and sometimes we make questionable decisions because we put our emotions behind us. But it isn’t easy to not hate Valkor after all he’s done. Not only did he try to kill me, he ordered the deaths of mom and dad, he forced me to kill Dynn, he had an entire planet annihilated while I was helpless to watch, and he tormented some other family members I barely knew until recently.”

“You’re not the first person he’s repeatedly tormented just to defeat them. And if we win, hopefully you’ll be the last. Until we’re ready to attack, we shall continue trying to tame this power.”

The door to the training grounds suddenly opened up, and Arcidus entered.

“I have returned, Master.” Arcidus then looked to Zolph. “And hello again, Vaelor.”

“Nice to see you too, Arc.” Zolph responded. “But this wouldn’t have been a good time to come in here.”

Arcidus then took off his mask. “And why wouldn’t that be?”

“We were experimenting with your surrogate father’s blood, which happens to be infected with the same stuff our enemy is made out of. Aside from it being a body-possessing parasite, it can turn me into a temperamental idiot that may shout ‘UNLIMITED POWAAAH!’ at the top of my lungs.”

“Riiiight.”

“So where were you anyway?”

“I’m getting to that.”

Maesterus then addressed Aiken. “So, what’s the situation on Ockla Prime?”

“They definitely know we and the Alliance are coming, and they most likely know I was spying on them.”

“And as usual, Valkor knows that I know that he knows.”

Zolph then asked Arcidus. “Why have they not killed you?”

“They’re probably setting up a trap.”

Maesterus then asked Zolph. “So when and how does the Alliance plan on attacking Ockla Prime?”

Zolph then answered. “That’s easy. I’m not telling you anything yet.”

“I see where you’re going.”

At this point, it was a game of who could out-predict the other.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile at the Valkoran capital on Ockla Prime, Masochus was summoned by Emperor Valkor to his throne room sitting atop the tallest building in the citadel.

“My Emperor,” Masochus addressed Valkor. “Maesterus’s pet has escaped and knows we’re preparing for them. Why didn’t you have him captured and devoured?”

“You don’t comprehend mercy? That hardly surprises me, Sith. I don’t carry out executions unless there’s a purpose behind it. And it’s a waste of resources.”

“But you’re the leader of the greatest army in the universe! You have the power to do anything you want! Why would you just wait?!”

“But it’s important that you not misuse this power. Where I come from, Masochus, there are Force cults similar to yours. The Dark Force cults wielded a lot of power, but they didn’t learn to control it properly. And some of their members are like you: ambitious and stupid. And some of the Sith-ruled Empires had this problem as well.”

Masochus then got nervous. “Whatever do you mean?”

Valkor then lashed a Black Matter out of one the slits on his mask and lifted Masochus by the throat. “I know your kind, Sith. I know about your ‘insert lightsaber in back to advance’ policy. And if there’s anything I don’t tolerate in my Empire, they are power-squabbling, loose cannons and sycophants.”

“But….but…!” Masochus stuttered as he gasped for air.

“I had a few followers who were like that before, and there are ways to keep them in check without having them completely possessed.” Valkor then placed a few inches of Black Matter onto one of Masochus’s perpetually unprotected eyeballs before it soaked into his body tissue. Valkor then dropped Masochus to the floor.

“What did you do?!” Masochus asked as he used the Force to levitate his skinless body back into position.

“You now have what I call a sleeper agent inside you. It doesn’t possess you immediately, but it won’t grant you any alterations immediately like it did for my other lieutenants. Do you remember that arm I had you graft onto Dynn Manthis? That was one of them. Attempt to betray me or usurp me, and I will make cessation of existence your second-most feared fate.”

Valkor pointed Masochus towards the turbolift.

“Now, resume the military preparations, but we cannot afford to waste any more subjects on your petty experiments. You can continue your experiments, but conserve the resources.”

“A-as you wish, my lord!”
Facadma - Force Vampire by GahmahRaan
Facadma - Force Vampire
From my ongoing Star Wars fanfic, Paranormalities. gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/… Specifically, from Episode II - Chapter 14.

And the last Archfiend now has her own character profile.

