[Factions Ep.7 - Cat A] [L19 - Mustafar - CFS] Across the Stars VI: Submission and Death

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Previous entries in Across the Stars:

I - Targonn - Severance Pay
II - Targonn - Murder!
III - Targonn - Diner Tables and Missed Connections
IV - Garel - The Manifest
V - Yavin IV - The Temple Job

Next Post: VII - Ossus - The Planet of Ghosts

Chapter VI




ABSALOM SYFOT, a reinstated officer serving under MOFF PYERCE, is dispatched to the Outer Rim world of MUSTAFAR with new orders. There, he seeks a CULTIST, a creature that possesses ancient knowledge valuable to the EMPIRE.




                        Only months ago had Absalom Syfot been rescued from the back of beyond, told of the death of the Emperor, and offered by his rescuers a position in Moff Pyerce’s new order. They had offered him the rank of Lieutenant.
He immediately considered killing his rescuers for this affront. He had been a captain in the Imperial Navy before his disappearance, and they presented him the rank of Lieutenant, as if it was some sort of honor? What an outrageous insult. In that moment, unbeknownst to them, he was capable of murder. Oh, how he had wanted to unleash a torrent of blows, to choke the life from their throats, catharsis for that and all the other indignities he had been forced to endure on Imynusoph.
                        But he restrained his hate.
                        Civilization had come to bring him back. He had to prove he had not become a savage while marooned on that savage world, that he still had the conduct and bearing becoming of an officer in the navy. Precision, control. Ruthlessness, when it was required. For instance, when he had the chance to see his ‘superiors’ gunned down in a horrible accident. It was a good thing to have plans for the future.
                        He had been surprised by how his time away had him forget the comforts of the Imperial Navy. A sleek, orderly bridge. Command personnel at his beck and call. Trained, disciplined soldiers following his orders with efficiency and pride.
                        The only thing that soured his mood were his orders. Moff Pyerce’s defeat at Fondor, among others, was the death knell of his power. When he had heard of it, Lt. Syfot knew it wouldn’t be long until the Moff was usurped and replaced; that was simply the way of things. It could not happen soon enough: Pyerce’s most recent orders were those of a lunatic obsessed with sorcery and dark alchemy, secret things which most of the fleet seemed to feel were best left alone. What good had Lord Vader’s sorcery done for the Empire while he lived? They would be better off pursuing military action, not this foolishness.
                        All fleet resources were dedicated to this hunt for ‘holocrons’. The spy networks no longer reported on New Republic movements or potential uprisings, but on rumors of lore and ancient relics. All of it was hearsay and smoke. The most recent news from Targonn was the possibility of a holocron held in a vault of royal keepsakes. The possibility! It was ludicrous. In the days of the Emperor, Imperial spies provided intelligence one could act upon, not hopes and dreams. They had sent several spies to Targonn, but the first was an incompetent failure, and the girl…the girl’s information was muddled. Some of it correct, some of it contained errors. They could simply be mistakes, other, inferior men might see it as such. But Syfot possessed a strong intellect and a sharp sense of intuition, and he had another theory. Despite her background, there was the possibility her loyalties had become…tepid. Should it be necessary, such a thing would require swift punishment. Something striking, to better dissuade a cooling in the passions of others.
                        Two spies dead in the Outer Rim territories, the Lothal and Targonn systems. Only a momentary setback, naturally, and for the moment, unimportant. Lt. Syfot had been given a special assignment to the Atravis Sector, to the planet Mustafar. Pyerce’s expert on the arcane said there was someone there with valuable knowledge. While Lt. Syfot believed the mind behind his orders to be insane, he was a professional. He would carry out the command with utmost excellence. Consistent excellence would gain him influence. One day, he would have enough influence to organize that accident for those idiots who had offered him the rank of Lieutenant.
                        Not only was it a chance to gain power, but missions like this were a pleasure for Absalom Syfot. They provided an opportunity to play.
                        He and his squad would descend into this hellhole, and either through negotiation or force, make the being serve their ends. There was no question of his success, not with Imperial strength at his command. He smiled, felt the thrill of power surge in his chest, a feeling sorely missed for so many months. Once again he directed the might of the Empire, and with such might, the enemy’s submission was a certainty.

"Treasure is one thing, but Pyerce is out of his damn mind."

