Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
718 years before the Battle of Yavin (683BrS:1:15 - 683BrS:1:17) in the Cha Raaba system: Ylesia (Pro Unione) and in the Horuset system: Moraband (Valley of the Dark Lords).
Raeni Corliss, Niloth (Darth Diabolus), and Baron Germanicus Rodney (Darth Crassus).

A small starfighter emerged from hyperspace over the ancient and forgotten Sith world of Moraband. In the cockpit was Germanicus Rodney, a minor Alderaanian lord with grand ambitions. He was also the Sith Lord Darth Crassus. A young man of about 33 he had smooth facial features and an innocent look about him that belied his true intentions. His head was topped with wavy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that were as cold as his soul. He had been summoned by his master, called to the Outer Rim, for reasons that had not yet been made clear to him. His role was not to ask questions, but to obey. As he lowered his ship into the atmosphere the sky clouds gradually receded to reveal the barren wasteland that lay beneath. He set his course for the Valley of the Dark Lords and as he flew over the tombs of the deceased and forgotten Sith he longed for the power that lay within them, so much so that his mouth began to water. When the craft landed he was quick to leap from the cockpit, landing on the ground, and pulling the hood of his black robe over his head to keep the dust out of it. He brought his hand up to his eyes to shield them as he waited for his master to reveal himself. Minutes went by ... and then a half hour. His patience was becoming incredibly taxed. "I am here!" he shouted, which echoed through the canyons, as his rage flowed through his voice.

Darth Diabolus ... Dark Lord of the Sith ... had been watching ever since his apprentice landed, content to remain in the darkness afforded by a tomb of some ancient lord whose name and deeds were lost to eternity. What he had been seeking he had not yet found, but something ... or rather *someone* ... else had called to him and kept him from his task. This required the investigation of his apprentice, but this also afforded him a chance to observe his patience. He knew that it would be a long game for the Sith to return to power, and if the young Alderaanian noble he had chosen as his apprentice did not learn to master this skill the Sith would be doomed. He had begun to doubt his choice and had openly begun to explore the prospect of taking another apprentice. It was this thought that had prompted him to summon young Germanicus to Moraband. When he witnessed Germanicus lose his temper, he reached out with the force and telekinetically manipulated a rock formation to topple from the cliffside towards the human.

Germanicus was just about to give up and leave when he heard the sounds of rocks falling. As he looked up he saw two particularly large boulders toppling in his direction. He knew immediately that this was no natural occurrence and was, in fact, another test from his master. He could have used his superior reflexes and dexterity to escape, but instead he had something else in mind. He raised both of his hands and reached out, grasping them with his innate telekinetic ability. As they hovered in the air above him he grit his teeth, trembling, and thrust his arms suddenly towards the left, which made both of the rocks going flying off into the distance. "No more games, master!" he shouted, before dusting himself off. His absence on Alderaan would go noticed if he were delayed too long. In order to be taken seriously in court he needed to find a wife. He had his own plans for how the Sith would return to prominence, and it involved his becoming King, but that was for another day.

The Devaronian Sith Lord slowly emerged from the tomb, stepping out into the light that starkly contrasted with the black robes and armor he wore. He brought his hands together, clapping them slowly, which echoed through the valley and made it sound as if an entire audience of thousands were applauding the man. "You are a young man. Time is your ally. *Use* it," he said to him, in a slow and steady voice. It was the most valuable lesson he hoped to impart upon the man before the two eventually came to blows. It was his apprentice's destiny to take his place, but that did not mean it was going to happen in the near future. "I have felt something," he said, as he walked with the man through the valley. His hands reached up and pulled down his hood revealing his red skin and the two horns that were atop his head. "There has been a disturbance in the force. It has come from Ylesia," he explained, as his eyes moved skyward in thoughtful contemplation. "It is in Hutt Space. Beyond the reach of the Republic. *You* must go. *You* must find out the cause," he ordered, turning to glare at him with his piercing yellow eyes. "Do not come back without an answer. Alderaan can wait," he said to him, before pulling the hood back up over his head and proceeding back towards the tombs.

