In Shadows (Zas)

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Xavius Bain
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In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Xavius Bain » Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:14 pm

Silent footsteps accompanied the black cloaked hooded figure. With each step, the fabric seemed a part of him, flowing naturally with each advance. The streets were busy tonight, so the figure moved relatively unseen. Shadows engulfed his face, assisted by the dark hood over his head, but his black eyes occasionally reflected florescent as he passed by the city's unnatural lighting. Each step was calculated for maximum efficiency, his brisk pace leaving no movement wasted, appearing almost snake-like to the naked eye.

Xavius Bain had left his ship, The Grey with his assassin droid, the shadow lord's only trusted companion. Trust, it seemed, felt almost impossible to come by as of late. While the Shadow lord rarely intended to, his secrecy and general lack of transparency of his goals had driven allies away. Not that it mattered much. Everything he did, he did for one reason.

The Shadows.

There was a time when he briefly lead the group, but his position was better suited directly behind the one that lead. He could work the strings better from the wings, rather than in the direct spotlight. Jacen, as well as Xavius's brother Vechlin both proved competent leaders with Xavius as a trusted advisor. As for his apprentices…

Failure.

Xavius Bain had produced and molded some of the greatest warriors the universe had ever seen. And yet, none had ever completed his rigorous training. He had lost students to enemies, to the dark or light, to other masters, to humanity.

Humanity.

This had always been a struggle for the designed warrior. He had found some form of it in Lady Kota, but the longer he spent away from her, the more his irrational feelings for her seemed more of a weakness. His focus was clear without her. He no longer needed to mimic the archaic emotions of humans, the unnecessary diversions that kept him from his goals…

The Shadow Lord approached the destination. He was early, and there was no guarantee the man he intended to speak with would even show. It was likely, but their last few meetings hadn't ended friendly in the traditional sense. However, their mutual respect for each other and mutual goals were why Xavius had called for him.

When he entered the cantina, his hood fell to his shoulders, revealing his signature black eyes. Over his left eye, a small scar boasted l the only imperfection on his otherwise younger appearing face. His synthetic skin didn't reveal reflect the age or experience his body actually held, but there was an air about him that caused a few laughing men to part ways as he approached the bar. The Shadow Lord ordered a beverage from the bartender, and while he had no intention of appearing unsettling or hostile, the human looked as if the oxygen had been sucked out of the room at the sound of another snake-like feature of Xavius Bain. His voice escaped his body like a hiss or whisper, but it's volume was clear and precise. While his design didn't allow for the effects of the beverage to innebriate him, Xavius had developed a taste for the complex spirits, and after his neat pour was served the shadow paid, left a hefty tip and moved to a table in the corner, facing the door. For now, he would wait.
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Zasabi Ray
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Zasabi Ray » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:49 am

Xavius was the sort of person that might actually find it impossible to blend in, Zasabi reflected as he sipped a class of whiskey. At least, Xavius was not much for blending in among the average human. He gave the impression of a knife given human form, all edges and points meant to injure or kill. Even drunks could tell that this was a man that viewed their lives with as much value as a pair of shoes.

Compassion, Zasabi mused, was not Xavius' strong suit.

And yet, he was the most driven member of the long-dead Shadow order that Zasabi had ever met. He had even trained a cadre of apprentices, although he gathered that they had suffered as much as the others on the ill fated attack on Roche so long ago. While he couldn't figure out just what made the man tick, he had taken it for granted that Xavius' intent, always, was to revive and nurture the Shadow order.

So it was that when he had received the call, so quickly after deciding that he could no longer run from his past, that Zasabi had decided to meet with him. Perhaps it was time for the two of them to work together at last to revive the Shadows- after all, their last meeting had led to Zasabi agreeing to defer to Xavius' judgement on the matter. Perhaps the bill had finally come due.

Rising from the dark corner he had secreted himself in, Zasabi stumbled toward Xavius' table and slid into a chair opposite the man. "Long time no see," he commented flippantly, almost certain that Xavius had not detected him upon entering the bar. Although the Shadow Lord was vastly more powerful than Zasabi in the Force, Zasabi had spent the last year on the run from the Sith assassins that had been hunting him. He had learned how to dampen his presence in the force such to make himself entirely indistinguishable from the average sentient (at the cost of dampening his connection to the Force as well), and paired with some of the best prosthetics money could buy it meant that he could be virtually undetectable without the proper equipment or information.

"So, I'm assuming we're not just enjoying a drink together, right? You've got something in mind?"
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Xavius Bain
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Xavius Bain » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:26 pm

Acute as Xavius Bain was, despite being constantly aware of his surroundings Zasabi had managed to enter and approach without the Shadow Lord noticing. Xavius Bain’s brow raised for a moment, searching for a signature that resided hidden in the force. It was, if anything, impressive to the Shadow Lord. The average person couldn’t lift a finger without triggering a series of potential outcomes in Xavius’s brain, and yet Zasabi was able to approach him virtually undetected.

