Star Wars: The Rise of Darkness

Chapter 2

One step closer

Darth Callous knelt in his private temple, his thoughts and feelings focused solely on deciphering what could only be called the language of the planet. That errant voice that continuously called to him attempting to draw him deeper below the surface.

Beneath the sith was the deep red sand of the planet which he had had brought in from the pit to layer the floor of his temple. Each grain seemed to hum with its own life force. It was comfortable how it conformed perfectly to his knees, cradling him as a mother does her child.

So many secrets Callous could sense, dark and powerful secrets lost to the shadows of time and space. Things that where just waiting to be revealed once again. The idea was almost intoxicating and Callous found it hard not to loose himself within the thoughts of the matter. This place made it so much easier to focus. In fact, it wasn’t until his time on Elion that he realized that he had never known true focus. Never had he had such clarity of mind and body.

Though, not even this was enough. Too much was standing between him and the knowledge that tantalized him. He was tethered by his own body and consciousness.

So he decided to do something that his Master, out of what Callous figured was jealousy or fear, had forbidden. Early on in Callous’s training he had devised his very own meditation process. Such a feat was the mark of a powerful sith, and it was a feat the his master had never accomplished.

Callous had named it Kathu Chaa, which was from the ancient Sith language meaning, Death Walking.

Such an apt name it was. In this form of meditation Callous could slow his heart rate to a single beat per hour and take a single breath with each heart beat. This broke his tether to the living world and his consciousness was allowed to roam through the very Force itself.

Each time he entered his meditation he felt some how different when he came back to the here and now on a plane he couldn’t quite understand. For hours after each session his body would feel energized and his mind would be unclouded by all other things. These happenings Callous attributed to the planet, especially considering that when he put himself into Kathu Chaa anywhere else it had the exact opposite effect.

Callous began the process needed to enter Kathu Chaa, when the comm on the side of door to the temple beeped loudly and a voice came through.

"Lord Callous," One of the Sith guards posted outside said his voice wavering ever so slightly.

Darth Callous’s hands clenched to fists as anger welled up within him. Apparently his express orders where meaning less and less, "I said I didn’t want to be disturbed," He growled menacingly.

"I hope you will forgive me Lord Callous but Tothias has just requested you at the bottom of the pit… He says he had found something that might interest you," The guard replied apologetically.

Callous opened his eyes wide, excitement instantly replacing the anger he had just felt. Could this be it? Had the time finally come?

"Have them send a cart up for me immediately," He said as he sprang to his feet with a languid grace and walked towards the door. Before exiting out into the hallway he smoothed out the ripples and footprints he had left in the sand with a Force infused sweep of his hand.

The two Guards snapped to attention as he strode purposefully passed them heading straight for the lift. The only thing that accompanied him on the way down was the sound of his own beating heart and the thrum of the repulsors under the platform. One half of the lifts shaft was encased in a clear Dura glass that gave Callous a good view of the cat walk that led from the facility to the edge of the pit. As requested the hover cart glided into view from the depths and settled on the end of the cat walk, a dead eyed Gran at the controls.

Once at ground level Callous wasted no time striding across the catwalk and stepping onto the hover cart. The vehicle lifted off and whirred as it decended back down from whence it came. Inside the pit was quite a sight with thousands of workers milling over the sides of the artificial crater, and roughshod scaffolding erected on all sides like the skeleton of some long dead creature. As they got deeper the walls of the Pit slowly encroached in much like an upside down pyramid. Callous could feel it so much better now as they approached the bottom, a great whispering of ethereal voices inaudible it seemed to all but him. He could also feel the dark side of the Force like an undercurrent of an ocean tide, invisible but nonetheless tangible and real. Callous embraced it, and felt it ripple through his being.

The hover cart came to a stop at the bottom and Callous stepped off scanning his surroundings. Not much had changed since the last time he had been at the bottom as he had told Tothias to concentrate all digging within the lower levels to be focused on a single off shoot tunnel. Tothias had looked at him as if he where mad but to his credit he had obeyed, and low and behold had proved Callous right.

Of course Callous would tell nobody that he had witnessed the location while deep within a session of Kathu Chaa. No, those where his trade secrets and he would see to it that they remained that way.

Tothias emerged from the off shoot tunnel and waited patiently for Callous to draw near. They bowed, one Sith to another. After the second revolt of the pits slaves the Neo Sith regime had sent Darth Tothias in to aid in the quenching of uprisings. Being both an Anzati and accomlished Sith Warrior he was perfect for the job.

"You were right," Tothias said as he turned to escort Callous down the tunnel, the workers within stood on either side of it all but prostrating themselves before the passing duo, "It was exactly where you said it would be."

"Excellent," Callous replied, "Anything odd to report?"

Tothias smirked ever so slightly, "Does the fact that all the workers that came in contact with it convulsed and fell dead constitute as odd?"

It was Callous’s turn to smirk as he answered, "It does indeed," The legends on the stone tablet are true than, he thought. Callous had already taken steps to bypass this but that all road on the success of Vytal Neeshra.

"Oh than in which case I have exactly five odd things to report," Tothias finished. As if on queue, five gurneys hovered into view each held an unmoving occupant. The Sith stepped aside and allowed the gurneys to pass.

Several moments later they came to the end of the tunnel. There, illuminated by numerous spot lights, was a monolithic stone door. Its surface was pitted with age but still showed archaic runes carved into it. A nearly invisible seam ran down the center of the door with a small circular apparatus set just to the right of it.

Callous couldn’t help but stare. This was it. Just beyond that door lay what he had been searching for, the secret of the planet.

"Notice the dial there just to the right of the seam?" Tothias took several steps forward and pointed to it, "That moved ever so slightly with each slave that touched the door."

Callous shook his head attempting to clear his thoughts, an nearly uncontrollable urge to touch the door washed over him. He needed to meditate now more than ever, "Its a locking mechanism," He said his voice slightly strained, the voices hammered at the inside of his skull, "I have a way to get through it but it hasn’t arrived as of yet, but don’t worry about it for now. Get everyone out of the Pit and send them to the camps. No one is to set foot back into it until I give the word."

A look of confused suspicion crossed the Anzats face, and for a brief moment it looked as though he may question Callous’s reasoning, but thought better of it, "Yes Lord Callous I will have them removed at once."

"Good, I will make sure to pass on a commendation for you to Lord Baalak," Callous said and spun on his heels to head back out of the tunnel, leaving Tothias to watch him leave through narrowed eyes.

Sharp pain began to lance through his head and he reached up and touched his gloved hand to his temple. He converted the pain to raw emotion and stored it for later as the Hover cart took him back up out of the pit. He realized that the suspicion of Tothias may develop into an issue later on but he would deal with it when and if it did. As for now he would return to his temple and meditate on what he had felt. Soon the smugglers would arrived and with them the key that would open the door to Callous’s true potential.

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