Revenge on Ludo Kressh
Night had fallen in Om'Jagred. The dingy slum area of the city was dimly lit by streetlamps as the plain black unmarked hovercar slowly descended to the street. The door opened and a tall fine boned woman got out. "Wait here." she ordered.
One of he attendants looked out of the passenger seat. "Do you want us to accompany you madam?" he asked.
"No," she replied, "just keep a look out for any trouble."
She nodded and crossed the street and entered through the doorway of a plain grey two storey building. She walked up the stairs and opened the door into a dark room with shuttered windows. She flicked the light switch and the dimness was illuminated. She looked around. The furiture was old and broken. She sniffed in distaste, it wasn't the opulent surrounding she was used to. "Where are you Sith?" she muttered.
"Here." a voice came from behind her.
She startled and spun around to see a cloaked figure in the doorway. He drew back his cloak to reveal a plain looking man with dark hair in his late twenties or early thirties. His features were relaxed and passive and he had a wry smile on his face. "Do you always sneak about?" she demanded crossly, trying to cover her nervousness at his sudden appearance.
He shrugged. "I find it wise to keep a fairly discreet presence here Milena," he replied, "considering the recent attack on your city I doubt a Sith would be popular here."
She nodded. "Very well then," she replied, "I would rather not be here any longer than necessary."
"I agree," he responded, "shall we sit?"
She nodded, turning and sitting carefully in one of the rickety wooden chairs surrounding the table in the middle of the room. The Sith sat opposite.
"Do you have the data I requested?" he asked.
She nodded, "If the price is right."
He placed a heavy case on the table. "As we agreed." he replied opening the case to reveal a large number of high denomination script.
She reached into her pocket and took out a datapad. "This is the information you required," she told him, "details of account transfers and communications."
Malisane reached out a hand and she gave it to him. "I trust the account details and communications have been traced to a named recipient?"
She nodded. "All the details are there."
"Have you viewed them?" he asked.
"No of course not." she replied and the Sith sensed the hesitation and deceit in her voice and sensed the lie.
He nodded. "Very well."
He clicked on the datapad and read the screen. His face momentarily blanched in horror. He looked at her. "You are sure this is accurate?" he asked, his voice now shaky as well though he tried to cover it.
She studied him, noting his negative reaction. "Yes it is accurate," she replied, "if you check all the trace details are there, I've left nothing out."
He nodded, taking a deep breath. "Very well then, our business is complete. I suppose I must thank you for this information."
She nodded, "I am not doing this for you Sith," she replied, "my city is damaged by your attack. I wish to leave this country and this planet. That is why I do this."
"I am not interested in your moral reasoning Milena," he replied, "our business is over. I will leave first. I suggest you make your way back to your residence quickly."
"Very well." she replied.
She watched him slip out of the room. She waited a few moments then got up and made her way outside to the hovercar, getting in and sitting back in the seats. "Back to my residence immediately."
"Yes madam." the driver replied.
She sat there thoughtfully, clasping the case full of script to her. She didn't like this. She felt like she was betraying her country. Why had she ever agreed to inform for the Sith? Still if it got her out of Jagred and Antei for good it was worth it.
Suddenly, she felt the hovercar lurch in mid air and the lights flickered on and off. "What's wrong?" she demanded.
"Power failure madam," the driver replied wrestling with the controls, "I'm loosing control I don't know why!"
"Do something!" she snapped, sat bolt upright in her seat.
"I can't!" the driver replied.
The lights cut out all together and the craft lurched forward, beginning to plunge downwards towards the slums. "I can't stop it!" the driver shouted.
Milena's eyes widened in sudden realisation. "Curse you Sith!" she shouted.
In a nearby doorway, the Sith watched the explosions as the hovercar scythed it's way through the slum dwellings before finally the night sky was lit up by a final flash and a bang that shook the buildings. The jammer in the case had worked.He felt a stab of regret. She had been a useful asset and unlike many of his fellows he didn't really like random killing.
Still, it had needed to be done, the information she had given him was so earth shattering it make him nervous just thinking about it. He turned and made his way back to the shuttleport.
On board the Sapphire Star, Revenant sat behind his desk discussing assignments with his two Flight Leaders, Acara Rayden and Eldrad Sin. The Commander looked up as the door opened and a guard entered. and saluted. "The Aedile's shuttle has docked Sir. He's on the way up."
The three Sith stood up in surprise as Malisane swept past the guard into the room. The Aedile turned to the guard. "Leave us and see no-one enters."
The guard saluted again and and left, closing the door behind him. Revenant looked at the other Knight. "Malisane, we weren't informed you were coming."
Malisane nodded and took a seat, motioning the other three to do the same. "I'm not here officially. I've just got back from Antei, Om Jagred in particular."
"How are things going down there?" Acara asked.
"They're rebuilding slowly." Malisane replied. "Anyway, I didn't come here to discuss pleasantries." He reached inside his cloak and withdrew a datapad and passed it to them. "Read that."
Revenant took it and Acara and Sin craned to look over his shoulder."
"Impossible!" Revenant said after a few seconds.
Sin looked up. "Is this true?" he asked.
Malisane nodded and wiped his eyes wearily. "Im afraid so," he replied, "I've checked the account details and the transmission records. There's no doubt."
"But Sildin?" Revenant said staring at his Aedile, "You believe our Quaestor could have done this?"
Malisane sighed. "I don't want to believe it, but it's true. Sildrin has been selling bioweapons details to a source in the Jagred military. Before she became Quaestor, maybe even before she became Aedile."
"How did you get this information?" Revenant demanded.
"I had a source in the Jagred Research and Development, she's dead now."
Revenant stared at him. "Why have you come to us and not the Clan Summit, or the Justicar?"
Malisane shrugged. "Because if there is a chance this isn't true, I would rather persuade Sildrin to co-operate, instead having her dragged in front of Xanos or Lord Firefox. And because I served with you all once under Macron and I trust you to do the right thing."
"And that is?" Acara asked.
Malisane looked at them. "We must discreetly take Sildrin under house arrest, for interrogation and to stop her escaping. I will need to assume the leadership of the House temporarily, supported by Sapphire. We need to do this quietly."
"How do we arrest her?" Revenant asked, "aside from the number of guards she's a Krath Archpriest."
"The four of us can take her without injuries on any side, I have a plan," Malisane replied, "if we hit her in her office and take her by surprise."
"And what then?" Sin asked.
"You guys quietly bring her back here and place her under guard. I will take over House Ludo Kressh and announce that out Quaestor is temporarily disposed."
He looked at them all. "Are you with me on this?"
The three looked at each other, words silently passing between them in expressions, then back at the Aedile. "We're with you." Revenant replied for all of them.
Malisane nodded. "We'll take my shuttle to avoid arousing suspicion. Let's go."
Sildrin, also known as Xia Long - the Blind Dragon - sat at her desk in the Sadow Palace. She was studying reports of promotions, studying the datapad in a relaxed manner. Her white blank eyes stared with a blind gaze out of the window. Night had fallen and the air was calm. She would check one more, she decided, before she retired for the evening to her bed. She frowned and moved her head into direction of the door. She sensed something wrong, a disturbance, aggression, violence. The Quaestor stood up, grasping her ornate lightsaber hilt, ready to ignite it and face whatever came.
The door slid open and four robed figures slipped into the room. One drew back his hood. "Malisane?" she asked recognising him by his force emanations, "what is happening?"
He said nothing but advanced forward, in a line with his companions. She could make out the edges of frames on their backs. She reached out with her mind, and was blocked. A suspicion grew in her. She raised her saber with a low growl, watching them.
