Coronet City, Corellia
2 Weeks Later
Since Xolarin’s sudden departure a few weeks ago, Laren had remained on Corellia in accordance with the Dread Lord’s orders. He didn’t completely understand the logic of remaining on Corellia instead of following the confused Knight, but he trusted Ramar’s machinations for their complex scheme. The order had been crystal clear: His journey will lead him down the dark path, and that path will inevitably include your assistance.
The Plagueian Quaestor had taken up temporary residence on Corellia. His former contacts within the black market had provided him a small flat in the lower levels of Coronet City that he used as a base of operations. Laren rarely stayed in the flat, however, preferring to wander the musty depths of the Corellian megacity rather than sit idly by as the days passed. Laren had kept himself busy during his urban adventures by spending a good deal of credits. purchasing a multitude of new weapons and equipment. Laren finally had enough to purchased his own starship as well - something which he required to complete the next part of his mission. It was an old but reliable single-pilot interceptor with hyperdrive capability, perfect for lonesome type operations. He kept it docked a block away from his flat, and it already packed with the gear required for another journey - including a new, rather annoying astromech droid.
Currently, Laren was wandering down a large boulevard in the business sector of the city. Even within the lower levels, commerce and business of any sort was the lifeblood of the city. Stores, shops, and kiosks of various makes dotted the boulevard with tacky signs and competing advertisements for their wears. Potential customers flitted between each establishment, enthralled with the entire spectacle, and slowly being bled of more and more of their credits - some of which, Laren suspected, were not earned in entirely honest work. He passed easily through a large crowd of pedestrians waiting in line to enter a speeder dealership for their chance at purchasing a ‘revolutionary’ new vehicle. Laren doubted how revolutionary one could make a landspeeder of any kind, but his upbringing had not really educated him on the finer aspects of creature comforts. The Merc resigned himself to a shrug as he exited the throng and continued his aimless journey.
Suddenly, the familiar chirp of his holocommunicator breached the noise of the crowded boulevard. He retrieved the circular device from his utility belt and held it tightly in his left hand. Laren stopped walking and turned his head, scanning his surroundings for a relatively hidden and exclusive location to take this communique. Across the street and beside a small restaurant, Laren saw what appeared to be a small alleyway, perhaps used as a side entrance for the staff of the restaurant. That’ll do.
The backstreet was no more than an arm’s length wide and ill-lit. The stench of rotting foodstuffs and decaying matter tormented Laren’s nostrils, and he quickly realized why so few people used this alley as a shortcut to the parallel street at the other end. But ultimately, it served his purposes well, for he was alone and unseen
Laren turned his left palm face-up and the communicator burst to life. The cerulean figure of Teylas Ramar in miniature greeted Laren. Composed as ever, his robes perfectly set and his lightsaber resting completely straight on his utility belt. The Sith’s powerful arms were folded in front of him and his expression was blank and cold.
The Quaestor bowed his head slightly in reverence to the Dread Lord - having learned how far pleasantries could go among the Sith - greeting him, “My Lord.”
“Your wait is almost over, Laren,” he began, his voice composed and equally unreadable. It was a mark of the Dread Lord when he was deep in thought to take on a more somber tone. “The Jedi will contact you, of that I am sure. Where the path will lead you, however, is unclear.”
“I have a tracking system on my person. My tracking data will piggyback through multiple communications networks to get to you on Aliso. You’ll know my every move as I do,” Laren replied.
“Excellent. I won’t ask how you accomplished that task - the anonymity of your former contacts in the underworld have proven useful in these unique situations.” The Dread Lord let his expression soften into his signature grin as he continued, “Don’t fail me, bounty hunter. The rest of the plan is in place.”
“I suspect even if I did fail, a man of your power has a contingency plan.”
The Dread Lord laughed for a brief moment, though it did nothing to break the tension Laren felt speaking to the Warlord. “You’re more right than you know.” The sapphire reflection of Teylas winked abruptly out of existence, leaving Laren alone in the dimly lit alley.
Twenty minutes later
The mercenary expertly traversed the urban maze to return to his quaint hideout one of the many underworld urban sectors. His flat was one of a number of proverbial holes-in-the-wall that could barely be considered living quarters. His was a part of a long, nearly two hundred meter long building, each with a doorway leading into a rectangular compartment. Each interior door was a set of rooms, and though some couples and even the less fortunate families lived in these amenities, the rooms were barely large enough for one to live in discomfort, let alone multiple people. Squalor is the way of the galaxy, Laren reassured himself, squandering any pity he had for these people to focus on his task. You are forged through fire - but their fires have left them in this ash heap.
