Growing in the Dark – A Star Wars Story

Story Categories:

Story Tags:

Views: 2,228 | Likes: +6

 

Note: This is a sequel to my first Star Wars hair story. I enjoy writing them, though I get a bit carried away with the lore side of things. The buildup is long, so I apologize for that. If Star Wars isn’t your thing, that’s fine. Enjoy!

 

 

Years after the death of her master Darth Cryptus, Sith Lord Darth Carcina, in her guise as Baroness Shalla of the Opal Moons, stands at the head of a vast criminal organization that spreads throughout the galaxy like a hidden parasite. Carcina’s army of assassins, smugglers, bounty hunters, and gangsters serve her every wish, and report noteworthy information to her.

 

Some time ago, she tasked an informant on Murkhana to locate a brilliant Korrivar researcher as a possible apprentice. The Koorivar, Durrel Saldonis, was engaged at the time in significant work with stellar cartography and astrophysics.

 

Now, after many years of training and scheming, Darth Guile, as he was named by his master, is a Sith Lord and poised to make breakthroughs in the scientific world. Meanwhile, on Coruscant, Carcina mingles with the elite of the galaxy to destroy the Republic from within…

 

***

 

Baroness Shalla of the Opal Moons gazed onto the open sprawl of Coruscant’s Manari District. Much as she used to do on Taris, Shalla enjoyed observing the vast cityscapes of the galaxy’s ecumenoplises. Spending most of her life on an urban world notwithstanding, Shalla drew power from the Dark Side when she looked out over the countless millions in full view before her. She relished the idea of dominating them, forcing their submission to her will. On a world like Coruscant, with unnumbered billions scattered on the surface and lower levels, Shalla felt the Dark Side like waves crashing on the shore.

Her move to Coruscant fifteen years earlier had coincided with the death of her Pau’an master, Darth Cryptus. The event had been marked in galactic media, due to the fact that Cryptus’ alter ego had been that of a renowned civil engineer. Monument Plaza, a fixture of the Manari, had been redesigned almost solely by Varna Ultanna, as he was known to the general public. In reality, Shalla had confronted her master after years of subservience and challenged him to a duel. Confident of his victory, Cryptus cast aside the Rule of Two and sought to destroy his apprentice. Although he might have found another, Shalla believed that her master had grown too arrogant and blind in his insistence on delaying the motion of the Grand Plan. They had come to an impasse, and after Cryptus’ defeat and death, Shalla, in her guise as Darth Carcina, had become the sole surviving Sith of the Bane Line.

Much of her frustration with her master’s plans hinged on his blind adherence to a disordered, sloppy approach to the weakening of the Republic. Cryptus had foolishly believed that the sowing chaos in the Mid and Outer Rim would lead to the Republic’s collapse, but this was incorrect. In the future, perhaps, when the Outer Rim would be more populous and exploited, but for now it was a wild frontier, full of indigenous species, small-time colonies, and brand new hyperlanes. The Mid Rim was more established, but corporations like the Starway Fund and the Trade Federation were establishing themselves on many worlds and in the spacelanes. For now, these corporations were powerful, but not dictatorial. The Senate was too eager to support them and the worlds of the Mid Rim accepted their terms. In the future, perhaps, the Rim would be exploited and ripe for agitation, but for now, the Core was the main target.

Shalla thought of her new apprentice, the Koorivar named Durrel Soldonis. In retrospect, their first meeting had not been promising. An informant on Murkhana had located Soldonis while working for the Techno Union at the Murkhana Astrological Institute. The young Koorivar was brilliant and ambitious, but upon first meeting, he seemed preoccupied and uninterested in a partnership with a wealthy Coruscant socialite. Shalla, trusting her feelings in the Force, pressed the issue, and after several days of goading and negotiating, Soldonis agreed to come to Coruscant to discuss possibilities of funding. Stopping off on the planet Onderon, on the pretext of refueling and seeing the local wildlife, Shalla revealed her true nature as a Sith Lord.

