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Thread: Montegue: Origins - Genesis

  1. #1

    Closed Thread Montegue: Origins - Genesis

    Some backstory on how the Montegue family came to be so royally screwed up and dysfunctional.

    Coruscant - 22 BE

    Hugo dug his fingers through his hair, still plastered to his scalp with sweat after far too many hours spent wearing that god-awful helmet, lacking the open face that made the uniforms of a Senate Guard marginally more tolerable than those of their Senate Commando cousins. Of course, his Commando status allowed him to neatly avoid the ostentatious plume and unwieldy cloak that the Guards usually had to wear, so he was counting his blessings.

    He'd been back on Coruscant barely an hour, and in his haste to get home to his wife and boys, had forgone the decontamination ritual that usually followed the removal of his armour. As a result, he stank like hell, but at that precise moment he couldn't have cared less. Three weeks this last assignment had taken, helping Palpatine and his new order to clear up the mess he'd created with this whole declaration of the Galactic Empire business, and his little war against the Jedi.

    Their latest assignment had been a bust; off searching for some rumoured Padawan who'd managed to dodge the Clones and go underground. They'd tracked him to some crappy little backwater world, and had managed to flush him out. Of course, the kid had put up a fight; the Clones they'd taken with them played 'saber fodder for a little while the commandos managed to flank him. They'd managed to pin him from several angles; even his fancy laser sword couldn't block a full three-sixty degrees of blaster fire.

    It had been Hugo who'd taken the final shot. Caught the kid square between the shoulder blades; shot in the back. They congratulated him; kudos for taking down a Jedi, and all that. But he'd just been a kid. Powers or not, something about it just didn't square up right with him.

    Right now, he wanted his boys; his nice, harmless, ordinary kids. And his wife. God; he'd missed her this mission. Hadn't spent a single spare moment where she wasn't lingering in his brain somewhere. Damn her and her "Here's your insentive to come home to me" sex. Damn you, woman. I can only run so fast.

    * * *

    The streets of Coruscant were carnage; fortunately he'd managed to fight his way through, images of the kind of welcome home that Emaryn would have prepared flashing through his mind. Most of them were particularly improbable of course, given the presence of young ones in the house. Maybe he should've taken the opportunity on the way back to comm a sitter; get Em alone to make up for the past few weeks.

    Probability was that by the time he'd taken the shower she'd insist upon, and after he'd managed to stop Vitt clambering all over him and wrestled the little tyke into bed, one or other of them - maybe both - would be too tired for any kind of athletic exploits, and they'd simply crash out together, falling asleep in each other's arms. A smile broke across his face. Funny how the worst case scenario was also the best.

    Thumbing in the access code that would allow him entry, he plastered his most endearing smile onto his face, and stepped inside. The house was strangely quiet, only the dull mutterings of the holobox in the front room making a sound. This time of day, the kids should be going crazy; Cambrio should be making noise about how hungry he was, Vittore should be making noise about how hungry he was, and Em should be yelling some threat or other at the both of them that probably began with the phrase When your father gets home...

    But there was nothing. The house was practically empty. He stuck his head around the door; Vitt sprawled across the couch, eyes glazed over as he stared non-focussed at the flickering images of a rerun of Republic Rangers. He reinforced his smile, but Vittore didn't react; didn't even notice he was there. Hugo considered calling out, but something compelled him not to. Where was Emaryn? She would never have let him rot his brain with holomovies at this time of day.

    He continued down the cramped corridor that tied the rooms of their appartment together, and stopped at the threshold of the only closed door. An indicator showed that Cammy's bedroom was locked, from the inside no less. Again, something stopped his voice from producing a sound; instead he dropped to one knee, tapping in the override code that he'd memorised.

    The door slid aside, and Hugo froze, disbelief flooding his mind. He'd found her at last; Emaryn was there, towering over Cambrio's crib with what looked like a med injector in hand. Cammy meanwhile lay there unphased, the same glazed and vacant look as Vittore in his eyes. It didn't take many of Hugo's instincts to conjure up the concern and anger that finally battered through his silence. His body hoisted him back to his feet, a scowl mixed with desparation sweeping over his features. His voice came out as a cracked growl. "What the hell are you doing to my son?"
    Last edited by Hugo Montegue; Jul 26th, 2009 at 11:53:00 PM. Reason: Insufficiency of Liz-Awesome has now been amended.

  2. #2
    She froze in place, back turned to him. He was home; early. This wasn't what was meant to happen. He wasn't meant to see. Wasn't meant to know.