Complex eight-nine-one-aurek was the location of his flat. He entered through the automated sliding doors. They were rusting to the point of being broken, yet somehow the proprietor still managed to keep the door’s automated system function. But that was the signature of any poor ward in the modern urban expanses on planets like Corellia and Coruscant: as long as it worked, don’t fix it, even if there’s a face-sized hole in the door.
The bounty hunter suddenly froze as he came near to his own unit. His was located in left corner from the entrance Laren had just strode through. His door happened to be wide open, revealing the quaint apartment within. He saw his bed at the far corner, but the flat was just wide enough to hide the chair that sat behind the thick duracrete wall. He would have to enter the flat and turn left, blasting whomever or whatever may or may not be hidden there.
Before he could draw his blaster, however, Xolarin appeared. He was still clad in his Jedi robes, but they were much shabbier than when last he saw him. His hands were tucked neatly inside the sleeves of his sodden robes, and his lightsaber lay within view on his belt. But the aggressive way he stood, and the piercing look of his green eyes were immediately apparent to Laren. He’s already changing.
“Hello, friend,” Xolarin said, emphasizing the word. His voice bristled with nearly unchecked rage as he stared at the mercenary. Laren’s left hand rested idly on his DC-17 blaster pistol, ready to draw the weapon at a moment’s notice. He had expected to make contact with the human man, but not under these circumstances.
“Use that term liberally. I don’t recall friends letting themselves in without permission,” Laren replied cautiously. His index finger tapped anxiously against his holster, the only outward sign of him being on edge with the enraged Jedi. “How did you find me, Xolarin?” he asked after a moment of pause, attempting to calm the situation.
“Patience,” was the ambiguous reply. “You cover your tracks well, Laren. But you rely on others - your contacts, as you refer to them. They reveal everything for the right price.” The way Xolarin ended the sentence, the Pantoran knew the meaning of ‘price’ was not limited to financial gain. The mercenary hid his satisfaction at the thought - the Jedi had taken the bait Selika and Teylas had set out for the conflicted Knight. Laren knew he would have to dig further and speak with the Jedi at length to determine if the catalyst had been discovered.
“If you’re here to kill me, Jedi, might as well get it over with,” Laren growled, his own feigned impatience beginning to bubble to the surface. “Otherwise step aside and get on with your business.” The second comment was adeptly placed, meant to goad Xolarin into revealing his motivations. Whether or not the Jedi realized it, Laren was attached to him at the hip from now until Selika’s brief vision was realized. The Jedi would turn, and he would see it happen. He wasn’t ready to face torture at the hands of someone as sadistic as the Wrath if he failed.
Xolarin’s green eyes probed Laren’s own golden orbs as he stood motionless in the door for another few moments. He was clearly considering his options, though Laren had only the faintest idea what those options were. But if the consideration of thought was any indication, it meant Xolarin had choices to make, and they clearly involved the mercenary. His quest for his father was beginning to become an obsession, much to Laren’s private delight. Eventually he stepped aside, gesturing with his arm the same way a concierge would welcome a client to a hotel. It’s my flat, you damn nerf-herder, he thought angrily, though he managed to keep his expression vacant.
“So I’ll ask again, Xolarin,” Laren said, making himself comfortable on his small double mattress, legs outstretched and boot-clad feet crossed one over the other. “Why are you here?”
The Jedi mirrored Laren and took a seat on the chair opposite, facing Laren. The door finally shut, and it was clear to Laren that Xolarin had been using the Force to keep the entrance open for some time. Finally he sighed, resting his hands on his knees. His gaze finally met the Pantoran’s again, but this time it looked fatigued and defeated, rather than predatory.
“Some of your contacts withheld information from you last time. Information that could have saved a life,” the Jedi began, his voice hoarse with bitterness and confusion. He was clearly still grappling with the death of the guard during their last investigation together. The confusion and anger building within the Jedi would be assets in the days to come. “After a brief chat with a man named Chetlik, I learned he was an information broker. I accessed his database and began looking for any information about my father. I found a lead.” Xolarin let the words hand in the air, clearly waiting for the mercenary’s surprised reaction.
“Really?” Laren exclaimed, sitting up on his mattress and mimicking genuine excitement and compassion at the revelation. Xolarin was traversing the maze Plagueis had created perfectly, finding the next piece of the trap they had laid for him. Chetlik had been paid handsomely for his service, though Laren had forgot to mention he may be subjected to the whims of an aggravated and testy Jedi.
