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About Digital Art / Student Premium Member Matt Mosher23/Male/United States Recent Activity
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In Ockla Prime’s orbit, Admiral Marx Gravlek watched from the Doomsayer’s command bridge as the Valkoran Empire fleet was diminished by the combined efforts of both the Galactic Alliance and the Valkoran Separatists.

“They’re running out of ships. Keep pressuring them. We’ve almost won this battle.”

Suddenly, the cyborg’s implanted comlink started ringing, prompting him to activate it and receive a transmission from Maesterus down on the planet’s surface.

“Admiral Gravlek.”

“Good news, Lord Maesterus. Most of Valkor’s ships have either been destroyed or forced to retreat. It looks like we’ve got him cornered.”

“I wouldn’t celebrate yet if I were you, Admiral. We’ve got another problem coming this way.”

Gravlek then patched the transmission so it could be heard by the rest of the forces under his command. “May I assume that Valkor’s calling in some reinforcements?”

“Yes, and not the type we’re used to fighting.”

Gravlek then gave an order to the scanner operator with a worried tone. “Ensign, be on the lookout for any hyperspace activity.”

“But we’re not picking up any…” the young ensign said before being interrupted by another bridge operator.

“Admiral! We’re picking up multiple wormholes!”

“Wormholes?” Gravlek looked out the viewport to see the spacial rifts and some Levioths - massive dark-skinned beasts that slightly resembled starships except with a face for a bow and another growth for a command bridge – along with some juvenile specimens serving as frigates emerging from the rifts.

“By the Force! We were working for these things?” The Admiral asked himself in astonishment. He then made sure to contact Admiral Cephal.

“Cephal.”

“We know, Gravlek. Commander Vaelor just told us about the Forceless fleet. I’m assuming Maesterus told you the same thing?”

“Yes. For future convenience, let’s go ahead and link our comm. channels so the rest of our forces can communicate better.”

“Link established.” The communications operator reported.

As the Levioths advanced towards the fleets, a set of their “cannons” fired some blobs of purple goop at some of the Valkoran and Alliance frigates, sometimes dissolving away their hulls and exposing the crews to the vacuum of space.

Among the fighter squadrons, Hiriss Moraana readdressed the warning Zolph gave her to Arcidus and the Valkoran ships.

“In case you weren’t already told about this, beware of any possession attempts. They probably can do that in space too.”

R9-C4 emoted a bit of enthusiasm. “Forceless ships = What Seefor was waiting for.”

“Says the little droid who’s most likely immune to possession.” Hiriss then turned her attention back to the squadrons. “For now, let’s take out those acid cannons.”

As Guardian, Hammer and Shade Squadrons charged towards the Levioths, swarms of Eyewings - bat-like creatures with a single eye taking up most of their body that served the same purpose as a starfighter albeit unmanned  - poured out of the massive beasts’ bellies and retaliated against the fighter squadrons with the laser cannons grafted into their shoulder blades.

Meanwhile, the Levioths also deployed squads of Demolusks – freighter-sized cyclopean squid-like creatures with shells made from asteroid. They slowly moved towards some of the Valkoran and Alliance ships. Suspicious of what they could do, some of Hammer Squadron pursued them in defense, but soaked up a lot of blaster fire without fighting back before just one Demolusk was killed. Any fighters that flew too close to the creatures were swatted into pieces by their tentacles. Reaching one of the Mon Cal cruisers, a trio of Demolusks quickly destroyed it with a payload of energy bombs larger than most bomber craft could carry.

In response, Admiral Cephal desperately issued an order. “All corvette and gunship-class vessels concentrate fire on those… asteroid squids!”

Arcidus turned the Phantom Razor to assist in the defense of the capital ships. “If I can offer a suggestion, their weak spots are most likely around their mouths, but keep clear of those tentacles.”

Arcidus charged towards the Demolusks to slice off the creatures’ tentacles with his fighter’s bladed wings and allow the other fighters to attack it safely. As per orders, several of the Alliance and Valkoran’s corvettes and the Kur’Ada’s Hatchet-class gunships destroyed the Demolusks by exploiting their weak points, all while losing only a few more capital ships in the process.

While Hiriss’s squad dealt with the Levioths and Eyewings, some Valkoran Obliterator-class destroyers, Demolisher-class missile frigates and the Doomsayer fired their plasma cannons and diamond-boron missiles at the Forceless fleet in support. Meanwhile, the remains of the enemy Valkoran fleet either fled into hyperspace, sided with the Alliance out of fear of this new group or sided with the Collective due to their loyalty to Valkor.

As some of the Levioths were killed by the barrage – either via excess damage or the destruction of the heads on the bow and the bridge – some more wormholes were created, with even more Levioths as well as some obviously artificial starships – most likely other cultists and possession victims – coming out of them. The Levioths then let out – in addition to more Eyewings – some insect-like creatures slightly bigger than mynocks with elongated stinger tails, which charged for both starfighter and capital ships alike.

With some of the capital ships, they simply injected their stingers wherever they could, but for the fighter craft, they injected them directly into the cockpits, sending some Black Matter into the ships to possess their crews and then excreting another substance to plug up the injection point and prevent depressurization as it removed the stinger. This resulted in them being named Matterbugs.

The capital ships were more difficult to possess – and not always successfully – as they had defense crews to deal with the boarding parties, but the fighter pilots were at the Black Matter’s mercy, with some of them committing suicide to prevent possession either by shooting themselves with a blaster pistol or – as the more defiant of that group would do - by ramming their craft into other Forceless ships. Other pilots killed themselves accidentally.

One of the Matterbugs climbed onto the Manthis’s canopy, attempting to possess Hiriss, but before it could inject its stinger or Hiriss could use the Force to throw it off, Seefor popped her flamethrower from her dome and set the creature ablaze, causing its grip on the ship’s nose to loosen as it burned to death. Afterward, Hiriss made a quick spin to fan out any remaining flames on her ship.

“Seefor. Please zap before you roast them next time. This isn’t my ship I’m flying.” Hiriss told the droid.

“Ship fire = No problem. // Seefor + flame projector = Does it all the time with mynocks.”

“Fine, only if the zapping doesn’t kill them at first.”

Meanwhile, Arcidus was also experiencing similar troubles with the Phantom Razor, but V7-L20 took the more practical approach of electrocuting any Matterbugs that tried to possess his master from behind, though it took multiple shocks just to kill one. Arcidus himself just used the Force to incinerate any that tried to get him while V7 was preoccupied, and others were just sliced apart by the Razor’s wings whenever it spun.

Afterward, as Hiriss and Arcidus eliminated every Matterbug they could, some bulkier insect-like creatures and cultist transport ships started making their way to Ockla’s surface.

Admiral Cephal then made an announcement to the ground forces. “They’re coming down to the surface! Brace yourselves!”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________


On the upper levels of Ockla City, Neur’s squad caught sight of the bug-like transports – known to them as Loderoaches – setting down either on top of buildings or landing pads accompanied by escorts of Eyewings and bombing runs from Demolusks. As the Loderoaches dispensed various Forceless infantry units, some other large creatures with three long claw-tipped legs and a giant red crystalline cranium – Silicths, also known as Cthulopods and genetic relatives of the Demolusks - either dropped down from the sky or climbed up from the lower levels.

