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Temple of Sorrow
Immediately Following the 11th Great Jedi War
Locke warily approached the door to the Consul’s office. While having been Aedile of House Shar Darkhan, he had also reported directly to Malik as well, serving the Consul on secret, clandestine missions for the Clan. Usually, he did not meet with the Consul in person to receive these missions. Thus, Locke was unsure of the reasoning this time.
He stepped into the dimmed Consul chamber and looked slowly from side to side. No one else was there. It was completely silent, save for the faint creak of what might have been wood, but Locke knew better. He tensed slightly, remembering the old adage that when summoned to the Consul’s office alone, you were more likely to leave in a body bag than on your feet.
“You wanted to see me?” Locke asked. Like Locke, Malik disliked titles. When they had first met and Locke had called him ‘Lord Consul’, the Neti had launched into a fairly lengthy rant about how he didn’t care about titles and his name would do. That was all Locke remembered of it, aside from the length. The Neti could be that way. However, when it came to a serious point, he was fairly blunt.
"It is time for a change, " Malik said.
Locke nodded. “What sort of change?”
“In leadership. Macron is seeing to his own ambitions. This leaves me without a Proconsul. I could choose another, yet I grow wary of this,” the Neti gestured around the room. “The politics, the conflicts…are not to my liking. I have my own interests as well.”
Inwardly, Locke pondered, but he asked the obvious question, dreading the answer. “Then who will lead Naga Sadow?”
Locke thought that Malik’s strange face smiled a bit then. It was uncanny, but not because of the manner of the Neti’s flesh, but instead because it was so uncommon. Few things could amuse the ancient Neti enough for him to show emotion.
“There is only one I can think of who will not be slaughtered by the Sons and Daughters, nor send major elements of the Clan into rebellion.”
“Who would that be?” Locke asked, cringing inwardly. He knew where this conversation is going.
“I think that you know the answer to that. You have been away for too long. It is time to lead again. You cannot stay away any longer.”
“Me?” Locke asked.
“Indeed,” Malik answered. “It is your duty. I name you Consul, and retire myself. I have already informed the Dark Council. They agree.”
"Oh, wonderful, " Locke answered. He did not truly desire the job, yet, he would not shirk away from this responsibility. He would serve again, and expand upon his predecessors’ vision. This time, it seemed, he would not have to fight his own Clan members for the right to rule. What could he do with a smooth succession, without agents of his own Clan actively attempting to kill him? Or would new rivals reveal themselves?
Treachery is the way of the Sith, he thought.
“I understand,” Locke said. He nodded. “Thank you for your service, Malik.”
And just like that, he was Consul again. Locke did something similiar to what he had done during the Crusades. He built a shell around his own concerns, his own worries, and isolated them. He buried that part of himself that did not desire this job and replaced it with something different. When he next spoke, his voice was cold and emotionless.
“I must tie things up on Inos. I will depart immediately. Please vacate my office before I return.”
Inos 7 "Rockpile"
One Day Later
“We found this shuttle a few kilometers from our base. We are monitoring it, thinking they may be pirates or a smuggler, but they have not come outside. We were about to investigate, but decided to inform you since you had just arrived,” the Warhost sergeant said, speaking to Locke and gesturing at the shuttle on camera. He had finished speaking to the command crew of the Reaper’s Call, instructing them to rejoin the fleet for convential operations. They would be needed with large parts of the Warhost navy damaged from the battle at Korriban. That would leave the outpost here relatively undefended, but that would be left to the future leadership of Shar Dakhan to figure out.
"Let’s go take a look, then, " Locke said.
Locke wore a thin space suit. Inos 7’s atmosphere was not strong enough to support life without it. He knocked on the shuttle door again - still no response. It had come here, so someone had to be within. He reached out with the Force and immediately tensed up, sensing a presence inside. “They’re Force Sensitive,” Locke said. “It’s strong, stay out here.” He readied his lightsaber while one of his soldiers sliced the door controls, then stepped inside, letting the door slide shut behind him.
There was only one individual inside, a Zabrak who looked somewhat familiar, kneeling in what might have been Teras Kasi meditation, but Locke did not recognize him. “Who are you?” he asked.
The Zabrak raised his head, without moving the rest of his body. He seemed to hesitate for a moment before speaking. “My name is Cethgus Tiberius Entar.”
Locke’s eyes widened. He ignited his lightsaber, speaking slowly. “Entar? You are Arconan?”