“Rumor has it he was discreetly involved in an old operation during the Galactic Civil War on Sullust. Another information broker has information he would be willing to part with- for a price.”
“Say no more,” Laren said, standing once again and clapping his hands together. “We’re going to Sullust. I could always use another adventure with a Jedi. And if it helps bring you some closure, all the better.”
“Just like that?” Xolarin asked incredulously.
“I crave the hunt, Jedi,” Laren replied, giving the Jedi a knowing look. “And though you may not accept it yet, so do you. Now, how are we going to get to Sullust?”
Overseer’s Office, The Pinnacle, Aliso
Nearly half a galaxy away, as Laren and Xolarin were in the middle of scheming and planning their investigation, the Rollmaster of Clan Plagueis sat in her secondary office within the gargantuan complex known as the Pinnacle. The midday sun cast a golden glow over the space, though it also illuminated the absolute mess of books, scrolls and datapad that covered various spaces throughout the office. As Rollmaster, it was her job to learn in order to teach those who thought themselves as worthy to wield the Dark Side - and that required painstakingly detailed research every day, even as she managed a new training ground offworld.
Jai’de had just returned from The Circle after overseeing the new training regime implemented by her second, Furios. She was more than pleased to see her students suffering and challenged at every turn. The only way to build powerful Dark Side wielding acolytes was to relieve them of their worldly comforts and thoughts, and turn their attention to the raw reality of survival and power. Now she poured through old Sith writings, combing through the depths of knowledge and time in order to reach the limits of her trainees’ raw potential.
The sun eventually set along the mountainous horizon of Aliso, but Jai’de was still deep within her reverie. However, her exploration of the Sith archives was interrupted by the chime of her door. She looked up, clearly shaken from her immense focus.
The powerful form of Teylas Ramar strode through the doorway, and Jai’de immediately stood behind her desk as a sign of obedience. She bowed her head as he came to a stop at the foot of her desk.
“What is thy bidding, Dread Lord?”
“Sit, Jai’de. We have much to discuss.”
Jai’de complied, sitting behind her desk once again. Teylas took a chair opposite her, sitting straight backed, his hands resting gently folded upon his lap.
“I heard that you met the Quaestor of House Ajunta Pall some time ago,” Teylas began, his thoughtful gaze fixed on the Zeltron. “You were curious about his intentions, I gathered.”
“I don’t trust that mercenary,” Jai’de replied, nodding. “He lacks the ability to wield the Force, and his loyalty to the Clan only runs so far as the credits you pay him.”
“Perhaps,” Teylas replied simply. He smirked, suddenly, and Jai’de reacted with a puzzled look. She had missed something.
“Is he acting under your orders?” she asked after a moment of silence.
“Indeed, Jai’de. But his mission has come to a critical juncture, and we require your talents for yet another assignment.”
Jai’de sat back in her chair. She had known Teylas for some time, and thought of herself as one of his most trusted advisors. But now he was the consul of the Clan, and the realization dawned on her that no one would ever know what Teylas’s intentions were anymore. She accepted that fact and then let it go, focusing on the task at hand.
“Furious can manage The Circle without me, for a time. What is it you require of me?” she asked, her interest captured.
Teylas stayed in Jai’de’s office for about an hour, explaining to her Selika’s vision of the fallen Jedi, Laren’s assignment to turn the Jedi to the Dark Side, and their ultimate plan of claiming the Odanite, either for their ranks, or as a trophy of the Ascendant Clan’s power. The consul also explained that Jai’de was imperative to bringing out this task, and would assist Laren in whatever capacity she felt necessary. She was his contingency plan, though she doubted she was the only backup in place.
“When do I leave?” she asked finally, understanding her mission.
“Today. Prepare your ship and whatever else you require. Before your departure, you’ll be sent Laren’s coordinates. If we can turn this Jedi away from his foolish devotion to the Light, we will strike a critical blow to our enemies in Odan-Urr. No one is safe from the power of the Dark Side.”
“It will be done.”
“But be warned, Jai’de. Once the trap is sprung the Jedi will be unstable. Tread carefully and subdue him - with Laren’s help.” Teylas stood and turned to leave, satisfied Jai’de understood her important assignment in its entirety.
“The Wrath and I will be waiting.” And with that, Teylas strode through the doors of the Overseer’s office to see to other matters of the Clan.