Germanicus was gritting his teeth so tightly that his cheeks began to twitch and blood vessels in his eyes threatened to burst. His master seemed preoccupied with someone other than him, and he was wise enough to know what that meant. The last place he wanted to go was Hutt Space ... particularly a spice mine. He belonged in the core worlds where the real power in the galaxy lay ... political power. He dared not question his master this early in his training, but this mission felt beneath of him ... unworthy of his power and his talent. As his master turned towards the tomb, he turned towards his starfighter, causing his robe to move so swiftly that a whirlwind of dust appeared behind him. As he leapt back into the cockpit of his fighter and began his preflight check he had a bad feeling about this assignment.

Black billows of smoke reached out high into the normally blue sky that covered Ylesia. Pro Unione, roughly translating to 'the place of union', was on fire. The religious retreated had served as a cover for the Besadii Hutt's spice mine operation. There, humans and aliens alike were put to work, literally working themselves to death. The rules had always been simple: if you wanted to survive, you needed to pay the price. Labor only earned the people of Pro Unione a currency meaningless to the rest of the galaxy. Significantly lesser than credits, the pebbles that the Besadii Hutt's gifted them with were the means of survival. Fifty pebbles per adult, twenty for a child. These were the rules that allowed one to continue their work as a slave in Pro Unione. It was ironic at a painful extent that statutes of Gods and Goddesses of long ago lingered all over the city. It was like their stone carved eyes were watching the people suffer with no hint of sympathy. Their empathetic, blank stares watched day in and day out at the Hutts ran rampant around the poor-stricken city.

Those statutes had been turned into debris by an unseen force. Severed stone heads littered the ground. They had all been purposely rolled so their eyes stared into the ground. If any unseen, holy power existed, then that power frowned upon what had happened in Ylesia.

The mines were the most unholy place in the 'holy' lands. The harsh conditions inside the mines caused an endless slew of health problems. People liked to make the joke that someone was always coughing in Pro Unione...sad but true. Clawing at the sides of the cave in search for rare spices, Raeni Corliss ran her head over her forehead, staining it with a combination of dirt, sweat, and blood. The majority of her life had been spent within claustrophobic inducing tunnels within the cave. The Hutts enjoyed that she was so small, so easy to shove into the tiniest, most collapsible little holes. Of all the miserable days that Raeni had lived, it was the last handful of days that had been crowned the worst. First, her tools had been stolen. She suspected that Maotr Paort had done it. The old man had lost his sanity in the winding tunnels. Raeni simply couldn't afford to replace her tools. Her bare hands would have to do the trick.

Her mother had become ill from decades of work. This left an eighteen year old Raeni with the responsibility of making her mother's wage. Currently, she was behind by three pebbles. If she failed the make the amount before the sun set over the tropical forest, then she and her mother would face public execution at first light. The Hutts enjoyed making examples as frequently as they could.

A loud alarm went off in the tunnels. It reverberated around Raeni, causing the tight spot where she worked to shake. Earth crumbled off of the walls around her. She sucked in a deep breath of debris. It was lunch time.

Collecting her belongings, Raeni climbed her way out of the mine and headed to exchange her goods for pebbles. The peace of mind was worth missing a meal over...or three. The Hutt considered her work, then paid up. At last, she had covered this month's rent.

As she turned her tail on the mines, she broke out into a sprint. She jogged all the way back to the shack where she and her mother shared living room with two other families. Raeni stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a group of Hutts outside her home. Between them, her mother was on her hands and knees. She was coughing so hard that the ground beneath her was bloody. "Hey! What's going on here!?" She ran towards one of the Hutts. He was holding a weapon alike to a cattle prod, only the electricity that ran through it was enough to kill a weapon with just one poke. It came to a sharp point at the end. Raeni could see that it had been used on her mother many, many times. "I have rent! Leave her be!" She screamed.

The leader of the group, the Hutt with the weapon, turned around. He spoke in Huttesse to the girl. "She has to pay for herself. You cannot pay for her." He said. "She has not been in the mines all month. We execute her now!" He declared.

"No! There's no rules about that! I have been paying for her to survive for months!" Raeni was screaming at the top of her lungs. She balled her hands up into fists, pounding at the back of the leader Hutt. He signaled to his friends. Between two of them, Raeni was held down. "*No*! *You can't do this*! *There's no rules about paying for others*! *Leave my mother be*!"

