Few would notice it but Vodo was feeling particularly smug. His normally stern visage was no less the perfect mask of stern discipline and fearsome determination but within he was nearly jubilant. Plans, years in the making, were all coming to fruition at nearly the same instant. His quest of vengeance and retribution had been completed and a bitter rival had removed from his warpath by the strength of his own two hands. His Apprentice was nearing the time of his Dark Jedi Knight trials and would soon be a man in the full of his youth and vigor. Vodo proud of the boy, his son, something the Sith Warlord would never voice aloud. Then there was the item, the entire reason he was present on Coruscant, and what it ultimately would mean for his future.
Vodo Biask Taldrya was at his heart an academic. Self-taught, self-educated, and self-motivated he’d delved into the tomes of the Shadow Academy as a Journeyman in those early, halcyon days. As Aedile of Ektrosis he’d spearheaded the construction of the magnificent Library of Lears on Karufr, an architectural marvel of his own design, from which he’d spent many years furthering his studies into the mysteries of the Dark Side and the history of those enterprising Arcanists from the forgotten pages of history. Nearly a decade ago the story of an alchemist had captured his imagination and it had become among his few obsessions to find any traces of that man’s work. Here, on the glittering jewel in the crown of the galaxy, he would finally have his most tangible relic of that man and the final piece required for his plans to come to their culmination.
A nearly 7 foot tall Twi’lek standing atop a gruesome pair of cybernetic legs would have stood out in this crowd, though not by much. Beings of every size and shape, planet of origin and background, were present in their finest. For his part Vodo was disguised. He did not wander far from the ranks of the Brotherhood since the crash had paralyzed him from the waist down and he’d chosen to shed the weakness of his flesh for his utilitarian prosthesis lest stories of the man atop those legs, the one with the gnarled and blackened scars up and down his lekku, proceeded him. His disguise was not one of cloth and makeup but rather of the mind. With practiced ease his will stretched across the crowd and informed them he appeared to be nothing more than an average man of average height and build. Some would recall him as a human, others as a Zeltron, and some perhaps as a Twi’lek even but no one saw him for what he was. Sith.
The auction had not yet begun so the patrons, invitees all, mingled in little clusters sharing drinks and stories to pass the time. He passed these groupings without interest, swiping a flute of some sparkling drink from a serving droid as he walked past. The droids would see him as he truly was, his illusions being ultimately useless against their electronic sensors, but he had the proper credentials to be there and they rose no fuss. He sipped from his glass and found it was a variety of Corellian wine though not particularly to his liking. He strolled slowly examining the displays of artifacts, treasures, and curiosities behind their transparasteel enclosures until he came to the only one that held any significance to him.
He stood before the Mask of Oman Rah and devoured it with his eyes like a man starving to death. He could feel its presence in the Dark Side of the Force, whispers of its long dead owners calling to him from the far reaches of his hearing. At times he felt he could almost see small black tendrils of the Dark Side slithering across its surface, waving in some unseen breeze to him, calling out for him to seize the Mask and depart this polluted city-planet and assume his mantel as the scion of a new Sith Order. Vodo’s iron will resisted the siren’s call of the Mask and he took another measured sip from his wine flute.
Of all the trillions of sentients in the galaxy Vodo was perhaps the only one who knew what this treasure really was. All that remained of its legend, lost to time even before the Great Galactic Cold War 3500 years ago, were fragments and rumors. Writings on tomb walls alluded to its existence but rarely mentioned it directly. Holocrons of long dead, long forgotten Masters spoke of its creation as though it were already a myth. The countless souls that had been sacrificed to create this thing, this unremarkable ceramic mask, and the horrific acts that had been committed to fulfil the ritual necessary for its creation were so committed to the annals of time that they might well have never existed at all. Except the mask did exist and the radiance of its presence in the Force told Vodo that everything he’d learned about it was true and if they were true then so too would be the powers it granted him.
Casually he checked his datapad. His accounts were ready, bankers on four trade worlds were waiting on his word and had unlimited lines of credit ready to be extended. They did not know who he was, he interacted with them through shell companies and proxies, but they knew the value of his business. There would be no one in this room who would be able to outspend him. He did not care what the cost would be for it was worth all the credits in the galaxy. No one would stand between him and Oman Rah’s greatest creation. Then he saw her and a tingle of warning, a gentle whisper of the Force, ran over the skin of his lekku.