Iurus glanced at the large, ornately decorated doors as a pair of locals ventured in, before turning his focus back to the queen. He cocked his head slightly to the side, considering. He did not feel any feelings of awe at being in the presence of one considered to have such beauty by her people- the story of Lady Githany was enough to dissuade any such feelings he might have had- although he was infuriated at having jumped to conclusions. The Chiss had noticed the looks of awe, incredulity, and lust directed toward his companion, but he had dismissed them out of hand as being related only to her power, both in the Force and in the political realm.
Katanra seemed radiant in the Dark Side. While she had always displayed talent and raw passion, she now seemed more attuned to it. The ridiculous amount of time she had claimed to be dressing must have been spent heavily in meditation on the Dark Side of the Force.
“But perhaps you will find the meeting with the Elite’s Elders interesting, if you choose to come. It’s time to start a war, my Lord, and I would appreciate your counsel.” The other Sith bared her teeth in a ferocious expression, and for a fraction of a second Iurus hesitated, uncertain whether it was himself, the Elders, or indeed the usurpers who need fear this meeting. He quickly shrugged off the thought, fully aware that he could handle almost any resources Katanra’s kingdom could bring to bear against him, and located the Elders in the Force. Despite their name, the Elders did not give the impression of being terribly old- he sensed presences that were in their middle ages, at best. Without acknowledging the statement other than a slight incline of his head, Iurus briskly strode off in the right direction, knocking over one of the newcomers to the library- a female, by the look of her- in the process. The Sith Lord did not slow down or glance in her direction.
As they traveled to the Elders’ chamber, the elder Sith Lord stayed just far enough ahead of his companion to avoid her irritation. While her anger at his blatant disregard for her authority was not something he had caused on purpose- it was all largely irrelevant to his mind- he basked in the Dark Side energy she gave off. Darth Iurus knew that Katanra would normally have calmed herself relatively quickly, and it must have been her meditation and the events yet to come that kept the younger Sith on edge, ready to kill at the slightest provocation. He found that extra energy in her body language sexy, and was surprised to find himself hoping for the chance to witness another execution.
Wu Li sensed his liege approaching. He focused on the door as she walked in, running over all he knew about her as she came in.
She was a yao, a practitioner of dark ways, the old ways, who had been exiled from her clan. The clan had subsequently been slaughtered by Hei Da Xia, warriors of the old ways from wai mian, and had been trained by them to become one of their own. She was an outsider, a wai guo ren now.
Even worse, she had brought another wai guo ren to this meeting, one that had not even been born on their homeworld. Another Hei Da Xia, this one with no supposed loyalties to the Elite or their world. The being was here only for the promise of pain and carnage. It sickened the Elder leader. In three hundred fifty years he had never seen such a dire situation, and again wished in vain that some of the Elders had survived the massacre.
Wu Li called the Elders to rise as their leader walked into the room. Dislike the situation as he must, he would follow orders to the letter. Such was the Arian way.
Katanra resisted the urge to pull Iurus back by the scruff of his soft fleshed neck as he marched ahead of her. Had he no respect at all? However, she smiled as she let him take the lead, remembering from the short time she had spent in the royal courts. One of the rules of etiquette for the family was that the lowest ranked entered the room first, in case there was an ambush waiting on the other side. And so as Iurus entered the room, she saw the Elders recognize instinctively his position in relation to her.
A hate filled glare seemed to halt Iurus’ reach into the Force to rectify the Elders’ viewpoint. Serves him right for assuming he has the upper hand all the time.
As the Elders rose to acknowledge her position Katanra stepped close to Iurus’ side and slipped her hand inside his. At first, and as expected, he pulled away but as Head Elder Wu began to speak he relented. Katanra had used the simple physical link to allow the other Sith Lord to gain a full translation of what was going on. Not that she put it past him to have a basic understanding of her language, such was the nature of the Force in most beings. However, Katanra knew if she was to have his assistance in the matter of planning the war against her enemies he would have to obtain a full understanding of the proceedings.
Elder Wu stood and addressed Katanra, “Lady She, as you know we..”
Katanra cut in, “Yes I do know. I also know that you don’t wish me here, a few more than others. So the question is, why did you seek me out? Why do you put your trust in a foreigner?”
The Elder looked taken aback but continued, “I thought you had come here on your own intuition, my Lady. I issued no order requesting your return.” He joined Katanra’s gaze and settled on the Commander Liang.
Liang shifted nervously and Katanra nodded to Wu. “So it was you that planned this?” She asked as the Elder moved behind the Commander, “The trouble with plotting against one of the Dark Knights, Commander, is that it never quite works out the way you thought.” Katanra nodded and Wu lashed out with a kick that brought the traitor to his knees. She continued, “Why did you want to betray the ones that supported you, Liang? You trained me, you should know what is coming to you.”