“Whoa!”  Lieutenant Will Helms yelled in astonishment. “Those things are Forceless? I’ve seen Maesterus, but I wasn’t expecting the rest of them to be this weird.”

Suddenly, a platoon of masked, four-eyed Forceless warriors armed with rifle-pikes – similar to the ones Zolph encountered on Sleheyron over one year ago – came pouring out of the building Neur’s party was heading towards.

With the warriors opening fire on her platoon, Neur deflected as many shots as she could to protect them while they fired back. However, some puddles of Black Matter slithered out from under the warriors and towards her squad.

Some of the troopers fired on the Black Matter and vaporized them, but others found themselves possessed and killed by their own allies.

Terrified, Private Varson addressed Neur. “Mistress Neur, this isn’t like anything we’ve fought before! What are we going to do?!”

“Calm yourself, Varson.” Neur responded. “I’m scared too, but I’m more terrified of what will happen if we don’t win this battle.” She then addressed the rest of her squad as she continued fending off the Forceless warriors. “Alright everyone, listen up! We opposed Valkor to prevent something like this from happening, but now that it’s happening right before our eyes, we’re going to undo it! Are you with me?!”

“YES, MA’AM!” All the troops replied.

“Then we’ll win or die trying!” As more warriors poured out from their destination, Neur used the Force to toss the entire Forceless platoon over the walkway. “Forward! We continue to the Industrial Sector!”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile in the lower levels of the Valkoran capital, Juganak, Machinus and Luke Skywalker’s team have almost made it to the security station, a building that stood out from the majority of the capital’s structures by being pretty small in comparison.

“Okay, so the building that holds a key system is smaller than the rest.” Luke commented.

“Well, we wouldn’t want it standing out for enemy bombers, now would we?” Machinus answered.

“Cut the chatter.” Juganak interrupted. “As our fleet admirals just told us, we’ve got some Forceless on our hands. In fact, I can sense some inside the station right now.”

Luke immediately sensed another disturbance. “And I sense some around us right now.”

Some of the allied Valkoran troops fell on their knees and screamed in pain, with some black growths suddenly piercing out of their armor. The possessed troops then got up – and one of the allied Gundark-class walkers turned towards the team - and opened fire on their allies.

After some of the less armored troopers were gunned down, the Forceless troopers were immediately cut down by the Kur’Ada warriors while the walker was toppled by Juganak. A possessed driver then climbed out, only to be quickly shot by Machinus.

“What the hell just happened?!” One of the Alliance soldiers asked with shock.

“I suspect these soldiers were Forceless sleeper agents.” Juganak answered. “From what I understand, Valkor placed a special type of symbiote inside them that goes dormant and remains undetectable until it awakens and possesses them. He must have placed them in their sleep sometime before we defected.”

“Is there anyone else you may suspect of being a sleeper agent?” Luke asked.

“Like I said, we can’t tell who’s been infected ahead of time. But I think we can rule out the Force-sensitives and Machinus since they would have been able to detect a Forceless sneaking up on them, Machinus is a droid and Armogeist is a living suit of armor.”

“So you’re saying any of us normal people could potential have some freaky alien parasite inside us?” The same terrified Alliance trooper asked.

“Just the Valkoran troopers. The Kur’Ada, Skakoan Commandos and any other third-party mercenary groups have never even set foot on Ockla Prime until today, and the Alliance doesn’t need to worry about having any sleeper agents.”

The trooper than raised a blaster pistol. “Then how do I know the rest of your men aren’t going to suddenly turn on us?!”

Luke promptly took the blaster out of his hands. “Stand down. We are not going to kill anyone just because they may be a sleeper agent. And you don’t point a blaster unless you intend to shoot.”

“Yes, Master Skywalker. Sorry about that.” Luke then handed the trooper his blaster back.

Machinus then interrupted. “I’m picking up some seismic activity right beneath us!”

Suddenly, four massive Forceless worms with hand-like heads – with a single eye in the “palm” and two thumbs and three fingers for mandibles – erupted from the ground, and one of them quickly grabbed an exo-trooper. The trooper cried for help, but in vain as he was promptly crushed to death in his own suit and then dropped like a wadded up piece of paper.

“Terraris? I thought Vaelor killed him!” Another Valkoran trooper – this one a veteran of the Tatooine expedition – asked. “And why is there four of him?”

“No.” Juganak answered. “If I perceived the ink patterns in Valkor’s tomes on the Archfiends correctly, these are less powerful members of Terraris’s species, the Planara Manos.”

One of the walker drivers then barked a directive to the rest of the team. “Everyone, get inside and get that security system sliced! We’ll hold these worms off!”

The walkers fired on the Planara Manos while the rest of the team rushed into the security station. Three of the Planara Manos were killed, but they proved to be too fast for the Gundark walkers individually, most of which were easily toppled by the creatures. With only two walkers remaining, the surviving Planara Manos turned its attention to the security station and went back underground.

The walker battalion officer immediately contacted Juganak and Machinus. “Juga. Mach. The last one’s coming right for you. You’ll have to deal with the worm on your own, but if any more glowing-eyed freaks even think of trying to get in from this level, they’ll be painting our Gundarks with an even darker shade of black.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile in the cathedral, Grein had fought her way through a few Valkoran soldiers and acolytes – and a few Forceless-possessed ones once the Collective made their presence – to get to Masochus. She eventually found herself at the cathedral’s rooftop and face-to-face with Masochus, who had nowhere else to run.

“I see you survived my pet, but that idiot lizard didn’t.” Masochus attempted to taunt Grein.

Grein then rebuked his taunt with a smug smile on her face. “Actually, ‘that idiot lizard’ survived and killed your patchwork rancor. It didn’t even get to swallow him like some other creatures have.”

Masochus then shouted, “Blast it!” He then shifted back to his usually smug tone. “Then that means Gestroma killed him.”

Grein then countered him again. “Wrong again. He’s still alive and fighting Gestroma as we speak.”

“So you left him to die like your sister.”

“Nice try, Masochus. I’m not falling for that one again. Besides, he volunteered to hold off Gestroma so I wouldn’t waste my time with him.”

Masochus snarled before Grein continued taunting him.

“If one so powerful in the ways of the Dark Side like you can’t kill him, what makes you think a Forceless-possessed mercenary will?”

“Because he’s a lucky idiot, and his luck has just run out!” Masochus then jerked his arms forward and tried to shock Grein with Force lightning, only for her to quickly ignite her lightsaber’s main blade and block it.

“Come now, Masochus. You should know there is no such thing as luck. It would seem the Force is capable of favoring fools like Gahmah Raan, but is he really a fool, or does he just act like one so his foes will underestimate him?”

Masochus then levitated his lightsaber from his belt and activated it. “Then I’ll just have to ensure that his sacrifice was meaningless!

