A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[Invite Only] Shadowed Rebirth


Unknown Location
Shortly After The Events Of ‘Ashes Fall’

Dark drapes worked their way along the outer walls of the antechamber, hiding whatever lay beyond them from the sight of any onlooker. Some stood open with pale illumination focused upon the art pieces revealed in stark contrast to the darkness of the room itself. Several men stood in a half-circle near the entrance of the chamber, standing opposite the throne-like seating arrangement with a serving table adorned by food and glasses on the far side. The room was impossibly still given the number of people within it, as if they had all taken a collective gasp and were hiding in plain sight. A man adorned by impeccable, pale white robes with gold trim sat at the head of the table. Within his gloved hand, the man held the base of a glass of wine, the soft rotation of his wrist causing the sanguine fluid to swirl within its container.

“I beg your pardon,” he stated quietly but firmly. His blue eyes were locked on a man standing at the center of the grouping, his fellows taking several tiny steps away from him in the process.

“I said,” the man managed through a clenched jaw, “your idiocy almost got us killed.”

Silence fell upon the room once more, the white-robed man not so much as blinking as he held the other within his gaze. After several tense moments, he placed his wine glass upon the table with barely a sound and rose to his feet. Not a single aspect of the man’s movements came across as wasted, seeming to move just the right amount and in the proper way. His eyelids fluttered shut for the briefest of moments as he ran his left hand over his slicked back hair, the silver strands kept trimmed and contained. He began walking towards the group of men, tugging on the edges of his gloves as he did so. “Care to elaborate,” he asked flatly as he stood eye to eye with the other man.

“Sure thing,” the other exclaimed, throwing his hands up to punctuate the statement. “We almost died getting that ‘trophy’ of yours, Yuki! First the explosion and then the Sadowans nearly shot us to oblivion on the way out!”

Yuki’s face remained impassive as the man continued his rant, though there was something off about his eyes, as if something within was dimming.

“You’re psychotic! Nothing is worth the effort and risk we took. Only your greed and your pride-”

A gloved hand lashed out towards the man, suddenly holding a flash of silver. A red spray shot across Yuki’s cheek and stained his white robes as he viciously slit the man’s throat. His gaze never wavered from that of his victim, watching him sink to the ground. With a look of disgust, Yuki let the blood covered blade fall to the ground before adjusting his gloves once more with a heavy sigh. “I simply cannot abide poor manners,” he murmured before glancing at the others. “It really is quite rude.”

Without so much as a second look, he turned and strode back to his seat at the back of the room, reaching up with his left hand to smooth his black eyebrows in a calming motion. Another deep breath accompanied him taking the seat once more and reaching for his glass of wine, bringing it to his lips and letting the crimson liquid flow slowly into his mouth. He savoured the taste, letting it sit upon his tongue for several breaths before swallowing. “Art is always worth the effort, gentlemen,” Yuki continued after a moment. “I do look forward to your continued assistance in completing my collection.”

His gaze turned to the side, looking upon his most recent acquisition. “It’s amusing, is it not? How often the snow is mistaken for ash? I think I’ll call this piece: Ashes fall.” A wide smile spread over Yuki’s lips as he gazed upon the macabre form locked within a slab of carbonite.

Temple of Sorrow, Outer Grounds
Sepros, Orian System
Current Time

“Are you sure the information is accurate?” Keira muttered as she wiped the sweat from her brow and threw a towel around her neck. The intel operative had caught her in the middle of her morning circuit through the temple grounds as her own little obstacle course, so her breathing was kept carefully even.

“Yes, ma’am. Matches the criteria you provided,” he replied, handing her the datapad.

“Thanks, you may go,” Keira responded, her lilting accent was somehow stronger with her concentration elsewhere. As the operative saluted, she merely nodded and glanced down at the information in her grasp, allowing him to go unimpeded. The woman’s eyes lit up as she self-confirmed the information and keyed in the familiar frequency on her comm-link.

“Hope you get this message soon,” she murmured as the device clicked on. “I think we found it.”


