The Zealot and his escort entered the ample Council room, followed by a delighted Nomar Organa. They stood before a semicircular table separating them from the renowned Council members. These Jedi Masters, sitting in cozy chairs, murmured to one another as they saw the menacing ex-Sith approaching them in person.
"Let us quiet down." The voice of Grandmaster Satele Shan overpowered all the buzzing and whispering. "Valient Knight Nomar Organa, we thank you for compelling Darth Styx to attend this... 'special meeting.'"
"It's always a pleasure to serve the Order's best interests," responded the Knight with subtle arrogance, "especially when the service entails the arrestment of a Sith Lord!"
Styx uttered a low snarl. He was doing his best to remain calm before the Jedi High Council, but the Alderaanian blue-blood was being a "thorn in the flesh." Organa's imprudent boasting almost caused the Zealot to burst in pent-up anger, which would doom the latter's cause. Nevertheless, Styx tried to focus on the Jedi sages seated before him. He gazed solemny at the Council members. Jedi Masters Gnost-Dural, Syo Bakarn, Bela Kiwiiks, and Oteg, as well as Grandmaster Shan, were present in flesh and bone; Masters Jaric Kaedan and Shol Bestros also attended the meeting from the Masters' Retreat, the enclave accessible only by airspeeder or starship, in the form of cerulean blue holograms. They too did not show any favor to the former Sith Lord. All of them had been scarred by the resurgence of the Sith Empire and the almost thirty year-long war that raged across the galaxy as a result; a war severely orchestrated by the masked Zealot who stood in front of them. But they didn't know that at all. They were acquainted with Lord Styx, the young Echani gladiator who embraced the Order of the Sith; the infamous bane of countless Jedi and Republic soldiers; the indomitable champion of nearly every battle he fought in the Galactic War. But they had never met Darth Styx, the usurper of his master's rank; the cunning Dark Councillor whose real name was lost in the sands of time; the major strategist of the Imperial war efforts in the last ten years of the galactic conflict. To those who actually knew him already, the title of Darth could only have been a very recent promotion; a reward for the constant fealty to the Empire and remarkable talent he had demonstrated as a Sith. An absurd conclusion in the reality of the Zealot's past.
The interrogation started with the Grandmaster. "Darth Styx, as I told in our previous conversation, the past cannot be blotted out! Even if your exile is not a ruse - which probably is - your presence in Tython remains a threat to the Order's existence! The atrocities you've committed-"
"I protest!" The Zealot's gaze was now fixed upon the fair Grandmaster. If his grimace, shrouded by the dull steel mask, did not make her tremble, his deep and mighty voice did. "Look at you, Jedi Masters, gathered in this secure room, proclaiming judgment on a former enemy from your cushioned seats, while your fellow Jedi sacrifice their lives in battle against our true foes!"
"Silence, Sith!" Nomar Organa was determined to fulfill his role as prosecutor. "Even before the Council you dare to lie and deceive!?"
"Enough, Organa," stated a vocal Shol Bestros. "The Sith has a point! We should be repelling this invasion, not punishing a deserter! Our Order's quarters are under fire! The Masters' Retreat is being bombarded by transporter vessels! Our defenses will not withstand this offensive much longer!"
"I agree with Master Bestros," added Master Bakarn. "We should be protecting our home along with our brothers. Darth Styx's trial can wait."
Nomar Organa seemed flabbergasted by the Council's position: "What!? Are you going to let this Sith go without penalty?"
"Not at all, Nomar," replied the fair Grandmaster, "Styx has offered to help us in name of Kalikori, the Twi'lek settlement he has devoted himself to protect. In fact, I think we should take his offer... if it still stands."
"I think so too." The wisdom of the centuries-old Master Oteg finally pronounced its opinion. "May Lord Styx's support serve both as his atonement and as proof of his redemption."
Everyone nodded. Nomar stood aghast.
"The Jedi High Council accepts your help, Darth Styx, Zealot of Kalikori," stated the Grandmaster, knowing the Masters' consent.
"What do you say?" Master Bestros added. "Are you with us?"
Styx pondered for a moment. Though his blood boiled in his veins with passion, his appearance transpired nothing more than austerity and staidness. "I say you are all both overconfident and powerless. You are overconfident in that you believe you can judge me; you are powerless in that you are actually powerless to do so. I yield to no one's will but my own. Fortunately enough for you, it appears our roles in this planet drive us toward the same purpose."
The Council, Nomar, the escort - everyone was awestruck by the Zealot's boldness.
The beautiful Master Kiwiiks finally broke the Jedi's shock. "Is that all?"
"No, it is not all, but as Grandmaster Satele stated in our previous conversation, 'we have already babbled for too long.' I shall see you in the battlefield... if you ever decide to leave this hallowed room of yours." The audacious ex-Sith exited the ornated room. Not even Nomar tried to stop him. Once the door was closed, the Council was dismissed.
"Master Oteg," said Nomar, "what makes you think we can trust this Sith? What if he's the man behind this attack?"
"Young Nomar, you must see one's heart even when hidden by his garments. Styx has clairvoyance. He may wear the cloak of the Dark Side, but he treads the path of the Light. That is why I believe him to be trustworthy."
"But his insolence-"
"His insolence fits with his character. Don't be concerned, Nomar. If you still suspect of him, though, you should fight along his side."
"He is fighting for us. So should you. Stay close to him, and you will learn whether his intentions are true."
Nomar bowed with a frown. "Yes, Master Oteg."