Darth Helos watched from about a block away as Alpha Squad entered the occupied building. He had been lying low for nearly twenty-four hours, mostly in Force hibernation.
Darth Helos. The name did not feel too odd to him, a man whose family was named after the home planet of the Sun Guards and quite likely the last man in history to wear their armor. His Sith Merc ancestry had been a plus in gaining the trust of his new Order, now it was up to him what he was going to do with that trust.Was he being watched? Were there other Sith, or “Imperial” agents in the vicinity? He was almost sure there was.He was ready for any contingency. He had wired the building so that he could destroy it in thirty seconds’ notice. He had contingency plans upon contingency plans that would allow him to either slaughter all of the Fel Loyalists, or kill everyone hunting them and escape with them. Neither option was particularly appealing at the moment. And the moment was now.He entered another building, fully robed, aware of the secret passageways that he could use to enter the place of battle. The Stormtroopers would not know where he was- nor would anyone else that was not more powerful in the Force than he was. He would reveal himself at the moment of his choosing, in the place of his choosing, and in a method of his choosing.
Only one thing was for certain: the cover of Darth Helos would not be blown. If Zaryk Thyrsus was to visit the Imperial Knights, there would be no surviving Sith-Imperials to tell of it.
Zaryk walked through the building, slicing through any defector that displayed weakness. This was good- so far, he was doing both of his jobs, and hadn’t yet been forced to make a decision. But he knew this wouldn’t last long.Sensing no talent worth saving in the room he was embattled in, Zaryk reached out with the Force and collapsed the walls. The first did a decent job of resisting him, so he deflected about five blaster rifle bolts and a stun grenade into it. After that, it was youngling’s play to bring the supports around him, drawing them into a Force Whirlwind until there was nothing holding the ceiling up above them- and not much more supporting the floor beneath them. He took full advantage of the former supports under his control, crushing skulls and carving a path through the floor that allowed him to fall just beneath the roof above him. Defectors on the second through fourth floors of that column had just enough time to see him pass by before they were crushed by falling debris.Using the Force, Zaryk took in the layout of the room on the first floor seconds before he reached it. He rolled through an open doorway, and landed in a room with just enough view of the main lobby that he watched the “massacre” led by Alpha Squad. He grabbed a half-crushed stormtrooper helmet in the rubble that followed him from the falling floor, and switched its comlink frequency.
He put on the helmet, and used the Force to disguise his voice. “At least don’t make it look obvious that you’re trying to miss, fools,” he whispered before tearing off the helmet and throwing it through the open doorway behind him.
Now, what to do…
Zaryk watched from his corridor as the squad glanced at one another. He couldn’t see their facial expressions, but he could tell that it was slowly dawning on them- even a moment of weakness, a hesitation brought on by sympathy or pity, would be construed as a traitorous act by the Sith Empire. If they hadn’t been consciously firing to miss before, the seeds had at least been sewn in their mind now.The time was now. He strode into the room, his lightsaber still lit, crimson, normal length. The Sith had still not seen the saber’s second phase, so for this mission he had risked leaving two silver focusing crystals inside the weapon. If the moment came to reveal himself- to stormtroopers, to the Sith, or to his true comrades- he would have a method. For now, though, he would fight as any other Sith Lord.As he prepared to speak to the commandos, he sensed a pair of presences approaching. He had sensed this pair fighting their way through the building- a singularly disturbing pair of beings. While Zaryk had never hesitated to use his rage as a power source, it seemed that these two were driven
by it- soul-consuming rage was their only reason for fighting… or for living. It sent a momentary chill down his spine just thinking about it. These beings were not truly at home among the Jedi, the Knights or the Sith, but only the Sith would tolerate their presence.
They entered the room, and for a moment the three eyed one another, forgetting about the commandos. How should I proceed? the persona of Darth Helos, the act, asked Zaryk. It was a fair question. His first inclination, to avoid stirring up trouble, would be cordiality- among the Knights, a new recruit would defer to a senior, and offer assistance. No, that’s not right. They’ll know something’s wrong then. He had to act like a Sith- like a being pursuing his own power, even at the expense of others. While he had been with the One Sith long enough to know that they did not function exactly like the Sith Order of olde, he knew that was still at the core of many of their hearts.
He looked into the eyes of Darth Necro, and saw the black holes he had heard about. Necro was a void, a singularity in life itself, and it was chilling. But, luckily for Zaryk, it was also enraging. This was a demon that fed on the life of others, and the Master of the Imperial Knights focused all of his rage on one illusion, on changing himself and, just for a moment, presented Necro with his greatest fear: the visage of a being just like himself. Blackness stared into blackness; void stared into void. Zaryk even felt himself beginning to hunger for the Force energy contained in their bodies.
“What are you two doing here?” he asked contemptuously. “There is no need for three here. Your presence is a waste of Sith resources.”