Liang looked to Katanra with pleading eyes. “They took my family and threatened their lives! What else was I to do?”
Katanra’s anger blazed as she enveloped the Commander’s mind in an envelope of dark energy. Liang looked about in terror as the hallucinations started. Katanra shook her head as she asked a final question to the condemned one. “Tell me Commander, was it worth it when you still saw your family killed before your own eyes?”
There was a scream from Liang as Katanra sank his mind into a nightmare world. The Commander convulsed and in a fit threw himself onto the floor. Katanra watched impassively as the rest of the Elders recoiled in horror. After a few minuets, Katanra raised a hand and made a fist with it. As she did so the Commanders struggles stopped as his neck snapped into an unnatural angle.
Katanra lowered her hand and smiled in a not so sweet manner at the rest of the consul. “Now that we have our objections resolved, shall we continue with a plan of sorts?”
Elder Wu nodded and began to speak of a plan to take a task force into the palace. The more he elaborated, the more Katanra’s smile grew.
Grateful for the help, Iurus retreated his conscious mind from the proceedings. The Sith had methods of planning that did not require conscious awareness of every single detail that was uttered- to him, the speaking was background music. The details and ideas that passed through were essential, but they occupied essentially little of his mind.
Compared to the Force.
First, Iurus began to visualize the palace. He pictured the throne room, among other places he had never been, using the Force. His physical link to a Sith Lord who had full awareness of the palace was helpful in this matter, and he squeezed her hand to increase the information that flowed to him through the Force. He felt a sudden awareness of the Arian’s emotions, as though he shocked her, and was then lost in the Force.
Darths Iurus and Katanra paraded through the palace. There was battle damage, but the walls and strategic locations were painfully obvious to his “eyes”. As Katanra took her place on the throne, Iurus noted the locations of several works of art that might prove informative when he was to encounter them.
Returning to the mystic viewport of the Force, Iurus saw these walls as bright lines against a brilliant black background of existance. He watched this display as tiny dots of light, each colored in a unique way that described their specific loyalties, filled the map. There was a nearly infinite amount of such colors, and if it was an electronic display it would take years to train a technician to use. This tactical display, however, was conceived of the Force, and of Iurus’s strategic mind, and he understood it instinctually.
The Chiss manipulated the display with his mind, taking information in through his ears and streaming it straight to the display. There was distinction between what he thought, what he heard, and what he knew from the Force- it was all just information to be manipulated to his ends. A powerful beam of light shined through much of the display: information that had already been set in the Force.
The Force was strong in this room, as centuries-old Force users convened with two Sith Lords. All were powerful in the Force, and all had meditated on the upcoming battle. Still, there was precious little that was outside of Iurus’s sphere of influence. Time would travel forward, beings would become one with the Force and, of course, a certain strand that Iurus himself had plucked from the threads of fate specially for the occasion.
Gu Lao, much like Iurus, was quietly soaking in the information swirling around him. He had no personal command anymore, but he had fought in every battle in the current conflict. He knew every strategy that had failed or succeeded to date, and he knew every strategy that was likely to be used against them.
Even more, he saw the clasped hands of the two Sith Lords. So. Lady She had a mate. An outsider mate, even. And they were apparently so close that the pair felt comfortable clasping their hands publically, even during a vital meeting to determine the future of the planet.
As the last of the tactical information was revealed, the Elite Da Shi de Zhang definished compiling his plan. Every aspect possible was taken into account; there were no gaps in his knowledge. “Wo de zhu,” he began. “I have formulated a strategy that will allow us to-”
Lady She’s eyes flashed, an indecipherable expression, and then she cut him off. “We already have a plan, Elder,” she said, her voice cold and with about as much meager respect for his seniority and position as the words indicated. “One that does not involve sacrificing my continued breathing for the sake of your power.”
Lao was speechless. There was no way that she could have known that. He had confided in no one. He had carefully protected his thoughts, and his mind, in a way that his brain could not be intruded in. No indication of the assassination should have existed prior to the event itself. Unless…
Lao watched carefully as the blue-skinned Outsider aqueezed Lady She’s hand again. Amazingly, the di jing xuan‘s eyes flashed again. The Outsider was a seer of some sort, or perhaps a da shi de zhang himself, and he was feeding her information. Lao tensed, waiting for the feeling of dark powers against his throat, and they didn’t come.
Lady She laughed coldly, seeing the Elder’s fear. “I am not going to kill you here, Elder. You have uses yet in the upcoming battle. But you had better hope that your plan fails, Gu Lao.” A smirk came to her face. “You do still care about your offspring, the ones who will accompany me in my personal guard, don’t you?”