As for Chapter 15 of Paranormalities: Episode II, it's in progress.  I'm increasing Episode II by one chapter so I can develop the Valkoran a little more. After that, we'll be getting into the Battle of Ockla Prime.

Related Characters:
Mortaqa / Emilin gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…


Now the profile.


Subject: Facadma

Homeworld: Unknown (Summoning site: Chilades)
Species: Unknown (with mutations)
Gender: Female (self-reproducing)
Affiliation: Forceless Collective

Abilities: Facadma is not a natural Force user. Instead, her abilities are powered by the living Force, similar to magic used by the Nightsisters of Dathomir. However, this comes at the cost of the user's body, so instead, Facadma stockpiles the living Force by harvesting it from living beings to not only power her abilities, but nourish herself as well. If she possesses a natural Force user, she can harvest it on a planetary scale, even selecting specific targets.

However, combined with Forceless symbiosis, this has altered her anatomy. Her mouth and digestive system have atrophied from over use of feeding on the living Force, and these mutations carry over to her quickly-birthed offspring. Her larvae don't have the ability to feed on the Force at birth (but Forceless symbiotes can be reproduced through hosts), and end up living one-hour lifespans while Facadma herself is nigh-immortal. If her body grows too weak and she has too much of the living Force stockpiled, it will slowly rip her apart from the inside.

Personality: As Valkor's highest-ranking Archfiend, she is also one of the most sadistic. She doesn't only feed on the living Force to sustain and power herself; she also relishes it, and the living Force she stockpiles is sentient and stays trapped inside her until used. During the millenia she spent possessing the Chiss Jedi Ze'emilin'asana (Emilin), she physically and psychologically tormented her while she was consciously aware of the possession, not unlike typical Forceless symbiosis. Unlike her rival, Belluzub (another Force-sensitive Archfiend at her rank), she doesn't allow her sadism to overshadow her decision-making, but while she thinks it would benefit the Collective to get rid of him, Valkor doesn't tolerate in-fighting among them. And because her children live really short lifespans (and are born from eggs), she doesn't feel the need to care for them and uses them mostly as expendable attack drones.

Origins: What species Facadma is isn't exactly clear, and one of her most curious biological traits is the Forceless eye crystal that serves as her brain and her really hollow skull. She is only known as a Force Vampire.

Facadma is the oldest currently living Archfiend in the Forceless Collective, and she was one of the first (along with Xixixix) to be summoned during the during the reign of the Infinite Empire. As soon as she was summoned, she devoured the life Force of the Rakata priests who summoned her. This prompted the Rakata to abandon Chilades and strand her there for several millennia to feed on the planet's populace (albeit sparingly), made the Rakata suspicious of Emperor Valkor's intentions, betray him and seal him on Ockla Prime, and abort all in-progress Archfiend summoning rituals.

After the formation of the Valkoran Empire and Valkor's release, Facadma was retrieved from Chilades and her presence kept secret from the rest of the Empire. After she was caught snooping and figured out Valkor's true plans for the galaxy, Masochus captured Emilin and Valkor had her possessed by Facadma as a means of "making her disappear" without turning her into a martyr.
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Mortaqa / Emilin - character sheet by GahmahRaan
Mortaqa / Emilin - character sheet
From my currently on-going fanfic series, Star Wars: Paranormalities. gahmahraan.deviantart.com/art/…

And WARNING! LATER SERIES SPOILER ALERT!


Profile: Ze'emilin'asana
Codename: Mortaqa

Homeworld: Nar Shaddaa
Species: Chiss (endangered purple-eyed sub-species)
Gender: Female
Age: 3500+ years
Weapon: Lightsaber (formerly), Lightscythe
Affiliation: Old Jedi Order, Valkoran Empire, Forceless Collective (unconsentingly)

The younger sister of Ze'grein'aradi (or Grein as most call her), Emilin has been through many lifetimes' worth of pain and suffering.

She was born on Nar Shaddaa after her mother and sister fled from the Chiss homeworld of Csilla to escape a series of ethnic cleansing on accusations of 'witchcraft'. Eventually both she and her sister were discovered by the Jedi Order and accepted for training (although at the time, nobody knew what species they were).