Unknown Location
The doors of his private chambers shut behind him with a quiet hiss. From the darkness of the dim lit room a soft laughter greeted him. Yuki stiffened as his eyes adjusted to the twilit room, spotting the source of the sound on the couch. His eyes wandered across a halfly translucent gown of black lace dress which barely covered the pearly white skin of the woman draped on the couch. Her long raven hair ran down her body and legs - even curled up on the floor like a serpentine. Yellow almond shaped eyes glanced at him.

He took a deep breath. This enchantrix must not win over him. He sat down in a chair, watching her carefully as she stood. Her hips swayed as she walked towards him - barefeet with her hair draped around one arm so it wouldn’t touch the ground. She vanished in the corner of his eyes, sliding her arms around him. He took a deep breath as her arms embraced his neck. It was a feathery touch - not unlike that of a snake wrapping around its victim before choking it to death.

“Have you set your next goal?” Her voice was like silk, causing him to shiver.

“Not yet…” He carefully replied. He wondered what she knew.

She held out a pale slender hand, moving her fingers slightly as she conjured an illusion. Her long black shiny fingernails pointed at the conjured figment. Yuki took a sharp breath as he saw the white figure. Long white hair flowing down to the ground. The eyes were mere white orbs. He whispered: “I want this Dragon… but why are you here, Milady? What do you wish for?” She softly laughed. “You amuse me. As long as you and your hunt are interesting enough - I will stay.”

He snarled, grabbing for one of her wrists, but with a fluid motion she danced out of his reach. He stood, anger coursed through his blood and he laid his hand on the fine Sith Sword at his side - another piece of his fine collection. Her yellow eyes glistened in amusement. She knelt down, pulling her hair aside to reveal her neck. Yet she smirked at him with a side glance with an eyebrow raised in a mocking way.

The sword slipped from his hands. His lips curled into a dark grin. She truly fascinated him - to him she was like a piece of art he wanted to possess, but he knew the truth already: “You are no one’s property.” She embraced him and he continued: “As long as I can give you what you want… and can give me what I want….”
His eyes turned to the conjured image of the Matriarch of the Dragons. “But how to capture that white Dragon and the others?”

She replied: “They will come to us. All of them.”

Temple of Sorrow
Sepros, Orian System
Qyreia leaned against the wall with her back - one of her soles pressed against the wall. She absent mindedly rubbed the Black Guard tattoo on her lower arm. She remembered too well when Keira had applied it to her. Qyreia shook her head to stop thinking about the pain. Currently she wished to be inside of Keira’s room instead of merely guarding it.

But earlier Keira had been quite upset about some informations. So much that Qyreia wanted to console her. She took a deep breath. The approaching sound of soft leather soles touching the ground made her snap out of it. Her eyes focused on the corridor. To her mild surprise Qyreia saw Xia Long approaching. She had met this woman with white hair already, but now she was able to take a closer look. Pale nearly translucent skin, soft full lips and hair flowing down and about to touch the floor. She seemed to be a living fairy tale - yet there was something unsettling and cold about that woman.

Keira wanted to talk to me
A chiling voice appeared in Qyreia’s head. Qyreia replied with a smile: “Sure Sillysocks. Wait… I will open the door for you!” For a moment Xia hesitated as if irritated, but then she entered the room. Qyreia stood outside, shivering a moment. “Bbbrrr… as cold as ice. I wonder what is beneath that slab of ice that encases her.”

Keira turned to Sildrin with a flushed face, coming straight to the point. “I have interesting informations.” And she placed a data pad on the table in front of her.


“Just watch”. Keira quickly turned on the datapad, appearing to be agitated, but it barely rose Xia’s attention. The hologram - a holonet advertisement started. A voice praised an art gala and its rarities. Xia had turned around, as if about to walk to the door. For now it was not enough to raise her attention … until…

“… f the newest acquisition named “Ashes Fall! Don’t miss the chance of your life to h…”

The Blind Dragon froze in her movement. Slowly turning back to Keira.

Could it…be? Her telepathic question trickled into Keira’s mind.


“If it is him,” the Quaestor replied, her gold-tinged icy blue eyes looking back at the feed, “we have a duty to retrieve Shar Dakhan’s former leader.”

I shall join you, Sildrin’s voice said matter-of-factly in the Seer’s mind.

