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ComNet > Dark Jedi Order > Archived ShadowNet > Ancient Secrets
 
 
 
Author
Topic:  Ancient Secrets
Angel
ComNet Disciple
 
Angel
 
[VE-ARMY] Senior Sergeant
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Knight
 
Post Number:  2068
Total Posts:  3342
Joined:  Jul 2003
Status:  Offline
  Ancient Secrets
October 6, 2005 9:36:57 AM    View the profile of Angel 
Ok here it is.

Stats:

Words: 12,542
Pages: 20
Font: 10 TNR

Special thanks to Kami for Beta-ing.


Enjoy.

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=[Arrogant Elitist]=
=[Jikkyo the Horrible]=
AS-2/ASL/SSG Jikkyo "Angel" Nimiichi/Iron Horse Squad/WildCard/Phoenix/Dragon/Osiris/Stormtrooper Corps/Vast Empire [LoR] [RoM] [BC] [CDS] [WM] [GRoM] {BoA}
------------------------
The Angel of Death
CM/DJK Jikkyo "Angel" Nimiichi/Eagle 1-1/Sith/Dark Jedi/Vast Empire/Lopen [VP:1]
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I'm the sheep that was lost, madre.
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 6, 2005 6:29:33 PM)]
Angel
ComNet Disciple
 
Angel
 
[VE-ARMY] Senior Sergeant
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Knight
 
Post Number:  2070
Total Posts:  3342
Joined:  Jul 2003
Status:  Offline
  RE: Ancient Secrets
October 6, 2005 6:30:05 PM    View the profile of Angel 
"I just received a message of a rumor... an artifact on the planet Onderon - A Krath artifact.  Investigate the rumor.  Should you find anything of interest, bring it back to Lopen for analysis."

"Sithspawn! Talon, could you be any less help?" A small groan escaped Angel's lips as he reached over his head to stretch his arms. Followed by a big yawn, he shook his head to clear out the cobwebs. Laying on the desk next to him was a holodisc with the recorded message Talon had received. He had watched it a dozen times, examining each phrase for some hint about what this "artifact" was...yet had still came up with nothing. The author was Bothan, a race Angel was tiring quickly of dealing with. Between Yessef, whom by some cruel twist of fate he employed, and Azral, he was ready to head to Bothuwai and slaughter the whole lot of 'em.

He sat at the lone desk in Kami's and his private deck aboard the Divinity. Strewn across the floor about him were piles of empty ration bars and other snack packages he had consumed in the week since she had left. He missed her desperately, finding it almost impossible to sleep at night without his arms wrapped tightly around her. Hence he had chosen to stay on board the Corvette in orbit above Lopen, because their chambers in the Citadel had proven too distracting with all the visual reminders of her.

Four days ago, he had sent Sala to Onderon with the Nightshade to locate the mysterious messenger. The Bothan had not spoken his name or left any clues to his identity, nor had Talon indicated that they were acquainted. Biting down another frustrated curse, he took a quick sip of the piping hot cup of caf Batty just brought in. The burning sensation in his mouth broke down the walls holding the curse back.

"SHIT!" He yelled, spitting out the scalding drink to coat the adjacent wall in black liquid. "Batty are you trying to KILL ME?!"

The R7 astromech droid simply tweeted in response, a loose translation being somewhere along the lines of 'get it yourself then you lazy bastard.'

Angel swept his right sleeve across his mouth to wipe the small amount of caf left dripping from his chin, making a mental note to have the droid's memory wiped. Now fully awake, despite being robbed of his beverage, Angel went back to his task at hand...checking the planetary registry of Onderon, (which Dicer had so nicely obtained) for Bothans. Angel couldn't understand why the Devaronian hadn't been able to run the search himself, though he had cited being busy setting up the Divinity's computer systems. But Angel was sure if he went to the bridge Dicer would be busy slicing some new database. Such was the price for a relatively free crew...he had to put up with their eccentricities.

Sighing, he went back to his task, running search programs to narrow the list. He started with gender, then age, as the male in the message seeming to be middle aged by Bothan standards. Still receiving a fairly large list in response, he ran a search string against height and weight. Using the doorway barely visible in the background of the message, Angel was able to get a fairly reasonable estimate of the Bothan's height. Then judging by its build, he approximated its weight. Finally, he succeeded in cropping his list down to twenty candidates. He leaned back again to stretch, horrified that the chrono across from him read that ten standard hours had passed. Rubbing his eyes, he tried desperately to blink away the dryness caused by the ship's recycled air. The once scalding hot caf had cooled into a dark sludge which Angel stared curiously at, debating the merits of consuming it.

Deciding against such an endeavor, he picked up the datapad once more and began to work his way through the individual files. Twenty files, twenty names, and twenty faces later, Angel set the datapad back on the desk calmly and stood up. A few moments passed, before both datapad and wooden desk exploded, fragments showering the room with wooden spears. Small rivulets of blood ran down Angel's hand, dripping in rhythm with his heartbeat to pool on the deck below him. He let the pain from the shards imbedded in his knuckles wash through his mind, cleansing it of his ever-increasing frustration.

Four days of searching...and not a damn clue He thought silently to himself. Damnit Talon....

The beeping of the ship's personal comm. system interrupted his inner ranting. The indicator was lit which placed the call from the bridge. Sighing heavily, Angel opened the connection. "This is Jikkyo."

"Sir," a voice he suspected to be Captain Nevin's replied, "You asked us to inform you when Sala returned, and she has."

"Already?" Angel answered quizzically. It was almost a day's journey to Onderon. He had not been expecting her back for at least two more days. But then again...it IS Sala. "Ok, thank you Captain. I'll be right down." He closed the connection before Jenova could respond.

A throbbing pain in his hand reminded him that he was still bleeding all over the floor. Cursing softly, he tenderly removed the splinters from his skin, instinctively sucking on the wounds. Convinced that he was not going to die from blood loss, he neglected to bind his hand, heading for the turbolift doors instead. Sala's arrival meant he had to wait a short moment for the lift car, a soft whine preceded the ding announcing its arrival. The doors slid open and Angel stepped inside to be quickly whisked two levels down to the bridge corridor.

The layout of the Corellian CR-90 Corvette made it so only the main turbolift ran to the fourth level. In order to get to the bridge, he had to ride that lift down to the second, then walk down the "neck" of the Corvette to the bridge lift. This in turn took him back up to the third level, where the bridge was located. Whoever designed this ship needs to be shot., Angel said inwardly. He understood the tactical advantage of the lift being the only way into the bridge, but it was still a pain in the ass. Only a few of the crew looked his way as he took the long stroll down the bridge corridor. Most were too busy to realize he was even there, but the few who did gave him a respectful nod...obviously grateful to be employed.

The turbolift ride to the bridge was short as usual, the doors opening to reveal two guards on either side. Each carried a modified A-280 rifle and a DC-10 sidearm. It was obvious to Angel that Vashir was indeed the right choice for the job. As if sensing his approval, the green scaled Barabel appeared from the other side of the turbolift. Angel nodded to her, still worried that Sala was considering setting him up for a death match.

"Calm down Jikkyo. She's not going to rip your throat out...yet" Sala's trademark smuggler's smirk was splayed across her lips, drawing them back into a half-smile. The bags under her eyes showed Angel that she hadn't slept since she had left the Divinity. Everything about her looked tired: her hair was disheveled, clothes unkempt, even her unusually slouched posture.

"Watch the eyes there, Jikkyo." Sala teased, "I don't think the Kuati would approve."

"Quiet you." Angel replied, slightly amused, "What did you find out?"

"Well..." Sala started. She ran her hands through her long brown hair and stared absently at the console next to her. "Not a damn thing..."

Damnit Talon...

*                                            *                                          *

The dark room atop the highest spire of the Citadel always held an oppressive atmosphere for Angel. The Grand Master's presence was like an inferno in the Force, dominating his mind's eye and blinding it to everything else. Everytime he was forced to visit Talon's personal chambers, he was reminded of why the ancient Dark Lords were feared above all others.

Talon's voice floated into the small antechamber in which Angel waited. "Why are you here? Your ship never left orbit, so I know you haven't done what I asked." He could sense the Grand Master's inner frustration with what he had returned to. The Order was hurting. They had lost two apprentices in the fight with the kanalgors, their injuries severe enough to require removal from the Order. Riel had disappeared once again, leaving both the Sith and the Krath without their Dark Lords on the Council.
And his apprentice...well... found her own way.

