CNS Runon - The "True" Brotherhood
I'm starting a Runon here at weekend for Clan Naga Sadow members. No awards or set finish times, just see how the story pans out.
I want to get as many people as possible involved at all levels of the Clan, so if you've never participated in a runon before this is a good place to start.
I'll post the introduction closer to the weekend.
The Envoy of House Ludo Kressh walked past the two guards into the large plushly decorated office, and glanced around at the polished ebony furniture and the flickering torches in the room. She finally looked at the Clan Envoy sat behind the desk. “I have brought the Acolyte we spoke of.”
“Bring him in then Siyavash I have made the preparations.”
She nodded. “I can feel them,” she replied with a grimace, “it is disturbing, like being blind.”
Malisane shrugged, “It is the safest precaution we have available.”
“If Macron or the summit knew you had them here there would be trouble,” the Krath Hunter warned.
“They will understand if we are correct.” The Sith replied. “Bring him in.”
Siyavash turned. “Send him in!” she called.
Into the room walked a young man, dressed in the simple robes of a Sith Acolyte. He bowed to the two envoys graciously. The Knight and the Hunter noticed his face flicker slightly as he entered, looking slightly worried.
“Ah Acolyte Melak,” Malisane greeted him, “thank you for attending us.”
The other young man nodded slightly but said nothing.
Malisane continued. “House Envoy Siyavash and I have been watching your career with great interest Acolyte. We are impressed by your progress. You have performed well so far, have you not?”
Melak nodded, “Thank you I have given every effort to my studies,” he replied.
“You have Acolyte,” Malisane replied with a smile, “And we note you have passed a great many examinations within the shadow academy, with nearly top marks in each. Impressive to say the least.” He studied the younger Sith’s impassive face. “Of course you have advantages do you not?”
“Do I?” Melak replied cautiously.
“You do,” Malisane confirmed, “You took to your studies like one who almost knew as much as the teachers.” He watched the Acolyte for a reaction, “And your lightsaber training is also impressive, despite you never having held the weapon before your instructors report you could have been carrying a saber for decades,” he looked the Acolyte straight in the eye, “as no doubt you have.”
Melak’s face twitched slightly. “I do not understand Envoy.”
“I think you do Melak.” Malisane replied.
The Acolyte became aware of two guards moving into position between himself and the door, rifles ready.
“Who are you?” Malisane asked simply.
Melak managed to maintain a neutral expression. “I am Acolyte Melak of House Ludo Kressh.”
“You lie,” Malisane replied, “I do not know who you are, your image and DNA sample has been checked with our computers and that of the Envoys other clans, and you have drawn no match. But you are not an Acolyte and you are not as young as you appear. Your natural abilities and your strength in the force denies that possibility”
Melak’s face grew wary and his body tensed for action.
“Do not make a move,” Malisane warned, “as you no doubt sense the force will not aid you here. My pets have seen to that.”
“Yaksalmari!” Melak gasped.
Malisane nodded, “Not so easy to find following Thrawn’s activities but available to those who have the resources. There are enough surrounding us to block a Jedi Master. So, who are you? What are you doing in the Clan Naga Sadow?”
Melak sneered. “I shall tell you nothing!” he snapped.
Malisane smiled, “Very well,” he replied, “Siyavash take this scum to Macron. Ask him to use whatever he sees fit to withdraw the information. I will speak with the other Envoy’s and have them survey their own yeomen ranks.”
The next day on board the Keepsake Malisane, Macron and Lucius sat in the conference room. “What have you discovered?” Malisane asked the Quaestor.
Macron shrugged. “He spoke, at length, as you know few resist my attentions.”
“Is he from another clan?” the Aedile asked.
“No,” the Quaestor replied, “he is not a member of the Brotherhood,” he frowned, “or at least not ours.”
Malisane nodded, “I thought as much, I have spoken with the other Clan Envoys they are doing similar checks on their own ranks, and Siyavash and Manji are investigating every member who has joined recently. So where is he from?”
Macron glanced at the data pad in front of him. “He revealed under torture that he is from what he arrogantly calls the True Brotherhood.”
“True Brotherhood?” Lucius repeated, “Who or what is that?”
Macron shrugged, “It appears to be a small but growing sect of Dark Jedi based on a world in the outer rim, Kanagras.”
“Not one I have heard of,” Malisane commented.
“Neither have I. According to our records it’s a scarcely populated jungle world, massive animal life but no settlements, about ten days hyperspace travel from here,” The Quaestor shrugged, “Anyway, they appear to be have modelled themselves on ourselves, under the rule of one Grandmaster Darth Severak.”
“I do not recognise the name,” Malisane replied, “Is there any record of him?”
“No,” Macron replied, “of course that might not be his real name. He might be some rogue from the Brotherhood we don’t know.”
“So what happens now?” Lucius asked.
“Xanos is speaking to the Dark Council. We’ll have to await their decision.” Macron replied.
Half an hour later Macron entered the room. “We’ve had the response. The Dark Council has left it up to us to resolve this. Xanos is ordering us to take a task force to Kangaras. I’ve sent out a general request to all active members of Naga Sadow to assist us, the more the better to be honest as we don’t know how strong this “True” Brotherhood really is or how powerful this Dark Severak might be.”
“What are our orders?” Lucius asked.
Macron smiled. “To find this upstart Brotherhood and destroy them utterly.”
Malisane nodded. "Very well if the Clan members gather on the Keepsake we'll discuss our strategy."
A small craft dropped out of hyperspace into the system where the Keepsake was waiting. Like a knife edge the blade class fighter moved towards the larger craft. Keying in his final commands for apprach JH Acara Rayden opned up his COM.
"This is Jedi Hunter Acara Rayden, requesting permission to land."
The reply came, "Granted."
Rayden had been out testing a new upgrade to his blade's hyperdrive when the call for Active members of the brotherhood had come out. He took the blade through the hanger door shield and set it down gracefully.
He exited the cockpit takeing out and placing in their ususal places his Blastsword and several daggers. closing it back up Acara strode out of the hanger in search of Malisane or Macron who could tell him what was going on.
Following a few moments behind out of hyperspace came a Sapphire Squadron customized TIE Interceptor, bearing countless kill marks.
He spoke emotionless over his comlink. "Dark Jedi Knight Romulus "Acerbus" Mandalore, reporting in. Requesting permission to land."
Landing carefully in the hangar bay, he opened the cockpit, and leapt out. Still in his flightsuit, DL-44 and lightsaber strapped to his belt, he ran down the hallways towards the conference room.
Opening the door, he saw that the room was mostly empty but for the Ludo Kressh Summit. Macron, Lucius, and Malisane were sitting in a conference room that could easily seat thirty.
"Welcome, Acerbus." spoke Macron. "We've been waiting for you."
Still panting from his run, he replied, "Anyone want to tell me what's going on? There was a call-"
Lucius cut him off. "We know. When everyone gets here, we'll brief you. Have a seat. We have at least one more on the way."
The Mandalore sat down, and awaited the next members to heed the Clan's call to arms.
A battle scarred TIE Interceptor from one of Clan Naga Sadow's houses dropped out of hyperspace and streaked toward the landing bay of the Keepsake at break-neck speed.
"Keepsake, this is Dark Jedi Knight Zaknafein Mandalore," he paused for a moment. " Requesting permission to land."
The stars glinted sharply on the tinted visor of the Chiss' helmet as he brought his ship into the hold and swiviled to face the entrance. Zak cut power to the engines and popped the hatch, taking a moment to adjust his lightsaber, then launched himself out, clearly in a hurry.
No sooner had his feet touched the polish deck Mandalore strode towards the meeting room, armored boots sending harsh echoes down the hall. His Dainslaif pommel jutted over his right shoulder along with several grenades attached to his wide belt.
Zaknafein paused for a moment to allow the door to swish open, then stepped inside, removing his Mandalorian helmet as he did so.
His long white hair contrasted sharply with his dark skin, along with several long scars on his face, most noticably across his right eye. A thick line of black paint stretched across his cheekbones and the bridge of his nose.
"I heard you needed me to help kick some ass." Fangs glinted as Zak grinned. "I'm all for it!"
She entered the room, eyeing the people inside of it. Excited she fiddled with her saber, "A new mission, finally", she thought. "I wouldn't like to miss the chance for some action. I am in.", she bowed her head lightly, then walked over to Macron, standing behind his seat.
She leaned closer to Macron, whispering: "And it is my duty as your blackguard to attend to this mission." Some of her red hair strands tickled his cheek. No matter how hard she tried, she wasn't able to hide the pride she felt about her duty, and the reference for Macron. Then she murmered in Macron's ear: "But no matter what, on the field of genetics you still need to learn a lot." Macron turned his head to hers, only briefly able to see a faint smile on her lips as she stepped back behind his seat.
Macron smirked at the comment Sildrin made. "Yes, of course. Genetics is merely a side interest, a hobby if you will. My true curiousity lays in the field of arms and armor."
He smiled broadly, and nodded. She would see soon enough when the new lightsaber guide came out. Xanos, Muz, and Macron had been writing the updated work in secret.
The Warrior was glad she had his back covered. He believed in keeping his friends and enemies close. And amongst the Dark Jedi, they were often the same. Weakness was weeded out ruthlessly. Macron wondered how he had survived this long in a dog-eat-dog world.
He surveyed the room, counting the operatives to himself. "Acerbus, Malisane, Acara, Lucius, Sildrin... and a Chiss. Must be Zak."
Macron walked about amongst the new arrivals, chatting with each as they waited. He stopped at Zaknafein. "Well... hello. Good to see you. I heard you had joined us in Kressh, most excellent. Some long away mission, eh? You must tell me more sometime."
Malisane coughed and interrupted the general chit-chat. " Here's my idea..."
The plan was sound, a simple pincer maneuver, with the Ragnosians assaulting from the flank, and the Kressh Forces walking right up to the front door. Malisane elucidated the details of the plan, how the spoils of war should be dispersed, and what members would remain behind to support the clan holdings.
Muz listened as the knight run through his notes, feeling into the shadow torrent of the Force to sense the anxiety and fear within the Knight. Muz let the trappings of mirth cross the corners of his maw as Malisane stood and asked for any questions.
General bravado-fueled comments followed, erupting from the assembled strike forces. Muz refocused his attention to the alignement of the novae focusing crystals in his off-hand saber, absentminded verse dripping from his mouth.
"As the false ones muster rank,
our storm, they shall not weather.
Plunge their hearts into the dank
and from their bodies, souls untether..."
Macron raised an eyebrow at the twisted quartrain took root in their minds. Thinking back to what he had seen the Pontifex succumb to, those inner demons of perverse mayhem, he wondered if the Proconsul was losing control again. Malisane just turned and stared, the words saturating his spirit in strength and purpose.
Muz looked up slowly, the inky pools glinting behind strands of dark hair. Closing the hilt of his saber and sliding the flame-engraved handgrip back into place, he stood. Sweeping the room with his eyes, Muz cracked his neck.
"Well then. Are we going to go teach these whelps the meaning of darkness, or stand here bragging until the stars burn out?"
Malisane cleared his throuat briefly, adjourning the briefing. As they cleared the hall, he stepped to the Proconsul, patiently waiting for Macron and Sildrin to finish their private joke.
Muz nodded in Malisane's direction, blinking slowly and bidding him to speak.
"Prefect Ashen, are you sure that you wish to accompany us on this mission? I am more than certain that this doesn't necessarily need anyone with quite so..."
Muz dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand. "I've spent too much time training, Malisane, and not enough in the field." Muz flipped his sabers in his hands idly before slipping the darkened hilts back into their retention rigs on his legs. "Something tells me that we might need some more experienced aid upon this mission, anyway. Has Jonus Rai reported in yet?"
Malisane shook his head slowly.
Muz nodded recognition, a glint of amusement crossing his face. "He probably will soon enough, and then I can show him what he has been missing....and get to test out the Sokan I have been studying." Muz winked abruptly, then turned to leave the hall to prepare for launch.
Muz was nearby, and dangerously unstable. Mononoke moved to a better vantage point to keep an eye on the Proconsul. Muz spouting poetry was a bad sign. Manji could not be too far behind. Although Muz was a looming thundercloud, his Master got intimate with him frequently in the area of pain. He would have to be alert.
Macron perused this holopad. “Darth Severak….“ he muttered to himself. No such Sith existed in any holocron or database he had been able to slice into, and his skills were considerable. He needed someone better. He knew just the woman for the job. He turned to the Krath Witch that was his Guard, and friend of sorts.
“Sildrin, could you look up this … Severak,” he said with a distasteful sneer. He would accord the title of Lord of the Sith only to one who had earned it. This common bastard surely could not be a Lord. Macron gestured to a holomap he brought up for all to see.
“Here is what I have on Kanagras, “ he presented to the Dark Jedi present. “The world itself is small, approximately 20,000 kilometers in diameter. It rotates about it’s axis every 42 galactic standard hours. However, it is oriented with one pole facing it’s precessional orbit, meaning one hemisphere is baked and one is dark. The baked side is a teeming mass of jungle, and the other barely supports life. We questioned this Acolyte thoroughly.”
The screen changed to show a human male in the shredded robes of an Acolyte, being attended to by Macron and Sildrin as well as a host of interrogation bots. The sight was truly horrible, and the agonies he was subjected to were indescribable. Obviously, they had hit a note in the symphony of inflicted pain together that was something new. Progress was inevitable.
The twitching mess that used to be a man gurgled some words. “Severak, True Brotherhood,” he gasped. “Kill you all…. Gurggh…” The scene died out.
“As you can see, he was quite resilient,” spoke Macron. “These are well trained Force users.” He smiled a toothy reptilian grin. “But we are better, and meaner. I say we move out and crush these upstarts. Glory to Sadow!”
Malisane looked up and smiled as an attractivel blonde woman wearing the robes of a Ludo Kressh Sith Guardian entered the room and rushed up to give her a hug. "Hi glad you could make it Selena."
She looked at him and smiled. "Oh I wouldn't miss this for the world."
He grinned, "Of course not." the Knight replied.
Macron came over to them and Malisane smiled. "Macron I trust you know my latest student, Selena, one of the brightest new stars of Ludo Kressh."
Macron nodded. "Of course," he replied, "Good to have you on board." the Quaestor replied giving her a wink.
The Guardian smiled and ran her fingers through her hair, "I am looking forward to it," she replied, "I haven't seen any action since Yavin IV I've missed it."
Macron's face briefly looked puzzled, "You came to Yavin IV?" he asked. She turned to him and looked him deeply in the eyes, her blue gaze delving into his mind "Oh yes of course you were. Yes it was good." he said sounding a little distant.
Selena gave him an apprasing look, then satisfied she turned back to Malisane. "When are we departing?" she asked.
Malisane shrugged, "I'm seeing who else signs up before we depart," he replied, "we need as much muscle as we can muster. Good to have Muz on board. Ah here he comes now."
Selena's face briefly flicked worried, before returning to normal. She glanced at the approaching Krath. "Well I'd better go and find my quarters." She quickly left the room.
Muz watched her leave. "Who was that?" he asked.
Malisane looked puzzled, "Don't you know my student Selena?"
"No I do not," Muz replied, "I don't recall seeing her name on the roster."
"I'll introduce you when she comes back," Malisane replied, "very promising student."
Muz nodded. "Very well. When do you intend to depart?"
"I suggest we wait a few more hours see who else joins us. Then we can make all speed to Kangaras."
A small transport ship lands aboard the Keepsake, its doors open, and a cloaked figure steps down the ramp and onto the floor of the landing bay. The figure lowers its hood to reveal Dark Jedi Knight Kris Omega, she surveys her surroundings as she unconsciously fingers the hilt of her lightsaber, and after a moment starts walking toward the door that would lead to the ship.
After traversing down the hallway, she soon finds Malisane and Muz along with the other volunteers. She walks up to them, "Dark Jedi Knight Kris Omega reporting for duty, sirs." she says with a bow.
Both men bow back at the young DJK, "Welcome, Kris, glad you could make it." Muz replies.
"I'm sure you know the mission specs?" Malisane asks.
Kris nods, "Yes, sir, another Brotherhood plans on eradicating us, that's why I came, I haven't seen much action lately, and really want to help." she replies with a respectful bow of her head.
"The more the merrier." Muz replies with a smile at the DJK.
"We just need to wait for more volunteers before we can disembark." Malisane states as he looks over the small group of warriors who have bravely volunteered for this latest adventure.
"Well to be sure, they'll regret having sent a spy among us." Kris remarks as she brushes a strand of hair from her hazel eyes and leans back against the wall to await the rest of the reinforcements.
The room was barely lit by flashes from the various screen blinking, the humming sound of electronics filling the shadows. Among the shadows stood, seated on the edge of a chair, a large human figure, eyes fixed on one particular screen with the logs from hangars from Aeotheran, Tarthos and Sepros. His gloved hand going from the keyboard to rest over his vacc helm on the table, the only piece of the suit still not worn.
Another screen came alive on his left. The chirping voice forming on the speaker. "...nsport Keepsake calling platform Obsidian. Do you copy?"
The figure lazily pushed his chair towards the comm and bending over the controls spat.
"Obsidian here, what's the situation Keepsake."
"Battlemaster Scithe, his lordship Mononoke Keibatsu-Goura is on the line." The comm officer hastily said on the other side. "May I put it through?"
The frown was response enough to the officer and the screen wavered to show another, more threatening face.
Scithe half grinned as if expecting it. "Lord Macron. What brings you to remember me? Have something interesting to share?"
"Stop that scene, Scithe. We know you are locked in there by your own will." The Quaestor seemed little interested in bad jokes. "Have you heard the news already?"
"The advantages of being in the closest station to the comm sat. Sure I heard it. And logged it too, by the way." Scithe answered. "And, if you please, bring me some nice souvenir from that jungle."
Macron looked a little puzzled. "Well, I thought you would like to catch one yourself. Are you not coming?"
"Nah, thanks. You never know who would barge home these days..." Scithe reclined on the chair spreading his arms and sneezing. "And besides, I only fell safe onboard a ship with a stick in my hand."
Muz, Macron and Malisane stood on the bridge watching the viewscreen. A lieutenant approached them, saluted and addressed Macron. "Sir, all fighter wings have reported in. We await your command."
Macron glanced at Muz, who nodded silently. "Very well," the Quaestor replied, "prepare to enter hyperspace on course for Kangaras. We need to proceed there with all speed." The officer saluted again and turned to convey the orders.
"I still wish we could have sent an advanced party," Malisane remarked quietly, just loud enough for the Pontiflex and the Warrior to hear, "I'd rather know what it is we're walking into. Despite your torture we only have this Melak's word about the strength of their numbers."
"We've been over this," Macron replied, "if we leave now it's a ten day journey to Kangaras, that's the quickest we can get there. We don't have time to wait for an advanced party to report back. Sooner or later they're going to notice their spy is missing, which could mean they're ready for us or worse they've packed up and moved planets. We have to strike at the earliest possible."
"They may already know." Muz commented.
"How so?", Malisane asked, "I'm pretty certain our screening would have picked up any more agents if they existed."
Muz shook his head, "We don't know who this so called Darth Severak is yet," he replied, "but if he is a Grandmaster or of a simular strength in the force he may already know exactly what has happened, where we are going and what we intend to do."
Malisane shuddered. "That doesn't bear thinking about," he said quietly, "we could be walking into an trap we can't see until it's too late."
Macron clapped the younger Sith on the shoulder, "Don't worry my friend. Just knowing that it may be a trap gives us an advantage. In any case hopefully Sildrin will find some information during our journey that will decrease your concerns."
"I hope so." Malisane replied, watching the screens as the stars blurred into hyperspace.
A vague feeling of irritation nibbled at the edges of his conscious mind as he realized that the Keepsake had already entered hyperspace. His eyes flashed their usual vibrant crimson as he strode into the Hangar bay and picked out his rather conspicous craft. It was a Naboo N-1, heavily modified with upgraded avionics, engines, an enlargement of the cockpit making the craft a two seater, and a radically more powerful hyperdrive. However, all those were less conspicous than the newest addition to the formidable repertoire of this craft, so to speak.
After the wonderful adventures with his clansmen fighting that strange alien race with the highly difficult to pronounce name, Syrus had decided to upgrade his craft's armor. Using his highly impressive purchasing power (Credits, credits, bathing in credits...) and his connections within the Tagge Corporation, he had managed to procure a considerable amount of quantum-crystalline alloy. Granted, it had cost him over fifty million credits, the market being what it was, but he found that it was worth it. When one was old, rich, and about to go and possibly die for a shadowy organization of Dark Jedi, there was no reason to hoard money anymore.
With a grunt and a tremendous glare of pain from his right knee, Syrus leapt into the now open cockpit. He activated the sublight drive and, within a few short seconds, had reached escape velocity. As he entered the blackness of space he activated the navicomputer and had the coordinates for the lovely land of Kangaras calculated. There was a small beep of assent from one of the six small HUD's dominating the conrtol area of the craft and then he was in hyperspace. Everything was silent except for the intermittent beeps as one or other part of his craft went about its work. He laid his head back against the padded seat of the N-1 and fell immediately into the half-sleep that he had been having for the past eighty years of his life.
One could never truly sleep, not when the dark side pulsated with a rhythmic tendencies, at times sounding like the cascading waves of the ocean. The undertow of sleep was overpowered by the undertow of the Mind and the Force. He had not truly, deeply, slept for over eighty five years. He wandered the dark side, wandered his mind, and in such a manner let his madness sleep for the time being.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi entered the bridge and nodded as Macron, Muz and Malisane all turned to see who had just entered. He reached out with the force to touch Muz and Macrons minds and felt more than the usual dementia and darkness. Perhaps it had been too long since they had seen action, or perhaps the madness had gained a stronger foothold within Muz's mind. Shin'ichi could not be sure, but he was sure of one thing, both of his brothers were ready for war.