Soldonis was a naturally skeptical, inquisitive being, displaying many of the qualities of his species. He was cunning and ruthless, but he lacked the raw anger of a true Sith. Shalla had taken to physical and psychological abuse in their training to break down his will and bring the hate out of his subconscious. Eventually, she wore him down, and he gave in to the Dark Side of the Force.

Now, as Shalla lounged in her penthouse apartment on Coruscant, Soldonis, in his role as Darth Guile, travelled to Nar Shaddaa to contact a cell of bounty hunters. Guile had discovered the bounty hunters when engaging in research as Soldonis, on behalf of the Starway Fund. The cell was made up almost entirely of Mandalorians, ex-Judicials, and militant cult members from around the galaxy. One in particular, a Mandalorian warrior named Garno Hake, was an important piece in Shalla’s plans for the future.

Even before her arrival on Coruscant, Shalla had become aware of a growing movement among many Human-majority Core worlds. The movement called itself the Dominus Legio, a reincarnation of the old Pius Dea. A group of Humanocentric militants thousands of years ago, the Pius Dea had once controlled the Republic and elected several Supreme Chancellors. They waged war on non-Human species in the Core before losing power. Now, however, a revival of the movement had been gaining popularity on Corellia and Denon, and especially on Coruscant.

The Dominus Legio was led by Solkar Oberingg, a radical Human male who preached with fire and inspired loyalty and hate among his followers. Originally a senator representing Corellia, Oberingg left his political party to form the Dominus Legio as a spiritual and political resurrection of Pius Dea, though with a smaller presence. Still, the group boasted hundreds of thousands of followers across several worlds. On Coruscant, they had a training facility and barracks surrounding a temple built for their spiritual movement. The temple complex was located in the area called the Bakshi. There, they trained new recruits and conducted rituals.

On a different note, Shalla knew that one of their initiation ceremonies was the ritual shaving of the hair of recruits, male, female, or other. Many short-haired Dominus Legio soldiers had marched around in their buzzcuts in lockstep, reminding Shalla of the descriptions of warriors from the Old Sith Empire. Eager to see hair being cut in such an aggressive way, Shalla planned to meet with the Artifer of the Dominus Legio to discuss support for the movement.

Shalla had first met Solkar Oberingg at a party in the Senate District. Though considered by some a social pariah for his extremist views, Oberingg nevertheless received invitations by many due to his celebrity status. At the time, Humanocentrism was on the rise in the Core, aided by powerful senators who had sympathies with the movement. Supreme Chancellor Jurak Gho, a Gran from Malastre, resigned in disgrace three years before. The new Supreme Chancellor, a Corulag native and Human named Katti Nadir, had been open about her distrust of Outer Rim species, and aliens in general. This allowed for Oberingg and others like him to receive more recognition in the Republic, and on Coruscant especially.

Shalla continued to move her gaze across the landscape of the Manari when the entry notification rang out.

“Enter.” Shalla said quietly. The door opened and a Rodian male in a blue uniform entered the residence.

“My apologies, Baroness, but the shuttle is ready. Artifer Oberingg awaits your arrival.”

“Thank you, Halbry. I will be there momentarily.” The Rodian bowed and exited the room. Shalla smiled to herself. Oberingg was prideful and ignorant, but he held a certain fortitude that Shalla admired. An anti-alien figure, backed by the wealth of important benefactors and possessing a paramilitary force, would be a useful ally in the hands of the Sith.

After millenia of slumber, the rabid bigotry of Core Humans started to awaken. The Pius Dea had only been defeated after a coalition of Republic and Jedi interests successfully challenged the movement, and the last of their Supreme Chancellors was thrown out of the office, to be replaced by a Jedi chancellor. The prejudice of Humans was strong in the Core, much more than the Colonies in the Rim. Here, from Coruscant, Shalla could command an army of Human warriors to destabilize the Republic and sow chaos and fear throughout the galaxy. The Dominus Legio was not powerful enough on its own to destroy the Republic and the Jedi, but it would aid in the demise of the forces of light, even if the Sith would need to wait longer.