________________________________________________________________________________________________


In the cathedral’s main hall, Gahmah Raan and Gestroma were still trading blaster fire and were both on equal ground, despite a few of Gahmah’s severed hands littering the floor.

“Sweet Cardosh! How long have we been fighting?” Gahmah panted.

“Long enough, lizard.” Gestroma fired another volley of blaster fire from his repeater, shooting off a piece of Gahmah’s left hand again as the Krishari charged at Gestroma. Once Gahmah was close enough, he dodged a punch before using his left gauntlet blade to cut off Gestroma’s right arm and kicking him in the chin, putting a small crack in his visor.

“Now I know it’s the symbiote that’s in control of your body, because Gestroma is one of the only people in the galaxy who hasn’t insulted me with that term.”

From the bleeding stump, Gestroma suddenly sprouted another black-skinned arm.

“Oh, that’s just cheap!” Gahmah complained before regenerating the lost half of his hand and calling his blaster pistols back to his hands. “Okay, now we’re even.”

Gestroma suddenly hoisted Gahmah up and threw him into an altar. As Gahmah recovered, Gestroma drew his concussion rifle again and fired a powerful blast at Gahmah. However, the Krishari suddenly used the Force to repel it back at Gestroma, knocking off some of his body armor and exposing the tooth-filled mouth on his belly.

“Thank you for working, Force powers.” Gahmah told himself before looking back at the mutant. “And what big, ugly teeth you’ve got there, pal.”

“Enough of your games, Krishari! You’re way too predictable!” Gestroma yelled at Gahmah.

“Me? Predictable?” Gahmah then pointed at Gestroma. “Then why haven’t you noticed that time bomb that’s just about to go off?”

Gestroma then turned back to look for the bomb, unaware that there was indeed a timed explosive attached to his back.  While his back was turned, Gahmah tried to fire two charged shots at Gestroma, only for him to dodge and fire another concussive blast at Gahmah that knocked off his helmet.

“Like I said: predictable.”

“You still haven’t found the bomb.”

Gestroma then heard a series of beeps and turned his head backward, realizing too late where the bomb was. As the bomb exploded, his helmet was blown away and his three now-red face-encompassing eyes exposed.

Gestroma roared and tried to fire another concussive blast, only for Gahmah to shoot at his rifle just before he pulled the trigger, causing the weapon to overload. The mutated bounty hunter then threw it towards Gahmah before it could explode.

With no other weapons left, Gestroma tried to spit a purple corrosive acid at Gahmah, but the Krishari barely dodged it and watched as it dissolved the flooring near his feet. Gestroma then followed this up by spitting out two globs of Black Matter, which slithered towards Gahmah before forming into Forceless Newborns.

“Hello!” Gahmah exclaimed with shock. As the vaguely humanoid blobs prepared to swipe their elongated arms at him, he killed both Newborns at once with a shot to their central eye, causing them to collapse and evaporate. “And goodbye!”

Just after killing the Newborns, Gestroma lunged his elongated tongue at Gahmah, scaring him into dropping his blasters again. However, he grabbed Gestroma’s tongue rather than let it grab him and allowed him to pull Gahmah towards his tooth-filled stomach. Once Gahmah was pulled in close enough, he flipped out the gauntlet blade on his free arm and thrust it into Gestroma’s chest, theoretically where his heart would be. After Gahmah pulled the blade out, he flicked off any Black Matter blood that got on it.

Luckily enough, Gahmah had guessed correctly where Gestroma’s heart was, as Gestroma fell down to the floor on his back. He found himself in a puddle of Black Matter and his skin was changing from Forceless black to his natural pale-blue skin tone with black eyes.

Gestroma then gave a cough, indicating that he was still alive, but near death. This prompted Gahmah to pull one of his blasters towards him and aim at Gestroma in case he had a trick up his sleeve.

“Well played, Raan. You’re much more intelligent than I thought you were. Now I can see why Maesterus favored you and why that pink-armored Mando partnered with you.”

Gahmah then clicked his blaster in agitation. “He had a name, you know. Violo Jod.”

“I know. I just didn’t remember it. So, are you going to blow my brains out and avenge his death?”

“Not yet. As a fellow bounty hunter, I know you were just doing your job as a hired gun, even if you did take some perverse pleasure in it. If there’s anyone I should be seeking revenge against, it’s whoever hired you to kill Violo. Now talk, and I will let you die a quick and dignified death.”

“Take a wild guess.”

“Well, it’s been my suspicion that the other Mandalorians ordered the hit since some of his philosophies on warfare were against the standard for that culture.”

“Is that what you really thought? You’re still a fool, Raan, but a clever one nonetheless. A lot of Mandalorians may be pretentious when it comes to glorifying warfare, but most of them aren’t that petty. Try harder.”

“Stupid, stupid me. I forgot that despite their disagreements with him, they still respected him as a warrior, but my judgment of other Mandalorians was clouded as a result of the circumstances of his death and my own experiences with religious fanatics back home. Then that means…” Gahmah then put his palm against his face. “Son of a Hutt! Masochus isn’t even a Mandalorian; he’s just a sadistic manchild that throws violent fits over anything he perceives to be wrong with the galaxy! I am going to shove my wrist blade up that schutta’s-!

“You guessed correctly.” Gestroma interrupted him. “Now aren’t you going to kill me as you said?”

“You’ve earned it.” Gahmah then shot Gestroma though his head before the Black Matter broke down what was left of his body. Gahmah then collected his other blaster and helmet. He quickly put the latter of the two back on, wary of any head injuries he usually gets from not having it on. “Now, to find the hands with my gloves on them…”

Suddenly, a large laser was shot through two of the cathedral walls, greeting Gahmah to the sight of several colossal Forceless attacking the capital and groups of Nidracha spider people coming through the gaping holes created from the laser.

“If we survive this battle, Arcidus better be paying me enough for this.” Gahmah then made his way upstairs as he gunned down any Nidracha and other Forceless that tried to approach him.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile in the palace throne room, Zolph and Maesterus were reeling in shock from the turn of events as they gazed upon the nightmarish blob holding Valkor’s upper half on a tentacle like a puppet.

“Did you really think you could catch me unprepared by not telling Maesterus in advance when your forces planned to attack?” Valkor taunted Zolph. “As soon as this galaxy’s branch of my empire split apart, I knew one of the traitors would get the word out, even if it wasn’t Maesterus, and that was all I needed to confirm that an alliance and an attack was imminent. Besides, you should’ve already known about the Collective army, and some of them were laying dormant beneath the planet’s surface long before you attacked.”

Zolph followed up on that. “I never forgot about them. I just didn’t think it was actually big enough to challenge the combined forces of the Galactic Alliance and the Valkoran Separatists without leaving its territory unguarded. And you did a very good job convincing us that the war had turned in our favor.”

“But surely you could have deducted that it got exponentially bigger with every galaxy I conquered, and I’ve already conquered a few before this one.” Valkor then tilted his container’s head towards Maesterus. “And since you would be one of my champions had you not been immune to my influence, you definitely should have seen this coming.”