One day later
Bribery always held immense sway on the black market, and Laren took advantage of the strategy with the ease of an experienced player of the game. The Pantoran had bribed a Rodian smuggler and his crew to transport Xolarin and Laren to the distant planet of Sullust. Specifically, the duo wanted access to one of the larger industrial cities of Pinyumb, which is where the final stage of the Jedi’s quest was leading them. But being a Jedi, and dressed in the obvious garb, Laren didn’t want to be seen by the sea of people that always crowded more traditional and legal customs-run docks.
The smuggler agreed to come out of hyperspace just within the security grid of Sullust so they wouldn’t be detected by the authorities. The Rodian captain expertly piloted his freighter exactly where he intended, and within a minute had landed his craft in one of the concealed landing platforms of the underground city. Laren passed the captain a credit chip that held some jaw-dropping numbers before gathering his gear and departing the craft, the human man silently stalking in tow.
“So,” the Pantoran said as he fiddled with his new blaster carbine. “Is this the place?”
“Indeed. My contact is an old Sullustan by the name of Wrenyub. He said he’ll see us coming when we land.” That fact was true - Wrenyub had a vast network of underworld spies on Sullust, like any good information broker in the galaxy. Laren hoped that the man would play his part of the performance. Everything was about to come to a head, and he didn’t want to be caught in a mess.
The landing platform was a wide space, protected by an active force shield covering the hangar door behind them.The force shield cast a cerulean hue on the wide space. The air of Sullust was toxic to sentient lifeforms due to the volcanic activity on the planet, meaning there was likely an extensive air filtration system in place - and surprisingly still functional. Laren looked to his left, observing a large control room with tinted windows. His hand instinctively shot to his utility belt and holster, knowing that if someone had set up show in that control room, they were completely open to an assault. He continued his observation of the control room, noting a rarely used lift at the far end of the long hangar. To his right there were a multitude of closed doors, most likely break rooms or secondary control rooms of some kind - perhaps even quarters, at one point.
“If I’m not mistaken, this Wrenyub doesn’t sell information for a cheap price. What did you offer him? Credits? Information?”
“Credits is all I have. My unique information will never be for sale,” Xolarin concluded. “And now the party begins.”
The lift doors at the opposite end of the landing pad opened, revealing a short, clearly aged Sullustan and four imposing guards. Laren was unsure of the race or look of the guards, though he surmised based on their height, athletic builds and armor that they were most likely not native to this world. They slowly made their way closer to the eccentric duo, Xolarin in his Jedi coolness under pressure, and Laren thumbing his holster, ready to draw his hand blaster at any moment. Though the carbine slung on his shoulder would be a more conventional weapon to use, he trusted his hand blaster to get him out of any situation - it was also ideal for running and gunning, Laren’s favored method of battle.
“You must be the Jedi,” the old Sullustan said slowly as he and his guards came to a stop in front of Laren and Xolarin, Galactic Basic emanating from his lips with a heavy Sullustan accent.
“I am assuming you’re Wrenyub,” Xolarin began confidently, “Though you didn’t mention anything about guards.”
“Don’t be flattered, Jedi,” Wrenyub replied coldly. “Besides, it looks like you have your own beast ready to pounce at a moment’s notice,” he continued, pointing at Laren. The Pantoran raised his brow, surprised at the bold comment. Wrenyub knew of Laren through his own, covert channels - yet he didn’t seem to realize the audacity of angering the mercenary. But he resigned himself to remain still and ready to strike if the situation turned on its head.
“Let’s make this quick, Wrenyub. Show me the evidence, prove to me -”
The Sullustan reached into the pocket of his long, brown robes and quickly took out a datapad. He must have anticipated Laren’s reaction and extracted the item quickly to avoid suspicion, though the mercenary drew his DC-17 and was ready to fire, regardless. Wrenyub’s own guards mirrored Laren, and there were blasters pointing in both directions within moments. Xolarin, however, remained steadfast and unarmed, though Laren guessed he had a tight hold on the Force.
“Tell your dog to lower his weapon -”
“He’s no dog, Sullustan,” Xolarin interrupted. “However, you’re right. Let’s defuse this situation. Uscot, put your blaster down.”
Laren complied, and Wrenyub’s guards did the same. Inwardly, Laren was pleased with how the proceedings were going. Wrenyub was selling his part of the plan flawlessly, and hopefully Xolarin wouldn’t look too deeply into the finer details of the evidence presented. An emotional response was what they were going striving for, the final catalyst that would set the Jedi firmly onto an irredeemable path to the Dark Side.