The leader laughed. His chuckles rolled off of his tongue smoothly. "Girl," he said, "you have much to learn. Rules only matter when the rulers follow them." With that, he slammed the sharp tip of the cattle prod into the woman's head. Before Raeni, her mother was mercilessly murdered. Despite the fact that people looked...despite the fact that people she had grown up with watched...*no one* did anything.

She snapped.

It happened so quickly that even Raeni couldn't recall all the details. She could recall her fingers wrapping around the base of the cattle prod. She could recall the joy of killing each and every Hutt who lived within the city. The killing spree continued on through the night. Every man, woman, and child died at the hands of Raeni Corliss within the day. She destroyed the Godly statutes with her bare hands. She set fire to all the homes and every fake piece of deception that made up Pro Unione.

The village was still on fire. On the far outskirts near the mines, a graveyard had been made. Pile after pile of dirt symbolized where a body was buried. Each had a tombstone that Raeni had created. The most exquisite looking tomb of all was that which she created for her mother. Her mother's grave sat on a cliff overlooking the forest. Raeni had put in the extra effort to dig her grave deep. She had even fashioned a shitty coffin from the panels she'd ripped off the side of a Hutt's home. That was where Raeni Corliss could be found. The young woman stood, staring down at her mother's grave with a blank expression on her face. She wore rags. A sack would have made for better apparel than the ripped pants and too-big blood stained shirt that she wore. Her boots were so heavily abused that the top wiggled when she moved her toes. Her skin was dyed by the black soot within the mines. Beneath it all, it was hard to tell what she *really* looked like. Raeni's hands were bloody. The callouses on the tips of her fingers and palms of her hands had bursted while she made this mass grave. Her hair fell down over her shoulder in heaps of mess. At her feet sat her shovel and the cattle prod that she had used to kill *everyone*. All around her, all she could hear was pure, unnatural silence.

"I'm better than this..." Germanicus muttered to himself as his starfighter exited hyperspace in the Ylesia system. As soon as the craft became stationary he felt a chill that began in his leg and ran up his entire body. He shivered slightly and even groaned audibly. He was a fool not to feel it before now, he thought to himself, but he immediately realized that *this* is why has master had sent him here. The old Devaronian's senses went far beyond his, he reluctantly admitted, as he pointed the nose of the craft at the planet. Wasting no time he accelerated his craft to its top speed. As he entered the atmosphere the craft began to experience buffeting from the extreme angle of approach he took, which caused a streak of flame to blaze behind his craft. It was hardly the subtle touch his master would have wanted. As the white clouds faded away the black smoke from the village came into view. He circled his starfighter around the village, but could sense no life ... only death. He had come to right place.

As he deactivated the engines and gently glided it on repulsor technology he touched down on fresh graves, and wasted no time exiting the craft. He saw the graves ... the fallen heads of the statues ... and the finally the *girl*. As he locked eyes upon her he instantly felt uneasy and became nauseous. His mind was transported to a time and place he did not know. It was a world unfamiliar to him and he heard voices he did not understand. The girl was there ... now a woman ... and he was there too. Death had come to him. And then the vision was gone and he was brought crashing back to reality. He found himself gasping for breath and his face went suddenly pale. There was a thin layer of cold sweat upon him, causing his wavy blonde hair to matte down upon his forehead. He was queasy. He was afraid. Was this the one his master intended to replace him with? Or had he seen another path? Whatever he saw the message was clear ... this girl would be his end. His hand dropped to his belt, gripping the hilt of his lightsaber, which he quickly raised in front of him. His thumb slid the activation switch upward and with a *snap-hiss* the meter long red blade extended from the hilt. There was a *humm* each time he moved the blade, and the red light illuminated his unexpected delicate features.

He stepped forwards her slowly, keeping his blade in the guard position. His eyes had transformed into an unnerving shade of yellow as his fear and hatred flowed through him, completely embracing the dark side of the force. What had he seen? He swallowed, causing his throat to bulge against the collar of his tunic which was partially visible from beneath his robe. He raised his lightsaber, preparing to attack, but there was a feeling of dread that surrounded her that froze him dead in his tracks. Was this his ending? Or was this his beginning? He stared at her, beginning to tremble, until he finally let out a scream that escaped from deep beneath him. His thumb relented on the switch and the red blade receded into the hilt. He was quick to attach it back to his belt, and then he extended his hand, now empty, to her ... without saying so much as a word.