“Was,” Cethgus replied, “and you are?”
"Locke Sonjie, " Locke said. “What are you doing here? Why ‘was’?”
"My reasons are my own, " Cethgus said. “I needed a place to go. This ship took me here. This is Naga Sadow’s domain, is it not?”
“Indeed,” Locke said.
Cethgus nodded. “Then I pledge to serve Naga Sadow. How can I be of service?”
Locke whistled between his teeth. “That bad huh?” Internally, his mind was thinking quickly. This could be a trick. How could he trust an Arconan - or a member of any Clan, for that matter? He could hardly trust many of the other Sadows. “What of that Arconan emblem across your chest?”
Cethgus stood slowly, looking down at the tattoo. “I will have it removed.”
Locke thought about this for a moment. He could not bring someone marked so back to the Clan, and he needed to know for sure if he could trust this man. He did not wish any ill will on someone who might be completely sincere, but he needed to be sure. He was Consul now, and any threat to the Clan was ultimately his responsibility.
I must be hard.
Locke hardened his mind once again, distantly finding that it was becoming easier and easier to do. He was Consul now, he had to be strong. …duty is heavier than a mountain, he thought.
“Remove it, and I will trust you,” Locke said, voice emotionless.
“Remove it? Now?” Cethgus asked.
“Yes. Now,” Locke knew that he himself could never do such a thing, but otherwise he could not accept this man. He had to test the Zabrak’s conviction.
"Very well, " Cethgus said. He ignited one lightsaber, and then, to Locke’s surprise, began burning it down his chest. He gritted his teeth, eyes straight ahead.
Locke had not actually expected him to do it immediately. He had instead expected a duel. He forced himself to watch as the Zabrak Obelisk completed the task. He began to howl, but it sounded more from rage than pain. The aura of dark side energy in the chamber became palpable. Locke felt as if he could feel it enveloping him. He stood completely still, feeling the power encircle the room like a maelstrom. Finally, it was over, and the Zabrak collapsed, still conscious. His lightsaber shut off and rolled to the floor, where Locke reached down to grab it. He turned on the comlink in his headset.
"Get a medical team in here, now, " Locke commanded. Then, shutting off his comlink, he added “I did not expect you to actually do it.”
"Some things are worth the pain, " Cethgus whispered.
"Indeed, " Locke replied. He could use someone with such dedication and strength. Not many could stay awake through such an act, much less perform it themselves. The Krath reached in his pocket, pulling out a datapad and sifting through the files on it, searching for what was known of the Zabrak in the Clan’s databanks.
"You were Quaestor, " Locke said, “for quite some time.” The medical team arrived, and gently rolled Cethgus on his back to examine the wounds. They were not timid; they had been trained to expect outbursts of anger from Dark Jedi they might be called on to tend to, but to do their work anyway, if possible.
“Yes,” Cethgus whispered.
Locke considered the Obelisk. He had leadership experience. He had willpower. He had shown dedication to a path that there was no going back from. Such an individual could be extremely useful. Locke need a Proconsul, and many of the Sons and Daughters were interested in their own activities, or uneasy allies of Locke’s, or might not follow him at all, but this man seemed different. He was not already involved in the politics and maneuvering of the Clan’s veterans.
Crouching, Locke placed the lightsaber into the palm of it’s owner’s hand. “I have a job for you, Cethgus Tiberius Entar.”
Orian Assembly Meeting Hall
During the Dark Crusades, there had been a rebellion. This rebellion was the culmination of dozens of different factors, building on each other until they came to a head at a significant point. Then the Clan had gone underground, and the Syndicate had been born. In this time, Naga Sadow had gathered power in secrecy, rebuilding their forces and preparing for the right time to move. Then, when they were ready, the Assembly was born: a false democratic government, to unite the various groups that had dominated the system during the time of the Syndicate. It brought them together. It gave them peace of mind. In truth, it further served as a veil to conceal the actions of the Clan.
Now, it was time for another, final shift. All of the pieces were in place. Years of work had brought them to this point:
Clan Naga Sadow would reveal itself to the system that now bowed to it’s whims, whether they wanted to or not. There would be no more hiding - no more syndicate, no more corporate shroud. The veil would be lifted.
Locke could not say for certain that the fall of Dlarit was not the result of a higher power. Sometimes he wondered if someone was pulling strings. The pieces had fallen into place all too perfectly.