Angel swallowed hard. Despite the mental preparations he had made to face the Dark Jedi Master, his mind was so overwhelmed by Talon's presence that his courage faltered. "I...I need help, my Lord." After Sala's fruitless journey to Onderon, Angel had run out of leads. If she could not roust the mysterious messenger, no one could. It was only after she had failed that he had decided his only course of action would be to confront Talon and demand any other information he had. The trouble with that, of course, was how to extract information from a Dark Jedi Master...especially one who had just been through the bowels of hell inside a holocron for months.

"Help?" Talon responded. Letting a hint of contempt slide into his words he continued, "Are you saying you can't handle this?"

A spike of fear and self-doubt shot through Angel's mind, threatening to tear apart his resolve. Withdrawing into himself through the Force, he locked onto fear and tried to abolish it...only to find slender threads linking it to an outside source...Talon. He's trying to break me... Pushing with his mind, Angel snapped the connection the Dark Master had carefully created. A slow smile crept across his face. Grabbing onto this small victory, he reversed his use of the Force, expanding his presence into the room.

I'm not incapable Master he sent telepathically. You gave me a wild bantha chase. Punctuating his remark, Angel exerted his full strength and slammed his sphere of influence into the dark inferno Talon had created in the room. Slowly he drove it back inch-by-inch, replacing it with his own dark presence. Sweat began to trickle down his forehead, while his smirk faded into an ironclad façade of grit determination. He felt his presence expand out of the antechamber and begin to drive its way towards the Grand Master... until a brief flash resonated through the Force, and the conflict was over.  Talon had exerted himself in one overwhelming push and easily swept aside Angel's efforts.

With a barely audible gasp, Angel doubled over. The wind raced out of his lungs like he had been kicked in the stomach. His hands darted out to catch him as he fell forward, palms sliding across the dark stone floors.

"I see my faith was not misplaced." Talon finally appeared in the doorway, standing over the downed Knight. He was dressed in the simple black robes of the Dark Council, hood pulled over his head, the cowl casting a shadow over the Master's face to hide his eyes from view.  His arms were folded across his chest, hands tucked into the opposite sleeves. The Grand Master took two steps forward and stood at Angel's side. "You have gotten stronger, Jikkyo. That is the only reason why I will help."

From his left hand fell a small piece of parchment with two words scribbled on it. Angel snatched the paper up in his bloodied left palm and quickly tucked it into his trouser pocket, lest Talon change his mind.  "Thank you Master." He managed to choke out in between breaths.

"The best way to thank me will be to complete your task." Talon left Angel's side, taking a few quick strides towards the chamber doors. Throwing them open with his mind, Talon turned back and addressed Angel once more. What he said would stick with Angel for the rest of his journey.

"I would do so quickly. She will need you."

*                            *                        *


Angel retracted himself from Kami's dreams, opening his eyes to stare into the impenetrable darkness of their quarters. He lay on his back, muscular chest bared to the balmy Lopen night. Kami's right arm was draped across him, her body pressed tightly against his side. A gentle breeze drifted through the window facing the bare plains, rustling the bedsheets from their nightly repose.

It was then that Kami awoke. Raising a trembling hand, she wiped the cold sweat from her face. She forced her dry, parched throat to swallow, using the grating pain to focus her mind. Through the last few months, as Angel had returned from his personal hell inside Phoenix, the two lovers had formed an intense bond. With their abilities in the Force, this bond allowed them to easily see each other's minds, unless one purposely blocked the other out. Utilizing this, Angel remained silent, reading her thoughts. Kami's breath came in slow, ragged gasps, each painfully rubbing her dry throat like sandpaper.

Taking a few deep breaths, Kami calmed herself. Turning slightly, she lay back down, Angel's arms instinctively encircling and pulling her close. She had touched her sister, felt her, seen her from millions of light years away...and she did not know how. How she, a lowly Krath Adept wielded such power to travel such vast distances.

"You are her twin Kami," Angel finally said. His voice did not surprise her, though she still jumped within the circle of his arms at the interruption of her thoughts by his calm presence. Slowly, she turned her face to him, meeting his bright amber gaze. "And unless those stories about the link between twins are highly exaggerated...I believe with the call of your blood combined with the power of the Force...you can touch her."

Kami rested her head on the pillow close to her lover's face, feeling his hands glide up the sides of her body to cup her face, "Another dream?"

Her voice emerged as a harsh whisper, words sticking in the coarseness of her throat. "Yes...of Paige."

Green eyes locked onto amber, Kami opened her thoughts fully to him, revealing the extent of her confusion. Smiling gently, Angel sent a wave of love and support through the Force. He felt her mind clutch onto it, drawing strength from the intense emotions. Kami rubbed her face against the strong hands cupping it...callused and rough from years of farming and training... yet still comforting and gentle. She closed her eyes, speaking instead to Angel through her mind.


I have to go

He let her feel, more than see, the extent of his dismay.

Are you sure?

Kami searched within herself, contemplating, then opened her eyes once again to see the worry creased on Angel's face.

Yes...I am sure

Leaning forward, Angel pulled her closer, resting his forehead against hers.

You go to face her...Paige.

A statement, not a question, to which Kami nodded.

I must...I have run from her for too long.

Angel's fingers danced lightly across her face. He swept away the cascading strands of jet black hair that rested there and caressed her cheek...

I must go away as well. Master Talon is getting impatient. He swallowed, grateful to be able to speak with his mind because of the large lump forming in his throat. Promise me... he started. A sheen of moisture shone in his magnificent amber eyes, an omen of impending tears. Promise me that you will come home...as you are...

His intense fear of Phoenix ran uncontrolled through his mind and into Kami's.I don't want to lose you as I nearly lost myself...

Stunned momentarily by a flash of fear within her breast, Kami swallowed hard once again, then surged forward, catching Angel's mouth with a fervent kiss. Snaking her arms around his athletic frame, she deepened the kiss until all his fears vanished beneath his desire and love for her.

Finally breaking away for air, Kami gazed seductively into his eyes, trailing her index finger down the twin scars across his cheek. "I promise."

Angel's expression shifted from intense concern into one of relief. He mischievously trailed both hands down to Kami's lower back. Intent on making their last night memorable, he pulled her close once more.



*                          *                            *

"Angel?"

"Angel?"

"ANGEL!!"

A yelp of surprise leapt from his lips as Angel was snapped back into the present. His mind slowly focused back on the world around him, recognizing the bridge of the Divinity immediately. Sala stood before him, her dark skinned hands resting on shapely hips. Her face wore an expression of concern, a positively unnatural look. To her right, Dicer looked up from the computer console, irritated with the unwanted distraction. The rest of the crew, even the normally reserved Captain Nevin, took a quick glance at what the shouting was all about. Taking a deep breath, the Dark Jedi Knight calmed his mind. He tried his hardest to push aside the memory of what looked to be the last night he and Kami would share together for awhile. A small smile crept across his lips as the memory refused to dissipate.

"I know that look." Sala said, moving her hands from her hips to fold them across her chest. Taking a step forward she jabbed her right index finger into Angel's chest and fixed him with an intense gaze. "You just need to focus on your task right now, Jikkyo"

Almost as an afterthought, she added, "The Kuati can take care of herself."

The smile on Angel's face widened. Sala had started to view Kami as more than one of his many flings of the past. She herself had been a fling on more than one occasion...one that Angel was incapable of forgetting; the large scar running across his chest served as a constant reminder. Sala's warming towards Kami eased Angel's many inhibitions about reuniting the old crew. The two were a lot alike: both strong willed, independent and driven. He knew Sala would eventually come around. All of them, he knew, held a certain affection for Christiana, Angel's estranged fiancée. But now...things were starting to change.

Tapping into the Force, he cleared his mind and took a deep breath. As he exhaled, he released his inhibitions and worries about Kami's journey. Sala is right. Kami is strong...a lot stronger than I was... A ghostly image of Kami lying on the floor of the Nightshade, Kuati dagger jutting out from her stomach flashed through Angel's mind, before he quickly banished the thought. She had changed since then, become more confident as she grew into her new powers. I don't need to worry about her... Angel shook his head as he finished his breath.  Luckily Sala had missed his little reprieve, as she would have been all over his case again.