“Of course I factored them into this.” Maesterus back.

“Wait! You thought about them and you didn’t bother to tell me?!” Zolph exclaimed before Maesterus continued.

“I just decided to ignore the odds, and because you allowed me to live so long without going into deep sleep, changing bodies or being consumed by the Dark Side, I was able to study what allowed ragtag freedom fighter groups to overthrow an exponentially bigger force. In fact, the Galactic Alliance traces its origins back to one such group, and it can take one well-placed shot from a single man or woman to take down a colossus.” Maesterus then looked to Zolph condescendingly. “You haven’t been forgetting to study your own government’s history, have you?”

“That was before I was even born; before it started taking superweapons and Super Star Destroyers for granted. So I can’t really relate all that much.” Zolph turned his attention back to Valkor. “That reminds me, Valkor. I don’t understand you. Why are you so intent on creating an empire where everyone is possessed and thinks almost alike? I don’t think any sane man would stand for the idea of a government where everyone was forced to think alike, not to mention it sounds unrealistic.”

“Every government has proven somewhat inefficient by allowing too much deviation. Even Palpatine’s empire suffered because of some squabbling, ambitious warlords. Because I have the means to create it, I desire to create a universal empire unified under one singular, collective vision: mine.”

“From what I understand, nearly every would-be galactic conqueror before you had that same desire. What makes you so much better?”

“Like I said, I actually have the means to enforce that instead of just merely motivating them by fear of death, and creating too much destruction only causes problems in the long run. Under my rule, there wouldn’t be any more pointless conflict over resources or ideals.”

“Then why do you allow some of your Archfiends to retain their free will?”

“I like to think of it as a reward for loyalty. For example, Belluzub and Facadma may have hated each other, but they never tried to kill each other despite desiring to, and everything they’ve done was in my name at the very least. And those who lose their freedom of will can eventually gain it back should they fully convert. As far as potential converts go, you’re an uncontrollable element, Vaelor, and that is why you and your bloodline need to die.”

A blade-tipped arm suddenly ruptured out of the bulk of Valkor’s body towards Zolph, but he slashed it off with his lightsaber before it could skewer his chest.

Maesterus flew behind Valkor in an attempt to flank him, but the number of eyes decorating his body made it impossible to perform any further sneak attacks. Valkor then positioned a Black Matter arm towards each of his enemies and fired a red-sparked imitation of Force lightning that sent them both flying into the throne room walls.

“What the…?!” Zolph exclaimed as he reeled from the shock. “Was that…?”

“No, that was just another form of magic.” Valkor answered Zolph. “You know I can’t use the Force, but I can still find ways to fight you on your level. I can’t possess you, but I can always eat you.”

Valkor then transformed his arms into jaws and tried to bite at his crippled prey, but both Zolph and Maesterus retaliated by stabbing into their throats. Afterward, Valkor tossed a few blobs of Black Matter off of himself and created some Newborns, whether they took on a somewhat humanoid form or a more bestial one.

“Looks like he’s decided to stop holding back.” Maesterus observed.

“By the way,” Valkor continued. “Your forces up in space are about to deal with a new toy I’ve secretly been working on; a backup weapon in case Mortaqa died. You know how Forceless are created, correct?”

Zolph answered him. “Grein and I theorized that they are created as a result of simultaneous mass casualties in a concentrated area, such as the destruction of an entire planet. What does that have to do with this weapon?”

“You two theorized correctly. This Collective was created as a result of a similar circumstance, but on a smaller scale. Other collectives are rivals to be devoured and assimilated, and I’ve been using them both to increase my army’s size quickly and provide resources for the weapon. The Sith and their followers unwittingly did most of the sweaty labor for me by creating those resources, and I made the finishing touches on the weapon recently.”

“So, there was more to destroying Christophsis than just trying to torment me. So what is this weapon?”

“The Ragnirathan. Not that any of you will live to tell the tale should you refuse to surrender.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Back in space, the Alliance-Valkoran forces, against all odds, were able to eliminate a large portion of the Forceless fleet due to the quick thinking of Admiral Cephal, Gravlek, Hiriss, Arcidus and the more-experienced fighter squadrons. Even a seemingly endless wave of reinforcements proved ineffective once they knew the tricks to fighting this unusual enemy.

“I don’t know how we did it, but it looks we’ve got them on the ropes.” Hiriss commented.

Hammer leader then elaborated to her over comlink. “It’s how the Rebellion persevered against the Empire. We mostly relied on starfighters to take down their larger war machines. In other words, we dance like flies, and bite like skettos.”

Cephal further elaborated. “Said larger war machines also included superweapons.”

Admiral Gravlek then gave a warning. “Don’t get too excited. We’re not finished yet, and the Collective may have another nasty surprise waiting for us.”

The space forces suddenly received a transmission from Zolph.

“Vaelor to the guys in the sky.”

“Aren’t you too busy fighting Valkor to be talking to us right now?” Arcidus asked.

“Admittedly, yes.” Zolph answered, with the sounds of battle also displaying over the transmission. “Whoa! And he almost cut my head off just now!”

Hiriss chimed in. “Then I take it you’re calling us for a very good reason.”

“He hasn’t told me much about it, but there’s a Forceless superweapon called the Ragnirathan coming your way.”

Suddenly, everyone’s attention was drawn to a massive, purple-glowing tear in the fabric of space. What first looked like a crack expanded into a portal. A black long-necked beast partially emerged from the portal with four hooked-claws clinging to the edges of the portal, and the portion of the beast that made it out of the portal was even bigger than the Doomsayer.

“By the Force! That thing is HUGE!” Hiriss exclaimed.

Seefor nervously whimpered at the sight of the beast. “R9-C4 = Very scared now.”

“Let me guess: the Ragnirathan?” Zolph asked.

“I believe so.” Hiriss answered. “Any tips?”

“I don’t know what it’s capable of or how we can kill it, but I’ve talked long enough.” Zolph’s transmission ended.

The Ragnirathan turned its serpentine neck towards Ockla Prime’s moon. The inside of its throat glowed purple before it roared and launched a fiery beam that destroyed several ships in addition to the moon.

“We can’t handle that much firepower!” Admiral Cephal yelled. “We need to retreat!”

Hiriss replied. “That’s tempting, Admiral, but we can’t turn back now. We can’t keep this thing and Valkor unchecked.”

“Besides,” Arcidus chimed in. “If we do retreat, the Ragnirathan will just hunt us down and kill us anyway, so better we do something about it now.”

Admiral Gravlek directed an order to his ships. “All Valkoran ships, concentrate all firepower on the Ragnirathan. We need to destroy this thing before Zolph kills Valkor, or else it won’t have reason to not destroy the planet itself.”

The Doomsayer, Obliterators and Dread frigates fired their plasma cannons at the beast while the Demolisher and Judicator frigates fired their missiles, but it only served to slightly agitate it despite being entirely organic matter. The Ragnirathan simply fired another blast at a portion of the fleet.

