[Particpants: The Praxeum, Dranik, and Sato]
Anshar sat in at his desk, staring out at one of the rare thunderstorms that dotted Lyspair's landscape. Rain on Lyspair only came at night, the lightning flashes providing but brief glimmers of the land outside the Shadow Academy's walls. The night rain adequately reflected Anshar's present mood. In front of Anshar's desk a man, a failed initiate, stood trembling slightly. In front of him lay a pile of droid parts which only minutes before had been a whole, functioning droid. Without moving, or even turning the chair, Anshar had disassembled the droid with the Force, in front of the man. The door to Anshar's office slid open and Dranik entered, his cloak still wet from the rain.
"The book cannot be found," said Dranik, dispensing with the formality reserved only for public forums. "None of our ships were taken, either. Some conclude that the thief departed on foot, undoubtedly to a hidden ship. I've ordered a reviewing of all sensor logs for any possible ship launch. But, this weather makes that hard to clearly distinguish anything. Also, there are other options for escape." Dranik was the head of the Shadow Academy's defense and security, a role he had co-opted upon his arrival. The fact that the thief had not taken any of the Academy's numerous fighters or shuttles to escape meant he did have other plans; his own ship, hidden somewhere on Lyspair, was a logical explanation, though how the thief managed to get it there, Anshar could not fathom. Dranik saw the remnants of the droid on the floor, recognizing it as the droid librarian as Anshar spoke.
"And the security tapes?" asked Anshar.
"They reveal nothing," replied Dranik. "They were tampered with, very professionally. Even if we can figure out exactly what was done, the chances of getting anything useful are slim. Whoever did this was a professional, and it was not a spontaneous theft."
"It appears, Mister Pola, that you are in the clear," said Anshar. Dac Pola had tried to join the Brotherhood, but though he possessed a modicum of Force ability, he had never been able to make use of the Force. He instead had become on the Academy's security detail and his assignment that night had put him at the library when this happened. "Leave us." Pola bowed and exited the office, trying very hard to make it not appear as a flight driven by fear.
"I will begin hunting this thief immediately," said Dranik. Anshar turned his chair around to face Dranik.
"Under normal circumstances, I would say that would be the best," replied Anshar. "However, you, nor I, can cover every angle. I have reviewed the last flight log, and the star shuttle Sheeta departed with a load of apprentices ten minutes after the theft. It will be traveling to all the clans to deliver the new members to their assigned clans." Dranik nodded. He had noticed this, too, and it was his first choice for an escape as well. The hidden ship theory was virtually impossible, as one could only get through the shroud on board official Brotherhood craft. Anshar continued.
"I want the Dark Vault sealed," he ordered. "No one is to be permitted in without a strict guard, and their time in the Vault will be limited." The Dark Vault was essentially the Academy's library and it contained a great deal of information, ranging from the mundane to very rare items. "As we cannot cover this by ourselves, we will put a call out to the clans for volunteers."
"Should the clans send teams?" asked Dranik. Anshar shook his head.
"We haven't the time for clans to assemble special teams," he replied. "Any member who wishes to help us may come. As they arrive, we will assign them to whatever group we can and send them out. As much as the clans may hate one another, the individual members do need to get used to working together. I sense that far more trying times lay in the future." Anshar paused. "Dranik, put the call out to the clans for volunteers; make certain to mention that those members who help retrieve the book will be rewarded." Dranik bowed and left. Anshar pulled out a holo-recorder and began a mission briefing.
"Members of the Brotherhood, as you may now know, the Shadow Academy had a rare, valuable book stolen from the Dark Vault. The thief, whoever he was, is top rate and he could be anywhere in Brotherhood space or beyond. Given the urgency of this situation, most of you will be formed into ad hoc teams, working with members from other clans. Whatever your personal feelings towards the other clans, or their representatives, may be, now is not the time to dwell upon them. This mission you are about to embark upon is for the greater benefit of the Brotherhood.
Your goals are simple: find the thief, find his supporters if he has them, and retrieve the book. Anyone who stands in your way, or attempts to stop you, may be killed or otherwise incapacitated as you see fit.
You may make use of almost any of the Shadow Academy resources if you cannot get them from your clans. Simply clear things with Dranik first. The only ships off limits are the Mnemosyne and her fighter compliment.
Finally, the book you are seeking is bound in black leather, with gold lettering on the cover. This book is written in runes, and is slowly being translated. The only part of the title we have translated thus far is "bible." Those who succeed, and those who show great skill and courage, shall be rewarded.
Windos strode down the corridors of the Sword’s sheath. He’d already told the members of the Praxeum to meet him in the hanger bay. One more corner and an access pad latter, the Warrior stood in front of his Battle Team.
“You’ve all seen the briefing, you all know just as much as me,” began the Battle Team’s Commander. “Transport will depart for Lyspair in five minutes, if you haven’t completed your preparations, it’s too late.”
A hooded figure walked through Windos’ peripheral vision and the Sith almost visibly tensed. “Relax, Windos, you’ll retain command on this mission.”
“Sato, we weren’t expecting you. Everyone on the ship.”
A little over twenty-four hours latter the small transport landed in the Shadow Academy’s hangar on Lyspair. With two Equities onboard, they had no trouble navigating through the shroud.
The Battle Team and their Quaestor were stopped half way on their journey to the central offices by a familiar figure, the Aedile of Gladius.
“Oh yes, Windos. I forgot to mention; all matters regarding us here have been taken care of and Dranik too will be joining us.” Sato informed his subordinate.
Windos looked uncomfortable for a moment.
“I’ve already told you you’ll retain command,” he reassured.
Dranik spoke for the first time since stopping the group, “I’ve arranged one of the Shadow Academy’s ships for our use. You may as well all turn around; it’s back in the hangar you just came from.”
Some of the younger members of the Praxeum groaned, not even bothering to try and hide their displeasure at wasted time. Soon they stood before the Vidar, one of the Shadow Academy’s two modified YV-330 light freighter.
“You know the drill,” rasped Windos and followed his companions up the ramp.
As the ship began taken off, Dranik took the opportunity to brief the group further.
“My investigations have thus far have thrown up very little. But I believe that the thief took passage on one of our transports that take new Apprentices to their respective clans. We’re joining to tail it and find out what we can at each drop point. The first clan we have to visit will be Arcona.”
Windos leant forward in his seat, “I thought this was my mission.”
Dranik chuckled, “So what do we do, Commander?”
Dranik quietly shook his head and walked to the front section of the Vidar and opened the command cabin. Dranik looked at Mister Pola and shook his head once more and sealed the door behind him. “For the duration of this Mission you are Mine! You are damned lucky that Anshar didn’t destroy you back there, and if it wasn’t for my interference you would have been sent to the Mines or worse!” Dranik stated to Pola and let out a low growl before continuing “So then, I suggest that you do everything right this time, because Heavens help me, if you screw up again I will have you stripped of your rank and fed to a Rancor!” With this said, Dranik opened the door once more “And you heard Commander Windos, To Arcona.”
Dranik looked to Windos and Sato for a long moment, watching them from the front of the ship as they spoke with the Praxeum as he picked up a small communicator that was attached to his belt. Instead of his normal attire of a heavy robe and armor, Dranik was dressed in his Officer’s uniform for the SASF (Shadow Academy Security Force). Quietly he spoke into the small device he held “Dranik to Corra, we are in route to Arcona Space, I expect trouble somewhere along the way, meet us at the following location.” With this the Prelate sent the location from his wrist computer.
After sometime Dranik’s small comm. unit chirped and he called to Windos and Sato “Gentlemen, we have arrived in Arcona’s space and the Sheeta seems to have just departed for its next stop, which should be…” Dranik trailed off as he checked his wrist mounted computer for the Sheeta’s flight plan and then replied with “Naga Sadow”. The Prelate then looked to Windos, waiting for an order before he looked down at the flashing light on his wrist computer and keyed in a reply ~Stay back and Follow us Corra, I expect trouble soon~.
Windos thought for sometime and then announced “Well then, let the chase continue. To Clan Naga Sadow.” Without waiting for Dranik to say a word, knowing full better, Mister Pola plotted the new course and set the Vidar, along with the Corra following behind and out of Sight from the few Observation points of the Vidar, into Hyperspace.
Windos turned to face the Praxeum and spoke up “Listen up. We are now in pursuit of the Sheeta and hopefully will be able to catch up with it in the nearby future. No one, Dranik informs me from contact he had reroute with the Arcona RollMasters that wasn’t supposed to be there disembarked from the Sheeta here.” Windos turned from the Battleteam and approached Dranik and Sato and spoke quietly “So then, what are we up against.” Dranik frowned somewhat as he spoke “Well, its very likely a force user. They managed to get their way into the Shadow Academy, most likely under the guise of a new Recruit. However, if that’s the case they didn’t graduate because most new members are not allowed to take Personal artifacts with them on board the shuttles, and their belongings are searched for this very reason. Also, unreleased information is that the person, or persons, that we are looking for was able to manipulate the Academy defenses. To be able to escape the complex at night, even for me, is damned near impossible without setting off an alarm or triggering and auto turret.” With this Windos walked back, with Sato, to the Battleteam to talk things over on the ride. Dranik stayed back and checked out security reports that his officers were sending him from Lyspair of the investigation going on there.
(Good to be in on the fun, eh?)
Amongst the battle team, it had been made quite clear to Metus that he was indeed the only Krath present. As of now, that hadn't changed at all. Not that it worried the Chev; there was some small amount of tension, as was common between the various factions. Considering Metus was "only" an Acolyte, the chasm between them was only made wider. The fact that he was the first to speak up didn't really do much but isolate him even more. "I would think it is safe to assume that this unknown thief knows more about the missing book than we do. Dark Adept Anshar said himself that the only translations that have been made so far is the word "bible". Of these there are numerous kinds and types, all belonging to various sects of worship around the galaxy." He paused, shifting his weight. As slight as he was, he cut an imposing figure...at least for an Acolyte. His form-fitting black robes, the wrinkles in them reflecting the light as a mirror does an image, his great, lidless red eyes in narrow activity, Metus continued, "Can we then also assume that this man is either a one-man worshipper or part of a larger group? I would myself think more of it as a larger group effort, with one thief and multiple passers to take the book and seperate...which could potentially lead to several areas of search."
Metus was getting ahead of himself. He often dove too deeply into things before setting a firm groundwork, and he backtracked in his head, hoping that last bit had made sense to the rest of them.
(Sorry for the shortness. My dad is imposing and saying we need to go eat dinner right now.)
When Kagami had finished his appraisal of the situation, Windos looked around the other members of the Praxeum, none of whom spoke. The Commander simply nodded and settled into his seat to await their arrival within Naga Sadow space.
The Praxeum Commander awoke with a start as the ship’s alarms went off. “What is it?” Windos asked as he reached the command cabin.
“The Sheeta has been disabled, by… that ship,” said dranik, pointing out the view window at an Assassin-class corvette which was beginning to turn and face the Vidar. “Mister Pola, evade their fire and see if you can’t attach us to their hull.”
Mister Pola looked nervous for a minute and shifted his gaze to Windos, having over heard the earlier conversations.
“As Dranik instructed,” resigned Windos.
Rodas was hanging in there, just along for the ride. Rodas was not a fighter or even an expert at fighter operations. And although he had been a pirate before in the Spice Wars, he was not familiar with the Corvette class of ship. But he did like the excitement, though he felt a twinge of fear as he recalled his last stint abourd Captain Cas's doomed vessel, a stint that almost cost Rodas his life. This Mister Pola was a very interesting fellow. Rodas could sense his nervousness even without looking at the man. Rodas got out of his seat and went to the view port. For Rodas could also sense the emotions of the crew aboard the Corvette and was just waiting for the right moment to exploit their weaknesses.
"Mister Pola" Rodas began, "Try a fifty degree turn to starboard. See if that confuses them enough."
Dranik looked out of the front of the Vidar and shook his head as he heard Rodas order Mister Pola to make a turn. Dranik shook his head quietly and opened his mouth to say something but before he could Windos broke in “Ignore that order…keep us on this course. I want to get as close to the….What in the Hell is that?!” Windos said as he looked out of the front of the small ship and saw the tail end of the Corra as it whipped by the Vidar and moved to intercept the other Corvette.
The Corra and the Assassin Class Corvette begin to fire upon each other as the Vidar contained on its approach. Windos looked at Mister Pola and spoke again “Get us attached to its side so we can follow it out of here. I want to see where it takes us.” Dranik nodded slightly as he switched chairs and moved to better assist Mister Pola as he keyed in something on the Command console and put on a headset with microphone boon on it. “Vidar to Shadow Academy Security Command. Please advise.” After a few moments of static a voice came back “SASF Command, How can we assist.” Dranik nodded slightly and spoke again “This is Commander Dranik, The Sheeta has been attacked and disabled at the following location please dispatch the Sirona to assist her.” With this Dranik cut the comm. line and looked up as the Corra and the other Corvette continued to battle each other.
The small YV-330 shook some as stray fire from the battle impacted the ships shields as they drew even closer. After a few more moments Mister Pola replied, in an extremely nervous tone “Magnetic clamps engaged, we are attached to their Hull. Entering into Silent Running Mode and Powering Down all non-vital systems.” With a slight hum the Vidar’s lights went out and most of their other systems went off-line.
Dranik keyed into his wrist computer a few commands to have the Corra follow a ways behind the other Corvette after they left the system, the Prelate was under the assumption that the Corvette would take its cargo and flee like most pirate vessels. His assumptions proved to be true when it suddenly stopped firing and entered into Hyperspace.
Levathan had been taking a nap when was woken by the commotion caused by the attack on the Sheeta. Now that they had attached to the hull of the assassin class corvette that had gone to hyperspace, there was still nothing g to do in the dark interior of their ship, but contemplate what had just occurred. It was clear that these pirates where by no means “normal” attacking a shuttle carrying academy students capable of using the force not to mention the dark jedi assigned to keep an eye on them.
Levathan then brought his findings to his commander, Windos, “hey boss” he said in a quiet voice, brought on by their dark surroundings and instinctively reacting to that. “you’ve probably come up with this already, but… I think we should be a little more careful from here on. I mean, they attacked two ships with force sensitive beings aboard and survived with little damage. Another thing, is that the value of this “bible” is going up as were getting deeper into this. I don’t mean to cause more animosity between clans but I’m already suspecting a clan or a faction within the brotherhood itself to be behind this.”
Kazarelth woke with a start too. Something was not right...
He looked at the rest of the 'team', and he crinkled his nose in disgust. No one saw him, thankfully.