"Er, pardon me, Lieutenant?"

Syfot turned an alarmed, angry eye on the ensign to his left. "...Nothing, ensign. I was speaking to myself."

The ensign fled. Even before their mission, rumors had spread on the ILC Rigorous about the Lieutenant's sanity after his return from exile on Imynusoph. But Pyerce was in no position to reject Imperial officers, even once-demoted, possibly-mad ones like Absalom Syfot.

Mustafar was their mission. Darkness and magma, death. Insects for locals. A dead system. How could anything here be of any use to the galaxy's righteous regime?

Syfot wondered if he wasn't better off stranded in the jungle. He had traded one insane superior for another.

A clean white shuttle landed on the planet's cracked, blazing surface. Syfot descended its ramp, accompanied by stormtroopers. For once, Syfot envied his men and their anonymous helmets, protecting them from the stink of sulfur. It was only a short walk to a space near the edge of a cliff, a ceremonial ground.

Worshippers lay before them. Ten dark creatures, wide hats and ashen cloaks pulled up around their bright yellow eyes, nasty and small. He could not see their faces. Their priest was distinct: a tall, masked thing draped in robes as black as the rock under its bare feet. It stood by the cliff's edge, its fingers outstretched as it led the followers in a low chant.

Syfot clasped his gloved hands behind his back, the picture of Imperial sophistication, a stark contrast to the dirty locals. This is what power looked like. Oh, how he had missed this.

"State your name!" He called. His voice was strong, ringing out over the bubbling and hissing of the magma.

The worshippers stopped chanting. The robed, masked figure stood still, watching the distant, ruddy sky. When it finally spoke, what emerged was a voice burdened neither by cares nor fears. Inhuman.

“You have come to a dead place, a world once bright, brought to darkness, that now wakes again, thanks be to the blood of Corvax.”

                        The cultists around it broke into chant, repeating the words. The creature did not react, its gaze at the sky unbroken. “What purpose brings you here?”

                        “We are representatives of the Empire of Moff Pyerce. You are addressing Lt. Absalom Syfot, of the Rigorous. Now, you will tell me your name!”

                        "A name says nothing," it said. "You wish to know this one, you must know what This is. Its nature. Its reason for being. This is an acolyte, an adherent to the truth of the universe, a servant of Bogan, a slave to power. You are honored in this one’s presence, as this one is honored in yours."




                        Syfot watched the thing carefully. He signaled for his troopers to stay calm. "I see. What would you like me to call you, then?"

                        "Know this one as the Vu'othh."

                        "That will do," Syfot nodded. His voice remained clipped and steady, determinedly in charge. "Do you know why we've come?"

                        "You...have come to the Dark Lord's cradle. To the Vu'othh's circle of believers. There are none who come here. You seek what only Bogan offers."

                        "Yes, quite. Moff Pyerce, like yourself, has an appreciation for...obscure power. I'm sure you've heard of Moff Pyerce. A man of influence and vision. We want what you know. We want the secrets of the past, secrets with which I suspect a thing like yourself has experience.
Moff Pyerce has a rather specific item of interest. My commission refers to it as 'Balaam's Heart'. What do you know about this, Vu'othh? Or was coming to this ball of coal a waste of my time?"

                        The Vu'othh craned its neck. "You want what this one knows of the Balaam's Heart. A powerful channel of Bogan is this object. Yes, this one knows the beginnings of this object's path. There lies a hovel in the ashlands where the servant Balaam dwelled in cycles past. Keeper of the Heart, was he. Markings and records he left behind...but incomplete. Take this one to follow Balaam's trail. Listen to this one, submit to this one's knowledge...You shall, at the end, have the Heart."

                        Syfot sneered. This thin, tall monster would get nothing but what was necessary to secure its trust. When its usefulness had dried up, it would of course be thrown aside. "Moff Pyerce thanks you for your service. What is the point of all this, then? What's this 'Balaam's Heart' for?"

                        The creature turned towards him, and spoke as if to a child. Patiently, kindly, from a place high above in knowledge and understanding. "Oh, Absalom..." it said, in a voice that slithered. "Immortality, Absalom. Immortality.”