"So let's go over what we know about this..." His mind momentarily blank, Angel reached into his trouser pocket and retrieved a small piece of parchment. "...Lord Ysaelis?"

Sala glanced down at the datapad clutched in her hands.  Scrolling through the text, she read, "We know he was a minor Krath Lord during the time of King Omnin. Also that he was a wealthy landowner on the outskirts of Iziz and dabbled in alchemy."

"...that's it?" Angel asked, shooting Sala a disappointed look. "How much do I pay you again?"

Sala offered a sneer in response. "If I had access to your archives, then I could dig up more, but it seems you Jedi are more secretive than I hoped."

"I searched the archives before returning to the Divinity, the only thing else I came up with was he was a human male of average appearance and was killed during Jedi Master Arca's fight against the Naddists." Angel replied.  His hands slowly massaged his temples in a clockwise motion, trying to rub away the growing pain. The glimmer of hope Talon had provided was quickly fading.  Even their vaunted archives had failed to produce anything of extreme value, He had spent two days after the confrontation with Talon pouring over the tomes of Krath History and none of which mentioned Ysaelis with anything more than a passing reference.  Angel knew the holocrons would have more information, but he dared not confront Azral.

"Jikkyo!" Yessef's excited voice shot out from behind his console. "I have it!"

Angel stopped rubbing his temples and looked up, curious about the commotion. "Have what?"

The silver furred Bothan appeared off to his right, running with datapad in hand. "I used some old contacts to obtain the Onderon property records. This estate was once registered to a Novey Ysaelis. The record date is around the same time as the Naddist control over Onderon."

His attention now focused solely on the datapad in front of him, Angel poured over the record. The estate was a few klicks north of Iziz, and the owner was supposed to have died during the Jedi invasion. After his death, the property was deemed off limits and left to rot. "The only thing left is ruins..." Angel finished reading aloud.  In an instant, his headache was gone: Hope was rekindled. "Yessef...if you were prettier I might just kiss you." He gave the Bothan a quick pat on the shoulder and turned to Jenova.

"Captain. Plot us a course to Onderon. I want to..."

"Excuse me sir." The dark skinned man interrupted. "But  Onderon is currently under New Republic control. Taking a registered Imperial capital vessel there might raise a few eyebrows. "

"Well if you'd allow me to finish my sentence, Captain, you would have heard my instructions. I want us to drop out of hyperspace on the far side of Dxun." Stepping next to Jenova, he added in a lowered voice. "Don't forget this is my ship. You do what I say, got it?"

"Yessir." Nevin replied. "I've been taking orders from men like you my entire life."

A rebuke made its way to Angel's lips, but he never let it materialize. Now was not the time for petty squabbling, he would deal with Nevin later.  "Very well it's settled. I'll take the Nightshade with Sala down to the surface and investigate."

"Wait...what's this about me going?" An indignant Sala appeared from behind Jenova, her face awash with incredulity. "Speak for yourself bud. I'm not going down there again. The damn place is a madhouse. Most of the people aren't fans of the New Republic, nor are they particularly fond of Imperials.  The two things they hate more than imperials are mercs and bounty hunters. You're on your own Jikk."

"Fine." Angel responded, shooting Sala an icy glare. Once again, he wished he had Kami's ability to influence minds.  "I'll go myself. But I am SO not bringing you back souvenirs."



*                      *                      *


Dxun...

The Demon Moon of Onderon, named as such for the ferocious beasts inhabiting its surface, hung low in the sky. It was the second of the four moons hanging above Iziz, and the one Angel hated the most. Dxun, like several other forest moons in the galaxy, had played host to many historical events. It had served as the main striking point for the Mandalorians during the Mandalorian War. The bodies of hundreds of Jedi killed in combat laying entombed on its surface from their assault.  Freedon Nadd, Exar Kun, Satal and Aleema Keto, Uulic Qel Droma, Jedi Master Arca, Nomi Sunrider...all had stepped foot on Dxun.

A shiver ran down Angel's spine as he watched the green moon rise over the walled city, Dxun had its place in galactic history, yes; but it also played a huge role in his own life.  The wind picked up, mussing his golden hair as he drew his cloak tighter around his body to stop himself shivering in the cold night. He knew the cold was not to blame; as each time his eyes were drawn towards Dxun, he could hear Phoenix's maniacal laughter in the back of his mind. I'm never stepping foot there again...

Almost reluctantly, he tore his eyes away. The Nightshade sat on the landing pad to his left, the sleek lines of its hull giving a shadowy outline in the dark night.  Plastered in the background were the tall buildings of Iziz, silhouetted by an uncountable amount of stars.

His approach to Onderon had gone went without a hitch. The phony IFF transponder Dicer rigged up provided him with a New Republic registration and ship ID, and he was allowed to land quickly. The Divinity, hung on the night-side of Dxun, waiting for his call.  He was dressed as usual: a simple black cloak, underneath which he wore his usual black trousers and a blood red shirt. Sala thought it best he not wear his hunting attire, lest someone recognize his trademark.  A single IR-5 repeating pistol sat holstered at his shoulder, while his lightsaber  rested in its hidden pocket in his cloak. The fake ID Dicer had provided for him gave him the name of "Jargon Ishkin," a freighter pilot from some backwater planet on the Outer Rim. While it would not stand up to rigorous inspection, it got him on the planet and into the city. That was all he needed.

"Beautiful isn't it." The voice roused Angel as it appeared from the darkness around him. He immediately recognized the accent and turned to face the new arrival.

"It's a shame the place is a living hell. What are you doing here Slishu?"

"You are trying to find someone. Who better to aid you than a Gand Findsman?" Slishu's mouthparts moved apart in his best impersonation of a human smile. "Besides, Onderon is one of the few planets I have yet to see. I've heard stories about the famous 'Walled City of Iziz,' but this is the first time I've had the honor of being here."

"Yeah, you always were a sucker for history." A wave of relief washed through Angel. It wasn't that he was afraid to do this on his own, nor that he wasn't strong enough to. With his history in this system, having a friend along just felt like a good idea.  "It's a good thing I stored that extra speeder on board. Or else you'd be hoofing it."


"Hoofing?  Jikkyo, surely you know I don't have hoofs."

"Was that..." Angel peered questioningly at the Gand standing to his right. "A joke?"

Slishu's mandibles did their "smile" again, and he let out what passed as Gand laughter. "Yes. Now there was one more reason why I..."

An ear-piercing scream cut him short.

"What the..."Angel quickly pushed his senses out around him, searching for the source. The air sirens of the city abruptly came to life with their thunderous annoying whine, confirming what he already knew. Tilting his head back, he stared face-to-face with the Demon Moon, now gigantic in the night sky.

"This is what I came to tell you. Dxun and Onderon are at the time when their atmospheres collide...the demons of Dxun are on their way." Slishu said, finishing his earlier statement.

"No," Angel responded, whipping his cloak behind him. "They're already here." The shrill scream sounded again, the same animal cry that still haunted his dreams. The flapping of leathery wings could be heard overhead, followed by another shrill bloodthirsty wail.

"Slishu, get back on your ship. Try to pick off as many as you can in the air." Angel yelled through the noise. The Gand merely nodded, then dashed off towards an adjacent landing pad. Angel did likewise, but headed for the spaceport instead of the Nightshade. He didn't want to draw attention to himself, but this was personal. The Demon Moon had claimed part of his life...now it was payback time.

The spaceport was filled with people running for cover while the military organized itself to repel the Dxun beasts. Using the Force to create a wedge in front of him, Angel plowed through the crowds. He didn't care about the people sent flying out of his way. He didn't care that some of them would most likely be trampled to death. The Dark Side was flowing through him...and it called for revenge. Boodlust coursed through his veins as he burst onto the outermost landing platform. Not missing a step, he opened himself fully to the Force and sprinted across at super human speeds. He vaulted off the edge of the platform and free fell the distance to the ground. As the planet rushed up to meet him, he reached with the Force again and gave a telekinetic push to slow to reasonable speed. Angel hit the ground and tucked into a roll, popping to his feet. The sound of metal scraping leather accompanied his right hand going for the saber concealed in his cloak, left hand for the IR-5 pistol at his hip.  He quickly scanned the area around him, searching for signs of life. The area around Iziz was mostly barren plains littered with sparse plant life, which gave way to dense forest in the distance. In the fiery light cast by the two atmospheres colliding, visibility was fairly good.