Minutes later the battle ended, and the familiar jolt when a ship engages its hyperspace drives was felt.
The port side windows were black. "Are we docked to another ship?" someone mumbled.
"Are we being boarded? Why are the lights off?" an Apprentice from another clan wondered aloud. No one cared to answer the nervous Apprentice.
Kazarelth saw Kagami, a fellow Acolyte.
“So Kazarelth, you have any idea about the ‘bible’?”
“I remember that in my home planet, any large knowledge database was known as a bible. Maybe, this book they are referring to is a collection of knowledge, and maybe, the thief has come from the Republic, bent on laying his hands on this tome…
I wish I could read from it…” Kazarelth said.
“You should have been a Krath…”
Dranik had didn’t think that a thief would be reckless enough to enter hyperspace when a security force had attached itself onto his ship.
Commander Windos was also flustered at this. Maybe the thief was challenging them to board his ship. He was also a little upset at Levathan’s comment upon the incident, but couldn’t help but think that it could be true.
The Corvette exited hyperspace. The Commander did not give the order to exit Silent Running Mode. He was probably contemplating on an intelligent retaliation to the ‘open’ challenge by the thief.
[I'm too damn predictable] Rodas thought. [I mean...telling Pola to change course without consulting my Commanding officer is a serious breach of protocal...I'm acting too much like a pirate] Rodas had always been a nervous being, and none too careful about keeping his place or watching his temper when things got out of hand. This behaviour he knew he needed to correct. So he continued to try. [Althoug] Rodas thought again, [It really was not an "order". I was merely suggesting that a fifty degree turn would confuse or enemy enough to give us time to head to their aft side and ambush them so we could latch on.]
Rodas gave up this line of thinking and focused his mind on the mission at hand. It had always taken Rodas a couple extra steps before he got with the game so to speak, but not this time. [Levathan has a very good point] Rodas thought. [These do not seem like ordinary pirates. Anyone willing to take on a crew of force sensitive beings is either very good...or very foolish. They must be getting help from the inside if they aren't on the inside themselves.] "Commander" Rodas said, addressing Windos, "I appologize for overstepping my bounds before. It won't happen again. But regarding our little band of pirates out there, I too believe it was too easy latching onto their ship. They obviously know what their doing a bit too well, and I find it hard to believe that they would just happen to not notice us hanging on their hull. I think they let us follow them sir."
The familiar blackness of space reappeared as the Vidar, or rather the ship she was attached too, disengaged its hyper drives.
“Dranik, I need your seat.” Said Windos in one of his firmer tones.
Windos simply stared at his Aedile for a moment then added, “Just something you haven’t yet thought of.”
Dranik left his place at the command console; the others in the command cabin could just hear a mumbled obscenity. Without making a noise Windos had taken the console and was nimbly tapping away at the console.
“I can’t see anything out there… What are you…?” Began Dranik before being shushed.
“Got it,” Windos said quietly as the Corvette’s communications began piping through the cabin’s speakers.
‘..ing to intercept. Target exactly where you said it was, good work Delta Zulu.’
“Damn it, they were onto us…” muttered Windos.
Suddenly the Vidar shook violently.
“Get us the hell out of here Pola!” Dranik shouted.
“Magnetic clamps disengaged, we’re floating,” the pilot announced.
“Why?” Windos, Dranik and Sato, who had just reached the command cabin, asked in unison.
“They got our sub-light drives.”
“Look,” Dranik said, pointing out the view port, “The Corra managed to follow.”
The Large CR90 corvette that had just dropped out of hyperspace instantly opened fire with all of it turbo lasers. The five small Z-95 Headhunters which had been attacking the Vidar were all caught in the fire and exploded. The Assault Class corvette veered away and shot off into hyperspace before any real damage could be done to it.
“Krath damn it!” Exclaimed Windos as he thrust a fist into the console he sat in front of.
Dranik leaned over Windos’ shoulder, “SASF are sending a ship to tow the Vidar back to Lyspair.” The Prelate then took his seat between Sato and Windos. Fluorescent lights shimmered off of the reflective table of the Corra’s meeting room.
Everyone seemed relatively relaxed but Windos wasn’t about to grant any R&R. “We have to find out who was on that ship, where it went, and why in hell they want that book!” The commander took a moment to compose himself then continued, “We need information, we will be able to collect more information if we break up.
“Dranik and myself will be headed to Antei. Levathan and Akilis Erinyes, you will investigate the Mystic’s Asylum, perhaps Dr. Steiner, if he is indeed still there, may know something of the book or who has taken it.
“Sato and Sithun, see what you can find out on Coruscant. Kal and Kagami, Korriban. Finally, Kazarelth and Rodas I want you two to investigate on Nar Shaddaa.
“The Corra will be delivering us to our respective locations and will pick us up exactly one standard week later. Lets find these bible bashers.”
Dranik looked up from the table to Windos and Sato before he nodded quietly and then added “Its going to be a while before we reach our targets. I suggest you each go and ready yourselves for your tasks.” With this said Dranik stood and walked out of the room and towards his private office near the command deck of the Corra, after all he was in command of this ship.
Dranik sat in his chair and looked down at the box on his desk and opened it quietly. He smiled at the new Saber Hilt in the box and set to work on switching the parts between the new hilt and his old Saber. It was sometime before the Prelate finished his work however, and once it was finished he placed the new saber on his belt and drifted off to sleep in his chair, to catch some rest and to think of what all was needed.
Sometime later Windos walked into Dranik’s office and looked at him “Dranik, we have arrived at Antei. Everyone else has been delivered to their locations.” Dranik stood from his chair and looked up at Windos and smiled slightly. “I have been doing some thinking and, when looking for information on Antei, I can only think of one place to go.” Dranik said as he headed out of the office.
Moments later Dranik and Windos found themselves standing before the Amicus Club. Dranik quietly placed his two blaster pistols and his Katana in the holding compartment of the speeder and looked at Mister Pola “Stay here and wait for us.” Dranik nodded and turned to Windos. Well you ready to enter the din of Sin and Vice? I figure if there is any one place to look for Information that this would be it. And I am hoping that we can get in. I hear its rather hard to get into the place.” Windos nodded in agreement before adding “Besides from that, Maybe Master Trev will have something to add to this investigation, or the book itself.” Dranik and Windos both laughed quietly before approaching the door to the club.
It was to be a long flight to Nar Shaddaa. Mister Pola had put the ship on course and Kazarelth was poring over the databank about Nar Shaddaa.
…spaceports and docking bays across its surface, some stretching out into orbit. Over the centuries, Nar Shaddaa grew as an important center of interstellar trade. Ancient refueling spires and loading docks reached out from the native soil into orbit. In between these ports, massive vertical cities grew. The urban areas on Nar Shaddaa were known as vertical cities since new layers of housing and entertainment buildings were built on top of older layers. Like Coruscant and Taris, the lower levels fell into disrepair and became havens for the lowest life forms (particularly the…
Kazarelth looked up from the databank. Rodas was thinking about where to go. Information could easily be obtained from the many ‘famous’ taverns from around the cities. Most of the information from the outside world could come from the merchants… from Corellia. Rodas got up, “Any other things on the moon apart from the fact that it is big, rich and disgustingly dirty?” he asked.
Kazarelth looked back at the databank. “Well, here is something:
The moon was protected by often-malfunctioning planetary shields. Anything illegal elsewhere could be bought and sold on Nar Shaddaa, and many young smugglers, pirates and criminals started their careers on the Smugglers' Moon.”
“Smugglers, pirates and criminals. These are simple thieves. What we are looking for is not just a thief. Look for something more relevant.” The newly promoted Protector said.
“True, but these Corellian merchants… nothing escapes their eyes. And most of these bounty hunters would have been very excited if an Assassin class cruiser was to land on the moon.” Kazarelth replied, turning back to the databank.
Rodas looked troubled. This was his first two-man mission, which he was leading.
“Oh! Look here Rodas! Something which is somewhat relevant…”
Rodas came up to the young Omwat’s side. The databank was glowing with a new piece of news…
…Around 1,002 BBY, the Brotherhood of Darkness operated a Sith academy on the world that specialized in the training of Sith Assassins…
“Hm… nice work finding this out. But does the databank know the co-ordinates of this place?” Rodas asked.
“No. Maybe we should ask HQ, they must have some idea about this.” Kazarelth said.
“Before assuming too much, we must check these taverns. Hopefully this thief is not as sophisticated as to be some Ragnos Cultist or something…” Rodas, wisely said.
“Yes, True… I think the Meltdown Cafe would be a popular place with the bounty hunters. It is also located in the Corellian sector.” Kazarelth said.
"Mister Pola, land us near the Corellian Sector." Kazarelth ordered.
The Corra set down upon a high rise in the trendy 'hotspot' of Nar Shaddaa. The Nal Hutta could be seen in the sky, pinkish. The two Dark Jedi made their way to the Cafe.
"This should be full of juicy information...” Kazarelth said.
“Hopefully...” Rodas mumbled, as they set their foot inside the Meltdown cafe.
Upon arrival at the cafe, the two Dark Jedi were eyed strangely by the establishment’s proprietor, as well as by the patrons. This, Rodas thought, was unusual as every kind of creature and every kind of scum was already being serviced here, not to mention the different varieties of creature and scum being "served" to the patrons. The Dark Jedi made their way to the bar. "We'll have whatever's on tap barkeep." Rodas said removing his hood and sitting upon one of the bar stools. Rodas could see that the proprietor obviously took offense at being referred to as “barkeep”, but Rodas made no apologies for the casual insult, and the proprietor simply brought the two strangers the drinks. “I’m assuming you are both old enough for these beverages...” the proprietor said, referring more to Kazarelth. “Yes barkeep, we are both old enough” Rodas stated, employing a bit of the Jedi Mind Trick to convince the proprietor of the minor falsehood. The proprietor set the drinks on the bar in front of the strangers and said, “I’ve never seen either of you before. You must be new here.”
“You might say that barkeep. We were visiting some friends of ours who recently moved to this planet. Our stay with them has concluded, but our transport has been delayed, and we thought we’d take the opportunity to sample some local cuisine and entertainment.”
“Naturally...” was all that the proprietor said in reply, and the strangers finished their drinks. “Well, what do you think?” Rodas asked Kazarelth.
Kazarelth had been deep in thought while drinking the ale. Rodas had not noticed as he was conversing with the proprietor. A rather interesting looking cat-like Farghul had entered the establishment, wearing what appeared to be a blood red cloak hiding everything but a distinct feminine feature and her lower face. A soft tawny brown fur covered it, but instead of the spots common to the Farghul species, there was a distinctly... off pattern. Was it brown, or a deep red..? It couldn't be discerned. In fact, it seemed to change upon a second glance. Very peculiar for a Farghul, indeed. Upon her arrival, she lowered her hood, and the shadow that had covered her eyes was gone. What stared out was a reflective green, but also deep blue color. It was almost rippled in distinctly varying shades and pattern, a stone cast from the iris. Pausing, she casually surveyed the crowd then went directly to a specific table in the cafe. Rodas finally turned his head away from the bar and looked in the direction of the newcomer. “I sense something” Kazarelth said, “a ... tremor in the force I think.” Being the somewhat joking sort, Rodas knew what he wanted to say in reply to the young Omwati’s comment of a tremor in the force while looking at a cat-like female. However, being rather keen in the force, Rodas kept his mouth shut. “I think she may be force sensitive” Kazarelth said.
“Possibly working against us” Rodas half stated and half asked.
“I am not sure” said Kazarelth. “She’d be worth talking to though.”
Rodas set down his glass. “I think that’s a wonderful idea Kazarelth. Why don’t you question the Farghul while I go on with the ...barkeep here and make discrete inquiries in the crowd?” Kazarelth didn’t seem too sure about the idea, but he went along with it and walked up to the Farghul.
“The place is a bit crowded. Would you mind if I sat here?” Kazarelth politely asked, pointing to the chair directly in front of the Cat-creature. “I’m waiting for someone” was all she said in reply, a slight lilt to her distinctly lower, but pleasing voice. “Well... good, then I can just keep this seat warm for him... a... her...him”... Kazarelth was not sure but he just let it go. “Whatever” he said as he sat down. The Fargul didn’t protest. She just sat almost motionless, observing the crowd, her peculiar eyes somehow having a soft glow in the dark corner. And of course observing the stranger sitting in front of her. After a little while of observing each other, Kazarelth finally spoke. “You are a very interesting individual...”
The Fargul fixed him with an intense glare Kazarelth couldn’t tell was either irritation or satisfaction with his assessment. “I just meant that I’ve never met someone from your planet. What’s your name?”
The Fargul thought the question over. “My name is Katarzyna” she said.
“I’m Kazarelth” the Omwati said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Kazarelth recognized the name from somewhere, but ...where. Katarzyna began to recognize the Omwati as well. She was unsure of how to proceed. She could not be to expressive of her true purpose for being in the cafe, and was not sure if even mentioning her name was the proper course, but she already had and thus decided to proceed on the subject anyway. “You look kind of familiar” she said. “Would you be from the Brotherhood?”
Now Kazarelth did recognize her. She was a member of House Gladius, of Tarentum. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.” Kazarelth said. “What are you doing here?”
“I was originally assigned to one of the teams investigating the theft of... an important book and.... I got lost.” This was not the whole story of course, and certainly not all true either, but Katarzyna had to keep a low profile.
“That’s the same mission I’m on” Kazarelth said in amazement. He wanted to ask more questions, but at that point another man came up behind Kazarelth, ending his conversation with Katarzyna. “The Talon’s ready miss. I’m prepared to leave at anytime. But I’d suggest we get going soon as the authorities will be onto me in a matter of minutes” the newcomer said.
“Captain Kas, long time no see. I’d thought you’d gone down with the ship. Then again, I hear, the Talon is still alive, isn’t she? And I see you are still up to your old tricks.” Rodas had cut in, coming up from behind the newcomer whose name was Kaspar. “I’d thank you to keep out of this Phil” Captain Kaspar said, recognizing Rodas right away and none too happily either. “Why certainly Kas, I shall leave you alone. But the lady, and the Omwati are in my care my good sir, and I have no intention of letting them leave this planet with you. And by the way Kas, my name’s Rodas now.”
“Who is he?” Katarzyna asked Kazarelth, referring to Rodas.
“He’s Protector Rodas. He’s in command of this particular mission on this planet.” Then turning to address Rodas, “Now hold on here” Kazarelth said “Rodas, if this is a pirate captain, he may have information we need...not to mention that so may the Farghul.” Rodas considered this for a moment, and then pulled up a chair next to Kazarelth. “Sit down Captain. We have some things to discuss.”