Following the end of the Mandalorian Wars, she, Grein and several others followed Jedi Knight Seferin Vaelor - Grein's betrothed and later her husband - to the Unknown Regions planet Ockla Prime after he was exiled, met the enigmatic character Valkor and created an empire consisting of many people disillusioned with their own governments, whether from the Republic or the Sith Empire.

Unfortunately, the Valkoran Empire wouldn't be the utopia it seemed to be on the surface. After the clinically insane outcast Sith Lord Masochus came along with his emotionally tormented apprentice, Balos Oiren (who would later be known as Armogeist), Emperor Valkor's plans for galactic conquest via a group known as the Forceless Collective started to surface. She and Grein learned of this, but Emilin was caught by Masochus and Valkor while Grein was forced to flee. She was then possessed by the Forceless Archfiend, Facadma.

She was officially listed as having been killed in an accident, when truth, she spent centuries in isolation being physically and psychologically tortured by Valkor, Facadma and Masochus. In addition to being consciously aware of her possession and unable to speak out (even via telepathy), forms of torment included distorting her visual perception (by making her see the world through the perspective of a three-eyed mask), taunting her with the idea that her sister won't come back to save her and cutting her breasts off while she was still conscious. But none of these compared to Facadma combining her powers to make her harvest the living Force from creatures on a planetary scale every so often, as she was often forced to endure the torment of other beings denied the opportunity to become one with the Force.

She eventually got her release more than 3,500 years later near the end of the war between the Valkoran Empire and the Galactic Alliance, liberated from Facadma by her distant nephew, Zolph Vaelor (who was almost purely human due to the Chiss genes being thinned out from generations of human breeding) and working alongside her sister Grein, who cheated death and persevered through the regret of abandoning her just to see to it that she was eventually freed and the Forceless Collective defeated. Facadma's death at the hands of both Zolph and her brother-in-law, Seferin (AKA Maesterus) then followed after hers.
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:iconnumber9robotic: is working on his own collaborative freeware game, 101 Worlds, and he's had some trouble getting it attention. Details on the project can be found here. number9robotic.deviantart.com/…

You don't have to have any full experience in game design or programming skills to help with this project. All you need to do is come up with an idea for a puzzle, draw up a level layout and then email it to Robotic.
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GahmahRaan
Matt Mosher
Artist | Student | Digital Art
United States
Just some slightly insane art major.

Also a fanfic writer.
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:iconmoemoore:
Moemoore Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for watching!
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JoeHoganArt Featured By Owner May 18, 2014
Thanks so much for the watch!
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LadyIlona1984 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Welcome to #Star-Wars-Villains! :handshake:
May the force be with You. :)
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GeneralDodders Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2013
Hello there. I am sorry to bother you but I am trying to help spread around this petition to save the animated show Star Wars The Clone Wars. As you might have already heard, the show has been cancelled as of Disney's aquistion of the Star wars franchise. While I believe this is a long shot, people right now are trying to persuade disney not to cancel the show and allow them to continue creating everything they had originally planned. It is said that they had plans to take the show to an eight season if possible. For the sake of continuity in the Star Wars universe, as well as a good show, I ask you to sign the petition below to help save the Clone Wars. You don't have to sign up for any program or anything, just give them your name and zip code. If you do not care for the show or are not interested, I respect your opinion and apologize in advance for bothering you. Thank you for you time.

If you already signed the petition then I am sorry annoying you. If you could share the petition with your friends and other star wars fans, that would be great.

[link]

(Note: This is not my petition, I am merely helping the guy spread it around)
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:icongahmahraan:
GahmahRaan Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I already signed this petition when I found it.
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Blayaden Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the watch! I'll do my best! ^^;
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Ortheka Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the watch =)
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R-Tales Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Student General Artist
:icondancemonkeydanceplz: :star: THANKIAAA for the comment and the Faveee!!! :star: :icondancemonkeydanceplz:
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Xain-Russell Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2012  Student Writer
Thanks for the Watch!
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dokemon Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2012  Student Filmographer
Hi, hope you don't mind if i tagged you. [link] But if you want, you can break the chain and not tag anyone.
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