Suddenly, her world went quiet and blind as she was severed from the force, her sight failing. The Blind Dragon cried out in surprise and shock: "Traitors!" Malisane looked at her, she was still dangerous even from the yaksalmari's force bubble blocking her, her blind fighting skills were a wonder to all who knew her."Now! he ordered and raised the blaster from his robes, the other Sith doing the same. She leaped at them with her body arced, the saber raised high for a deadly strike. They fired as one, archs of light hitting the Archpriest and she crashed to the ground, fighting the dizziness that sought to overwhelm her from the stun settings. She regained her balance and they backed off from her saber, firing again and she staggered backwards, trying to move back from the yaksalmari bubble on her wobbly legs. They fired a third time and with a crash she hit the floor, her saber spinning across the floor and her eyes closed.
Malisane looked down at her quietly. The others drew back their hoods. "Is she alright?" Revenant asked.
Sin knelt by her, all Sapphire members knew basic field medical training. "Yes," he replied, "just unconscious."
Malisane nodded. "Lift her, we must move quietly, soon the guards will be found and the alarm will be raised."
Acara and Sin moved forward, lifting the Quaestor between them. Revenant nodded. "We will take her back to the Sapphire Star," he said quietly, "will you come."
Malisane shook his head. "No," he replied, "I must remain here to clean up, I will dispose of the guards."
Revenant nodded and the other three Sith left, carrying the unconscious Krath.
Later, the yaksalmari disposed off, the Aedile sat in the Quaestors chair. Revenant and the others would have Sildrin under lock and key now, still suppressed by the yaksalmari. It was time. He hadn't wanted this, he was new to the Aedile job, and had wanted to work for a long time with his Quaestor, his friend, but what had to be done, had to be done. He reached over and pressed the communicator button, broadcasting to the whole of Ludo Kressh.
"My fellow members of House Ludo Kressh, the is your Aedile, Is it my regret to inform you that evidence of serious charges has come to light against our Quaestor, Archpriest Xia Long. She has agreed to temporarily step down as Quaestor while this matter is resolved. I am therefore assuming the leadership of Ludo Kressh. All members are confinded to the Sepros Base until further notice, and I am sealing the base. I will provide you with more details when I have them. I ask you to remain calm and await developments. That is all." He sighed and clicked off the communicator. The next few days would be hard.
This runon is the foundation for a Clan Competition begining Saturday night. How will you react to these events? Bear in mind except those involved in the arrest your character has no idea that Sildrin has been taken forcefully or that she is in the Sapphire Headquarters.
Sildrin woke in complete darkness which was not lifted by merely opening her blank blind eyes. Panic and fear trickled into her heart - she was still restricted to the access to the force. ... Ysalamari! ... To make it even worse she felt her hands restrained with cuffs on her back and obviously some kind of binder were around her feet.
The Quaestor growled low: "Damn you Malisane... why did you betray me?" She cursed herself. ... How foolish I was to trust him....
Sildrin rolled around, testing the strength of the cuffs and binders. ... I never thought he would have been that power hungry... unless... unless he has found out about ... , trembling from fear she inhaled sharply. ... I thought I had every single evidence deleted.... there must have been something I forgot... by Aldones! ... He found out about it! ...
Anger and fear drove her as she strained hard against the cuffs, feeling the metal dig deep into her skin and flesh, causing it to tear, but the cuffs didn't give away. ... I have to get away...
... But where do you want to run to, foolish dark jedi? ... a whispering voice nagging at her mind. .. I will find a place. Somehow... somewhere...
(OOC : Runon oficially starts on Saturday Night. Which side will you choose? >:) )
Revenant sat in his office aboard the Sapphire Star, with his head in his hands. He should have seen this coming. There had been so much shuffling around of the Clan's leadership latey, it was no surprise that somebody took advantage for their own personal gain. But Sildrin? he thought. He had nevere expected the Archpriest to betray them like this.
*BZZZT* He had a visitor. Torn from his reverie the Commander looked up with a start. "Come!" he ordered. The door hissed open and Zaknafein stepped into the office, looking nervous. "What is it, Flight Member?" He really didn't need interruptions just now.
"I just wondered, sir, who was it that you, Sin and Acara brought on board? It looked like..." The Commander cut him off.
"Right now, you just need to make sure that the detention area is kept clear. I'm hoping that there is some kind of mistake here, but until I know for sure, nothing can compromise the investigation."
Zaknafein's face twisted in a grimace of horror. "You mean that was...?"
"That will be all Zak. Send the Flight Leaders in on your way out."
Zaknafein turned and left. The Chiss hated being kept out of the loop, but there was something big going on here. Sin and Acara nodded as they walked past him and into Revenant's office. "Sir, do you think...?" asked Acara.
"I don't know, but I'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye." The Sapphire leadership sat down for what was sure to be the first of many such discussions. The entire future of House Ludo Kressh may very well depend on the events that were just now beginning to unfold.
Ashia sat in the common room of House Ludo Kresh, pouring over datapads and manuals when the intercom clicked on and buzzed for a moment.
"My fellow members of House Ludo Kressh, the is your Aedile, Is it my regret to inform you that evidence of serious charges have come to light against our Quaestor, Archpriest Xia Long. She has agreed to temporarily step down as Quaestor while this matter is resolved. I am therefore assuming the leadership of Ludo Kressh. All members are confinded to the Sepros Base until further notice, and I am sealing the base. I will provide you with more details when I have them. I ask you to remain calm and await developments. That is all."
There was another click as Malisane shut the intercom off, then a dead silence filled the room. She sat stunned for a moment, unable to think. She had just seen Sildrin the other day and everything seemed fine. What charges? Her mind reeled at the thought. She got up from her table and went straight to the Quaestor's office only to be stopped by guards that were set outside.
"Let me pass! I need to see Sil." She argued with the guard who stated he was under strict orders not to let anyone in. Malisane poked his head out when he heard the commotion and Ashia squeezed past the guards.
"Malisane. What the frell is going on? Where's Sil?" She searched his face frantically; the anxiety welling up within her.
"Easy, Ash, she's ok, but she can't talk right now, I'm sorry. Not until everything gets cleared up, anyway." He's gaze shifted slightly as he tried to ease her apprehension.
"What has she been charged with?"
"I can not divulege that information to you, you know this. We're taking care of it. Please, go back to your quarters. You'll be notified of any new developments."
She searched his eyes momentarily before backing away then added, "Does the Council know?"
"They are being kept abreast of the situation as per protcol." There was a lilt to his voice that made her wonder.
She nodded her acknowledgement then turned on her heel and strode down the corridor, the heels of her boots clicking softly until she turned the corner. Malisane went back in the Quaestor's office.
Back in her rooms, she contacted Muz Keibatsu Sadow.
"Malisane just annouced that Sil has some serious charges against her and that she has agreed to temporarily step down as Quaestor. Do you know anything about this?"
"No, what kind of charges?"
"He wouldn't say. He also said the Council was being informed."
"I have heard nothing, thus far. I'll see what I can dig up though, Muz out."
She clicked off the comlink off and sat pondering all this as a knot developed in her stomach.
Callus sat in the House Marka Ragnos bar chatting with some of the members of his Battle Team and the Marka Ragnos Quaestor Kat Pridemore who happened to be house barkeep.
"Kat another round for me and my team eh?" Callus called to the Arch Priestess from across the bar. "We're celebrating our first sucessful camping trip!" There were some cheers from the members more so for the drinks than the trip.
"So you all made it back alive eh Cal?" Kat asked pouring the drinks
"Yea we sure did even though there was that Dragon and well..."
"Yea I can guess."
"Yea. So what's new around here?" Callus said taking a sip of his drink
"Well you're never going to belive this but Sil's been arrested."
"What!?" Callus said letting some of his drink run down his gotee.
"Told you you wouldn't belive it."
"Under whose authority?"
"Sound's like Masaline found somthing out that we don't know."
"Had to be De Ath didn't it? The one Sith I could actually stand always vying for power arent they?"
"You know them."
"So have you heard what they're going to do?"
"No clue but I know they havent informed the council."
