This whole place was saturated in the Dark Side. How her master had grown up here and hadn't fully given into it was beyond Lilith. But she hadn't exactly spent time focused on the darkness the last few days, instead she'd buried herself in the Sith archives. There was a lot she learned, and some she wanted to discuss with her master. She'd gotten an... idea. But after so much time absorbing knowledge, she'd also gotten worn out and was ready to move on.
And she hadn't actually come here to indulge her curiosity. She'd come to track down those Sith she met while investigating a death during her initial training. They had potential to be swayed to her and her masters cause. But they'd all gone off world, as far as she was aware, except maybe one who'd been rumored to have wandered off into the wastelands. A dangerous thing to do, and if Lilith was to find him going alone wasn't ideal.
She was about to leave the main compound when she noticed a man, one that she remembered hearing was a friend of Talak's. It didn't mean she could trust him exactly, but perhaps persuade him to help her with one of the searches. It'd be a bit abrupt, and she had no clue if he even knew or heard of her, but she stepped in front of the tall Sith. "Wait! You're Ender, are you not?" she asked at first.
If he answered yes, she'd continue, probably following him if he started to walk off. "I'm trying to track some people down for Talak," she said. It wasn't a lie at all, but it was also for her. Her master had made it clear that she needed to accept that she was invested in this—the revolution— for herself too but it was easier to mention Talak since the man probably didn't know her. "He's a friend of yours, right? Your help would be greatly appreciated."
After the journey back to his home with Talak, he secluded himself again since he was healthy and did some research. He was to meet his friend later but for the time being, he spent his time in the library of the stronghold. He didn't know what he was specifically searching for, just anything on Imperial history that could help him connect the dots after he ran into the Scientist once again. There was information about the Imperials but it was old and he would need to do some digging.
As he was about to pull out another volume from the shelf but before he could read into it, someone called out his name and he instantly snapped the book closed. His eyes flicked up and then towards the woman that was approaching him randomly. How she found out his name was an interesting question as only a few people knew his actual name. "Depends." He just replied with a curious look in his eyes as he obviously wondered who the woman was before he indeed did turn to walk away to head down further along the shelf. Ender had been sick with a "disease" to say the least and wasn't quite caught up with who was who so he failed to recognize Lillith as The Rain.
When she mentioned Talak's name however, it made him stop and turn around as he held the book in one hand and had it drop to his side. There was no indication that she was lying in her voice and he hadn't sensed any ill intent towards him. "What's the name of his droid?" Last time he had been on his ship, the little droid had mentioned that there quite a few new visitors on his ship. Was this one of Talak's "visitors"? The name wasn't complicated and if Lilith couldn't recall the name of the droid then he wouldn't believe her. If was able to prove that she knew Talak, he would follow up that question with, "Who are you?"
Lilith blinked when he asked for the name of the droid. It was an odd question to her. Was that really the best way to confirm she wasn't lying? Maybe her master was more secluded than she realized. Either way, what wasn't surprising was the paranoia, it seemed to run through the Sith as a whole. "Artee," she said after a moment in confusion, tipping her head slightly.
His second question was an obvious one, after thinking about it anyway. Who didn't introduce themselves right away? Well, Lilith didn't. She did her best to avoid giving out a name, because she always had to be careful which one to choose. This one was an obvious choice though, since he was a friend of Talak's.
"Oh, I'm Lilith. Talak is my master," she said then held up a datapad, not really giving him a chance to answer right away. A picture of a dark-haired male human with blue eyes, around her age, was displayed on it. "I'm looking for him, Zel're Kelen. I heard rumors he went into the wastelands but for what reason I don't know. Some sort of spiritual journey or whatever maybe?"
She shifted uncomfortably after, hoping he'd choose to help her but she really wasn't sure he would. The wastelands were dangerous, so she supposed it depended on if him and Talak were close friends or not, and if he ended up trusting her.
Ender raised both his eyebrows in surprise when she correctly answered his name. So maybe she was one of the frequent visitors aboard his ship. When she introduced herself as Lilith and that Talak was her master, she would see that surprise turn into a quick second of pure shock before it as controlled. Talak had been the one to introduce him to the Legion and practically his teacher for the beginning. Both went their separate ways after that but still remained in contact with each other heavily. The Arcanist was very busy apparently.