Kaspar looked at his former crew member coldly. He had not forgotten a little ‘incident’ which had happened formerly in the old days when Rodas was his crew member and a pirate. The Talon had gone down fighting the Republic, because Kaspar had tried to kamikaze his ship into an Imperial Star Destroyer, and Rodas had averted it trying to save the crew.
Kazarelth felt the intensity at which Rodas looked at Kaspar.
He used his presence to force Kaspar to look at his cold, teal eyes, thereby averting a confrontation.
“So, Captain, we have something to discuss, as Rodas had already told you. Do you know of any Cruisers landing in this area?” Kazarelth asked, his eyes still focused on the old Captain.
Kaspar was, as Kazarelth got to know from Rodas, an unflinching and unrelenting man, ready to take all sorts of risks.
“Not that I know of…” he said gruffly.
Kazarelth and Rodas looked at each other, easily sensing the lie. The Farghul had winced a little when Kaspar pronounced the lie.
“Let me make it clear Kas, I am a Dark Jedi now, and so is my friend Kazarelth, and so… is the Farghul.” Rodas stated, “And so, we know that the last sentence you said was a complete lie.”
“Oh! A Dark Jedi? I am scared! Where is your laser sword oh great Dark Jedi sir?” Kaspar jeered.
Kazarelth looked at the Protector. ‘Now what?.’
“Oh, I get it now… you were thrown out of the institution because you are still a big coward, just like you were, the day we battled and I lost my moment of glory due to you…COWARD” Kaspar shouted out the last word, such that it could be heard above the din of the bar.
The Stennes Shifter halted for a moment, and then intensely looked at his former Captain and touched his leg.
Kaspar’s leg shot up in pain.
‘The Weak Point.’
The people in the bar turned around to see the human getting tortured by Rodas, who was but using his knowledge of the Force. They could only see a finger touching the human, but Kazarelth could sense the tendrils of the Force wrapping itself upon the victim’s legs, causing excruciating pain.
“Rodas… not here…” Kazarelth hissed. A murmur was rising in the bar. “Lets take him to his ship. Katarzyna, help us.” Kazarelth told the Farghul and Rodas, who looked a little ashen.
“I am sorry” Rodas said, to no one in particular, “I overshot my bounds. I made a mess of things here…”
“It’s alright. I would’ve lost my calm the moment I met an old friend who hates me now because of something I did to save his skin. You handled the situation admirably. Now let’s get out of here. We have the information we need…” Kazarelth said, as Katarzyna picked up the unconscious Kaspar. That in itself was a sight enough for the people in the bar to open up a gap, allowing the strangers back outside.
“Where would we be heading?” Katarzyna asked Kazarelth tentatively.
“Rodas?” Kazarelth asked.
“The Talon. Its been a long time since I saw my old ship.” Rodas sighed.
“She is old, but she is a killer vessel…” Katarzyna said, a distinctive pleasure in her voice.
They stepped out of the establishment, and far across to the ships.
The skyline provided an impressive background for the Talon...
Windos knew he would seem out of place inside the club. For the aging human, now in his 70s, this would be well out of his comfort zone. At the suggestion of his Aedile, the warrior had left his robes behind in favour of formal trousers and tunic. Dranik glanced at the commander, who was tugging at his collar, as they rounded the final turn in the velvet ropes which routed patrons to the main entrance.
Four large humans stopped the duo at the set of large double leafed doors which marked the entrance to the illustrious club. “Name?” Asked the first bouncer, eyeing a data pad.
“Helkin,” replied Windos without hesitation, almost expecting his position within the Brotherhood to automatically extend to the outside world.
“And him?” The man said glancing towards Dranik, who simply stared in return. “Okay,” he said as he removed the rope that blocked the doorway and ushered them inside.
The Talon was an old heavy cargo freighter outfitted with the weaponry common to a gunship. She looked exactly as she had when last Rodas had boarded her, save for what seemed to be a larger, newer shield generator mounted to the top of the hull, which Rodas recognized as the generator he had ordered for the Talon just before his final pirate raid, back when he still functioned as Kaspar’s pirate outfit’s financial advisor. The shield generator had not arrived on time. If it had, the ship would not have gone down. The four of them entered the freighter, and Katarzyna carried the paralyzed Captain Kaspar into what Rodas had pointed out was the Talon’s medical ward. The two Dark Jedi took a few moments to converse before moving on. “We need to get off this planet.” Rodas said, his voice betraying every bit of the tired aggravation he felt. “What are we going to do with our passengers?” the Omwati asked, trying to remind the ill-tempered Rodas of the tasks at hand. The two of them took up seats in the cockpit as they continued talking. “I’ll interrogate the captain; you go and talk to the Farghul again. But first we need to take off.” Kaspar had already powered up the Talon’s systems before entering the cafe, so Rodas found no difficulty in simply activating the thrusters and pushing off of the planet. The Talon was now in orbit. “The Talon was the best outfitted pirate ship of her day...probably still is if I know her captain. I can use the ship’s systems to set up electronic interference so no one will be able to detect us even if we stay in orbit.” Rodas said, punching in the correct commands to the Talon’s computer. “We’ll be safe for quite some time like this.” There was a tense pause between them before Kazarelth broke the silence. “I don’t think you should interrogate Kaspar.” Kazarelth said matter-of-factly. Rodas eased back in the pilot’s seat. “I’ve known him a very long time. I can get what we need out of him.” But Kazarelth didn’t let the matter go at that.
“You’re past dealings with him is exactly why I should conduct his interrogation. You’d be too partial, too harsh. Talk to the Farghul; you’re the one who thinks she’s lying, and you’re better at seeing through that kind of deception then I. But I don’t think you could question Kaspar and keep a cool head. So let me do it.” Rodas didn’t like being questioned, didn’t like having to set aside his pride, but he knew that Kazarelth was right. He would lose control if he talked to Kaspar. “Fine” he said, pushing away from the pilot consol and standing up. There was another tense pause before he spoke again. “Let’s get to it then shall we...” Rodas said, leaving the cockpit and heading for the room directly across from the medical ward.
Kazarelth understood Rodas’ dilemma, but he was beginning to grow irritated with his CO’s lack of self discipline in these trying times. After all, they had a mission to complete, and a hot temper could be detrimental to success. He stepped into the medical ward where Katarzyna was keeping watch over the unconscious Kaspar. “Katarzyna...” he began....
“Call me Kat.”
“Kat...” it was a nice name. “Rodas wants to speak with you. He’s waiting in the room across from this one.” Katarzyna got up and left the medical ward, taking a moment to glance back at the two men, wondering what they were going to be up to after she’d left. She was a little uneasy about the whole situation. Something just...didn’t feel right. After she was gone, Kazarelth closed the door and walked over to the bed Kaspar was lying on. Kazarelth summoned up the force energy within him and roused the sleeping captain. “What...what...where am I?” Kaspar asked uneasily, waking with a bit of a start.
“We’re aboard your ship Captain, in orbit around Nar Shaddaa.”
“Nar Shad...? What? Who’s we?”
“You, me, Katarzyna, Rodas...”
“Rodas?!” Kaspar was starting to get to his feet in a rage. “He’s trying to take over my ship! I won’t let him!”
“Sit down!” Kazarelth spoke very strongly as he pushed the captain back onto the bed. “We have not taken over your ship Captain. We have a mission to complete. We’re simply...using your ship for the time being until that mission is over. Once that’s done, you can go about your business and no harm done. But for the present, we need information.” Kazarelth paused, and then spoke again, measuring his tone. “And you, Captain, are going to supply that information.”
Katarzyna stepped into the room with Rodas. She felt very uneasy, but she was strong in the force and hid her unease well. She faced him with all confidence. “Sit down miss...Katarzyna. Let’s talk.” She didn’t sit but instead continued to defy him. “I only want some information. You are after all, a member of the same Brotherhood, the same clan, the same house as I am. I’m not here to harm you. We’re just looking for a certain item, a book. It was stolen by members of the Krath. Now what do you know about it?”
The metallic click of nails against the ship floor was a wonderful sound... How those other species could possibly wear boots, or any restrictive covering at all for that matter, was beyond all comprehensible thought. I, Katarzyna, a Farghul of the planet Farrfin, liked to feel the very dirt and very smooth tile both the scum and the praised of the planet walked on. I flexed my feet reflexively, appreciating my freedom. But freedom from physical restraint was not the same as mental restraint. Those two Jedi's, chattering away like a pair of adolescent girls.. How could I have not sensed them when I approached the establishment? I have become too soft in my time spent in safety training with the Brotherhood, that is the only conclusion. They make you believe you are becoming more keen, learning the ways of the force. And indeed one is, but compared to my life of constant watchfulness and observation, it did not prepare oneself for protection in the real world, being in the safety of school where, as long as orders were followed, you did not attract trouble. But mine was a stupid mistake. Being in their presence, I could feel the waves of the force in and around them, caressing everything they are. Almost too strong. That in itself was a scary sensation... Could they also feel that I can sense and use this power?... Yes, they do, or they would not give me the opinion that I needed to follow them. Earlier I had shifted the dull weight of the captain hung over my shoulder and momentarily lost the little hold on the tendril of force allowing me to carry him. Strong as I am, that man had to lay off of the proverbial inter-stellar sweets. When I stumbled before taking hold again, I had to make sure those two mysterious beings hadn't seen. Particularly that shifter, what was his name? ..He was a peculiar type, didn't trust me, that much was obvious... But, it didn't seem like they had noticed my momentary change in stride, which was good. The last thing I needed them to see is that I'm not as strong in my knowledge of the force as I appear. Weakness is not an option. But, shaking these thoughts from my mind for the time being, I glanced around the actual ship from the medical ward where they had dropped me off to "watch" the captain. I had dropped him, allowing his appendages to scatter where they may.. In a none too comforting-looking position apparently, I thought, glancing down.
The inside was more worn than the outside appeared, but far from a lower class cruiser. Traveling as much as I have in the past, stowing away upon ships from every sector of the galaxy, I'd seen my fair share of ... let's just say detestable filth that tends to accumulate in the vacuum of space. However, kicking aside an object I didn't want to know how long it had been sitting, it was obvious this holding had been in men's standard care. I laughed internally. At that point, the younger Jedi walked in... I immediately wiped my mind clear, putting up my tell-tale barrier I've used since I was old enough to envision one. The less they know, especially regarding my real reasons of being here, the better.
“Katarzyna...” he began....
“Call me Kat," I responded immediately, using my nickname, knowing that it tends to lower one's defenses.
“Kat... Rodas wants to speak with you. He’s waiting in the room across from this one." I quickly got up and walked out the door, glancing back at the Jedi standing above the captain's form.
Entering the room containing... Rodas, that was his name, I immediatly felt uneasy. He can read too much, I didn't like it. Would I even be able to lie?
“Sit down miss...Katarzyna," he said, "Let's talk." Miss. He called me miss. My fur bristled, but I was sure not to show my irritation fully. I contingued to stand, staring at him, unblinkingly defiant. “I only want some information. You are, after all, a member of the same Brotherhood, the same clan, the same house as I am. I’m not here to harm you. We’re just looking for a certain item, a book. It was stolen by members of the Krath. Now what do you know about it?” I continued to stare.
"Very well, but please note that though we do not have all the time in the world, you may make yourself at home, as I doubt you'll leave this vessel anytime soon, whether or not there is still an open entrance.” He turned to face me, showing who it was who was in charge here. And what did he mean, “whether or not there is still an open entrance?” He knows damn well I wouldn't leave, that would just make me appear guilty of someth-... oh. That's why. He knows I know. Dammit, why did I always need to get thrown into the hands of people like them. My paws clenched reflexively at the internal outburst.
At the “them”, I felt my shell crack... The waves of pent-in use of power was rushing forth, the force that was stored within for so long, that which I held to myself with the utmost protection, wanting out of its prison. No, I could not allow it to happen! I clutched at it desperately, closing the gates, barely managing to take control again... But too late. Though I managed to gain control, I noticed when I opened my eyes, that, though I did nothing more than blink physically, the Jedi caught the temporary internal loss of the control. He stood, staring at me, caught in the resonating pulse that reverberated loudly for those who could read it. And that, I thought to myself, is why curiosity almost always kills that damn cat...
It was a cold night. The wilderness sang a tense lullaby that seemed to call his name, beckoning him to lose consciousness and join the darkness of the wild. He still lay inside his escape pod, in the same uncomfortable position, unable to move. He could feel a warm panic simmering inside him. He occasionally let forth a huff or a sigh expressing his pain and fear, but otherwise tried to maintain control. The night was black, and his body’s wounds sent his mind into a haze, but the stars were still clearly seen. His body felt crushed, and he had managed to dowse most of the pain using his well trained intellect, but the sadness of the mental image of his own body crushed, possibly beyond repair gnawed at his confidence, making him doubtful of rescue and dubious as to his future ambitions if he should survive. He let out a cry; a single sob that was all he would allow his sick heart to utter. And then he closed his eyes and waited cold seconds.
He had been aware of the leak from the thrusters, but he had not considered the danger it posed, the liquid fuel so close to a frayed electrical wire, which was still running a current. Those cold seconds were but seconds, and a spark from the downed electrical connection ignited the leaked fuel. In the new warmth of the escape pod, he opened his eyes. The shock of what he knew was about to happen was too much to bear, and he let out a night piercing shriek as the pod became engulfed in flames. Although he was able to keep his head away from the fire, owing to some of the elements around his head which threw off fire retardant particles into the air, the fire was wild enough to defeat such particles for most of the escape pod, and the parts of his body not pinned under the fallen control consol suffered for it. His right arm was fully soaked in the blaze, the skin curdling, then blackening, then pealing before his eyes. I’m gonna lose that arm he thought with a tangibly gagging sadness. He began to cry, but the smoke dried and burned his eyes so that tears were past possibility, and in the absence of tears, he howled in a rage of physical agony and sorrow. And then...
...he woke up. His breath was heavy and shook the bed as he found himself in a sitting position, cold beads of sweat bringing him an eerie chill. “It was just a dream” he was surprised his thought had been audible, his voice a frightened hiss as he looked around his cabin aboard the Talon and also found that his body was intact and not on fire. Intact, save for the metallic thing that he held up in front of his face when he raised his right arm to examine it. And the other thing attached to his right knee in place of the rest of his leg and foot. And he remembered the skin grafts that replaced parts of his face as the fire had consumed some of that too after he’d lost consciousness...not to mention his shattered rib cage being supplemented with...