Clad in dark robes, hood up and lined in the violet colors and runes of the Krath, he led a small procession into the Assembly Hall. Cethgus followed, immediately to the Consul’s right. Locke still did not completely trust the Zabrak, but the man had shown keen understanding and skill following his display of loyalty. Behind them was a small group of the Clan’s Dark Jedi, and flanking them were two columns of the Clan’s soldiers. These men and women had been with the Warhost since the early days of the Crusade. They had served under Locke before. Though they were from the same worlds as the Assembly members, their loyalty was unquestionable.
The group stopped in the center of the Assembly, causing the current speaker to quiet and step aside, looking at them curiously. The various members, seated in a semicircle of elevated seats around them, looked on intently.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am the Consul of Clan Naga Sadow, leader of the continuation of his empire, and servant of the Dark Brotherhood.”
“The what?” the old man asked. “Naga Sadow? The ancient Sith Lord?”
“Indeed,” Locke answered, voice calm.
“But he is long dead!” another insisted, voice rising. “His empire is-”
The man cut off as Locke’s lightsaber ignited. After the noise of uncomfortable shifting died down, it’s low hum was the loudest sound in the room.
“His empire lives. We are his legacy, and the future. We have ruled this system for some time, and now we reveal ourselves to you. Do not despair; our rule will be strong, and will bring prosperity to any who follow it. The alternative…”
Locke closed his eyes, reaching out with the Force. Ah, there He knew someone would dissent. There was always dissent, but it could not be allowed to flourish.
One of the members of the Assembly stood up and pointed a finger at Locke. “No matter who you are, you cannot just come in here and declare yourselves our rulers!”
Locke gestured with his fingers, and two of the Warhost soldiers marched up to the man, locking him in stun cuffs and removing him from the chamber.
“Dissension will not be allowed,” Locke stated. “Even now, our forces are assuming control across the system. There will be no more rebellions. There will be no riots. The Orian System will flourish under our direction. Your assembly may continue to meet, but we are the ultimate authority in this system. There have been some changes. We now control all trade in and out of the system, so you will come to us if you want to buy or sell goods from outside.”
Beside Locke, Cethgus paced slowly around the center of the chamber, tossing back his own hood. He stared down any who looked at him, as if challenging them to make a move.
“Do you understand?” Locke said, turning to the main speaker.
There was a pause. Then the man nodded. “Yes, yes, but who are you?”
Locke threw back his hood, knowing the reaction it would cause. He had once been known to this system as the president of the Dlarit Corporation, perhaps the last president of the corporation to be a Dark Jedi. The system had suffered during that time, while the Clan had fought their enemies. As a result, many of the system’s civilians hated him. The uproar was immediate.
A delegate from Kel Rasha spoke first. “You! You left us to die!”
Another followed, from the other side of the chamber. “You left us to those invaders!”
And another “you don’t care about us!”
Someone else began to speak, but was interrupted by the sharp crack of bone. Halfway up the circle of chairs, Cethgus stood, having moved near instantly, with a man’s broken neck in his hand.
Locke frowned at that, but it had sent the message. The room quieted immediately.
“Yes, I am that man. Whether you like it or not, I am your leader again. As I said, dissension will not be allowed.” As if for emphasis, Cethgus let go, the body crumpling to the floor like a fallen stack of books.
"You may continue your meeting with this new knowledge, " Locke said. “Our agents will oversee your discussions.” The soldiers stepped to the edges of the chamber, standing around the perimeter. Locke nodded to Cethgus, and they led the group of Dark Jedi out of the room.
Once they were outside, Locke spoke. “We will have to work on our politics. Sudden deaths like that may cause problems in the long run.”
“But it made the point today,” Cethgus replied. “Do you think they will follow us?”
"They will not have a choice, " Locke said. “Our agents are placed across the system. We are too deeply entrenched for them to push us out this time. The military is at our command, our garrisons and bases in place. In time, the Assembly will come to accept our rule. Regardless, I feel that their impact on the future will be minimal.”
Cethgus nodded. “What now?”
“Now,” Locke said. “We build. We will not make the mistakes of our forebearers. We have more…peaceful Jedi in our midst, and we will use them. We will consolidate power, and we will pacify our system and bind them fully to our cause. Not all can be converted at the point of a blade, or in the grasp of a fist.”
“To Sepros then?” Cethgus said.
“Yes. We must plan.”