Yet still he felt, more than saw, the beast coming. Angel dove to his right, feeling the rush of air as razor sharp claws missed his back by mere inches.  Firing off a couple shots, Angel rolled to his feet and prepared for the beast's next attack.

They looked exactly as he remembered.  Large leathery wings, elongated talons, eight horns protruding from their heads, and sharp whip-like tails.  A slow smile crept across Angel's face as he projected his sphere of influence out around him.  The beast appeared to move in slow motion: frame-by-frame as Angel read its attack. It took off into the air at tremendous speed, circling around to sweep at him again. Timing the patter, he pushed off the ground with the Force and somersaulted in mid-air to land on the back of the beast. Purple light exploded from the end of Angel's saber with a *snap-hiss* as he thumbed the activation switch. The Dxun beast roared at the unwelcome guest on its back, thrashing about wildly to dismount him.

With a sadistic smile, Angel plunged his saber deep into the back of the beast, severing its spinal cord. Its back legs and wings immediately went limp, its body plummeting towards the surface. Another quick swipe from his saber severed its head, and Angel leapt clear. Head and body impacted separately, with Angel already running towards his next victim.  The Dark Side continued to pound through his veins, calling for more blood...more revenge.

He had no sooner dispatched his third beast with a belly swipe opening it from stem to sternum, when a familiar looking ChrD'kai fighter flashed overhead.  Crimson energy shot from its cannons, decimating anything unlucky enough to be hit by them.  Slishu rolled twice then looped around again, clearing the skies above Angel. The flaming corpse of a Dxun beast crashed a mere two meters to his left, casting up a cloud of thick dust. He did that on purpose...The comlink tucked in his sleeve beeped twice, signaling the all clear from Slishu.  Angel thumbed the ignition button once more, and the obsidian-handled saber extinguished its amethyst blade.

Angel clipped the saber back into its place on the inside of his cloak, which had by some miracle remained intact throughout the fight. He holstered his IR-5, now out of ammunition and took a deep, calming breath. The Dark Side was coming to him easier now than ever, a fact that both worried and excited the Dark Knight. It meant he was growing more powerful, but at what cost? Banishing the thought, surveyed his surroundings. Iziz was about a klick and a half behind him, its walls standing tall and proud. From there could be heard the sounds of raging battles as the local militia fought off the beasts as they had for thousands of years.

Completing a 360-degree scan of the area, he stopped dead at what lay a mere kilometer to the north of him. Calling Slishu on the comlink, he asked "Is that what I think it is?"

"Yes" Came the Gand's response. "During the battle you turned north. If my readings are correct, that should be the Ysaelis estate...well...what's left of it at least."

"Roger that." Smiling inwardly, Angel said to himself Well...this is convenient

"Ok, Slishu, head back to the Divinity I'll handle it from here."

The electronic voice came back, "Ok. Just be careful down there. Those ruins don't look very stable."

This time the smile physically appeared as he turned off the comlink. Angel straightened his cloak and brushed the gore from his trousers, starting a leisurely pace towards the awaiting buildings.



*                      *                      *


Calling them "ruins" was definitely stretching the word. What had once been a grand estate with lush gardens high towers and beautiful craftsmanship...was now little more than a pile of rubble. The engineering of the day had barely withstood the test of time, resulting in the wreckage strewn before  Angel's eyes. Not wanting to believe that this was once the single largest dwelling on the planet, he blinked, wondering if the rubble would magically transform back into the beauty he had seen in the files.

Here and there lay giant stone blocks, overgrown with grass and sparse shrubs. Moss covered everything, including the skeletons of ancient trees which cast foreboding shadows across the ruins. The general layout of the estate was more or less intact. Rotted gardens, lined on both sides by gnarled branches ran up the front, facing the Onderon sunrise.  In the middle of the garden was the base of what appeared to be a fountain, the water lines feeding it long since dried up. A statuette of a small child was barely recognizable where it lay on its side next to the fountain. Overgrown footpaths ran across and around the gardens, swirling about to a set of huge stairs leading up to what remained of the house.

Finding the garden to be rather depressing, Angel made his way slowly up the stairs, unsure as to how he should proceed. He had fully expected to come upon an almost fully intact mansion with rooms covered in layers of dust. He would have just waltzed in, found what he was looking for, and headed home.

Damnit Talon...

He passed through what once could have been a doorway, running his hands along the beautiful, wind polished stone. There was debris everywhere. The remains of furniture, vintage computer panels, candleholders, fabric shreds...everything in the house was a complete loss.  A sense of hopelessness pervaded his thoughts. With everything else completely destroyed, how could a single artifact have survived? Furthermore, Angel was sure the ruins had been picked over by thousands of looters over the years: treasure hunters searching for ancient Jedi artifacts to sell.

He was still running his hand along the stone pieces when he felt an eerily familiar gouge in the surface. Curious, he turned his head to the side...to immediately recognize saber marks. Following the large stone slab, he could see the slashes caused by errant saber strokes continued all the way down.  He took another step forward, only to hear a *crack* and lose his balance. Tapping quickly into the Force to steady himself, he looked down to find his right food buried in a human skull.

Angel crouched to examine the body further...only to find that the head was no longer attached. The base of the spinal cord had been severed cleanly.  The only weapon Angel knew that could make such a cut was a lightsaber. Must be one of the Jedi..., the Dark Knight surmised. A faint shimmer from the torn rags adorning the body of the skeleton caught his eye. Overcome with curiosity, he extended his right hand and swept away the decaying cloth.

His fingers brushed up against something round and smooth, before the world around him started to spin. Standing up to regain his balance, his jaw dropped as he found himself standing in the main veranda of the mansion...fully restored to its original state.

What the...

"Master Arca!" A voice called from behind him.  Angel spun to see two Jedi sprinting down the hallway towards him. His hand dropped immediately to where his saber hung, but the pair passed through him as if he were nothing more than a wisp of air.

"Master Jonus, Padawan Mishra...what are you doing here?"

Angel blinked twice in disbelief. Standing before him was Jedi Master Arca: Defeater of Freedon Nadd, hero of the Old Republic... in all the majesty and glory the ancient texts spoke of. Clad in the attire of a Jedi Master, he held his lightsaber pommel in his right hand at his side.

"King Omnin and the spirit of Freedon Nadd have appeared, my Master. Master Uulic is trying to subdue them, but he needs your help." Jonus said hastily clad in the mantle of a new Jedi Master.

"Very well." Arca replied. Thinking back, Angel remembered that Omnin and Nadd had captured him during the attempted removal of Nadd's body from Onderon. Uulic Qel Droma and Nomi Sunrider had later rescued their master. This must be the final battle of the Naddist revolt...

"I will go there at once. I want you two to find this Ysaelis and execute him for crimes against the Republic...his dark alchemy must be stopped."

"Yes master." The two junior Jedi replied in unison.

Almost as quickly as the vision appeared, it dissipated, leaving Angel crouched over the dead body before him. If he was killed here...then... Reaching out with the Force, he lifted the body and dumped it unceremoniously in a heap a few feet away.  He continued to move the surrounding debris, throwing rocks with a small hand movement. Surprised at the effort this required, he shrugged it off as an after effect of the fight with the Dxun beasts. As the dust settled, a small trap door came into view, bringing a smile to Angel's face. Ysaelis was a nobleman as well as a Dark Jedi.  He must have built a subterranean laboratory for his work...

Angel straddled the small door, using both hands to grasp the handle welded to the right side. Tapping once more into the Force, he pulled with all his strength. At first the door did not budge, but slowly it gave way with an ear-piercing metal shriek. A cloud of dust erupted from the underground chamber as air rushed into it. What the...this thing was vacuum-sealed? Angel pondered to himself. This just keeps getting weirder...

With his goal in striking distance, he pushed all other thoughts aside and dropped down into the small hole.

*                          *                      *

The first thing he noticed was the smell. With the room sealed off from outside air, the stench of burnt flesh had been patiently waiting for a thousand years to be released. The sweet, pungent smell assaulted his senses, and it was only through countless experiences that Angel kept himself from depositing his last meal on the floor.  The source of the smell was lost in the darkness beyond, another mystery he would soon have to uncover.