                        Immortality indeed. This planet was death incarnate, what would a thing like this know of immortality? Syfot doubted it had much more of a life expectancy than one of the huge, disgusting fleas these creatures rode. He composed himself, holding his head high. "Quite. Naturally, Moff Pyerce is not an ungenerous ruler. What would you like from Moff Pyerce, in exchange for your help?"

                        The thing tilted its head, as if inspecting a piece of meat. Its mask revealed nothing, the exposed skin beneath was a pallid brown.

                         "...A price? Truth is price's paid, rewards given. Every desire met. Every passion fulfilled. This one lives for no other purpose."

                        A bead of sweat slid down the Officer's face. Uncertain, he looked at the stormtrooper to his right, before returning his attention to the Vu'othh. "I...I see. We'll do our best to handle that, then. So...we can count on your partnership?"

                        "Please the Vu'othh! Feed the Vu'othh. Submit to the Vu'othh, and you will enjoy the Vu'othh's submission in return. Betray, and be betrayed."

                        "Insanity..." muttered Syfot. What a disgusting creature. Why couldn't it speak straight? There was nothing to gain from...

                        The stormtrooper to his right started to panic.

                        "It will die," said the Vu'othh matter-of-factly.

                        The trooper grabbed at his own helmet as if trying to peel a Vinsothian Orange. He wailed behind the facemask, a scream transmitted to the rest of his squad, who clutched in alarm at their weapons. But there was nothing they could do.

                        "Trooper! Compose yourself! What is wrong with...Trooper!"




                        The man had flung himself from the rocks into the magma. His screams mingled with the sounds of his armor blistering and snapping in the heat.

                        "Did you do this?" Syfot demanded of the Vu'othh, who had not moved.

                        It stared at him. He felt as though he was being given a second chance.

                        Syfot cleared his throat, which felt suddenly very dry.




                        "What...what happened?" He said.

                        "All is as Bogan wills it. Do not ask 'what', Absalom. Be content with knowing 'why'."

                        Syfot stared at the trooper's smoldering corpse. The rest of the squad exchanged looks.

                        The Vu'othh stepped forward, stared at him, and unwrapped its fingers in a gesture of submission. "Absalom," it whispered. "This one goes at your command."




More PIctures






Next Post: VII - Ossus - The Planet of Ghosts

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Great story, I like the Absalom Syfot character. Presentation with the interspersed pictures is top notch!

Edited by Brickwolf

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Definitely one of your best smaller builds, captures the aesthetic of Mustafar well. I would have loved see a drip of lava coming down the side but that said the landscape is great. Kinda disappointed that you didn't link this to the 'Bright Star' it is an ancient relic that is integral to Mustafar as a planet and has the power over life energy [definitely along the lines of immortality]. The story was as ever great though.

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On 12/23/2020 at 11:52 AM, marvelBoy123 said:

Definitely one of your best smaller builds, captures the aesthetic of Mustafar well. I would have loved see a drip of lava coming down the side but that said the landscape is great. Kinda disappointed that you didn't link this to the 'Bright Star' it is an ancient relic that is integral to Mustafar as a planet and has the power over life energy [definitely along the lines of immortality]. The story was as ever great though.

Yeah! I did a deep dive on Mustafar lore (and watched a playthrough of Vader Immortal) while doing research, so it made it in there via "You have come to a dead place, a world once bright, brought to darkness, that now wakes again, thanks be to the blood of Corvax.”

But the actual focus is an original object because I don't want to use too much canon (though with Luke appearing in my last chapter, maybe that's out the window haha) and not all the action will be on Mustafar. There's a few other iconic planets coming down the pipeline that factor into the search for Balaam's Heart. 

And thank you! It means a lot.


Edited by RocketBoy

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Dark entry. You definitely capture the vibe of Mustafar.

Some parts are a bit rough, and you could benefit from working with transitions.

Poor stormie btw :P

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Some nice details here, I really like it. Your parts choices for the minifigs are particularly good. 

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Nice build and awesome presentation. I dig the pictures throughout the story as well. They're very immersive.

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A nice little vignette, the lava looks a little too clean though 

The story really adds to this!

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Interesting small build in Mustafar. I specially like the angled column. The terrain is a bit too black so it's difficult to see the detalis, maybe with better lighting?

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Wow, so dark, so well done! I love your cultist. Really captures a creepy vibe. I will say your photo seems o be slightly out of focus. Maybe try bringing the camera back and zooming in a little, or using a tripod.

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