Keira did not bother asking the why of the Elder’s words, knowing that she held a deeper insight than anyone in this matter. “Then it may behoove us to work quickly, and without drawing attention as much as possible.”


The half-breed rose to leave only to stop halfway to the door, her Black Guard’s presence registering in her senses. I almost forgot. She won’t let me go without knowing what’s happening. “Qyreia, could you come in please?”

The door opened and the Zeltron walked in, closing it behind her when she saw the serious faces on the two Force users. “What’s up, Keira? You guys don’t look too happy.”

“Qyreia,” she said, dropping formalities despite Xia’s presence, “Madam Sildrin and myself are leaving to investigate an art gala that may be using the remains of Atra Ventus as a centerpiece for their display.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound so ba-”

Listen,” she said, taking the mercenary’s shoulders in her hands. “The person involved is dangerous; so much so that I can’t order you to come with me, Black Guard or not.” Her expression turned somewhat downcast. “This is not a mission that I would ask your help on lightly.”

The Zeltron cocked a sympathetic smile to go with her raised eyebrow. “Like you even had to ask. Besides, you might know the basics of flying, but you’ll need a real pilot if you’re gonna pull this off, ‘cause yours ain’t worth Sithspit.”

The joke got through to the Jedi, who had grown accustomed to the red woman’s humor, and she forced an understanding smile. “Thank you.”

Qyreia stepped closer, drawing her arms around Keira’s waist despite the discomfort the Seer felt in having an audience, but the feeling of the merc’s forehead on hers called greater attention. “I didn’t sign up for this gig just for the easy stuff,” she said gently, dropping her characteristic bombast. “I’m not just talking about the whole personal bodyguard thing, either.”

Were Sildrin not here, I would kiss you for that, she thought as she gently pushed the Zeltron to arm’s length. “I know, but right now time is of the essence. We need a transport to get us to the gallery: nondescript and unarmed.”

“Got it.”

We will also need proper attire, considering the venue, Sildrin’s voice echoed in their minds. I know that you have some fine garments, her disembodied voice said as her pale eyes looked at Keira, but I do not think our mercenary here has the same fashion tastes in her wardrobe.

“That… is not wholly inaccurate.” Pausing to consider her options, Qyreia realized that there were few enough people that shared her body dimensions, much less might have something that could conceal her preferred weaponry. “Give me… ten minutes, and I might be able to pull something together.”

Without another word, she dashed out, leaving the two Force users to work out the details of their plan - infiltration, reconnaissance, and extraction of the objective if possible; Qyreia could be filled-in during the flight. Meanwhile, the Zeltron was in her chambers violently shoving the racked clothes to and fro, trying to find something that wouldn’t give them all away at the outset. I’ve got to be the only Zeltron in the galaxy that doesn’t have a sense for high fashion! Her eyes finally fell on a black shirt in the darkest recesses of the closet, which she hurriedly pulled out and dusted off.

“Holy frack, I haven’t worn this thing since I worked the cantinas.” It came off the hanger with a flourish as she stripped off her shirt to try it on. “Should still fit. I haven’t grown any.” Fully buttoned, the form-hugging garment looked simple yet stylish compared to the more functional attire she was accustomed to. “Not bad,” she mused with a smirk. “Wonder if the rest is still there.”

In equal hurry as before, she flew into her wardrobe to dig out the remainder, changing into the smooth gray pants and black boots that held an impeccable shine beneath a thin layer of dust. It’s no black-tie outfit, but it’ll work. She kept the sleeves buttoned at her wrist, to hide the Black Guard tattoo and made her way back to Keira and Sildrin who were waiting with their own garments in hand.

“Well? Whaddya think?”

The pair looked at her curiously for a moment. It will suffice.

“Not great, but it’ll do.”

“Well kriff you both,” she said, grabbing her weapons as she made for the door. “Well c’mon! We don’t have all day!”

With their personal effects hanging from their arms, the trio walked briskly toward the hangar where Qyreia made quick work of the requisition orders, choosing the Clan’s Starwind-class pleasure yacht, the Violator, as their means of transport, taking only brief pause to have some additional weaponry stowed in the armories on board. “I don’t know what we’ll be up against,” she had said when Keira questioned the need for a rocket launcher, “but I wanna be prepared when it tries to charge up our loading ramp.” Sildrin had to explain the double-meaning of the term while the mercenary prepped for takeoff.