The second thing he noticed was a bluriness in the Force. His senses felt fuzzy, with even the most basic Force techniques becoming difficult to perform. What he formerly had passed off as exhaustion now became a concern. Emperor's black bones, I hope there's nothing alive down here... Truthfully, he knew it was impossible since the air had been sucked out of the room. However, since he had come to rely more on the Force than his own senses, he felt extremely vulnerable.

Angel thumbed the ignition switch on his lightsaber with a sigh, casting a bright purple glow into the void around him. For the first time he got a look at his surroundings in the dim light cast by his saber. The walls and floor were completely black. Reaching down, he brushed a light, powdery substance from the floor and rubbed it between his fingers. Carbon dust? Well that could be why the room was sealed, but there's nothing down here to burn...

After rising to his feet, Angel waved his lightsaber towards the nearest wall. He used his free hand to brush more of the dust away and found lightsaber slashes similar to the hallway above. So the fight continued down here, eh?  Trying brush the soot from his hands and succeeding only in smearing it on his pants, he let out another exasperated sigh, then extended his saber as a glow rod to light his path.

The tunnel was not extremely long, and after a minute or two of walking it gave way into a larger chamber.  It wasn't huge by any stretch of the word, but it was big enough to serve its purpose: an alchemy lab. The amethyst light reflected off the soot stained floors, filling the larger chamber with an eerie purple glow. In the dim light, the shadows of lab benches and equipment materialized from the darkness. Its layout was fairly simple: three rows of benches stacked with machinery, flasks, tubes and the remains of chemical bottles. In the very front was something Angel could only assume was an altar... or a torture device.  What remained of a human body lay stretched across the device, its hands and wrists chained to the floor. From this distance, Angel couldn't discern what had happened, though the ribcage sticking straight up indicated a violent death.  Disgusted, he swept his saber towards the back of the chamber, revealing a series of cages lined against the wall. Inside were the bones of an ancient creature, subjected to the Dark Alchemy of Ysaelis. The jaws on the skeleton were open as though uttering its final scream, and Angel could almost feel the pain of its death in this altogether horrible place.

Having taken in the sickening contents of the lab, he walked the walls of the room, crossing the path of something that immediately made him recoil.

This place is a tomb...

In front of him lay the source of the foul stench. A human corpse, perfectly preserved from the airtight chambers, sat with its back against the wall. It was burnt beyond recognition, but from the pattern of the charring, it looked as though he was incinerated from the inside out. The weird part however, was the twisted look of satisfaction, perhaps even happiness stretched across its charred lips.

"Alright Ysaelis..." Angel said aloud. "What exactly were you doing down here..." Briefly shaking his pants to clear the steadily accumulating dust, the Dark Jedi move his saber carefully around the body, searching for some clue about what he was looking for. During his attempt to sidestep around the body, his knee knocked into the head causing the body to slump over and slide to the ground in a heap. The carbon dust swirled into the air, filling Angel's eyes and nose with soot. He let out a loud sneeze, the sound of which was amplified within the chamber. Tears welled up in his eyes to cleanse them of the unwanted dust, Angel blinking them quickly away.

As his vision cleared, he was shocked to see letters written on the wall behind the body. They shone brightly in the light from his saber, each symbol written in Galactic Basic. Long since dried up blood streaked the boundaries of each symbol, making interpretation difficult.  Taking a carefully placed step forward, he moved his saber closer to the letters. Worn and faded over time, it took him a second to decipher the full meaning.

"No Force?" Angel said aloud, reading the cryptic message. "What the devil does that mean." He looked down at the crispy corpse with a questioning gaze. "What we're you trying to tell me? The Force doesn't exist here?

It was then that Angel noticed the corner of a small piece of parchment sticking out from inside the corpse's charred clothes.  Checking down vomit as he moved closer to the now decomposing corpse, he retrieved the parchment. Holding it carefully, as the edges were burnt and the paper extremely brittle, Angel quickly scanned the flowing handwriting:

I found the final piece to the puzzle. In order for the ring to work, a wearer sensitive to the Force must be killed. A young house hand proved to be a most worthy subject. He was barely sensitive to the Force, but he made a good experiment. I might have gotten a bit carried away at the altar, but I had to be sure it was done.

Angel turned the page over and continued to read There are whispers that the Jedi are coming for me. They will be in for a surprise: It should be ready to repel ...

The rest of the sentence was burnt away, leaving Angel with another piece of a broken puzzle. So far he had a body, a message written in blood, and a page from a journal carefully hidden on the corpse. The only thing he had learned from the journal was that the talisman was a ring. A sudden wave of lightheadedness washed over Angel, and this time he could barely touch the Force to help steady himself. His hand shot out to catch the wall as he stumbled, off balance. What is going on? He silently wondered.  For the life of him, Angel couldn't understand why the Force was so distant and hard to reach. The Dark Side had just been flowing through him stronger than ever, and now it seemed to have abandoned him.

Angel coughed. The air was becoming thick and heavy with all the soot disturbed by his movements. It was then, when he tapped into the Force to try and stabilize his breathing...that he understood.  The Force had almost vanished. No Force! That's what he was going to repel...

"Which means..." Excitement pumping through his veins, the young Dark Jedi dropped hastily to his knees beside the fire-blackened corpse.  I've done it!  Picking up the right hand of the burnt cadaver, Angel slowly turned it over. A faint glimmer, caused by the light of his saber, caught his eye. On the middle finger was thick silver ring with a glimmering gem set in the middle. Around the band of the ring small runes were etched in a language Angel had only seen inside the Citadel on Lopen. This it it!

In what Angel believed to be Ysaelis last attempt from the grave to protect his work, the ring refused to budge from the finger. Moving his saber as precisely as possible, he severed the finger off at the knuckle. His blade grazed the ring, and Angel bit his tongue, cursing his clumsiness. Removing the ring from the now severed finger, he rolled it carefully in his hand. Amazingly, the ring was not damaged, which brought an even bigger grin to his face as he recognized the material.

Not silver...Mandalorian Iron!

His anxiety over the ring's abilities quickly disappeared as he admired the beauty of its craftsmanship. The runes were so intricate and detailed, that he had a hard time believing human hands could have inscribed them. Mission complete.  Angel said to himself. Time to go home. As he turned to make his way out of the ancient laboratory, he tripped and stumbled over another corpse, this one even more horribly burnt than the other. His stumble turned into a nosedive, sending him skidding across the smooth stone floor.

Letting out a brief laugh at his clumsiness, Angel came to his feet, covered in soot once more...only to find he was no longer in the lab; well...not the lab as he knew it. The soot covered floors were now polished to a brilliant shine, the bright lights hanging from the ceiling reflecting on clean lab benches filled with beakers, test tubes, chemicals and working equipment.  From the back of the room, animal cries could be heard, as test animals paced back and forth, pronouncing their distaste for imprisonment. The sound of lightsabers clashing abruptly filled the room, accompanied by curses and threats thrown between two combatants.

"Give it up Ysaelis, your foul arts are no match for the light."

"Pathetic Jedi, do you really think you can defeat me without the use of your 'light-side'. I've taken away your best weapon."

"You're unable to use the Dark Side as well, so don't waste time with idle threats."

Peering around the end of the lab bench, Angel witnessed the final battle between Ysaelis and Jonus. The two exchanged sloppy lightsaber blows. Jonus' silver blade would swing wildly, only to be batted aside by the blood red blade of Ysaelis. Without the Force to guide their strikes, the two were locked in a mortal combat of amateurs.  Jonus, despite showing obvious signs of tiring, remained calm, not giving into the call of anger and revenge.  Mishra was absent, Angel noted, so that must have been his body covering the trap door

The sizzling sound of saber meeting flesh drew Angel's attention again, and he was shocked to see Jonus' saber jutting out of Ysaelis' back. Then the Krath Lord's face twisted into the sadistic smile the corpse wore. Jonus' saber flickered twice, then went out. "I may have lost" Ysaelis said through gritted teeth. "but I refuse to die alone."