Ender had wondered if he had been a one-off project for Talak but it seemed he had taken others under his belt. Before he could comment about their mutual acquaintance, Lilith held a datapad up to show him a human named Zel're Kelen. "And am I supposed to answer that?" He picked up the book on the table and held it in his hand again as he gazed down at her. The wastelands were dangerous and he didn't know what this was for except hunting a human down. "I speculate you're showing me this as a way of asking for help."
His time was valuable and while he hadn't experienced the wastelands personally except for reading, he had been born in wild space and knew how to survive environments like it. "Why should I help you? Why not some peon?" The time he spent out there was time he spent out of the library and his studies, the main reason he came to the planet in the first place.
His shock prompted her to raise an eyebrow. Why was this shocking? She doubted her master had only trained her. There was likely dozens out there that been able to reap his wisdom, though maybe not all as loyal as her. She tapped her foot when he asked why he should help and not a peon.
He clearly wasn't interested, and Lilith didn't have the means or time to convince him. She put her datapad back on her belt and turned around. "You're right, you shouldn't," she stated with a hint of disappointment in her voice, walking away.
"Though I guess he had those strange coordinates to some sort of imperial relic he was blabbing on about...maybe that's why he's out there," she said, mumbling to herself. Not that that mattered much, she thought. It seemed unwise but she'd do this on her own. It might be better this way since if Zel're refused she'd kill him... assuming she survived the journey and found him.
Ender wasn't interested at first, a trek into the wastelands was a danger that wasn't necessary for him. When she slipped the datapad onto her belt and walked away, he gave her a nod before opening his book again to read. He only got a few sentences deep until he heard Lilith mumble about an Imperial relic that he potentially had. Ender glanced up before closing his eyes for a moment, contemplating to himself before letting out a sigh, "Wait." There wasn't any reason for him to go the first time but that changed now.
Maybe it wasn't true but his interest was piqued. He closed and placed it in the correct part of the shelf before walking over to Lilith. "If he's in the wastes, we'll need to be properly prepared for that." There was a reason it was called the wastelands and it lived up its name. "Come back here in thirty minutes and be completely covered, even your eyes." With that, Ender just gazed at her for a moment before departing and going to collect what he needed. Even if she left before that, he would still head out there with the possibility of there being an Imperial relic.
Thirty minutes later on the dot, Ender would be in the exact spot from before. He wore an outfit that completely covered every inch of his body and resembled something of a Kage warrior outfit except for the traditional hood. The slit where his eyes would be were covered by some sort of goggles completely tinted black that could even hide his yellow eyes if they came out. He had a backpack on with supplies inside. If Lilith came to meet him, he would push off the wall and glance over to her, "Are you ready?"
Lilith raised both her eyebrows this time when he said to stop. She turned around to face him, and he instructed her to cover up and meet back in thirty minutes. They'd barely met and he was already bossing her around, but she had asked for his help so it only made sense to respect him. She also wasn't... that experienced with this world.
Right on the dot, Lilith arrived in her Rain armor with a black cloak over it. However she was not wearing her half-mask and the armor was wildly reproduced so there was no way to tell she was the Rain, at least not unless you had the clues to line up the dots. She also had her two lightsabers, a blaster and a backpack, stuffed with a lot of things but mostly medkits. She'd learned from her last mission with her master—the fresh scars on her body reminded her daily.
"I'm ready," she said plainly, walking ahead of Ender though keeping her senses up in case he tried something funny. Sure he was a friend of her master, but that didn't mean he could be trusted. The trek to the wastelands wasn't that long, so she assumed they'd be facing whatever was out there soon, but she had a question that'd been burning in the back of her mind. "How did you meet master?" she asked.
Lilith appeared on time and continued past him as she told him she was ready. Ender didn't say anything but followed behind her, fine with letting her take the lead if she wanted. He could already tell she was suspicious of him and he smirked underneath his mask, wondering how this little adventure was going to turn out. They didn't have too many klicks until they reached the wastelands so the pair kept a nice pace as they made their way.
He had just been submerged in his thoughts when Lilith suddenly asked how she met master. It was a weird way to frame the question but he knew who she was referring to, "Talak found me at a Force nexus. I was drawn to it but didn't know what I was. He saved my life there before introducing me into the Legion. Ever since then we've helped each other here and there." Talak had taught him in the ways of the darkside in his early years of being Sith but Ender was an independent soul and when he was taught the basics, he left Talak as a student but remained in close contact. "And you?" This was first time actually meeting one of his other "students".
