A silence hung over the dark cliffs outside an Imperial post: no wildlife cries, no rustling of plants in the wind that has died down to a silent breeze. Sharack, a very tall and large Red Sith Jedi dressed in blue robes and a cape with a fluffy white collar, watched the last of the Imperials hurry into a small red shuttle painted with pointed designs of the Dread Guard. One of the gestures of goodwill the Dread Masters made in this mess of a situation. A small move against their former master. Sharack thought those Imperials must be having one hell of a whiplash, getting into a Dread Guard ship while protected by a Jedi and a Republic soldier. A Red Sith Jedi, no less. A Sith Jedi. Or a Jedi Sith. Sharack chuckled at the thought.
The silence weighed heavily upon Sharack's broad shoulders, and she sensed a dark presence honing in on her location. They say that if wildlife suddenly goes quiet, a large predator is around. This couldn't be more true right now, Sharack thought. Vitiate was coming, and the environment itself could sense it. To Vitiate, she was a beacon of the light side, and the Emperor wanted nothing more to snuff the annoying light out. She poked at the gravel with a claw of her robotic foot, just to hear some noise.
She turned to face her brother, Seid. He was almost as tall as her, but that was where their similarities mostly ended. The only other shared trait between them was a white triangular spot on their foreheads, that extended into the hair, creating a white forelock. Sharack's skin was a lighter shade of purplish red, her hair was a dark muted red and unruly, and her eyes a bright ice blue, an unusual color for a Red Sith. But there wasn't much usual about Sharack in general. From the eyes, to her height, to her cybernetic legs and tail.
Meanwhile Seid had very dark red skin and bright red hair and eyes. He was clad in gold armor and leaning on his huge assault cannon. They both were bright splashes against the grey environment, but even their colors seemed dulled somehow.
Seid returned her gaze, quizzical and clearly unsettled. He was Force blind, but even he could feel the oppressive aura of the Sith Emperor. Sharack sighed, raising an arm.
"I'm sorry, brother. This is one fight you can't follow me to."
Before Seid could react, he was lifted off the ground, cannon and all, and floated into the shuttle just as the door started to close.
"WAIT, NO!" He yelled, reaching for the shuttle door.
The door lifted into its slot in the hull and there was a click indicating it was sealed. Seid leaned back against the wall in defeat. His sister was always reckless. She was incapable of fear, and Seid took the role of self preservation instinct of the group, along with Sharack's padawan, Kira, as he accompanied the Jedi. Kira wasn't here either. The only one of her crew remaining with her now was the astromech droid, T7. The others were either aboard the orbital station, or aboard Sharack’s spaceship.
Seid felt the shuttle rumble as it took off. He stood up, found an empty seat and strapped in, towering over the Imperial sitting next to him. He felt as if he failed Sharack, but realistically, what could he do against the full might of the Sith Emperor? It wasn't like the previous time they faced the emperor., back then Vitiate had been confined to a weak failing body. On top of that, he was recently kicked out of his previous host. Being forced to swap bodies weakened him. Sharack's attack came as a surprise too.
Now? Now he has fed on the conflict between the Empire and the Republic, staged through the effort of a former galactic legend. Thanks to Revan, Vitiate has gained enough strength to erode the wills of more and more Ziost citizens. And now it seemed he was preparing for something. Sharack's chances were slim at best. And yet, she still chose to stay behind.
Sekhmet, the flagship of Dread Master Bestia, floated in Ziost's orbit. Styrak and Bestia stood by the viewport on the bridge, staring silently at the planet. Long ago Ziost was their home. Both of them were born and raised here. And now Bestia was back, only to find the planet in chaos as her former master fed off its population. Bestia's cyan eyes scanned the planet's surface. What was Vitiate doing? What was the point of mind controlling all these people? Was it just a show of power? Was he preparing for something else? Bestia had a sinking feeling it was the latter. She felt restless and angry at being reduced to just standing and watching.
"We should be down there!" She hissed.
"I know, love. But it would require all six of us to stand against Vitiate," Styrak replied, putting a hand on Bestia's shoulder.
"We can summon the others! Oricon isn't that far! We could still make it in time before…"
Bestia's holocom beeped, interrupting her. She unclipped the device off her belt and held it up, pressing the response button. A blue image of Sharack hovered over it, blinking and glitching out. Even through the bad connection, Bestia could make out the determination and sorrow in her daughter's eyes.