With a slight nod, Xavius greeted the man in front of him. He continued to probe with the force, throughout the conversation, keeping inventory of Zasabi’s visible connection to the current. It was likely that he was hidden not for Xavius Bain, but for another reason as well.

“No, I have called you here because I need your help.”

The word fell ill out of Xavius Bain’s tongue. He rarely asked for the help of others, but his experience exposed his own shortcomings, and he needed someone besides himself. Someone trustworthy, and loyal to the Shadow Order of old.

“As you may or may not know, I briefly ran an academy to train younglings as Shadows. I had been asked to train force sensitive children, some with great potential. The school was legitimate, and I used the opportunity to train what I believed to be the start of a new wave of Shadow adepts. There were a few students that were exceptional, one of which I began to take as my apprentice.”

He eyed Zasabi as he said it, and thought of Kole. The child wanted nothing more than to impress the shadow lord, and in many ways he was similar to Xavius Bain. His drive, his tenacity, and most of all his skill with a blade. After some tuning, the child was brilliant with a lightsaber, and had the potential to eventually go toe to toe with Xavius Bain with more training…

“There was a mission I was not deeply connected to, a mission I took a number of elite students on to enforce. Rather than complete the mission as intended, a personal matter reared its head and I found myself in battle with a Sith named Darth Tormentous, entrusting my apprentice to complete the mission with myself disabled temporarily until I had defeated the sith in single combat. The mission cost a number of the young shadows their lives, and the mission was far from a success. Kole, my apprentice was one of few survivors. It is my belief that he blames me for the mission’s failure, and feels a sense of betrayal for the way that the mission was handled.”


The Shadow Lord was silent for a quick moment, analyzing Zasabi’s face carefully as he continued.

“I let Kole go, Him and a few other bright young adepts.” He took a sip of his drink. “Of course, I had continued to track them. The design of the school was to create Shadows, and for that goal I believe I was successful. They had unlimited resources, libraries, training grounds. They read about the history of the Shadows, our… history. The Shadows dispersed, and Shadows are experts at remaining out of sight.” He said, almost amused as Zasabi had proven this fact already.

“And yet, I believe that Kole would not leave me until he could find someone else to fulfill his goal. He was as driven as I ever was, and held a primal desire to become more powerful in the force. I believe that Kole has found a group of former members of the Shadow Order. It is my belief that there are actually many groups like this, the first we found on Zonama Sekot. This is why I need your help. It is also my belief that you too, are loyal to the Shadow Order and want to see it returned. If what I believe to be true in fact is, then I need someone that can inspire trust and loyalty. Someone that can help me find, and unite the Shadows. I was not there for the final moments of the Order, but my brother Vechlin was. I lead the Shadows once, but hard logic doesn’t inspire loyalty. Humanity does. I believe that the person that can unite the Shadows is you.”
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Zasabi Ray
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Zasabi Ray » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:02 am

There was a long pause after Xavius' words, a silence that seemed to span the length of time the pair had known each other. Although they had never been close, they were, in a way, family. Both scions of an order long dead, descendants of a philosophy the galaxy had determined could not exist.

A hard gulp was, for a moment, the only sound that had passed between the two, before Zasabi offered his answer.

"Xavius, I can't be the leader of the Shadows. That's not the cloth I'm cut from. I'm a free spirit at best, and a coward at worst."

He set aside the empty cup, interlacing his fingers before him and leaning forward. "I do agree, however, that we have to join our efforts. The time is ripe, as it were, for the Shadows to return. I don't think they should return in the way that they existed before, however."

Looking into Xavius' eyes, Zasabi met the dispassionate warrior's gaze with his own resolute will.

"I've given it a lot of thought, over the years. The Shadows always owed too much to the Jedi and the Sith orders, their Hierarchies and philosophies. It was always a matter of light and dark, of consolidating power as they did. But without leaning to one side or the other, we always sat in the path of destruction as the galaxy rallied against us.

"We were an idea that the galaxy could not tolerate, a philosophy that told them they were wrong to embrace the duality of light and dark. If we seek power in the way they do, by teaching a single creed, then they will always have a target to seek out and destroy. I have a different path, however."

His hands opened, as if to bear the truths he would speak aloud for the first time. "I believe, in truth, that the path of a Shadow is the path of Freedom. Not the freedom of a Sith, tying themselves to their emotions as though they were the only truth of this galaxy. True freedom. The Freedom to choose what path you will. Light, dark, and all the shades in between should be open to us. The Force is not a flip of a coin, and all those who claim otherwise are blind.

