[Participants: Battleteam Hex, Benevelent or Chaos]
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.
Hel-Pa Sklib’s datapad bleeped, and he scanned the briefing report the Headmaster. He had signed up Battle Team Hex for any emergency volunteer missions, and this was his first chance to really “lead” a mission with the Battle Team. Hel-Pa was traditionally used to organizing training exercises with his team members, and occasionally sparring with them in the Antei Combat Centre. The interiors of the Clan Taldryan Headquarters were familiar to Sklib right now, and although he was not a Dark Jedi Knight yet, he knew the lay of the land and was a common sight amongst the other clan mates. Sklib withdrew his stylus from his personalized datapad, and thumbed the miniature keyboard out of it and began typing to the Battle Team members.
“Hex members, an emergency task has been requested by the Shadow Academy. It’s time to show what we’re truly made of. Meet at the hangar stat, and bring battle gear as you find appropriate. See you there.
Once all the members had entered the hangar, Sklib raised his voice over the repulsorlifts in the background. Alright everyone, we’re heading out into space to rendezvous with a shuttle of apprentice’s that had left the Academy nearly ten minutes after the theft of a rare book. This book is essential to the Brotherhood, and if the thief is not uncovered, great secrets about the Brotherhood could be lost and our security infringed. I have already contacted Benevolent and Chaos about the shuttle, and they have suspended all entry and exit of craft save ours. We will be using Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing Starfighters and Eta-2 Actis-class Light Interceptors. Vodo and I will both take the V-wings, and Rannik and DarkAmiz will take the Interceptors. Word is that either Benevolent or Chaos will come with us, but I have not received confirmation from Headquarters yet.
The Guardian DarkAmiz raised a hand and asked the Tetrarch, So all we’re doing is searching this shuttle for a book? Why all the caution?
Sklib answered, Well, the thief may not even be on the shuttle. We’re searching for any clues that could lead us to the whereabouts of the book. Not necessarily the thief. From my analysis of the shuttle’s rosters, it appears that more than half of the Apprentice’s sent to our clan are former Rebels, who have recently defected to use their own force potential.
Rannik eagerly asked Hel-Pa, So you’re saying that we’re going Rebel hunting? Ye haw!
Not necessarily, although I’m sure you’d love that. Hel-Pa looked over at the silent Vodo, and assumed he had no questions, and only wanted to go on with the mission. Anyways, everyone board your ships, and rendezvous at the coordinates outside the planet’s atmosphere I have programmed into your ships. The shuttle has yet to arrive into our system, so we have time to prepare. May the Force be with you all.
back on Taruma, Vodo had gathered his essential belongings into a compact backpack. It carried a medkit, datapad, and some provisions in case the journey took a bad turn or an extended period time passed. His Light Saber never left his belt, and therefore was not necessary to pack. Hel-pa's short briefing concluded, and the four dark jedi jogged to their assigned craft.
It was bothersome to think about. A book stolen from the Shadow Academy. Vodo'd had plenty of chances to take books or resources from the academy himself, but had decided against it due to the risks involved. Whomever had done it was completely secure in their plan of escape. They may be on that shuttle, but it seemed too obvious.
The V-wing directly ahead of him had Vodo's designated call sign printed below the pilot's canopy, as well as his distinguished pattern about the craft. The radiator panels that gave the craft it's distinctive look were painted purple, while the body had a violet racing strip down the mid line, and two lightning bolts down either side.
As he climbed in, he saw the maintenance crew had loaded an Astromech droid into the socket already and the ship had been prepped. He jumped into the cockpit and strapped himself in. Taking a deep breath, the Twi'lek used the force to communicate to the battleteam, "Clear your mind, let the Dark Side flow through you. You are a tool, and the Force is your hand. Let it steer you to victory."
He opened a channel to the command and control, "Hex 2, Call sign Ryloth, ready for departure."
Ryloth had been Vodo's home world until he'd been sold into slavery. The CIC confirmed the signature and cleared him for take off. He lifted the fighter off the ground and throttle up to take off speed, exiting the Temple's Main Hangar quickly. He circled and waited to be joined by the rest of the Team.