Shock and confusion ran across Jonus' face as his saber died...but Angel knew exactly what happened. Ysaelis absorbed the energy from the diatium power cell as the blade passed through him. It was a suicide attack, no living being could absorb that much power, but Angel could see in Ysaelis' eyes that it was the only way to win. With a scream, Ysaelis' body erupted into flames, which expanded out into the surrounding room, consuming Jonus. They rushed towards Angel, who instinctively covered himself. He could swear he felt the heat of the flames wash over him, but when he looked up, he was back in the present.

"So, someone has finally discovered the secret of the ring..."

Angel's mind snapped back to focus.  He whipped around at the ghostly voice to come face-to-face with the spirit of Ysaelis. He stood about Angel's height, though skinnier and completely bald. His skin was drawn tight the bones in his face, giving him an even greater spectral appearance.  His robes were plain black, and Angel smiled at how Dark Jedi fashion hadn't changed in the last millennia. "Lord...Ysaelis?"

The Dark Lord fixed his almost demonic eyes on the Angel, the menace in his voice unmistakable "And who might you be? A Jedi? Are you here to finish the job?"

"No Ysaelis." Angel responded, staring unflinchingly into the Krath's blazing eyes. "I am a Dark Jedi and follower of the Sith teachings. I have come to retrieve this for my master in our Order..."

"That ring must not be allowed to leave." A second voice interrupted from Angel's left. The room became a little brighter as a second spectre appeared. "We came here to destroy its evil. My apprentice and I gave our lives to keep it hidden, and in death I shall protect that sacrifice."

"Jedi Master Jonus Urza...I guess my final attack was not enough to be rid of you." Ysaelis turned his attention from Angel to the spectre standing directly across from him.

"You were a coward, Ysaelis. You knew you were defeated and yet you incinerated this room, sealing us away for eternity. That damned ring kept your spirit trapped, but mine has lingered.  I willingly remained, guarding this place. To protect the Jedi Order, I will not let your spirit roam free, nor YOU leave." Turning glowing eyes from Ysaelis to Angel, Jonus raised his hands, letting the Force flow through him once again.

"Your vaunted Order is no more." Angel coldly informed him. "They were completely destroyed nearly 30 years ago."

The long dead Jedi Master's spirit seemed to pause, considering the gravity of Angel's claim. "That is not possible. The Jedi Order has never, and will never, be defeated." Jonus' eyes fell to Angel's hand where his saber hilt was still tightly grasped. "I see you carry the weapon of a Jedi, yet you spoke of being a Sith follower. For your lies, and for the Order, I will destroy you."

"My master ordered me to bring this back, and I will." Snarling, Angel re-ignited his lightsaber and slashed at Jonus. The amethyst blade passed harmlessly though the ghost. Almost in disbelief, he slashed three or four more times, the blade slicing through air each time. Sithspit...now what? I can't use the Force!

Jonus chuckled softly. With a simple hand motion, he attempted to telekinetically throw Angel against the solid stone wall...but nothing happened. A look of confusion was quickly replaced by understanding as he saw the ring on Angel's hand.

Then Ysaelis entered the fight. A dark wave of energy radiated from Ysaelis' ghost. Jonus reeled from the attack, taking a few steps back. "You cannot defeat me by yourself, Jonus. Your silly apprentice is no longer here to help you." The Krath ghost let out a wicked cackle then unleashed another attack at the dazed Jedi Master.

Wait...I can't use the Force...THAT'S IT! As Ysaelis continued his assault, Angel dashed towards Jonus' ghost, ring extended. The blue glimmer of the Force spirit dimmed as Ysaelis' ring passed into its aura. At that moment, Ysaelis' launched a brutal attack that weakened spirit full on.

The ghost of Jonus did not even have time to scream. The spectre just simply...ceased to exist.

"Fool." If Ysaelis had been alive, Angel was sure he would have walked over and spit on Jonus' corpse. The Krath shook its head then turned its attention back on Angel. "Your help was appreciated. That man got the best of me once, and I've been trapped down here because of it. My final attack ruined all my research...my life's work. That ring is the only thing I have to show for it.... How long have I been dead?"

"Over a thousand years." Angel replied coolly. He didn't trust the Krath anymore than he would trust a Krayt Dragon in a nest of Banthas.  His brain kept telling him to flee, and leave the spirit to its madness...yet somehow his body would not obey.

"A thousand years...Well I guess that means it's time for me to leave." Ysaelis rose from his position against the bench and stretched his arms. "It's a shame that you won't be able to go back to your master..."

"What...?" Angel asked questioningly, still trying to get his body in motion. He wasn't sure if it was pure curiosity, or some other mystical force that held his body in place.

"You see, after a thousand years, I don't want to be a ghost. It's time for the Krath to rise again.  I'm rather fond of your body...I think I'll take it." As he finished his sentence, the ghost shot forward at Angel quicker than the Dark Jedi ever thought possible. Out of sheer reaction, he ignited and made to block with his saber...

About three meters away, Ysaelis's ghost stood stopped, a pained look on its face. He seemed as if he was pressed against an invisible shield preventing him from coming closer.  It didn't take Angel long to figure out why.

"Forget about something Yessie?" He teased, waving his hand the ring adorned.

"Damn you. Take that off at once."

"Oh yeah...SURE!" Angel retorted, letting sarcasm bleed into his words. "You couldn't have just let me leave could you? Well now you've pissed me off, and you of all people should know what its like to piss off a Dark Jedi."

Ysaelis laughed. "You forget however, that you cannot do anything to me. Your little flashlight can't hurt a spirit of my power."

As much as I hate to admit it, he's right...what the hell AM I going to do...? Angel knew he was not powerful enough to use the attacks Ysaelis could,  nor did he particularly want to attempt the same move he had against Phoenix.If I absorb him...I don't think my mind can resist that of a Krath Lord.

Then it dawned on Angel. Wait...why do I have to absorb him? What can't I absorb his attacks...?
The beginnings of  a plan formed in Angel's mind. He shut off his saber and clipped it back on his belt, dimming the laboratory into near complete darkness, save the glow of Ysaelis.

"Giving up are we?" Ysaelis taunted, despite being unable to read Angel. "Just let it happen. I don't want to do it, but I'll bring this entire place down. I will survive, but you...you poor, poor mortal...will be crushed."

"I'm just getting started Ysaelis." Angel shot back. Anger was filling his voice, and he let it. He conjured up every memory that stirred anger, hatred, and fear inside him: his parents' murder, his brother's mangled body, Phoenix's soulless eyes, the vision of Kami's father...all passed through his mind, enraging him further The timing on this has to be perfect...

Sweat trickled down his forehead. When he was at the point where he swore he felt his blood boiling, Angel threw Ysaelis his best half grin. "It's time Ysaelis." With his free hand, he slipped the ring from his finger and threw it at Ysaelis. The spirit dimmed slightly, moving quickly aside to avoid its path.

You're mine now! Angel thought to himself. As the ring distanced itself from him, the Dark Side exploded inside of him. Pure energy coursed through his veins, and a raging volcano of darkness erupted inside his mind.

A look of mild worry and confusion passed into Ysaelis' eyes, unsure how to handle the power Angel suddenly wielded. With a snarl, he collected his full strength for one big attack. The ghost extended its hands in towards Angel and launched a massive bolt of lightning.

Then the last thing Ysaelis expected to happen...did.

Angel smiled. Extending his arms and placing the heels of his palms together, he caught the energy bolt. Pulling with the Force, he let massive amounts of energy bleed into his hands. A silent scream, too painful to be unleashed, formed on his lips as the skin blackened and peeled away to muscle, nerve and bone. A sudden coldness washed over his hands as his nerves overloaded.  His body began to feel on fire as it reached its critical energy state: His limbs burned, his blood boiled, and his mind was on the verge of combusting. As the energy bolt suddenly winked out of existence, his power crazed mind heard a gasp come from Ysaelis. The Dark Knight pushed his palms together, redirecting the absorbed energy back into his hands.  A small ball of light formed in the air between his palms, growing bigger as he drew his hands apart. Angel pushed every last drop of energy he could into the light, making it grow exponentially. Through silted eyes filled with tears of pain, Angel could see the shock splayed across Ysaelis' face, keeping him frozen in place.

It was the last of the ghost he would ever see.