"He's been Aedile for 3 days and already making waves."
"Well there's nothing official yet but I'm sending a team in."
"Alright when do you want us out?"
"Who said I was sending you?" Kat asked with a smile. Callus smiled and shook his head.
"You are sending us aren't you?" Callus asked a bit worried.
"Of course I am what kind of question is that."
"Good we'll have Sil out of there in no time."
"That's what I'd thought you'd say."
"What? We arent busting her out?"
"No you're going to investigate to see if what Masaline says is true."
"What does Masaline say?"
"We'd better talk in private follow me." Callus followed Kat out of the bar...
"Ridiculous," snarled Mononoke as he heard the news. He had stepped down recently, and the moment Sildrin had taken the reins she had been bushwhacked. He gathered his things, and began to plot. It was time to move out.
An armored fist slammed down hard on the controls of the Silooth as he lifted off. He used the Force to cloak his life signs and energy. The ship drifted slowly on an intercept course with the Sapphire Star, appearing on the scanners to be an asteroid. The alchemist conserved his breath and energy, keeping his life signs minimal. His cold armor encapsulated and protected his flesh as the cockpit filled with chilling vacuum.
To his knowledge, Sildrin was incarecerated in the brig of the Sapphire Star. His clandestine sources and slicing skills had located the Archpriestess. His work on the ysalamiri-destroying virus was nearly complete. He keyed his secure encrypted holokink in the privacy of his Star Wing. "Get me Sin on the line," he rasped at the comlink. "My apprentice and I must speak."
Outside the Marka Ragnos training room, Kris and her apprentice Calique had just finished training and he was telling her about what was happening in Ludo Kreesh.
"You've got to be kidding, my student. Why would Sildrin step down?" Kris asks with a bewildered expression as she looks at her student.
Calique wipes his face with a towel, "It's not a joke, Master, but there isn't anymore information than what Malisane said." he replies.
Kris sighs and drapes her own towel around her neck, "This definitely bears some investigation. Come let's find Kat, perhaps she might know something more." she states and leads her apprentice off in search of her own commanding officers.
A Mandalore sat alone in his quarters at Sepros, meditating in the dark.
All of this leadership change in these past few months...it started small. Battleteam leaders went on to become Aediles. And then became Quaestors. Then, Muz was appointed Herald. Out of nowhere comes Sildrin and Korras...Xanos announces his plans to retire...what is happening to this Clan? Is the changing of the guard happening that fast?
He had his own private theories about some of these new leaders, Sildrin especially. Literally from the doldrums she rises up and becomes the Hand of Macron, and later his Aedile, and now Quaestor! Impossible!
Could it be...no. There was no way, no way in Hell that it was true. If it was...there was no telling what kind of havoc she could wreak. If his suspicions were true, then by his Oath of Knighthood to the entire Clan, he would be forced to take matters into his own hands.
If his recent endeavour to Lok had taught him about one thing, it had taught him about himself. In his meditations he sensed dark times ahead for the House, the Clan...and the entire Dark Brotherhood.
Suddenly, it was as if a veil had been drawn over his eyes. A fog had descended upon him, sent by an unseen force. It was a massive disturbance in the Force, and he could feel it. Something aboard the Sapphire Star, his battleteam's headquarters.
Time to go.
He gathered his things, including his lightsaber and Force-enhancing jewelery, threw black robes over his pilot suit, and dashed down the hall to the hangar. Leaping into his custom TIE Interceptor, he slammed his fist down onto the instrument panel and floored it. Roaring out of the planetary hangar, Romulus "Acerbus" Mandalore made a beeline for the Star, hoping against hope that he had not arrived too late.
As he focused on getting out of the atmosphere of Sepros as fast as possible, his datapad beeped. The face of the newly-appointed Aedile, Malisane de Ath, appeared. The g-forces exerted upon him, combined with the sheer shock factor of the Sith's words, made the message seemingly fade in and out.
"My fellow members of House Ludo Kressh...
my regret to inform you...
evidence of serious charges...
against our Quaestor...
has agreed to step down...
matter is resolved...
assuming the leadership...
more details when I have them...
remain calm and await developments..."
Every sentence was like a dagger being thrust into his stomach. He tossed his datapad onto the floor behind him, and swiped his comlink from his belt.
He nearly yelled, "Sapphire Star! This is Dark Jedi Knight Acerbus Mandalore, Dossier number 5928! Requesting clearance to land."
An officer's voice came back. "This is Oric Thiros, temporary Captain of the Sapphire Star. Negative, Knight. By order of the Aedile, all members of House Ludo Kressh are to stay on Sepros or their respective planetary systems. Please turn back."
He slowed the TIE to docking speed anyway. Just then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a slight shimmer. Or did he? Were his eyes playing tricks on him?
He reached out in the Force towards the direction of the shimmer...and just barely noticed a spark of life. Then, that spark died out as quickly as it had appeared.
The Mandalore screamed into his comlink, "Captain, you have a cloaked, unidentified bogey at 10 o'clock! I'm breaking off docking vector to try and stop him!"
Acerbus rolled, and shoved the throttle forwards. Once again, he reached out into the Force, trying to locate that spark...there! There it was! He knew it was time - he didn't exactly have seconds to spare to try and contact this strange cloaked vessel. He pulled the trigger stick up from his lap, placed his fingers calmly on the triggers, and let loose a volley of shots.
His days in Sapphire Squadron had done him well. Three green bolts slammed into the strange vessel, causing the shimmer that the pilot had previously seen to grow slightly more pronounced. The spark began to glow again, brighter. He sensed that there was a sentient life form guiding this bizarre ship, and it was beginning to panic.
He could just barely make out the thrusters through a combination of his Force senses and the now-weakening cloak of his opponent. He placed the laser crosshair upon them, and once again let fly a series of precise laser shots. One of its two engines was disabled, and sparks flew from the other. He wouldn't be going anywhere fast, and wouldn't be getting into hyperspace anytime soon either. The spark of life had grown to a hot ember now, filled with suppressed rage, panic, and confusion, his ship now drifting almost helplessly in the space between the planet Sepros and the Sapphire Star.
The young Sadowite could now make out the frame of the ship through the quickly-fading cloak. He radioed the Star once more. "Captain, this is Acerbus reporting. The bogey has been disabled, requesting assistance to tow him into the hangar. Also, requesting to fly escort to your tow ships."
The captain paused momentarily. "Clearance granted, Knight. Tow ships incoming."
Once in the hangar, he quickly landed and leapt from the cockpit of the Interceptor. Cloak flowing, he dashed to the side of the disabled vessel, still moderately cloaked. He could now identify what it was...it was a ship he was very familiar with. It was a Cygnus Spaceworks Alpha Class XG-1 Star Wing Assault Gunboat. Customized. The Silooth, to be specific.
Acerbus was filled with confusion as the hatch opened, and a shadowed, cloaked figure leapt out. A snap-hiss filled the room as the figure drew and activated a modern-looking orange lightsaber. As he leapt down towards Acerbus and two of the Star's guards, Acerbus drew his own yellow lightsaber with another snap-hiss, and, as he had done before, called to his brethren through the Force.
Somebody help me!
Malisane sat in the Quaestor's office quietly leaning back in his chair thinking. He clicked the communicator button.
"Have you managed to find Battlemaster Keibatsu yet?"
"No," the reply came back, "he isn't on either Sepros or Tarthos sir, and we can't raise his ship. Do you wish us to keep trying?"
Malisane took his finger off the button for a second. "Dammit Macron," he cursed, "where are you when I need you?"
He thought for a few second then clicked the button again. "No leave him. Is the Ludo Kressh Envoy here on Sepros."
"Yes sir," the reply came back, "he's in his office. He was shedualed to leave for the Sapphire Star before your order came into effect."
"Good," Malisane replied, "have him report to me immediatley."
"Yes sir." the operator replied.
