Note: The story takes place on Odessen, shortly after establishing the base on the planet.
Culber was still uncertain. A part of him screamed it was a serious mistake. His life was dedicated to destroying Sith, not to… serving them. What kind of atrocities would this person demand from him?
His pace slowed, so Theron stopped, letting him to catch up.
“Doubts?” he asked.
Theron was the person who had convinced Culber to do this. After the Jedi Order had been decimated by the Eternal Fleet, Master Satele had disappeared, and the Republic had been left in shambles, Culber was goal-less, and restless. His friend had found a solution: join those who fight the Eternal Empire as his way of protecting the Republic and peace. Culber had welcomed this solution but now, after thinking the details through, he wasn’t so sure any more.
He wanted the Republic to be safe. He wanted the threat to be gone. Joining the Alliance – the only force still fighting the true enemy, not busying itself in old petty squabbles with the Sith Empire, as the Republic was now – seemed to be the perfect solution. But the Alliance was led by two Sith, and that could not mean anything good.
“Plenty,” he answered.
“You can always leave. You can always return to Coruscant.”
“Is that why you told me not to reveal where I was going?”
“Better not to burn the bridges, if you’re not sure you would need them again.” Theron paused. “I understand how you feel. I remember when I first met them. Sith. When you’re a Pub, when you were raised by Jedi or are a Jedi, you are told things about them. Many of them are true, but many… How many Jedi you’d say are not exactly as their reputation paints them?”
“I see your point.” Culber himself was not a poster boy for the Order.
“Attira can be reasoned with. She’s a bit more chaotic than I remember her from our dealings with Revan, but Mili says it’s because her husband is not here. Nayel…” Something appeared on Theron’s face, something the Mirialan didn’t know how to interpret. “Nayel is passion personified. Stubborn. Emotions first, thinking later. He grew up as a slave, suffered a lot in his childhood, now seems to be paying back what he got.” Theron’s voice grew slightly softer. “But even he can be reasoned with, if you know how. He sees through manipulation quickly, so direct approach is always better with him.”
“You like him.”
Theron smiled. “I’m in love with him.”
“With a Sith?”
“As strange as it sounds.”
Now Culber understood his friend’s facial expression.
They walked into a small room. There were three people inside: two men and one woman. Culber guessed she was the person who replaced Scourge as the Emperor’s Wrath. The other two looked alike, but one was dressed distinctively like a Force user. His face was covered by visible veins and his eyed glowed red. Darth Nox.
Culber realised he should feel the pressure of the Dark Side. Two Sith, both very powerful, and he could sense them, but it was not oppressive, as he sometimes felt in presence of some Jedi. He felt comfortable. The implication of what this could mean were worrying, but it wasn’t the time for that now.
“This is Jedi Culber,” Theron introduced him.
“You vouch for him?” The Wrath asked.
Nox didn’t say anything. He approached Culber and stopped right in front of him, studying his face.
“It’s not often I see a Jedi who mastered the Dark Side,” he said eventually.
“What?” Culber was shocked by the claim. “Wh– I– Why?”
“Deny it to yourself, if you must, but you can’t fool me.”
Theron gave Culber a surprised look.
The Mirialan was both offended, and enlightened. As horrifying as he found it, it would explain so much. It would explain why he felt so uncomfortable among other Jedi. Why they seem to be as uncomfortable in his presence. Why Satele refused to give him the master title, and then didn’t seem to trust him with anything important.
“I’m not evil.” He could hear himself how weak was his defence.
“I never said you were,” Darth Nox smiled. “You were the one who tried to kill Vitiate a few years ago, aren’t you?”
“Is that a problem?”
Nox smirked. “Well, it’d save us all much trouble if you succeeded, and ended him for good.”
“You mean Ziost. At least I stopped Belsavis, Voss, and Corellia.”
“Voss. Sel Makor. That was something.” Nox looked at Theron. “Does he know who we deal with?”
“I didn’t say anything. I left that to you.”
“Who do we deal with?” Culber asked.
“Valkorion. The dead emperor of the Eternal Empire,” the Sith explained, while Culber looked to the woman who killed him and was now hunted by Valkorion’s heir, “was just another body inhabited by Vitiate.”
The Mirialan’s head jerked back to Nox’s face. “Wait. What?”
“You heard right. We’re dealing here with the creature you almost killed. You’re ready to face his heritage again?”
“If even his own Sith turn against him, then he must be destroyed.”
“Welcome aboard, Master Culber.”
“I’m not…” the Jedi began, but Nox interrupted him.
“I’m not a Jedi, I’m not afraid of your power, so I will call you what you are, because you’ve proven yourself. With your experience, you will be a useful asset.”
“I… appreciate that, Darth Nox.”
“They,” he waved toward the outside of the room, where people were busy with their duties, “call me ‘Darth Nox’. You call me Nayel.”
Light reflected from his red eyes, giving them slightly orange tint.
All discomfort Culber had felt before that conversation was gone. He could be useful here. He could contribute his talents here. This was were he belonged now.