    Now that he was here, things were different. All those years of secrets were about to be unwravelled. He wouldn't understand; that was why she had been forced to keep the truth hidden for so long. Even now she clung on to that hope that with a little more time he might come to accept her, but as her consciousness brushed against the edge of his, she knew that such acceptance would never come.

    She sensed him taking a step closer; sensed the conflicted emotions swimming around inside his mind, and the dominance that anger was rapidly taking among them. She heard his voice again, the harsh edge of his words wrenching at her. "Step away from Cambrio."

    It was an order, like the ones he gave to so many others, but seldom gave to her. He seldom even raised her voice to her; she'd felt the intense love and joy that boiled inside him whenever his thoughts were of her. Another wave came as she felt how quickly that warmth had been brushed aside as the truth became exposed; though she took solice in the fact that his mind dwelt on the protection of their son more than anything else.

    "I can't do that." What he didn't realise was that she too was protecting their son; trying to bestow upon him a gift that nature had not seen fit to bestow upon their offspring. For a fleeting moment, she wondered if Hugo himself was somehow to blame; if things would have been different had her children been fathered by some other man. It was too late to know such answers now.

    Another step closer. More anger this time. Emaryn felt her own anger - and sorrow, fear, dispair - swarming within her like a hurricane, conjured into existance by the breath of his words. "I said," he growled; she'd never felt such anger directed at her before. "Step away from my son."

    His words echoed in her mind. My son?

    She turned, lashing out with her emotions in fury at his nerve. Hugo soared across the room, the wave of her anger bending the Force to its will and pinning him immobile against the distant wall. Her eyes shimmered with a fierce yellow glow, her features - once beautiful - contorted into a vicious snarl.

    More pain swelled within her as a fresh wound opened, which only strengthened her psychic grip; horror flashed across Hugo's features as realisation danced in his mind. She'd known it was coming; ever since she'd sensed him take the life of that Jedi child through the emotional bond they shared. She'd clung on to hope that maybe his eyes could be opened, and he could be made to see the Emperors lies; or at least learn to percieve her as more than just a vessel for her abilities. That hope was gone now, and all that remained was rage.

    The Force held her husband at bay as she returned her attention to their son, Cambrio. The Force too held him fast - Vittore too - though for them she had selected a far less intrusive means, subduing their thoughts and slowing their minds. Cambrio lay before her in an unflinching daze. She mustered a smile for him, the last remnants of warmth inside her boiling briefly to the surface.

    Against her arm she pressed the injector that she had procured, and moments later the blood from her veins began to collect inside its transparent core. This was her gift to her youngest son, and to her eldest too, in time. She passed on to him what nature had bestowed to her, and what Hugo's genes had robbed their son of. The crimson liquid glowed faintly as the artificial lights illuminated it from behind. As she pressed the device against Cambrio's arm, another smile formed on her features. It was his now: the birthright that had been withheld from him.


  3. #3
    Emaryn. No.

    The words longed to form on his lips, but once again he couldn't marshal his voice to speak. They simply melted into his heart with the rest of the sorrow that washed away every other emotion. He watched, helpless, as she turned those demonic yellow eyes onto their son; watched as she drew blood from herself, and sent it pumping around his veins, poisoning him with whatever unnatural curse had infected her.

    How long had she been this way? Had the Jedi somehow corrupted her - some insidious new tactic to wage their war against the Empire now their numbers were depleated? Or had she been this way all along, biding her time for whatever this was? Had their life together been a lie?

    A thought ensnared itself in the forefront of his mind. Did she ever love me at all?

    In her self-satisfied distraction however, Hugo saw his opportunity; felt her concentration waver, and the Force's grip on him weakening. Instincts took over; the husband and father fell away, leaving only the soldier behind. Wrenching himself free of her enchanted grip, his hand snatched the blaster from his belt.

    She was on the ground before another thought even registered. Once again, horror twisted his expression; the blaster tumbled from his fingers and crashed against the floor. At the same instant, Cambrio's lungs issued forth a banshee wail; her spell had been broken. She lay there, unmoving. It could all mean only one thing.

    Emaryn. No.

    There was no choice now. No time to stop and thing. He snatched Cambrio up into his arms, his hurried movements barely a comfort to his infant son. He bustled from the room, not allowing himself to so much as glance back. They had to leave. Had to escape. Had to get far away. If the Empire discovered what had happened here, the repercussions would be endless. How would they react to the knowledge that one of their Commandos had been unwittingly harbouring a Jedi for all these years? How would they react to the two sons that she had sired?