“It looks like we’ll have to kill it the old-fashioned way.” Hammer leader commented. “Hammer Squadron, let’s scout for a weak point like usual.”

Arcidus and Hiriss echoed the same order to their squadrons and followed the Hammers.

Cephal provided another order to the other fighter squadrons. “All other squadrons, cover the capital ships while we continue wearing away its armor.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________


In the lower levels of the capital, Luke’s team continued fighting their way towards the security station’s control center, dealing with automated turrets loyal to Valkor’s half of the empire.

“How did those worms get to the lower levels so quickly?” Machinus asked.

Luke answered him. “Perhaps they were waiting here since before the invasion.”

“I would have detected their underground movements.”

“And I would have sensed them,” Juganak followed up. “Unless they were dormant, similar to those sleeper symbiotes.”

Suddenly, the last Planara Manos emerged from the floor several levels into the building.

Machinus shot at the worm’s eye, prompting it to strike at the droid-Nautolan, but Juganak jumped on top of its head to bind its mandibles open. While the Planara Manos was preoccupied, Luke used the Force to crush its crystalline eyeball into several shards and easily kill the creature.

“At least we don’t have to deal with this guy anymore.” One of the Alliance soldiers sighed.

Suddenly, a swarm of Forceless warriors and Rapthounds – quadruped reptiles with hook-tipped forelimbs and an eyeball inside a throat protected by several razor sharp teeth – came pouring out of several doors, overwhelming some of the troops.

“Mach, we could really use those turrets right now!” One of the Valkoran soldiers yelled before getting pounced by a Rapthound. Machinus immediately shot the creature just after it killed the soldier.

By some miracle, the sentry guns stopped firing on their team and started shooting at the Forceless. Some of the other Forceless were suddenly gunned down from behind with a barrage of blaster fire, revealing Bad Kitty with his repeating blaster. Spectre then leaped over him, throwing her metal-plated hat at an approaching Rapthound and breaking its neck. The rest of Besh Squad followed to eliminate the remaining Forceless in a less flashy manner.

“Captain Varessi?” Luke asked Xadisall. “What are you doing here?”

“Colonel G’Jan ordered us to eliminate the security systems after we took out the Fortress Tanks.” Xadisall informed Luke. “So everything on this planet with artificial intelligence works for us now thanks to our favorite Gand engineer.”

“It’s just too bad we had to destroy those giants, or else we’d have an advantage against those ugly blobs.” Bad Kitty lamented.

“Having those still around would actually make things worse.” Xad responded back. “We wouldn’t want the Collective using those things against us, now would we, Banir.”

The heavily-built Cathar made an annoyed growl at the Mirialan.

“What about the other security stations in the capital? This isn’t the only one.” Machinus asked.

“Boltz already took care of them.” Boltz answered him. “Boltz has dealt with more complex systems before.”

“If we survive this battle, you and I should talk some more.”

Spectre chimed in. “I hate to interrupt, but we should keep going upward and try to seize some of the other key sectors. The lower levels aren’t quite as safe as before the invasion.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Back at the cathedral’s roof, Grein and Masochus were still engaged in a duel that already lasted half-an-hour. While she was locking blades with the floating lightsaber, Masochus prepared to hit Grein with some more Force lightning. Foreseeing the attack, Grein liquefied a part of her left hand before throwing it at Masochus, causing him to electrocute himself instead and drop the lightsaber.

While he was struggling to lift himself off the ground, Grein casually kicked his lightsaber off the roof, walked over towards Masochus with her blade still ignited and reclaimed the excess water to reform her hand.

“It’s over, Masochus. But before I finish you, I would like to know something else: Why haven’t you tried to backstab Valkor yet?” Grein asked. “I thought you Sith were all about being ambitious.”

Masochus suddenly lifted himself up and Force-choked Grein.

“My current position is enough because Valkor gives me the power to do as I please. I never cared about the Sith’s ages-long vendetta against the Jedi nor their desire to rule the galaxy. I just like to see things suffer as I see fit.” Masochus elaborated as he got up uncomfortably close to her and pulled out a knife before squeezing on one of her breasts with his bony left hand. “In exchange for you removing my pleasure part, let’s make you even more like Emilin. The only difference is I get to hear you scream.”

“I still don’t regret that. You got what you deserved.”

“Now scream, you little c-!” Before he could even cut into her breast, a cyan-bladed lightsaber pike pierced through his right shoulder from behind, cutting it off and causing Masochus to scream as he was interrupted. The pike then returned to its sender: Armogeist.

“If you’re going to talk that way to her, it would be most appropriate that I cut your tongue out next.” Armogeist commented to Masochus as he approached.

“Oiren?! I thought you would have just given up and died once you ran to Maesterus!” Masochus yelled back at him. “Valkor isn’t even restricting you from dying anymore!’

“As empty as this existence may be, I have decided that I will not rest until both you and the Forceless Collective are dead. And because Valkor is no longer holding me back, nothing’s stopping me from killing you right now.”

“If you want revenge, you’ll be competing with the Chiss right behind me.”

“Ahem.” Grein coughed to get Masochus’s attention, alerting him to the fact that his grip on her had broken. “I’m insulted that one of the people who had a hand in torturing Emilin – namely the snitch and the butcher - is a smug idiot. You’re just begging to be killed.”

Armogeist continued. “I’m perfectly fine with sharing, as I know everyone in the galaxy who’s met you wants you dead. Besides, this isn’t only for revenge. Your very existence is as much of a threat as the Collective.”

“Insolent fools!” Masochus yelled at both Grein and Armogeist. “You think you can kill me? I have the advantage!”

“What advantage?” Grein dryly asked. “You lost your lightsaber, you only have one arm and you don’t have any regenerative abilities.”

Masochus then chuckled. “Valkor gave me some of his blood before the invasion.” Masochus tried to make a pose as if he was being empowered, but nothing was happening to him. Masochus’s eyes then dilated and his previously smug tone turned into one of dread. “Why isn’t the blood rebuilding me?!”

“You may have one of those sleeper symbiotes inside you, which only become active when Valkor wants them to.” Grein answered him. “If that’s the case, apparently even the man you supposedly worship doesn’t trust you enough and placed that thing inside you to keep you in check.”

Masochus then instinctively tried to fire some Force lighting at both Grein and Armogeist simultaneously, forgetting that he only had enough arms to hit one of them. Unfortunately for him, he hit Armogeist, and the animated suit of Ancient Ocklanite battle armor simply blocked the electricity with his shield, while any that conducted through him didn’t affect him in the slightest. This allowed Grein and Armogeist to impale him from both sides and scissor him in half.

As Masochus lied on the roof bleeding out Black Matter, Armogeist pointed the irony of his predicament. “That’s funny, my old master. If you hadn’t tormented me, robbed me of my body and come to this planet, you would still be alive. But alas, your time has finally come.”