“I should be able to handle this baby myself,” she said as the engines hummed to life, “but I may need you to work some of the other consoles, so don’t go running off to quarters right away.”

A general affirmation came from the Jedi as they took seats in the cockpit, a mild shudder travelling through the hull until the inertial dampers took effect. B-e-a-utiful, the merc thought as she turned it about to go out into the open sky. Kuat knows how to make a decent bird. Once in space and clear of traffic, it was simply a matter of inputting coordinates and activating the hyperdrive.


Starwind-class Pleasure Yacht

“I don’t get it,” Keira said quietly. Her finger tapped absentmindedly against her chin as she worked over the information in her head. “Why would he just flaunt it so openly? Is he trying to taunt the clan?”

It is not the clan that he seeks,” Sildrin responded. The Matriarch of the Longs hadn’t moved far from her seat since the transport made the jump to hyperspace. Her eyes remained closed, yet Keira had already learned that the woman still saw more than most others. Keira worked her jaw back and forth as she mulled over Sildrin’s words, her eyebrow suddenly raising as realization dawned.

“Do the others know about Yuki?” she asked.

There was no need. His focus has remained on the former Quaestor for… quite some time.

Keira had barely opened her mouth to reply when a warning tone chirped from the nearby terminal. “Dropping out of hyperspace,” Qyreia called from the cockpit. “Have I mentioned I got a bad feeling about this?”

“Not in so many words,” Keira responded, moving to stand behind Qyreia. “But you came anyway, and I love you for that.” The half-breed Umbaran leaned in and kissed the Zeltron’s cheek before turning back towards the central seats. The nonchalance with which she had approached Qyreia caught the mercenary off guard, and it took several seconds for the woman to turn a deeper shade of crimson.

“Wait, you what?!”

Unnamed Docking Station
Outer Rim

The gallery was growing crowded already, but he had expected as much. He was a man with expensive tastes and was not shy of flaunting that fact. Yuki tugged at the edge of his gloves while flexing his fingers. The motion was a subconscious one; an act he had performed so often that it had become as automatic as breathing. His eyes scanned the crowd as a member of his security detail approached from the side.

“Sir, your VIP has arrived,” the man stated. “She has arrived with two guests, and they are armed though they hide it well.”

One of Yuki’s neatly trimmed, black eyebrows rose as he glanced towards the security officer. “You will let them in, armed if you please. Allow them their delusions.”

“Yes, sir,” the officer responded before walking off.

A light touch slid over Yuki’s shoulder from behind, punctuated by hot breath along his neck. “Do try not to disappoint me,” Nemain hissed softly into his ear before sliding away. The dark haired woman snaked into the crowd with a chuckle, ensuring each sensual step fell silently. It was a remarkable gift that irritated Yuki to no end. He didn’t have time to play the tempting woman’s games though. He had prepared far too carefully for that. His hand slid to the controls on the arm of his chair, cycling the nearby viewscreen through various security feeds until finally finding his prey.

“Xia Long,” Yuki murmured with a grin, “you will be a fine addition to my collection.” He watched the silvery-haired woman stride down the main corridor into the hall, his grin transforming into a wide machiavellian smile as he spotted Sildrin’s companions. “And you even brought a gift… my lost property.”

Qyreia was notably uncomfortable in her formal attire. The Zeltron’s gaze kept shifting from face to face within the gallery as she silently wished she had been able to bring the entirety of their armoury with her. As it was, she was somewhat surprised they hadn’t had more difficulty sneaking in what weapons they had. As Qyreia tugged at her shirt, she glanced at Keira from behind. The merc wasn’t above taking in the scenery, so to speak, especially when the fabric of the layered dress accentuated Keira so nicely.

The pale woman glanced back with her blue, gold-flaked eyes and flashed a smile as they exited the corridor and made their way into the main hall. Sildrin appeared far more comfortable, seemingly at home with the fineries that adorned her as she didn’t so much as look around the room. Her senses were already expanding further from the confines of her body, snaking like tendrils through the crowd as she took in the information the room had to offer. Sildrin’s brow furrowed slightly as she felt something elusive at the edge of her awareness. She chased that sensation, but it kept slipping through her shadowy grasp.