 

***

 

As Baroness of the Opal Moons, Shalla possessed not only a luxurious penthouse in the Manari, but also a small fleet of private shuttles and starships. One of these, Opal Queen, was a sleek, stylish craft housed in a private hangar at Tannik Spaceport. The ship landed at a private pad attached to the Shalla’s residence. Escorted by a squad of Bothan bodyguards, Shalla stepped onto the platform and boarded the craft. Once secured, the pilot lifted the vessel up over the building and across the Manari, making a high-lane, priority course toward the Bakshi.

Seated straight-backed in her large armchair, Shalla closed her eyes in silent meditation. Even though her master had been dead for years, she could still feel his presence through the Force. According to Darth Cognus, every Sith felt the Force imprint of their masters, even if in fleeting moments and only faintly. Cryptus himself had been fascinated with the idea of a Sith’s continued existence after mortal death, but Shalla had never been interested. The Force did have some possession of the soul, but it was difficult to know just how much knowledge could be gained in attempting to unlock the secret of death. The souls of the dead would merge with the Force, or so the Jedi believed. For Shalla, the Force had much more significance in the realm of the living, where the Sith were mostly likely to be successful in their manipulation.

Regardless, Shalla did not regret killing her master for an instant. Cryptus was a relic for a century ago, when the Sith had shifted their focus from preying on converting Jedi to the Dark Force to fomenting political chaos. Shalla had no interest in seducing some lonely, misguided Jedi to the Dark Side. That would bring unwanted attention to the Sith and jeopardize the Grand Plan. The time was not yet right for the Sith to reveal themselves to the wider galaxy as a whole, least of all the Jedi. Cryptus erred in trusting his secret identity to close allies, but that was no longer a concern. Guile was compliant and focused, and he did not question Carcina’s rule.

Her reverie was broken when the holo emitter in front of her switched on and a blue and white version of Soldonis began to hover in mid air. The Koorivar nodded in respect to his master.

“Baroness Shalla, I hope you are well.” Soldonis said in a harsh whisper, reflecting the speech pattern of his species. Shalla smiled in response.

“Well as ever, Soldonis. What news do you have for me?”

Their formal, professional tone came from a concern for secrecy on Shalla’s part. The Sith Lord had witnessed too many consequences from carelessness in revealing an overtly Sith agenda. She was once forced to brutally assassinate a Tarisian noble who had discovered that Varna Ultanna was a Sith and sought to blackmail him. Cryptus, at the time, had been unaware that his movements were being tracked by corrupt Taris Security officers on the noble’s payroll. A stray conversation with a close ally led to the secret slipping out, and within a day, Shalla was cleaning the noble’s blood off her long fingers. Now, there would be no chances.

“I bring good news, Baroness. Hake is willing to cooperate. Some of his Mandalorian comrades are also ready to join the cause, for the right price. The ex-Judicials were excluded, as per your instruction.”

Shalla put her fingers together, pleased with the news.

“That is most welcome information, Soldonis. When will Hake arrive on Coruscant?”

“Within the week, Baroness. He is completing a final contract on Christophsis before departing for the capital.”

Shalla nodded in understanding. Mandalorians were difficult partners in the simplest of circumstances. The Sith had manipulated the Mandalorians during their crusade in the days before Revan and Malak, during the Great Galactic War, and in the Siege of Ossus in the New Sith Wars. Warlike and fierce, the Mandalorians were nevertheless stubborn and disorganized. Individually, however, their martial skills were valuable assets, especially at this time.

“Thank you for contacting me, Soldonis. I will be in contact with you.”

“Very good, Baroness.” The Koorivar ended the transmission. It always amused Shalla that she and her apprentice maintained such formality in their public interactions, while in training, Shalla fully adopted the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith. Significantly older than when she first embraced the Dark Side, Shalla used some of her powers to maintain her appearance. Finely dressed at all times, Shalla’s olive skin remained smooth and youthful, though her overall countenance exuded mature beauty. Her long blue-black hair was thick and well styled, falling in graceful waves to her waist. Age had imparted a few silver streaks amidst the black, but she wore them well. Overall, despite her age, Shalla remained beautiful on the outside, all the while hiding the twisted effects of the Dark Side on her soul.