With a soul-wrenching scream of anguish, Angel let loose the massive energy in front of him. He had one shot at this, and he knew that it would be difficult to control...but it was his only chance. The ball of energy erupted from his hands and flew straight and true at Ysaelis. The air crackled as the tremendous amount of energy shot through it faster than a blaster bolt. The Dark Lord tried at the very last moment to dodge, but the blast hit him center-mass. There was no huge explosion, no blinding flash of light, nor was there time for Ysaelis to scream. The ghost just...vanished.

Angel stood in place, his body smoking. Through tear-clouded eyes, he looked down at his hands. The skin was charred and peeled back. Immense blisters were already forming as puss and blood mixed together to drip freely to the floor. The scent of burnt flesh filled his nostrils again, this time fresh and raw. His hands were now little more than mangled mockeries of themselves. Darkness began to creep into the corners of his vision. His legs wobbled once, buckling his knees...before he collapsed into a heap on the cold stone floor.

His last thought was of a Kami...somewhere across the galaxy...then darkness took him.


*                              *                            *

"How bad is he?"

...Sala?

"I'm not sure. He'll live though."

"What happened to his hands?"


...Dicer?

"They were like that when I found him...You remember the stories though? Dark Jedi using energy attacks."

...Slishu?

"Yeah, Palpatine had abilities like that...but Angel can't be that powerful...can he?"

"Apparently not. The Emperor never fried himself"


...

"Will these burns heal? I dare say the Kuati might be upset about this."

"The burns on most of his body have been healed completely. But a few spots on his hands...not even bacta can heal."

"How much longer will he be in there?"

"I can't say.  Perhaps a day more will do him good."

"Have you three told him yet?"

Christiana? What the hell?

"We told you to wait on the bridge. This really isn't the time."

" Did you leave Kaevan there with Yessef?"

"Yes, he seemed rather taken with my son"

...son?

"You think he'll be upset about his hair?"


...my hair?

"Heh...most likely."


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[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 6, 2005 6:32:44 PM)]
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 6, 2005 6:33:49 PM)]
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 6, 2005 6:35:51 PM)]
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 9, 2005 11:15:53 PM)]
Angel
ComNet Disciple
 
Angel
 
[VE-ARMY] Senior Sergeant
[VE-DJO] Dark Jedi Knight
 
Post Number:  2071
Total Posts:  3342
Joined:  Jul 2003
Status:  Offline
  RE: Ancient Secrets
October 6, 2005 6:37:24 PM    View the profile of Angel 
The world slowly came into focus around Angel, one object at a time. Blurs and clouds became defined lines shapes. A table here, a chair there, a bacta tank, a med-droid, a computer console...and finally Sala, Slishu, and Dicer. The trio stood there, each wearing their respective disapproving glare. Sala with her hands firmly placed on her hips, Slishu, his mandibles slowly opening and closing, and Dicer, his arms folded across his chest.

Is it too late to die? Angel said inwardly. Opening his mouth, he managed to croak out, "Nice to see you guys too."

Sala was the first to react, leaping across the short distance between them...to slug him in the chest. Angel bolted up in bed, doubling over as the wind rushed from his lungs. Sala hit harder than Kami, who in turn hit like a Whipid prizefighter...but luckily for Angel she held back.

"SALA!?" Dicer barked in disbelief. "Careful with him. He breaks easily ya know."

"Yes Sala. It seems we always are pulling him out of certain death...he racks up quite a bacta bill." Slishu teased, his mouthparts spreading into the Gand version of a smile.

"Oh I didn't hit him that hard." Sala grinned sheepishly. "Just a broken rib to remember me by."

Wheezing, Angel replied. "You guys are a riot. So how was I in there?"

"Ten days."

Angel reeled at the thought of spending ten days in the dunk tank. He silently blessed whatever Gods there may be that he was unconscious for the duration. Still, all the feeling had returned to his skin. The last thing he could remember was the numbness of it all. In his attack, he surmised that he flambéed every nerve ending in his body.  He remembered the look of his hands, mangled and charred beyond recognition...now almost fully healed. There were a few burn scars on the palms of both his hands where the energy was focused, and the newly regenerated skin was a bit tender.  All in all, considering how reckless he had acted Angel was just thankful to be alive.

A sudden wave of guilt slammed into him, sending his stomach reeling and tears to his eyes. "The ring...the whole reason I went there..."He stammered, cursing himself for throwing it into the darkness of the lab. One of the bed pillows was flung across the room buy an invisible hand, coming to rest against the far wall.

Stifled laughter caught his attention.

Angel's three companions exchanged bemused glances. "Do you mean this?" Slishu inquired, changing his expression to the best sly look he could manage. In his outstretched right hand lay Ysaelis' ring.  The Mandalorian iron gleamed in the artificial light of the Divinity's medical ward, and its sparkling diamond cast rainbows on the bulkhead.

"B-But...how did you know?" He stammered, " Wait a minute...How did you even know where to find me... that I needed help?  How did you know about the ring? How did you find the lab..."Angel was thoroughly confused.  He had not been in contact with Slishu since the fight with the Dxun beasts and the Divinity had been in orbit behind Dxun the entire time...How do they always know?

"Angel." Sala said levelly. She was now perched on the edge of the medical cot, an almost motherly look on her face. "It's what we do."

Pointing to Dicer she said, "Information."

Then herself. "Planning."

Finally Slishu. "Retrieval."

An exasperated look made its way onto Angel's face. He slammed himself back down against the bed. "Remind me why I took you three in again?" He said, rolling over to put his back to them.

All three chuckled before Sala finally answered with a sly wink. "Because someone  always needs to save your sorry ass. And since the Kuati isn't here to do it, we figured we'd make...acceptable replacements."

Kami... Memories of what he heard while in the tank suddenly stirred up in his mind, and one in particular gnawed at him. "Is she here?" He asked tentatively.

"Who? Kami?" Dicer replied quickly. "You know she's not."

"Not Kami...Christiana. I heard you four talking while I was dunking."

The trio exchanged worried glances, all eyes finally settling on Sala. Through the Force, Angel could sense very little, an aftershock from the veritable meltdown he gave his body. He picked up just the slightest twinge of nervousness from Sala before she responded. "No Jikk, she's not here. I think you were having a dream. You know we wouldn't do that to you." She turned sharply, obviously bothered by the question, and having to make such an obvious lie.

"Oh, and no more going back to sleep." She called back, stepping through the hatch to the medial bay. You're expected."

Looking back over his shoulder, Angel raised an intrigued eyebrow. "Wait...where are we?"

Dicer flashed a toothy smile, his red eyes almost glowing with amusement. "In orbit around Lopen. Some Admiral named...Japheth I believe wanted you shuttled down to the surface as soon as you were awake."


*                      *                      *

During the shuttle ride down, all Angel could do was look at his reflection in the viewpoint. It was taking him awhile to get used to his new hairstyle. He hadn't noticed it when he woke up, and it wasn't even until he hit the fresher on the Divinity that he realized something was missing. Most of his hair, according to Slishu, had been burnt by whatever he had done on Onderon. The lower parts were ruined, so Sala had gone planetside and employed a local hairstylist to trim his hair into something presentable. What this left him was his once golden mane chopped down to layered hair that barely reached his chin. While he did not hate the look, he had always been used to his long blonde locks. Allowed to keep it in the academy because of his brother, he was used to tying it back for workouts and brushing it out of his eyes. In a way, it was his trademark look...now destroyed.

His distracted demeanor hadn't stopped when the shuttle touched down on the landing pad atop the fifth tower of the Citadel. Nor had he completely gotten over it as he walked the stairs of the central tower. It was not until he was before the chamber of the Dark Council that he focused his mind on what was to transpire. On his left hand was the "ring of nullification," a name Angel had hastily given it just moments before. Whilst cutting him off completely from the Force, it created a protective void around him. The ring was a viable traffic cop: nothing got in, nothing got out.

Angel could only assume the bewilderment the Dark Council would be experiencing right now. They had just been told that Angel awaited his audience, yet they could not feel him through the Force.  Talon, he surmised, would already have known the talisman's powers, yet would let the rest of the council wait in wonder.  The converse was unfortunately true, as he could not read anything from the grand chamber within. Being without the Force still unnerved him: it was like walking in the dark without a light, blind to the world around you.  He was so used to sensing Cyanus around the corner, or Kami's soothing presence in the fresher, that he toyed with the idea of keeping the ring off. In the end, he decided to have his fun with the Dark Council...