The Jedi took a few steps forward, placing himself between Laren and Wrenyub’s posse. Wrenyub also took a few steps forward, the datapad nestled firmly under his right armpit. He stopped in front of Xolarin and looked up at the human man, a quizzical expression on his face.
“You know I’m cheating you out of credits?” he asked, placing the datapad in front of him with his right hand.
Xolarin reached into his robes and procured a credit chip containing a sizable amount of currency. He held the chip in his own right hand, ready to hand it to the Sullustan information broker.
“What you’re giving me is worth more than credits,” responded Xolarin, his voice low and subdued. Laren realized that this was a moment he had been waiting to experience for nearly his entire life. Now that it was upon him, he had no idea what to expect. “Now, the datapad. It will be yours again once I have seen its contents, along with the credits.”
“As you wish,” said Wrenyub, handing Xolarin the datapad.
Laren felt a twinge of pity for the man. Ultimately, what the Jedi was being given was a lie forged from truth. This entire exchange and the culmination of their brief adventures together were the machinations of evil and perceptive people attempting to ruin the life of an innocent man to gain another soldier in a never-ending war among the fractured Dark Jedi clans.
The moment Xolarin had finally come. After years of his former Jedi compatriots giving him various bits and pieces of information about the origins of his father, Xolarin had forsaken his friends - his family - in pursuit of the truth. To some, his journey of self-discovery by learning of his father was misguided, as they believed the individual was shaped by their own experiences, and not by the reputation of their parents. But Xolarin had never known his father. He had never known why his father finally resigned to leaving him parentless, and why his father had simply vanished from his life. These were questions that ran deep to Xolarin’s very core. These next few moments would wash away doubt, and finally provide him closure. But what he saw on the datapad drained the color from his tanned face in horror and agony.
Scrolling through the datapad, the Knight’s eyes were illuminated by the faint glow of the datapad. There were snippets of video footage, Imperial and Rebel intelligence briefings, autopsy reports, and even a few reports stolen from the archives of the Dark Brotherhood. These were genuine sources, and it was tearing his entire world apart. He saw his father, the Jedi, wielding his blue lightsaber and killing Rebel and Imperial soldiers alike. He saw his father, the hero he had never known, being cast as a traitor and a madman by bitter enemies of a war long past. He saw the image of his father, the pride of Jedi dedication and courage, shatter before him. In its place was the image of a violent and devious villain, a man who had betrayed his core principles in pursuit of aligning with the winning side. But instead of his surviving his self-made treachery, his father had been assassinated in cold blood by a third party. The final document was orders from the Iron Throne of days past, and it was an order to kill Xolarin’s father on sight. They had used him to insight conflict between the Empire and Rebellion, striking two birds with one stone.
“He was scum,” Xolarin muttered. He could barely control his breathing, and the rage he had once had under control was beginning to boil. In fact, it was pouring out of the pot. “He was scum and you knew, it, didn’t you?”
“That is the nature of my trade, human,” the Sullustan replied indifferently. “I know things, and sell them for a steep price.”
“All this time you have been here - all this time you have held this information. My Master, he must have known - yet he never told me,” Xolarin’s rambling became indistinguishable as he reached for his lightsaber. Wrenyub’s guards reached for their blasters and pointed it at the incoherent Jedi. “My father was a traitor - and yet he was betrayed all the same.”
“The credits, Jedi.”
In one effortless motion, Xolarin activated his emerald lightsaber and cut the arrogant Sullustan in two. With a feral roar, Xolarin charged at the guards as they activated their blasters. He deflected blaster bolts with minimal effort and close range. He dodged a final blast and stabbed the front-left guard through his black armor. The guard to his right fell to Laren’s expertly placed blaster bolt. Suddenly, the doors of the control room opened, revealing four more guards armed with blaster rifles and vibroblades. They began firing on the unconventional duo. Xolarin paid the blaster bolts no mind, running toward the guards on the high ground and batting away blaster bolts effortlessly. He could hear Laren shouting behind him, telling him to stop and think. But there was a new voice in Xolarin’s head, darker than his normal thoughts, and yet familiar. It was telling him to do one thing, the voice reverberating over and over again in his head: kill.
Every motion Xolarin made felt light and painless. Power of the caliber he had never felt before was coursing through his veins, augmenting his already adept abilities. Through his bloodlust he could see every blaster bolt, feel every pull of the trigger, every hair and fiber on his body. For the first time he felt alive. And his eyes gleamed a tainted yellow.