    "Vittore, come with me. Now." The orders were barked; harsh. There was no room for deviation. Had Emaryn cursed Vittore too? There was no way to know; no time to try and work it out. He needed to get them out of here; get his children somewhere safe, hidden from whatever response the Empire decided to exact.

    Confusion knitted Vittore's brow as he looked up from his sprawled pose. That infernal question escaped from his lips. "Why?"

    No time for questions. No time for answers. "Now, Vittore." His words were even harsher this time. Damn it, boy, his subconscious hissed. There's no time.

    With reluctance, Vittore complied; Hugo applied a firm hand to his back, and herded him out of the door. The corridor loomed behind him. He still didn't dare risk a glance back. Get out, his instincts screamed. Get out now.

    * * *

    It had begun to rain; Vittore huddled beneath a small patch of shelter while Hugo stood exposed, negotiating with the rather uncompliant public vidphone. A precision application of fist to the casing conjured a static-laced image into view. Victor Montegue - the only man in the galaxy he knew he could trust right now.

    That damned infuriating smile was spread across his face; it faltered though as he percieved his brother's furrowed brow. "Hugo," he asked, voice laced with concern. "What happened?"

    "Something bad," Hugo replied, voice tight and strained. "I need your help."

  4. #4
    The boys were safe. Elroy would make sure of that. Thank god for old friends who didn't ask questions.

    Trust Victor to have his head squarely on his shoulders despite all this, too. Hugo could feel himself shattering into pieces; Victor was there to catch any that tumbled off, and stashed them away to be reattatched later. Both brothers new that there was no time for emotions right now; no time to work through what had happened. This was a mission now, and both understood what that meant.

    Victor led the way down the corridor, blaster drawn. The Sector Ranger had come packing something a little more impressive than the tiny holdout that Hugo carried, but then his status made security checkpoints and licencing laws far easier to ignore. His approach was cautious and slow, save for the quick burst of stealthy speed as he moved across to the far side of the doorway. He waited until Hugo came alongside, flanking the portal. In silence, his fingers counted down to their entry. Three. Two. One...

    How the hell they both fitted through the door at the same, Hugo didn't have a clue. An instinctive hesitation from one of them no doubt, from all those childhood afternoons wasted playing games of what eventually became their respective guns. Blasters held ready, they trained their sights on Emaryn's corpse.

    "Here's a question," Victor stated bluntly. "Do dead people usually disappear into thin air on Coruscant?"

    Hugo didn't know which emotion to experience first. Fear coursed through him: what if he hadn't killed her after all? Joy followed swift on its heels: what if he hadn't killed her after all? Gravity kept the ellation tightly in check though, given the truth that he now knew. Confusion danced around amongst it all: how had she survived a blaster bolt to the chest at such close range? Had whatever evil that posessed her somehow kept her alive? He fired a silent reprimand at himself; should have made sure she was dead. Checked a pulse. Fired again. Something.

    Victor saw the conflict raging in his brother; for once he kept his scathing tongue in check. "It doesn't matter, now." Head focussed on the mission. He'd always been the realist; the objective one. "What matters is that we keep the boys safe. That means off Coruscant. Who do you know that we can trust?"

    Thoughts still slammed at his concentration; Hugo fought for some shred of logic to emerge from the chaos. Getting the boys off Coruscant was only half the battle; keeping them off the Empire's radar was just as important, if not more so. The Empire's reach was broad and deep; there weren't many places you could hide.

    "Cularin," Hugo said suddenly, that searched-for beacon of logic leaping off the tip of his tongue. Victor looked at him with confusion. "They ceded from the Republic during the Clone Wars; its out of the Empire's reach. Emaryn's sister lives there; we'll be able to hide out, at least for as long as we need to come up with a new plan."

    Victor didn't seem convinced. "Emaryn's sister?" he echoed, a heavy frown contorting his features. "You sure you can trust her?"

    Hugo stared off into the distant corners of the room, his mind replaying the events of only a few hours ago. Whoever it was that had been there, it hadn't been his wife. Couldn't have been. No; Emaryn was dead. He'd shot her; she was dead. Whatever had been wearing her body, done whatever it was she did to Cambrio; that was someone else.

    He tensed his jaw, attention shifting to Victor. "Emaryn wants to hurt my boys," Hugo said, simply. "Cambria won't let that happen."

    His brother nodded, apparently satisfied. "Head for Cularin; I'll meet you there."