"Archpriest Shin'ichi" spoke Malisane. "When did you arrive? I did not see you at the briefing and received no word that you had arrived later via alternate transport." The Knight seemed a little embarrassed that he hadn't been able to keep track of all the players in his operation. This brought a barely noticeable smile to Shin'ichi's lips.
"I have been here all along Knight Malisane." Shin'ichi said with ice in his voice. "Never forget that I was stalking the shadows for our Emperor when you were still in swaddling clothes." He said the last with a hint of contempt. Muz and Macron had to keep from chuckling. Malisane merely nodded and continued.
"Have you been briefed then? I can call up the data in a mo..." Shin'ichi cut the Knight off. "I am well apprized of the plan Malisane, and prepared to do my part." With that he tilted his head towards Muz and said softly yet proudly: "I am at your service as always my Lord Keibatsu."
At that Muz nodded in agreement and spoke.
Two shall take a one-way path
Knowing not the hidden wrath
For when in battle darkness thrives
To them the dead shall come alive.
He was most definitely not himself. His voice seemed almost disconnected, as if it was coming from some deep place within him. Shin'ichi made note to keep an ever vigilant eye on his elder brother as they hunted this 'Darth Severak'. Yet the Archpriest smiled wider and attempted to lighten the dark pall that was cast across his Master's face. "Always creating aren't you my brother? It is well that you do, for soon we shall rend asunder this 'true brotherhood' and their blood shall wash over us as their screams lull us to sleep."
Macron nodded. His twisted mind enjoying the images placed there by Shin'ichi. Malisane looked slightly uneasy, but regained his composure and began issuing orders to the officers in the bridge. He turned to Shin'ichi. "Will you require anything in the interim?" he asked politely. Shin'ichi shook his head and said: "No thank you Knight Malisane. I have all the equipment I need, and I do not desire comfort as others do."
Then looking about the bridge he said "I bid you good day. I shall retire to my quarters now, please inform me if there are any new developments." as he said this he made a series of inconspicuous hand gestures that told his brothers to meet him in one hour, and with that left the bridge for his Spartan quarters and a stiff drink.
Qiw Nuron rushed to his Assault Gunboat "Chimira," knowing he had already missed the Keepsake. His superiors would not be pleased that he had missed his flight, and would arrive even later o Kangaras due to his slower hyperdrives, but that could be fixed.
Nuron ran through the hatch to te cockpit and began to make slight adjustments to the hyperdrive settings. Within moments he had boosted its effeciency by ten persent, which would allow him to arrive at Kangaras at approximatly the same time as the Keepsake.
He engaged his sublight engines an took to space. Inputing the coordinates for Kangaras, thinking of his Antei-saber and what it havoc it would cause for the "True Brotherhood," that if they even use lightsabers. He had no idea how barbaric these Dark Jedi would be.
He ran over his breifing he had visioned while meditating. Though he did not know if it was a true premenition, he trusted in the force.
The Chimira disappeared into Hyperspace...
The room was only dimly lighted while she stared at the screen of the terminal in front of her. For hours she had done researches on this ominous "Darth Severak". Frustrated she rubbed her hurting eyes, cringing as the throbbing pain behind her eyes nearly became unbearable. Since the pain slipped her controll, she simply gave into it.
She grabbed for the small data crystal, slipped it into a pocket of her robe and got up. "I wish, I had found more about this Severak", she thought. With a flick of the force she turned off the light in the room. A soft sigh escaped her lips and she tilted back her head, for a few seconds enjoying the darkness that soothed a bit the pain behind her eyes. Then she made her way to find Muz and Macron. To her astonishment she also found Shin'ichi. She bowed her head lightly: "Muz, Shin'ichi… I need to talk to you. In a seperated room.", her gaze fell upon Macron and a light frown appeared on her face. Her stare rested long on Macron as if she was pondering hard, then she added quietly: ".. and also Macron."
She lead the three of them into a seperated room, still feeling uncomfortable that she left out Malisane, but she had her reasons. After closing the doors she turned around: "There is nothing much I was able to find out about Severak. And yes.. he has no rights to claim the title of a Darth." Macron made a disgusted look as he heard about someone falsly claiming this title. "This Severak shall be crushed like a vermine beneath our feet.", he clenched a fist.
She continued: "The most disturbing thing about Severak is, that he is a former member of the Dark Brotherhood. That is one of the few things I was able to find out. Most of the data was destroyed or mutilated. Maybe even on purpose."
Silently Muz listened, then he said sternly: "Someone had helped him to wipe out that data." His dark eyes glinted at them from behind the strands of his hair.
"The recent discovery of a spy among us was the first sign", Sildrin continued. "I am sure there are more. And that is… why I only invited the three of you."
She pulled out the data crystal: "This is all I have found about Severak. It's not very much. I couldn't even track down to what house he belonged. All I know is that he was about to be banned from the Dark Brotherhood when it came out that he had stolen several ancient informations from several houses. But he disappeared before the Council could be informed about those cases."
Macron nearly spitted out these words: "And our security system has been showing several lacks - as we know from Gaidal Dupar's penetration of the Naga Sadow base." Shin'ichi folded his hands, he added with icy words: "I hope he has not stolen anything from Naga Sadow or he will pay dearly."
Sildrin sat down on a chair: "This is one of the things we need to find out. And even more important is to find out who is on our side and who is not. Wiping out data from several databases is not an easy task. And he / she or they were very good at it.", she looked at Muz and Shin'ichi: "I know you are faithfull followers of the Dark Brotherhood for many years now." Her yellow eyes turned upon Macron: "Maybe I am a fool to trust you, but somehow I do. …. And your name is Keibatsu. If not for my trust in you, I wouldn't have accepted to be your Blackguard.", her voice trembled lightly. She ran a hand over her eyes and she continued: "We have to be carefull - maybe we even have several spies among us. Severak wants informations, weapons, … Smugglers appear to frequent more oftenly the system Kanagras is in. He is very greedy and grew in power when he engulfed all the informations and ancients secrets he had stolen from the different houses. This is all I have to report.", she finished.
Muz and Schin'ichi discussed quietly as she walked over to Macron. She said quietly to him: "I hope I am protection enough for you… and all the knowledge in your head." Macron's yellow eyes stared into hers - oddly their eye colors were quiet similar. "I am sure Severak would love to discover the secrets a Sith alchemist has to offer." Was there suddenly a quiet voice in her head or not? Whispering gently in her mind: "And what if your own secrets are interesting enough for Severak?" She clenched a fist and for brief moment she looked sad, thinking: "Me? I have nothing to offer Severak or anyone would be truely interested in." She found herself still staring at Macron and she flashed a light smile at him.
At that moment, the door of the room fell open, banging against the wall. A muffled expletive reached the Dark Jedi within as they turned swiftly, hands whipping to their belts to bring out lightsabres. Then Manji stumbled in, catching himself swiftly and straightening up with a disarming grin.
"Yo. What's up?"
Chuckles resounded around the group as they relaxed, Muz moving behind the Epis to shut the door quickly. Turning to face his brother, Manji grinned again.
"What's with leaving me out? I'm in on this, right?"
Shaking his head, the Pontifex laughed as his brother's voice chased away the trailing demons in his head. For a moment, his thoughts were mercifully free of confusion, cleared of chaos.
"Did you speak to Malisane?"
"Yeah. He's cool with me joining y'all. Except that I almost missed the departure... stupid alarm droid wouldn't work."
Looking away from Sildrin for a moment, Macron flashed a grin at the Epis.
"I'll lend you one. How about a modified interrogation droid? Nothing like a little electric shock to wake you up in the morning."
Uncertainty flashed across Manji's face, flickering through his grin.
"Heh... some of us don't share your affinity for pain, Mac."
Then the Epis switched his gaze back to the group as a whole, fists on his hips. The glow of the holoscreen illuminated his scarred countenance with an eerie light as he emitted a deep laugh.
"Now. Who wants to fill me in?"
Rolling her eyes, Sildrin grinned, jolted out of her melancholy by the irrepresible Epis. Then she tossed the data crystal towards Manji, his reflexes allowing him to snatch it from the air and study it. Several moments passed as the Epis opened up the crystal and begin to skim over the contents, muttering to himself as he read. Then he looked up, glancing at Muz momentarily with a wicked grin.
"Well, since demon-boy over there is too busy mouthing off verses and going insane, I suppose I'll have to do the thinking on this little jaunt. There's something to worry ya."
Amongst the laughter that followed, Muz jokingly raised a hand to smack his brother around the head as Manji danced away from him, chuckling. Glancing at each other, Macron and Shin exchanged grins.
"He seems to have forgotten about us..."
Macron smiled as he keyed the link. His Master had distracted the volatile Muz for a while. That was good. Sildrin had found more information than he had, which was predictable. He loved that about her. She was a wonderful snoop.
Macron moved to the Ysalamiri-secure area for his transmission. Flanked by a pair of Sith security droids. The lack of the Force bothered them not at all, and the Sith was paranoid. There could be enemies aboard this ship. Of course, paranoia was nothing new to him. He lived with it's insinuating presence every day.
"Scithe, hello," came his voice as he connected. "Hey man- don't call me Lord, okay? You'll get me in trouble. I'm not one- yet." He smiled as Scithe's image nodded. It had been a joke, of course.
"Could you please check the logs for anything... unusual," Macron asked. "You know, records of unauthorized depatures or arrivals on Obsidian. Something is wrong here. Look up a "Guardian Severina" for me, if you would. She is apprenticed to Malisane, but yet not. Shin'Ichi has no record of her, and she is on this ship. Thanks man. I'll bring you a nice souveneir for sure. You want... biomass? Severed heads? Or just a nice drink? No problem. Thanks for all you do."
Mononoke returned to the briefing area with a puzzled look on his face. "Severina... I don't know her, and I know all of Kressh personally. Those ysalamir really cleared my head. I must be careful here." he sought out Manji and Sildrin to consult with them, in the secure chamber. He left Muz alone for now, in fear.
In his candle lit quarters aboard the Keepsake Acara was looking over the information Malisane had provided. He couldn't find any new information that would solve the questions in his mind. A beeping sounded on his console. tappin keys a bridge officer appeared in front of him.
"Acara Rayden, we have recieved a comunication from Adumar. It has been cleared through to you."
"Good. Put it through," came Rayden's reply as he shut off visual.
The planets name had rung a bell in the Jedi Hunters head, he had imeadiatly sent off for all the information Adumar possesed. Puting it up on his screen he looked through it. Yes he was right, an Adumari scout team had passed through the system. There was more. Jumping to his feet Acara snatched up his blastsword and stormed through his door, just hesitating long enough to extinguish the flames with his mind.
"Macron," The kresshian said when he located his Queastor. " I thought you may wish to see this."
He watched the older dark Jedi. " As you can see an Adumari scout group went through the system not too long ago and cames under fire from some kind of defence grid. One Blade was last seen crashing into the planets surface. It looks like they may have some heavy defences or some form of Capital ship. That information came from Adumari military by the way."
The three stood alone, ysalamirii perched on each corner of the small chamber which once held the rotting carcass of the heretic infiltrator. The cleaning droid was already there, but it could not wipe away the fragments of screams on the minds of the spectators. Some of them, like Quaestor Macron, never gets hid of those spectres, joining each an every one of them to his own madness.
The man with the eyepatch looked quizzcally to the madman. "Hey Macron, what's with that smile on your face? You called us here to discuss plans and just keep looking to that wall..."
A gentler voice interposed between the two. "Leave this for another time, we still have to find out if we have more spies on this ship."
The yellow eyes passed from the room wall to Nekura Manji and then to Sildrin. "True. Actually, I'm just waiting a response to start the interrogation process on another suspect."
"And so we kill every suspect from here to Kangaras and end up with no crew at all to return home..." Manji skeptcally added. "That will not do."
"So do you suggest something?" The yellow eyes focused on Manji again. "I don't see any other way to make them walk up and expose themselves."
"I do." Sildrin pointed. "Who was that suspect you were wondering, Macron?"
Manji tried to catch the message, but lacked it. "What exactly do you think, Sil?"
With a malicious grin on her face, Sildrin just answered. "We just need them to think we have a very 'cooperative' fellow and they'll swarm the place just to silence it."
* * *
Back to the bridge, Macron was greeted by the officer with the message he was expecting. He eargerly picked the datapad and went away for his room.
* * * FILE START - 01738455 * * *
DARK BROTHERHOOD ARCHIVES
POSITION: Not assigned to a position
DATE OF ADMITTANCE: Nov 15th 2005.
PHYSICAL QUIRKS: Long dark brown hair with light skin, no noticeable scars or tatoos.
SYSTEM OF ORIGIN: Not informed
FAMILY TIES: Not Informed
NOTES FROM HEADMASTER AT SHADOW ACADEMY: Quite consistent student, with high standards. Heavily disciplined and prone to obey orders. Organized and discreet. Reported to have socialization difficulties with other students, having not formed ties with other students.
NOTES FROM CNS ROLLMANTER: Quick-learner with a quirk for stealth and electronics. Disciplined, but have problems with teamwork. Not very able at fighter school. Decent swordmanship. Recently assigned to Master DJK Malisane de Ath.
OBSIDIAN SPACE CONTROL LOGS
FILTER BY MEMBER: Severina
NOV 29: TRNS from Shadow Academy. Destination: Dentavii.
DEC 12: MTRNS Saber's Edge Destination: Sepros.
DEC 13: MTRNS Saber's Edge Destination: Dentavii.
DEC 26: MUTR Keepsake Destination: Aetotheran.
JAN 02: MUTR Keepsake Destination: Kangaras.
Hope you enjoy the list. There's also some other stuff I wanted to say about that girl. I have seem NO reference about her doing anything on that invasion on Yavin or the conquest of Aeotheran. She looks to just sit there and wait for stuff to come.
P.S.: Bring me something furry to replace the wookie pelt you people seemed to forget on Ullyr... =P
And by the way, stop playing dumb and don't broadcast that kind of news while on hyperdrive. The comm-boosters are quite prone to attack by slicers. Ask Sil for help if you get stuck.
* * * END OF FILE * * *
Severina switched off the viewscreen. The conversation she had intercepted between Macron and Sithe confirmed her suspicions. He disguise had not quite been good enough. The aura she presented with the force should have been high enough to waylay suspicioun from her to anyone not close to her own level, the Quaestor shouldn't have suspected a thing.
She stood up. She had to deal with him, otherwise she would find herself trapped on the ship far from her master surrounded by these Dark Brotherhood fools. She left her quarters and hurried towards the briefing room, passing several of the journeymen without a look.
She entered the room and looked around. Sildrin and Shin ichi were having a conversation, and fortunatley there was no sign of either of the Pontiflexs. Macron was stood watching the viewscreens. She approached him. He turned and she could see the suspicion in his face. "My master requests your presense, he says he has something important to show you alone." Macron looked deep into her eyes, and she kept an innocent look on her face and sending waves of calming influence into his mind.
"Very well," he replied, "take me to him."
She lead him down the corridor, feeling his presence and his suspicioun behind her. She entered Malisane's quarters and Macron followed her in. "Where is Malisane?"
"He will be here soon he is bringing the data."
Macron eyed her then sat down in one of the chairs. He watched her for a few minutes. "Who are you?"
She looked at him, sensing that he was fighting her influence. She decided it was time to play her card. "Who do you think I am?"
"I think you are an agent of Severak, obviously a better one than Melak."
She smiled, "Melak was a fool, I warned him not to appear too competent but his arrogance stopped that. Yes I serve Severak, I have the honour of being one of his oldest disciples, who he himself entrusted with this mission."
He got to his feet. "I think it is time I took you to Muz and Manji."
She shook her head. "I don't think I want to meet them," she replied, "not yet. Between them they would cause me a problem." She looked at him, "You however, though a talented Sith Warrior, are no match. You will tell them nothing."
Macron felt himself loosing control, his thoughts fogging, he concentrated. "You cannot control me," he replied shaking his head to clear it.
She studied him, "You are correct, you show suprising resistance for your level, more than I have seen in a century. We will do it the hard way then." She raised her hand and the Quaestor was blasted from his feet, lightning surrounding him. His body was wrenched up and pinned against the wall.
He struggled, trying to fight back but her force grip was too strong. She approached him. "I could kill you, Quaestor, you have no defence, but not yet." She reached out her hand and the Quaestors head slammed back against the bulkhead wall, and his eyes closed. She lowered her hand and he dropped to the floor, unconsious. She crouched over him and let her hands touch his temples, "You will forget Warrior, about me and your suspicions and the last five minutes. I am Guardian Severina, a member of your own house and your friend. That is all you know."
She quickly healed the wound to the back of his head, and any traces of the damage she had caused him. The temptaion to kill was there but she knew it would risk unmasking her. She checked him over and was satisfied any traces of her attack were gone. She arranged his body in a position to make it look like he had simply fallen and stood up and quickly left the room.
"You cannot control me....." spoke Macron as he reached out with his own mind to his Guard. "Sildrin!"he whispered as the bolts of blue energy struck him. All went black then.
Macron lay still in the room, his heartbeat slowed and his mind foggy. Fortunately, his armor posessed electricity shielding of a high magnitude, and he was still alive. The synthetic Orbalisk venom in his veins ensured his rapid healing rate, and perhaps it had aided him in resisting Severina's original mind control. Being unconscious, however, removed that defense.
The warrior groaned as he tried to rise. Severina was his friend. He wondered why his head hurt so, brushing the back of it with his fingertips. He must have fallen. He wondered why he was in Malisane's quarters, and figured he must have gone off on a chemical binge. That was nothing new. But where was Malisane?
Sildrin had watched the pair leave the briefing room with a distrustful eye. Something was not quite right, but she had a hard time pinning it down. Some minutes later, a surge of Darkside energy brushed her mind- "Sildrin!". Macron was in trouble. The surge blanked out quickly, like it had been shut down. Or silenced.
His ship racing through hyperspace, Qiw Nuron sat alone fiddling with his Antei-Saber wondering how he was able to have these visions. Throughout all his studies he had never found an explenation, other than an uncanny connection to the force.
Evers since childhood he had had visions of death and suffering, but those had passed now with his return to the Brotherhood. These were new, different. They had begun just befor the Kah'mar'ian attack on the new Sadow Air Base. One had led him directly to the kah'mar'ian base in the jungle vally. They were most definitlly preminitions of some kind, but they would come at random times, and for unknown reasons. Some during meditation, which is where visions are most common, but others in his waking hours. Friends had told him that when these visions happened he would just fall to the floor in convulsions. Sometimes he was out for hours.
His vision of the breifing on the "True Brotherhood" was clear in his mind, as well as a following vision of this Darth Severk.
A cloaked figure radiating with Dark Power. Severk stood on a cliff, with his arms folded, staring at thousands of Dark Jedi battling below...
Nuron could feel his power even now as he sat there. Something powerful had been discovered by Severk...This Dark Lord was going to be much harder to put a stop to than anyone had realized...
Malisane sat in the quiet bar onboard the Keepsake sipping a glass of wine. He was bored. They had been in flight seven days had another three days of the journey left. He was eager to get to Kangaras, his first mission as a full Dark Jedi Knight. He drained his wine and was about to stand up when a shadow fell over the table.
He looked up to see his student, the beautiful Severina holding two glasses of wine. "Hi when did you get here?" he asked as she sat opposite and handed him his glass.
She looked at him in puzzlement. "What do you mean I've just been to get another round a few moments ago? I've been here with you for the last couple of hours." she replied.
Malisane frowned. Had she? He didn't remember. She stared deep into his eyes. Of course she had been here all along. "Yeah sorry don't know what came over me." replied.
She smiled, "You had a little too much wine master." she told him, "I did warn you three drinks ago."
Suddenly he realised she was right, he did feel light headed, funny how quick it had come over him. "Thought I'd only had a couple," he replied, "must be strong stuff."
She nodded, "I think you need a nice long sleep," she told him, "I'll help you."
He stood up, his legs feeling weak, and she tucked her head under his arm and supported him out of the bar. Through his clouded head he was briefly suprised how strong she was, but immediatley he forgot this.
As Severina supported the Sith out of the bar she smiled, that was her alibi taken care of.
Sildrin had watched the pair leave the briefing room with a distrustful eye. Something was not quite right, but she had a hard time pinning it down. Some minutes later, a surge of Darkside energy brushed her mind- "Sildrin!". Macron was in trouble. The surge blanked out quickly, like it had been shut down. Or silenced.
She stiffened at the mental distress call, then quickly left the room, tracking down Macron's presence in Malisane's room. As she picked up the pace, she grabbed for her saber igniting it with a fluent motion and started to run down the corridors. "Damn you Sil! You should have stayed with him… if he dies… ", she shouted at herself while adrenaline rushed through her blood. She slowed down, approaching the doors to Malisane's room, while she scanned the area for any suspicious force emanations, but there was nothing that caught her attention. With her purple saber raised in front of her she used the force to open the door and slowly walked inside.
In relief she saw Macron alive and quickly leaned over him as he tried to get up: "Are you alright? What happened?", her mental questions hit his mind. Macron got up, somehow not willing to admit another weakness of him to her. "I .. must have fallen.", he replied curtly. Suddenly she pushed him against a wall, her fingertips pressed against his right temple. And he felt her mental probes in his mind. His mental resistance immediately attempted to push her out, but she focused on her Krath training and quickly found what she was looking for. Her face paled and she stared at him, retreating from his mind. "Someone messed with your mind.", she said with a frown. Closing her eyes she searched through her memories, knowing that Macron left with Severina, but still several minutes had passed when Macron's call reached her mind. She kept these thoughts for herself, especially since that person had easily delt with a Sith Warrior as Macron. "What do you remember?", she looked up at Macron. "This time", she thought, "I won't leave Macron out of my sight."