As Xolarin advanced on the remaining guards of the dead Sullustan, he saw a blur suddenly appear in the corner of his eye. He turned briefly to look at the blur in the form of a short, yet stunningly beautiful Zeltron woman. She had been hiding in the shadows, perhaps, though Xolarin’s eyes were sharp and he hadn’t noticed anything upon their initial landing. But when she brought her violet lightsaber to bare in a reverse grip, her understood why. She had concealed herself like the Sith of old, hiding her abilities with the Force - and perhaps herself, through other means - in plain sight.
“Sith!” he exclaimed, shifting his attention to the advancing Zeltron woman.
“Guards first, dear,” she said, effortlessly gliding by him, deflecting blaster bolts with a precision that left Xolarin in awe.
She advanced up the stairs to the control room while Xolarin remained pinned down by blaster fire, barely managing to deflect the hail of streaming plasma gliding his way. If it wasn’t for his current surge of power and anger, he might have already been shot.
When she was in range, the Zeltron woman quickly got to work. With a wide, sweeping strike she severed the head of the closest guard from his body. She adeptly jumped and dodged a frantic flurry of blaster bolts as she downed the second guard, and the third. Finally a blaster bolt in the face of the fourth guard finished off their quarry. Xolarin turned to see Laren, his hand blaster still pointed at its intended target, smiling in satisfaction at his own skill.
Xolarin was fuming. The Sith had just helped him, his father was a traitor - He’s a traitor. Kill, were the thoughts flowing through the broken mind of Xolarin. He turned to look at Laren - an easy target, perhaps. But the Sith, no, he wanted to kill the Sith. But where was she?
“Show yourself, Sith scum!” he barked.
“Just sleep.” Jai’de dropped her Force cloak behind the fallen Jedi and smashed the butt of her lightsaber into the back of Xolarin’s head. The Jedi dropped to the floor and fell into a deep and dreamless slumber, one of which he would awaken from with an immense headache and a yearning rage.
“Why the hell are you here!?” Laren roared. “This was my operation -”
“Our operation, actually,” he interrupted, correcting the Pantoran. “But ultimately, it was their operation.” She nodded her head toward the entrance of the hangar.
There, to the bewilderment of Laren, a ship was entering the hangar. It was the distinctive design of a Star Courier, a larger, though very sleek vessel. Laren could easily hypothesize about who was aboard the vessel, and why they were here. The Dread Lord.
The Star Courier performed a quick and effortless landing, the bow of the vessel facing the shield, while the stern was facing the Plagueian Summit members and their captured Jedi - if he could be called that anymore. The ramp of the Star Courier quickly lowered to the ground, revealing Selika Roh and Teylas Ramar. As they strode down the ramp to inspect their prize, Jai’de and Laren knelt before the consul and his Wrath, bowing their heads to the floor.
“Jai’de, Laren, you may rise,” the Dread Lord commanded as he inspected the limp body of the human Jedi. Laren stood and took a relaxed stance, his hands folded behind the small of his back. Jai’de did the same, though she stood with feet shoulder-width apart and arms folded under her bosom.
“Bounty hunter, pick this wretched creature off the ground and place him on the Oppressor,” Selika commanded, pointing to the Star Courier. “Now!”
Laren bounced into action, picking up the unconscious body of Xolarin and walking him up the ramp of the vessel. He placed the Jedi in a small room flanked by two guards. He nodded at the guards before turning and walking back out of the vessel. When he returned to the entrance, Teylas and Selika stood waiting at the foot of the ramp with Jai’de, looking up at the bounty hunter. Laren didn’t know how to react, so he stopped walking, taken aback by the sight of the three Sith staring him down.
“I was doubtful you could be successful in a mission such as this,” Teylas began, “for the intricacies of the Dark Side are beyond most of your kind.”
“I’m an evil man,” Laren responded with a shrug. “I’ve accepted my fate, and relish in its reality. Killing is my trade, money and glory are my reward.”
“Our reward, Pantoran,” Selika said, her gaze piercing Laren and causing him to shiver. “Ultimately it was the Force that destined this man to the fall. You were simply alive and available to hasten the process.”
“Your wisdom is immeasurable as always, my Lady.” Laren made an intricate bow to the powerful Warlord.
Selika grinned, yet Laren felt no comfort or warmth from the simple gesture. Only hatred and ambition seemed to exude from the veteran Sith warrior as she walked up the ramp. She stopped beside Laren, looking him in the eye. She seemed to look at him in a different light, now. He was a tool to be used, now, even without the Force. It made him less valuable than many of her other assets, but valuable all the same. Expendable, as well.