The craft sped toward the Bakshi, travelling through clouds of orange chemical clouds and over industrial sectors. The original Pius Dea Supreme Temple, built by the first generations of adherents on Coruscant, had been razed by the Jedi. Pius Dea Spaceport had been built nearby as a memorial to the fallen aliens who perished at the hands of the crusaders, though the precise location of the temple was unknown. Accordingly, Oberingg and his followers had chosen a ragged, remote part of Coruscant for their base of operations. What once had been flat open duracrete and a series of unused levels underneath, had been transformed into the Curia, a vast complex of barracks, temples, meeting rooms, and training grounds sprawled over kilometers. Thousands of Humans from all over the Core were admitted every week, receiving religious instruction and strict indoctrination.

As the pilot landed the shuttle on a platform in front of a barracks complex. Rows of new converts marched with banners displaying the symbol of the Dominus Legio, a vibro axe surrounded by two clenched fists. Officers barked orders at the recruits, who all wore their hair cropped close to their heads. Each one of them, to a being, was Human. A cluster of Dominus Legio personnel met Shalla and her bodyguards at the landing platform.

“Welcome, Baroness Shalla. I am Evangel Kyder.” The lead officer, a tall, dark-skinned Human male, spoke in a crisp tone. His uniform, like the others, was black with red trim and gold braiding. Kyder and his colleagues stood rigidly, as if constantly at attention. Shalla glanced at each of them in satisfaction. Militarism lent itself well to the goals of the Sith.

“Thank you, Evangel. I am eager to meet with Artifer Oberingg.”

“Of course, Baroness. They will have to stay with the ship, however.” Kyder emphasized the word with derision, indicating the Bothan bodyguards. The Bothans, for their part, growled at the Human, whose eyes narrowed in hatred.

“There’s no need for that. Kujol, take your men inside.” Shalla instructed, and the lead Bothan nodded and led the others inside the ship.

“Now, if you will follow me, Baroness.” Kyder turned on his heels and proceeded to march toward the complex as Shalla followed.

The buildings were constructed with a severe aesthetic, eschewing the current Republic style of curves and repeating patterns. Each building was squat, blockish, and stark. The banner of the axe and fists was emblazoned on every building. All converts wore some variation on the uniform, with the recruits wearing a simplified jumpsuit. Male and female novices physically trained on the duracrete surfaces between the barracks. Shalla knew that converts underwent psychological and spiritual conditioning in underground facilities within the Bakshi.

Kyder continued through the entrance of a huge durasteel building, bearing two Dominus Legio banners on either side. Shalla heard martial cries and religious chants echoing in the halls of the building. Groups of initiates gathered in chapels with statues of a Humanoid female crafted in a shiny metal adorning each copse. Shalla knew that the Goddess was the deity of the original Pius Dea, but that its origins were unknown. The Dominus Legio continued the worship of the Goddess, though in a comparatively subdued way. Oberingg instilled a sense of Human pride in the organization, with a minor emphasis on the religious mission of the Dominus Legio. The emphasis in the modern organization was on the biological, sociological, and philosophical superiority of the Human species, and its deserved dominance over all aliens of the galaxy.

Shalla was led by Kyder to a sturdy carved wooden door. After scanning an ID card, the door slid open to reveal a wide chamber open to the elements on the far side. A knot of Dominus Legio officers and officials crowded around a small balcony overlooking a separate training field filled with thousands of recruits. One of them, a blonde haired human male of about forty, turned to greet Shalla. He was thin, dressed in the same red and black uniform, and wore an expression of assured arrogance.

“Baroness Shalla,” the man said as Shalla stepped into the chamber. The other officers stepped to the side to allow her to pass. Almost all of the Dominus Legio high command were male, all of them Human, and most of them were Coruscant natives. The man who had spoken, evidently Oberingg, shifted his whole body to face the Baroness.

“Artifer Oberinng, I am honored to be here.” Shalla bowed in greeting, and Oberingg smirked.

“I’m sure you are. It is pleasant to meet another well-bred Human on Coruscant, while so many aliens pollute the planet with their presence.” Shalla offered a smile, reflecting that Oberingg might not have been so welcoming if he had known her true origins as a poor Tarisian who used sex and poison to gain power.