"As such, I don't believe that we should have a Shadow school, or temple. I believe that we should have students, and teachers. Teachers to open the eyes of students to the possibilities inherent in the fullness of existence, and students to learn, grown, and surpass their teachers, turning them once again into students. A cycle of equals, to create a galaxy of equals. There should be no one path, merely myriad truths that encompass the Shadow creed."

Zasabi's eyes softened momentarily. He had never told anyone these thoughts before, even though they had occupied his mind for years. In truth, he was concerned that Xavius would dismiss them out of hand, as foolish fancy. Still, he knew what he believed.

"So, understand that when I agree that we must unify the Shadows again, I do not say that they should be under one banner. We must unify the Shadows in the truth that the freedom to choose one's own path is what sets us apart from all others in this galaxy. I will not bring in your wayward student by force, Xavius, but I will aid you in suggesting to Kole and the others that they may have more to learn from us."
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Xavius Bain
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Xavius Bain » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:36 pm

The Shadow lord listened carefully to Zasabi’s words. There was a lot to unravel, and he considered each point carefully. In truth, while some of their core views on the future of the Shadows were dissimilar, they have separately arrived at parallel views on more than one account despite their respective isolations. Both men had taken their own paths as individual Shadows, and both men were left standing.

After Zasabi spoke, Xavius Bain remained silent for a moment. The ambient bustle of the cantina continued on, but the two men stayed still and focused as if they were the only two in the room. He considered each point for a moment before calculating his response.

“Freedom has always been our goal, we agree concerning that. As for the temple, while I agree on your general view of the force, my studies have revealed the way to use the force as one, harnessing both the light and the dark sides of its current. Students and teachers, sure. There are experts on every aspect, and much to be learned. These are details that can be worked on in the future.”


Xavius’s overlying pitch still hung in the air, though in truth Zasabi had already agreed to what Xavius truly needed.

“In truth, being the one to help unify the Shadows does not mean you would need to be their leader. Though, history shows that the greatest leaders did not necessarily want the position.”
He mused. “I have no intention of taking Kole by force. I agree that freedom is key, but without some semblance of uniformity, there will be no Shadows left once our generation is gone. For now though, I believe that your presence and outlook would help sway Kole to continue his path. I thank you for offering your assistance.”

The Shadow Lord reached for a holopad, and placed it on the table. He made his own intentions clear, and if Zasabi still agreed, Kole’s location and every bit of data Xavius had collected on Kole’s group was stored in the pad.
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Zasabi Ray
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Zasabi Ray » Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:26 pm

Zasabi extended a hand, grasping the holopad firmly and beginning to skim through the content.

Kole was quite the hellion, if the data Xavius had collected was any indication. The apprentice's drive to become stronger in the Force had led him and his followers to strike out at various isolated Sith and Jedi installations, taking what information they could before fleeing into the dark and appearing weeks later at another target. They weren't afraid to kill, based on reports, but the weren't having it all their way either with at least three members of the group having been slain at different points.

And yet, the numbers deployed remained constant. Someone was not only supplying Kole with equipment and information, but recruits as well. More importantly, the deployments followed Shadow protocols to the letter- strike hard, unseen, and flee if compromised, seeking new targets as necessary. The focus was always on maintaining their numbers over the mission at hand. Pragmatic, driven but not zealous.

"I see what you mean. One of our number is most definitely behind their movements. Given the patterns and resources at their disposal, it would have to be one of the more strategically minded members of the order- at least close to a Master, if not a Master themselves. And yet..."

It had to be someone who adhered to the Shadow Creed loyally, yet did not trust the remaining members sufficiently to reach out and ask for their aid or support. "This feels like Gantoris, or one of his ilk perhaps. Either way, there's only one way to know."

Zasabi rose, sliding the holopad into the folds of his coat. "Let's get a move on. If we're to track them down, we're going to need some powerful data analysis hardware, and I know just the place."
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Xavius Bain » Wed May 13, 2020 6:28 pm

“Again.”

Kole’s heavy breathing was apparent, but it did not affect his speed. The flashy combat style he had adopted, Ataru relied on his connection to the force. It capitalized on Kole’s smaller frame, and did not require the use of brute strength. The force assisted the aerial aerobic moves that he expertly sent towards the blademaster. Xavius Bain was a frustrating opponent, but he was not unbeatable. That being said, Kole’s Master capitalized on every mistake without hesitation, and it was difficult to discern his form as it was as fluid as the Shadow Lord’s movement and footwork.

But Kole believed he was beginning to discover a pattern. It seemed that the blademaster did have a method to his forms switching. After a flurry of aggressive Ataru strikes, Xavius would settle briefly into a Soresu stance, followed by powerful Djem So counters. He had made this switch after multiple flurries from his apprentice, and with similar timing. This was his opening.