    "You're not coming with us?" A note of panic crept into Hugo's voice.

    Victor responded with a slight shake of his head. "I'll do what I can here, first: cover your trail as best as I can. The longer it takes for the Empire to find out what has happened, the longer your head start will be."

    Hugo's eyes glistened, as the cascading emotions inside him brimmed up. "Thank you," he said, his words heart-felt.

    Something twisted in Victor's gut. He grabbed Hugo's shoulder for stability, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "Fuck off, you emotional bitch," he muttered, but the usual scathing tones of their sibling battle of words weren't there; just the mournful realisation of the gravity of their situation. "We don't have much time."

  5. #5

    It rained. Not just any rain either; a horrible, grey, viscous and oily rain, that saturated everything it touched and left behind a dank, greesy residue. Hugo could already feel it soaking into his scalp; oozing through the thick stubble that tangled across his unshaved jaw.

    The smell of rain-soaked trees assaulted his senses as he trudged his way up the winding, malsurfaced road. Cambrio's weight was heavy against his shoulder, the infant bundled from head to toe in anything and everything that would safeguard him against the rain. Vittore meanwhile trapsed alongside, the jacket of Hugo's that the boy had insisted on wearing wrapped double around him, hanging past his knees and absorbing his hands inside sleeves that were at least twice as long as his two-year-old arms. He stamped enthusiastically into any and every pool of water that had collected on the forest floor; the pale brown liquidated soil caked his boots and legs, but the child didn't seem concerned in the slightest.

    It was almost enough to make Hugo beam with over-brimming joy, if his face and emotions weren't already cemented with grief.

    Hugo squinted ahead up the path, wincing a little as more of the insidious rain descended from his fringe and stung its way into his eye; with his arms busy cradling his son, he had no way of defending his vision. Never come to Cularin without a hat, he mused, recalling the advice that the late Emaryn's late father had once told him. She's dead, he reminded himself, the now familiar pain twisting his heart in his chest. Something wants to hurt our boys, but it isn't Emaryn; she's dead.

    The trees parted ahead, revealing the run-down hunting cabin that Lawrence Kansas had left to his daughters when he'd passed away three years ago. They'd talked about leaving Coruscant - Emaryn and he - so their sons could be raised on her homeworld, surrounded by trees and birds instead of towers and speeders. She'd always wanted them to see her home. Probably not like this, though.

    The cabin door crept open, a blessedly familiar figure framed within it. Apparently finding a focus of more importance than his puddle jumping, Vittore's eyes widened in surprise and excitement. "Anti-Cambrio!" he yelled enthusiastically, hurling himself up the last dozen or so meters of path despite the lack of traction beneath his feet.

    The briefest chink of a smile crept onto Hugo's face, but it looked more like a wince of pain from the outside. Auntie Cambria, he corrected, but kept the words to himself, pacing the last few steps up to the house.

    Instincts lightning fast, Cambria snagged Vittore beneath the armpits, and hoisted him from the ground, holding him at arms length - something he squirmed and flailed against with a mirthful grin. An appraising stare cast over him, an almost comedic exaggeration of disapproval faked on Cambria's face. Her voice was similarly stern, yet teasing. "Not in my house with those boots, mister." Vittore's efforts to wriggle free ceased immediately, shoulders slumping. "Boots off; trousers off; and you touch nothing between here and the bathroom, y'hear?"

    Vittore's face twisted in disappointment. "Okay," he muttered, mournfully.

    Satisfied that her nephew would comply, she settled him back down onto the rain-soaked floor of the veranda, and turned her attention towards Hugo. Their eyes met, briefly; Hugo could see the same pain reflected in his sister-in-law's eyes that was shining from his own. "Let me take him," she said gently, gesturing towards the bundle of child cradled against Hugo's shoulder. His muscles tensed, subconsciously drawing Cambrio away from her outstretched arms. He wasn't going to let his son out of his reach, let alone out of his sight.

    Cambria nodded, as if understanding completely. "There's water boiling on the stove in the kitchen," she revealed, "But -" Her eyes fell on Vittore for a moment, who had sat himself down in the puddle of mud his boots had created, and was now trying to pull them off by hand, coating his palms and fingers in the same adhesive clay. She shot Hugo a sympathetic smile. "- you really need to take your boots off too."

    After another moment of hesitation, Hugo finally nodded, and passed the bundle of Cambrio across to his aunt. She smiled, graciously. "I'll be in the kitchen," she said simply, retreating back across the threshold.