Elsewhere aboard the Keepsake, DJK Kris Omega walked along the corridors, a worried look on her young face. Something about the spy they had found about was really bugging her and she needed to speak with her Master Shin'ichi about it. As she walked along the corridors she soon came upon her Master and decided now would be the best time to voice her concerns.
"Master!" she called out as she approached.
Shin'ichi turned around at the sound of his apprentice's voice, Kris bowed to him as he acknowledged her, "Hello Kris, how do you like the trip so far?" he asked.
Kris straightened up and looked him straight in the face, "The trip's fine but that's not what's worrying me at the moment." she replied.
Shin'ichi touched her mind and noted the worrying thoughts she possessed, "Care to tell me what is bothering you, my Student?" he asked.
"Several things, but what's really bugging me is the fact that the spy got into our ranks too easily. I fear that there maybe more leaks than any of us know about." Kris replied as she nervously brushed a strand of hair back from her face.
He nodded, "Yes, Muz and Macron think the same, we just have to find the leaks and stop them before they get out of hand." Shin'ichi stated.
"Master, if you would allow me to do so, I can more than likely track down some of the leaks and report them back to you." Kris said as she bowed her head reverently.
"I will talk this over with Muz and Macron and see what they think of you doing that, but do be on your guard, Kris, and keep an eye out. If you see anything suspicious report back to me immediately, okay?" Shin'ichi replied as he gives her a smile.
Kris bows, "As you wish, Master, I will report back to you as soon as I find out anything." she replied, with that she turns and jogs back down the way she had come.
"Good luck, Kris." Shin'ich calls after her retreating form, then he turns about and heads off in search of his Brothers to see if they will allow Kris to do her own spy work.
Zak tossed and turned on his brick-hard bunk on the Keepsake. Something had been harassing his senses ever since he had landed aboard the cruiser. He could sense danger, simply couldn't quite place his finger on whom. It was very similar to having a word you know right on the tip of your tongue but not being able to spit it out. This, in itself, was almost unnerving to the grizzled Chiss.
Finally deciding that sleep would not come to him this night, he threw the thin blankets off himself, donned his armor, grabbed his helmet and stormed out of the room, Dainslaif banging loudly against his gear. Mandalore found himself sliding deeper and deeper into a foul mood, his fists clenching and unclenching as he walked. A tight wad of apprehension knotted in his belly, almost physically painful, and the moment he walked into the ship's cantina its shot glasses began to clink softly.
He didn't even bother asking for a drink, simply preferring the bar's dim lighting and sparse company to the having to brave his mind alone in his quarters. Zaknafein's helmet was on his head, and he allowed himself to be slightly paranoid and scan the barroom from the corners of his eyes. He drummed his fingers on the table and finally snarled to himself and left his booth.
He nearly bowled Shin'ichi over in his haste to leave the room.
"Damn, you goin' somewhere in a hurry?!" Shin hissed as he regained his balance.
"No, because you can never really go anywhere to get things off your chest can you?"
Shin'ichi narrowed his eyes in suspicion and the Sith glared right back at him.
"You wanna know what I really think," the other Dark Jedi growled. "is that you're up to no good."
"Oh, yeah, really? Well, don't get yer undies in a knot, [Expletive Deleted]-brain." Zak snapped, his foul mood consuming his rationality, and he continued, throwing caution to the four winds. "Something's not right here, and I felt it ever since I came here. It's been chewing on my nerves for the past few hours, and feeling that surge in the Force earlier hasn't helped one bit." Shin tried to interrupt but the Chiss cut him off. "So before you go accusing me of betraying the Brotherhood, I suggest you look at where your own loyalties lie first!"
Before Shin'ichi could stop him, the Knight shoved past him and headed towards the landing bay. He hoped a few hours of tinkering with his ship would help sooth his nerves, but he doubted it. Snarling, he turned right down a corridor towards his berth.
"You know, you could really stop being so damned callous." Zaknafein thought to himself. But there was no going back now as he stomped back into his quarters to think, his ill-temperament now leaving a dark cloud in the Force around him.
The trembling in his ears told Muz that something was quite amiss. something had just happened, and to one of his own line.
Gathering up his sabers, Muz stood, reaching out into the void, feeling the pulse of the universe and sensing the life-blood's flow., where it flowed out to heal wounds, and where the seeping sores lingered. The patterns in the tapestry told him where his brothers were, and where a few of the others were, but something else seemed...amiss.
The thought was interrupted by a knock. Looking up, Muz's twilight eyes fell upon his brother. Manji smiled halfheartedly at him. Muz knew that he did try to hide his growing concern about his....state of mind, but wasn't terribly successful. Ever since that match with Jac...
"Bro, We got us a problem..." Manji's hand fiddled absentmindedly on the hilt of his Kunisada blade. "It's about Macron..."
Muz stepped into the room and immediately his mood changed. The scent of the darkness washed across his mind, the stale ozone... the sweet corruption...
Muz looked at malisane and pointed at the door. The younger Jedi bowed quickly and left abruptly, the whooshing air of the door closing behind him crafting a white noise to muffle for but a moment.
Manji cocked his head at his brother in confusion. "What's up with that?"
"Blood only right now." Muz closed his eyes slowly, tasting the air to be certain. He knew that smell. "Call Goatham and Astronicus... Korras if he is nearby."
"What the hell, man?" Shin'ichi's brow furrowed quixotically.
"It's just a bump, Muz, no need to..." Macron insisted, gesturing wildly with his hands.
"Take a deep breath, gentlemen." Muz interrupted, pausing for them all to take a breath. "That scent is one you'll all learn well."
"What is it?"
Muz nodded. Manji's jaw dropped and Shin'ichi got visibly more agitated. Macron started reaching for his pockets, seeking some sort of chemical refuge before Muz snatched the Alchemist's hand.
"No." Muz let go, continuing. "I need everyone on the top of their game. There's an Elder among us, and that is bad news indeed."
Shin'Ichi nodded slowly. "What do we do?"
"First, start broadcasting to get Tron, Goat and Korras. Use the DC encryption... no one has cracked that in the ten years we've used it."
"Then we discover exactly who doesn't belong on this ship. No words to any of our people. Might be a Stennes, after all..." Muz crossed his arms, pacing patiently to silence the inner voices.
"Malisane's student..." Shin'Ichi proffered.
"Nope... she's cool." Macron repeated immediately, almost as if by rote.
"She does have more potential than we should have expected... We'll keep an eye open." Muz stopped in his stride. "Look, guys, this is an elder. Maybe all together woe might take them down... but alone, we'd be lunch. No chances, all right? Thiis ain't the Combat Centre."
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi eyed Macron via a sideways glance. There was something wrong with Macron, beyond the usual dementia he suffered, Shin'ichi could feel it. It was almost as if something was covering his thoughts, like a cloud across his mind. At any rate the Archpriest knew that now was the time to do what he did best so he rose from his seat.
"I'm going to ground on this my brothers. While you contact the 'old men' I'll put my special training to good use and hopefully have something for us to go on by the time they arrive." He nodded to each of the men in turn and only paused briefly to relay telepathically to Muz "Get some rest brother, you'll be no good to anyone exhausted and out of your right mind. Manji will see to Macron and about contacting the others, and I'll do what I do." With that he left the room and headed to his quarters.
Once inside he connected to the secure subspace line and using his Black Guard Clearance accessed the classified database. Scanning the records he found reports and transmissions all proving that Severina was who she claimed to be. Then after several hours of scrutiny a smile came to his face. A report, supposedly done by him did not contain the digital "watermark" that he encoded into each of his official documents. "This True Brotherhood is good" he thought "But not that good." Just as he was about to download the report however, his connection was interrupted. Someone else was on the secure line tracing what he was doing and trying to stop him. A race had begun. Shin'ichi mustered all his skills in an attempt to beat this slicer, download the OpReport, and trace the location of this signal.
For every routine that he executed a counter appeared almost simultaneously. It seemed that whoever was perpetuating this heinous action was indeed reading his mind. The Archpriest attempted to mask his thoughts whilst battling the mind-reading slicer, but he feared it was a lost cause. If only he could distract whoever it was the Krath might have a chance. Then an idea came into his mind and he let fly with it.
Almost every mind aboard the ship could feel the cold void that emanated from Shin'ichi. They were witness to his cruel birth, to his abandonment soon after, and to the despair that followed him. Then finally there was the torture, that with which he had lived for so long. Few, even among the elders have faced so much pain in themselves. He knew of only two or three that could claim to have been suffered for so long as he, and he was counting on that. For a breif instant the intruder into his mind was gone and that was all he needed to complete his primary task. Placing the data disc into a pocket he terminated the secure connection and left to report to his brothers what he'd found. He only hoped that his student hadn't tried anything yet. If his suspicions were correct they were dealing with a traitor who held the power of a Dark Adept or more. Only someone of that level could reach into his mind and navigate it so well.
Rayden had been sitting on the floor of his quaters meditating, he found the practice relaxing. Shin'ichi's mental projection had jerked him out of it so suddenly. Grabbing his head he tried to push the metal images and pain from his mind. He could feel pain, torture. He could not concentrate nor rid himself of it.
As suddenly as it had began, it ended. Acara stood up and leaned on his desk shaking. What the hell was going on with this ship. The young Jedi Hunter decided he would rather not be with the universe at large on this ship anymore. He grabbed his Blastsword and his normal compliment of three daggers and fastened them around his waist. Going into his bag he pulled out two flasks, within them the Adumari liqueour known as "Hard". Opening one of them he took a long draught from it, hopefully this would help him forget the horrers he had just seen.
Sildrin stood suspicously considering the facts as she knew them. Macron had been attacked, she was convinced of it. She had seen the Quaestor leaving with Malisane's student, the too good to be true Severina. The Sith was swearing blind that the young guardian was innocent but that made the Priestess even more suspicous. Before his "fall" Macron had asked Scithe to investigate the guardian, and though her record looked at least semi legitimate she didn't understand why Macron was now convinced Severina was whiter than driven snow.
She excused herself and left the briefing room. She headed down to Malisane's quarters. The Sith Knight was lying flat out on his bed. "Are you alright?" she asked.
"Had a few too many," he replied groggily.
"Where's your student?" she asked.
"She brought me back from the bar then left on an errand."
Sildrin considered this. "She came for a drink with you?"
"Yeah we were there a couple of hours."
"Hours?" Sildrin repeated, "she's been with you all evening? Did she leave at all?"
"Just to the bar a couple of times."
Sildrin made her excuses and left the Sith and headed down to the bar. It was quiet, and Jovas the part time barman was clearing up. "Jovas have you seen Malisane in here tonight?"
He nodded, "Yes he was in here earlier."
"Was he alone?"
"For an hour yes, then Severina came in and helped him out of here."
"She wasn't here long?"
"No just a few minutes, she came in, ordered two glasses of wine, then she must have realised how drunk he was so she carried him out."
The Priestess considered this. "Have you got your camera data?" she asked finally.
A few minutes later Sildrin and Shin Ichi sat in front of a terminal viewing the footage from the bar.
"Look," Sildrin said pointing, "here's Malisane, he looks ok doesn't he?"
The Archpriest nodded.
"The barman said he'd only had two drinks, not a significant amount. Now watch this."
The display showed Severina enter the bar, see Malisane, order two drinks and take them over to him.
"Now look," she said, "he still looks sober, they talk, suddenly he looks drunk, but he doesnt take a drink. She did that to him."
They watched Severina support Malisane out of the bar. "I'd say that confirms it," Sildrin told the Archpriest, "Malisane thinks she was with him all night, and she definatley wasn't I saw her leave with Macron and the barman confirms it. I think she's in his mind like she's in Macron's."
Shin Ichi nodded, "You're right, I'd better tell Muz we've found our Elder."
Meanwhile Kris traveled down the corridors checking for anything suspicious when she noticed Severina walking ahead of her. Out of curiosity Kris follows Malisane's apprentice and watches her warily as the guardian looks around before ducking into an empty room.
"Now that's odd." Kris states quietly as she quickly keeps the door from shutting and quietly as possible sneaks into the room. She can hear Severina talking to someone but cannot hear what is being said, she tilts her head to the side, and then decides to find Shin'ichi and tell him what is going on.
As she turns to head out, she feels someone place their hand over her mouth, and before they knock out she's able to scream out in her head, "Master, help!"
At the same time, Shin'ichi shakes his head as he feels Kris' mental call for help, Sildrin notices the look on his face, "Shin'ichi is something wrong?" she asks.
"My student, Kris, is in trouble I need to find her. Go tell Muz what is going on and have him follow you, I must find my student, and see what is happening with her." Shin'ichi replies as he turns around and heads the direction that Kris' Force energy is coming from.
In the abandoned room, Severina has tied Kris' hands behind her back and has her pushed against the wall.
"You must be destroyed, Dark Jedi Knight." Severina says to Kris' unconsious form, she takes out Kris' own dagger, and places it to her throat in an attempt to murder the young Dark Jedi.
"I think not, spy."
In full Black Guard regalia, yellow saber glowing brightly, the Mandalore's voice was warbled and muffled somewhat, but his words came through loud and clear. Tossing the dagger towards Kris' body, she held the now-empty hand at her side. Her robe lifted slightly, and as she used the Force to lazily call her saber into her hand from her belt, Acerbus slashed and the saber came back down to her feet in a shower of sparks, cleft in two.
"Arrogant fool! DIE!!!"
Lashing out with her hands, lightning sparked from her fingertips. However, the young Knight was far too fast, catching the lightning with his blade, and grunting with effort to hold it there. He realized that he was far outmatched...in this supposed Guardian he felt the power like that of when he first met Korras or Xanos.
"Someone! Help me!" He yelled in his mind, hoping someone would heed the call before his limited power failed.
Someone help me!
Zak's eyes snapped open, and he scrambled out of his meditative position, pulling his lightsaber from his belt as he did so. He had been like that for 15 minutes, having been earlier yanked out of it by Shin'ichi's mental probe.
His foul mood had faded to a low throb of irritation, and with the prospect of battle looming on the horizon, it lightened further.
But first things first..
Spotting an alarm button farther down his portion of the corridor Mandalore smashed the glass and slapped it, sending sirens and klaxons off all over the ship.
This being done he turned and ran towards his fellow Mandalore's mental scream for help. He knew he couldn't do it alone, and that was why he set the alarms off.
His boots rang off the durasteel floor, his breath coming in harsh growls when Zaknafein exhaled until his spotted the amazing display of strength farther up the hallway.
Acerbus had managed to bring his yellow saber up to block the Elder's Force Lightning attack, but it was painfully obvious that he could only hold up for so long. For now, however, he was doing incredibly well for someone of his rank.
The Chiss ignited his sky-blue lightsaber and charged the woman from behind, trying to attack while her attention was riveted on the Guardian.
A flash of bright silver arced at her waist, Zak aiming to maim or slice her in half. He was millimeters away when she suddenly ceased her attack on Acerbus and leapt towards the ceiling, easily avoiding the Knight's attack.
For a brief moment Acerbus got a full look at his fellow Clan member, red eyes visible even through the tinted T-visor of his Mandalorian helmet, then it was obscured as Severina came back down, blue sparks flashing dangerously from her hands.
"So, you two want to play?" she hissed, eyes narrowed.
"Sure, I'll play." Zak growled as he and Acerbus began to position themselves to trap the spy in an pincer movement. He was hoping like hell their Masters and superiors got there before he and Acerbus became crispy ashes on the floor. He was confident in Acerbus' abilities, and Zak wanted to make sure that they both were able to give this traitor a large swallow of her own medicine.
“God damn it,” replied Macron as Muz stopped him from accessing his supply in the ozone tainted air. ”It keeps the demons away… you don’t understand!” he yelled. “The voices, the hate, you understand… if I can’t self medicate I will become a ruthless, unbounded, hateful vile killer. Is that what you want?”
Sildrin, where is she... I need her....I saw her.... and she knows my thoughts... am I dreaming?" His twisted mind snapped back to. The world rippled, and screwed up in his mind.
Muz and Manji eyed him suspiciously. Muz spoke first. “Yes. Free yourself from your dependance. All you need is the Dark Side,” he whispered. “It is time. Free yourself. Or… die.”
They held him down and let their Brother experience the full power of a real self accounting
Manji chuckled, and gestured to his sword. “Or, free yourself this way my friend,” he answered. “Severina is your enemy.”
“Nooo!” he growled as Manji crushed him to the ground with a quick move. “Nooo… this is not me…she is …. my psychotic mind is in two places… aaagh! Help me!,” screamed Macron. “We are,” spoke Muz with a hiss. “Now shut up.”
The Sith Warrior genuinely considered the easy way out, collected himself, and then smiled. “No way. I am too mean and vicious to die like that. I will not dishonor my Keibatsu name. These pigs have sullied our collective honor. They must pay. I’d like to torture them personally…. Please give me the honor.”
“Someone help me!” echoed through their collective minds.
There are thoughts that flicker on and off inside his head, thoughts that are what some may call prophecy. Nightmares flicker past his vision, his past is an open book to his mind. He sits there and he stretches out his mind and through the blackness of space, the blackness of the dark side and he is pulled in by a hazy vision.
There is a woman, young, attractive, powerful. He can see her walking. He can see blood, blood, blood...all is red in the halls of the dead. There is Macron, and he is sleeping. Sleeping? No. Waking. They helped him, he can see that.
Other faces swim into his vision, these he cannot recognize. They are sleeping. Sleeping? Lightning arcs past his limited sight and he hears screams. He wants to help, but they are far away, far away. The darkness of space, the void, it blocks him.
But at least he can see them. He can hear a voice. Or maybe it is voices, in a chorus of pain. Coins are jingling in pockets, are they not?
"Someone! Help me!"
They are coming to save him, he thinks. But the vision is already fading and the blood, the lightning, the colors are turning back to black. Emptiness swallows him and again the dark side, with the sound of waves breaking slowly, peacefully, upon foreign shores, lulls him into half-sleep.
Having senced two stuggles on the Keepsake Acara had left his quaters, walking with purpose the Jedi Hunter continued down the corridor. Bursting into a room he was met with the sight of acerbus and Zak surronding what appeared to be the Guardian he had passed in a corridor earlier. A strange smell met his nose, he had no idea what it was.
"What is going on?" Acara snapped to the room.
Severina was the firt to reply, "These two are the spys. They attacked me. We can take them together."
Acara drew his blastsword and activated it. "Unfortuntetly Guardain it is you who makes me feel uneasy, i doubt they are traitors so that leaves you."
"You will all die," anger flashed from her eyes as she sent Force lightning at Acerbus and Acara. Both rolled out of the way and stood back up facing her.
Pointing his Blassword at Severina Acara spoke to her again, "You are no Guardain."
Acara's left hand snapped up from his side to point towards a desk, it lifted off the ground and moved quickly towards Severina. Laughing she twisted round. Waving her hand through the air she sent it flying at Zak before flexing her fingers towards Acara and Telekinetically Blasting him against a wall. His blastsword slipped from his hand as he fell down to the floor.
Glancing at Muz, Manji gestured quickly towards the door of the room.
"Seems like things have come to a head. I think we need to go and deliver some pain."
The response was a nod as the two got to their feet, dragging Macron up with them. Staring down at his Apprentice, Manji's face became momentarily serious.
"Macron. Don't waste everything I've taught you. Keep yourself under control and fight like a Keibatsu."
As the Warrior nodded eagerly in agreement the three marched out of the room, heading towards the pulsating cascade of filth in the Dark Side which marked like a beacon the location of the combat. Sirens resounded loudly as they ran through the halls, echoed by the sound of pounding footsteps from all over the ship as people converged on the combat.
Then the three Keibatsu turned a corner- to see Severina with her hands raised, surrounded by Zaknafein, Acara and Acerbus. Instantly, Muz's sabres flashed into his hands- an indigo and scarlet glow reflecting off the walls. His eyes narrowed as he stared at the Guardian, alert and ready. A split-second later Manji's own blade came up, ignited. Just behind them Macron followed, scarlet sabre hissing out of it's hilt. Raising his voice over the hum of lightsabres and the wailing peal of sirens, Manji grinned arrogantly.
"Well, "Severina"? You're facing the elite of Naga Sadow- and plenty more of our warriors will be here in moments."
A harsh growl ripped from the Guardian's throat as she shuffled back slightly, eyes flickering back and forth. The Epis continued as Muz responded, his own feet shifting as he prepared to strike like a tiger.
"Your cover is blown. Surrender now and we might just let you live... wait, what am I saying. Surrender now and we'll make your death less painful than it might have been otherwise."
Suddenly there was a rumble from the Pontifex's throat, verse rolling from his lips as the darkness rose.
"Raging storm of crimson fire
Enclose your bodies in the mire
Rip the false prophets limb from limb
Let the carnage begin!"
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi slid down from the vent to land behind his brothers. "Excellent, I was planning on having us confront the pretender, but then our damn fool underlings decided in a moment of wisdom that they could battle an Elder." The Archpriest gave the Knights and Journeymen a look of contempt as he ignited his own saber. "Why don't you run along and report this to Malisane and guard the perimiter and let the Keibatsu do what we do best?"
Realizing this was not a request the younger Dark Jedi retreated as the Keibatsu brothers surrounded their quarry. Macron spoke first. "That was somewhat less cordial than it needed to be." he said while dodging a probing strike from Severina.