Malisane sat thinking, this might still work out. He sat at his desk thinking and then stood up and walked to the drinks cabinet, pouring one glass of red wine and one of cool Nerf milk.
He turned as the door opened and the young Zabrak entered and shut the door behind him. He gave Malisane a curious frown. "You sent for me." he said simply.
Malisane handed Xayun the milk and directed him to a chair. "Have a seat we have things to discuss."
Xayun nodded and sat down opposite the desk. Malisane sat back in Sildrins chair and studied the Zhabrak. "I appreciate this situation is difficult for you Xayun," he said.
The Jedi Hunter nodded. "Yes it is, what has happened to my master? I heard your announcement but it didn't say much."
"I'll level with you Xayun," Malisane replied, "I have evidence that Sildrin has been selling weapons to our enemies, the Jagred. The evidence is serious. If it is true then I don't know what is going to happen to her, the matter is likely to be taken out of our hands. You can appreciate the seriousness of this situation."
Xayun nodded. "Where is she now?" he asked.
"We removed Sildrin from this base to your Headquarters, unfortunatley against her will. She has not been harmed. She is currently imprisoned by Revenant until I can figure out what is going on."
"But why?" the Hunter asked looking annoyed, "she would have co-operated."
"I had to act quickly," the Aedile replied sadly, "there are two factors at play here. Firstly, when a lot of the more militant members of our Clan find out the severity of the crimes Sildrin has been accused of, they may decide to take matters into their own hands. Sildrin is safer under lock and key at your Headquarters than she is here, until this matter is resolved.."
"I understand that," Xayun replied.
"And secondly," Malisane continued, "if Sildrin is taken for trial by the Clan Summit, or the Justicar, on the evidence I have collected she is likely to be found guilty and sentenced to who knows what. I would rather delay that until I am one hundred percent convinced of her guilt." He looked at the House Envoy. "Which is where you come into the equation."
"How?" Xayun asked simply.
"Because you are the one person, except from Macron, who is totally loyal to Sildrin and yet isn't likely to fly off the handle and do something stupid. I want you to investigate this matter further, if she is guilty I want you to remove any doubt of that, and if somehow she is innocent I want you to prove the same. Do whatever you need to do, and if anyone asks you are operating under my authority and the authority of this House and the Society of Envoys. I will lift the ban on you leaving the station, so go and do what needs to be done."
Xayun nodded and stood up. "Very well Malisane," he replied, "I will do my best to find out the truth."
"Good," Malisane replied. He watched as the Hunter turned and left the room, then clicked the communicator again. "Jedi Hunter Xayun Erinos is cleared to take a ship and leave the base if he wishes."
"Acknowledged," the response came back.
Malisane thought for a moment, "Is the Keepsake still in system?" he asked.
"Very well," Malisane took a deep breath, "Have them begin a patrol orbit of the planet and the Sapphire Star. If anyone bar the Clan Summit or the Dark Council tries to approach they will send a warning message ordering the intruder to turn back. If they refuse or do not respond the Keepsake is to open fire, targeting weapons and engines only, I don't want any fatalities."
"Very well sir."
Maliane switched it off again. How far was this going to go?
"Out of my way, Knight. Don't make me do this," warned Macron as the two faced off. "You don't think your ship hurt mine so badly, do you?" he snorted. "It was a Sith ruse. And now, I am taking Sildrin with me."
Acerbus gulped as he raised his thrumming yellow blade. Macron snarled as the twin guards raised their weapons. "Wait!" shouted the Knight as the two opened fire. "Don't..."
Macron returned one bolt directly into the face of one trooper with his orange blade, and the other was thrown aside by a blast of Force power. Alarms began to sound all across the ship. He stopped to look at their dead fcaes. "Regrettable," he shrugged.
"I have no quarrel with you, Acerbus. I feel these accusations to be false, and I intend to free our Quaestor to speak for herself. Are you with me, or not? Trust your feelings, Mandalore. The Force will show you the way." The alchemist turned, shutting off his blade and beginning to stride toward the detention block with haste.
Feelings uncountable rushed through the Dark Jedi Knight. But predominantly, his love for his Clan stood out.
"Macron, my old friend, can't you see? Sildrin is a traitor, not only to the House and Clan, but the entire Brotherhood! She must stand justice! Besides...I have my own personal hypothesis as to your...friend's...true identity."
The Battlemaster looked startled. "What? What do you mean?"
Acerbus withdrew his lightsaber, and beckoned for Macron to come closer. Macron, seeing that his younger opponent had disarmed himself, did the same and walked deliberately towards him.
Macron leaned in towards the brash Knight. The Mandalore whispered, barely audible above the alarms, "Xia Long, Sildrin Rys-Hastur, whatever you want to call her, is actually..."
The Keibatsu barely heard the Journeyman's brutal accusation. "What the frell, Acerbus?! Are you insane! That's impossible! When this is over, I sure as hell hope you don't get to see Lord Firefox in the Chamber of Justice! Get out of my way, right now - I've got a Quaestor to free!"
With a combination of brute physical strength and force power, Mononoke coldly shoved Acerbus aside, slamming him into the hull of his TIE Interceptor. Activating his lightsaber, he broke into a dash towards the door leading to the ship proper as two guards emerged. With a look of stunned surprise, they were both diced by Macron's orange saber.
As the door closed behind the enraged Sith, Acerbus grabbed his comlink and activated it.
"All units, this is Dark Jedi Knight Acerbus Mandalore. We have an intruder of Battlemaster-equivalent power onboard this ship. He is to be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Subdue and incapacitate him if at all possible..."
He paused, knowing what he was about to say might be considered treason under the right circumstances. But, drastic times call for drastic measures. He finished his sentence.
"However, if you are unable to do so, use lethal force."
He got up, dusted off, and prepared to jump out of the frying pan, and straight into the fire.
Ashia paced her quarters, anxiously awaiting news. Just when she thought she couldn't take it anymore her comlink went off, it was Muz.
"Ashia, I have learned that she is being held aboard the Sapphire Star, but not much else. Macron as already taken the Silooth there, but was intercepted. He may need help. Take your Z-95t and see what you can do."
"We've been ordered to stay on base, how do I get clearance?"
"I'll take care of that. Just go. And Ashia...be careful, I'm not sure what's going on, but I don't like it."
"I will. Ashia out."
She grabbed her gear and headed towards the hangar bay where her ship, the Persephone waited. Climbing aboard she left the hangar and set a course to intercept with Sappire Star, still orbiting Sepros. As she got closer though, the Keepsake loomed out of the darkness and hailed her asking her to turn around and return to base.
"This is Ashia Kagan, number 6353. I have clearance from the Dark Council to board the Sapphire Star."
A moment of silence then her comlink buzzed again.
"Ashia Kagan, you clearance has been approved. You are clear for docking bay 9."
She slowed the Z-95t and eased her ship in. She had barely jumped out, when a siren began it's ear peircing screech warning the ship of an intruder alert. Looking around franctly, she made for the nearest door, katana in hand. She had to find Macron and Sil before it was too late.
Ashia started a dash for the door that Macron had used moments ago. She stopped in her tracks suddenly - she sensed a dark presence close to her. Her suspicions were confirmed as she heard an aggressive snap-hiss of a lightsaber several feet behind her. She pivoted quickly on her heel to face her opponent - whom she recognized after a brief moment.
Acerbus began to speak, his voice again low against the sirens. "You shouldn't be here, Guardian."
"Mandalore! What the frell is going on in this ship?! Let me pass! I have to see Sil-"
"No you don't. I really don't have time to explain right now. All you need to know is that Sildrin needs to face justice, be it by the Clan or otherwise. Until then, it is my sworn duty to make sure no one unauthorized gets by me to see anyone onboard."
Ashia pleaded, "I have authorization! Authorization from the Dark Council! Let me through!"