    Alone on the porch, the mud-coated Vittore looked up at him with hopeful optimism in his eyes. "Bath time for both of us?" he asked, staring up at Hugo; if he'd had a tail, it would have been wagging furiously.

    Hugo battled the closest thing to a smile that he could manage onto his face. "Yeah," he muttered softly, crouching down and sliding a single arm under Vittore's pits, hoisting him from the ground with ease. "Lets go get clean."
    Last edited by Hugo Montegue; Jun 16th, 2009 at 12:31:10 PM.

  6. #6
    Cularin - Three Days Later

    The kitchen was dim, the faint glow of light from the outside accented with a handful of candles. To the untrained eye it seemed neglected, but the thick film of grime that coated the windows during the rainy season wasn't exactly easy to clean; certainly not worth the effort until the rain had subsided, and the sky was clear enough for sunlight to actually make it down to ground level.

    The generator had broken down apparently, hence the lack of electrical lighting. Hugo had thought of offering to repair it himself, but he was hardly in the right state of mind to do anything even remotely challenging. Cambria didn't look like she'd be willing to accept his offer of help either; it had been over a year since John Coheed had passed away, stolen from her by an incurable disease. He'd spent his last days in this house, and died in this house. Cambria hadn't returned since, from what he could tell; and now here she was, having lost yet another member of her dwindling family.

    Three days had passed since Hugo had arrived; the rain hadn't diminished in the slightest. They sat in silence, no words remaining that could be passed between Cambria and he. How did you comfort someone when the very soul of someone they had loved dearly had been seemingly twisted by darkness and evil?

    Cambria was more familiar with the truth than she was willing to admit; certainly to Hugo, at least. Emaryn and she had spoken often and in depth about whether they should reveal their secret: reveal their sensitivity to the Force. Something altogether unexplained had removed Cularin from the galaxy for nearly ten years. People blamed the Force, and viewed it with suspicion: even the Jedi themselves, who claimed they sensed the Dark Side's hand in events. Those on Cularin who exhibited some deeper connection with the Force kept it secret, to avoid that distrust being focused upon them personally.

    When Emaryn had met Hugo in the years before the Clone Wars, Cambria had urged her to keep their secret from him. Even when Emaryn had left, Cambria had claimed that the Jedi would intervene somehow if her secret were to be revealed, and on Coruscant she would have to guard it more deeply than ever. When the Jedi's betrayal of Palpatine, and the ensuing indescriminate slaughter of anyone with even a trace of a Midichlorian in their blood, Cambria had felt vindicated. But Emaryn had felt something else; she'd confided in Cambria about feeling a presence, touching her mind from the moment she'd landed on Coruscant. Cambria had blamed the Jedi again, and urged her to block out whatever it was she felt. Apparently that device had not been heeded, and now something - or someone - had tainted her sister with the Dark Side.

    This is my fault, Cambria realised, as she watched the pain and anguish rolling behind Hugo's eyes like a storm. I did this to him. The knife of guilt twisted, embedded already in the depths of her emotions.

    Yes. Yes you did.

    Cambria could feel her; could feel Emaryn's presence pressing on the edge of her senses. Before, she had assumed it was wishful thinking: her longing for her sister conjuring up memories of the reassuring way her presence brushed against her mind. The sensation was stronger now though; closer, more intrusive. She could feel the blackness that tainted her once pure and bright-white aura. Cambria felt her throat tighten, trying to rob her of the ability to speak. "She's coming."

    Snatched from whatever wanderings his mind had been in the depths of, Hugo blinked as if not sure he had heard correctly. "What?"

    "She's coming," Cambria repeated, more confidently now; and more filled with icy dread. "I can -" She winced. No time for secrets now. "I can sense her."

    Fear, anger, pain and panic washed over Hugo like a storm. "You can -" He stopped himself. Being a Jedi clearly ran in the family, but now was hardly the time to dwell. She was coming: coming for the boys; coming to finish what she had started. "We need to get out of here."

    Cambria didn't allow time to think. "John's speeder is around the back," she explained; Hugo was smart enough to work out which of the tumble-down outbuildings was the garage. "Get the boys; get to the starport; -" Her voice turned cold, a determined glare in her eyes. "Don't wait for me."

    She was on her feet before Hugo could issue protest, half-way towards the front door. He grabbed at her arm, pulling her around. His gaze was as intent and conflicted as hers. "I can't let you fight her," he said; she could tell that he wasn't exactly thrilled at the notion of fighting her either.