"That may be Mac, but they'd only get themselves killed and I'd have too much paperwork to deal with after this mess is over." Shin'ichi replied while jumping back to avoid another strike.
Muz's face was a grimace of darkness and concentration, and as usual Manji grinned at the antics and banter of his brothers while flowing gracefully into battle. As he ducked under a blow the Epis said: "Are we gonna dance forever or get down business here?" Suddenly Muz struck out with his dual sabers and the battle began in earnest.
With a groan of pain, Kris opens her eyes to see that battle being waged in front of her. She shakes her head to try to clear it, "Ugh, what happened?" she asks with a bewildered expression.
Shin'ichi looks over at his student, "You don't remember?" he asks as he dodges a blow from Severina.
Kris narrows her eyes in thoughts, "Yes, now I remember that traitor ambushed me." she replies as she jerks her head at Severina, a look a contempt on the young Knight's face.
Acara kneels next to Kris and quickly unbinds her hands and feet, "Come, we'll let our elders deal with this." he says.
Kris shakes her head and with some help gets to her feet, she quickly takes her own saber from her waist and ignites the light blue blade, "No, that traitor's head is mine." she growls and faces Severina with her blade held at the ready.
Sildrin layed a hand on Kris's shoulder, her fingers digging into her flesh, saying calmly: "You heard your master's words. I am afraid this battle is none for you. The time will soon come, Dark Jedi. Hurry with Acara to Malisane and report this to him. Secure the communication systems in case any other spies try to inform Severak about this...", Sildrin pushed Kris further to the exit.
She deignited her own saber, closing up to the Keibatus and Severina. Behind the brothers she knelt down and concentrated on the force. Soon every ally in the room felt their spirit rise as she sank into a deep trance establishing the Battle Meditation. "Bring her down", they heard her mental voice with a commanding tone.
As Acerbus left the room with Acara, Kris, and Zak, he stopped at the door.
He thought angrily to himself, "I must bring honor to the Mandalore family. This...threat to my Clan must be eliminated!"
Recalling with gritted teeth the words of his Oath of Knighthood, he mouthed silently, as Muz might spit verse, "I shall defend with my life the sacred body of the Dark Brotherhood...I shall hunt down and destroy all those who would cause it harm."
Suddenly, a feeling of focused power swept slowly over him. He heard a calm, feminine voice inside his head...
"Bring her down."
He turned, armored footfalls slamming resoundly on the cold floor, and said muffled through his armor, "Now, it begins. For Naga Sadow!"
Snatching the saber from his belt, he activated it with a flick of his wrist. The bright yellow beam joined in casting an eerie light about the traitor Severina's face. He took a ready stance, as all of his superiors in the room glanced over at him, just before Muz struck out in earnest with his twin violet and red sabers.
The vacation had done him well. He was able to explore the vast lands of Dathomir once again and tear many rancors limb from limb with his fighting abilities. Living off the land and without any true possessions had done the Zabrak well, his physical prowness flourished but once again kept him isolated and undoubtly isolated in the future.
The stars seemed to slow down a bit as the ship came out of hyperspace. The view of Sepros came into view just on the starboard side. It has been awhile now since he had got to lay eyes on the planet…the last time being just shortly after he retreated from the hectic lifestyle. Kicking himself for the past few months for doing that. He decided to return home, to see what everyone was up to…and who was still around.
Pushing the throttle up he curved toward Sepros, mentally exchanging information with the control tower over looking the docking bay. Decreasing the throttle as the Firespray let out a high pitched whine from the lack of maintenance as he dropped it in to land. With a hiss the ramp dropped and the Sith walked down the ramp with the clothes he left with. A Guard met the Sith way towards the docking bay doors…the guard noticed the patching of his robes and the rancor tooth necklace that dangled around his neck.
“Show me to the Proconsuls office, we have business to attend to.”
“I’m sorry Sir, there is no Proconsul as of this moment.”
“Pontifex Keibatsu was appointed to Herald.”
The Sith growled as he thumbed the razor blade on his lightsaber. “Sith spit…so many changes…”
"Die, bitch!" screamed Macron as he blindsided Severina. She had hurt his charges, and his friends. She had to die soon.
He had no hope of besting her, but he was certain to draw her attention. She had tricked him, and he had shaken off the mind control with the help of his friends and family. He hated with a black passion, even more so now than before.The battle meditation that Sildrin had wrought enabled him to keep control of his rage and channel it effectively. It was crucial, or else he would be an insane wreck.
Muz, Manji, and Shin'Ichi had backed her right into Macron who gave her a powerful front kick from an armored boot to the lower back. She blocked his saber deftly, but the kick knocked her to the floor.The orbalisk venom had granted the Keibatsu even greater strength, and he was now a seething mass of Dark Side rage. Bones ground in her spine as she vaulted to her feet, using more of her precious resources to quell the pain and numbness.
Severina groaned and turned her rage upon Macron, zapping him with the blue lightning. He hit the ground, armor smoking and shorted out. It had saved his life yet again, but this time the damage was great. Macron struggled to get to his feet as the "Guardian" turned to deal with the others. Even with the venom's recuperative effects, he was hurting badly.
Saber blades spat and cracked as the whirlwind combatants fought. Shin'Ichi smiled, and hissed "Maybe we should call you Severed-ina soon, you fool! You should not have come here." Manji and Muz prepared to execute a pincer attack from her flanks.
"So where is everyone? Manji...Macron...Shin'Ichi?"
"They are currently aboard the Keepsake on a classified mission."
"Classified huh?" The Sith said retortly.
"Yes sir...I believe that is what I said."
The Zabrak outstretched an arm and picked the guard up by his throat. "Ok smartass. How classified is the mission now?"
"Classified." He managed to repeat through a hiss and gurgle.
"I can break your windpipe in the blink of an eye....don't you have a girl friend that you want to live for and see again?"
"FINE FINE! I'LL TELL YOU!" The guard was broken...he let out the information. "I'll upload the last known coordinates to your ship....just don't hurt me."
"Pathetic." Shimura tossed the guard to his back and reboarded his ship...arriving to a beeping nav computer with the coordinates. Shimura's white teeth poked out of his lips to reveal a menacing smile as he rubbed his pale hands together. "Loki part two."
Kris runs along the corridor with Acara and Zak, knowing full well that it would be traitorous of her to go against her Master's orders, instead a new mission was upon her and her fellow clansmen-report to Malisane and let him know what was happening aboard the Keepsake. With a growl fo anger, Kris looks over at the other two young Jedis, "This isn't fair, she kidnapped me, I should be the one to kill her." she spits as she grips her ignited lightsaber tighter in her hands.
"You heard what Sildrin said, Kris, you're not ready for this type of battle, anyway it's best for us to alert Malisane, and see what his orders are." Acara says to the young Dark Jedi Knight.
Kris flicks her hazel eyes in his direction, a look of pure and intolerable anger smoldering in their depths, "Yeah I know you're right, but still..." she says.
Zak nods, "We know, Kris, but let's get the channels secured and contact Malisane." he states and takes the lead towards Malisane's room.
Kris and Acara follow him as their footsteps echo against the durasteel floor of the mighty ship.
Meanwhile, back at Orian System...
"What?! Did you just say someone has just blew out our long range comm sats?" Scithe came out on a furious burst against the trembling officer. "STOP LOOKING AT ME AND MOVE! WHO DID IT?!"
The terrified officer fumbled at the keyboard and, reading some new signs, managed to whisper. "Th... Th... There's a ... hmm ... unidentified ISD on vector 3-5-4 escorted by two flights of fighters. I see some bombers among them retreating from the satelite coordinates."
Scithe screamed, helmet already under his left arm. "Try to get a line to Sepros, NOW!"
"What's going on?" a bleary voice came from behind the Elder. Malisane, looking bedraggled and hungover, stood in the corridor looking ahead in confusion. "Severina what are you doing?"
The Elder glanced behind her, seeing her "master". Her eyes narrowed. "Master help me please I don't understand." she pleaded.
The Knight stagged forward, his lightsaber snapping alight with a red flash.
"Malisane back man!" Macron shouted at the knight. The other three Keibatsu's watched impassively as the young Sith moved forward.
Malisane moved forward to flank the Elder, his blade raised and his eyes watching the four Keibatsu's wareily. "You're making a mistake," he told them.
Severina smiled evily, "Well?" she said looking at Muz.
The Krath stared her in the eye. "Kill them both if nessesary." he ordered. The four Keibatsu's advanced grimly in response.
Severina leapt for the Knight, grabbing him and bringing her saber up to his throat, "Stop or he dies." she ordered desperatley.
"Kill him then," Muz replied, "the death of one Knight is an acceptable sacrifice for the safety of the Clan."
Malisane felt the emotion of the Elder behind him, her feelings surging, and suddenly he felt her grip slip on his mind as she faced her foes, her attention distracted away from him.
Severina screamed as the knife entered her side, the sharp metal driving deep into her abdomen. She hurled the Knight from her, blood spurting from her wound. Malisane hit the floor hard, his crimson stained knife skitterering from his grip across the floor. She staggered, trying to use the force to stem her wound, but even for a Elder the damage was grievous. The delay was too long. As one the Quaestors, the Rollmaster and the Herald moved forward, sabers slashing. Even in her weakened state, she could have blocked two, maybe three but not four. She gave a second final scream, before she fell, a wave of expelled force energy smashing her killers from their feet.
Slowly, the five of them got to their feet, grimly looking down at the ravaged body.
"Unfortunate," Macron commented, "she could have told us much."
"But nessesary," Manji replied, "the chance presented itself. Well done Malisane."
The young Sith nodded soberly, looking at the corpse of his false student, "I was under her influence too long without knowing it."
"You're not the only one," Macron replied, "but if you were totally under control we wouldn't be here."
"I wonder," Malisane replied, "maybe this is a trap. Maybe we're doing what Severak wants."
"Well we'll have to see," Shin'Ichi said quietly, "anyway she's gone now, whatever awaits us on Kangaras we can face it."
Three days later the Keepsake left hyperspace into the Kangaras system. Macron sat in the command chair with Malisane stood behind him. The Quaestor looked at the screen. "Soft sensor scan of the system, see if there's anything out there."
After a few seconds the ensign replied, "No contacts showing Sir."
Macron nodded. "Good if we found an enemy fleet waiting for us we'd have to rethink our strategy.
Malisane was studying the display, "Usharak Keep is down there right where Melak said it would be."
Macron smiled, "Of course people don't lie to me under torture. They tell me what I need to know." He studied the planet. "Put us in a continous orbit on the dead side of the planet, no need to alert them to our presence."
"Unless they know already." Malisane muttered.
"Don't be so damn pesimistic." Macron replied.
Half an our later the assembled Naga Sadow volunteers sat around the table in the conference room. Malisane addressed them.
"We have reached our destination around the world of Kangaras. Our scans don't register any enemy vessels in the system but we're monitoring it discreetly. Our target is Usharak Keep, a structure on a clifftop on the jungle side of the planet. As discussed earlier it has two entrances, the main gate and a side door which can be reached via a tunnel in the mountain. The members of Ludo Kressh present will be lead by Macron and myself on an assault on the main door. The Marka Ragnos force will be lead by Muz and Manji and will assault the side door."
"What information do we have on their defences?" Kris asked.
"Very little," the Envoy replied, "we're not detecting any forces outside the Keep and they have a shield blocking our attempts to scan the inside. We dare not do an intrusive scan as this would reveal our presence."
"Why aren't we looking with the force?" Sildrin asked.
Manji shook his head, "We've tried a few discreet probes, our attempts were blocked, they seem to be able to keep us out. Like the sensor sweep we don't want to assault whatever is blocking us and draw their attention."
"They might already know we're here," Acara pointed out.
"We know," Macron replied, "it's entirely possible they are watching us at this moment. We've taken every precaution to conceal our presence but the possiblity remains."
Sildrin looked concerned, "So we don't know what we're walking into?"
Macron shook his head. "No unfortunatley not."
Malisane added, "We don't know how powerful this True Brotherhood is," he said grimly, "we have already faced an elder, and to be honest we may have been lucky against her. This so called Darth Severak is almost certainly another Elder of greated power than his disciple, as she called herself. We find it hard to believe more than two elders may exist within this brotherhood without our being aware of them previously but we don't know that for certain."
Macron waited a few moments for this to sink in. "When we set off on this mission we asked for volunteers, each one of you is here because he or she chose to be. If any of you doubts their part in this mission you can remain on board and watch us down there. Speak now."
He waited another few seconds, no one spoke. "Good. Then each of you get to your house shuttle. We will be departing in fifteen minutes."
The Chimira Came out of Hyperspace 30 minutes after the Keepsake, and pulled along side her.
Nuron fliped on his com-system, "This is Dark Jedi Hunter Qiw Nuron, reporting. Sorry I'm late..."
"Good to have you here, Qiw." Macron spoke looking worried. "Have you been breifed?"
"No sir, but there is no need."
Macorn stared at him. "Hunter, what is going on here?"
"There is no time to explain. I must speak with you, privatly."
Macron hit a few buttons on his control panal. "Fine, this is now a secure channel. But make this quick, we depart for the planet in less than a quarter hour."
"Sir, its hard to explain. As of late I have been having visions of the comming events. Darth Severek may be more than we expected. I have one question for you..."
"Have you found a traitor in your midst?"
"Yes, and there may be others."
"Than my visions are true. Sir there are many, many more dark jedi than we expected. They already know we're here."
Macron switched off the com system for a moment. Then, "If this is some kind of joke i will have your head."
"This is no joke, sir"
"You better be able to explain this latter."
"I will try sir, but not now."
"Fine i will inform the others..."
She remained quiet all the time, sitting in the Ludo Kreesh shuttle. Although she was a member of Marka Ragnos she wouldn't move away from Macron's side - her place as his Black Guard. Wearily she ran a hand over her eyes, the Severina's scream still haunted her in her head. Just before the death of the elder, Sildrin had tried to infiltrate her mind. Her barriers were strong, but failing as the sabers hit her. Piercing through the darkness, she was able to caught a glimpse of the elder's memories, but they made no sense to her. At least she knew how Severak looked like.
Sildrin wished she would have retreated faster from Severina's mind, but something had dragged her deeper to the point of where death embraced the elder - that far that she was afraid not to be able to come back. Now Severina's scream haunted her during her sleep, which she tried to avoid for a while. Sooner or later she might understand what Severina's memories really mean. Her eyes looked over to Macron, tempted to ask for some of his chemical stuff since the pain behind her eyes had grown stronger than ever before. But she decided not to, thinking "For this mission I better not use any of that stuff. Even the slightest drawback might be fatal." She turned her head back to the window of the shuttle, closing her eyes. All the time she carefully tried to shield away the pain, but still she wasn't sure if Macron still sensed it. They had too much in common for him not to know and it made her feel uneasy. She wondered what happened to his battle suit, but she drifted into a light slumber as the shuttle made it's way to the planet's surface. A slumber filled with Severina's scream and haunting memories of horrid events, making it a restless sleep with no true recovery for her - sweat beads ran down her forehead, involuntarily she whimpered.
Once again the stars slowed down as the Firespray came to a halt from hyperspace. Shimura knew this was a long shot but maybe he could find some way to communicate with the Keepsake. Peering from starboard to port he found no sign of the cruiser. Running a trace sample he found high levels of ion remnants in the sooty residue of space.
"Well someone has been here."
Clicking a few buttons on the touch screen he opened a comm channel to the Keepsake that came from an unknown region to the Firespray. The headset sat around the horns of the Zabrak as he adjusted the mic to begin his chat.
"Burned Corpse to Keepsake. Burned Corpse to Keepsake."
"Copy Burned Corpse. We've locked your transponder code. State your buisness."
"This is Shimura Keibatsu...I need to speak with Macron....and keep my identity unknown...NOW!"
"Well hello cousin...I here you have a top secret mission going on here....care to let get back the my slaughter?"
"Shi---mura...I thought you left?"
"Am I in or what?"
"Yea..I'm uploading the coordinates now....we will have to search your ship upon arrival...we are having a bit of a....uh...difficulty at the moment."
"Burned Corpse out."
Shimura threw the headset off him and plotted the jump as the coordinates given to him, punching the jump button. Spinning around in the chair his robes flowed with his body as he moved back to the cargo area that he set up as a training room. He tossed his robes to the ground as he began striking a wookie like punching bag with the rage of a charging wampa.
As Maximus escorted his squad out to the Orian System he pick up an alert message sent out to Sepros coming from Sith Battle Master Scithe. Maximus first instinct is to lead the squad towards the coordinates towards vector 3-5-4 to engage the fighters but it turns out that his squad lacked flight leaders and half the squad was from the Krath order only assigned to him to fill in the gaps.
Uncertain if this squad of novice starfighters could hold their own he asks his most promising fighter Syphoc to follow his lead and be prepared to engage actual enemy fighters, an ISD with an escort of two flights of fighters.
"Guardian Syphoc your here by made flight leader and my wing man order a stealth flight formation"
Syphoc eager to prove himself as a Krath that can out fly a Sith complies and orders a strike formation.
The Night Falcon squad of Marka Ragnos venture into what will be their first space combat engagement lead by combat veteran Sith Battle Master Maximus Raidoner Mandalore.
Kris sits aboard the ship alongside her fellow Magna Ragnos house members, she silently contemplates the coming battle, and gently runs her fingers up and down her lightsaber handle.
Her house mates can tell something is definitely bothering the young Dark Jedi, but can tell she is deep in thought. Manji looks over at Kris and frowns, "Are you worried, Kris?" he asks.
Kris looks back at Manji, "Not worried, concerned more like it." she replies and clips her lightsaber back to her waist.
"What are you concerned about?" Muz asks as he turns to look over at her.
"Well what if they anticipate us coming, what then? I'm not sure I personally am strong enough to fight some other Dark Jedis that might be stronger than all of us." Kris states as she looks at Muz worriedly.
"We're a team, none of us will be harmed." Muz states.
"Don't worry, Kris, we're all here and you don't have to worry about being left behind nor have to worry about fighting by yourself." Manji adds and places a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Kris, though, can't help but worry what if her original Master was caught by this false Brotherhood and has been brainwashed against her. 'I just hope he hasn't because I don't think I could fight him. I'd rather die by his hand.' she thinks to herself as the House begins to make preparations to land.
Like a smooth, shining black meteor the Twilight Shadow slipped out of Hyperspace. In the ten day flight it had carried its Master a very long way, but it had traveled farther in its youth. But the past, at the moment, was inconsequential. They were here, nearing Kangaras, and Syrus could actually see the Keepsake from his cockpit. The craft was dark but it had a mild sheen from the starlight and other, closer light sources. Now that he was here, Syrus thought, he might as well ask to dock.
His comlink activated with a strange, distorted beep.
We're not dreaming, are we?
No, not at all. We're alive. Or are we?
The universe around him seemed to slow, to begin to ooze away into a demented liquid state. And then he realized what was wrong. He hadn't eaten in ten days. He had slept and had dreamed. Had slept and had screamed.
There are nightmares in those dark places between the Worlds.
But now his hunger was catching up with him. It was time, then, to see if they had something for him aboard the Keepsake.
"Hello there, Chaps. This is Syrus Korodin, reporting in. I believe I am sixty two point six minutes late. Anybody there?"
"Well, well. Look what the Rancor dragged in!" said a familiar voice, if slightly shaky.
"Macron, you lunatical lunatic! What a pleasant surprise."
"Not much pleasant going on aboard our ship, Syrus."
"We have had dreams."
"What do you mean?"
"I slept for ten days. No food. But I saw things. I...could feel things. Vaguely, of course. Premonitions are rarely clear. But tell me...was there a death onboard?"
"Yes indeed. I'll get you briefed about this new development when you get aboard the Keepsake. For now, let's get your craft docked and checked over. And you might need some food." He chuckled dryly.
"I hear you loud and clear. Syrus Korodin, out and away."
"Wait. You dreamt of the ship?"
"Yes indeed. I am old, Macron, and the dark side is an old friend. A new one, too."
"Now, what the hell does that mean?"
"Nothing at all."
He chuckled, said his goodbyes, and switched off the comlink. Minutes later the Twilight Shadow, having activated its jamming systems, slipped quietly into the docking bay of the Keepsake.
Dropping out of hyperspace, Shimura saw the capital ship not to far away. After wiping his brow after the normal training regimen, he put the Firespray in full throttle. While looking away he started to hear a sputtering noise, while he was just a few hundred meters from the Keepsake. The sputtering lead to a whine that lead to a stall, and not just any stall...a complete system failure.
"HUTT LOVING SON OF A----WOOKIE!" The Sith yelled as he pounded his fist into the control panel, over and over again...leaving a dent in the durasteel.
An invisible force took control of the Burned Corpse and began dragging it towards a docking bay. No doubt somebody on the deck had seen the mechanical failure of the Battlemaster's prized possession and decided to give a helping hand. Meanwhile, as the Burned Corpse is being dragged into the hangar bay, Shimura has made his way to the cargo hold, cussing and screaming all the way...letting his blows fly upon his punching bag.
Creaking to a stop, Shimura let the rage drain out of his system and began to wonder how he would escape his durasteel tomb. He knew there was the option of cutting himself out with his lightsaber...but eventually he would end up paying for the repair costs, so that was out of the question. He continued to think about this until he heard a metallic booming noise, turning his head he noticed the ramp had been taken off with two strategic placements of a torch cutter that could easily repaired with a new hinge.
"That works too..." He said, letting his voice trail.
A group of stormtroopers with E-11's raised pointed the blaster down his throat. In a natural response the Sith smiled evilly as the distinct snap-hiss sound erupted as the crimson blade roared to life. Mononoke pushed through the stormtroopers yelling at them.