That’s where he stopped. He didn’t want to think about this anymore. He got up and went to the sink in his cabin to splash his face. The water was cold, refreshing, but not reviving. He still grieved his ruined youth. He was after all only in his mid twenties now and only twenty when he burned alive. Enough! He now looked back on his last few years. He’d searched for his biological parents, only to find their reasons for abandoning him unsatisfactory. But they were dead and buried, buried to deep to be forgiven. But he had taken their name, Rodas, in defiance of the pain of his abandonment. “We are what our memories make us” he thought aloud.
“What is it Rodas?” Rodas turned in surprise at the sound of another voice intruding upon his reverie. He had awoken Kazarelth. “It is nothing. I’m gonna take a walk...go back to sleep.” Rodas left the cabin and walked down the hall and into the main cargo hold, which stored most of the contraband liquors and other...things. He poured himself a glass of Jamagjan whisky and spent his mind on his dream. If it had not been for Kaspar’s wild risks, none of it would have happened. But Rodas had signed on willingly to Kaspar’s pirate outfit, wanting to bring his family back to safe financial standing. It was for money...all of it...was for MONEY!!! Rodas cringed and barely contained a sob. The flashback had sickened him so. He sipped his whisky, relishing the burn of his esophagus. The burn...so like the fire... The glass shattered in his hand. He felt no pain. His hand would not be harmed, being metal, bionic, artificial. His dark emotions coalesced into a massive power, and he directed it to tapping into the minds of his crew telepathically as they slept. He found the location of the missing book, saw it in the mind of Katarzyna; he saw everything... he was losing control, but he would complete the mission. With his eyes closed, he paced over into the cockpit. Tapping into the force, Rodas guided the Talon back into the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa, directing her course to a temple on the abandoned Sith academy’s campus. This is where the bible was hidden. “What the hell is going on” Kazarelth demanded from behind Rodas. Apparently he had not gone back to sleep. “There it is, see it. Right there in the clear...the temple, that’s were the bible is. Kazarelth, land us in the closest clearing you can find around this temple.” Rodas ran back out the cockpit. Everybody was awake now and confused. Rodas dashed into the cabin he’d been sleeping in and found his disruptor. Hooking the disrupter to his belt, strapping a Sith Sword to his back, and drawing on his cloak, Rodas left the cabin and prepared to exit the ship.
The Talon landed, and now everyone was questioning Rodas from all sides. He pressed the release control on the hatch of the ship and ran outside. Again, it was another cold night. Rodas’ anger and hatred was boiling to the surface now as the rest of the crew stormed out of the ship and gathered round him. “Again, I ask you, what the hell is going on?” Kazarelth was obviously losing faith in Rodas by this point. The stares of the three of them were irritating, but manageable. “This is where the bible is hidden.” Rodas said, and then turning to Katarzyna, “isn’t it?” Katarzyna nodded the affirmative, silently accepting defeat. “Go back to the ship and arm yourselves” Rodas ordered. “There is still life here, and I doubt that whoever is guarding our bible will let us take it back without a fight.” The three headed back to the ship for their weapons.
“Not you Kas.” Kaspar stopped dead in his tracks at the evil twinge he felt at the sound of Rodas’ vengeful voice. Kaspar turned to face his former partner in crime to find he was also facing the barrel of a disrupter pointed at his head, the aim of Rodas’ glinting metallic arm clean and unwavering, his mechanical finger making a heart sinking clicking sound as it wrapped itself around the trigger. The acid itself in Kaspar’s stomach froze. When Rodas was but a much younger man, eager to experience the galaxy, he would never have even touched a gun. Now he had his heart, if he still had one, set upon murdering his once best friend in cold blood, and Kaspar was terrified at the sight. “Is this what you really want?” Kaspar asked, trying to hide the tremor in his voice. “You can’t kill me now...you were right...whoever’s out there won’t let us have this...bible you want without a fight. You’ll need an escape...so you need me.” Kaspar sounded as if he was pleading for his life, very uncharacteristic of the man Rodas once knew. Although, men change, Rodas had, and now Rodas was sensing such a change in Kaspar. He really wasn’t the same man. Could Rodas really justify in his heart the killing of this new man, this mellower, kinder hearted man? Could he rest with his conscience afterward? He refused to carry on those thoughts. “Kazarelth is a very good pilot Kas. I would trust him with my life. But you...damnit Kas don’t even get me started.” Before Kaspar could get out a defense to Rodas’ words, his head exploded owing to the bolt from Rodas’ disrupter. Kazarelth and Katarzyna came storming down the ramp of the Talon bearing their weapons for battle and awed expressions on their faces. But there was no time for Rodas to try to justify his action now. He’d acted in the best interests of himself. What more could a loyal Dark Jedi ask of his commander? Now Rodas could go on with his mission unperturbed by Kaspar’s living negative influence, and he’d gained power within himself by acting by the strength of the dark side. His best interests were his crew’s best interests. “Come on,” Rodas said. “We have a bible to catch.”
The crew got moving. While in the pursuit, Katarzyna kept cursing herself inwardly for letting this information slip.
How was this information given without her knowledge? He found out somehow... But how? Where was the mistake? I played back the interrogation inside my mind... He had asked what my part in this was, what was my reply..? Oh yes, that’s right, I played the “know-it-all” game. Answer a question with a question. Now how did that conversation go..? After my... *sigh* Loss of control, he pretended not to know what had gone on, but I could tell from his eyes this was going to be a question to be brought up again. That was far from being over, not in one second’s time. So he had repeated, but this time with a hell of lot more emphasis what my part in this was to play. I did not answer fully, I questioned back, something I know to be frustrating, but useful in evasive maneuvers. “Why do you think I would have any information pertinent to your mission, Sir? Would I have anything to hide from you, my captors?” I had vehemently spat, throwing my anger to the winds, having control of my more wayward side. He had simply responded “yes” with no change of emotion, a simple cock of the eyebrow and a tilt of the head. This had thrown me aback... What did he mean, what... did he know already? Did.. I have anything to hide, really? He is.. part of my clan, a brother in fact, though of no blood relation, which was good, since if he was I would have beheaded him on the spot... But family issues aside, I had paused too quickly... “I...” I had started, and turned to the side. No, dammit! That was the wrong thing to do, showing my fighting conscious! I turned back to face him.. too quickly... Ah [Expletive Deleted]. I’m screwed. I stared into overly-knowing eyes, a little mirth coming through from my discrepancy. “..If I may sir,” glancing downward, “I may just have information for you, but... I must decide what is most important... Your mission or my own...” I lifted my lash-hidden eyes in what I hoped was a look of humbleness. A flit of caution came over his face, followed of course by suspicion, and finally... Acceptance. His eyes darted to mine, and held their gaze. I knew he was trying to read me, but I held my barrier wrapped around my mind though I knew, if he wanted to, that could not hold him back from tapping into it anyways - which would cause me excruciating pain, unlike most Jedi’s of my natural skill. “Very well” was the only response I had received. He then turned his back to me, showing my dismissal in the rudest of ways. I had backed out graciously, glad of leaving this... I don’t know what he is, but it disturbs me. But I had, at the time, respected him enough to want to tell the truth.
Coming back to the present, out of my reminiscence, I thought to where we were now. He had just killed a man, for apparently no reason that I could tell, though his energy levels were off the charts. Holding my katana, the only weapon I ever had on my presence, I followed what were to be considered my brethren, doubting them as I had never had before this moment. I watched the shifter’s back, haggard in its intensity. How did he come across the information? I had not let it slip, not once. How...? But it was no use, it would not come to me. My only concern was did he know it was Bane whom sent me as a distraction, the actual headquarters of his beloved Brotherhood. Did he know how far the corruption spread, the plots taking place? This and more chased circles in my ever increasingly complicated mind...
Dranik followed Windos into the Amicus Club and looked around. Not in his life did Dranik ever imagine that he would end up here. He knew the club's reputation well enough to know that it wasn’t a place that even he, a Dark Jedi, wanted to be for a long period of time. Dranik leaned over to Windos and spoke just loud enough for his Battleteam Leader to hear. “If you find Master Caerick then contact me with this..” Dranik said as he slipped a small communicator device into Windos’ hand and slipped off into the crowed of people.
Dranik walked through the smoke and people, ignoring most of them as he went. His eyes were ever watchful as he quickly found his ability to sense things through the force was completely blocked within the club. The assortment of people around him worried the Prelate greatly. For a club owned by Oberst and Trevarus it came to a surprise to Dranik that there were not a lot of Robes worn. In fact most of the people appeared to be business men or the other wealthy of Antei. Dranik quickly made his way to the bar and found out why it appeared to be the wealthy, the prices of the place were insane though he knew in the back of his mind that, for the services that this club offered, the prices were about right.
“I want out of here…” Dranik said quietly as he gave a curt nod to the only other person in the building he had recognized- Muz. Dranik walked towards the steps leading to the upper levels, knowing that the Herald was here for the same reason he was. Dranik let a smile form on his lips as he noticed Master Caerick appearing from the steps and quickly the Prelate approached him and bowed as he spoke “Master Caerick, may I please request a private audience with your. It is concerning something of great value to our Headmaster.”
Trevarus looked at the Prelate for a long moment and then nodded before he took him up to the offices. Upon reaching the offices Trevarus walked over to the bar and looked back to Dranik asking, “Would you like a glass of wine?” Dranik shook his head no “No sir”. Trevarus nodded as he poored himself a glass of wine and sat it on his desk, completely ignoreing the half dressed woman on the couch that Dranik had caught himself watching for a moment before focusing himself to pay attention to the matter at hand. Trevarus took a seat at his desk and motioned for the Prelate to take a seat. Dranik politely refused the seat and laid a datapad down upon the desk. “As you well know by now, Master Caerick, a very rare and extremely valuable book was stolen from the Restricted Vault of the Dark Vault on Lyspair.” Trevarus simply nodded at this statement and picked up the datapad and started to read through it as Dranik continued. “This –bible- is very important to the Headmaster actually, for reasons that are beyond my knowledge. If you have any informa….” Trevarus spoke up suddenly, cutting Dranik off in mid word. “Information on the book or why it was stolen? I don’t know, nor care, why it was stolen. However, I will say that once you find all of the parts to it, I would request to see them.” Trevarus stated abruptly, in a somewhat commanding tone of voice that took Dranik back slightly.
Dranik looked puzzled for a moment and asked “All of the parts?” Trevarus nodded slightly “Yes, the Bible of Chaos, was divided into many parts long ago by both Sides of the Force. Both sides deemed the book too dangerous for any one person to posses.” Trevarus reached to the glass of wine that he has sat on his desk and smelled its flavor and then took a slow sip of it, much like one who was a wine taster would. He then looked back up to Dranik and stated with a very amused, knowing grin said “You know, its rude not to take a seat when it is offered.” Trevarus stated before continuing, with that same grin. “I know that one part of the book rested, sometime ago, at a temple on Nar Shaddaa. However, the fragments of the book are extremely well guarded by ancient force techniques. Those inexperienced in the ways of the Force tried to recover the book, it could result in very disastrous consequences.” Dranik frowned slightly and nodded as he listened. “Also, if you can find another fragment of the book, it is said that they have a map, that through the force, is coded map that will show current locations of each fragment. If you can decipher it, that is. However….for a price, I would be willing to do so.” Trevarus said and passed Dranik a single pass to allow him back access to the offices at a later time, should he decide to take that offer.
Dranik bowed once more before Trevarus before departing the offices and grabbed Windos by the shoulder. “We have to go…NOW.” Dranik stated as they left the club and jumped into the speeder. “Mister Pola…get us to the Corra and then to Nar Shaddaa as quickly as possible…Rodas and Kazarelth are in grave danger.” Dranik reached down into his pocket and felt the pass, he knew he wouldn’t like the price but knew in the back of his mind that he would most likely have to pay it to recover that book.
Kazarelth had gone back to arm himself just as his Protector had asked him to. He was very unsure of what Rodas was doing. His own anger seemed to be boiling out of control. Normal Omwat are very passive. But he was anything but normal. He had almost always sensed the fact that she was hiding information from him, but had let it go, as even he used to block his mind as a self defense mechanism.
He was angry at the fact that Rodas was losing his self-control more often, leading the mission astray, he wasn’t used to this. He was used to himself losing his calm, and Rodas calming him. He usually looked at a Shifter who was exceptionally calm and confident
‘ Its normal… I would have done that myself…’
He went to the arms cabin, on the pretext of arming himself. The Farghul was there. He looked at her eyes. The first time a pair of eyes had ever challenged his own. He shifted his attention to the armaments.
‘ This is a pile of junk…’
He sighed, and took out his own personal armaments, a small gun: the smaller brother of the DXR-6. His own make. And two Vibroshivs, the pair he had named Entropy and Chaos. He checked the cabin for some extra batteries which were compatible with his weapons.
But, his mind was on the Farghul. She seemed to be… distant. Nowhere near the same kinship that he felt with Rodas. She was new, yes, but she had distanced herself…considerably.
Then again, being the youngest member of the team, one of the youngest in the brotherhood, Kazarelth was unsure of how to handle her.
Yet he felt left-out, as in the Brotherhood itself. It seemed that the older members knew something he didn’t.
But there was a strange disturbance in the Force. Being born Force-sensitive, this was instinctive. He looked towards the ground, where Rodas was, as if he could see through the walls. He looked at Katarzyna. She wasn’t disturbed at all. She was calmly checking her sword, a Katana. It was original Farghul make. Lithe, sleek and strong. He admired the way the strong Farghul put her finger along the weapon checking its sharpness. She seemed unaware that the younger Dark Jedi was looking at her.
“What is this bible?” Kazarelth asked, slowly.
“Why didn’t you ask our BT commander?” she replied, a hint of a smile in her face.
“He didn’t know. He just knew that it was an important book and the Brotherhood would want to reveal its true treasure…” Kazarelth sighed, “… or so he told us.”
“I know as much. Kaspar told me that it was an important little book, which will make me respected in the Brotherho…” Katarzyna overshot herself. She bit her lip and went back to recheck her weapon.
‘How did he know about the Brotherhood? And the book?’
Katarzyna had lost control.
Kazarelth went up to her. She turned, her fur bristling across instinctively, readying her for a fight. He looked at her. This was a battle of wills. His eyes against hers. She could feel the cloth of the Force covering him completely, and he could see her feline muscles complementing her Force sheath.
But, Kazarelth’s concentration wavered. He dashed out towards the ground where Rodas was… with Kaspar. A second later Katarzyna realized, and she ran after the Omwat.