Masochus then laughed maniacally as the Black Matter slowly dissolved his remains. “You kriffing idiots! You may have killed me, but because of Valkor’s gift, I still get to live on as part of him! It may seem a fate worse than death for all of you, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve attained what other Sith can only dream of!” Masochus continued laughing until the puddle completely consumed his remains and evaporated.

“DAMMIT!” Armogeist yelled as he threw his shield against the ground. “We served him justice, and he still got off easy!”

“Let it go, Balos.” Grein told him. “I didn’t find the circumstances of his death satisfying either, but at the very least, he’s gone now. Even if he got what he wanted from his point of view, he cannot harm anyone else.”

“You Jedi are better at controlling your anger than I am, but you speak truly. The galaxy no longer needs to fear him if that’s the case.”

Suddenly, Gahmah Raan came up from one of the stairways with his blasters drawn. “Alright, you depraved, skinless freak! I am going to tear you a new…!” Gahmah then lowered his guns as he noticed both Grein and Armogeist, but Masochus nowhere to be found. “Kriff, you already killed him, didn’t you? You didn’t even leave a corpse for me to shoot at?”

“You told me that you didn’t have a grudge against him, Gahmah.” Grein dryly reminded him.

“Not until recently. Gestroma made me realize that Masochus hired him to kill one of the only hunting partners I ever had away from home. But I guess I shouldn’t complain since I learned too late, and that guy was giving damn near everyone a reason to hate him. And there wouldn’t be enough pieces of him for everyone.” Gahmah reholstered his blasters.

Grein addressed both of him and Armogeist. “I may have had my share of this too, but seeking to inflict pain on someone can make you more susceptible to the lure of the Dark Side as was the case with Masochus. You may be barely Force sensitive, but this applies even to you, Gahmah. However, both of you seem to have either strayed significantly from it or haven’t even fallen into its grasp. That is not to be taken lightly.” She then turned her attention back to Armogeist. “Now that Masochus is dead, what will you do now, Balos?”

Armogeist answered. “The Forceless Collective still lives and Masochus may still be able to live through it. However, I only seek to save this galaxy from the Collective now, so I can bear to stay bound to this body until then.”

“Then let’s waste no more time. Zolph and Seferin are dealing with Valkor as we speak.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Meanwhile, Neur’s team had reached the Industrial Sector – a series of factories clustered together under one spacious dome – and already seized control of a large fraction of the factories from the Forceless Collective and their supporters. With only a few more relevant checkpoints to claim, Neur’s comlink rang to give her a message from Machinus.

“Neur. This is Machinus. Report.”

“Hi, Cid. We have almost the entire Industrial Sector under our complete control, but not only are we running into creatures we haven’t seen before, the Forceless have been finding ways to make our more biologically-disadvantaged allies into dangerous enemies. They can force the Kur’Ada to grow eyeballs or keep the Skakoans from immediately exploding if their suits get breached.”

“That’s horrible! Anyway, there’s one particular target I need you to keep out of the Collective’s hands. It’s the HyVel cannon for an incomplete Fortress Tank.”

“I need you to explain two things, Cid: Why a Fortress Tank is incomplete and why we need to claim the cannon.”

“For the first one, this planet’s third Fortress Tank was still in early development around the time the Empire split. Second, that cannon is still an operable and potent weapon even though it doesn’t have a clear view of the sky from its position, and our fleets are already having enough trouble with the Ragnirathan as it is.”

Lieutenant Will Helms interrupted the conversation. “If I can make a suggestion, Machinus, instead of destroying it, could’t we take control of the cannon and kill the Ragnirathan with it?”

“You’d be firing blind for the first shot, Lieutenant, not to mention maybe accidentally hitting our own ships.” Machinus answered him. “And I don’t think it would be enough to kill that monstrosity either. Are my orders clear?”

“Yes, sir.” Neur answered him “Neur out.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________


A few moments later, Neur’s party had made it into hypervelocity cannon’s control room, but it had already been taken over by a platoon of Forceless and possessed Alliance and Valkoran troopers as well as a few Skakoan Commandos who were swelling up and ready to burst any minute. To everyone in Neur’s party, especially fellow Commando Captain Tey Hasha, they could tell the possessed Commandos were in agonizing pain in this state.

“We’re too late. They beat us to it.” Neur dreadfully commented. “Everyone, get ready!”

As soon as Neur activated her lightsaber, Captain Hasha stopped Neur and the rest from going forward while returning fire to the Forceless. “We don’t have time for this. If we fight them directly, more of those black beasts will come in to overwhelm us.” The rest of the Skakoans accompanied her. “Everyone else, get out of here. We’ll handle this.”

However, before she and any of the other Skakoans could breach their own pressure suits, Lieutenant Helms interrupted them and stepped forward as he gunned a few Forceless down. “Stop, Hasha! Enough Skakoans in other parts of the city have already given their lives for us today. And we humans are already pretty damn numerous.” He then barked an order to his squad. “Everyone, give me any explosives you’ve got and get out of here!”

“Don’t be a fool, Helms!” Neur yelled to him. “You’ll die!”

“Thanks for stating the obvious, now get out!”

“We better do as he says.” Medical Officer Cham Beneska advised Neur. “I know Lieutenant Helms a lot better than you do.”

“Everyone, give any thermal detonators you have to Lieutenant Helms and run.” Neur reluctantly ordered her squad. Everyone then tossed belts of thermal detonators to the Lieutenant.

While Helms gunned down any Forceless or slashed them with his wrist bayonet, Neur’s team fled the turret. Once they were clear of the vicinity, Helms activated a timed detonator, threw it into a key location and repeated until he was out of detonators.

Just as a blob of Black Matter was ready to force itself into the filter on his helmet, Helms defiantly yelled “BOOM!” All the detonators went off and engulfed everyone in the cannon, and the possessed Skakoans only added to the effect of the explosion. As a result, the cannon was completely destroyed.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________


Outside, Neur’s party watched outside as the HyVel cannon collapsed. Neur was saddened by Helms’ sacrifice, but the rest of the team knew better.

“Don’t worry, Commander.” Private Varson assured her. “Helms will be back before you know it.”

“Don’t lie to me, Private! He’s dead!” She yelled back at him.

“I’m being serious, Commander. Why do you think his codename is ‘Phoenix’? This isn’t the-!”

Private Varson was interrupted by Tey Hasha. “Heads up! More Forceless!”

A trio of Forceless Kur’Ada warriors armed with vibroswords charged towards the team. While everyone else tried to gun them down to little avail, Neur charged right at them so they wouldn’t get near the Skakoans, as low-rank Forceless had no problems with killing themselves to advance their cause.

After killing two of them, the last warrior slashed off both of Neur’s cybernetic head-tails before he himself was slain. As some Rapthounds and Nidracha climbed over a ledge to attack, Neur’s personality went from sorrowful to bombastically aggressive.

“I’ll get the repair kit ready…” Beneska dryly commented as he listened to Neur shout at the Forceless.

“Insolent beasts!” Neur yelled. “You have the audacity to lay claim to my people?! Well, I, Princess Neur, say to you, THUD AND BLUNDER, MAGGOTS!”