Meanwhile, Keira was having a harder time remaining focused on the task at hand than she had expected. Within moments of entering the main hall she had been overcome by the beauty of the various portraits and sculptures on display. The Quaestor had grabbed Qyreia by the wrist and dragged her from place to place with an excited sparkle in her eye as she took it all in. “Can you try calming down a little?” Qyreia asked with a chuckle as she continued to scan the crowd for potential threats. Despite bringing her along, neither of the other women had done much to fill the mercenary in on exactly what they were looking for, or expecting to find. Admittedly, Qyreia suspected they weren’t exactly sure themselves.

“What the…” Keira murmured suddenly as she paused. An icey feeling washed over her, a tinge of panic and confusion intermingled. She spun about, searching for Sildrin among the crowd. It didn’t take long for the half-breed Umbaran to spot the Matriarch near the center of the hall, standing near an obsidian toned block sculpture. Keira motioned for Qyreia to follow as she made her way towards Sildrin, the chill within her thoughts growing stronger as she approached, sending goosebumps up her spine.

“Sildrin, what is it?” Keira asked, reaching out to grasp the woman’s shoulder as she moved to face her.

The Blind Dragon stood motionless, her white eyes open wide with her blue lips half parted. With a tinge of concern, Keira focused on Sildrin’s eyes and reached into her thoughts, forging a link to better communicate.

The woman’s thoughts were scattered, a cacophony of musings and abstract possibilities but one phrase was uttered above the rest. “It’s not possible.” Sildrin blinked then, her eyes seeming to look through Keira as a shocked expression took root. “I felt him die.”

“Who? What’s going on?!” Keira replied.

Atra… He’s—”

“Greetings one and all,” Yuki’s voice suddenly boomed through the speakers of the hall, his white robes pristine as the crowd’s focus turned to his standing form near the back. “I thank you for coming to my exhibition.”

With a gloved hand ran through his hair, pushing the white strands back as his eyes moved towards the center of the room where they were standing. “And a particular welcome to my guest of honor,” he continued, “Xia Long. It is so fortunate you were able to attend.” Yuki’s words were entirely autocratic in nature, belying the refinement with which he held himself.

“I bid you all enjoy the sights to be held among my collection, and I must say there are more than a few of you I wouldn’t mind adding to it.”

The man smiled and glanced around the room, taking in the respectful chuckles that were the customary response to what many assumed to be a joke.

“Oh, and one last thing,” Yuki stated with a low tone. “Keira Viru…”

The raven-haired woman froze for a moment, her eyes widening as she turned to stare at Yuki. How does he know my name, she thought to herself, not without a tinge of worry.

“Welcome home.”

A maelstrom of emotions washed over the young woman. Questions, protestations, fears, all joining together to freeze her in place. Welcome… home?


Unnamed Docking Station
Outer Rim

The three females stood in silence, motionless. An awkward silence penetrated the gallery. Yuki laughed out loudly with a nonchalant smile. With confidence he strode towards the group.

“Let us enjoy the evening before my newest acquisition is revealed!”

Jealous looks were exchanged as a couple of females realised that Yuki wasn’t heading towards them. He stopped in front of Sildrin instead, and bowed deeply.

“Milady…”, he reached out a hand. “I promised you the first dance…”

Hesitating, Sildrin held out her hand. She heard a disgruntled snort from a female nearby but paid it no mind. Yuki’s hand gripped tightly around hers, pulling her close in a sudden movement. His other arm wrapped around her slender waist. He kept his face close to hers - close enough for her to feel his minty breath run over her cheek.

“I have dreamt of this moment for an eternity,” he hissed before lightly lifting his head. "Please… music! Please!”

As the first few chords of the music rose, he guided her to the dance floor, starting to dance with her. The crowd followed in soon afterwards. Qyreia blew an annoying hair strand from her face, muttering.

“Dancing… they didn’t mention dancing…”

She looked at Keira who watched Yuki and Sildrin warily. Should she dare to? Nervously, she counted the buttons on her uniform. “Yes - no - yes - no - yes…” She let out a long breath, gathering all the courage she had.