    Her head shook, almost imperceptibly. "And I can't let you." There wasn't time for this she realised, as she summoned up as much of her willpower as she could muster. Her hand swept in a gentle arc before Hugo's face, focusing her mind on its invasion into his, exploiting his raw emotions and fractured thoughts to her own ends. "You want to get out of here. Get the boys and go; now."

    * * *

    "Why are we leaving again?" Vittore's voice was curious more than anything. He fixed his father with an inquisitive look from the passenger seat, arm gripping Cambrio a little tighter as the baby wriggled in his lap. "Is anti-Cambrio coming with us?"

    Hugo's heart sank. He didn't understand what she'd done, but he understood why, and what that meant. Damn it, Cambria, his mind hissed, though its voice was laced more with dispair than anger. Too much had been lost already; and while far from a meaningless saccrifice, it was still an unforgivable waste of life.

    He turned his eyes slowly towards Vittore; he could feel his body willing him to cry tears, but after Emaryn he had none left. "No, Vittore," he said softly. "Auntie Cambria won't be coming."

  7. #7

    Come to me.

    He had called to her, from across the stars; finally, she had come. He had observed her for some time now, in secret; watched her grow into being on his native world of Cularin. There had been many to choose from, but she - she was something special. Something different. So he'd whispered to her in the darkness; subtly influenced her dreams from lightyears away. It was a slow, arduous process, marred by the mysterious disappearence of her world for near a decade. It was not fruitless, however. Fibre by fibre, he'd teased her being apart, and begun to weave it into the ideal companion; apprentice; Queen.

    Then he had arrived - the man from a distant star. Blind to the Force, he'd used other magics to enchant her mind, and had lured her away across the galaxy; ripped her from his grasp. It had taken years to find her again - on Coruscant now, in the heart of the Republic. For fear of allerting the Jedi to his presence, his efforts had been slowed still further. Disgusted anger had consumed him, when he'd discovered that she'd born him not one but two sons; heirs that should have been his, and no one elses. Then the blessed day had come when darkness rose up and near-obliterated the Jedi from the face of existance. He'd seized the opportunity: pressed her mind, and shattered her will. She was his: broken and ready to serve his every whim. And a son would be his too, as soon as he could overcome the curse of blindness that her captor had bestowed.

    He'd watched through her eyes with anticipation as she blessed her youngest son with the gift of the Force; watched with joy as she'd turned the powers he'd carefully cultivated within her against him; watched in horror as he'd taken his blaster and fired the shot that should have killed her. It had been his willpower alone that had saved her: staved off the grasping hands of the Force until her own infant abilities could heal the damage that he had so recklessly wrought. She had risen, and fled to safety; his heart was buoyed by the dark revenge he felt within her. So he'd sent her to exact it for both their sakes; off to Cularin, to slaughter Hugo, and rescue his heir.

    She had failed, of course; but unlike her supposed belovéd, his love was unshakeable and pure. He was the man of her dreams; he smiled at the irony as he stared out upon his dominion; the planet he had subjugated and enslaved some several thousand years ago. The streets below were a desolate waste; neglected, abandoned, and barren. The dark clouds above encircled much of the planet, blotting out the stars, and plunging the world into a near-eternal night. It had been so easy to destroy them; he had exploited their vice and greed; their hate and anger; envy and rage. One by one, the people of Ord Ithil had turned against each other, and had turned to darkness. Their souls, forever tainted by the Dark Side of the Force, swarmed over the planet as the clouds, or rolled across the surface as jet-black mists. They could never leave this world, and neither could he; that was why it was imperative that she came to him.

    He reached out with his senses; felt the clouds in the distance stirring as she arrived. Close to him at last, he felt her love and joy and passion and rage stronger than ever; it was like a drug, flooding him with addiction and euphoria. For the first time in a thousand years, L'Khost - the name he gave to his world, from an ancient Cularin tongue - would not be an empty and uninhabited world. Today, his solitary exile would come to an end.

    The smile on his face grew, as his amber eyes traced the course of her descent to the surface. Come to me.

    * * *

    She stood before him, recognition contorting her features. Her voice was music when heard through his own ears; more beautiful than he could have ever imagined. "I know you."

    Yes, you do. It took time for him to remember he needed a voice so that others could hear. With time, and training, it would be unnecessary of course; they would exist within each other's very minds: an intimacy that the mere mortal that had stolen her could never know. "Yes," he said again, a smile splitting his face again. "I have watched over you for much of your life." Something flashed across her features - Relief? Discomfort? Joy? Fear? - it had been so long that he had been alone that he had forgotten how those emotions appeared. He took a step closer, worry creasing his brow; he reached out an arm to comfort her. She recoiled.