“Quite, Artifer. I have been admiring your work, from afar. The Dominus Legio has grown in influence over the last several years. You now have seven senators that openly support your cause in the Senate?”

“Eight, Baroness.” Oberingg amended stiffly. “Eight senators who value their species identity more than their weak desires for peace and understanding. Weakness is bred by complacency and guilt, Baroness. We will not apologize for creating the modern galaxy. All other species must bow in fealty to Humans.”

Shalla nodded, and but internally she grimaced. Humanocentrics were so predictable in their prejudice and hatred against species. Oberingg spoke as if he had rehearsed a number of sermons to recite in convenient situations. Nevertheless, as she had reminded Saldonis, Oberingg and other speciesists like him had plenty of raw hatred, perfect for manipulating to the refined purposes of the Sith. Accordingly, Shalla indulged the Artifer in his venting.

“Of course, Artifer. Your cause is noble and just, and that is why I have come to speak with you about our arrangements.” Shalla’s tone was placating, and Oberingg seemed to relax somewhat.

“I see, Baroness. You mentioned that you have procured the services of Mandalorian mercenaries to act as instructors for our soldiers.”

“Indeed. Garno Hake is a powerful and legendary bounty hunter who commands a small but deadly Mandalorian clan. He has agreed to bring his clan to Coruscant for training.”

Oberingg nodded.

“Generally, I don’t like Mandalorians for their reliance on culture over species. But they were still effective warriors, and their instruction would serve a higher purpose. Hake must be willing to allow some instructors to train at the Curia we are building on Stodd. It will be a future base of operations for us in the near future.”

Stodd was an unusual choice for the Dominus Legio, being in the Inner Rim and remote from most major trade lanes, but it was isolated enough to escape the notice of Republic authorities. The planet had been home to an indigenous mammalian species known as the dardees, but Human colonization of the planet had decimated the population and led to the rest being enslaved, using obscure Republic laws to justify the practice.

“Of course, Artifer. In the meantime, I would be honored if you would show me around the complex. I am interested to see the process of induction and training for your soldiers.

Oberingg lifted his head slightly in pride. “Naturally, Baroness. Follow me.”

The group left the chamber and made its way to one of the buildings on the large, duracrete plateau. Shalla, Oberingg, and a number of officers entered a domed structure with silver decoration surrounding the doorway. Inside were over a hundred human recruits, standing at attention with Dominus Legio personnel surrounding them. The only light came from braziers with fumefire-fuelled lights, and sunlight streaming from openings in the roof. The recruits faced the open doorway, still and motionless. At the rear of the building, a dais held a shrine to the Goddess and a single female recruit seated on a metal chair with a white-haired male officer standing behind her.

As the newcomers entered the structure, the officer on the dais began to speak as if in recitation:

“As Humans have been forced to give way to lesser species, so this woman is forced to sit while her pride is taken from her.”

The woman was dressed in the usual plain jumpsuit, but her hair was spectacular. Auburn, thick, and falling in soft waves almost to the floor, it was marvelous; even Shalla, who had seen and even cut much hair in her life, was impressed. The woman had an expression of resolve as the white-haired officer approached with a pair of buzzers. Switching them on, the officer held them against the woman’s forehead and pulled them back. The buzzers ate through the beautiful hair, reducing the roots to stubble and sending a wave of auburn hair crashing to the floor. The woman’s eyes rolled back in her head in ecstasy as the officer cleared another path through the red-brown forest.

“As this woman is stripped of her vanity, so shall you all remove all frivolity from yourselves, that you may better serve Humankind.” The officer spoke loudly over the hum of the buzzers. The woman’s mouth opened in pleasure as her luscious locks were clipped away quickly. A sheet of auburn hair fell into her lap and on her hands, and she began to surreptitiously play with the severed hair.

The officers among the recruits facing the opposite direction began to shout, chanting slogans as the recruits brought their own sets of buzzers to their respective heads. In unison, sheets of hair of all textures, colors, and lengths tumbled to the metal floor. Recruits with shoulder length curls, waist length falls, and waves around the ears shaved it all off. Several recruits had ponytails, braids, and dreadlocks, and the buzzers ate through these tresses first before they were thrown to the floor and the rest of the hair was shaved. The officers said phrases like: “For the Dominus Legio!” and “Humanity first!”