Neur then unleashed a wave of Force lightning from her fingertips that caused all the Forceless to disintegrate all the while laughing maniacally as they combusted. Everyone else was disturbed to say the least.

“And that was for Lieutenant Will Helms!”

A voice then tried to get her attention. “Neur?”

“WHAT?!” She angrily yelled back, before noticing Lieutenant Helms – distinguished by his armor decorated with a few phoenix symbols – alive and well, and with a slightly dirty suit of armor.

“I’m back and ready for duty once the Doc gets your lekku reattached.” Helms responded.

“Impudent worm! How dare you fake your own death and make me despair!”

Helms then got defensive with her. “Seriously? I’ve been part of this army since before the war, and you didn’t know?! I sacrificed myself so the rest of the squad could live!”

“And lekku reattached? Are you implying that I have brain damage?!”

“To be honest at the risk of you killing me again, yes, ma’am.” Helms answered bluntly.

“THUD AND BLUNDER!”

“Don’t you mean blood and...?” Helms tried to retort before Neur interrupted by pointing her lightsaber at his face.

“SILENCE!”

While Neur and Helms were having their verbal duel, Doctor Beneska had just finished welding the lekku back on and reactivated them before she could suffer the pain backlash would result from not having the implants for too long.

“Okay, the Neur we all know and love is back to normal.” The red-skinned Twi’lek doctor assured Helms. “I might not be as much of a technical genius as Machinus, but I know lekku on half-breeds aren’t all that different from those on pure Twi’leks.”

As Neur regained her senses, her temperamental demeanor dropped. “Helms? You’re alive? I’m sorry about those nasty things I said to you.”

“It’s no problem, Commander.” Helms responded back. “If you want to know why I did what I did, you people only get one life. I have plenty to waste, but don’t get any ideas.”

Neur then pulled out her comlink. “Cid, this is Neur. The HyVel cannon has been destroyed.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________


Up in space, the fleets were still struggling with the Ragnirathan. A few dozen capital ships had been destroyed in addition to at least one-hundred starfighters while scouting the beast’s exterior. They couldn’t go inside the dimensional portal without imploding and any proton torpedoes were more likely to be destroyed before hitting anything if fired directly into the mouth.

“It’s no use! We can’t find any other logical weak points!” Hammer Leader panicked over comlink.

“Then we’ll just have to make one.” Admiral Gravlek announced. “All fighters, pull back and regroup with the Doomsayer. We’re going to blow that monster’s head off.” He then made an order to the rest of the ship’s crew. “Set all plasma cannons to overload and divert power to the engines. All non-essential personnel, get to the ships or escape pods. All essential personnel, do the same once your part is finished. I’ll stay aboard to ensure the Doomsayer’s safe passage.”

Despite Gravlek’s orders, a select few volunteered to stay onboard to ensure that the Admiral’s plan happened without fail.

Hiriss protested the Admiral’s decision. “You can’t be serious, Admiral! You’ll kill yourself!”

“We don’t have any other options, Moraana. I need you and the rest of the squadrons to cover me while I prepare my attack.”

Hiriss reluctantly complied. “Understood. All craft, protect the Doomsayer.”

As the rest of the Doomsayer’s crew evacuated, Gravlek made a point to contact Maesterus and leave a quick message. “Gravlek to Maesterus. I don’t wish to hold you for too long, but I regret to inform you that I have to sacrifice your favorite ship.”

Before Maesterus could protest, Gravlek cut the transmission.

As the plasma cannons charged up and the Doomsayer turned its pointed bow towards the Ragnirathan’s body, Hiriss, Arcidus and the fighter squadrons defended it from any attacking Eyewings, Demolusks and Matterbugs while the capital ships and bombers defended it from the Levioths.

Once the plasma cannons were almost fully charged and the Doomsayer in position, Admiral Marx Gravlek gave one more message to his allies.

“Everyone, it has been an honor fighting alongside you for this cause. May my sacrifice carry you to victory.”

Moving at full sub-light speed with some fighter craft escorting it, the Doomsayer pierced through the roots of the Ragnirathan’s neck. With the mighty vessel now embedded in the creature, the plasma cannons overloaded, obliterating the Doomsayer and decapitating the Ragnirathan with the explosion.

While the head was sent flying towards Ockla’s atmosphere and landed at the base level of the Imperial Palace, the tear in space closed down on the Ragnirathan’s remains, cutting off what little came out of the portal.

The Ragnirathan’s death seemed like cause for celebration, but the rest of the fleet knew there was no time to do that or mourn Admiral Gravlek’s death now. The rest of the Forceless fleet remained and the Collective was still at large on the surface.

________________________________________________________________________________________________


Back at the throne room, Zolph and Maesterus were beginning to tire from their battle with Emperor Valkor that had already lasted at least an hour.

“I could do this all day. Just give up and I’ll let you die quickly.” Valkor taunted them.

After slashing off a few more arms and dodging more jaws and sorcery, Zolph and Maesterus were able to land a several slashes on the bulk of Valkor’s body and do enough damage to actually cause him pain and make the mass of the Black Matter shrink down.

“Okay, you were actually able to hurt me, I’ll give you that. However, even if you defeat me here, you’ll only have destroyed an avatar, as I actually exist away from this galaxy. You’ll have a hopeless battle ahead of you.”

“Then we’ll just keep fighting to our last breath.” Maesterus retorted before stabbing Valkor again.

“And defy all odds like we usually do.” Zolph added.

“It’s getting awfully cramped in here.” Valkor said. “Let’s take this outside, shall we?”

Valkor suddenly sprang through one of the windows and fell down to the base level of the palace and the capital where the severed, slowly-decomposing head of the Ragnirathan lied. Valkor extended his mass to the head to assimilate it, and many lesser Forceless gathered around him to be assimilated as well.

As more and more Forceless became one with him, Valkor transformed into a Black Matter colossus that dwarfed most of the capital’s buildings. While he had a somewhat skinny body with elongated arms and clawed hands, his head was mostly a giant glowing mouth with an eye in the back of it. Instead of having legs, he created a sea of Black Matter that devoured every living being on the surface level of the capital.

With his newly created body, Valkor swatted at the turret the throne room was situated on, forcing Maesterus to carry Zolph and fly away to the roof of another building. He then devoured what was left of the palace and all the occupants inside it.

All the while, the rest of the Alliance and Valkoran forces gazed in awe upon this massive abomination.

“Shavit!” Zolph cursed in awe. “How many tricks does this freak of nature have?!”

“I never actually thought my old Emperor could get this big.” Maesterus added.

The mighty creature that Valkor had turned into boasted at his enemies. “Now you know the power of the Forceless Collective! Do you still wish to oppose me, mortals?! Or will you bow to the only god this universe needs?!”

Zolph didn’t hesistate to backtalk Valkor as he and Maesterus drew their lightsabers. “Jedi don’t believe in gods. We only believe in the Force.”