    Anger flashed inside him. How dare she retreat from his touch? After all this time, how could she not have been longing for his embrace as much as he longed for hers? His expression faltered, as confusion and dispair warred with his features for dominance. "This does not comfort you?"

    Emaryn's face remained unchanged; she regarded him critically with golden eyes that mirrored his own. "Why?"

    "I chose you." He tried to advance another step. This time, she didn't move. "When you were still but a child, I reached out across the stars and I found you. Even then, I know that you were destined for this; to be here; with me." He advanced still further, close enough to reach out and touch her. He did; a hand gently brushing the softness of her cheek. She reached up and grasped his hand, but didn't pull it away. Bliss surged through him at the electric contact. So long had he waited and dreamed for this; finally she was here. "I had hoped that you would bring me a son, but no matter: there is still time for you to bear another?"

    Confusion flashed in her features. Finally, she shied away from his touch. "What do you want with my son?"

    The man smiled. "He is to be my heir," he said, with regal pride. "He will carry my legacy from now and for generations to come."

    "Your legacy?" There was almost a hint of disgust in her words.

    The pretense of calm fell away, the animal urge for survival assuming dominance. His features twisted, suddenly demonic and unnatural in the dim, flickering light. Even his voice took on a monsterous edge. "I have lived for thousands of years; and with your help I will live for thousands more." His mouth broke into an almost hungry smile, bearing teeth. "This body is just a vessel, and it is old: fast approaching the limits of my abilities to sustain it. I require a new vessel: a host body, sensitive to the Force, who will carry my essence." His hand rose to her cheek again, fingers snaking into her hair. "You will give me a son."

    She tried to retreat again, but his grip tightened, holding her fast. Anger flashed in his eyes; fear flashed in hers. The golden hue of her eyes faltered. "No!" she exclaimed, straining against him. "Let me go!"

    He laughed; a menacing chuckle of sound that echoed ominously around his chambers. "You can never leave: the darkness will not allow it." He pulled her closer to him, breathing in her heady scent, relishing the waves of defiance that radiated for her. "But with a new vessel, and together with the generations we will sire, we will be strong enough to beat back the shadows and free ourselves of this place." He planted a soft, lingering kiss on her tightly clenched lips. As he drew away, his eyes flashed with fiery determination. "Then together, we will be able to bend the galaxy to our design."

    Emaryn's teeth clenched tight. "I will never give you a son."

    He snarled, his hand gripping tightly around her throat. "Then I will take one from you."

    She strained against his grip, hands trying to rip his away, but his strength was unnatural. Her lungs screamed for air. Her eyes returned to deep, dark, sorrow-filled orbs as the gravity of what she had unleashed dawned on her. Her thoughts strayed to Hugo, to Cambria - No, Cambria. No! - to Cambrio and Vittore. She had allowed herself to be controlled and manipulated, and had betrayed everyone she had ever loved. Her life was in ruins, irreparable, and there was nothing she could do to stop the man responsible from carrying out his plans. Nothing.

    Her body sagged in his grip, her fighting hands falling away. Her eyes flickered closed and her head lolled; panic swept across his face. Was she really so frail? Had his rage overcome him, and destroyed his only hope of survival?

    Her eyes snapped open, furious gold once again. Her emotions boiled, every concievable one errupting from her in a wave. Every memory, happy and sad, raced through her mind. She gripped them all, shaping them into a weapon, and thust them forth with all of her will.

    He crashed into the wall, a force more potant than he could even imagine pinning him in place. Her hand mimed towards his throat; he felt his heart and lungs constrict; felt darkness beginning to seep into the edges of his consciousness. Panic rippled through him. How was she doing this? How was she so strong? A disconnected thought from centuries ago floated through his mind. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

    Emaryn spat venom as she advanced, tightening her Force grip. She could feel the dark entity inside him now; she saw in her mind the blackness in his soul. She wrapped her mental strength against it, fighting with all her might to tear it free.

    "No!" he screamed, body writhing in agony. "You need me; without me you'll die here."

    A crystal clarity descended, as she considered and accepted that truth. "Then we both die," she said simply, and with one last barrage of will, ripped the darkness to shreds.