"Put your weapons down! Stand down! Your lives are worth more than dying pointlessly to this butcherer."
Shimura smirked at the compliment he had received from his cousin. The stormtroopers lowered their weapons as ordered which somewhat disappointed the Battlemaster. He longed to kill something that feared. He would get his chance.
"Troopers...search this ship, every square inch. Welcome to the Keepsake Shimura. Due to our current situation, your ship is being searched for stowaways. If you could please follow me, I can debrief you with what is happening."
“Now THIS sounds like a party!” The Battlemaster said excitedly.
Shimura frowned as his comlink insistantly beeped from his belt.
Now what he thought.
"Master! I thought I felt you enter the system earlier." he could clearly see in his mind's eye Zak's ever peculiar grin. In the background he could hear the distant whine of shuttle engines.
"Ahh, Zaknafein, you knuckle-head. I see Antie has yet to kill you off."
"What's that supposed to mean, eh?"
"Nevermind. It's just good to hear from you again, even if you're heading off to bust some heads for Naga Sadow without me."
"Come on Master, it just wouldn't be quite as fun if you're killing more than your fair share."
Shimura chuckled darkly.
A sharp bark of an order could be heard over the comm and he clearly heard Zak's resulting sigh.
"Look, we're fixing to be at the landing zone, so I'll have to catch you later."
"Fine. Shimura out."
"Good thing I left that clone back on the ship,"
thought Macron. "I hear Shimura has landed."
He continued to regard his old ruined battle suit, and felt totally naked without it's reassuring presence.
Sildrin nudged him. "Don't look so forlorn, it was only a suit after all," she said. Macron looked glum, and then threw the ruined chunks into the recyler unit. She was right. It was only a tool. There were other tools, newer and better ones. It was time to use one in particular.
"You are right. However, I am always prepared, Priestess. A good Sith would calculate this sort of possibility and provide an alternate solution. I did exactly that. In fact, this one should be even better...." he whispered as he got her help donning the armor. It was difficult to do by one's self. And he was beginning to trust Sildrin somewhat.
The improved armor felt weird, and he fiddled with it a moment while activating the comlink. "Have the folks on the Keepsake that just arrived meet us at this rendezvous point, Captain. Do it quickly. I don't want word of that clone getting out and it may not fool them for long. Macron out."
Qiw continued to look as if he was meditating in his seat on the shuttle, and Macron wondered what the subject would be. "A bit of an enigma,"
he wondered mentally. "What the hell have I gotten myself into this time?"
Macron was very curious about these dreams Syrus had, and what he meant by being old. They would have to discuss that later, in detail. He smiled in anticipation.
Shimura put the comm back into his tattered robes as he kept his view on Macron, letting him lead the way. A jumpy officer ran to the two Sith and stopped Shimura while Macron kept walking. His movement and lack of awareness was alarming but probably normal with all the wacko things HLK has put him through and the Sith continued to think nothing of it. The Captain's mouth began to move but no words came out.
"You want me to follow you right, whelp?"
"Y---yes. Follow me."
Shimura's hands began to bounce as he realized that the officer feared him. Feared....yes....the stench of it is exciting! The officer moved quickly as not to slow up and anger the deadly Sith.
"We will be moving to the rendezvous point. It is but a short walk. Master Macron will be waiting for you there."
Force assisted run? Yea, that's understandable, he always was a brainy one in the force.
Malisane watched the Quaestor and his Black Guard fitting his new suit of armour, impressive looking he had to admitt but not really his kind of thing. As usual he had plumped for his usual simple grey uniform, though he noted with some amusement several of his collegues had refused to go without their robes, and would no doubt be somewhat muddier through the trek through the jungle.
He looked around him at the dense and boggy jungle around him with an air of distaste. Though he'd been to places like Yavin IV and Tatooine and the Endor moon, he'd grown up on Corruscant and was a city slicker at heart. "Nice," he announced to the world in general, "when I get around to building my summer home I'll be sure to consider this place I'm sure the land is cheap."
He wandered over to where Macron was stood. Gathered nearby he could see Acara and Acerbus and the others, stood ready. "Are we readfy to leave?" Malisane asked.
Macron nodded, "Yes, we're meeting Shimura on route he will be joining us."
A number of expressions passed over the Envoys face. "Well well well, it will be good to see my old master again," he murmered, "and interesting, it is a while since I fought alongside him."
Zaknafein chuckled quietly at Malisane's comments about the swampy planet they were on. He was all ready swathed in his Mandalorian armor, which had yet to be cleaned of bloodstains, blaster burns and slashes. His helmet was tied to the back of his belt, its domed top resting against the small of his back.
A gloved hand swatted at the persistant swarm of insects that were giving their all in attempting to infiltrate his eyes and nose.
Finally growing fed up with the bugs, he reached into a small pouch and sprayed them with what smelled suspiciously like liquid tar. Small pattering sounds reached the Chiss' ears as the doomed insects reached the ground to be squashed by Zak.
Unfortunatly, yet another swarm formed almost within seconds of the destruction of their counterparts.
To solve this problem, Mandalore untied his helmet and placed it on his head, feeling much better since the hapless bugs bounced against the faceplate in confusion. After a few minutes they gave up and buzzed away to torture someone else.
"OK team, listen up," Malisane called everyone's attention. "as soon as we get the word from our other attack team, we will move out and hit our assigned target. Before we start, I'll need each one of you to specify what skills you are proficient at. This will help me put you in a task that you will be able to complete quickly and help your sqadmates."
Mud splashed onto his armored boots as Zaknafein stepped forward. "Sir, I would like to volunteer myself as being a forward scout. My tracking skills are very strong, and I can see the heat-traces left by humanoid fingers on hidden traps and keypads. About the keypad though, I can see what buttons they pressed, the hottest being the last one they touched, the faintest being the first, I'll have to try different combinations based on what I can see."
After stating his wishes, the Knight waited for Macron's and Malisane's decision.
Annoyed she swiped away a disturbing insect, then she used the force to keep away those blood sucking creatures. "Why always a jungle?", she hissed. She was glad to have left her robe at the shuttle. Fortunately she felt very comfortable within the tight black leather suit. Sildrin finally was able to stop staring at Macron's armor - which suited him very well and occasionally she found herself staring at his butt with a grin.
She turned to Malisane: "He is your old master? He did a fine job.", she smiled approvingly. She turned her head back to the wall of green leaves in front of them. Her smile disappeared as quick as it had appeared, immediately falling back into the melancholy she had finally given up to flee from for weeks now.
Taking a deep breath and tapping into the sources of the force she was able to relief this heavy cloud around her mind for a bit, "No.. I may not dwell too far in this mood for too long.", she thought, knowing it was most importantly to keep focused on her duty to protect Macron and to help to destroy Severak and his minions. Her life was not hers for the moment, it belonged to Macron and it was her duty to give her life to protect him. A fact that didn't frighten her at all. But she knew that the time as his Black Guard will end sooner or later. All this had given her a reason to go on, a reason to cling to life.... "And after this time...?", she wondered.
Her eyes stared into nothingness, as she harshly encapsulated and eradicated those thoughts. Willingly she mutilated her mind and memories with the force - as she had done so often before. "I am sitting on the edge.. but the edge is too sharp.. it cuts me!", a thought that always accompanied her when she messed with her own mind. Finally she rested her hand on the hilt of her saber, having completely cleared her mind from any disturbing thoughts.
She turned around, starting to talk to Malisane: "Well, about my skills...", she stopped, confused by the strange looks Macron and Malisane were giving her. But after having used the force against herself she wasn't able to come up with a reason anymore and so she ignored it. She flashed a smile at them: "I am decent in slicing and hacking, I am a good fighter, although I rather prefer using my powers. More of the mental stuff, you know ... Oh and did we receive any informations about the buildings from the probots yet?"
Standing not far from Acara, Kris swats at the annoying insects that keep buzzing her, and she growls in annoyance as she wishes for a suit of armor to keep the insects off of her.
She looks at Malisane, "I'm good at hand to hand combat, I'd be honored the privilege to be part of the first wave." Kris says as she places a hand on the hilt of her lightsaber.
Malisane nods, "Very well, Kris, you'll be one of our fighters." he comments as he makes a mental note of this.
Kris bows, "I shall not fail you." she states, then reaches down and unclips her lightsaber in order to have it ready for the coming battle.
Malisane nodded. "Very well Zak go ahead and clear the way, traps, motion detectors, any sort of surveilance device, clear them all out I want a clear and safe passage all the way to the front door." Zak nodded and slipped off into the jungle. Malisane looked at Kris. "Don't worry they'll be plenty of use for your saber in the keep you can count on that."
There was a rustle behind them and the Zabrak Battlemaster stepped out followed by the nervous looking captain. Shimura turned to the officer. "We're here get lost." he said calously and the officer turned and left.
Macron smiled, "Welcome to the party cousin."
The Zhabrak nodded, "So what's the plan?"
Malisane shrugged, "Pretty straightforward. We get in there and move through the keep destroying any resistance we encounter. Any prisoners will be turned over to Macron for interegation then dealt with, and we find the Severak and kill him."
"Sounds simple and straightforward," Shimura approved, "How are we going to get in there?"
Macron's eyes gleamed, "I have a plan they will not expect that will take us right through the door."
Sildrin frowned, "I assume this doesn't involve us going up and knocking?"
"In a manner of speaking," Macron replied with a chuckle.
Malisane nodded. "Anyway time to move Zak should be clearing the way for us."
The assembled Jedi nodded and moved out.
As they walked, Macron laid out his plan. "Alright, as we agreed earlier the Kressh members will make a direct assault on the front. The probots indicate less than 30 living beings in there. I have some chemical and bioagents that will assist greatly in this matter. I suggest you all take these," he said as he offered a small red vial to each Dark Jedi. They all looked at him questioningly. Sometimes it was a bad idea to get involved with Macron's chemical fetish.
"It's an antidote, you dolts. Really," he harumphed. "You don't HAVE to take them.... unless you enjoy an agonizing death." He smiled evilly.
"Per Malisane's idea, the Ragnosians will make a flanking attack, infiltrating the base and seeking the objective with Muz and Manji. Also, be aware that intelligence indicates that a VSD is now on an assault vector with the Orian system, and our forces have engaged it. This may be part of their group. Only time will tell now," informed the Warrior.
He looked down at an annoying bug that was trying to bite him. It found no purchase on the hard ceramic and Sith alloy plates, and he smacked it with glee. It's sticky guts smeared all over his vambrace."First blood in my new armor,"he thought. "May there be many more." He was glad the armor was sealed and climate controlled in this pest hole. For some reason, it was always the jungle or a forest that they ventured into, and this time his allergies were not bothering him.
He turned to Shimura, a smile on his face. "Many things have changed brother, since we last fought. Will you stand by my side now and smite these dogs with me?" asked the Quaestor. The moment was tense, as the two had a known rivalry dating back from the days of the assault on Falleen. Sildrin stood close by, detecting his unease.
Acara, in his usual dark cloak had recieved a nasty look from a couple of his companion after rubing something over his exposed skin. None of the insects were bothering him anymore. He had passed vials of the substance on to Macron and Sildrin and asked them to pass them on when they were done. A lesson from Yavin4 learned well.
Hearing Macron's words of a plan he turned to look at the Sith alchamist. Taking a drink from a flask at his side he listened with curiousity.
Taking the vial he was given Acara placed it on his belt ready for when he would need it.
The alarms echoed loudly inside the Obsidian, officers and technicians fumbling for the vacc suits, running wildly to their posts. The only steady figure was Battlemaster Scithe, poised in front of the radar dsiplay.
"Any word from Sepros, officer?" He spat metodically.
"No sir, not one. Something must be jamming our channels." The officer replied worried.
Suddenly, another tech yelled. "Sir, eight dots just jumped into sector, signatures from House Marka Ragnos."
Scithe, never moving his eyes from the screen, replied. "Yeah, I see them. The Night Falcons. Officer, reach Commander Raidoner for me. Quick."
Static filled the signal, but after some keystrokes from the techs, the line was getting clearer. "Easy now, fella. Cavalry is on the way."
Scithe grabbed the link furiously. "Are you nuts, Commander? There are three to one and the capital ship. Order your squad back and wait for reinforcements."
"Wha!? Wait? YOU are the nuts here." The Commander, pride wounded, yelled. "I say we pack those guys home now."
"Raid, are you so proud you didn't notice it yet?" Scithe replied more reasonably. "That soft tingle in the Force? Someone aboard that capital is using Battle Meditation. We NEED the Wandering Soul before we do anything."
"Nonsense." Raid was berserk again. "By the way, you don't have authority over me, Scithe."
"But I do." A raspy voice came through another channel. "You will fall back to Aeotheran and wait for me. Understood, Commander?"
"But... Oh, I hate that." Commander Raidoner was frustated.
"Thanks, Goatman..." Said Scithe with relief.
"Keep your thanks an move out now, soldier." Lord Xanos ordered with unwavering voice.
"You heard the man, folks. Evac the Obsidian, NOW!!!" Scithe yelled and the alarms grew another note. "And you..." Pointing to a tech, he completed. " Help me up here. We'll leave a parting gift for the visitors..."
(((Sorry Sildrins Post was first.... mine adapted and below)))
She took the red vial, taking a closer look at it. Then Macron's word distracted her: "A VSD is closing in to the Orian System?!", she cursed quietly. "Luckily enough forces stayed to protect the Orian system.. so I hope. And you need to tell me about those chemical and bioagents... we should easily take out 30 people..", she smiled.
Again she got aware of the vial in her hand, something disturbed her about it, but she couldn't exactly find out what. Her senses were pulled away as the tension between Macron and Shimura became very unconfortable and the air felt heavy with unease. Involuntarily she stepped a bit closer to Macron, subconsciously slipping the red vial into a pocket of her black suit. "What is it between those two? I can nearly grasp the tension with my own hands...", she thought.
Acara Rayden looked at the vial, his eyes betrayed his worry. He would normally trust Macron but something was holding him back, barley on the edge of perception he felt a threat through the Force.
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Kris taking the antidote, they must be close. Acara took his vial from his belt and injected himself. He looked around, still feeling a little strange, he felt something else now as well but still could not work out what he felt.A minute later Kris dropped to the floor rolling around in pain.
Running over Acara called out, “Macron….. Sildrin.”
Sildrin and Macron came running over, the rest of the attack team including Acara fanned out to make sure no one approached unannounced.
Macron looked up at Sildrin and spoke, “It’s not fatal or even too serious. Damn that Severina she must have altered my antidote.”
Joining their powers Sildrin and Macron drove the chemicals from her system. Kris’ eyes slowly opened.
“Lie still for a moment, your system will need time to recover.” Sildrin stated.
A cry came from the direction of Acara. Zak being closest ran to his location in time to see the Jedi Hunter flying through the air towards the location of “The True Brotherhood”. Sildrin came up to his side.
“What happened?” she asked.
Zak answered, “The same thing that happened to Kris only something else happened before I could get to Acara.”
Damn, damn, damn! I should've been able to sense that!
"Zak, tell me, what happened?"
"I was scouting ahead, Acara not too far behind when he cried out and fell to the ground. At first I thought that maybe he had sprung a trap, but when I reached him he was clutching his stomach in pain. I remembered that he had taken the antidote that Macron had prepared. I saw the trap nearby, but before I could grab him, he rolled and sprung the trap that I had been wary of."
"What trap? I thought you said you could find them!" Malisane growled.
"It's similar to the tractor beams that pull ships into Star Destroyer's docking bays. It's much smaller in size but powerful enough to snatch a pretty good sized humanoid and rapidly drag him back to where it is stationed." Zaknafein paused, then continued. "The reason I didn't see it in infrared is because they used magnisium powder to hide it."
"Which brings to mind, why didn't you take the antidote yourself?" Macron asked.
"I was already ahead on point when you handed them out everyone."
Xhedias seemed to peer intensly at his apprentice.
"You've got something else to say?"
"Yes, sir, I do. I've been doing some thinking. If they know we have members who can use the infrared spectrum, wouldn't they know what special talents the others have and nulify them?"
"True. But I still want you on point, and be very careful about what you see both in normal and infrared. Understand?" Malisane spat.
The armored Knight crept back into the jungle, his head sweeping back and forth as he checked for more traps.
A few minutes passed as the small group around Kris waited to make sure no serious side-effects showed their ugly head.
The comlink on Macron's belt beeped.
"Commander, I've found the outer perimeter of the "True" Brotherhood's fencing system. However, something that's made out of these materials couldn't last this long in conditions such as this."
A small explosion blared out of the comm.
"I'm fine, turns out that it was a very clever use of holoprojector and a rather nasty surprise nearby." Several twigs snapped and the Chiss continued. "The base is not too far ahead, I'm looking at maybe 300 meters from where I stand."
"Hold your position until we arrive."
The tension between Macron and Shimura seemed to have been broken by Kris' collapse. Chuckling darkly, the Battlemaster turned away as he inspected the razor blade attached to the hilt of his sabre. Suddenly a shadow blocked his vision. Looking up swiftly, Xhedias' face relaxed into a grin as the Epis mock-punched him on the shoulder.
"Y'know what they say, Shim, absence makes the heart grow fonder."
The grin deepened slightly, tinted by hints of darkness as Shimura's competitive streak rose.
"We'll have to test that theory at some point."
Throwing his head back, Manji laughed uproariously before turning away, wracked by chuckles. Waving a hand absentmindedly, the Epis moved away to stare into the jungle.
"We just might. But plenty has happened while you've been away... for now, let's just annihilate these punks and sort it out back home."
Clapping a hand down on Malisane's shoulder, the Epis grinned again. As always, the smile seemed open and friendly... but as always, a hint of sadistic pleasure could be detected in his eyes as he contemplated the myriad ways of slaughtering, maiming and butchering false Dark Jedi.
"So. Mal. Are we going to go find that kid who just got snatched?"
Nodding agreement, Malisane turned to the rest of the warriors behind him and raised a hand.
"Okay, people. Remember the plan- Kressians, you follow Macron and lead a frontal attack on their stronghold. Try and find Acara as well. Ragnosians, you follow Muz and Manji and attack the side entrance- cut right through to the heart of this Brotherhood and cut them to pieces."
Wicked grins shone on Muz and Manji's faces as they moved away through the jungle, the assorted combatants of Marka Ragnos marching along behind them- alert and silent.
The ride to the nearby system had been a quick one, getting a ride from the Admiral's personal shuttle that moved to the approval of the Sith. The descent had nearly been 10 standard minutes which was incredibly fast, so it must have been planned out.
Shimura stood around as his two brothers made off into the jungle to their fate, whether it be death or to continue to serve Sadow faithfully as they have done. Shimura wasn't sure what the details were, but there was going to be a lot of death, hopefully that involved saber to saber contact. He nearly yearned for the sound of the grating sabers again, as if he needed it to maintain life.
"Seems to me nothing has really changed." The Battlemaster started. "It will be you standing by my side as we smite these vermin."
Macron's expression to the Battlemaster was hidden by his new armor. Shimura thought it to be a grimace of a sort as he said nothing. Malisane was quick to pipe up and not wait for the rebuttal.
"It matters not where who is standing...shall we move?"
TIE Interceptor with Kresshian symbol landed on the ground. The few people who were outside going over the plan once again looked up as the blue Zabrak in the long robes exited the ship and looked around.
A few Dark Jedi came running to greet him but Lucius did not look at them walking past those who did not matter. As he approached macron Lucius bowed as the Quaestor did the same.
"Its been a long time Quaestor" Lucius smiled getting out the cigarette from his robes.
"we thought we would have to begin without you" Macron smiled shaking Aedile's hand.
"I want to know all about this plan" were the words of Lucius as both retreived inside the temporary headquarters of the Quaestor.
Shinichi Endymiron K
As his brothers approached with their strike team Shin'ichi stood up from the cover of some tall grass and waved a series of hand gestures to them. Covered head to foot in camouflage he was undetectable to the naked eye, and having suppressed his force essence, would be unseen to most that were force sensitive. He silently made his way to the strike team to confer with Muz and Manji.
As the three men crouched down Shin'ichi began to speak quietly. "They're expecting us." he said plainly. The Krath Pontifex and Epis looked at each other and back at Shin'ichi. He continued "Some how they know a team is coming to assault the side entrance and have anti-personnel emplacements readied as well as hidden scout-sentries...And before you say it, yes I'm certain they know, and no these precautions aren't part of their everyday security. I heard some of the 'hidden' sentries speaking to each other. They're good, but not that good."
The eldest Keibatsu nodded his head as he listened to the report, glad to have dispatched his brother on this scout mission. Manji's mind began formulating a plan before Shin'ichi was through speaking. Looking forward past his brothers Shin'ichi could see the strike team comprised of members of House Marka Ragnos shift uneasily as they struggled to keep low and silent. "What kind of suicide mission are we on here?" he asked. "Who planned all this frontal assault garbage anyway? General Irrv?" Muz answered him. "Malisane did. He's an intelligent man, but doesn't have the operational knowledge to plan an assault of this nature." It was then that Manji spoke up. "I say we proceed with the plan." At this both Muz and Shin'ichi stared at him in disbelief. Raising his hands in mock surrender the Epis continued. "We send the rest of the team on ahead to assault the entrance as planned, however the three of us find an 'alternate' entrance into the facility. This so called true brotherhood will be so distracted fighting two assaults that we should be able to slip in and cause some real damage...Keibatsu style."
The men nodded to each other and after informing the strike team of its objectives and watching them depart for the compound once again the three brothers vanished into the bush to accomplish their own.
Malisane quietly went over to Macron and lead him away from the others. "It's time."