“Then, like all the others who reject my right, you shall suffer!” Valkor raised his right arm towards the two of them and a dozen scythe-tipped tentacles jetted out of his palm and slashed at the duo. This was more than the number of blades they had to deal with at once before in his previous form.

As they parried the blades, Zolph tried to jump out of the flurry of slashes and jumped onto Valkor’s wrist in an attempt to get close to him, but the titan simply grabbed him with his other arm, slammed him back on the roof and tried to press him death.

Noticing the fighting from a distance, some Alliance and Valkoran troopers fired some rockets at Valkor, but that only scratched him very little and he retaliated by having a giant maw emerge around the building they were standing on and consume them.

Other groups tried to similarly retaliate with artillery strikes from tanks and walkers or bombing runs, but those attacks were similarly countered with attacks from razor-tipped tentacles or energy projectiles coming out of other parts of Valkor’s body. Meanwhile, the other Jedi-led parties were rushing to get to Zolph and Maesterus’s aid.

With no other options, Maesterus flew away from the blade storm and slashed off Valkor’s left hand to free Zolph. He was successful in doing so, but this also allowed Valkor to skewer him from behind through his shoulders and palms, making him drop his lightsaber in the process.

“SEFERIN!” Zolph cried out.

Valkor then chuckled as he lifted Maesterus into the air and held him out for all in the capital to see.

“Well, Maesterus, you were always one of my favorite servants,” Valkor said as he callously sawed off one of Maesterus’s primary wings, causing him to scream in agonizing pain. “But I don’t take treason too well.” He then cut off the other wing.

Not far away, a distraught Grein attempted to throw her lightsaber to cut off the tentacles, but Armogeist and Gahmah restrained her before she could so.

“LET GO OF ME!” Grein cried. “CAN’T YOU SEE HE’S GOING TO DIE!!?”

“Don’t be a fool, Grein!” Gahmah retorted. “We’re too far out of range!” Inside, Gahmah also hated himself for losing his sniper rifle beforehand, or he would have been able to help Maesterus.

“We want to help him too, but there’s nothing we can do from here.” Armogeist added.

As Maesterus’s allies watched helplessly, Valkor positioned three more blades towards his chest. “Since those who admire you are no longer on my side, I no longer have to worry about turning you into a martyr to rally behind. There are only a few proper punishments for treason, and I have decided: Public execution!”

Valkor then thrust the blades into Maesterus’s heart, and let them stay in for a few seconds before pulling them out and then dropping his body.

However, Zolph used the Force to catch and bring him over to him rather than let him be eaten by the black sea that made up Valkor’s base.
Paranormalities: Episode II - Ch.17 The Forceless
It's almost over. And with this cliffhanger, I shouldn't be discouraged from being able to get the epilogue done before the three-year anniversary for the trilogy (and if I fail on that promise, feel free to torture me with a voodoo doll).

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  Paranormalities: Episode II - Ch.16 War's End
Ch. 17: The Forceless - You are here
Epilogue: Compromise
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While the Star Wars: Paranormalities fanfiction is about to wrap up Episode II, I've been thinking about doing more with this story; something more collaborative to draw in an even bigger audience.

As the name implies, I would like to retell the story from the beginning as an audio drama, with a few slight story alterations. Don't worry, I'm not going to stop writing the fanfiction until it properly ends. Think of that as the first draft for pooling ideas.

For those who aren't familiar, Paranormalities is a story in the Legends continuity that functions as an alternate sequel to the New Jedi Order series (with a few differences in regards to how that series was depicted). However, you don't need to be versed in older Expanded Universe stories to understand this story, as this story's cast is mostly comprised of original characters.

Paranormalities: Episode I - Prologue: Crashdown by GahmahRaan

For this project, I'm not suggesting a simple audio narration of what I've already written. In addition to having voice actors for the characters, I would also like to have some sound effects added, some original music tracks, some additional script writers and the opportunity for other artists to work with my characters by providing artwork to go along with scenes. Why other artists besides myself? Well, I already take at least a month to get each written chapter up on my own, and since I've been working on this story alone so far, I'm bound to have made a few decisions I don't think so fondly of now.

If anyone's interested in this proposal, please leave a comment or give me a message.
  • Listening to: Video Game Soundtracks
  • Reading: Articles
  • Watching: Cartoons
  • Playing: Video games
Cross-guard Continuity Crossover by GahmahRaan
Cross-guard Continuity Crossover
Well, here we have it. Two different characters from two different continuities debating similar weapons. For those who can't tell or are unfamiliar with my previous works, Grein (the purple-eyed Chiss on the right with teal highlights) has a cross-guard made up of four blades instead of two.

Considering I created Grein and her cross-guard saber long before the Force Awakens teaser debuted, I was cool with the canonical cross-guard saber from the beginning. Besides, awesome but impractical weapons have been a staple of Star Wars since the beginning (Death Star? Millions of credits of economical damage; AT-AT - big ass target with guns that only face forward; and the list goes on, and let's not get started on the various unoriginal superweapons that came from the Bantam era, because Han Solo already made a rant on that). And as we've learned from Darth Maul and a few others, impractical weapons can be awesome as long as the person wielding it uses it professionally.

As that comment implies, Grein has cut off her own hand at least once with that thing, and for those of you who read Paranormalities (FYI, next chapter is in progress), you know her regeneration method (for those not in the know, let's just Paranormalities, as the title implies, pushes the fantasy part of science-fantasy).

Kylo Ren belongs to Lucasfilm ltd. and Disney Co.
Ze'grein'aradi (Grein) belongs to me
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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: The Forceless Paranormalities: Episode II - Ch.17 The Forceless
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.
While the Star Wars: Paranormalities fanfiction is about to wrap up Episode II, I've been thinking about doing more with this story; something more collaborative to draw in an even bigger audience.

As the name implies, I would like to retell the story from the beginning as an audio drama, with a few slight story alterations. Don't worry, I'm not going to stop writing the fanfiction until it properly ends. Think of that as the first draft for pooling ideas.

For those who aren't familiar, Paranormalities is a story in the Legends continuity that functions as an alternate sequel to the New Jedi Order series (with a few differences in regards to how that series was depicted). However, you don't need to be versed in older Expanded Universe stories to understand this story, as this story's cast is mostly comprised of original characters.

Paranormalities: Episode I - Prologue: Crashdown by GahmahRaan

For this project, I'm not suggesting a simple audio narration of what I've already written. In addition to having voice actors for the characters, I would also like to have some sound effects added, some original music tracks, some additional script writers and the opportunity for other artists to work with my characters by providing artwork to go along with scenes. Why other artists besides myself? Well, I already take at least a month to get each written chapter up on my own, and since I've been working on this story alone so far, I'm bound to have made a few decisions I don't think so fondly of now.

If anyone's interested in this proposal, please leave a comment or give me a message.
  • Listening to: Video Game Soundtracks
  • Reading: Articles
  • Watching: Cartoons
  • Playing: Video games

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GahmahRaan
Matt Mosher
Artist | Student | Digital Art
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Just some slightly insane art major.

Also a fanfic writer.
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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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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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