  8. #8
    Feriae Junction - A Week After Cularin

    The three of them sat - Hugo, Victor, and Elroy - clustered around a table in the home that had been Elroy's back before the war. The mood was sober and still; none of the usual mirth that any of them might have expected from such a gathering. Frankly, there was scant optimism left for any of them to cling to.

    After Hugo had fled Cularin, they had chosen here as their rendezvous: Junction was a world where anyone could lose themselves, often without even meaning to. It was the perfect place to end this chapter of his life, and begin anew. Victor and Elroy had seen to the preparations: Elroy had arranged for a few weeks of compassionate leave for Hugo, and had submitted his resignation at the same time, liberating him from his duty of service to the Empire. Victor meanwhile had pulled in some favours; made some subtle alterations to Hugo, Emaryn, and the boys' records to stop them or anyone else from stumbling across the dark secret of their heritage. Lucky for them, it was pretty easy to lose an immigrant from Cularin in the system.

    Hugo had found some backstreet doctor to run tests on Cambrio, but so far there was nothing to indicate one way or the other if Emaryn's efforts had been successful. The thought of what was lurking in his son scared Hugo out of his whits: if an institution as apparently noble and steadfast as the Jedi Order couldn't stave off the corruption that their position of power had caused, what hope did he have of winning such a battle in his son?

    It was Victor that asked the question: "So, what happens now?"

    Elroy shifted uncomfortably in his seat, not allowing himself to look at Hugo as he spoke; his old Commando partner had a reputation as a fool-proof bullshit detector. For once, Hugo was happy to accept the lie. "I've been planning to retire for a good while anyhow," he offered; a half-truth. "My old man runs an import/export firm around here, but he's on his last legs. Always told him I'd take over the business when I was done playing soldier -" He hesitated, finally shooting a brief glance in Hugo's direction. "I could probably hook you up with a job, if you want."

    Hugo mulled over the possibility; a normal job on a new planet; a chance to set himself up with a new life. It certainly had its appeal - the further removed it was from his old life, the less likely he was to get those painful reminders of everything he had lost.

    But running away didn't satisfy the swirling couldron of rage that boiled furiously in the pit of his stomach. It didn't satisfy his lust for revenge. He couldn't believe that Emaryn could have attacked him the way she did, despite what his eyes had told him. It had to have been someone or something else. Maybe she was being manipulated or controlled somehow. Maybe it wasn't Emaryn at all, and she'd been replaced by some kind of shapeshifter. Maybe the real Emaryn was still out there, somewhere. Whatever it was, something else was going on here: something supernatural. And without knowing who or what was responsible, how could he ever have closure?

    Victor chimed in, as if sensing some of the torment raging away inside his brother. "I've spoken to my superiors," he revealed, referring to his handlers at Sector Ranger Central Command. While Hugo had wound up serving the government as part of the militant Senate Commando Corps, Victor had chosen to serve as part of the galaxy-wide law enforcement networks. The two had often clashed over their choice of career, though usually it related to which of them had the cooler-sounding job title. Such discussions seemed innane and trivial now.

    The brother continued to speak. "They've agreed to allow me to transfer to a different Sector. If you decide to stick around here, I can have myself reassigned to Thesme, just in case, you know -" His voice trailed off. He didn't want to admit that he was trying to look out for his brother - again - even if Hugo understood that it was exactly what he was doing.

    Despite himself, Hugo actually managed to muster a genuine flash of a smile. He'd spent so long concentrating on what he'd lost, that he hadn't opened his eyes to look at what he still had. He still had a family - the two men sitting at the same table; the two boys fast asleep on the couch in the next room. For their sakes, he needed to keep going. Needed to keep living. Needed to hope.

    He nodded, slowly. "Yeah, okay." His words were faint, but deliberate. "Both of you; thank you," he reinforced. Awkwardness descended again; tiredness tugged at his eyes, and he decided to take his leave. Rising from the table without a word, he retreated towards the spare bedroom that Elroy had set up for him and his sons to share.

    What he didn't mention was the last thing he had left. In those few moments of discussion, he'd realised that he still had a purpose in life. It didn't matter that he didn't know who specifically was responsible for Emaryn; he'd probably never know. But what he did know was that all the possibilities that his mind had conjured up were out there. There were things lurking in the shadows, and while they may not have hurt him or his family, they were bound to hurt someone else. He'd made it his life's work to protect and defend the people of the Republic; the people of this galaxy.

    "Count your days," he muttered to the darkness, and to each and every supernatural and exotic creature hiding within. "I'm coming for you."


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