Macron nodded, "Are you sure you want to do this? They might simply kill you."
The Knight nodded, "I am confident how they will act. Remember Palpatine, over confidence seems to be a prevailing factor of poweful Dark Jedi and they are not faultless, besides I don't see any other way of getting in."
Macron nodded "Turn around." Malisane lifted his jacket and the Quaestor slapped a tiny patch on the small of the Envoys back. Malisane lowered his jacket.
"I hope that works." he replied.
Macron shrugged, "I only had the lab facilities of the Keepsake to experiment in and it's the best I could come up with in three days but it should work."
Malisane nodded. "Ok if it doesn't it's been good serving with you Quaestor."
Macron smiled, "You've got one hour before it decays and releases the agent. Move quickly."
The throne room of Usharak Keep was a dark and sinister affair, torches burned greasy smoke along the walls, banners of the True Brotherhood hung surrounding the carved rock throne on which his Divine Majesty Darth Severak sat thinking to himself. He looked up as Tslotha Garnath, a tall Zhabrak and his one remaining disciple entered the room and bowed. "Majesty, we have caught a prisoner in outside the gates."
"Caught?" the figure on the throne repeated.
"In a manner of speaking Majesty," the disciple replied, "he said he has come to join the True Brotherhood."
"Who is he Tslotha?" Severak asked.
"He claims to be one Malisane De Ath, Dark Jedi Knight and Clan Envoy of Naga Sadow."
"Does he?" Severak mused, "do you believe him?"
"Yes Majesty," the Zhabrak replied, "he was carrying this," he held out the black hilt of a lightsaber.
"Bring him to me."
Malisane, his hands bound in manacles, entered the room following Tslotha and flanked by two lightsaber bearing Knights. He looked up into the old and wizened face of the aledged Grandmaster. He bowed.
Severak studied the young Sith, "So what is your story?"
Malisane took a deep breath, he had been coached in the etiquette by Tslotha on the way, "Majesty, as I told your disciple, I am Malisane De Ath of Clan Naga Sadow. I have come to join your brotherhood."
"Why?" Severak responded simply.
Malisane took another breath then, "I was a loyal member of my Clan and the Dark Brotherhood for some time, but have grown disillusioned with its beurocracy. I feel I am being held back by my superiors and have come to learn from a true Master."
"And who told you of the True Brotherhood."
"An acolyte by the name of Melak lead me to another of your order named Severina. She spoke of True Brotherhood and sent me here."
"And where are Severina and Melak now?" Severak asked.
"They remain behind spreading word of the True Brotherhood Majesty."
Severak studied the young Sith, "I can sense your lying words young fool," he grated.
"Majesty..." Malisane began.
"Silence!" the Grandmaster boomed, "I have sensed the death of Melak and my beloved first disciple, I sense your capital ship in orbit, I can sense your forces in the jungle around my Keep, and I can sense your falsehood!"
Tslotha ignited his saber. "Shall I kill him Majesty?"
"No," Severak replied, "that would be too merciful. If he wishes to join the True Brotherhood and fight for us he shall do so."
Malisane looked nervously at the figure on the throne, then suddenly his mind was swamped with the force and he was overcome by the mind of Severak.
"There," the Grandmaster said in triumph, "he is now my slave, a mindless warrior."
Tslotha nodded, "What shall I do with him Majesty?"
"Give him his saber and have him patrol the Keep, when they attack he will betray them."
The mindless automation that had been Malisane wandered the floors of the keep, raising
a few knowing chuckles by the Dark Jedi he passed. He did not notice them, bent under the will of his Master. His saber swung at his belt as he patrollled.
Fifty nine minutes and fifty seconds after leaving his clan mates, the small patch on his back decayed releasing Macrons's agent through his skin into his nervous system. He did not notice at first but slowly as the powerful stimulants began to work boosting his system and supressing Severak's control he began to regain his consiousness.
He shook his head, he felt groggy, but clearer. He looked around him at the stone corridors, his meeting with Severak a hazy memory. Slowly, forcing himself to walk in the same automated manner, continuing patrolling and waiting for Macron's signal to open the gates and allow his clan mates entry.
Slowly the darkness faded as Acara opened his eyes. He felt pain all over, trying to stand up he fell straight back to the floor of a force cadge. His muscles were not responding. Trying and failing to move again he reached out to the force but could feel nothing.
A female voice spoke to him from across the room he was being kept in, “Stay still, they tortured you when they brought you in. Though from the look of you I don’t think they needed to.”
“The last thing I remember,” Acara’s voice sounded raspy and slow, “Is taking that damned vial.” Gathering strength he addressed the female again, “Did they ask me anything.”
“They wanted to know about you,” the female’s voice contained a hint of emotion the Jedi Hunter couldn’t recognise. “They didn’t seem to know anything about you. Though they did say your companions were of no concern.”
“Why would they be interested in me?” Acara felt the force slowly returning to him. Using it to re-strengthen himself he stood up…. He still could see no more than a blur.
“You are unknown to them it seems. I think they wanted someone else.”
Acara’s eyes swam back into focus, “Then I will be expendable. I think I will need to leave shortly.”
“How?” the female asked.
“They seem to have forgotten that I can use the Force. You are welcome to join me if you are tired of this place Ellie.” With that Acara moved his hand in a subtle motion and the Force cadges deactivated.
Acara’s first steps out of the cadge felt shaky, spying his weapons plus another Blastsword and blaster that could only belong to his companion he went over to that side of the room. He placed his weaponry back in it’s proper place and handed the other weapons back to Ellie. Addressing her he said, “Overconfidence the undoing of all.”
“How do you know my name?” Ellie asked.
Acara motioned her over to the door before answering. “If you can’t recognise another Adumari let alone your own brother Ellie Rayden how the hell did you become a pilot.” The Jedi Hunter was smiling. “Come on,” he finished as he drew activated his Blastsword and stepped through the door after opening it with the Force.
"Malisane," came a whisper in the Knight's head. It was not telepathy, but yet he heard Macron's voice. "Did it work?"
"Yeah," he replied subvocally. "What the hell did you do to me?"
"Nanobots, allowing us to converse ala secure transmission. I knew they would pick up on telepathy. Also, you have the corrected antidote in your system. And of course, you are the internal vector for my latest toy. A nanobot virus, designed to recognize and ignore all our Clan. It will give our enemies a nasty cold. Keep me up to date. Macron out," said the Warrior.
Macron readied his gear, and activated his twin Sith War droids, placing them under Lucius' command. A remote link on the cargo hatch of the transport popped open, and a familiar friend stepped out. Sweetums was on the scene. The fearsome Silooth beetle had gotten much bigger and hungrier after feasting on Arconan flesh during the last Obelisk War. She was an army unto herself. "Get 'em," came his command.
He nodded at Lucius, and the force made straight for the front gate with the beetle and evil droids in the lead. Blaster fire began to ripple around them, reflecting off the armored droids and their defense shields as well as the awesome tank-like beetle. A gout of searing acid from the creature sprayed over the front line defenders, melting them in pure agony as the monster sopped up their gelid remains. The droids layed down a firestorm as Lucius gave them orders.
Macron watched approvingly, from right on top of the beetle. He was riding it into battle, like his ancient Sith ancestors had done. The frontal assault had begun, in typical Macron fashion. He intended to provide a serious distraction.
Shimura paced the many-legged terror, cutting down foes left and right with a roar. Oddly enough, the beetle left him alone. "Damn, she likes him," wondered the alchemist.
Sildrin paced them in the cover of the bush, using battle meditation and mental attacks on the defenders. She cut a few flankers down with her blade as well, and wondered at the insanity of her Keibatsu friend. He could very well die here, but yet he risked his life for the whole Clan and Brotherhood. Perhaps there was honor among thieves after all.
Pride filled her heart to stand at the side of these warriors. The screams of her foes filled her ears, but it only made her hit harder. Suddenly her attack came to an abrupt stop as a Sith Warrior charged her. She was barely able to block his saber with her own, the staccato of the sabers ringing in their ears. Slowly she was pushed backwards, his sheer strength was too much for her. A sweat bead ran down her forehead as briefly the hot seering blade touched her neck, but she was able to push it back. Her force senses told her that she was surrounded by three other dark jedis, but they were of lower rank.
Her eyes met those of the Sith Warrior and for a moment she was shaken and distracted. The Sith Warrior laughed in triumph and with a fast flick of his wrist he managed to pull out a vibroknife. Her eyes widened as she realized her mistake, but it was too late and the blade digged deep into her left shoulder. She screamed out in pain as the blade was twisted, churning her flesh and parts of the bones. Instinctively her defences raised and the Sith Warrior stumbled backwards from a powerfull force push.
Uncontrollable rage caused by the anger and pain clouded her mind and she emitted a low growl. She raised her left hand with the palm outstretched to the Sith Warrior. The throbbing pain in her shoulder was immense but dulled by the dark side that coursed her veins. The Warrior prepared himself for another attack, but he startled, pain shot through his body as he heard several snapping sounds from his body. He screamed out as the bones of his fingers and toes began to snap, rapidly the process started to continue on the rest of his bones - each one of them began to crush, piercing partly his skin. His body fell to the ground, no longer supported by his legs. His trembling hand tried to reach out for his saber, but he ended up in a howl as slowly his flesh began to shape and melt, leaving him as a gurgling mess.
The three "True" Jedis hesitated, for a moment touched by fear, but then they raised their sabers to attack her. Her head turned around to face them, with her hand still outstretched to the Sith Warrior. The three slowed down, carefully approaching her. Suddenly one of them began to gag, choking and his mouth opened to a silent scream. The two others stared at him, shocked as a snake-like pale grub appeared to move out of his mouth, growing horridly in size. Just in that moment they started to choke themselves, grabbing at their throats. "Too easy," she thought. Continuing with the little mind trick on them. "I just love hallucinations...".
She turned her attention back to the Sith Warrior, having kept her left hand still stretched out. Slowly she turned the hand around, with the palm facing to her. A shadow appeared within her hand - in the shape of a pulsating heart. Her eyes stared coldly at him, and his eyes stared back at her from a quivering mass of undefined flesh. Her lips curled into an evil smile as she slowly clenched her fingers around the heart-shaped shadow, crushing it. The Sith Warrior twitched and finally went limp. Sildrin lowered her left hand. Her own blood began to trickle down her fingers, intermingling with the black oily substance that covered her hand.
Her right hand gripped more tightly her saber, but she saw to her relief that the three other dark jedis were taken down by Kris with graceful movements. She watched Kris literally dancing through them, leaving a trail of death after she finished. Sildrin nodded to her, lightly smiling.
Malisane reeled back. What had the crazy alchemist done to him? Still he was alive he had his Quaestor to thank for that. He could hear the sound of battle outside. “The gate,” he muttered and headed off down the corridor quickly. Saber in hand. A saber wielding Sith appeared in front of him and without thinking Malisane dove forward, glowing blade lancing through his enemies chest. His mind was still slightly fuzzy but clearing rapidly, his duty carrying him on. He turned a corner and almost sliced the persont one down before he managed to stop himself.
”Acara!” he said in surprise, “what are you doing here?”
“Escaping,” the other Sith replied, “what are you doing?”
“It would take too long to explain,” Malisane replied, “Macron is outside the Keep we need to get the main gate open.”
“Let’s go then.” Acara replied.
Malisane noticed Ellie stood behind. “Who is that?”
“This is Elle Rayden, my sister..”
“This is hardly the time for a family reunion,” Malisane replied, “I just hope she can use that sword. Come on!”
They headed downstairs to the ground floor. “The gate control is down there.” Malisane said pointing to a corridor.
“Lets get to it then.” Acara replied.
“You’re going no-where,” a voice replied from behind them. Ellie gasped and they spun around to face a double saber wielding Zhabrak in long robes.
Malisane backed off raising his saber. “Tslotha Garnath.” He acknowledged.
“Who is this guy?” Acara asked.
“Not yet,” Tslotha replied calmly, “I am an Equite, but more than a match for the pair of you. Prepare to die.” He moved forward, his sabers raised to attack.
“Go!” Malisane said raising his blade, “quickly!”
“I’m not leaving you!” Acara replied. “We’ll take him together.”
“The Gate,” Malisane replied, “you need to let Macron and the others in. I’ll hold this guy off.”
Acara looked at him, then nodded and ran off. Malisane raised his saber.
“You will not hold me off,” Tslotha replied, “you will die.”
Malisane shrugged, "As will you when my Clan get here.”
“We'll see,” the Zhabrak replied, "but you will not see them in this world."
Malisane felt a feeling of serenity. He faced a more powerful opponent. He was probably going to die. But he was a good duelist, trained by Shimura Keibatsu. He would give the Equite a decent fight. He readied himself for the Zhabrak's strike.
“Come on then,” he replied.
OOC: Yeah I know it's really late but uh....
Callus woke up in his Z-95 pilots couch after a long and arduous trip to the Ushar Keep. He sat his ship inside the fence of the "True" Brotherhood. He climbed out of his ship and grabbed his lightsaber as he pulled his cloak off and dropped it to the ground. He entered the keep and could smell burning bodies Macron
he thought to himself as he continued down the hall and he came to what looked like a gate.
"Another fence?" He said as he drew his lightsaber and stabbed at the fence hi saber shut down. "Well that can't be good." He said as he looked around for another way in.
OOC: Yea I may not be around for awhile so anyone can be me
Just don't kill me... yet
Running towards the gate Acara couldn’t help but think of Malisane, he would go and help him if he could, this Darth Saverak would pay in any way possible. Knowing he was no direct match for Saverak he would do it in other ways. Smiling at the thought of revenge the Jedi Hunter continued to run, occasionally checking to see if Ellie was still at his side.
Reaching the gate he sensed something familiar bearing down towards him. Reaching out with his feelings he recognised the Darkness approaching, Macron. Looking at the gate Acara noticed a control device, walking up to it he began to key in instructions. Nothing happened!
“Damn!” His voice raised slightly he examined the gate as he spoke, “Coded any ideas?”
Gesturing to the control device she spoke, “Blastsword.”
Thinking Acara brought his Blastsword to point at the device, “Close.”
A loud crack echoed around the area at the same time as a flash of light as the blastsword made contact with the control device. Brining his hands up the Kresshian thought of Severak and his need for revenge. Reaching out with his feeling he called upon the Force and the gate slowly slid open.
“Acara!” Ellie was pointing behind him.
Acara turned round to see two “True” brotherhood Jedi were running towards him. Flicking his Blastsword round and noticing Ellie doing the same he Thought. Show time.
Zak had long since exploded from his position in the humid jungle to help his Clansmen in the battle for the gates. His sapphire lightsaber hummed constantly as he hacked his way through lower ranking Dark Jedi, blood and gore splashed across the face plate of his helmet as he finally reached the gate.
Taking a quick glance to see where his comrades lurked in the chaotic battle, he charged for the now open gates, sharp eyes picking up the familiar blaze of light that came with sabers.
However, Macron's sharp command held him back. Snarling, he whirled on new targets, irritation graduating into a blood rage, the Sith tore his way through lower ranking Dark Jedi, decapitating most, other's limbs flying in all directions.
He knew he would most likely not see battle inside the compound because he would be "a liability", Zaknafein focused on the remaining Dark Jedi outside the compound and vented his caged frustration at not being allowed to take a chop at this Dark Lord, no matter how suicidal it was for him.
Zak spotted another Knight a few meters away and charged him, his penned up fury flying loose in a roar that ripped from his throat. The man spun, sensing danger, and encountered a frenzied Chiss, whose saber stabbed for his torso even as an armored fist arced for his face. Mandalore's opponent tried slashing at the Sith's ankles, but he leapt over the attack and slammed his booted foot into the point of his chin, sending him flying backwards, saliva trails roping thickly in the air.
The Chiss was all over him as he hit the ground, mercilessly hacking him into pieces, gouts of blood spattering hotly on his armor, his rage all but unabated. A quick glance out of the corner of his eye told him that, once again, the Keibatsu had taken control of things, leaving the "weaker" components of the assault team to finish mopping things up.
"Ah, screw it." He thought to himself.
Still in a black mood Zaknafein kept hacking on various other enemies, taking time out of his way slice their corpses until they were completly unreconizable.
Macron's Silooth roared as she eviscerated a enemy Guardian, impaling her on the beetles' half meter long teeth. It crunched the remains up as it stabbed another in the torso, pinning him to the ground for a follow up snack. Macron smiled a toothy grin as his pet did it's dirty work. This was a hell of a distraction. Smoking bodies in various states of liquiescence lay strewn about the area. That beetle was truly evil."And she likes Shimura," came his thought. "Outrageous."
And as all such things go, this one had to end. An e-web blaster began to sweep the area, scouring the beetle's hard carapace with blaster fire. A fully mature Silooth would have shrugged off this assault, but Sweetums was still young and tender. The beast screeched and reared, almost throwing off the Sith Warrior.
He bade her to retreat and eat escapees as he dismounted with a lengthy Force-assisted leap, muscles surging with hate and orbalisk venom. The shock of the landing was absorbed by the inertial dampeners in his leg armor units.
The alchemist waved to Kris and Sildrin, and the three charged the e-web position with their screaming blades in hand. The gun crew grabbed at their heads, seeing quivering tentacles sprout from their eyes as they fell prey to Sildrin's Illusion. Kris had hacked the barrel off the weapon while Macron struck at the first of the enemy crew. Sildrin then closed with Kris, and the bodies soon hit the ground. The blaster was neutralized, but the Siloooth was nowhere to be seen.
Macron hit his comlink. "Shimura- they need you inside my friend. I sense Malisane and Acara are in trouble. "
He turned to speak. "Zaknafein, Ladies.... we have a bioagent to deliver. I'll need your help. Don't worry, it won't bother you. I have samples of your DNA already, and it is tailored not to attack you or any of our Clan. They might detox it internally with the Force, but that will take precious energy which they cannot afford to lose."
The alchemist grabbed several gas cannisters and handed them out as they ducked behind a small mound of dirt and trees.
Macron handed the first cannister to Zak.
"Ok, I need you to sneak in there and plant this little "present" in somewhere it'll be hard as hell for them to find."
Macron could almost see the grin of sadistic pleasure that formed behind the tinted T-visor.
"Why thank-you, I thought you higher ranking members were going to keep all the fun to yourselves."
The alchemist only grinned and motioned for him to go do what he did best.
As the armored form snaked off into the darkness, Macron addressed the rest of the group.
"I've already placed a weaker form of our virus in there via Malisane, what you carry now is a much more potent form. While Zak is in there placing his, we will create a distraction by setting ours off at the gates to help our comrades inside. If you have any left in your cans after that, finish it off by moving throughout the fortress."
As he finished the Chiss had slipped over the high parapet and was heading deep into the interior of the "True" Brotherhood's home.
It was nearly total darkness as Zaknafein crept towards his goal. He was nearly there when he encountered a locked door with a keypad nearby. This, would not slow him down for very long. Zak flipped a switch on the side of his helmet that allowed him to see in the infrared.
This done he took a closer look at the keypad.
The number 2 was the brightest with 3 being the faintest. That left 4,5, and 8, to be somewhere in the middle.
Zak tried 35482.
Zaknafein sighed inwardly in relief. He was lucky that an alarm didn't go off after the 3rd try. He peeked around the corner to spot an holo-cam recorder. It was one of the old fashioned ones that continually recorded.
Mandalore solved this problem by a simple flick of a lightswitch to off. Now all the camera was getting was pure black. He crept foward, Dainslaif unsheathed, not wishing to draw attention to himself by using a lightsaber, when he came to a well shielded air-duct.
Or, at least well shielded from less destructive beings. Zak on the other hand, had different ideas about that.
Crouching, he pulled out a servo-wrench and began loosening the bolts around the shaft's entry port. Carefully, as not to produce loud clangs that would give him away, Mandalore lowered the slab of durasteel onto the polished floor.
The Chiss had just tugged the pin loose from the canister when he felt a blaster barrel press against the back of his helmet.
"Don't move, mercenary."
Zak froze eyes narrowing inside his helmet.
"Now, turn around and put you hands where I can see them."
"Hm, that might be plausible if it wasn't pitch black in here." Zak muttered.
Before the guard could reply the Chiss spun, index finger on the trigger of the canister.
"Now, you, can kiss your ass goodbye!"
The Knight hit the activator stud and and the gases in the can flew out, dispercing all over the Human's face. Two seconds later the man's face had slid off onto the floor and nasty wet sounds were issuing from the corpse's ruined throat.
Hmm, this tells me I shouldn't piss Macron off any time in the near future.
He finished the job by taping the release valve down, so the can would be on continual release, and bolted the cover back on. Zak briefly searched for a AC/Heating control and found it farther down the hall.
"Now, it's time for a little air-conditioning."
Footsteps rang through the halls of the complex as the three Keibatsu moved calmly through, sabres ignited and humming. Violent violet light reflected off the walls, mingling with crimson and silver glows as four sabres prepared for slaughter. At that moment, as Manji sighed heavily and looked around in disinterest, several false Dark Jedi appeared at the other end of the corridor, moving towards them.
Before the other two Keibatsu could move Manji broke into a sprint, heading towards the three Dark Jedi. Boots pounded against the floor before the Epis leapt into the air, a kick slamming against the first Dark Jedi's face and throwing him to the ground.
The second found time to turn and pull his sabre from his belt- but before he could ignite it Manji's blade slammed into his chest with a loud hiss. The third fled in terror- but fear disorientated him, leading him straight towards Muz and Shin'ichi. Three sabres ripped into his body, tearing him apart before he hit the ground.
The last Dark Jedi raised his head groggily, only to find a silver sabre directly in front of his eyes. Leaning down, Manji grinned wickedly. His taunt was the last thing the Zabrak heard.