Zaryk immediately grew suspicious upon hearing Necro’s cover story. He had trouble believing there was a stormtrooper that would let their guard down if they heard that a youngling Sithspawn was with the enemy- and there was only one other reason they could be here. Necro had almost spelled it out for him.After that panicky mind-blast of Necro’s, Thyrsus recovered quickly. He glanced at Grieval- a look that said “say sum’in”
. Grieval, of course, held his ground- but he didn’t say anything.Having already gathered his rage, it was simple to release it in the direction of their new target. He was peeved- at Necro’s and Grieval’s presence, at Necro’s attitude, at the entire Sith Order. He slammed the full power of his rage into the roof of the chamber like a sledgehammer, then he squeezed the sledgehammer until it stretched into a point- a point that tore through the roof of the building. A stormtrooper on the roof was thrown into the the air from the impact…
Before anybody else could react, Zaryk started leaping from floor to floor, using the Force as a springboard. He gestured for the stormtroopers to follow with their grappling cords.
Then, a stormtrooper could be seen falling down the floors. He wasn’t screaming, because his helmet was set to send all vocals only through the comlink.
Now enraged, Zaryk had no difficulties acting in the persona of Darth Helos. He swirled through the sea of bodies like a cyclone, freezing grenades in the air and paying little heed to whom he sent flying over the edge of the building or through the hole he had made.As he lopped off the arm of a stormtrooper, he sensed a unique quartet of presences approaching: expert commandos. The crimson bands on their shoulders indicated that they had been trained in the former Royal Guard training fields on Yinchorr; these four commandos had capabilities equaled by probably only about four hundred others in active Imperial service. Sith
Imperial service, that is- it was notoriously difficult to keep track of what type of skills were available to Roan Fel, even if Zaryk had been part of his entourage.The four converged on him at once, each armed with deadly electrostaffs that could drop a Rancor with a direct hit and withstand a lightsaber blade. In an effort to even the odds, Zaryk sliced through the elbow of the closest, following through with a Force blast that would put the trooper’s body into schock. He parried and slashed, spinning through a kata that was distinctly Imperial- there was nothing that a non Force-using commando trained by the Empire could use against him that he would not be able to block as a reflex.
After nearly thirty seconds on the defensive, Master Thyrsus decided he would need to take some more drastic action. Letting lightning fly from his fingers, he blasted one of the troopers until their smoking body ceased resisting, simply flying through the air and falling through the hole in the roof from the momentum of the Force energy.
Now it stood two against one, and he noticed one of the commandos tossing away their electrostaff.
Her helmet soon followed, unleashing flowing locks of jet black hair that Zaryk was intimately familiar with. It was Fecilia Taryn, a human Imperial Knight whom had briefly been his lover, around the time she had been Knighted.
He looked in her eyes for a glimmer of recognition, hoping- praying that the Emperor had briefed her as to his status before sending her to lead this mission.
She looked up and he he looked deep in his eyes. They burned with the hatred of love scorned, friends lost, and lifelong enemies.
“Fecilia…” Zaryk tried to say, but it came out as little more than a gasp. Fecilia herself, on the other hand, wasted no time with words- she dived forward, igniting her lightsaber and driving it forward with a fury that was uncharacteristic of her normal fighting style. She was driven by the rage of one who had just seen a friend killed, one who saw a former lover and Master wielding a lightsaber on the wrong side of the war. She couldn’t hesitate because if she did, she would collapse in grief.And Zaryk couldn’t explain any of it. Sith agents and minions were all over the place, many of them wearing armor that could hear him for kilometers if the wearer so chose, and who knew what Necro and Grievous were capable of.No, he couldn’t tell her of his mission. He couldn’t tell her he was sorry, or why he had been forced to kill her commando friend. Could he let her live?
He could try. He was fighting a master duelist, a woman whom he had taught the art of the lightsaber to himself, who had been instrumental in developing Soresu and Makashi into the combined style preferred by the modern Imperial Knights; a woman who fought with the pain of loss, for the right of her nation to live, and with a style unique to her emotional state. But he could try.
And there was no more time to consider, as his brief second of contemplation had thrown him so far onto the defensive that every parry of Fecilia’s lightsaber bought him another second of breath, and every step he took was backwards. He was being forced backward too quickly, too close to the edge, and by two skilled foes- parries became blocks, blocks became misses and dodges, dodges became glancing blows. Finally, Fecilia’s final partner made a mistake- she struck with her staff on her left side, facing inward, with Zaryk’s saber wide in his right hand.
Zaryk struck: a glancing blow, directly at the base of the commando’s neck. Using subtle control of the Force, he struck with just enough force to knock the commando out- she collapsed, hard, falling away from the dueling pair, but little permanent nervous damage should have been done.