Rannik always had his weapon next to him; no matter what it was, if it was a small, friendly meeting or a hazardous mission with the Battle Team or a solo mission. He bowed his head in disappointment that he wouldn't be hunting down some Rebel Scum. Either way though, he would still get some kind of kick out of this rendezvous. Guardian Narius ran past DarkAmiz and slapped him on the shoulder, "Come on little one," he said sarcastically, "Let's hurry up and get to the Intercepters!"
Warhammer ran as fast as he could to the TIE Intercepters, only two was prompt for take off. One for him and one for little Amiz. Rannik boarded one of the TIEs and clicked all the neccasary switches and knobs. He was ready for almost anything as he sat there waiting patiently for his fellow Battle Team Members.
DarkAmiz was resting when he received his Battle Leader’s message. He quickly ran towards his Leader, sensing the urgency of the message. With him DarkAmiz brought a blaster and some other tools he always bring with him in his back pack. Including his beloved katana and some spare food.
After being briefed by Hel-Pa, the guardian DarkAmiz immediately set his mind set straight on the oncoming mission, he focused himself for what lies ahead, may it be easy or hard. He was interupted by a thump from the hulking Rannik.
“All right lets go. Roger that Sklib.”
With that DarkAmiz got into his interceptor, did what was necessary to start up the interceptor and waited for further instructions. In his mind DarkAmiz thought, this mission makes my force sense tingle, I wonder whats making it that way, this seldom happen,unless.... I should be very careful on this mission.
Vodo was soon joined by Sklib, Amiz, and Rannik in the skies above the Karufr Temple, home of the greatest of Clans. Hex had not seen much action together in the Knight's experience, and therefore, this mission, while official, would act in a training and bonding manner well.
Once the members of the battleteam were airborne, Hel-pa opened a channel over the com to the rest of the team, even those who were still grounded or en route, "Okay, the shuttle is in orbit now. I've sent word along to the Higher Ups that the shuttle is to stay put until we board and check it out."
Vodo flipped over his datapad which had several mission specs Skilb had forwarded to him as a trusted confident as the Tetrarch continued, "The Orthanc is in orbit and it's wells are activated. So we can take out time for now."
The Twi'lek took over at this point, fulfilling his quasi-role as the Team's combat tutor, "Feel out the controls of your fighter. It's simple enough, you have throttle and attitude control. The throttle makes you go faster and slower, your joystick points you where you want to go. Take the next few minutes to learn the limitations of your acceleration and agility. Especially you Amiz, you're our most inexperienced Tyro, so do you're best now to show us what you can do."
"Thank you Vodo", Hel-pa interjected, and made a small note before closing the conversation, "We'll wait shortly for either Bene or Chaos to arrive. You are free to practice till then. Sklib out."
Sklib heard his ComLink attached to his head buzz violently. Tetrarch Sklib, this is Chaosrain. Sorry I’m late; I will rendezvous with the group in T-30 minutes at Waypoint Alpha. Hel-Pa turned around inside his Nimbus and saw a speeding Interceptor catch up with the group. After watching Rannik and DarkAmiz entertain themselves with a mock dogfight, he flipped a switch on his console and spoke into his ComLink, Alright, we’re ready to proceed into orbit and board the shuttle. We can’t all board it at once, and we don’t have a dire need to either. Vodo and I will board the shuttle and determine if the thief is on the shuttle or not, as well as the possible location of the book if it is not on the shuttle. Prepare to defend us against any pirates in the system or other hostile forces.
Hel-Pa engaged his sublight engines and blasted out of the atmosphere of Taldryan’s home planet. With Vodo next to him in a standard Echelon formation, he flipped his ComLink switch again and directed his inquiry at the shuttle pilot. Shuttle Number 60045, prepare to be boarded as informed by Ground Command. Confirm, over. After nearly a minute with no response from the shuttle, Sklib called out again. Shuttle Number 60045, prepare to be boarded. Repeat, prepare to be boarded.
Without a response, Hel-Pa decided it would be best if he ran a schematic of the ships condition and determine if there were any technical difficulties. Vodo, do you notice anything strange about the ship? My senses are not as attuned as yours. Hel-Pa pressed several buttons on his console and a blueprint of the ship came up, nothing was wrong. Weird…
The Twi’lek replied to Hel-Pa, There’s definitely something strange about the ship. I can’t quite determine it though.