The Knight spat coldly, "If the high and mighty Muz Keibatsu Sadow wants to know about what is going on here, tell him to come himself and not send an errand runner. If you want to get past me, I'll have to be dead."
Ashia was uncertain of what to do. The young Guardian wanted to ask Acerbus more questions, but he seemed not in the mood for anything of the sort. The options available were running out, and fast.
Sepros's Command tower radar blipped quietly, the Stealthy Autochthonian ship lowering it's subterfuge outside the docking bays of the Sapphire Star.
"Muz, the Clan is in lock-down, we're not permitted to allow anyone in..."
Muz chuckled through the tinny speakers. "I understand your orders, Officer. And I expect you'll inform Dock Security that I'm coming in there anyway."
The Spear slipped through the bay doors, setting down gently with a burst of white hydraulic smoke. The Lion of Tarthos disembarked from the warship, his long leather coat flaring from his hip as he stepped to the durocrete floor.
The Dock Patrol raised rifles warily against the Son of Sadow, their worry hidden behind the smoky visors of their helms. Muz looked at them, a twinge of amusement crossing his lips as he summoned the Force to knock their heads together, their unconscious forms slumping to the floor.
Muz knew all too well the sense of duty that bound them there, and was not about to incur losses to his home clan by killing off the guards.
Pausing as he stepped over the silent body, he raised his synthetic arm, black eyes glinting in the dock lights. Activating the commlink, he clicked to contact his student.
Ashis smirked slightly, cocking her head to the side in a mocking tone. "I won't have to tell him, it seems."
Raising her comm, she related her location to the Herald, blue eyes glowering at the Mandalore, who's ease was definately lessening.
Acerbus sputtered. "But justice..."
"Justice, Romulus?" Ashia stepped aside, her hands drifting to her sword. "Or is it vengeance?"
"FRACK!" Revenant slammed a gauntleted fist down on his desk. His station was running riot. He rose to his feet and stormed to the bridge. Activating the ship-wide communicator, he let his voice ring out across all the corridors of the Star. "All non-Sapphhire personnel report to the bridge immediately. Muz, you too. I have armed the defense turrets, and anybody found wandering will be treated as a hostile. Auto-guns don't discriminate. I shall speak with you all momentarily." They had a Dark Councillor, Sil's student was on his way, and of course, Macron. Revenant and the Keibatsu had been friends a long time. Perhaps there was yet some way to salvage this sorry situation?
Acerbus smiled. "Non-Sapphire, eh? Guess that doesn't include me, but it most definitely includes you two. Since my Commander has issued the order, you two may take your leave straight to the bridge."
He continued. "Hell, maybe I'll come with you, just for the pleasure of getting yelled at by Revenant. That, and I have to apologize to Macron."
The three took neutral poses and started their long journey down the corridors of the Sapphire Star to the bridge, where (hopefully) Macron and Revenant waited. With answers.
It was still a bare room, being recently rebuilt after the incident with the forces of Severak. but it suited Battlemaster Scithe so well. New shining durasteel walls reflected each and every trace of light like a mirror, making the diminute source of light hung by the ceiling more than enough to permit vision. The comm desks and terminals all recently installed were a little marvel on their own. Such a desperate way to upgrade the hardware, but it was worth...
He seated on a brand new chair sculpted by hand on wroshyr wood, a novelty he cherished from the time when Ludo Kressh was still a underwater base on Ullyr. Datapad on his lap, lazy movements sorted through the various logs he collected under the past hours. Weird indeed... Why do I always have the feeling that something is wrong when someone who just goes up the chain of command announces his former superior's retirement? With a glass cup with some sort of steaming tea lifted to his lips, Scithe sipped as if trying to ingest some meaning to his arguing. I just hope they were not stupid enough to dispose of her. That would surely be their doom, and such a waste too... The cup descended back to the desk, revealing half a grin.
The figure lifted from his chair, flight suit adjusting in place as he sealed the zippers and reached for the helmet. He was really concerned about Sildrin, but he also knew she had supporters on the way. Blessed commsat logs... Afterall, she was part of Ludo Kressh for much more time than the ruling Quaestor, nearly as long as himself and Goatham, now Lord Consul Xanos Sadow. But he was also concerned for the House, his home. No one pretends to mess with the Quaestor of Ludo Kressh and then make it seem like he just dumped an initiate. Not while he was still alive at the least.
It was a job for the "retirement home" to put a cane into the matter. So Scithe reached for the other two old cronnies, Manesh and Malik.
"Hey folks, how's things?"
"Hey Scithe, we are fine, besides some weird call for a lockup here." Malik answered. "What is it this time?"
"That Malisane dude arrested Sil on some unspoken charges and is acting all Quaestor-like."
"Huh? That dude is messing with our chair and didn't even come to Goatboy with an excuse!? I say we bang him outta there." Manesh yelled from Malik's back like the ranting general he is.
"Ditto. I'll see if I can wake Goat up. Where's the dumb fella anyway?" Malik managed to push Manesh from his back.
"Goat?" Scithe frowned in doubt
"No, silly. The other dude."
"Oh, sorry. Aboard Sapphire Star, and looks like he has his hands full by now. Crazy alchemist and loony poet are there already."
"Ouch, I won't like to be in his hide..."
The door to the bridge slid open and in stormed Muz Keibatsu Sadow, a look of disbelief on his face. "What is this about, Commander Revenant?!" bellowed the Lion of Tarthos.
Revenant stood his ground. "Archpriest Sildrin has become the subject of some very serious allegations."
"Damn all that!" the Herald roared. "Why is she being held here?"
"I'm sorry, Sir," the Knight replied, "but I really can't say any more than this. Envoy Malisane is handling the investigation. Sildrin is to remain under my supervision until we can shed some light on this. When you realise the nature of the allegations, you'll understand."
Muz leaned closer to the young Mandalore. "Understand this, Sith; if you..." At that Gorg, Sapphire Squadron's crow mascot swooped down and landed on Revenant's shoulder.
"He said, you can talk to Malisane, I advise you do that. Dark Councillor eyeballs are just as tasty as anyone else's. SQUAWK!" With that he flapped off, with the Keibatsu looking somewhat bewildered.
A cloud of black feathers erupted in a heartbeat, Muz's fingers tracing cruel patterns in the weavery to invert the threads that bound the bird to life.
Rolling his gaze back to the gaping mind of the Sith, a twinge of malice fed the glow in his nightmare eyes. "If I find that this is a political manipulation on your part, youngblood..."
Pivoting on his heel, the Krath stormed from the bridge, heavy strides carring him toward the brig. As the door whooshed closed behind him, the opposite door opened, the light of the Bridge cascading across Ashia and Acerbus.
"Commander..." Acerbus paused, his eyes falling upon the Sith as he stooped over the twitching avian, a stimpack in his hand.
"Malisane." Muz glowered at the journeyman, the door's iris sealing behind him, the clasp of maglocks securing the Brig.
"Ah dren..." Malisane's eyes widened somewhat, the situation having devolved more than he had hoped.
"I hope that you have a frelling good reason for this." Muz rested his hands on the cool chrome of his sabers, his mind reaching out, sensing along the threads of Life to find...
The Herald's face contorted in distaste, his senses having fell across the weeping abcess of Force that lay beyond the room. "Ysilimari..."
"How else would we be able to keep her in custody?" Malisane eyed the Herald's hands nervously. The pontifex was known well as one of the best saberists in the Brotherhood.
"I will speak with her." The words came authoritative, not asking permission, but rather demanding it.
"I'm not going to take the ysili..."
"I don't care." Muz snapped back. "I want to know the truth in this matter. Now, will you open the door, or shall I?"
Macron finished slipping the hatch open, and popped out of the access serviceway not so far from the detention block. He heard Revenant's voice, and that of Muz. He detected Ysalamiri by the absence of Force near them, and wrinkled his nose in disgust. The creatures were a gross mutation, one that he did not approve of.