Kole began with a furious aerial attack following Xavius’s own. He spun brilliantly in the air, and as he suspected, the Shadow Lord stepped into the defensive, impenetrable wall of Soresu. Kole kept the attack up, but was waiting to watch his Master switch stances. While it seemed he was the aggressor, he wouldn’t have much time. He watched Xavius’s center, and for a brief moment he noticed the Shadow Lord plant his back foot as if…

This was his opening. Before the Blademaster could counter, Kole turned up his aggression and went for it. Xavius was priming to counter, but Kole’s movements were faster. His saber whirled from the display and were it any other target, the fight would be over.

But it seemed Kole had misread the situation. Kole was fast, but the Shadow lord had changed the rythm once again. His feint had tricked Kole into over committing, and suddenly blood sprayed from his arm, and he felt a foot in his back as his own attack hit the empty air. Kole’s lightsaber flew from his hand, and he fell face first into the hard ground, the taste of blood filling his mouth. He looked back at his master, the blademaster and lord of the shadows. His emotionless black eyes staring back at him.

“Your eyes can deceive you. Your thoughts will deceive you. Fight with your instincts and the force. Your form does not wait for an opening, your form makes its own. Get to the medical bay for your wounds, we’re done for today.”

--

The Shadow lord followed Zasabi blindly, trusting that his former comrade knew a venue to analyse the pad to track Kole’s location. Kole was vigilant, and Xavius had taught him to be careful. Though, Xavius had a suspicion that the boy wanted to be found when he was ready. The child had been loyal to the shadows, and whether or not he understood why Xavius had done what he had done, Xavius’s ideals were imprinted permanently in the boy he once believed to be his successor. More skilled with a blade than any of his other students, Kole was everything Xavius was in skill at that level with the exception that the child’s emotions had often gotten the best of him. This was something that would never change, and it was why Xavius knew that Zasabi’s analysis would result in Kole’s location.
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Re: In Shadows (Zas)

Post by Zasabi Ray » Thu May 28, 2020 3:52 pm

Zasabi led the Shadow Lord to the spaceport, the pair drawing few eyes- Zasabi looked sufficiently shabby that few paid attention to him, and those that turned their eyes to Xavius recognized him as someone they'd be better off forgetting.

Entering one of the more common commercial landing pads, Xavius would lay eyes on a mid-size bulk freighter. It was a relatively common ship, used by small shipping companies throughout the galaxy, and this one somehow seemed even more nondescript than the norm. There was something about the patterns of wear and rust on the exterior that made it easy to dismiss the ship as unimportant.

Zasabi thumped a fist on the entry ramp, stepping back as it began to hiss open. Leading the Shadow Lord through a series of near-ramshackle corridors, he stopped at an access terminal and reached behind it, flicking a hidden switch. A wall panel slid to the side, revealing a pair of droidekas on either end of an airlock door. Their red photoreceptors suddenly gleamed upon seeing a newcomer, their repeating blasters whining as they prepared to fire.

"At ease, gentlebeings," Zasabi announced quickly, turning a nervous smile to Xavius. "I don't usually bring guests."

The pair of guards settled, their lights dimming as they once again settled into overwatch mode. Zasabi swept past them, leading his erstwhile partner through the gleaming halls of a luxury cruiser. "My other ships tended to get a little too much heat, especially these days," he commented idly as they passed a battle droid carrying a set of datapads. "But I've invested a little too much into this ship not to make use of it, so it was easier to just come up with a disguise. Slows me down some, but not so much that it's inconvenient."

The tastefully appointed halls led to a central hub, from which Zasabi entered a room over which hang a placard stating, simply, "NAV". The interior of the room was a massive starscape that, upon reflection, formed the spiral arms of the known galaxy. Zasabi bent over a small computer in the center of the room, fiddling with it for a moment. The peaceful dance of the stars was suddenly shattered as they leapt into hyperspace, settling on the star system they were currently in.

"So, while you did take care to schedule this meeting somewhere quiet and relatively meaningless, you weren't the only one to notice that this system is in the hutt end of nowhere. According to old Shadow reports, the Zahn consortium had a data hub satellite out here. It's a pretty large scale data processor, capable of taking in, interpreting, and encrypting reports before sending them off."

The display zoomed again on an asteroid field spinning around the most distant planet from the core of the system. By spacers standards, it was a small field that was easy enough to avoid, which meant it would rarely see much traffic. "My understanding is that it's hidden in this asteroid field, left behind and ignored after the consortium crumbled. All we need to do is pop in there, access the mainframe, put in your data, and bang," he finished with a satisfied smile, one hand pointed like a blaster at Xavius to punctuate his plan. "We've got the location of your apprentice's next target."

The stars faded, leaving the room in darkness for a moment before small fixtures around the circular chamber began to restore visibility to the pair. "Of course, we'll need to take your ship. Mine's a little big with the freighter attached."
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