Hel-Pa responded to the peculiar message, Roger, prepare to manually override their system and board. Prepare for anything unusual.
Confirmed, initiating boarding procedures. Vodo positioned his ship next to the ships airlock, and as his cockpit opened he climbed out and stood next to a closed blastdoor. Hel-Pa, I need you to override this door. And I’m beginning to feel a strong Force presence in here.
Well, the shuttle is full of Apprentices. Hel-Pa clicked his ComLink off and shouted at his astromech, Dee-six, unlock the airlock blastdoor. After a few buzzes and whirs, the droid confirmed the action. Vodo, you’re good to go.
Roger, entering shuttle and preparing to investigate. Over.
Vodo took into hand his Light Saber, more from combat training than habit. The airlock closed behind him, and allowed Vodo to unseal his flight suit, which had previously protected him against the vacuum outside the ship. He found the control on the interior of the vestibule for the airlock operation, and a com that connected to the cabin of the shuttle.
He pressed the activation panel and began to speak to the inhabitants of the cabin, "I am Dark Jedi Knight," Vodo stressed his rank through the force to intimidate the inhabitants of the shuttle, hopefully distinguishing those who were innocent anyone bent on confronting him, "I am to search this Shuttle. All passengers will line up on the opposite side of the cabin from this door, arms in front of them."
The Twi'lek allowed a moment for those inside to do as he requested, "Hel-pa, I'm entering the ship. I'll keep you updated"
The Force was indeed useful for communication.
Vodo activated his Light Saber and opened the interior Air Lock. The Door slid open to the side swiftly. The Knight entered and held his blade out to the side. The Apprentices were all lined up neatly against one wall, with a flight officer of the Shuttle standing at attention with pride. Vodo could sense nothing from the Apprentices but fear and awe. He would need to provoke a response.
Vodo stepped up close to the flight officer and looked him up and down. The man held back his fear, having met many such Dark Jedi. He had probably even transported Vodo to Taldryan's Door Step those few years ago, "Are you aware their may be an intruder aboard your ship, Captain?"
The man was indignant. This Dark Jedi dared accuse him of running a loose shuttle, "With all due respect, my lord, That is not possible."
"Oh, I believe it is. This search has been ordered by the Head Master himself", The Captain had known this fact, but hearing it struck a deep chord, "I will search this ship, top-to-bottom. If I don't find anything the first time, I will do it again. This shuttle will not leave orbit until I will it. Do you understand me?"
The man nodded weakly. Vodo could feel him in the force, trembling. But it was not his response that attracted the Knight's notice and attention. It was the feel of anger burning in an Apprentice towards the end of the line, away from the Twi'lek. This Apprentice did not cower in fear, as the others did. He was raging about something, and it seemed the search would start here.
Vodo checked his Data pad, looking up the Apprentice in question, "Skilb, I'm beginning my search with Apprentice Guiling, Pin #8782"
How are you doing Vodo? Need any help? DarkAmiz flashed the message through the force through his comrade. Flying around nowhere is quite boring, when doing nothing. Silently DarkAmiz thought about his past, what did this event remind him off, something from his dreaded dreams. He was reminded by the flash of black light. That destroyed his life and gave him a start to a new one. Slowly he shakes off the dream.
I wonder if Vodo has found something yet. Maybe we should go in with him, what if that person overpowers him? Nah, he couldnt have, Vodo is a knight, he can take care of himself.
As DarkAmiz patiently waits outside, flying around with Rannik, he saw some thing flash by, it came from the direction of the ship. Whats that? Maybe thats the thief running away! As that thought came to his mind, DarkAmiz flashed through to the others in his battle team.
Team, I just saw something flash, its heading my way, should i pursue or let go? Need immediate answer.
Roger that Vodo, begin searching all Apprentices’ onboard the shuttle. Sklib had no time to relax, and he heard the Guardian DarkAmiz holler through the ComLink.
Team, I just saw something flash, its heading my way, should i pursue or let go? Need immediate answer.