The DXR-6’s barrel was smoking, so was a perfectly circular spot just above a disrupted remain of what was Captain Kaspar.
Kazarelth looked at Rodas. It was a disturbing sight to see his CO acting impulsively. But then, he realized. The Dark Side. His faith returned, though a little shakily.
“Come on,” Rodas said, “we have a bible to catch.”
“I think it will be better if we inform Commander Windos of our position here.” Kazarelth said, looking at the burnt spot.
“We have it within our grasp! Why would anyone--” Rodas stopped. Kazarelth was looking at him, slowly.
Rodas opened his mouth, but stopped. The brimming emotions needed tending. He could feel that Kazarelth was unused to this, and was weak too.
“I am sorry… I have been tensed for too long. I am sorry Kazarelth…” Rodas said, the pain was gradually easing… all those years. The thought of his wasted years and his physical troubles impeding his gifted talents, was too much.
He looked at the place where Kaspar had been standing. Kazarelth squeezed his shoulder and left for the Comm. Cabin. Rodas felt a little warmth at the place where the Acolyte had touched him.
He closed his eyes.
Kazarelth opened the Comm. Console. But, no signal was going out. Maybe the temple here was enveloped by a communication barrier. He tried again and again. Frustrated, he let out a sharp breath full of anger.
‘Calm yourself down… this is not the place nor the time to let out the anger…’
At that moment he felt a tingle. He rushed out to the ground. Rodas was on his feet. So was Katarzyna, her Bowcaster ready. They had felt the arrival too.
It was a distant flicker at first. But the four Assassins were now out for revenge. They were blind in their rage, at the defilers who had come to the hallowed ground of their academy, out to take back the book that they were solely the guardians of.
Kazarelth immediately saw the uniforms they wore, and the weapons, and whipped out his databank, hurriedly checking if his hunch was good.
Rodas was looking at the attackers through the scope of his disruptor rifle. But, as soon as he took a shot, the target mysteriously vanished. He looked up, amazed.
“Kazarelth, leave that down and be ready for a fight. They are using a type of invisibility that I know only the higher members of the Brotherhood possess… Kat, I want you to use all the possible senses you have and debilitate them… this is not going to be easy. Kazarelth, have you contacted our Commander?” Rodas asked, slowly removing his sword from its sheath.
Kazarelth slowly placed the databank down. “No, this place is covered with a barrier. But, we won’t go down without a fight…” he said, his Vibroshivs humming into life.
Katarzyna steeled herself for the fight. Her feline senses mixed with the Force searching for a hint of movement.
Kazarelth had been hit first. The blow came out of the blue, straight to his stomach, and he was flung back at the ship, his robes flying. The assassins seemed to know that it would be easier if the youngest and the weakest of the lot was killed first. They also realized that cloaking was not necessary when battling.
The clash of Rodas’ sword against the Assassin’s pike was more of a low rumble. Katarzyna was using her paws to the fullest extent, the deadly claws getting her out of a tight situation more than once. Kazarelth was bleeding. He was getting beaten and could not focus properly. The Force that the three Dark Jedi knew was not of much use with the trained assassins.
Rodas could see that the Acolyte was getting beaten. As he reached toward Kazarelth in the battle, he could see the Omwat receiving a huge blow from the metallic gauntlet of a strong assassin. He fell down, and his victor picked him easily and dashed off.
“DAMNIT! NO!” Rodas screamed, as he was about to run. Katarzyna also saw this and pounced upon the nearby assassin, in a bid to go after Kazarelth’s captor. But, she was knocked off, seemingly by an unknown hand, and she fell down unconscious. Rodas had also been hit by a forceful hand, and he came crashing down, spent.
When the two Dark Jedi awoke, all they could see was bruises and cuts all over them. As Rodas got to his feet, wearily, a huge din sounded. A large Assassin class cruiser was taking off from some distance. In the middle of the temple.
“Damn!” Rodas spat.
The assassins had captured Kazarelth. The remaining two Dark Jedi got up slowly. “What now?” Katarzyna’s voice sounded tired and flat. Rodas knew she team was fatigued, though she seemed to be quickly snapping back to alertness with the aid of the force. Rodas too felt the force flowing through him even clearer now then before when he’d used it to take the final piece of information about the bible’s whereabouts from Katarzyna’s mind and guided the ship here. And that too was interesting. He’d picked up tendrils of this information during the interrogation. It had been as if Katarzyna really did want to divulge the information, but refused to say it. Her momentary loss of mental control alas had given Rodas all the answers he’d needed. He simply didn’t understand them until the hellish flashback had stimulated his dark side and allowed him to validate his answers telepathically; the tension of the interrogation mixed with her fight to conceal the information had caused Katarzyna to dream about the bible’s location. It was this location, the dark temple image that Rodas had seen in her mind as she slept. Intriguing.
Rodas shook off his reverie. This was no time to be caught up in one’s own memory. “Let’s get back to the ship. The two of us alone are not going to be able to infiltrate that temple.” The two of them got into the ship, leaving Kaspar’s body on the surface of Nar Shaddaa, with the understanding that Rodas would return later to bury him. The ship’s systems had been left running in case a fast escape was needed, so the take off took almost no time at all. “I’m gonna set a pursuit course and try to catch up to the Assassins. I’m not entirely sure it will be possible. The Talon has a very powerful hyper drive, but it works best for short bursts and quick escapes. But we can still try. Kat, transmit our coordinates and course information to Our BT commander. Also tell him that we have procured a well armed pirate freighter and have a means to go where we will. Request further instructions. I’m going to go ready the weapons. I’ll have to tie them into the main pilot console, but you’re gonna have to watch our course while I tend to that.” After issuing his orders, Rodas left the cockpit for the weapons control cove on the Talon.
Katarzyna kept trying to contact BT Command. There was no response, though she was certain that her transmission got through to someone. Damn! Spies! The Praxeum had finally caught on to her. But she wasn’t the evil person they thought she was. Really. She had come clean, helped her newfound friends to combat the enemy. In effect, she had betrayed the people she had helped in stealing the bible. She had no real interest in it herself, she was just playing along to see what would happen...she’d been bored with the remedial lessons she was learning at the DJB, so she had decided to shake things up a bit. But now she was completely on Rodas’ side. Rodas reentered the cockpit, took the pilot’s seat, and got ready for the fight. “Here” he said to Katarzyna, “take the copilot’s station.” She eased into the chair to Rodas’ left and familiarized herself with the control console during the uneasy pause. “This’ll be more difficult without Kazarelth at the controls, but we’ll manage.” Rodas’ said, not taking his eyes off the view port. Katarzyna finally spoke. “There was no response from the BT Commander” she said flatly. “What? How can that be?” Rodas asked.
“Rodas, I have not been completely honest with you, you know that.” Rodas eyed her ponderously for a moment, and then the Talon’s hyper drive gave out.
The two looked at each other knowingly. They both knew that there was no reason to keep trying to overtake the Assassins now. “What do you mean?” Rodas asked gravely.
“I was running interference for the thieves the whole time...you do know that right?”
Rodas held the pause between them for a minute. “I do now.” Katarzyna turned in her chair, with the look of a defendant who’d been declared guilty and had to accept sentence. “But I am putting that past me” Rodas said. “Down on the planet, you acquitted yourself quite well; you fought bravely for our cause. I won’t hold any of this against you. You followed what was in your heart in the end. And that’s all that really matters here. Right now, we just need to figure out what to do next.” Katarzyna thought over his words briefly before she spoke again. “That still leaves us with the question of why Command didn’t respond to my message.”
“Maybe the transmission was intercepted.”
There was another uneasy pause, though the pauses between them were growing less uneasy with the passing of time. Rodas continued to think all through the events of the past day. Rodas had just relieved himself of his worst internal tension, the life of Captain Kaspar, only to find that his trusted Omwat companion who was to be key to the success of this mission was now in the hands of Assassins on an anger trip, the same kind of anger trip Rodas himself had been on, a very dangerous anger trip that ultimately caused pain and anguish of all sorts. Rodas could only imagine what the Assassins had planned for their hostage. He admired the youth’s wisdom beyond his years and the friendship they had forged through adversity. But most of all now, Rodas regretted taking the action that ultimately lead to his friends capture. If he’d not brought the Talon so far down within enemy territory without communicating to Command, none of this would have happened. If he had not lost control, if he had lived up to the trust Kazarelth had placed in him...
Then Rodas made up his mind. “I’m taking us back to Nar Shaddaa” he said, doubling back on his course. “I can get us back there with minimal power to the hyper drive if we’re careful not expend power for unnecessary expenditures.” It was the most logical course. Once there, they would either go back to the surface to take their chances battling a much more powerful opponent, or they would meet back up with BT Command. They finally arrived in orbit of Nar Shaddaa to find the Corra also in orbit. “In coming transmission from the Corra” Katarzyna said.
“Pipe it through”
The intercom piped in “This is Prelate Dranik aboard the Corra. We did recieve your request for further orders. Hold your position Talon. We have some things to discuss.”
Rodas spoke through the intercom “Acknowledged Prelate, we are holding in orbit around Nar Shaddaa. Good to see you sir. We have...encountered some difficulties”
“We’re recalling you Rodas, this mission is beyond you’re experience.”
“Sir,” Rodas began, “I’m not leaving Nar Shaddaa. I know that there are forces at work here stronger then I. But I will not leave. Not until I have rescued Kazarelth. And that is exactly what I intend to do whether you help me or not.”
Rodas brought the Talon in to land upon the surface of Nar Shaddaa once again...
Windos chuckled as he heard the console in front of Dranik click off. “He reminds me of myself in my earlier days,” mused the Commander.
“What?’ Asked Dranik, hearing but a whisper from behind him.
“Are we following them?”
“Does darkness rule over the light?”
The Corra ripped through the atmosphere surrounding Nar Shadda, easily tailing the pirate vessel. Both ships settled on their landing struts, side by side, in a clearing within sight of a grand temple not far in the distance.
Dranik and Windos, once more back in the robes he felt most comfortable in, descended from the corvette coming to a halt at the foot of the Talon’s boarding ramp. Soon they were greeted by two figures, one they recognized, the other…
“Who are you?” Enquired Windos as he approached the Farghul.
“Novice Katarzyna…” she replied in an almost defensive tone. The novice wanted to be quiet, to shy away from they new figures but something about the presence of the warrior tore down her barriers and forced her to talk.
She paused for but a moment before feeling Windos’ touch upon her mind, “Flight Member of the Praxeum, House Gladius of Clan Tarentum.”
Windos mentally took a double take but showed no outwards discomfort. “By who’s order?”
The elderly man cringed and turned towards Dranik who simply smile; knowing full well how much Windos loathed having his command superseded. “How did you end up here?”
“Windos!” Rodas shouted, then backed away when the gaze of two Equites fell upon him. “We don’t have time for this… I trust her… and Kazarelth is stuck in that temple…”
The group of four Dark Siders run towards the temple with Windos briefing his Flight Members in huffed bursts. “We know the name of the bible, ‘The Bible of Chaos.” Long story short, it was divided into a number of sections years ago. We believe what was held at the Shadow Academy was actually a collection of about half the sections and now who ever stole it is going after the other parts, one of which has been stored here since the division and guarded by ancient force techniques.”
Suddenly Rodas was tripped by an invisible obstacle. Both Equites had their sabers out instantly and, with the guidance of the force, four dead bodies shimmered into visible sight.
Dranik knelt by one of the bodies inspecting his clothing. “It can’t be…”
“What is it?” Asked Windos after helping Rodas to his feet and checking on Katarzyna.
“This is the uniform of the first Tau Squadron…”
“But they disserted the Brotherhood…”
“Under the banner of Grand Master Crona.”
“The Other…” Windos mused, a look reminiscent of fear on his face.
‘ You should’ve been a Krath…’
Hyperspace… Assassins; Corvette…
‘They got our sub-light drives.’
‘Magnetic clamps disengaged, we’re floating’
‘Get us the hell out of here Pola!’
“Who is Pola? Tell me more… I’ll help you… you are battered…”
“I’ll make you tell me more…”
…‘Krath damn it!’
‘Sato and Sithun… see what you can find on…’
“On what? ON WHAT?”
“You can do nothing to me…”
‘Sato and Sithun… see… what you find on… Nal Hutta…’
“LIE! Stop persuading me to--”
“Try and stop me.”
“DAMN YOU!” It was more of an exasperation than an expression of anger.
He hit the pale figure on the chair with his metallic gauntlets. It swayed with his blow and then it was limp. Blood…everywhere.
The tall Man was angry; the area around the tall man was brimming with Force energy. The torture-chair shook with his fury.
“Revive… it.” He told a smaller humanoid.
“Yess, masster. I do it…” the creature hissed.
Kazarelth could just remember the fight. After it, there was a blank. Except when a hooded silhouette came to him, conquering his mind, or awoke him, only to put him back to this.
‘ Not this time… ’
Kazarelth looked at the human with his fading eyes.
‘ Every detail is important… ’
The crooked nose was visible through the hood, only that.
He was quite tall, the Omwat could discern.
But, it was too foggy in his chamber.
He could feel a little tremble now and then.
‘ Is it the ship, or is it him?’
He could not stay awake for such a long time. This was torture. His mind could not see anything clearly. His hands, and legs were… bound, by something he could not see. His eyes needed rest. The repeated incursions to his mind had taken its toll, he could not focus into the Force at all, except for the man's own power.His body was aching from the fight, or the torture. He had been hit repeatedly with a long staff, each blow seemingly taking away his shrinking energy. The man had put down the staff.
But, he took out a long whip. Though Kazarelth could not see his eyes, he could feel the menacing look. He closed his eyes, a little tremble in his body.
The man laughed at his shivering victim.
He coolly came up to his prey.
Kazarelth's eyes could only see the torture weapon...
‘ Don’t lose yourself… don’t---------- Close your eyes. Calm... rest, let go... let go...’ A mixed and guttural voice said to him. He closed his eyes, trusting the voice for one brief moment, a reconciliation with Knowledge…
But no. It was not his voice. It was this man’s.
‘ He has taken over you…
He closed his eyes. Hot tears of anger trickled out.
“Oh, you are afraid?” the man asked him.
Kazarelth couldn’t find the voice to say no.
But the man could feel the reply.
Kazarelth opened his eyes, looking weakly at the man.
“Lower your defenses Brother… I do not want to hurt you.”
‘Brother? Did he say brother?’
“Close your eyes… close it now.”
‘ It feels nice. This voice is calming. Accept it. Become One with it. It will not enslave you. It is bliss.’
Kazarelth could not believe his own thought.