"Mom. I just wanted to say it was great to finally meet you, and fight by your side. Both you and dad. I sent Seid to safety, he should be at the GSI station with the last bunch of evacuees. I love you both-"
The transmission distorted and cut off before Bestia could reply. She stared at the now inert communicator, before slowly dropping her hand and looking back at the planet. Nothing changed, at least visually. The Force, however, was a different story. Bestia could sense the fear of people inside numerous ships that hurried away from Ziost. She could also feel a dark presence swelling in the northern hemisphere of the planet, moving slowly farther North.
There was much that Sharack wanted to say. Particularly to her father. She had already offered an apology before for stabbing him and contributing to his death on Darvannis. Sharack wanted to reiterate it but the signal cut off and didn't come back. Vitiate's presence seemed to mess with electronics and signals. She said what mattered most, the Jedi thought. She regarded the device in her hand grimly before clipping it back to her belt.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the surroundings darken, and raised her eyes. A conglomeration of black shadows loomed over her. The purest black she'd ever seen, rivaled maybe only by the black hole she saw once. She craned her head up until her gaze was met by a pair of hateful black eyes with red infinity sign shaped pupils. Below was a maw filled with glowing red sharp teeth. Too wide, even for the vaguely serpentine face it belonged to. Vitiate's true form, one of pure darkness and malice. Black and red. Colors that in nature usually signify danger. It was, again, fitting.
This would definitely require her big girl lightsaber. Sharack gripped the long hilt of her weapon, twisted, and with a metallic clang it transformed into a lightspear. An even longer cyan blade hissed to life. Her lightsaber was one of a kind, a hilt that could be extended into a polearm, and an extra long blade. Sharack specifically requested those modifications to make use of her height and larger than life nature.
"Let's dance, you bastard!" Sharack called out to the looming shadow.
She then smirked, crouched, and jumped, her cybernetic limbs sending her high into the air. She spun around, making a gigantic sweep across the shadows that made up Vitiate's form. The blue of her blade cut the monster in half, but the damage was short lived. The darkness clamped its teeth down, shutting the light out.
Back in orbit, Bestia squinted at the planet below.
"What is that?.." Bestia murmured, her eyes glued to a dark spot that formed in its northern hemisphere. It was where she sensed the emperor's presence. The spot turned into a dark star that started spreading outward from its source.
Her answer came in the form of excruciating mental pain as the feedback of mass death hit her. Bestia has always been in tune with the Force around her. People, animals, plants. All life had the Force coursing through it and that's what Vitiate was after. He was devouring Ziost, her home planet, like he had once done with his own.
Not many people knew about Nathema, but Bestia and Styrak, as two of the Dread Masters, were aware of it. A green world once called Medriaas. Vitiate's origins were a mystery, but Bestia knew that Medriaas was his birth planet. He rose to power early in his life, taking the place of the planet's ruler. At one point, he called a meeting between many Sith lords under the guise of peace talks. However, it was a trap, and Vitiate conducted a ritual that drained the Sith lords and the planet itself of all life.
Bestia was intimately familiar with Nathema, having spent time in one of the experimental facilities Vitiate had there. He tried to break her, solely for his sick amusement, and possibly to use as a stronger vessel, but failed. It left scars, both physical and mental. Bestia was overcome by a flashback to that time. She leaned on the wall, overwhelmed. And then she felt something ripped away, and realized that Sharack, her daughter, had failed. The daughter that Bestia had only recently found, irreversibly lost to her again. She collapsed to her knees, watching through tears as the darkness made its way around the entire planet, leaving behind barren wastelands. Completely powerless to stop it. She heard a rustle of robes as Styrak knelt next to her, awkwardly wrapping his arms around her shoulders, doing his best to quietly comfort her.
"She's...gone. We just got her back… And now she's gone. Forever."
And Bestia, with all the power of a Dread Master and almost a thousand years of life experience, could do nothing. Styrak stayed silent, but Bestia didn't really need a reply from him. His presence alone was enough. Bestia turned around and buried her still masked face in her husband's chest. He was one of the few who Bestia allowed to see her vulnerable. Styrak held her, watching the dying planet. Even with the distance, Styrak could sense the anguish of countless spirits denied an afterlife of becoming one with the Force. This, too, was one of Vitiate's crimes. He didn't just drain the planet of its life force. The echoes of sentient beings were bound to him so he could feed off them gradually, and they were denied the afterlife of becoming one with the Force.
The black tendrils made their way across the surface in just a few minutes. Just like that, thousands of years of history and culture and millions of years of evolution, were completely snuffed out.
Ziost was no more.