A pile of coal black feathers drifted across the floor. He reckoned that he would have to tell Revenant about the clones of Gorg he had made in secret. It was always sad when someone lost a pet. Hell, Macron cared more about his pets than the life of most people. The bird didn't seem totally fracked just yet though. Acerbus and Ashia were busy trying to revive the critter as Revenant looked on. The others looked up as they felt a flicker of power from the somewhere inside the walls.
Mononoke cloaked himself from them in the shadows of the Force, slipping back into the hatch and closing it deftly. It would be good to listen for a while, and gather his thoughts. He began to make his way toward the detention cells in the narrow serviceways.
Acerbus sensed a swell of anger and power coming from Malisane's office a door away.
"Sorry, Rev. Gotta go."
Acerbus pocketed the stimpack, and unhooked his lightsaber from his belt. Dashing towards the door as it whooshed open in the nick of time, he leapt in and activated his lightsaber, taking an offensive pose as he skidded to a halt. Muz instinctively spun and activated his twin sabers, holding them defensively in an X-shape across his body.
The Son of Sadow growled, "What the hell are you doing, Acerbus? Give me one reason why I shouldn't squeeze the life out of you this instant like I did to your goddamn bird!"
The brash young Mandalore spat back, "I will not let this...dishonor to the name Sadow return and take the reins once again! I can't let that happen!"
Muz looked at him questioningly. "What are you talking about! Sildrin must be freed to speak for herself!"
The cold metallic glint in the eyes of the Sith stared back at the Pontifex. It was time to reveal his hand.
"Sildrin isn't Sildrin! She is..." He trailed off, the momentary silence seeming like an eternity.
"She is Tissaya Argat Sadow, Daughter of Sadow and outcast of the Clan! She must be put to justice for her betrayal!"
Post deleted events took over
Muz paused for a moment, his eyes working through the possibilities.
Something familiar was in the air, that resonance the CHiss bore back when Muz was a Journeyman. His mind recalled the blue-skinned woman as she made arrangements with Manesh for his transfer. Shaking his head free of the memories, he focused on the Sith.
"Why has Firefox not been alerted to her return?" Muz's voice growled, the chaos behind his mind roiling, seeking control, to lay waste to all that stood before him. "And where the frell is Sildrin?"
Malisane stood off to one side, momentarily forgotten in the debate between Muz and Acerbus. He wandered off down the corridor.
This Tissaya thing didn't make any sense, and he was sure that was the real Sildrin in there, the way he'd captured her didn't fit Acerbus theory, if it was really a long gone Pontiflex behind all this surely she'd have reacted differently?
Still, this cast doubt on the whole thing. The supposeably concrete evidence against his Quaestor seemed less firm now. He had to think. He left the Pontiflex and the Knight talking and headed off to find somewhere quiet.
Sin picked up his pace as he made his way toward the detention block. His attempts to reach his Master Macron had been in vain and old habits made him anxious to get to the bottom of all this. His curiosity intertwined with an empty feeling in the pit of his stomach. It seemed longer than an eternity since he had worn the uniform of a CORSEC officer or even wanted to remember but now maybe his old skills for investigation could come in handy.
Outside Sildrin’s cell stood two armed guards. They shot Sin an uneasy look as he approached.
“I need to speak with the prisoner,” ordered sin.
“We have our orders Sir,” Replied the taller, higher ranking guard. “No one may communicate with the prisoner or approach this area, under strict orders Sir, sorry.”
Sin clenched his fist as his anger seethed within him. There had to be a way to stop this turning into all out war.
Sin smiled a fake smile and stared straight at the guards with a glazed expression. “I’m sure you could let me say just a few words. Otherwise there could be ‘repercussions’ if you understand me. And we don’t want anything unduly awful happening now do we?”
The guards looked at each other and back to the Flight Leader. Then as one they stepped out from in front of the shielded, durasteel, cell door.
“Thank you both kindly.” Sneered Sin as he craned to peer inside the small high view port. Inside he could see Sildrin, she lay still on the floor and Sin became uneasy at the inability to sense her life force.
“Sidrin, are you awake? I need to know what is going on here. Things have been put into motion that I’m afraid we may not be able to halt.”
For a moment there was silence. All that could be heard was a hiss from the life support systems.
“Sildrin, answer me, If not for me then for my Master. I have felt him stretch out to me.”
“And what would you have me say now? Here, caged like an animal waiting for the slaughter.”
The Correlian swallowed down his anxiety and answered truthfully. “I don’t know.”
“Then leave me be,” Answered the captive who still lay motionless. “Go. Leave me here to my thoughts and the darkness.” She spat the words out like they were poison.
“Very well Sildrin. For all it matters I want you to know that we will get to the bottom of this. One way or another.”
Sin slid shut the hatch on the door and motioned to the guards to carry on. He straightened his flight suit and made his way out.
As Sin exited the hatch to the detention block, he heard two distinctly different voices in a semi-argument. He stopped and listened.
"You have to understand, Muz! There is no "Sildrin!" That is merely a cover, a false identity. Tissaya has returned! She wants revenge, and we have to stop her!"
Obviously the deeper, darker voice belonged to Muz Sadow, Proconsul Emeritus.
Oh, frack. Muz is here. Better be careful, thought the Hunter.
The younger, more forceful voice continued. "Hell, I don't even know the extent of the damage she has already caused! Wait a minute - let's look."
Sin heard footsteps, and the opening of a desk drawer.
The argument went on, with the first voice still talking - it sounded like he was reading some kind of datapad.
"My god...this false Quaestor has sold enough weapons and information to the Jagredites to plot a major assault on the Clan!"
The second voice, belonging to Muz, responded. "Then the entire Clan is in danger, eh, Acerbus? Well, what is your plan, whelp?"
The white eyes stared at the wall, anger raged within her, poisoning her blood with black mad dening whispers. Somehow Eldrad Sin's brief visit hadn't calmed the bitterness within Sildrin, still it soothed her a bit telling her not to give up hope.
Then her ears picked up faint voices, but she couldn't make out who was talking. Frustrated she stopped working on the cuffs, before they might discover that she had been able to get rid of the binders and close to open the cuffs. She rested her head back on the floor, red hair strands falling over her pale white skin.
Blind to the force and light, yet not completely helpless - Sildrin was glad, that they hadn't searched her thoroughly enough. But now it appeared that she was too late - the voices came closer to the door.
The Quaestor snarled, a nervous bound animal in a cage.
"DAMN!" This wasn't getting any easier for Commander Revenant. Malisane had brought Sildrin here because it seemd the best place to keep her out of the way. With the House members confined to the Sepros base and Sildrin held in an orbital battle-station, this was supposed to be a low-key affair. Now it seemed that everybody who had an opinion on the matter was here on the Sapphire Star, and tensions were running high.
He turned and stalked off the bridge, heading towards his quarters. Halfway there he felt a familiar presence lurking in the shadows, one filled with anger, confusion and lunacy. Hmm, thought Revenant. What are you doing here? He returned to his quarters and brought up the security holocam displays for the area he had just left.
Macron forced himself to slow his breathing as a form approached. Reaching out with his mind he felt the presence of his successor as Commander of Sapphire Squadron. Walk on past, friend, thought the alchemist. He had no real desire to harm his friend but it was beginning to look like nobody could be trusted. What if Sildrin was guilty? She had served as Mononoke's Black Guard during his tenure as Quaestor. He only hoped that something could be salvaged from this mess.
The display flicked between one camera view or another and the acompanying microphone dialogue. The hooded figure watched idly. He sat listening to the conversation between Muz and Acerbus and chuckled. "Fools," he gloated, "you have no idea do you?"
He flciked to the brig, watching the conversation between Sin and the bound Sildrin. "Interesting." he said quietly, "Such a simple ploy and you fall on each other. I am almost disapointed, you make such poor opponents."