"'True Brotherhood', huh? Don't make me laugh."
The severed, smoking head rolled across the floor as the three Keibatsu continued down the corridor, joking.
"Dude, next time leave some for us."
"You'll just have to move quicker, won't you?"
Suddenly they all felt something- a pulsating nexus in the Force, dark matter revolving around an area near the gate. Looking towards the location of the feeling, Muz nodded.
"Ah. Malisane. I suspect he may need some help."
Nodded assent answered him as the three broke into a run, dashing through the corridors.
Crimson sabres smashed together as Tslotha launched an offensive, his strength forcing Malisane back. On the defensive, the Knight was forced to stumble backwards, sabre flashing back and forth to stop myriad attacks from the Equite. Sweat began to run down Malisane's brow- he couldn't go on much longer at this level.
Suddenly Tslotha whipped his off-hand sabre round, knocking Malisane's sabre out of his grasp. The blade flew away, Malisane now defenceless as Tslotha kicked the Knight in the stomach to knock him to the ground then levelled his blade at the Knight's throat.
"Now, scum, you die."
As the Zabrak gloated wickedly, a boot appeared suddenly, smashing into Tslotha's side. The Zabrak fell away with a grunt as Muz appeared after him, sabres whirling. As they threw themselves into a vicious combat, four sabres flashing back and forth in incredible arcs and whirls of colour, Manji moved over to the fallen Knight and grabbed his hand, pulling him up.
"How ya doin', Mal?"
Shaking his head, the Knight grabbed his sabre with a grimace.
"Sucks more that I had to get rescued."
Chuckling, Manji leant back against the wall and stared at the two warriors as they battled.
"Heh. Don't worry about it- I used to have to get rescued all the time. The time'll come when you'll be doing the rescuing. Or the maiming, whatever floats your boat."
"Speaking of which, I want to maim that guy when Muz has finished. Nobody makes a fool of me."
"That's the attitude."
Zaknafein threw the activation switch for the air conditioning. As the evil gas drifted through the complex, reactions began to appear everywhere. He grinned with delight. He loved his job.
A faint hissing sound came from the air vents.
The lesser Dark Jedi that had stormed into the room where Malisane, Manji, Muz, and Shin’Ichi were screamed in agony, clutching at their faces. The flesh seemed to boil and liquefy, making their faces slide right off their heads. The wet pink flesh underneath twitched and bled as the skin slowly dissolved off their bones, releasing ochre colored fumes. The corpses flopped and writhed, not even realizing they were dead yet. It had been that fast.
"Holy crap that’s sick," muttered Manji as he regarded the wrecks before him. The Naga Sadow group was completely untouched. Manji looked at Shin'Ichi and Malisane. Their stomachs churned a little.
A yell of "Gas!" came over the complex speakers set in the wall.
Shin’ichi gestured at the air ducts and said, "Macron. This is his doing. I have seen him use something like this before on Lok, but this was much nastier. It apparently targets... flesh this time. How the hell did he get it in there? He's not exactly what you would call the stealthy type."
"Yeah, good question. He never did too well with that aspect of the training," replied Manji, Macron's Master. "But you gotta admit, he's fun to have around."
Malisane relied," True. However, I won't be wanting any lunch for a while now dammit."
Using the Force to keep the virus from rotting him had distracted Tslotha. Muz was able to remove one of his hands with his purple blade, and then stuck his red one through the Zabrak's arm in the bicep. He dropped to his knees, awaiting the deathblow. It never came.
There you are," smiled Muz as he pointed to Malisane. "He's ready for questioning. As much as I hate it, we ought to get Macron in here for this while we seek out Severak."
In the Dark Lord’s chambers, an underling brought him a report. “Sir, they have broken through the gate as you planned.”
“Excellent,” he replied with a smile as the air conditioning kicked in gently. His plan was working perfectly.
The underling, a guardian spoke. “Sir, might I recommend…..urrrgh!”
He groaned as his flesh began to melt and slough off. This was definitely NOT part of Severak’s plan. Severak gripped the arms of his seat as he watched the liquefaction.
“Gas!” he yelled through the general comlink as he began to detoxify himself. It was not especially difficult for the more powerful Dark Jedi to do. However, his support structure would be severely undermined by this new turn of events.
While Macron and the rest of the team prepared to search for Severak, Zaknafein had managed to drag up a rough map of the fortress, and identified where the control room was. He knew that if he could get there, he could create all kinds of chaos on the Dark Jedi that had escaped the gas so far.
Zak was standing in front on a large painting of Darth Severak, and, somehow, the Chiss had managed to sneak in a can of red spray paint as well. Glancing both ways down the hall, Mandalore shook the can and sprayed across the canvas' surface
Crap Master Severak sucks Rancor nuts!
He stood back to examine his handy-work and then strode on to the control room. As usual, the thick door was already in place, but it was no match for a lightsaber. After a few moments of turning the door into slag, he crept inside, meeting no resistance as he did so. Zak quickly saw why. Macron's little germ agent had already been distributed here.
The corners of Zaknafein's mouth turned up as he bent over the glowing controls.
"Now, let the lightshow from hell begin."
Kris looked at Sildrin and quickly leapt over the parapet and followed Macron as Sildrin followed suit.
At Macron's directions, Kris set her cannister off on the right hand side of the gate, and easily took out three of the Dark Jedis that were nearby. Her comrades took care of the rest, as Kris noted that she still had quite a bit left in her cannister. She ran back over to Sildrin and Macron, "I've still got some left in my cannister." she informed them.
Macron nodded, "Excellent, we'll use that to get inside even further and then we'll be able to call the others in so we can take out the rest of these false Dark Jedis." he remarked.
Sildrin shook the cannister, hearing the liquid gushing against the walls of it. She stepped over the fallen mutilated bodies to Macron, whispering: "You still have something in mind with that stuff. I can sense it." Her eyes narrowed as she tried to figure out the Quaestor's plans.
For a moment they all were washed over with anger and hatred. Uncontrolled rage radiated through the building and some bodies of his devotees started to burn down to ashes - Severak's wrath for the incompetence they performed on stopping the invaders.
"Have you heard anything from Malisane, Acara and your brothers?", for a moment she was filled with concern, knowing that Severak stopped to underestimated them from now on.
"Macron, can you hear me" a voice appeard in Macron's head.
"Good this nanobot telepathy thing is still working then." Malisane replied, "Looks like your biogas worked they're done. I doubt if theres anything but Severak and us left in the entire building."
"That was what I was hoping for. Macron replied smugly.
"The lower floors should be clear now" Malisane replied, "We need to converge on Severak"
"Agreed. It's not over yet," the Quaestor replied.
Malisane turned to the three Keibatsu's. "Macron's getting his force moving to the stairs to Severak's hall. Unfortunatley there's only one door into the room."
Muz nodded. "That's the one we shall take then."
"I hope this Severak lives up to expectations." Manji replied, "it should be fun to take down a Grandmaster.
Malisane nodded but was quiet. Secretly he was nervous. He had started all this by finding Melak, he'd worked with Macron on the strategy from the begining. And he felt responsible now. This was no Knight they faced, or even a powerful Equite like Tslotha or those three with him, this was a Grandmaster, one whose knowledge and experience of the force the young Knight couldn't even begin to fathom. How many of those eager Clan members he was with would not survive this encounter? Would he be one of them?
Malisane looked down at the body of the dead Zhabrak. He'd survived that one, albeit with the Keibatsu's coming to his rescue. He'd survived much before that, fighting on Endor and Tatooine with Shimura, the clan rivalries during the House Feud and his torture at the hands of the Ragnos Quaestor who had saved his life today, and the Yavin with corvette crash and the possession of the ancient master and the fight with Raidoner. How many lives did a Dark Jedi have, how long till the gamble doesn't pay off?
Scithe was onboard the last shuttle leaving the platform, the convoy rapidly approaching planetary orbit. He stood there, seated on a chair near the back window, a bowl of popcorn on one hand and a small remote device on the other.
The look of anticipation on his face was obvious, and that was reason enough to set the crew in the shuttle puzzled. One of the techs was about to ask something, but was suddenly silenced by a hand move.
"Quiet there, you moron. It's starting..." Scithe reeled on the chair and tried to find a more comfortable position. Out there through the window, they could see an Assault Transport leaving the attacking ISD enroute the Obsidian. The transport floated noiselessly to docking area. The battlemaster seemed to enjoy every moment as if watching his favorite channel.
A little commotion started onboard and Scithe, turning a sharp gaze back yelled them to silence. Focusing back to the scene, he raised the remote towards the platform and, counting the seconds, punched a button, mouth filled with popcorn and letting out a muffled 'boom'.
As if responding to his words, small eruptions could be seen on the Obsidian, little clouds of fire and smoke quickly dissipating in the void, followed by debris and scattered bodies. The platform seemed in one piece, but most of its middle section was obvious ruptured.
"He he... I really hope they were on vacc-suits. And, by the way, no slicing my databases today..."
Kris looked at Macron and Sildrin, "Guess this is it, let's take those traitors down." she growled as she clipped her cannister to her belt and then looked down the hallway for any detection of life that remained.
"Let's go, move out." Macron said and led the two Dark Jedis down into the depths of the True Brotherhood's headquarters and straight for Severak's chambers.
As they traveled along, Kris took her lightsaber from her waist and held it ready in both hands in case they faced some resistance.
Severak sat alone on his throne looking in disgust as the last of his attendance left the world of living, their faces scarred by the toxin and their bodies twisted.
"Weaklings," he muttered, "I tried to create a new order of Dark Jedi and saddled myself with incompetents and fools. There is not one of you who deserved my teachings." He thought for a moment, "except you my love, my Severina. You stayed true to my teachings. Together we would have ruled the Galaxy. These Naga Sadow infidels will pay dearly for your death. I will make sure they suffer a thousand times more before they beg me for death. YOU WILL ALL SUFFER!" he finished with a roar.
Downstairs the Naga Sadow "infidels" had gathered in the hall at the bottom of the stairs. On one side of the hall the three Keibatsu's chatted amongst themselves, on the other Kris and Zaknafein stood quietly waiting along with Acerbus and his sister. At the front of the hall Macron stood with Shimura and Sildrin stood nearby in readiness to any threat to the charge. Malisane stood off to one side in the corner, his face neutral and his thoughts unreadable as he rested against the wall.
Macron stamped his armoured foot on the floor to get their attention. "We have come far," he began, "we have found these False Brotherhood in our midst, we have come to this world. We have faced and defeated the devious Severina, and we have fought and won here in this keep. Each one of you has been tested and each of you has proved worthy of a place in Clan Naga Sadow. Now is our greatest challenge."
He surveyed the them. "Upstairs is the so called Darth Severak, one who through arrogance has taken a title only worthy of Grandmasters of the Dark Brotherhood. He is to die. We have destroyed his followers and now it is time to go for the head. He is undoubtably powerful, and knowledgeable in the force. But he is one and we are many."
"You may have heard of the term synergy. This term means the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. We will be that. We are Naga Sadow, our strengths combined will defeat this pretender and he will pay for the insult he has caused us."
The assembled members drew weapons and ignited lightsabers and united as one they headed for the stairs that lead to their opponent.
The assembled eleven of Naga Sadow ascended the cold stone stairs to Darth Severak's chamber.
He wondered to himself, How the hell could this place be so old? And how could the Elders not sense the presence of this...alternate Brotherhood? Maybe this false Grand Master isn't so false after all.
Even through his armor, Acerbus could faintly hear some small pebbles and dust fall from the ceiling down to the surface of the stairs as they walked. The further they went up, every step they took, the size of the falling rocks increased. Only the young Knight seemed to notice.
Finally, the roof began to rumble overhead. The Mandalore heard the rock of the ceiling begin to crack.
"Ummm...ladies and gentlemen?" he spoke. "I think we had better-"
The staircase shook around them. All strained to stay on their feet as the structure shook, rocking back and forth.
Macron yelled, "Everyone, keep going up the stairs! He's just trying to scare us! Do not falter!"
No sooner did he finish the sentence, when massive chunks of the ceiling began to fall. The roof began to collapse completely, and all the Dark Jedi leapt down the stairs, some hitting their heads on solid rock as they went. Finally, the rumbling ceased, the shaking stopped, and the party struggled to their feet, dusting off.
Looking at the impassable pile of collapsed rock, Malisane swore under his breath. "What now?"
Darth Severak stood in front of his throne, facing the staircase which led to his chamber. His eyes, glowing half white with power and half red with rage, faced the stair. His hands were still raised in a summoning of the Force to bring the ceiling down on the intruders.
He yelled, "Fools! That is not even a taste of the power of a real Grand Master! I will not even waste my time crushing you pathetic Padawans. Snatching a comlink from inside his robe, he snarled, "Severak to fleet, prepare for evacuation. Shuttle, prep for my arrival in t-minus three minutes."
Zak glanced at the others as they glared at the pile of stone that prevented their attack on Severak.
"Um, sirs, might I make a suggestion?"
"What now, Zak?"
"I just happen to have Class A Thermal Detonators on hand, just in case a situation like this occured."
"Fine. Just plant them and hurry the hell up. I get the feeling that we're not going to have very much time to waste." Malisane grumbled.
As the remaining members of the attack team from Naga Sadow pulled back, the Chiss charged forward and planted 5 of the grenades at various weak points on the pile of stone. Sprinting back towards a safe nich in the wall he shouted in the comm.
"FIRE IN THE HOLE!"
Not a split second later a powerful explosion rocked the stairs, and chunks of pulverized stone rained down the hall for at least 30 meters.
"OK mates, the way is clear."
Zak was among the first to into the ancient throne room, sapphire lightsaber a bright glare in the gloom. His infravision on his helmet picked up Severak sprinting for an alternate exit, and Mandalore decided that the foul man wasn't going to be getting away that easily.
"HEY! Crap Master!"
As the Elder whirled at the taunt, Malisane, Macron, and Manji charged him, trying to delay his departure. While the enemy was thus distracted, the Chiss raced for the exit and placed his last grenade. He spun and dropped behind a large statue of a hidious monster as the explosive demolished the corridor until it was hardly reconizable, much less usable for an escape.
"If you're so powerful, why are you so afraid of us, my Lord?" Zaknafein hissed, looking anything but kind as his armor was scorched and pitted all over its surface, dust sticking to the large crimson patches of blood splashed over it.
By this time, the rest of the group had caught up and those with lightsabers had them ignited to take down this threat to their home.
Macron grinned inside his helm as Zak taunted the enraged Elder. "Damn, that's funny," he thought. He decided to join in, knowing it may mean his death. He turned up his vocoder in his helmet to speaker status, and delivered a practiced one-finger Corellian salute.
"Ahem. Excuse me... I heard you suck great greasy rancor nuts," he canted. "Is that true Crap Master? That's what your picture says anyhow."
A resounding explosion from the exit hall due to Zaknafein's charge blew dust all over them as the Elder screamed in rage. The Force swelled around the angry Master.
A huge pile of stones slammed into Macron, burying him beneath it's weight. He was totally gone from sight. Deep within the pile, he lay battered and unconscious. His armor had kept him alive, but he was in shock. Only the pure hatred and orbalisk venom in his body kept his systems functional on some animal-like level.
The ruse had had the desired effect, buying the Chiss enough time to plant the charge.
Now, it was time for a fight, and things looked grim for the Clan Naga Sadow fighters.
A small flash appeared in the space, revealing a huge structure cutting quickly between Aeotheran and Obsidian. The Clan Naga Sadow flagship, Wandering Soul, had finally arrived, followed by fighters from the remnant of Sapphire and other loyal members, each of them eager to smash the invaders.
Commander Raidoner was almost leaping from his seat to kick the hull of the ISD himself. Finally released to spread destruction, he ordered a charge against the adversary, entering head first in the fray.
Battlemaster Scithe entered the Wandering Soul hangar among the technicians, hasting to find a more agressive vessel for the occasion.
The Khar Shian advanced, a mighty vision in space. On the other side, it seemed the ISD had called a retreat, the fighters hurrying back to the hangars. The Sadowians could see the enemy flagship adjusting course, one that would bring them passing right through the fleet.
As the enemy Assault Transport docked and the Sadow fighters finally reached missile lock distance, they could see the sudden burst of energy from the ISD's hyperdrives.
On the bridge of the Soul, Lord Xanos was already infuriated. "Where did they go this time? Hunt them! Bring them down!"
On officer on the navcomputer pointed out. "Sir, it seems they were vectoring to Tarthos."
"Then get this bucket around and follow them. NOW!" The Consul yelled, his veins jumping out of the skull.
"Thermal detonators… how banal", she thought. " ...but yet so very perfect for this moment." A small exhibit had proofed that at times such technical toys are more helpfull than the force. Many of the new rising members had proven to be worthy claimants for the true power behind the force. A thought that made her smile. "No doubt. Clan Naga Sadow will grow and prosper. Even if we don't have the most members in the DB .. it's not about the mass, but the quality."
She dodged some of the falling stones and used the force to shield herself from the pebbles. A powerfull blast nearly blew her over, but she felt Macron's body getting burried by the stones. Her senses turned upon Macron, quickly scanning his body with the force. His heart was beating angrily, pushed by the venom and the hatred within him. "Luckily he is unconscious and doesn't feel any pain.", she hoped. It would take him some days in a bacta tank to recover from that.
Sildrin send a brief telepathic message to the Keibatsus: "He is stable.. for now. Time now for our final blow against the 'true brotherhood'.", disdain was heard in her mental voice. Swiftly Severak found himself attacked by several sabers and he send a force lightning at them. His face was lit by it, making it appear like a grotesque mask. The first wave of the fighters cringed as the lightning arced and hit each one of them. Sildrin groaned as the energy flood through her body, and finally was able to lead the energy through her nerve tracts. She sensed how the nerve tracts were lightly burned from the unprepared amount of energy. Her lithe body trembled as the energy didn't dissipate, coursing through her body. Finally she focused and released the energy in a single bolt pointing it at the ceiling behind Severak. The Sith turned around, for a moment he could have sworn that this lightning bolt was much more stronger than the one he had send at them. Something he would think about later on, after having destroyed these annoying fledglings.
Sildrin cringed lightly, the energy having caused a lot of internal burns. Her hand wrapped more tightly around her saber as she concentrated on a battle meditation. The fighters closed up to Severak, who oddly appeared to turn weaker and weaker. "There is something strange about him.", she thought. Finally her eyes opened wide and she laughed: "Severak… you are a leecher! You had drawn power from your devotee. And now since nearly all of them are dead, your strength is dissipating!" She had only once heard of this strange mutated version of the force. Someone who did not behold the true powers of the force, but who was able to leech them away from others and use it for himself.
Severak screamed out: "NOO…. I am a GRAND MASTER! I dont need ANYONE! SEE what powers I behold!", he reached out his hands, sending a force storm upon them, but it never reached the strength that would come from a true Grand Master and only shortly afterwards the storm faded.
Severak looked at them and knew powerful as he was he stared death in the face, there were two many, he could kill most of them but in the end he had to loose.
He backed off, saber raised, towards the wall in the corner. Suddenly he turned around and walked into the wall which shimmered and then was still. Manji ran forward and felt the wall. "Some sort of phase portal," he said grimmly, "he must have had it prepared."
Malisane came forward. "Can you sense him?" he asked the Epis.
Manji nodded. "He's downstairs," he replied.
Malisane glanced at Zak and Kris. "Let's get after him."
"Wait!" Manji shouted but the three Knights charged off back down the stairs, closely followed by Acerbus.
"They'll get themselves killed." Shin'Ichi said shaking his head.
"Well thats up to them," Muz replied. He glanced around at the other equites. "Lets get after them before they all die."
The four journeymen headed down the stairs and found a black robed figure with his back to them. He turned. Malisane's jaw dropped open. "My lord!" he gasped.
Xanos regarded them cooly. "Yes?"
"What are you doing here Lord?" Zak asked.
"I couldn't leave a Grandmaster for you puppies to deal with," the Consul replied.
"Where is Severak?" Malisane asked looking around.
Xanos smiled. "He appeared as I came in. There isn't enough left of him to make a smear on the floor."
Malisane felt a stab of relief. "Well done My Lord."
The five Keibatsu's, and Sildrin keeping close to the bruised Macron, came down the stairs. They stopped as they saw the four journeymen surrounding the gloating figure of Severak. The six of them drew their sabers. "What are you doing?" Manji demanded.
Malisane turned. "Xanos has defeated Severak we can go home." he said with a beaming smile.
Muz stared at them. "That is not Xanos." he said carefully, "Move away from him."
"He's cast an illusion." Shin'ichi muttered.
"How come we're not effected?" Sildrin asked under her brreath.
"We're equites and they're journeymen." Manji reasoned quietly.
Severak turned to them. "We will leave now." he ordered.
Muz starred at him, saber raised. "You are not Xanos Sadow your illusion does not work on us."
Malisane and Zak looked first at the herald and then at their Consul in puzzlement. Severak frowned. "So it is as I suspected." he said finally.
"What lord?" Malisane asked.
"The reason for my coming here," the Grandmaster replied directing his thoughts at the journeymen, "the Keibatsu's have betrayed the clan."
Manji starred, "What did you say filth?"
Severak replied, "Did you think I have been Consul so long I do not watch my members? I am aware of your combined scheming. The old man around too long? My own summit betraying me. You deserve to die." He kept the force of his mind on the confused journeymen."
Malisane gasped. "Macron, Manji, is this true?"
Macron starred at him. "This is Severak, he's deceving you, see through the illusion!"
"Do not listen to the traitors or their lying words!" Severak ordered. "They have betrayed the clan they must die. Join me my loyal followers." He looked at each of them in turn, "my future summit."