Lao shuddered. These Hei Da Xia were cunning indeed and as ruthless as the stories of olde said. He had little choice but to bow his head in defeat as the Queen gestured to her companion to speak.
The two Sith appeared as different as could be, Iurus looking through his glowing crimson eyes under the cowl shadow of his black cloak from two decimeters above the Queen designate. Dressed in her flashiest royal garments, the charcoal-skinned Arian wore a headdress that towered over even the Chiss’s covered head, giving her the air of a displeased godess as she glared at her disgraced followers.
The time for explanations were over. As the two Sith looked at the Elite in the Force, the few executions that took place were quick, relatively bloodless and silent. Katanra looked at their hearts, looking for loyalty, as Iurus meditated in the realm of battle, weeding out those who would inadvertently retard the Elite’s cause.
The disciplined soldiers never stopped marching, even stepping over their own when their generals cut one of them down. Their faces were expressionless, and their loyalty to the crown unquestionable. All that awaited now was their baptism in blood.
As Katanra veered ahead of their private army, close now to the ground where they would do battle, Iurus called the Elite to a silent halt with a mixture of the Force and a hand signal. All eyes beared down on the leader ahead of them, although the effect was tempered by the stealth Force techniques she was employing. Still, the soon to be Queen felt the weight of the stares on her.
It was time to turn around and address those who would soon to be dying for her ascension.
Katanra paced the line. She knew it was time to reach out to her warriors’ hearts and mind, it was time to sway them into following her every word. It was the one talent that even her master had praised her for. Of course, he used it for his own purposes in brainwashing people. Now Katanra used it as her right.
She was Sith, she knew this planet belonged to her. She knew now was her hour.
Facing with her back to the troops that had followed her thus far she looked to the distant castle. Katanra thought back to her childhood, the days before the Jedi even showed their faces on her planet’s soil, and mentally placed her map. She knew the halls of the grand mountain palace possibly even better than the current occupants. And now she would guide the instruments of the traitor’s slaughter through the secret ways, hidden paths, and strike from the shadows as they had all trained for.
Looking to Iurus, whom she had given a lighter yet more durable set of armor for this mission and nodding an acknowledgment of the role he played here, she turned and commanded her kind’s attention.
“My people, many years ago a great slaughter came about. While you may not have heard of it, this killing was but the start of the events you are about to see today. The family Chi has lond stood as persecutors, betrayers, and cowards. They allied themselves against the She clan by allowing the dark warriors from the past to know of our power… to know of our freedom! And now we all pay the price. These dark ones came and decimated the royal clan, sparing the royal family alone. The dark ones violated Aria, but I will not tolerate this sin. You have been chosen by my own hand to restore honor to Aria, you have been chosen to serve justice on those that have betrayed us. You have been chosen to take back the throne and all that it stands for!”
Katanra paused and took in the reaction of her troops. While they did not have the same boisterous reaction that most species might be showing, she could see their readiness. Their eyes glowed a red and yellow passion, their quills standing in tall attention and their hands gripped around the hilts of their swords ready to be drawn.
She continued with her instructions. “Wait for the moment to strike. When the time is right take out the traitors and let them taste justice by the edge of your blade. Do no bother with seeking out those that flee, those ones taste defeat by their own cowardice and exile. Save Chi’s head for my blade alone. The others I care not how they are disposed of. Show no mercy, or face Chi’s fate with him.”
From his position at the lead of the charge, Iurus welcomed the new additions. He had little to fear from any swordsman on this planet, and so he easily welcome the opportunity to hone his reflexes against flying enemies. He was pleasantly surprised to find that, like the Elite, Chi’s prime guards were wielders of the Dark Side of the Force. Iurus selected one for his target, and concentrated.
The Arian was young, his mind weak, and the elder Sith Lord soon found himself- while not in full command of the youth’s nervous system- easily able to cut off electrical signals to his voluntary organs. With the target’s full attention (and no threat to Iurus’s body) he began to assault him mentally. He prodded, asking simple questions, and received simple answers. Instinctively, before his new, “Royal” training could kick in, simple replies rose to the youth’s mind- name, rank…
Rank? In what organization? Iurus demanded, squeezing the youth’s mind. Just as he feared he was going to pop the young Arian, answers came to his mind. Numbers, a name, a leader…
Iurus was satisfied by the results. The youth screamed, and Iurus realized his unangry feeling had allowed the slippery alien mind to break his mind free of Iurus’s control. Without wasting the effort to try and regain a tentative grasp of the being’s brain, he focused on a simpler task- willing the telekinetic forces at his control to alter the young Arian’s skeletal structure. The being screamed once more as his hollow bones snapped, on occasion in more than one place, and he fell to the ground.