He looked at the man with a defiance, spending his last reserves of energy. The room itself seemed to have filled with the dark-teal of his eyes.
But, the man shattered him, once again. His strong arms crashing through the air, and the strike battering the young, weak, and already broken Acolyte.
“You should’ve listened to me… Now tell me where are Sato and Sithun… or should I see?”
‘Sato and Sithun… see what you can find on… C—Nal Hutta.’
‘Nal Hutta… Kal and… Kagami, see what you can find on… K— Nal Hutta—Ko—Hoth. Hoth. Kal and Kagami find what you can find what you can from find Hoth.’
“Bah! His thoughts are in a disarray. They must have used their mind against his. Fools; his mind has a strong barrier due to this...” The man rasped. His hands were nearer to his victims head than ever before. Kazarelth hadn’t stopped trying to calm himself with tears, and his nose was bleeding.
“Hush! Lets see who was with you…”
“We are in a hurry are we? Lets check, shall we?”
‘Hoth. Kazarelth and…”
“Oh… protecting it are we?”
‘Kazarelth and… I want you …two… to investigate Nar Shaddaa.’
‘He is waiting for you… he wants to speak with you.’
‘There it is, see it. Right there in the clear...the temple, that’s were the bible is. Kazarelth, land us in the closest clearing you can find around this temple.’
“Who is it?”
“No… not him. Who… are you?”
“I am your master. And I serve One master. You shall serve me. Give me knowledge willingly, and you shall survive this ordeal. If not, then I know how to break these weak barriers and procure the knowledge… of your mission. I know you are the leader of this mission…”
Kazarelth let out a decisive laugh, and slumped.
The old man stared at him, gravely.
“Put him in our cage.
Killing him is not necessary.
We can’t keep him as an important hostage.
My minions brought the wrong person.
He will not wake up anymore.
He is as good as dead.
But he is definitely not good barter.
Turn the ship around, to Korriban.”
The man shouted out commands to the comm. console.
‘ If I am correct, then this Omwat has failed miserably… He was good, but not good enough…’
“We’ve lost Kaz…” Windos said, slowly.
“He must be on the ship. Damnit, I must have followed it. Its because of me that he has been captured!” Rodas let out a cry.
Katarzyna looked troubled too.
‘ If only I was faster. If only…’
The temple was empty. A pad for the landing of capital ships had been constructed, in a hurry, it seemed. The Equites and Journeymen had come to the end of their chase.
Windos’ comm. console suddenly sprang into life.
“Seems that whatever was jamming the communications here has been lifted.” Dranik said, looking at the lit screen of the console.
Dranik shook his head as he looked about the area and sighed softly before he looked right at Mister Pola. “Pola…take these two..” Dranik said, motioning to the two members of the Praxuem “…and go and pick up Sato and the others then return here. Windos and I still have some work to finish up.” Dranik stated as he turned and started walking once more into the temple. Windos looked a little surprised as he watched the others board the Corra and leave the planet.
Once Windos caught up with Dranik he asked “What’s going on?” Dranik chuckled slightly “Reach out Windos..the book is still here, hidden within some chamber of the temple…Can you not feel it?” Windos didn’t say a word in response to that as he looked up at the temple. Dranik continued his pace, placing his saber at his belt as he drew the two Westar-34s he carried. “Besides, its not entirely unheard of for objects to be made invisible with the Force, we could have walked right past it….now that the communications barrier is down, it seems I can also sense the force better, can you not?” Dranik asked and Windos simply nodded as they entered the temple once more.
Dranik stopped short and looked down at his foot “How did we miss this….” Dranik asked and did a back flip backwards right into the startled Windos as a heavy steal spike shot up right were Dranik had been standing. Windos laughed slightly and said “It appears that when the barrier went down, the trips came back alive…And this hallway looks like it has changed slightly, I don’t remember it having holes along its sides…” Windos said as he looked at Dranik and frowned as if realizing that those holes could be for traps.
“If you want to take the right, Dranik? I have an idea,” said Windos, pointing to the right hand wall and beginning to walk down the corridor.
“What?” Hesitated the Aedile before sensing his companion’s manipulations of the force. He muttered a little before jogging to catch up.
Suddenly metal shafts exploded from the walls as the two Dark Siders passed, each one bending on it self before it could reach their targets. “Hold it,” commanded Windos as they reached a tee intersection at the end of the booby-trapped corridor. He pointed at the wall directly in front of them, “Does that area look different from that around it?”
Without waiting for a response, Windos pushed at the area. The ground under them rumbled for a moment and then began to slowly descend. The pair found them selves in a small chamber, devout of light save what filtered down the hole they had come from.
Stepping forward off of the chunk of floor that had transported them down into this chamber, the duo tried to focus their eyes in the dim light. In a burst of sudden light, and a sound similar to a roar, many touches around the perimeter of the room light.
Standing alone in the centre was an ancient lectern; a book, bound in black leather, sat on its angled surface. Dranik began to walk towards it.
“Wait,” said Windos softly, feeling the need to whisper while down here. He picked up a loose pebble from the ground and threw it towards the book. The stone stopped midair and dropped to the ground.
“Ancient Force techniques?”
Windos got on his knees and began mumbling to himself. The unseen barrier shimmered for a moment and then began glowing red.
“At least we can see it now…”
“Help!” Windos hissed as he went back to his mumbling, soon joined by his Aedile. The chant continued for some time and when the barrier finally went down both Dark Jedi doubled over, exhausted. Dranik managed to grab for the book before joining his subordinate in unconsciousness.
Levathan found himself in a situation that annoyed him to no end. For the past few hours, he and Akilis had been hunting the maniac, known as Dr. Steiner, though the halls of cell blocks in the abandoned Mystic Asylum.
After initially finding Dr. Steiner in one of the offices, they had immediately confronted him about the book. At first the good Dr seemed reasonably sane, asking questions about the book’s appearance, what the characters looked like and any of the traces found in the theft.
Lulled into a false sense of security, the two Dark Jedi had relaxed slightly. That was when the Dr made his move; Steiner picked up a data pad, as though about to examine it, and hurled it at Akilis, hitting him solidly in the head. He then laughed insanely and dashed out of the room, his laughter echoing form the open doorway.
Levathan couldn’t react in time, so instead he tended to Akilis, who was clutching the side of his head, blood leaking though his fingers. Levathan cursed and pulled out a bandage, “use this, stop the flow and follow me” he said, running though the door, while calling back, “and use the force to sense him!”
Levathan reached out with the force and could feel Akilis healing himself and beginning to catch up. He could also sense the Dr heading into the actual block of holding cells. As soon as Levathan turned the corner to face the entrance into the cell block he stopped, as Akilis caught up with him.
“Where in the hell is he?”
“though there” Levathan said grimly, staring into the entrance that was completely dark; the power and lighting had failed in that area long ago.
Akilis growled a string of curses, “this is going to be impossible!”
Levathan laughed grimly and grinned, “nothing is impossible with the force, you take block 3, I’ll take one, if we’re lucky, we can trap him in 2”
The two members of the Praxeum split in opposite directions, enhancing their vision with the Force as well as reaching out with their minds to their surroundings.
The cell blocks were not that large to begin with, however, the holding cells were designed to hold force users and had a natural dampening effect on the force, even without any power supply. This forced the two Praxeum members to proceed carefully, scanning the cells to each side of them.
After am hour of searching, Alkalis opened the comm. Link, “Levathan, you sure this isn’t a waste of time?”
“I have no clue, this guy could be so far gone, that even if we did catch him, he may be of no use to us. Then again, there might be the possibility that he knows something,”
“I guess, I don’t have much faith in that though.”
Levathan paused fro a moment, the let out a sigh, “alright buddy, pack it up, Mr Pola has just sent a message that he’s on his way to pick us up. Meet up back at the office, we’ll pick though the stuff there while we wait for the ship."
Levathan continued back towards Dr. Steiner’s office, he wasn’t in much of a hurry considering that Mister Pola was still sometime out. Even Akilis was taking his time in making his way back to Steiner’s office. Neither of the two were even the slightest aware of the Dangers that lurked within the old Asylum.
Dr. Steiner watched Levathan from a distance and within the Shadows. The Doctor shook his head as he slipped off into the depths of the Asylum, how easy it had been for him to loose them in the Wards, though the two Dark Jedi would soon spend more time with the Good Doctor than either of them wanted.
Akilis was the first to make it back to the office. He opened the door and walked in. The Novice knew that Clan Tarentum had Necromancy as its power, but he was completely unprepared for what he saw waiting for him in the office. Before the Novice was a Ghoul waiting and watching. The room was filled with the stench of death as the rotting corpse lunged at Akilis, taking the novice to the ground. The ghoul threw an arm at the pinned Akilis and hit him square in the jaw. Saying that the blow hurt would have been an understatement, Akilis saw the room start to spin before everything went black. The Ghoul grabbed Akilis by the arm and drug him to the back of the office, where a hidden panel opened and closed after the Ghoul drug the Novice through it.
A few moments later Levathan entered into the office and looked around. He picked up his comm. and tried to contact Akilis with no success. Levathan turned around in time to see Dr. Steiner standing in the door way holding what appeared to be a old blaster pistol. With a soft hiss the weapon went off and Levathan jerked slightly as something hard hit the side of his neck. He reached up to feel the dart sticking out of his neck before he hit the floor with a thud. Steiner turned and left the room, allowing the two Ghouls behind him to enter and drag Levathan to the same path that Akilis had been taken.
Mister Pola tapped his foot impatiently on the loading ramp to the Corra as he looked at the Asylum. “Where in the Hells are those two?” he demanded. Rodas looked down the ramp at Mister Pola with a confused look before he wondered back inside the ship.
After about an hour of waiting Pola went back up into the Corra and started to prep her for takeoff. Rodas walked onto the command deck and looked at Pola “We are leaving?” Rodas asked quietly. Pola nodded his head “Yes…we have the others to pick up still. We will return for them once we pick up everyone else, before we head back to the temple.” With this Pola gave the command for the Corra to life off and head towards its next destination.
Dranik lay on the floor of the temple, there was a slight puddle of blood under his head from where it hand bounced after landing on the stone floor. He clutched the book tightly in his hands and his body shook somewhat violently.
Dranik awoke suddenly to find himself in a world of Darkness, flashes of bright blue and green lightening arched across the sky of the otherwise cloudy void. He looked around for the book and found it missing, he also looked for Windos and found, him too missing. In fact, the entire Temple was missing; the Prelate was simply floating in nothingness. Screams of horror echoed across the void and images of horrible things flashed across the sky.
Suddenly the Prelate awoke from this dream world, to find himself back where he should be. He looked at Windos to notice his Team Leader still out cold. Dranik reached behind him and felt the back of his head and looked at the blood on his hand and sighed. “I will be sore later….now its time to get up…” Dranik said before he felt it, the disturbance. Someone, someone powerful and old, at least his level if not higher, had just arrived at the temple….
Even at night the Coruscanti skyline was ablaze with every imaginable hue. Sato stood stoically upon the large landing pad, his eye squinting with forced concentration as he reached out into the Force; sensing for the small "knot" in the back of his mind that was his Force connection with his AED. Only a short while had passed when he felt a disturbance of such magnitude that it had radiated outward from Dranik to himself. Although he knew the tome they sought was a power to be reckoned with, the lastest disturbance had caught the Battlemaster unawares. He crinkled his face in frustration, causing the latticework of scar tissue around his empty left eye socket to stretch grotesquely.
"I despise flying," Sato said turning to face his companion; Sithun, as they waited their vigil in the airswept currents of the Courscanti night.
After waiting for what seemed hours, Sato recieved confirmation of the Corra's arrival at one of the smaller of Galatic City's many spaceports. "You're late Mr. Pola," Sato said smoothly as he passed the older man making no attempt to mask his contempt.
"There were unforseen...detours Master Bruth'Kothae. Did you find any leads?" The Sith paused and regarded the security officer for a flicker of a second before resuming his stoic countenance. "Hmph," was the only reply as the Quaestor walked smoothly up the hatch into the ship.
That man is far more dangerous than he would have us believe. The Sith absently placed a hand to the concealed lightsabre attached to his belt. Without any further prompting, the Corra lifted off and headed toward open space...and the gathering darkness.
Windos felt himself floating in nothingness. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. Bliss.
A dark being stalked the corridors of the temple; he wore black robes that had been tarnished with many years worth of dust, and a loose cowl covered his head and obscured his features. The robes rippled and fluttered. From beneath the garment’s hem there shone heavy buckled boots with square toes.
Suddenly Windos joined the land of the waking. Twisting to his feet, the commander already has his sabre in hand and activated. “Someone is here,” he said as he saw Dranik.
“I felt it too.”
The pair leapt back into the main corridor, the force flowing through the very fibres in their muscles and helping to propel them upwards. The dusts whisked into the air as the Dark Siders landed, twirled a little, then settled back to the ground. An eerie silence swam through the temple and Windos wondered if he was actually still dead to the world.
Heavy footfalls caused the duo to turn in unison. An imposing figure stalked around the corner. The ancient, pre-exodus, robes of a Sith Battlelord snapped in the breeze as the figure turned sharply on his booted heels.
The man laughed aloud, a rich full laugh, “and what do we have here?”
Dranik and Windos each activated their lightsabres and adopted a defensive stance.
“Surely you do not expect to be able to defeat me? I am the Commander of Tau Squadron! We have pledged allegiance to the one true Grandmaster, Crona!” The man laughed again. “They used to call me, Bigdaddy.”
“Enough talk!” Barked Windos as he trust his free hand out, calling on the force to throw the figure into the wall behind him.
With a snort of contempt and an absent wave of his hand, the Battlelord deflected Windos' attack into the opposite wall. "I cannot be overcome by such crude manipulations of the force. You'll have to do much better than that I'm afraid." With an all too familiar hiss, Bigdaddy's sabre hummed to life, bathing his face in meanicing crimson light.
Not waiting for the attack to come to him, Dranik leapt forward, his blade a dizzying corona of destruction...seeking to take advantage of any opening or weakness. Not missing a beat, Windos joined the fray, strinking low and fast at his opponent's legs...striking only air. Bigdaddy tumbled elegantly through the air, striking laterally toward Dranik; forcing the Prelate back.
The Battlelord spun on his left heel, just as Windos flechetted his blade toward his midsection. As he spun, Bigdaddy whipped his blade in a horizontal slash to Windos' back. The Battlemaster ignored the onslaught of pain as his opponent's blade rent a shallow but painful wound. Continuing his spin, Bigdaddy extended a tendril of force power in and with a sweeping flourish of his hand, knocked Dranik onto his arse and sent his sabre skidding out of his hand.