He continued to watch and chuckle to himself. The time was drawing close.
Xayun stalked down the corridors of the Sapphire Star, deep in thought. The memory of Malisane's earlier conversation with him still in his mind, he unlocked the door to his office, and after a quick glance around the room, sat down at his desk. This business had made him slightly nervous, and now he was inclined to be more cautious aboard the station he had previously thought to be a safe haven.
The Hunter muttered under his breath as he turned to his computer screen - he was being ridiculous, he knew. He gave himself a mental shake and concentrated on the task at hand. Calling up the files that contained the supposed evidence of Sildrin's guilt, he began to pore over the stream of data.
The Zabrak felt his frustration begin to grow as he sorted through the files. This was beginning to look like a dead end, and he supressed the thought that this could mean Sildrin was guilty as accused. No, he decided, there has to be something. He returned to searching the data with renewed vigour.
He found it.
If he was reading this information correctly, then he could have a chance of proving Sildrin innocent. He quickly stored the info on holodisk and rushed out of the office to find Malisane.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin’ichi slid from one of a dozen hidden compartments aboard the Fallen Spear. House Ludo Kressh was growing lax in their security if they attempted to trap the master and did not search for the servant. The Archpriest suppressed his essence and stalked in the shadows of the Sapphire Star. Cameras moved to odd angles and sensors mysteriously failed to operate as he made his way into the complex ventilation system of the massive space station. Activating his wrist mounted computer system the Praetor accessed the station schematics and mapped his course. Being the Rollmaster had its advantages he thought as he slipped through the network. It was always cold aboard space stations, and being in the ducts that transported said cold air was an unpleasant experience, but one he was willing to endure to help his friend and serve his master.
As he made his way the Keibatsu overheard tidbits of conversation from all over the station. Guards worried at the possibility of fighting Jedi, clan-mates preparing for battle, even common workers were not unaffected and moved about the station as if death waited around every turn. He suppressed the urge to laugh and kept to the task at hand. The Archpriest moved with silent grace evading every security measure placed before him. Malisane really should have changed the access codes and blocked outside transmissions to the security network. But his inexperience was Shin’ichi’s good fortune as the Rollmaster was at last confronted with the access panel into Sildrin’s cell. Even prisoners need to breathe.
Beams of invisible light crisscrossed in an intricate pattern before the panel, and the plate before them was rigged with a pressure sensor. The Archpriest suspected that mini auto-turrets were also in place, but he could not locate the seams of their access panels. Swiftly he accessed the security protocols once again via his personal computer and called up the routines for this area. Malisane was not as stupid as the Keibatsu thought, the Aedile had added additional measures onto this section. Shin’ichi prayed to Naga Sadow that Macron was on course and was answered when the lights flickered for an instant, just long enough to allow the Archpriest to shut down the sensors and the beams. They wouldn’t be coming back online anytime soon.
Shin’ichi looked down through the vent and saw Sildrin seated on the bed and Ysalmari all over the place. He dropped a small pebble on her shoulder. The Archpriestess looked up and he smiled down at her. “I assume you’d like to get out of this mess.” He asked nonchalantly.
Ashia watched as Muz questioned the young Mandalore, the dark pools that were his eyes boring down on Acerbus, as he tried to explainm almost reason with the Sadow.
"Muz, you've got to believe me. That's not Sildrin." he pleaded.
"Where's your proof?" Muz's voice bellowed with such a force that it made him shrink.
After a moment of silence, Acerbus spoke quietly. "I...I can not divulge that information, sir."
Muz whirled around, his coat flowing fluidly behind him and began to pace as he thought. A moment later, Ashia's wrist com went off. She slipped away so as not to be overheard before switching it on, it was Shin'Ichi.
"Ash, I've got her, repeat, I've got her, we're head back the the 'Spear."
"Good work, Shin, we'll see you there, Ash out."
Acerbus continued to sputter some more about how justice needed to be done. Muz looked up as she returned; she just nodded her head.
Muz took a deep breath. "Ok, Acerbus. We'll leave for now. But this isn't finished, not by a long shot."
Muz and Ashia both left the room, the heels of their boots clicking on the dursteel as they strode through the corridors back to the hangar bay.
Malisane watched them leave on camera and wondered what had happened. His brow furrowed at this strange turn of events. It was unlike the Pontifex to back down so quickly, something was amiss...
Revenant and Sin were both back on the bridge. The Commander took a deep breath as he stared through the massive front view-port into the blackness of space.
“Eldrad,” said the commander as if in a daydream. “I want you to make ready a station wide lockdown. All docking bays are to be sealed until further notice. Things are almost out of control and we must make sure that this doesn’t leave the Sapphire Star. Understood?”
Sin nodded and turned to leave but paused for a second and addressed his friend.
“Shall I have the men shoot to kill Sir?”
Revenant smiled at the thought. “No, that will not be necessary Sin. But remember to be on your guard. That is all.”
As sin went to perform his orders the Squadron Commander laid a gauntleted hand on his lightsaber and hoped to himself, possibly in vain, that he wouldn’t have to use it against one of his own.
"Something damn strange is going on here,"thought Macron as he finished his job on the power router to the detention block. Undoubtedly, Shin'Ichi was about and up to speed. He hoped the temporary loss of power was sufficient to enable the experienced infiltrator to break Sildrin out.
But yet, something was nagging him. Somewhere, deep in his mind he suspected a trap. This was not unusual, after all most Sith expected traps everywhere. But this was unique. It had a familiar ring. It smacked of blackmail, something he did not normally engage in unless necessary.
If anyone in the entire Clan was an expert on bioweapons and weapons of mass destruction, it was Mononoke. Surely if his former Aedile had been up to such a nefarious scheme, the alchemist would have known of it. His network of sensors, insect sized droids and chemical sniffers was par excellence as far as the Brotherhood went.
And he had detected- nothing. Not one single whiff of anything that he had not constructed himself, or was in general Clan usage. Samples routinely gathered and analyzed every day had shown no traces or telltale signs of the agents being shipped in such quantities. That was an important piece of evidence.
"I must contact Xayun. We need to chat," he mused mentally as he made his way stealthily through the conduits toward the hangar bay. For now, he would bide his time. He wondered where the hell his apprentice was as well.
"Sin..." he called mentally.
Malisane approached Revenant who was sat on the bridge. The Commander turned and looked at him. "Revenant there's something going on here."
"I agree." Revenant answered.
"I've got Xayun looking into Sildrin's case," Malisane replied, "but in the time being we need to stop any attempt to leave."
"Sins ordered a lockdown." Revenant replied.
"Thats not enough," Malisane replied, "I have an idea."
"Shoot." the Commander replied.
"Evacuate your staff from the hangar, seal the interior doors, and then open the exterior doors and drop the atmospheric shielding."
"It will take a couple of minutes to depressurise the bay." Revenant replied.
Malisane shook his head. "Don't depressurise," he replied, just seal the interior doors and open the outside one."
Revenant stared at him. "Are you crazy?" he demanded, "you have any idea what will happen if you open a pressurised hangar into space?"
Malisane smiled, "I'm counting on it," he replied, "do it Rev."
Revenant nodded, "Have to overide the safety system, and clear all docking moorings."
Malisane sat back and watched the outside view of the ship with the view of the Keepsake and the tugs floating around outside. He watched the hangar doors slowly open revealing the glittered atmospheric shield.
"Hold onto something," Revenant replied.
Suddenly the entire station shook and lurched on it's access. Alarms began to scream and lights flash. Revenant fought at the controls trying to stabilise the station. Communication messages began to come in throughout the station.
Malisane watched on the exterior display as the contents of the hangar crashed and bouced out into space, cranes. boxes, load lifters, and finally the Silooth and the Fallen Spear, spinning away into the void of space.