The four journeymen looked at each other. Malisane appealed to the equites. "Surrender," he pleaded.
"Search your minds," Muz appealed, "this is not our consul!"
"Silence!" Severak screamed, "fan our around me and kill them. I will give you the strength." The bodies of the four journeymen glowed, bringing strength and power to them they had never felt before. With a flash Acerbus' sword exploded in white blazing fire and he starred at it in awe.
The equites watched wareily as the four journeymen, all doubts in their mind erased, flanked the Grandmaster as they advanced on the six equites.
"So be it," Muz said in resignation, "my brothers, Sildrin, defend yourselves."
Macron swam through the black depths of despair as he lay dreaming. Thoughts of blood, pain, and a hundred other delights floated through his shock ridden brain. Soon, the hypnagogic images clarified into a leering face.
Macron found himself staring into the eyes of Lord Malak. The spirit of the Dark Lord had tormented him ever since he had spent time on Yavin 4. The spirit had led him purposefully to Antei, and had even told him who his Master would be. Macron loathed the evil shade, but lusted after the the secrets that the Dark Lord knew .
"My blood flows in your veins. You have some of my DNA in your body from my descendants. Why else were you so able to read the Holocron of Antar IV? Xanos knows this, and so he bade you to peruse the holocron and embrace your destiny. It could only lead you closer to the Embrace of the Dark Side."
"Your body is crushed. You must transfer your essence into your clone... that is the only way."
*laughs* "You learn, whelp. Then suffer in your rocky tomb. We will meet again."
Acerbus was almost hypnotized by his lightsaber, glowing a bright, flaming white. The combined words of Muz and Xanos echoed faintly in his ears.
"Search your minds! This is not our Consul!"
"My own summit betraying me. You deserve to die."
"My brothers...defend yourselves."
A vision of himself sitting in the robes of a decorated Sith Warlord, on the new throne of the Quaestor at Aeotheran, flashed in his mind. Two gold-accented sabers sat on his belt.
Power...unlimited power! flashed the words of a distant Sith Lord as Force Lightning slowly superimposed itself into his daydream.
Suddenly, he felt a sting in his right bicep. He had attached Macron's antidote into his Black Guard armor, and somehow it had just now activated. The clouds in his mind began to fade, and he saw his burning saber facing the four Equites.
"Why am I doing this?" he asked himself, "My loyalty is to my Clan. I'm sorry...I've failed you all."
Deactivating his saber, he clipped it to his belt and walked back down the darkened hall towards the main gate of the compound.
Kris stood back as she watched the happenings, the confusion in her own mind almost overwhelming, but she knew she had to be a trick. Looking at her Master, Shin'ichi, she shook her head, "I don't believe you, my Master would never betray his clan." she growled as she raised her own light blue bladed lightsaber in readiness to fight the false grandmaster.
Shin'ichi looked over at his student and saw the anger in her eyes, 'She doesn't believe him, good work my student you're learning quickly.' he thought to himself but beckoned to her to stay back.
Kris looked at her master in confusion but backed down as ordered, she wouldn't make her move just yet, at least not until her Master gave her an order to do so.
Slowly, the Keibatsu moved forwards, Malisane and Zak still facing them proudly. Manji and Muz led the group, sabres levelled at the Journeymen but with their attention on Severak. The two Knights concentrated as the Force flowed into them. Glancing over at his brother, Manji gestured calmly.
"Sticky situation, huh? Do you want me to take these two while you deal with Severak?"
Slowly, the Pontifex returned the glance, one eyebrow raised. Grinning widely, Manji gestured with his free hand.
"You're probably the only person in the Brotherhood to have beaten a Grand Master."
Rolling his eyes, Muz nodded then inched around the two Journeymen. As Malisane turned to face the Keibatsu patriarch, Manji brought his sabre up with a shout.
"Hey! Pay attention, fido. Your fight is with me."
As the Knight turned in surprise, Manji lunged like a leaping dragon. His sabre flashed towards Malisane, forcing the Knight to throw his own blade up in a block. However, as the sabres mingled angrily, Manji's knee came up to crash into the Knight's solar plexus. As Malisane doubled over in pain, the Epis instantly wheeled round to face Zak, launching a thrust at the other Knight's chest. Too slow to evade, Zak could only whirl his own sabre round to stop the attack.
Then a roar flew into the air as Shimura and Shin'ichi launched their own attack, the Zabrak charging at Malisane as Shin'ichi joined his brother in forcing the powerful Chiss back. The clash of sabres accompanied by roars and shouts rose into the air as Muz advanced on Severak. Both sabres came up slowly- one held pointing at the Grand Master's throat, the other above the Pontifex's head in his trademark form of Sokan. Slowly, Severak's own sabre was raised, the Grand Master sneering a taunt as he prepared for combat.
"Your false Brotherhood is no match for my power. Now you will die."
Unholy shadows flickered across Muz's face as the light from his twin sabres reflected from his features. A cold smile lit the Pontifex's gaze as he responded.
"Talk is cheap. Let us settle this through battle."
Nothing more was said. The muscles in each fighters legs tensed as they lunged for each other, teeth bared in matching snarls. Both of the Keibatsu's sabres swept into action, stopping a blow from the Grand Master in a hissing cascade of sparks, Muz's feet shifting for purchase. Glancing over at his brother, Manji grinned momentarily as he held away a strike from the brainwashed Chiss.
"Dammit, Muz gets all the fun. I wanna butcher a Grand Master!"
At that moment, Zak reared forwards, his head smashing into the Epis'. Stumbling back, Manji clapped a hand to his forehead then snarled angrily, charging back into the fray. Chaotic combat whirled through the corridor as the assorted warriors of Sadow commenced their final assault on the false Brotherhood.
Malisane got to his feet painfully, the kick from Manji had been hard and painful. He used the force to stem the pain and his breathing became a bit more regular. He looked around him. Muz and Xanos (Severak) were fighting, though the Herald was on the retreat, slowly being forced back by the more experienced Grandmaster. Shin'Ichi ran to Muz's side to try and hold the advance.
Malisane fumbled for his saber and in panic realised it wasn't on his belt. He looked around and saw it on the floor accross the room. He could make out Manji and Zak fighting, the Chiss doing well but the Epis was slowly wearing him down, though the Quaestor was concentrating on not harming his opponent. With a snarl Malisane crept over to them. His saber was out of reach and his katana was back on Sephos. He saw Zak fall to a savage kick from the Epis and with an uncharacteristic roar he leapt at Manji. The Krath spun around before the Sith smashed into him, sending his saber rattling away to join Malisanes.
Manji stuggled under the Siths weight, trying to push him off. However for a few seconds suprise was with the Sith and all notions of the force or his Jedi training abandoned he reverted to the youth who'd fought on the streets of Coruscant and pummeled the Keibatsus face, breaking the nose and bringing a roar from the Epis. He pushed at the Sith trying to get him off, and Malisane brought a hand down to fumble for his belt for a dagger intending to finish off the Quaestor before he could attack back. As the Sith slacked his grip Manji pushed Malisane off him and rolled away, reaching for his saber.
Malisane grabbed his own, less confident now but determined that even if the Epis killed him he would leave the Krath suffieciently injured so for when the reinforcements from the Clan Xanos had surely summoned arrived the trecherous Quaestor would pay. Manji wiped the blood from above his lip and looked at him. "You young fool you've been deceived. Don't make me kill you for a lie."
Malisane snarled and attacked, his saber swinging for the Epis head. Manji blocked this easily and stepped back. The Sith attacked again, a low sweeping cut at the Krath's abdomen and again the Krath parried it. "So be it then Malisane, you could have done well in the Clan but you leave me no choice." The Krath parried a third blow and launched his own blistering attack.
Malisane had already fought one Epis tonight, even with the enhancement Severak had given him he couldn't face a second for long. With a flick Manji disarmed him and drew his saber back for a final strike at the unprotected Sith.
He stopped, and Malisane looked questioningly into his eyes. The Epis raised his hand and Malisane's body was hurled backwards and smashed into the wall. With a long explosion of air the Sith slid down the wall and his eyes closed as he lost consiousness. Manji looked at him. "You are fortunate you are worth slightly more alive than dead." He turned. Shimura had disarmed Zak and was guarding him. Manji could see Muz and Shin'Ichi were struggling against Severak and he rushed over to help.
"KILLL HIM!" resounded throughout the Chiss' mind as he battled who he perceived to be trying to kill Xanos.
"Because they're traitors!"
"But the Keibatsu would never betray the Clan.."
"If this is true, where is Macron?"
That's when the combination of a severe lightsaber wound from Shimura and his concern for Macron finally broke through the fog in his mind.
Zaknafein's now visible crimson eyes (His helmet was resting beside him) betrayed his panic, and before his "guard" could hold him back, the grizzled Knight grabbed his helm and fled to the chamber to where his comrade had fallen, not caring how the battle with Severak went. He felt a hot flush of shame flow over him as he reflected over the events of the past few minutes.
He found the rubble pile where he could dimly sense his dear friend, and he began at once to carefully remove the rocks covering Macron.
"Oh, crap, what have I caused?" tears formed at the corners of his eyes. Zak realized that it had been his charge that had nearly killed his comrade.
He dragged the man clear and began to heal him to the best of his ablities. Once Macron was not in danger of dying, Zak took a scrap of flimsi and left a small note by his friend.
I realize now that I have been decieved by Severak. While I could make the excuse of being a lowly Journeyman, that would be trying to push the burden of shame from my shoulders onto my rank. Shimura, my Master, I'm sorry for what I may have done to you during my brief conversion to Severak's cause. I do not ask you to forgive me.
With his face twisted into a mask of anger and shame the Chiss placed the flimsi firmly on Macron's chest plate, making sure that any stray gusts would not blow it away. Sighing, he left his Mandalorian armor and helmet beside his long time friend.
"Good-bye old friend."
With that, clad only in a sleeveless tunic, tough breeches, and leather boots, armed only with a boot-knife, the Chiss turned and left the room, wandering through the palace until he found the exit and headed deep into the jungle.
Standing by nearby, Kris watched the battle between her Master and the false Grandmaster, "Master, what do you want me to do?" she asked outloud as she held her ignited saber in her hands ready for anything.
"Just stay back, Kris, and watch over the others, this fight is too dangerous for you to join." Shin'ichi called back to his student as he blocked a strike from Severak.
Kris looked at Sildrin hoping for advice, but she too was busy, so taking her own initiative she ran over to Macron to watch over him. Noticing the letter left by Zak, she shook her head, 'Comrade, this isn't your fault.' she thought as she looked at the exit where she distinctly heard footfalls echoing away.
She turned her attention back to the battle between the Keibatsus and Severak, watching anxiously, and ready to take over should her Master tire out too soon. She extinguished her blade and took out a small dagger from its sheath at her side, she clutched it tightly in her right hand, and prepared her mentally should she be needed to help finish the false Grandmaster off.
Relentlessly she attacked Severak with her saber, finally realising that Zaknafein and Acerbus had vanished. Immediately she withdrew from the battle - sending a telepathic message to them: "Return! Your bethren needs you! We need you!", and she slipped into a deep battle meditation yet again.
Rage surged up within anyone close to her, fueling their hatred and cleaning their minds. The sabers viciously attacked Severak with more accuarcy than ever before.
The dreams stopped as Macron found himself drifting back to consciousness. He glimpsed Zak leaving, and Kris arriving as his eyelids fluttered behind the shattered helm glass. he groaned, and it was not the vocabulator that responded. It was his own voice. He struggled to reach up and pop the auto switches that removed the destroyed headgear.
"Thanks Kris," he spoke weakly as he got to his feet. "Now if you would, help me to that scooter over there." Mononoke began to channel the Force to accelerate his healing, but he still felt like hell. The battlemeditation emanating from Sildrin must have been what finally aroused him after Zaknafein's work.
He staggered with Kris' help to the transport sled, and the two made off for the at speed for the control room. Macron intended to sabotage that fleet, as he was of no use in battle in the battle that raged across the hall.
"Macron, are you sure you're up to this?" Kris asked out of concern as he helped him to the control room.
"I have to help somehow, I'll be fine, just stand guard, and take out anyone who tries to stop us." Macron replied as Kris helped him into a chair.
Kris nodded, "Yes sir." she replied as she unclipped her lightsaber and stood ready for anything as Macron tried to disable the fleet as quickly as possible.
Macron started tapping away at the terminal. Kris stood over his shoulder watching.
"Are you in?" she asked.
"Give me a minute," he replied, "this isn't like ordering coffee from a machine."
He tapped away a bit longer. "They've got some sort of encrypton system," he mused, "not anything I've seen before."
"If they spot you trying to get in they'll block you." she pointed out.
"That occured to me."
They waited a few minutes longer. "I'm in." he said quietly studying the screen. "This is fascinating."
"You'd better hurry before the crews figure out what you're doing." Kris pointed out.
"That's what's fascinating," he replied, "there isn't one."
"Yes. The entire thing is some sort of big slave system, but it's multi based, like a big hive intelligence. No wonder they're so co-ordinated. I did wonder how Severak managed to get hold of thousands of crew."
"So can you stop them?"
"That's the thing," he replied, "I can give it orders but as soon as I they will revert to their original mission parameters."
"Can you change those?"
"No it won't let me in they seem to be hard wired."
"Can you crash them?"
"I can do better than that," the Quaestor replied, "I'm inputting a virus that will initiate the autodestruct sequence. It should spread from ship to ship in no time." He inserted a disc into the terminal. "There it's done. They'll be gone in five minutes. Shame really in a way, those ships would have boosted the Clan fleet."
"Well it's what you had to do," Kris replied.
Across the room the other equites had Severak pinned agaist the wall, and he was tiring rapidly under their onslaught. Any attempt to attack with the force was smothered quickly by the combined strength of his opponents. His saber parries were becoming slower and more desperate each time. The Naga Sadow members sensed this and renewed their attacks. Severak knew his time was nearly up, but any thoughts of surrender were long gone. He continued to fight knowing the end was near.
Upon hearing Sildren's request for his return to the battle, no matter how leery he was of doing it, Zaknafein obeyed, seeing it as a small way to redeem himself. Running as fast as he could the Chiss ran into where Macron had lain, but all he saw was a pile of his armor and the crumpled flimsi. Taking no more than 3 minutes to don everything, he darted into the room where the remainder of his Clan had pinned Severak.
He spotted his saber a few meters away, jogged over to it, crouched and ignited it. He felt the flailing edges of the weary Elder's mind whipping against him, but he was too enraged to care. Had Severak had more energy he most likely could have bent the younger Sith to his will, but at the moment he was too tired and distracted to care.
As he advanced on his opponent, Zak hissed. "Severak, your days of leeching the Force from others is over. The day you dared oppose our Brotherhood was the day you died. You're merely prolonging the inevitable. Myself, I'd love nothing more than to rip your throat out and watch you bleed to death, or suffocate. I really don't care either way. Or, what would really satisfy the Clan would be to turn you over to Macron and let him do experiments on you."
Severak's mouth turned into a sneer of hatred.
The bloody T-visor showed no emotion, impassive in the extreme, but it proved to be one of the last things the Elder ever saw.
The moment he turned his gaze away from the Dark Jedi surrounding him, they leaped, tearing into him with their blades, all at once cutting away his arms and both legs. Manji took the honors and sliced the man's head off, holding it up above his head in a gesture of triumph.
Shinichi Endymiron K
As the fog of illusion lifted and the Dark Jedi relaxed to congratulate themselves the image of Severak dissolved. Manji held the head of some random individual and not the Dark Master they had been sent to defeat. The body parts that lay about the room belonged to the head, and at once the Dark Jedi realised that they had been played for fools. This now dead dark jedi was but a decoy disguised as Severak pretending to be Xanos. The Dread Lord was stronger than any of them had thought.
Manji launched the head into a far wall cursing as it flew and splattered on the stones. Muz slammed his fist into a wall causing several cracks to occur. And Shin'ichi howled in impotent rage. The rest of their companions began a frantic search that turned up not a single trace. After all their planning and fighting they had failed.
The Wandering Soul finally managed to warp at Tarthos, followed close by the squadrons. In the bridge, Xanos and Scithe searched through the radar screens for any clue on the ISD.
"Where are they?" The Consul demanded, fire jumping from his eyes.
"Lord Xanos, we've found the enemy ship. It's engaging the Tarthos planetary defenses." One of the techs was quick to answer.
"What the heck are they planning?" Scithe looked quizcally at Xanos who stared back with concern. Then suddenly, both reached understanding.
Scithe was already running for the turbolift. "Hey Goat, I guess you won't be pissed if I borrow one of that TIE Advanceds, huh?"
The Consul grabbed the commlink and channeled to the squads. "Attention all pilots, all squadrons engage that ISD and destroy it. It must not reach the palace ruins. And Raidoner, disengange and join with Battlemaster Scithe, he's inbound to your posiion. You both shall take down any strange craft leaving that hangar."
The Keepsake – Several Hours Later
Sildrin, Zak. Kris, Acerbus, Shimura and Shin’Ichi sat around the conference table chatting quietly.
“I can’t believe we didn’t find him.” Zak said sadly.
The Rolemaster shrugged. “We did a thorough search,” he replied, “there was no trace of him. Probably he escaped in a ship while we were fighting his clone.”
“We’re going to go after him aren’t we?” Acerbus asked.
“We should be,” Sildrin said calmly, “we’ll have to see what the decision is.”
“We’ll make him pay.” Zak said eagerly.
They all glanced to the anteroom where the the Herald, the Clan Envoy and the two Quaestor’s were awaiting a response to their report from the Consul. Through the door the sounds of an argument broke out. They could hear Malisane’s voice, sounding angry while the two Quaestors were obviously trying to placate him. Finally the door opened and the Envoy, looking furious, sat down at a chair and crossed his arms. Muz, Manji and Macron, their faces looking weary and despondent sat down also. The other members awaited the response.
Macron looked around at them. “We have received a response with Xanos. He has met with the Dark Council. What I have to tell you now will go further than this room on on the order of the Grandmaster and the Justicar. Anyone who does not think they can obey that will find Lord Firefox waiting for them in the docking bay upon our return.” He looked at them letting this sink in then continued.
“The Dark Council have debated our report and on that evidence they had come to the combined decision that Darth Severak has died at our hands and his Brotherhood has been eliminated.”
The room was silent for a few moments. Most of the members looked shocked, but Shimura and Shin’Ichi looked at their brothers then understanding they bowed their heads sadly.
“What do you mean?” Sildrin demanded, “Severak isn’t dead he escaped!”
“We have to get after him!” Zak added.
“We have to do nothing,” Manji replied sternly, “this is the official view of the Council. Severak is dead we will take no further action.”
“But why?” Zak demanded.
The Herald answered this, “We don’t want to spread panic. Rumours of a rogue Grandmaster on the loose will spread through the Clans like wildfire. He will become a legendary figure. Members may even want to leave to join him. After a lot of debate it has been decided it is better to announce that he is dead and stop the rumours before they start.”
“This is a coverup!” Malisane pointed out, still sounding furious.
“You can call it that,” Macron replied, “however I prefer to think of it as Information Management. However regardless of how you view it you will all co-operate. Anyone who speaks a word of this outside this room even to other Naga Sadow members will face the Summit then the Justicar. Make no mistake on that.”
“The Grandmaster is going to release a statement to all the Clans and in the Dark Voice congratulating us on our success,” Manji added, “and that will be the end of it officially.”
“So what of Severak.?” Sildrin asked, “they’re just going to let him roam around out there rebuilding his Brotherhood?”
Macron shook his head, “I do not know the details but Severak will not be allowed to survive for long, agents of the Dark Brotherhood will be sent out, he will be found and eliminated quietly.”
“And what if he turns up again?” Malisane demanded, “it will reveal we and the Dark Council have deceived the Brotherhood. There will be a scandal.”
“Severak is officially dead,” Macron replied, “if anyone claiming to be him turns up they will be revealed as an impersonator. That will be the official line given.”
“I don’t like this,” Malisane replied, “not one bit.”
Manji shrugged, “None of us do, but we have our orders. We will all follow them or face the consequences.”
The members around the table looked at him, but no-one spoke. Slowly one by one they stood up and left.
The Keepsake continued it’s journey through hyperspace taking it’s weary and disillusioned members home.
Sildrin walked next to Macron and Malisane, murmering as she scowled: "A very political decision."
Slowly she shook her head, "I don't like this." Wearily she leaned against a wall, suddenly a throbbing pain behind her eyes surged up and eveything blurred around her. Pressing a hand against a temple, she whispered: "Excuse me.. I.. better retreat into my room.", then she staggered to her room. Quickly shutting the door behind her, she breathed in hard.
What by Zandru's hell is wrong with my eyes? She wondered, laying down onto the bed. With a wave of her hand, she used the force to turn off the lights in the room. Tiredness washed over her "A good time to have a little nap", she murmered.
Kris walked beside her Master, Shin'ichi, "Master, I do not understand why coverup this up? Severak should be hunted down and killed, and I wish I could do the honors." she commented as she looked at him.
"Kris, it is better this way. By the way, I am very proud of you, you fought hard and bravelly." Shin'ichi commented as he placed a proud hand on her shoulder, squeezed it gently, and walked on ahead of her.
Kris smiled, "Thank you, Master, I think I shall retire to my quarters for a well deserved rest. Wake me when we reach base." she stated as she turned to enter her quarters.
"Very well, Kris, rest well." Shin'ichi stated.
She bowed, "Thank you, you too." Kris replied.
She entered her room, laid down on her bed, closed her eyes, and soon drifted into a restful sleep for the rest of the journey home.