An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...
The flickering firelight was all that illuminated the crypt. Called the Shadow World by many, sunlight never reached the surface of Umbara, and the planet was shrouded in darkness since the day of its formation. As if that was not enough, the ancient Umbaran dungeons atop which the Sith Academy was constructed was dug deep into the ground, ensuring that as little light as possible could ever touch its walls. Even today, the power lines did not stretch into the lower levels, likely an intentional choice of the Academy's designers rather than a lack of technological capability.
She stepped into the chamber at the bottom of the staircase. The fire revealed little of the crypt's features; the light did not even reach the walls and there was no telling where the room began or ended- the space around them was all shrouded in a dark haze. All that could be seen was the single, triangular tomb in the centre and the man standing before it.
Approaching the figure, she could see that he was only part man. His legs were pillars of metal that supported what remained of a human body- a heavily built torso with broad shoulders atop which rested a head. The technology intertwined with the man; a line of blinking dots ran up his back, joining the mechanical legs to the skull. Beneath his bare skin, sickly grey wires could be seen extending from this one line, wrapping themselves across his body like alien tentacles.
The man turned, showing his face, which would almost look human if not for the eyes. His irises glowed bright yellow, giving him a monstrous, beastly look, an unnatural mockery of the firelight he stood in front of. He stretched out his battered and scarred arm, curling two fingers as he beckoned to her.
"Who are you, acolyte?"
She opened her mouth to speak before suddenly pausing as she came upon a realization. She had been here before, but many years ago. This was where she had first met her master, where she had first completed the trials of a Sith assassin. Unlike the other acolytes, who had tried to use the Force to seek out the powerful Sith Lord they were tasked with finding, she quickly understood that she had no ability to see past the defenses of an experienced Sith. Instead, she had trusted the Force to guide her, wandering aimlessly as she followed the nudges and whispers until she stumbled upon this crypt.
But that day, Lord Mulciber was clad in his life-support suit. In fact, she had rarely seen her master like this at all. While he did not need the suit to survive, it protected him from further damage from exposure to the environment around him and was meant to heal him, removing necrotic tissue and regenerating charred nerves. This was certainly not Mulciber as she had first seen him- this was Mulciber when they had last met.
"I am Videte, Eye of Jadus," she responded.
Her master gave a nod of acknowledgement, "Then you have come far, my apprentice."
"This isn't real," Videte remarked. "You're...dead."
"That which you call death is but another form of existence."
She looked around herself, at the fire, the tomb, the dark mist that enveloped them, before turning her gaze back to the cyborg, "This isn't just a dream."
"This is what you want it to be."
"I want answers. Why have you come back to me, master?"
"Because you need answers," Lord Mulciber paced forward, his robotic legs shifting through the fire as he approached her. "In life, we worked to create elaborate illusions. Deception was our tool, our shield, our weapon. Deception will not always prevail you in the days to come. In death, I shall grant you the clarity you require."
Videte gave her master a puzzled look as he simply walked past her, heading towards the stairs. She took one last glance around the crypt before turning her heels and following behind him. Together, they ascended the winding staircases and narrow corridors of the dungeons towards the Sith Academy within which she had been raised and trained.
"This is the world in which you were born."
As they stepped outside the dungeon they suddenly found themselves in grey Imperial halls, but not the ones of the Academy. The Umbara Academy, having only been established when the Sith Empire expanded into the known galaxy, was extremely new compared to the ones on Korriban, Dathomir or Odacer-Faustin, but it utilized the same design as the others. They were no longer in the Academy- they had boarded an Imperial starship.
The ship began to rock violently and Videte stumbled back, nearly falling over. Her master, however, continued forward calmly, his pace unbroken. She summoned her strength and raced after him, but her increased speed only caused her to lose balance as an explosion tore through the hall. Pushing herself to her feet, she could see the flames rushing towards her. She threw up her arms, calling upon the Force to protect her. The fire engulfed her, and then it was gone, and she was standing at the edge of the broken hallway, the vacuum of space mere inches before her, filled with the bodies of Imperial naval officers and civilians alike.
On the other side of the hall, the force fields kicked in, but they were not force fields. They were purple in colour, certainly not standard for Imperial vessels, and instead of a solid barrier it was a hazy mist. Just beyond the mist, a tall, robed figure stood, both arms raised. The empty gaze of his smooth ovoid helmet focused directly on her as dark side energy extended from his hands, enveloping what remained of the ship, now distinguishable as a Harrower-class dreadnought.
"This is what you serve."
Her master turned once more, walking back down the hallway where they had come. She trailed him with little difficulty now that the explosions had faded, and soon there was no indication of any damage whatsoever. As they moved around several corners Videte suddenly found herself in the headquarters of Imperial Intelligence, but it was not the buzzing hive of information that she remembered. Instead, soldiers and technicians moved across the area, taking apart computers and carrying caches of datachips out of the building. In the centre of the room was a small gathering of people not dressed in military uniform, people she did not recognize but who seemed to recognize her as she approached.
"This is the world which you shall inherit."
Mulciber left the room and Videte immediately followed, uncomfortable with the idea that these people was more aware of her than she was of them. The halls of Intelligence headquarters were now filled with both agents and Sith Lords, a rare sight among the primarily non-Force user organization, but her master seemed to pay it no heed as he strolled past them and outside the building. They did not find themselves on the platform on the exterior of the Imperial Citadel, though, but instead stood in the centre of Kaas City, a city under siege.
A massive fleet of ships dotted the sky, ships of a design she had never seen before. Silver droids as alien as the ships marched through the central square of the city, led by a hooded figure wearing golden armour. Videte spun around to take a look behind her only to come face to face with another hooded individual, the black of his garments suggesting him as a Sith. A gust of wind swept across the city, lowering both her hood and that of the other Sith. However, while her revealed hair blew in the wind, there was nothing behind the hood of the figure in front of her, only a dark, writhing mass.
"And this is what threatens it all."
The sky suddenly began to darken, and after a few seconds even the streaks of lightning were blocked out from view, leaving behind something that was darker than even the murkiest night. Tendrils of dark side energy drooped down, wrapping themselves around the buildings and beginning to choke out their light as well. Several of the tendrils reached for the faceless figure, pulling apart its robes and absorbing the mass into itself. As the last of the city's illumination faded, Videte could feel the air getting thinner and thinner until she could not breathe at all, and the darkness surrounded her...