"Well well. This has proven to be amusing, however I have more pressing concerns to attend to. So I'm afraid you'll have to di.." The Battlelord's short but arrogant tirade had cost him his advantage. Protruding from his abdomen was Dranik's sabre, levitated by Windos. The Battlelord grunted once more and collapsed into a heap on the floor.
"That was a rather clever move if you don't mind my saying."
In response, Windos merely shrugged, "I used to be a Krath."
The pair of Darksiders paused a moment to ensure that they weren't seriously injured from their "dance" with Bigdaddy and to assess their situation. Windos spoke softly, "I'm not one to shirk from a fight but maybe we should wait for Sato to arrive before we keep going. Three Equites have a much better chance at punching through Crona's defences than two."
"You retain command of this mission. If you say wait we wait."
The Corra hovered low as the two Equites jumped onto the landing ramp. Windos looked around those who had turned out to meet them as the ship sealed itself and headed to break through the atmosphere. “Where is Levathan?” He asked.
“You might talk to Pola,” replied Sato.
“They weren’t waiting for pick up, I thought we’d try again after we found everyone else…”
“And you did think they may need assistance?” Windos barked.
“You expected me to go in there alone?”
Windos simply stared at Mr. Pola, feeling as if he could murder the man where he stood.
“Windos… Should we see where Levathan is, or head back to Antei and see Master Caerick?” Dranik interrupted, then quickly added, “your mission.”
“Pola, to the Mystic’s Assylum, though I need to be dropped at the Sword’s Sheath.” Turning to Dranik he said quietly, “I need the old Keeper’s library…”
Windos' mind was in turmoil.
'First Kazarelth, now Levathan and Akkiles. This is getting dangerous for us now...'
The ship exitted hyperspace near the Yridia system and moved towards the Asteroid Belt near Yridia II.
Landing down near an outpost which was disguised as an asteroid, or rather built around one, Windos prepared to get off. He looked coldly at Pola and instructed him to pick him up from this observation standpost after he calls the Corra. Pola cowered under his gaze and quickly affirmed.
"I'll go to Sword's Sheath command from here, by myself. We need to make haste..." leaving this unfinished sentence hanging, he jumped into the hard rock.
As the Corra swerved through the Itanna Asteroid Belt, after dropping off the Praxeum's commander near battleteam's Headquarters, Sato and Dranik mused over the remnant of the Battleteam. Rodas and Katarzyna couldn't control their questions.
“Why did you send Levathan and Akilles to Yridia IX in the first place? What could a mad doctor possibly have that relates to the Bible…?” Rodas spoke out the thought that was in both their minds.
The two Equites looked at each other. Their House Quaestor was to give the answer.
Sato paused and considered Rodas and Katarzyna for a brief moment, as he weighed his thoughts. Half truths and subtlety were the fuel of everday existence in the Brotherhood...especially when it came to dealing with overly attentive Journeymen. Dismissing the urge to use the Force to choke Rodas, Sato decided upon the tack of disclosure.
"You both know that the text we're looking for is old and powerful and so on and so forth." His companions signaled their assent with slight nods. Sato turned his next words to Dranik, "As the Headmaster's Praetor you're privy to many things that others can only guess at. However, as you are not yet initiated into the Dark Lore, your access to the deeper vaults of the Brotherhood is non-existant. I shall therefore enlighten you, the bible is hinted at by some of the more esoteric works, and they all point to the same conclusion. The text delves into teachings which have obsessed the Sith Order for millenia, the power over life itself. It is said that the rituals contained in the bible can grant immortality to those with the fortitude to brave them." The Quaestor released an audible sigh and sunk into his chair.
"Leave us," he commanded the 2 journeymen without pomp. Turning to his AED, he began planning the next objective of their mission.
In the pitch darkness of his mediation chamber, Crona's eyes snapped opened. A smirk of malevolent glee played across his lips for a brief second. "Come if you may weak ones, I am forever."
A dark figure walked towards his departed subordinate. His robes trimmed in gold, swishing with his step. “Such a shame that I still require you…” The man held his hands out over the top of the fallen Tau Squadron commander.
Dark energies danced about the space and the body on the floor began shaking violently. Soon Bigdaddy stood and wordlessly followed his Grandmaster towards the waiting ship that would ferry them to the Lictor V.
Windos made hast towards the hidden entrance to the Keepers of the Night library. A passage revealed itself once the Sith had traced a pattern with his index finger upon the stone.
He soon found what he tome he required and set it upon a nearby lectern, beginning the arduous process of copying some information into a datapad.
As the Quaestor of their House drove them away, Rodas and Katarzyna trudged out; feeling, as most Journeymen felt, left out. It had been one of the strangest 'first-missions' for them. They thought they were doing well without the regalia of the Equites.
"Oh, well..." said Rodas, and went to his cabin and sat down. Katarzyna could do no better and sat down beside him.
As the Corra neared the outer planet of Yridia IX, Pola started picking up signals of a large transport trying to gain hyperspace entry.
"Masters Sato and Dranik, we have a transport seeking unauthorized entry in your space. It seems to be large an--"
"Out of the way!" Dranik almost broke Pola's ribs as he pushed him away.
As the ship's possible specs and possible holographic image flickered into the consoles, Sato called for the two Journeymen from their cabin.
Minutes later, the ship exitted hyperspace. Even then, it was unclear and black, and quite far away for a clear visual.
"Pola increase the Corra's speed to maximum capability. Shut down all unnecessary subsystems." Sato gave the curt order.
"Maybe we should inform Sword's Sheath and Castle Tarentum..." Dranik said, his voice deepening.
"They must already know, Tarentum space is very well guarded, and even if they don't, they will know after we deal with them..." Sato replied.
"You don't think this is Crona's ship?" Dranik asked.
"I am unsure 'til the last, my friend..." Sato said, with a hint of knowledge in his voice.
The Corra could gradually see the upcoming unidentified Corvette. A TIE Interceptor scout squadron had already been deployed, and were standing-by. Dranik hailed the squadron leader
"What ship is that Squadron Leader?"
"An unidentified Assassin class, which refuses to budge. The Admiral has ordered us on a stand-by..." the tense squadron leader replied.
In the meantime the two Journeymen had come to the control cabin.
"Is this the ship you saw escaping from the temple in Nar Shaddaa?" Sato asked them.
"Yes sir... but what is it --" Katarzyna couldn't finish her answer, as Sato had already shifted his focus to the communications port.
"Attention Unidentified Ship. You have entered Tarentum space unauthorised. Disengage your engines and power down your weapons subsystems. You will be given 10 standard seconds to comply."
Sato's ultimatium was answered by barrage of turbolaser fire that reached out from the opposing vessel to lick at the Corra's starboard shields.
"Katarzyna, take the helm and engage evasive manoeuvres. Return fire, I want that ship disabled," Sato commanded steadily. The Corra banked and jigged gracefully as Katarzyna immersed herself in the Force, her hands flying over the control surfaces.
Specks of hypercharged energy swathed the space above Yridia IX in a cacaphony of colour as each ship battered at the defences of the other. The fight was intense but short, the Corra and her crew proving to be superior.
The rogue ship hung dead in space, her major systems offline. Aboard the Corra, Sato paced the deck once, his face a mask of concentration. "This move makes no tactical sense. Crona has the advantage of being hidden and able to strike whenever and wherever he wants. Yet, he sends a vessel known to us into the very heart of our territory. Does anyone have a thought on this advent?"
Dranik made a move to answer, but the Quaestor's look shook him off. Sato, looked to the Journeymen expectantly. After a long pause, Rodas stepped forward. "It's a show of power. Crona is flaunting his scorn for us by attacking us in our own backyard...he's trying to tell us that he's not concerned about us as a threat."
"Spot on young Journeyman. It's therefore safe to assume that we'll find no useful information aboard that ship. Indeed, it's most probably equipped with a few nasty traps. That said, we must investigate every possible lead. Therefore, you 2 journeymen will accompany Prelate Dranik on a reconnoitre of that ship. It ought to prove to be a most enlightening experience for the lot of you. Now go and get whatever gear you believe you'll need and meet the Aedile in the airlock in 15 minutes." The dismissal in the Quaestor's voice could not be ignored.
Windos put the tome back where he had found it, taking a moment to look about the immense hidden library. The aging human smiled as he remembered his time leading the Phyle, which had once called this library home.
He ventured off to the common room to quickly mix himself a drink from the stash he had left there and quickly downed it. Drinking the spicy liquid as well as the memories that floated through this area of the Sword’s Sheath.
Sighing to himself he departed the library, headed for the hangar bay. “They’re late…” Windos turned to to an intercom by the door to the hangar pay, “where is the Corra?”
“Above Yridia IX, they have just engaged an unidentified ship, Lieutenant,” came the static ridden reply.
“How soon can the Cerberus be here?”
“She already is, Sir.”
“Huh,” began Windos, “bring her down.”
Aboard the Cerberus Windos could see a modified CR90 corvette docking with another disabled one. Reaching out he felt three persons boarding the disabled ship, which contained a skeleton crew.
Opening the comm. channels, Windos hailed the Corra. “Sato, I need that piece of the bible…”
“Can it not wait?”
“No,” he replied.
The Corra disengaged the disabled ship, stranding Dranik and his companions on board for the time being.
Windos held the piece of the Bible of Chaos under his arm as he returned to his ship. Sato placed his hand on his subordinate’s shoulder, “are you sure it can’t wait?”
“By my count there are a total of six pieces to this bible; we have one, Crona, if I am correct, has the three stolen from the Shadow Academy. This means there are still two stray, we have to get them first… I’m going to Antei to find the locations of those stray pieces and hopefully where Crona is.”
“And when we confront Crona?”
“Or when he confronts us?”
“I have a plan, Sato. In the mean time find Levathan and I will send you the locations when I have them.”
The ships separated and soon the Cerberus jumped to hyperspace, headed directly for Antei.
Dranik enjoyed being the leader of many a mission. But leading a couple of very inquisitive and inexperienced Journeymen was not enjoyable. The Aedile sighed.
The comm. console sprang to life with a soft crackle.
"We will be disengaging the Corra for the time being. Search and retrieve any possible information, and I feel the young Acolyte is here..." Sato's broken voice said.
"Yes, I felt it too. We will be rescuing him... and, Sato, come back fast... Dranik out." Dranik said, and put his console back into his robe.
"Kazarelth is here?" Rodas asked, timidly.
"Yes, I sensed him here. He is possibly the only Force sensitive in this ship. Lets go!" Dranik said as he and the Journeymen ran towards an open door.
"Well, I hope we find him. It was my mistake... leading him towards the Sith Assassins... Sir... how are these Assassins still alive here?" Rodas asked Dranik.
"The Force sustains people, and sustains many things... now stop asking irrelevant questions, and immerse yourself into the Force. And stick close to me, I've--"
Dranik stopped abruptly. He could feel an encroachment, nearby. He walked upto a wall.
"Hmm... I fear the young Acolyte has been imprisoned in the old style Force prison... like the ones during the Emperor's reign. Come!" Dranik shouted and ran. Katarzyna took out her trusty katana and gripped it tightly, feeling its smooth metal in her fur. Rodas also took out his disruptor rifle.
They had ran a long distance and then Dranik asked them to stop - "Wait here. I think we are near the command centre. I'll check. Don't do anything stupid."
The Equite walked calmly inside the command centre, whose electrical systems were crackling.
"Open the containment vault." Dranik said. A short rebellion from the weak minds of the captain of the corvette was easily quelled by the Dark Jedi, as he hurried to comply with the order.
A short while later, Dranik came back to the command centre... a frail figure in his arms.
"I fear Crona, or one of his associates, has interrogated our young friend here..." Dranik softly said. Rodas and Katarzyna rushed towards the Acolyte, who was unconsious.
"What do we do now?" Katarzyna asked, her eyes falling on the equite.
"We wait." Dranik said, a little harshly.
Thought arose and were immediately dismissed, as Sato's mind churned with the latest developments in what was proving to be a most taxing experience. The Sith scholar brooded as he looked out upon the vast expanse in space visible through the Corra's view ports.
"Captain, Prelate Dranik is signalling that his team has recovered Acolyte Kazarelth intact." Sato knoded his aknowledgement.
"Send a shuttle to collect the Aedile and his team, conduct a remote download of that ship's database then destroy it. Tell Dranik to meet me in my chambers. You have the conn Lieutenant." With his instructions aknowledged, the Equite turned on his heel and in a billow of black robes exited the bridge.
"I've a thought on how to expedite this scenario," Sato said without preamble as Dranik stood before him. The Quaestor paused and stared hard at his subordinate before continuing, "we've an intact piece of the bible. In order for Crona to access the power of the tome, he must posess each component. That means he's going to attempt to take it from us either directly or through asymmetric means. I suggest that we afford him the opportunity to do so."
Dranik considered for a brief moment, "it'll never work. He's no fool and he'll suspect a trap. He's far too powerful and shrewd to fall for a stunt like that."
"Aye he's powerful no doubt. I reckon he'd send some of his best agents after the pieces we already posess, rather than come himself. All we have to do is allow them the chance to collect, then follow covertly, as they return to the nest. I'll send forward to Antei and ask the Krath clerics there to prepare some fake copies of our piece of the bible imbued with some Dark Side energy. That should pass cursory inspection. "
Dranik mused and nodded. "We'll need to bait the trap."
The characteristic crooked smile wormed its way across Sato's face "Windos fits the bill spot on, I'd wager."
Windos flicked on the Cerberus’ communications and instantly heard the sharp voice of Kessian Armus, “what the hell are you doing with my ship?!”
“Are you going to make me repeat myself, Lieutenant?”
“Very urgent business...”
“Is Troutrooper onboard?”
Leaning over Windos cut off the transmission, “sorry sir, you’re breaking up.”
“I did consider your plan, Sato…” Windos said. Halfway to Antei he had decided it safe to turn communications back on and had been briefed on his Quaestor’s plan. “But I don’t think it will work.”
“You have a better idea?”
“Yes,” answered Windos quickly. The Sith nearly cut of the transmission having not had a reply for a short moment.
“Well? Care to fill us in?”
“Crona didn’t defect… the Empire cast him out for attempting an exodus, with the Tau Squadron leaving soon after; upset about how the Grand Master was cast out.”
“And this explains what?”
“He doesn’t know about our exodus, he still thinks us part of the Empire.”
“Once we have three sections of this bible of our own, I will seek palaver with his eminence; try to bash out a truce against a common foe.”
“And the bible?”