Qyreia stepped in front of Keira, “Would you… mind dancing with me?” She held out a slightly trembling hand to Keira. Keira’s eyes widened in surprise and a rosy blush appeared on her cheek.


She took Qyreia’s hand with a smile, joining the couples on the dance floor. Qyreia’s heart made a small jump. Meanwhile, Yuki smiled at the white haired, elven Lady in his arms. Soon she would be his. He could barely contain his excitement.

Are you really such a fool to believe you could capture me easily?

He was a little thrown off - how could she know? His eyes traced the arching bow of her fine eyebrows - the white orbs of eyes that appeared to pierce his soul. Soon mine. He leaned closer to her ear.

“I am not a fool. I just know what I am capable of.”

His eyes briefly caught sight of Qyreia and Keira dancing. Oh yes… she would be his as well. He had made her. And she would be his again.

So you were the one who cloned her.

His smile froze. The Matriarch seemed to comment to his line of thoughts. Mind Witch… was she able to read his thoughts?

Yes. I am a Mind Witch.

Her porcelain face remained completely emotionless. For a moment he nearly staggered, surprised. He sought for mental composure and clear his mind. Then he felt a reassuring presence in the back of his mind and his lips turned into a smirk.

“I am prepared.”

At once Sildrin’s connection to the Force faded. Her fingernails dug into his shoulder and her dance movements slowed. His gripped tightened and he leaned close. His hot breath over her neck.

“Oh no. You will dance for me. You will dance.”


“H-how?” Sildrin muttered quietly as the dance continued around them, slowly regaining her senses.

“Would you end the waltz so soon?” Yuki’s voice held to its haute tone, adding a slight accentuation of victory already won as he moved them both among the throng. “There is yet still so much to talk about.”

“Atra… How did you come by him?”

“I am a man of many capabilities, and just as many trade secrets,” he said quietly as they spun slowly to the music. “All in due time, Madam Long. Then you and your friends will be able to… reunite.”

I don’t like that pasty lookin’ mother-kriffer, Qyreia thought from across the floor, her attention very distinctly split between the Matriarch and her own date. Keira seemed equally as distracted, mind processing their host’s words while she followed the Zeltron’s lead and foot movements. While the mercenary was, more or less, rather bashful around the half-Umbaran, she was almost commanding as she took the lead in the movements. Subtle pressure at the small of Keira’s back would guide their direction, while a particular motion of the off-hand guided the Seer through the more complex maneuvers: spins, twirls, and embraces all making an elegant appearance among the simpler fare of those around them.

The raven-haired woman could definitely confirm that dancing was at least one piece of Zeltron culture that Qyreia had retained in her time away from home. Every time that their choreography brought their bodies tight against each other’s, her heart felt like it beat all the harder. Yet the occasional glances and distracted looks kept them both on edge and watching their pale companion.

“Think she’s alright over there by herself?” Qyreia asked during a particularly slow interlude, allowing her to casually whisper the words in Keira’s ear while retaining a sensual atmosphere.

“I think so, but we’ll keep an eye on her, just in case.”

“Good. I don’t trust this Yuki fella.” The Zeltron paused awkwardly, collecting her thoughts. “Do you know this guy?”

“I’ve never met him before in my life. What little I do know, I know only from what I’ve studied and what Sildrin has told me.” She turned her head slightly to lock eyes in a sideward glance with her red-skinned partner. “You’re worried about how he mentioned me by name.”

The half-question, half-statement, was not unexpected, and Qyreia simply nodded in affirmation. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t like it. Seems like we got in here way too easily, and now we’re just flies that got caught in a honey trap.”

“Then our best course of action is to play our parts,” the Force user said, placing a gentle hand on her Black Guard’s cheek, “and stay mindful of our surroundings.”

“Y’know, you make it very hard to do that when you’re doing stuff like that.” The Zeltron gently chewed the inside of her lip. “About what you said earlier… on the ship…”

“What did I say?”