There was a significant shift in the atmosphere that let Raeni know her isolation had come to an end already. She listened to each step he took through the cemetery. She heard the hiss of his lightsaber as he ignited it. It wasn't like anything she had ever heard. The girl turned, unarmed, and stared at him with green eyes. Pain rippled through her that was worse than death of any kind. She did not fear him. Death had been lingered over her head for years. In her young mind, she had *never* planned to live on Ylesia this long. Years ago, she proclaimed to her mother that she would leave. That she would find *freedom* elsewhere in the galaxy. She didn't realize she would rise and claim it herself.

Her eyes studied him hard. She couldn't tell if he feared her, or if his hate for her was to intense that it made him shake. His weapon illuminated the features of his face. For such a dark man, his face was so delicate. It *humanized* him. Raeni made no efforts to protect herself. She had a good feeling that this man's weapon was better than the cattle prod. The girl, accepting her fate with grace, watched his weapon rise. It would have fallen had it not been for the sudden change of heart that he had. Instead of it killing her, the blade disappeared in a quick instance. She remained silent, decidedly passing judgment on the man she had never seen. Something inside of her said to go with him. It was as natural an urge as migration, or the urge to return home to breed. She didn't understand the feeling. It existed regardless. She stared at his empty hand then looked behind her shoulder at the special grave. Finally, Raeni was going to leave Ylesia. She faced forward and reached out to him. Her fingertips touched with the palm of his hand and rolled to the back of his hand. As she took hold of it, she was transported to a different place entirely. Blurry shapes attempted to present her with an image of her image where this moment would be crucial. Within a blink, it was gone. She said nothing to him.

The only sound was that of their boots crushing the soil and rocks covering the dead. He led her the short distance to his starfighter, turning to give her a boost into the small cockpit. Still he said nothing, as he climbed in as well, taking the seat behind her. He lowered his head as the cockpit closed over them, his attention transfixed on the navicomputer. His astromech was already getting the coordinates for the return trip to Moraband where his master awaited. Activating the repulsorlift engines the small craft blasted out of the lifeless village, leaving the horrors of Ylesia behind. His astromech began to beep as it had finished downloading the coordinates for Moraband, but as his hand moved to the controls he again froze. They sat there dead in space for seconds and then minutes as he wrestled with their destiny. He finally lowered his head, bringing his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose as he closed his eyes and deliberated. He could hear his master call to him, but he ignored the disembodied voice that had plagued him since he was a child for the first time. Eventually he had the droid change their destination to the Alderaan system. He was defying his master. This girl would help him and *his* plan to restore the Sith. A moment later the droid gave a confused series of beeps that indicated it was ready and this time he committed his hand to the controls. An instant later the stars in front of them disappeared and were replaced by a swirling column of hyperspace as they streaked across the galaxy towards the core worlds.

Every step that Raeni took solidified her decision to leave home *forever*. It was a massive change for a naive young woman who had never stepped foot off the planet, let alone flown in a starfighter. With his help, she made her way into the cockpit. She rapidly strapped herself in. Her fingers wrapped around the armrests. Her whole body began to clench in anticipation of what it would be like to fly. Her head remained turned, watching the graveyard and the city where she had grown up. She didn't lament leaving home. Her only regret was not doing it sooner. As the craft blasted off, her stomach hit the back of her throat. In between feeling sick, she also found herself in awe of how tiny the city became as they exited the planet's atmosphere. From far away, Pro Unione seemed *insignificant*. It was a tiny dot in the galaxy. She would never see it again.

Pointing her head forward, her stomach crashed back down into its proper place. There was nothing expect darkness to greet them out here. She only looked behind her back once to witness the man having some sort of internal debate. She had no idea that every decision they made now only further defined their future. Several beeps later, they were hurting into hyperspace. What a terrible experience that was! Raeni clung to the arm rests like a naughty Cathar trying to avoid a much needed bath. She placed her head in her hands to get the sickness building in her gut under control. Ultimately, it was Raeni who broke the silence inside of the cockpit of the small ship. "Where are we going?" She asked directly into her hands. She could smell the mine all over her. Her body remained covered in reminiscence of the life she was rapidly trying to distance herself from.

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