As they continued on, the air would start to be filled with a sort of yellow smog. It stuck to their clothes and it would be evident why he told them that they would need eye protection. The grass and fields died out, the ground turning more into rock as they continued. When they came upon the crest of a new hill and over the smog, they would finally see the wasteland, a stretch of no man's land with what appeared to be cesspools.
This time Ender took the lead and walked in front of Lilith, carefully navigating down the hill as they approached closer and closer to the no man's land. When they reached the edge, he held up his hand for them to stop and crouched down to pick up a rock. He glanced over to Lilith, "Watch your step." He threw the rock into one of the cesspools and she would see bubbles start to perform before leech-like creatures suddenly wrapped around the rock and sank their fangs into, trying to draw out any blood before realizing it wasn't actually an animal and disappeared back into the water. He could thank his reading habits for not allowing to navigate this land blind.
A Force nexus? she thought, having never heard of one. She wasn't willing to admit that though, of course. The only person she'd accepted guidance from was Talak. She didn't trust anyone else enough, and why should she?
She remained quiet while he told the rest of his story, and even a little after he asked his question. How could she explain without giving away their involvement in a crime they weren't largely attributed to? She thought on it for a second before answering carefully, "He used a mind trick on me, and I ended up drawing a blaster on him when I managed to resist it. The first day we spent mostly threatening one another, but I guess he saw use in having a slicer around that could also be trained in the Force."
When Ender went ahead she slowed down and didn't try to take lead again. The sight of the wastelands was enough for her to realize that maybe she needed to lean a little on the man's knowledge. This was doubled down when a small creature came up from one of the pools. Lilith raised an eyebrow and followed carefully behind the man.
But she sensed danger not long after. Real danger. There was almost no warning when a creature ten times the size of the first one popped out of one of the larger pools. It was going straight for both of them from the left side; it's gaping mouth could probably grip onto both of them and pull them in.
Lilith reached for the first blade she could, her regular hilted one coming to her hand. The purified blade hissed to life as she swung it, cutting par of the lower lip off of the creature. It screamed and it's high-pitched voice nearly deafened her, but it slipped quickly back into the pool it came out of.
"You never said they could grow THAT big!" Lilith shouted, keeping her unsuitably colored blade in-hand should the creature come out again, or if there were more that size.
When he heard a mind trick was utilized on her, he couldn't help but smirk underneath his mask. The last time Talak went near his mind, both of them got locked in it and were nearly kept there to be tortured. It was the sickness he carried that caused it but since then, he wouldn't blame his friend for never trying to touch his head again. She revealed that she was a slicer and if Talak kept her on as a student, that must have meant that she was good at her job and he kept that in mind.
Lilith slowed down and let him take point as he slowly advanced forward, his eyes mostly scanning the ground. It didn't take long before a bigger creature erupted from the water and wanted a bite at the two. Ender twisted around to face the beast with his saber in hand but it was already dealt with as she cut off its bottom lip and made it dive back into the water. She pointed out that he never filled her in about the creature's size but he held up a finger to his mouth, telling her to quiet down. It was just them out there and they didn't need to draw attention to themselves. When she did, he pointed out something to her, "You never asked."
He waited there for a second to see if the big creature would come back from the water but it seemed scared off for now. Ender began walking again and deeper into the wasteland, now paying more attention to the bigger pools of water after their encounter. While he had to be on guard, he had questions about who they were chasing and he wanted to know more about a person who would choose to take their chances through the wastes. "Why are you searching for this man? And what can you tell me about the relic he may know about?" The fact that it was only rumored the man knew about this relic wasn't pleasing as it meant he could be doing this all for nothing but it was a chance he was going to take.
Lilith resisted the urge to put her hands on her hips when he shushed her. The annoyance of it passed quickly though, since she knew they probably should remain as quiet as possible.
He asked a question that she didn't know she could answer. Telling him would give away a lot, unless she lied or tried to word it vaguely, so instead she skipped it in hopes he wouldn't really care. "I can't tell you much about the relic. All I know is he mentioned it, and that it could potentially lead to something much more powerful."
The yellow smog seemed to thicken and start to swirl even more violently. Even though the amount of distance she could see was rapidly closing in on her, she spotted what looked like dust devils of the smog but mixed with the sharp rocks from beneath. In between about three of the devils, something else much larger and interesting stood out...