Roger Amiz, Amiz and Rannik pursue target we’ve identified as a bogey. Vodo, keep searching the ship. After flipping various switches in his cockpit, Hel-Pa put all energy available in his V-Wing to his shields. After a few moments, Vodo’s voice crackled into Hel-Pa’s headset.
Tetrarch, I’ve searched approximately four Apprentices, and I’m hesitant to believe any of the other ones hold clues to what we’re searching for. I don’t feel anything strange about the Apprentices, but I’d like to have a look at pilot and cockpit.
Roger, if you think something fishy is in there. Hel-Pa watched the two Guardians chase the renegade fighter, and held back all pressure to join in the pursuit and instead maintain Vodo’s safety.
Hel-Pa saw a flash of blue by the fighters and heard Rannik scream through the ComLink, Sklib! We’ve been attacked! Permission to pursue the target and incapacitate him.
Ionic weapons only, we want this little [Expletive Deleted] alive. Watch yourselves, and don’t let him escape under any circumstance. Prevent him from exiting the planet’s gravity well to prevent a hyperspace escape. If or when Vodo and I finish up here we’ll help, but for now you’re on your own. What type of ship is it, DarkAmiz?
Hel-Pa! The pilot of the shuttle has just taken his life. I’m beginning to search his body and the cockpit for any clues.
He killed himself? [Expletive Deleted F-word]. Hel-Pa was now seeing that he had two options, pursue an unidentified target in space, or continue investigation of the shuttle. The Battle Team could not split up, and it was crucial he make a decision soon.
The cockpit door slammed shut and an unidentified yelp, followed by a large thud as what sounded like a complicated locking system slid into place. The Twi'lek growled as he paced with a fury towards the entry to the Captain's cockpit. His hand had already drawn and removed the light saber from where he'd briefly hung it while conducting the interrogations.
As he neared the cockpit, his force amplified voice rang out, "Captain! Remove this door now, or I will do it for you!"
A trembling voice replied rather softly, though muffled by the door, "I cannot do that sir Knight. I'm afraid if you touch this door, I will activate the self detonation routine."
"Pity", Vodo activated his saber and plunged it into the reinforced doorway. Obviously, the Shadow Academy had foreseen an event similar to this, and had strengthened the barrier in anticipation.
However strong, the barrier was only temporary, and a suitable size hole was created in a minute. The metal plating fell to the deck and for a brief moment, Vodo saw the Captain, a shrewd man to begin with, pecking at the controls like a rat. With amazingly fast instincts however, the man grabbed a blaster, turned and shot it.
Vodo made a mistake. His reactions were so swift to deflect the bolt that he redirected the blaster's flight path back at the captain. The beam caught him in the back, which arched painfully, then slammed his head into the console dead from the force of the attack.
"Schutta!" The Twi'lekki curse echoed through the cabin loudly
What is it Vodo?, Hel-pa was quick to respond
Vodo pinched the bridge of his nose as he walked into the cockpit and picked up the dead flight officer, I killed the flight crew.
Did they have what we are looking for?.
Vodo laughed as they threw the man to the ground in anger, I couldn't tell you. He shot, I blocked, he's dead...
A small slip of paper fell from the dead man's jacket pocket as vodo gave the body a kick in frustration. Furrowing his brow, Vodo picked the paper up and unfolded it carefully. It felt ancient, and was covered in runes of unknown origin, Hel-pa, I think I might have found something Have Rannik find the jump coordinates that rouge fighter was headed to. I'll meet you aboard the orthanc.
Vodo exited the cockpit and looked at the apprentices, staring at him in fear, "Welcome to the Brotherhood. I'll send an envoy to fly the ship to the planet. You may stay with Clan Taldryan for until the Shadow Academy arranges transport to your destined clans."
The Knight walked into the airlock, and sealed his flight suit onto his helmet. The airlock closed tightly, and with a hiss, the air emptied itself, opening to the vacuum outside the ship. His fighter waited there floating and ready. The cockpit was only a short distance from the ship, Vodo cleared it easily, floating in the dead of space. He activated the flight engines and sped up to speed, coming alongside Skilb.
"I've already called Amiz and Rannik to meet us aboard the Orthanc. We have landing clearance in the main hangar"
Due to inactivity, this run-on has been closed.