Across the room, Sildrin felt lost in the sea of living beings. With her sight through the Force all but nulled by some machination of the overpowering human dancing with her, only sound, smell, and to some extent touch remained to sense out her surroundings. The presence of so many people was both a blessing and a curse. At any one time, someone would be talking or moving about, so nearby persons could be detected with relative ease; but as the distance grew, so too did the ambient noise, making her mental picture fuzzier and fuzzier.

“How long do you intend to play these games, Yuki? What do you intend to do with me and Keira?”

“My collection could always use another specimen,” he said, the eerie words sounding almost pleasant by his tone. Yuki drew a gloved finger through a loose strand of the Dragon’s hair, “A fine work of art that no portraiture or statuary could ever hope to match.”

The Matriarch wondered how well her companions were keeping watch, and if they were prepared for this madman’s machinations. “There has to be more than that to this game of yours.”

“Must there be?” Sildrin’s silence called forth a devious grin from the human’s lips. “Tut tut, Madam Long. Everything will be revealed in due course. But for now,” he said, pulling her bodily against him, “you are mine.”


Unnamed Docking Station
Outer Rim

You are mine.

Yuki’s words danced within Xia Long’s mind as an echo cascading into the dark depths therein. Her pale eyes narrowed for the briefest of moments, resolve solidifying once more in her mind since she felt her connection to the Force dull. For that was exactly what had happened. It was suppressed but not gone. In the shock of the moment she had allowed that fact to elude her. And yet, there was another fact that Yuki was overlooking that was far more meaningful than that.

She belonged to no one.

Sildrin’s arms slid around Yuki’s neck, drawing him closer. Yuki — firmly entrenched in his own confidence — took the action as an invitation to lean closer. His hot breath was on the Matriarch’s cheek and yet her porcelain features remained still. Long, delicate fingers slid along the white haired human’s neck with a delicate caress. Once, twice and then… shnick!

Yuki yelped and pulled back from Xia as a flash of crimson dropped onto his white robes. Anger flashed in his eyes with his hand pressed firmly to the fresh cut on his neck. The Long tilted her head as if curious before glancing down at her hand. The ring upon her index finger was stained red, a thin blade extending out from a hidden compartment. Her lips curled with the faintest of smiles.

“Good to know she still has her claws,” Keira murmured in response to the sudden commotion, interrupting Qyreia’s line of conversation.

“Of course she does,” the Zeltron replied.

Yuki stood dangerously still for several heartbeats before motioning for an attendant. The young woman responded quickly, holding out a handkerchief towards him. The human took it without a word, pressing it against his throat while his eyes turned to focus on his stained glove. His lip curled in disgust, holding his hand towards the woman at his side. She merely pulled his glove on and offered him another, as if accustomed to such displays. With his nostrils flaring, Yuki pulled the fresh glove tightly over his hand.

“I should have expected as much,” he murmured before brushing his slicked hair back once more. “Fine then, it’s about time I introduced the reason you’re here, no?”

Yuki nodded towards the nearby guards who responded without question, flanking Sildrin with a hand on either shoulder. Again, the man took to the podium and commanded the attention of the room. “Hello again, honored guests,” his voice bellowed through the speakers. “I trust you’re all enjoying the fineries I have on offer, as well you should, but the time has come to bring your attention to my latest addition.”

He waited for the applause to die down before signalling for the lights to fall on the obsidian block at the center of the room. “It is here, within this block. Allow me to reveal it to you.” Yuki’s eyes were fixed firmly on Sildrin as he spoke, grinning like a serpent as the walls of the block began to shift. A mechanical hiss announced their movements, pulling the walls down into the pedestal at its base to reveal the sculpture within.

Except it wasn’t a sculpture at all.

A carbonite slab stood prominently on display, with the body of Atra Ventus encased within. Yuki had taken steps to disguise that fact however, hiding the apparatus that denoted what it actually was. The natural pose seemed to belie the violence of the man’s last moments before coming to rest there. While his left arm prosthetic was completely gone, his pose seemed to be almost relaxed. Perhaps even pondering with his head tilted towards the ground with barely parted lips. His eyes were closed, that was obvious through the carbonite, and his remaining hand was placed over his stomach. Every detail was etched out in the permanence of the casing that held him. Every scar — the old and the new — frozen in perpetuity.

Applause. That was the answer the patrons gave to the reveal. All but three of them.