"Is that a building or some sort of structure ahead?" she asked, pointing to it. But just as she finished her sentence the yellow smog thickened so much and swirled around them so violently that she could barely see her hand in front of her face. There was no way Ender could see where she was pointing, but he'd likely seen the structure already. She only hoped that he had read about this too, and how to deal with it.
...If there actually was a way to deal with it besides flying by the seat of your pants.
Ender noticed what she chose to answer and he wasn't afraid to point it out, "You only answered one of my questions." While his overarching goal was to acquire whatever relic the man had, the more pressing information about who they were chasing would have been more prevalent. She was hiding something about this Zel're but he wouldn't dig into it any further, at least at the moment when they were out in the wastelands.
The yellow fog started to increase in volume and Ender glanced around, taking notice of it quite quickly. They needed to leave quickly and when Lilith pointed out the structure ahead, he just nodded. "Run." He didn't wait for her as he started to sprint towards the building. It wasn't long before the building disappeared from his sight and he would just have to rely on the direction from which he saw it. The pair would start to feel their clothes grow hotter and hotter as if a hot object was being pressed against their clothes and slowly making its way through the fabric. They weren't that far from the building and Ender picked up his speed, hoping Lilith kept up or otherwise she was going to experience a very painful death.
Ender kept sprinting forward, just hoping that he would eventually run across the building in time. When he was only about a few meters from the wall, that's when he would finally be able to visibly see it. There was a service door thankfully and he charged right toward it, simply throwing his shoulder against it as it swung the door wide open. He stumbled forward before rolling onto the ground, smoke rising from multiple spots on his clothes where the toxic air nearly punctured. When Lilith would come through, he would use the force to slam the door shut immediately afterward behind her and shutting out the acidic air.
He glanced over at Lilith before standing up, putting out the small smokey patches on his clothes, "Were you burned badly?" If she covered completely, then her clothing should only have a few burns along with it but it would be clear both of them couldn't take another round of it.
Lilith didn't react when he mentioned she only answered one question. Hopefully he'd drop it and keep it dropped. But the moment Ender said run, Lilith did exactly that. She was half-expecting to step into one of the whirlpools but it was either that or apparently being burned alive. Her whole body felt like it was over top of a fire, some parts actually felt like they were on fire by the time she got into the structure.
She ended up rolling on the ground too, though hitting a wall and cursing after. Enders voiced snapped her attention to him after, and she shook her head while answering with, "No, I'm fine." Though she looked down at a spot on her outfit that had nearly been eaten through. There was no way she'd be able to go back outside until that storm was over.
Standing back up she started to gaze around the structure and something caught her attention almost instantly. "We might be on the right track,"she said, staring at alien corpse that looked... well, it looked like it crawled out of a grave. It was clearly cut in half by a lightsaber. It looked like an older kill, but not ancient. She didn't have the skills to place a exact death time, but it could be a couple days old.
Lilith walked forward, finding more and more corpses and then... blood. Human blood. There were droplets of it and then a decent sized pool a couple steps later. The blood lead down the hall, and what looked like rounded a corner. "Kriff," she said, "If he's dead after all of this..."
What a waste of time this would be, she thought. At very least, she hoped whatever relic he had was on his body, in order to repay Ender for aiding her. Although if he was dead, there was a chance that more of these zombie-like creatures were alive. They may have overwhelmed him.
When Lilith looked around the building, so did he. It didn't take long for him to notice the body as well, the next thing being the smell that hit him. It did indeed looked like it crawled out from the grave as the flesh was rotten and disgusting. The most interesting fact was that the creature was cut in half from a lightsaber. Ender just stared at the burnt flesh for a few moments before he glanced toward Lilith, "So, we're chasing a Sith then?" That made the objective of this little trek a lot more dangerous and he wasn't pleased she held that from him.
Either way, he continued on with her and more carnage was revealed. The dead like bodies littered the ground but this was mingled with human blood. They were getting closer to the living, hopefully, their target. He didn't know if the creature's blood normally like humans but he assumed their blood would appear differently. "If there isn't a body then he's alive as far as we know." He learned that lesson the hard way after he thought he killed the doctor.