Finally after what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, a pair of Crimson Guard, fully clad in ceremonial armor, opened the ornate door to the Dark Council's chambers and beckoned him forth. The Audience Chamber remained vast, dark, and imposing, even after all the times Angel and Phoenix had visited. Its high, vaulted ceilings gave way to incredible black columns, with all leading towards the semi-circular dais situated in the center. The black marble dais, which served as the Council's alter, reflected no light, giving rise to rumors of ancient enchantments warding the council members. There were nine seats scattered around the altar, yet all but two remained empty.  In the throne of the Grand Master was Kadann, with Japheth two seats to his right in the chair reserved for the Headmaster.

Angel stopped short of the dais and bowed deeply with respect. Where's Master Talon...? He thought to himself, And why is Kadann in the Grand Master's throne...? I haven't been gone THAT long, have I?

"Dark Jedi Knight Jikkyo Nimiichi." Kadann began, "Rise and address the Council."

Rising from his bowed position, Angel pulled back the hood of his robes and looked up. "Master Kadann...before I begin my report...where is Grand Master Talon?"

A smile tugged on the lips of the Vast Empire's leader. "I relieved him of his duties. Until he puts his affairs in order and I deem him capable to lead, I will serve as your master."

"Understood, my Lord." Angel bowed quickly once more. When he rose, he set his shoulders and took the ring from his left hand. "Master Talon sent me to Onderon to investigate the rumor of a Krath artifact of considerable power hidden somewhere on the planet..."


*                *                  *

"And you managed this attack how?" Japheth interrupted. "I am curious as to how a Knight could possibly perform this feat."

"I believe I was only able to because of my abilities in energy absorption. The massive energy needed to be released, so I reversed my powers. ...But it almost cost me my life." Angel replied. He choked down the bile rising his throat as the image of his mangled hands forever burned in his mind was conjured.  "If my companions had not rescued me, I would have died there. My body was badly burnt from the energy, my hands worst of all. "

"I see. Yet to wield such power means you have progressed greatly. "Kadann added. Turning to Japheth, the pair exchanged silent words, ones Angel could not fathom because of the ring sitting in his hand. "Very well. It is the will of the council that you be deemed a Sith Guardian. You will provide the Headmaster with the ring, so that he may study it further."

"For now, rest. Your journey is complete." The Headmaster concluded, visibly anxious to play with his new toy.

*                          *                      *

Angel found her in the training rooms. Kami sat cross-legged where she had first experienced the true power of the Force upon her arrival on Lopen. She had told him it was here that Talon had taught her the meditative state that slowed time and opened the senses to a world more vibrant, more vast and decisively more tangible than the one she had seen for most of her life.

His heart burst with joy over seeing his love again. For not the first time since Phoenix's defeat, he had almost gone were she couldn't follow... So he stood there, watching her chest rise and fall with each breath; taking in the smell of her hair as it shimmered in the flickering light.

"Congratulations." He finally said after several minutes.

Angel's soft voice interrupted her train of thought, the sound amplified by the sculptured archways and beams surrounding her.  She opened her brilliant green eyes, and Angel felt her mentally examining him through the Force. He was stunned by the amount in which her ability to read him had grown. She could sense every thought before they flashed within his mind...and the shadow of his fear as it lurked patiently, biding its time within the dark confines of his subconscious.

Abruptly awash in a wave of longing and grief with his appearance, Kami came swiftly to her feet, turning to face her lover where he stood within the doorway. He stood easily, dressed within the black robes of the order, his amber eyes reflecting only a deep concern for her.

A soft sob breaking free of her throat, Kami catapulted herself forwards to cross the distance between her and Angel in a few strides. Throwing herself against his warmth, she slid her arms about his powerful back, feeling his arms enclose protectively about her as she did so. Burying her face against his chest, she stifled the next sob; her eyes remaining painfully dry despite the tornado of emotion within her.  Despite being overwhelmed with his own happiness and the longing that flowed through the Force from Kami, he still managed to sense something wrong.  Something had changed. He could feel Kami's mind whirl around a confession she wanted to make, only to be lost in the swirling vortex of her thoughts.

"It's ok baby." Angel's voice was broken, awash with understanding out of what he could sense of Kami's inner turmoil through the Force. Lowering his head to her silky hair, he offered all he could beyond the strength needed to keep his feet beneath him, desperately trying to ignore the sinking feeling within his gut. Despite her resolve, everything had changed.

"Just breathe Kams."

Once again, the price taken by the ever-manipulative dark side of the Force was such that it could not be easily fixed, or forgotten over time. Closing his eyes, Angel's tightened his arms around the most important person in his life, choking back tears in a struggle to keep his voice as soothing and gentle as possible.

"Breathe sweetie...everything's going to be all right."


The End.


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=[Arrogant Elitist]=
=[Jikkyo the Horrible]=
AS-2/ASL/SSG Jikkyo "Angel" Nimiichi/Iron Horse Squad/WildCard/Phoenix/Dragon/Osiris/Stormtrooper Corps/Vast Empire [LoR] [RoM] [BC] [CDS] [WM] [GRoM] {BoA}
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The Angel of Death
CM/DJK Jikkyo "Angel" Nimiichi/Eagle 1-1/Sith/Dark Jedi/Vast Empire/Lopen [VP:1]
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I'm the sheep that was lost, madre.
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 6, 2005 6:38:40 PM)]
[This message has been edited by Angel (edited October 9, 2005 11:14:52 PM)]
Cosmic
ComNet Lord
 
Cosmic
 
[VE-ARMY] Brigadier General
[VE-DJO] Krath Prophet(ess)
[VE-VEEC] Chief Editor
 
Post Number:  4034
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Joined:  Sep 2000
Status:  Offline
  RE: Ancient Secrets
October 11, 2005 1:39:39 PM    View the profile of Cosmic 
Very well done, Angel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the journey.
 
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Cleric "Cosmic" Vor'soth
CoT/BG Cosmic/HCA-3/SL/3SQD/2PLT/1COMP/1BAT/Tadath/VEA/VE
[OPE][OTH][OPA][EW1][CDS][IH][GS][LM][SoS][CRoM][CoH][PoC][MSM][SCP][SoA][IOC]
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Cleric "Cosmic" Vor'soth
SL/KPR Cosmic/Lion 1-1/Lopen/VEDJ/VE
[VP][WoS2][KC1][SoY][EoP][OAK]
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Talon
ComNet Overlord
 
Talon
 
[VE-ARMY] Surface Marshal
[VE-DJO] Dark Jeedai Master
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Status:  Offline
  RE: Ancient Secrets
December 2, 2005 12:45:37 AM    View the profile of Talon 
A rather good story. I'm glad you dropped the idea of shooting yourself in the arm.

Dark Jedi Knight Jikkyo Nimiichi, you are hereby promoted to the rank of Sith Guardian. Congratulations.
 
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OO/SM Sierra "Talon" Taurus/HC-3/VEHC/VE[BC][IOC][LoC][SoS][BM][CDS][MSM][MoH]
GM-SL/DJM "Nightblades"/DC-1/Elite Griffen Sect/VSD-II Griffen/VEDJ/VE[IOC][OQD][WoS 2nd Class][EoP][SoY][SCx2]
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SCAP/COM Vincent "Claw" Taurus/ISD Nemesis/Offensive Fleet/VEN/VE[=*A*=][=*SA*=][LoM][IOC][IC2]
CEO Vincent "Claw" Taurus/ECHC-1/Endoven/Dome 8473/VEEC/VE
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Verastinian Republic - Minster of Antiquities (Fossil Technology)
Angel
ComNet Disciple
 
Angel
 
[VE-ARMY] Senior Sergeant
[VE-DJO] Sith Guardian
 
Post Number:  2167
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Status:  Offline
  RE: Ancient Secrets
December 2, 2005 2:24:34 AM    View the profile of Angel 
*shows off his Sith Guardian-ness*

Well that only took 2 months

PS *ixnay on the shooting hand-ey*

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Iron Horse Squad
[LoR] [RoM] [BC] [CDS] [WM] [GRoM] [IH] {BoA}
------------------------
CM/DJK Jikkyo "Angel" Nimiichi/Eagle 1-1/Sith/Dark Jedi Order/Vast Empire [VP:1]
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[This message has been edited by Angel (edited December 2, 2005 2:25:07 AM)]
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