“It was separated for a reason… would you really trust either side with the bible whole?”
“So we each keep half?”
“Indeed, if all goes to plan.”
Windos, once again without his robes, strode towards the Amicus Club on Antei.
Sato had an unusual plan for the Praxeum's leader. But, he decided that the plan was better off within him, than in the open. The recovery of Kazarelth was a small success... The larger one awaited him.
Dranik apparently didn't have to wait long after his sigh. The recovery shuttle came back to the Corra. As the Journeymen rushed the Omwat into the medical bay. Sato walked towards his Aedile.
"I fear Levathan has been captured as well..." he said very slowly.
"Fine, I will take my--crew-- and go do another Search and Rescue operation." his voice could not mask the disgust.
"I know you don't like it. But, the Mystics Asylum has a number of surprises... all of them nasty." Sato said.
"Necromancy, Ghouls... yes." said Dranik.
It wasn't long before Sato had successfully persuaded the Prelate for his next mission.
Dranik and his crew were dropped on Yridia IX by the Corra's shuttle.
As soon as Dranik entered the Asylum, he could feel a surge of energy.
'Something is terribly wrong here...'
His crew could also sense it. The tense cocking of rifles and gripping of swords justified that.
"Wait. I reckon this could get...nasty" he said, repeating his Questor's word.
The small army of Dark Siders shuffled near the place where Akilis had been hit.
Dranik crouched to see a small pool of blood.
The Equite took out his lightsaber. As it is, the Prelate, with his fangs, was quite an object of fear for the Journeymen. Now, with the powerful weapon in his hands, the Shi'ido looked even more menacing. He surveyed the surroundings with his large blue eyes.
"I don't think splitting up will do us any good..." he said to his team, "these ghouls, as you know are quite strong. And I need--"
He stopped mid-sentence, and he ran towards a room, his saber ignited.
The ghoul had been to this room for the third time that day on its patrol. Its master had told it that many people will come.
But, maybe, its master forgot to add that one of those 'people' would be a Prelate with a menacing sword-like lightsaber.
Sometime later the Journeymen came inside to see a carved body of a ghoul, and its victor looking around its body for clues.
"I believe the two are being held there--" he pointed towards a wall "--well, behind that wall. I trust Rodas and Kagami to come with me, while you people wait here. If Steiner comes. Just hail us in the comm. consoles."
He walked towards the other room, his robe swishing. The Journeymen followed.
Windos found himself sitting in the office of Trevarus Caerick, a small glass of a reddish liquid in hand, “and the sections stolen from the Shadow Academy?”
“It is a map, my dim witted friend, not a homing device.”
“Thank you, Master Caerick,” said Windos as he rose to his feet.
“There is however, the small matter of payment.”
“I’m sure the Shadow Academy will gladly deliver any amount you ask.”
“I do not seek credits.”
“Then Gladius’ summit will be at your disposal, should you require them in the future.”
Trevarus laughed, “you have such authority as to volunteer your own summit?”
“Okay… my battle team will be at your disposal.”
Trevarus Caerick took one last look at the leather bound section of the bible then handed it back to his visitor, “it is such a fine tome.”
“Dranik and a few of your journeymen are in the asylum now,” Sato informed his Commander.
“When you are all finished there, I have a location of a bible section for you to head to… you wont believe this Sato, it’s in the bowls of the Sword’s Sheath; possibly even deeper than Bloodfyre ventured.”
“Right under our noses… And the section you will seek?”
“It is on Concord Dawn… I’m already en route.”
“May darkness guide you, Windos.”
Sato sighed in resignation as the transmission with Windos ended. Continuing to chase fragments of the bible across the galaxy was not a notion that was endearing to him. The idea that a fragment had been literally hidden beneath his nose, caused the normally serene Sith's anger to smoulder. When this is all over, Windos is going to pay for this wild bantha chase the Sith promised himself.
"He really thinks to reason with Crona," the Battlemaster spat with derision. "I can only imagine how THAT scene will play out." Sato stopped and centered himself, abating the tirade that threatened to rise. He turned to his Aedile, "order the Commander to set a course to the Sword's Sheath, I will lead the search through the bowels personally. Have a team standing by, and inform me of our arrival. I will remain here in meditation."
Dranik bowed, pensive with the aura that rippled through the Dark Side. Something powerful and elusive hummed quietly as an undercurrent to the usual cacaphony of stimulation that most Equites could detect. A major change was coming for better or worse, and the Darksiders of Gladius stood upon the threshold of that change.
The orb that was Concord Dawn seemed to glow a bright orange as the Cerberus neared it. The Modified Corvette tore gracefully through the planet’s atmosphere, settling down as close to the planet’s northern pole as the ship’s computers could calculate.
What a back water planet, thought Windos as he looked about the barren landscape, this better be easy to find. Finally the Sith noticed an unnatural mound in the arid planet’s surface. Walking towards it he eventually noticed a door, inset slightly into the mound, made of heavy durasteel.
At first the entrance wouldn’t budge, until a crazy idea came to him. He focused the force slightly, gently touching the door with his mind. The door seemed the beep confirmation (though it could have been in the Sith’s own mind) and slide aside.
Cautiously the Dark Sider stepped inside and mounted a set of step that declined into the planet. At the bottom, Windos stared into darkness until suddenly arcane torches on either side of a long corridor burst into life. At the end of the corridor stood a lectern, a leather bound book sitting on top of it.
Windos began walking slowly down the corridor, expecting the ceiling to begin caving in on him or the walls to shoot some sort of projectile at him, but there was nothing.
He walked once completely around the stand that held the book, looking for any trap but finding none. He grabbed for the book and heard a loud rumbling sound.
Without even thinking Windos clutched the tome and started a force sprint back towards the exit. Running at a speed that the aging man couldn’t have even mustered in his younger years, the Sith managed to reach the end of the corridor as heavy durasteel slabs where slamming down to the ground just behind him.
Windos kept sprint as he flew up the stairs, leaping out onto the arid ground just as the door slid closed. Panting heavily, the Sith walked back to the Cerberus.
A green light assaulted his eyes when he placed this new bible section over the first. The two seemed to melt together, throwing bright green sparks around the Cerberus’ interior.
“Well,” Windos began, “that explains why Anshar considered the sections in his possession only one book…”
Dranik loosened a little. He couldn't feel anything.
'Seems like a dead asylum' he thought and chuckled at the pun.
The Journeymen, seeing their Aedile a little less tense, relaxed themselves.
Each step of the Dark Siders echoed in the walls of the Asylum, but Dranik walked confidently. It wasn't long before he cam up to the containment vaults.
The Mystics Asylum was a dreary place. Somehow, a rendition of the Force seemed to linger everywhere here. One reason the Prelate had a tense moment before.
As the three came up to the containment vaults, the Prelate couldn't help seeing that the containment vaults were very similar to the prison that Kazarelth had been put in.
Levathan couldn't see them, even though he was looking directly at Dranik. His blank expression showed that he was insensitive to the Force that flowed outside.
Dranik crouched to see the workings of the Prison.
"Hmm... this does not seem to be connected to anything..." he paused, and then stood up and touched the door with his brand of the Force.
Something happened which did not seem right at all...
"Its a trap. Damn! Why didn't I see this before!! Run you fools!!!" He shouted at the Journeymen as he himself took out his sabre.
A cackle sounded around in the Personnel Announcement Channels.
"Dr. Steiner..." He said, as he ran after the Journeymen. But... his Connection seemed to withdraw towards himself. He could very well sense the tendrils blocked by a massive "wall".
The Journeymen in front of him dropped down. He whipped out his comm. console.
"Sato... come in... Sato... Sword's Sheath Command! SWORD'S SHEATH COMMAND!!" He could feel the taxing in his mind, as oblivion waited for him...
"...And pick up Dranik and the Journeymen from the Asylum. They must have found the others..." Sato's voice crackled, " And bring the...compilation... as soon as possible. Sword's Sheath Out." The holo-communicator switched off in front of Windos.
"Rescue. Rescue..." Windos hummed as he put the Cerberus on a course to Yridia IX
Windos, and the Cerberus, eventually arrived in the Yridia system. The Sith had spend most of the time trying to decipher the portions of the Bible of Chaos that he had in his possession.
“Windos. Come in.”
“I hear you, Sato.”
“I… lost contact with the Dranik and the Journeymen.”
“Did you go after them?”
“I wanted to wait for you… and while I waited for you I went and found that section…”
“I got… a little lost…”
Windos couldn’t help but laugh, though he quickly composed himself. “Have the Corra readied, Sato. I’ll be there soon, I think Armus may want his ship back.”
The Equites strode past the asylum office, light sabres active and ready. “If it moves, it’s hostile,” said Windos quietly.
The Asylum of the Mystics of the Black Arts was located a short distance away from the Starport of the barren world of Yridia IX. As Sato and Windos entered, they could immediately feel the flow of Force Energies around them. The Equites could not feel anything alarming in what they sensed.
"Be alert Windos. This place housed deranged Force Sensitives. Now, the lingering of their Energies is blending into our sense. I can't detect anything...unusual." he finished.
Windos didn't understand why the Warlord was telling him things he already knew.
Just a forethought on Sato's mind, he thought and rested the matter.
Their blades lit up the way, but they saw nothing unusual.
Somewhere ahead, they came up with the body of the ghoul who was dealt with by Dranik.
"Hmm... seems to be pretty nice work. Our Prelate came through here..." Sato said. It was quite dark in the large hall.
"I thought this place was on permanent ionic power... why aren't there any lights here?" Windos wondered aloud.
"Because its a trap. Look." Sato pointed to the fallen Journeymen.
Windos was astonished.
"And, I think our doctor is behind all this." Sato said, looking at a video comm. portal which suddenly buzzed to life.
"Of course. Good deduction. But, considering I am the only one here..." the mangled face of Dr. Steiner said, after which the video portal showed the scenes before the arrival of the Equites.
"Same goes for both of you." cackled the mad doctor.
The video portal suddenly shattered as both Equites, fueled by anger, destroyed it with the force. They deactivated their sabers and methodically pulled the unconscious journeymen, save Levathan whom didn’t appear to be amongst them, back to the Corra.
Soon the pair returned to their search. Picking up a faint trail of blood on the floor, they moved cautiously scanning ahead as best they could in this distorted place.
They soon found a room with two bound, nearly unconscious, dark jedi on the opposite side. Windos started towards them.
“Wait,” cautioned Sato, pointed to their right. A dark figure stood silently in the shadows, his once white lab coat stained by many years of wear.
“And so you come,” the man beamed, a wicked smile flashing across his face.
"What is it that you want doctor? You can't fight us." Windos said, his voice low. He was disturbed by the fact that Dranik had fallen here.
"I have stayed away from my job for a long time. I need new!" Steiner smugly said.
"New what?" Sato thundered.
"Patients!" He gleefully cackled, and ran towards another room.
"Catch him!" Sato shouted, as he and Windos ran after the insane doctor.
In no time, the Dark Jedi had overpowered Steiner.
"Now doctor. I want you to tell us how you made the others unconscious..." Sato menacingly said to the wily doctor.
"That won't be necessary Sato. The Bible is." Dranik had woken up, "Let him rot here..."
"Bible eh?" Steiner slowly rose.
The three Equites looked around at him.
"Chaos Bible? If its complete then unhealthy to the mind! Unhealthy to every mind!! Yes!!!" he moaned.
"What do you know about the Chaos Bible Steiner?"
"Nothing. Nothing." he mumbled.
"Leave him. He just knew it." Sato finally said after a lot of questioning and mind games.
By this time the Journeymen had awoken. They were led to the Corra. They walked in slowly. No one was pleased with this mission.
As the Corra and the Cerberus lifted off from Yridia IX, the three Equites had a strange feeling. As soon as they reached orbital altitude, the cause became clear.
A large ship had arrived some distance away. It looked vaguely like a prison ship.
Sato looked at Dranik.
Windos hailed them through his comm. port. "Do you think its what I think it is?" he said.
"Maybe." Sato said, and immediately called the other ship with the standard warning, "Attention Unidentified Ship. You have entered Tarentum space unauthorised. Disengage your engines and power down your weapons subsystems. You will be given 10 standard seconds to comply."
The ship seemed to be powered down.
"Maybe I should check." Windos' voice crackled.
"We should all check." Dranik answered.
The two ships cruised cautiously towards the unidentified Ship.
Windos felt two slight shudders; one when the Cerberus docked with the immense Dungeon Ship and the second when the Corra did the same. The workers onboard seemed to pay the boarding parties no attention as the Praxeum, their commander and house summit came together in a corridor.
Without a word to his companions Windos hit a nearby intercom, “this is Windos Helkin Bruth’Kothae, Lieutenant in the Tarentum Navy and Commander of the Praxeum. I seek an audience with his eminence, Grand Master Crona.” Releasing the comm. he turned to Sato and added, “I’m positive this will work.”
Sato simply nodded.
A minute latter two black clad crewmen approached the group, bowed and pointed down the corridor, insisting that they be followed.
They arrived at an ornate set of durasteel doors. “Only one may enter,” instructed one of the crewmwn.
Windos leant close to Sato, telling him to break in there at the first sign of trouble.
Windos feel to one knee and bowed his head as Crona stood from his throne.
“You serve the Empire, yet you bow before me?”
“I do not server the Empire, nor my companions. We achieved what you had attempted. We severed all ties with that cesspool of injustice…”
“You are of Tarentum?”
“You still reside in you home of old.”
“We refused to be displaced.”
Crona smiled and stepped forward, requesting that Windos stand. “Tell me more of your exodus.”
“So you see Grand Master… the Bible of Choas should not be joined until such time as the benefits of doing so well out balance the risks. The very power of it could destroy even you.”
“So you suggest I hold half and you will house one half at the Shadow Academy?”
“Yes, Grand Master. It would mean much that you return the half taken from the Academy and you keep the half your men had taken off of my ship when I lost sight of it.”
Crona pushed aside a curtain at the rear of his chamber, revealing a leather bound book on a golden lectern. The Grand Master caressed the cover once, then lifted the book and presented it to Windos.”
“Make hast to the Academy, Tarenti.”
Anshar clutched the tome that had just been placed on his desk, Dranik standing to his side.
Windos began tapping his foot impatiently.
“Your Battle Team has my thanks,” mused Anshar as he turned his attention from the bible to a data pad.
The Sith almost mumbled and insubordinate comment under his breath before turning and leaving once more to the Sword’s Sheath to receive his punishment for taking the Cerberus. 'At least I didn't fire the weapons,' he thought to himself.
This run-on has been completed, and is now closed.