The blood led down the hall and Ender slipped out his saber hilt, the weapon still inactive as he just held by his side at the ready. When they turned the corner of the hallway, they didn't find the Sith but one of the creatures chewing on the body of someone who must have worked here or taken shelter. The zombie turned and snapped its head towards the two sith, it's two longer than average as they were made for chomping and it let out a screech before launching itself at them.
It didn't seem to have much self-awareness as Ender just activated his blade and held in front of him. The zombie simply ran into the blade, it angled so it went underneath the chin and through its head. The creature simply fell against his blade as it died instantly and he deactivated it to step back so the thing just collapsed onto the ground. He looked over to Lilith, "We're not alone in here."
She could sense a tinge of upset from Ender, but she wasn't exactly sure why. "Yeah. He's an acquiescence of mine," she said.
She nodded when he mentioned the chance of the man being alive, though doubted it until they rounded the corner to see a different dead body. It was likely where the blood had come from. Relief washed over her about Zel're, but it was mostly overshadowed by one of those creatures. Her black hilted lightsaber snapped to her hand, it's red blade hissing to life in a second, but it turned out not being needed.
The creature just...walked right into Enders blade.
"What the actual Kark?" Lilith said, blinking and tipping her head some. Ender mentioned something about not being alone and while still dumbfounded she just walked up to the dead body to try to figure out if she'd seen the man before, or if he had any insignia on his clothing. Her eyes scanned him, noticing he had the Sith Eternal emblem on his sleeve and that he was wearing a white-gray labcoat. What was going on here?
It was then she heard the hiss of a door opening not far away, causing her to step back closer towards Ender and bring her lightsaber up. A brunette woman clad in Sith armor stepped out of the door. On her face a—what looked like—forced smile. She was holding a lightsaber hilt but it wasn't ignited. "I heard you're looking for someone, it doesn't happen to be Zel're?"
Lilith did not trust the woman. If she was Sith, she was hiding her signature and her emotions. It was suspicious so Lilth only answered with, "Why are you asking?"
The woman's smile seemed to change from forced to something a little more... amused. "I'm looking for him myself and I could use some partners."
Lilith bent down to examine the body, finding a Sith Eternal insignia on the sleeve lab coat. They were one of theirs? That meant whatever this building was, it used to belong to the Eternal but something changed that recently. The pair didn't get to examine the body long as a door down the hallway opened. Lilith stepped back towards him but he stepped to the side, clearing his arm as electricity started to course through it.
When the woman revealed herself and wore undeniable Sith armor, the electricity in his arm slowly subdued as Ender returned to his normal stance. His gaze burrowed into her as, like Lilith, he didn't trust her at all. Everything was off about the scenario they were in and it just kept getting stranger and stranger. The lightsaber hilt in his hand remained off but his grip was tight around it as he was prepared to use it if need be.
He stood there silently as Lilith was the first to speak up, his eyes catching the details along the woman's face as she seemed to force every emotion that came to her face. Ender took a step closer to the brunette, still a very respectable distance between the two as he pointed the end of his hilt towards the bodies at the end of the hall they came down, "Is that your work or Zel're's?" The Sith could possibly be working with the man they were chasing and before he proceeded a step further into this building, he was going to get to the bottom of who he was finally chasing.
Ender spoke to Lilith through the force, If you don't start telling me the truth of who we are chasing, we are going to have problems.All these new factors that kept appearing was disturbing him and the one who held most of the answers was right next to him but wouldn't share.
"Those are mine, but I'm certain he went that way," she said, pointing behind her. "I... saw him run that way but I had to duck into that room due to unfortunate circumstances," she added, taking a couple steps forward and making sure to position herself in the middle of the hallway. Her lightsaber hilt was still in her hand but she didn't make in moves with it.
Lilith heard Ender's message, and knew she had to explain in case this woman was not a friend of Zel're's. She sent him a message back through the Force, "He's a popular Sith. If I can convince him to help my master, he may be able to recruit others to help as well." It was an honest answer, it just lacked details. They weren't exactly in a position to get into details at the moment anyway.
The young Sith trusted nothing that came from this other Sith's mouth either. Maybe she was a friend of Zel're's, maybe not, but Lilith didn't really feel like rolling the dice, "Look. We don't need anymore help, so you can head back and we'll find Zel're. If he's still alive in here, I'm certain he'll get back to you."
"No!" the brunette growled, her face switching to anger but she clearly tried to reign herself back to a neutral look. "I've come this far. There's no reason for me to turn back."