The woman on the dais had lost almost all of her hair at this point. The white-haired officers sheared off the last portion of long auburn hair and threw it to the floor. The woman was now completely shaven, and her head was covered in red stubble. Shalla saw the woman bite her lip in pleasure from the erotic shearing she received. Shalla could feel the power of the dark side in that building, feel the waves of hatred, fear, and secret passion radiating through the Force.

In the ranks of the other recruits, the shaving continued. One recruit, a young dark haired female, held one of her long braids in her hand and drove the buzzers deep into the roots. The braid was cut clean off, and the recruit tossed it away, working on the other braid. The braids were almost a meter long, rich and dark, truly lovely hair. Another recruit, a male with lustrous shoulder length brown hair, plowed the buzzers through the middle, sending waves of hair falling to the ground.

Oberingg looked at the spectacle in malevolent satisfaction. They were all bending to his will, the will of the Dominus Legio. It was an important step in their conditioning and indoctrination.  There was symbolism in the shaving of hair, relieving recruits of their vanity, and cutting them down to size, so to speak. Shalla admired the crude, yet effective technique. It had a certain appeal to it, to be sure.

Oberingg gestured to the sight before them.

“Well, Baroness, what do you think? Impressive, isn’t it?”

“Indeed, Artifer. Hair cutting is a significant event, potent as a weapon in education.” Shalla mused. Oberingg sniffed, glaring at the crop of recruits. Several with long loose hair tossed away handfuls of long locks, letting them collapse into small mounds of silky hair.

“These recruits are merely the beginning. Already we are recruiting as far away as Eriadu and Tanissar. Soon, we will have an army of 100,000 soldiers, ready for deployment.” Shalla raised an eyebrow, and she looked at Oberingg with interest.

“Deployment? Against whom, Artifer?”

“Our enemies, Baroness, wherever they may be found. The filth of the Non-Human Action Committee for one, and the alien directors of the Starway Fund and the Trade Federation. They line their pockets with the hard-earned credits of decent humans. With an army, we can attack them wherever we choose.”

“And the Republic?”

Oberingg was silent for a moment, and the only sound was the hum of the buzzers and the chants of the officers.

“The Republic is weak and sympathetic to aliens, Baroness. If we cannot sway the Senate to our cause, then it will be humbled. We have the numbers; we can easily overwhelm the Judicials and other defense forces. The Dominus Legio will cleanse the galaxy, starting from our base here on Coruscant, and our new outpost on Stodd.”

Shalla reflected on the situation. It was unlikely that the Dominus Legio would do any significant damage to the Republic, at least not immediately. Even with a large army, the Dominus Legio lacked a sizable fleet, and Stodd was too remote to be an effective base. They would fail, but the damage would need to be deeper, widening rifts between humans and aliens for generations to come.

The cutting continued for some time. One recruit had an abundant mane of curly black hair, which took many minutes to cut off, leaving a huge pile around her feet several centimeters deep. Loosely cut hair, along with whole braids and ponytails, littered the floor. As the recruits completed their work, they were marched bare-headed out of the building to their barracks for cleaning up and preparing for another round of education. Custodians began to sweep the shorn hair into piles to be deposited into nearby incinerators.

Oberingg led the group into the building to inspect the remnants of the day’s activities. In the pile being swept away, Oberingg bent down and salvaged one of the dark braids, almost a meter long, from the recruit from earlier. It looked incredible up close, and Shalla longed to touch it and feel its soft texture. Oberingg had the same idea, and he lifted the braid to his face, inhaling deeply and brushing the hair against his face.

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” Oberingg said after holding the braid up in the air and tossing it into one of the nearby incinerators. The air was filled with the scent of burning hair.

“Will you support me, Baroness?” Oberingg asked directly. Shalla cocked her head, gazing at the hair being shovelled into the incinerators, shorn by so many willing souls to a cause that would serve the Grand Plan.

“I would be honored, Artifer.”

 

One response to “Growing in the Dark – A Star Wars Story

Leave a Reply