"Have some tugs pick up those ships I don't want to loose them." Malisane ordered a nearby officer."
"Got it under control." Revenant said.
"Good," Malisane replied, "now no-one is getting out of here."
"There's still the TIEs," Revenant replied, "they're racked."
"Make sure they're locked down."
Malisane took the communicator. "This is Malisane. there has been an accident in the hangar. There are no casualties, however the outer doors have failed expelling the contents into space. Internal doors are sealed automaticially and cannot be opened. Any attempt to do this will risk depressurising the entire station. We are fixing the problem, however until we happen it is impossible to leave this station. Thank you."
Revenant nodded. "When do you want it fixing?"
"When Xayun gives me his report. Until then everyone sits tight."
Those bastards! Tissaya's hand must be guiding this! She may have already gotten Malisane and Revenant!
He ran towards her cell. It was time to take things into his own hands. As he ran up towards the door and looked into the bars, his mouth sat agape at the sight before him - nothing! The traitor was gone!
Snatching his comlink he snarled, his voice echoing through the ship's tension-filled corridors, "RED ALERT! This is Acerbus! The prisoner under watch of Malisane and Revenant has escaped!" He chose his words carefully - those who needed to know his theory knew it right now, and those that didn't would find out later.
"Find her and any of her accomplices and recapture her at all costs!"
The Mandalore had a sick, twisted idea. But, to a Dark Jedi, the idea seemed perfectly normal. He started off for the hangar bay, grinning.
At last, the door to the hatch leading to the bay was in sight. With a crash, however, two hooded figures descended from the vents above into the hallway - Macron and Eldrad Sin, several feet in front of him. With the rattle of footsteps behind him came two more - Ashia Kagan and Muz, who stopped behind him.
For a moment, they all looked at each other in silence, eerily. Then, another rumble came from the vents above, and the group of Dark Jedi sensed panic. A small explosion went off above them, and another two were sprawled out on the floor. Acerbus growled as he realized who they were - the Rollmaster, Shin'ichi and the prisoner, Sildrin/Tissaya.
The two scrambled to their feet, standing in between Acerbus and Macron. Acerbus coldly took an offensive pose and activated his lightsaber. Out of instinct, the other six drew theirs, except the prisoner, who was unarmed.
Acerbus spoke, his voice low and menacing. "Are you going to come with me, Tissaya, or will I have to resort to force?"
Macron responded for her. "Hell no, Acerbus! Are you insane? Sildrin is-"
The younger Sith cut him off. "I'm telling you, Macron, she's not who you think! Ever since day one I've had my suspicions about her - she comes back from a "retirement", becomes your Black Guard and lieutenant, then your Aedile, and now she's Quaestor! All within a couple month's time!"
Muz replied, "Are you jealous, little one? Perhaps you think that you should be Quaestor? I know what you saw when Darth Severak invaded your mind back on Kanagras."
Acerbus was surrounded by enemies, and was about to get surrounded by a couple more. From Muz and Ashia's direction, footsteps were heard. Malisane and Revenant, accompianed by two guards, came running down the hallway, stopping behind the Son of Sadow.
Revenant yelled, "As your commander, Acerbus, I order you to stand down!"
Acerbus glanced around. He was hopelessly outnumbered and immaculately outgunned, ten to one counting the guards.
Damn you, witch You win this round.
He brought his saber down, deactivating it and placing on his belt slowly and deliberately.
"Well, since everyone here seems to want...Sildrin...here to speak for herself, let her do so. Let's have it."
The entire group of Dark Jedi awaited nervously, hoping that the incarcerated Quaestor could produce some miraculous answers.
And so it had come to this; Muz and Ashia on one side, Sin and Macron on another, Malisane and himself completing the triangle, with Shin'Ichi and Sildrin in the middle. Acerbus wasn't helping things. He really was convinved that Sildrin and Tissaya were one and the same, but this didn't smell like that at all.
Something big was going to happen, and it was going to happen very soon. Every single Dark Jedi standing in that corridor was going to be a part of it, for good or for ill. One way or another they were going to get the answers they all sought.
Sildrin had been given a chance to speak her mind. This could get ugly. The only people who knew she had been arrested were Malisane, Sin, Acara, Revenant and Sildrin herself. If this got blown out of proportion it could tear the Clan apart. "First of, let's get one thing straight. I'm Sildrin. Or Xia-Long, whichever you prefer. Second, what the FRACK is happening here?!"
"You were..." Shin'Ichi began before Revenant's personal communicator sounded and a lieutenant's ghosted image appeared in a glow of flickering blue.
"Speak," growled the commander.
"Uh, we have an incoming ship, Sir..."
"Who now?!" Revenant snarled. This was getting out of hand. The Sapphire Star seemed to be turning into a tourist destination or something. "That doesn't tell me much, lieutenant, identify...!" The officer's face turned pale. The Sith were notorious for venting frustrations on their officers. This one had hoped to discover the benefits of the retirement package.
"Uh, I c-can't, Sir. The vessel is not used by the Clan, or indeed the Brotherhood..."
Hmm, thought Revenant. He stretched out with the Force, through the inky blackness of space for the intruding vessel, and it's commanding officer. What he found there was blacker than the void, and far too familiar. It can't possibly be... "Umm, our problems are about to get worse..."
Revenant waited a few minutes, then the Lieutenant's voice came back on. "It's alright sir, they're claiming they've come from the Justicar's office, to to collect Archpriest Sildrin."
The assembled Jedi looked at each other. "Who could it be?" Rev asked.
Muz closed his eyes, "I sense a poweful dark Jedi on that ship and Elder, but I don't know who."
"Could it be Firefox himself?" Malisane asked.
Muz shook his head. "I don't think so, and it's not Korras either. Maybe Halcyon."
"We can't let them take Sildrin." Shin'Ichi replied.
Malisane gave him a look, "We can't go against the Justicar you know how much hell that could bring down on us?"
Muz nodded.. "We will take her down to meet the ship. I will speak to whoever it is, I have the most knowledge of their procedures than any of you. I was the Left Hand of Justice after all."
"I'm coming as well," Malisane replied, "I'm still in charge here."
"And me as well," Macron added, "she was my Aedile and Black Guard."
"Very well," Muz replied, "but we can't enter the hangar."
Malisane glanced at Revenant who spoke into his communicator. "Seal the outer door and repressurise the hangar."
"You said it had been an accident." Shin said accusingly at Malisane.
"I lied," Malisane replied, "come on lets go."
The Krath Pontiflex and the two Sith escorted the once again bound and strangely docile Sildrin down to the hangar. At the end the strange ship slowly docked and came to rest, and the ramp decended, and a tall robed figure desended.
"Is that Halcyon?" Malisane asked under his breath.
"No," Muz replied, "it's someone else."
"I don't know." Muz replied.
The figure stopped and raised a hand. The inner hangar doors slammed shut and sealed with a loud crash. Muz, Malisane and Macron drew their sabers and prepared themselves, pushing Sildrin behind them.
Slowly the figure lowered his hood.
"Severak!" Malisane gasped.
The ancient self proclaimed Sith Lord casually raised his hand and the Aedile was hurled from his feet, his body smashing into the bulkhead behind. The two Keibatsus raised their sabers and charged. Severak's hand snaked out of his cloak and ignited a red double bladed saber, blocking their strikes and attacking back. Sildrin's bonds dropped to the floor and she raised her hand, Malisane's saber flying to her hand and she leapt into the fray.
Severak defended calmly, for a moment concentrating on his defence as the three equites attacked. Muz fought in the middle Sildrin on the left and Macron on the right. They tried to outflank him, but the Elder was too fast for them, blocking each strike with relaxed profficiency. The two krath and the Sith pressed him, forcing him back towards the wall. With a snarl he fixed his gaze on Macron and hit him with lightning, sending the Battlemaster twitching to the floor.
Sildrin and Muz renewed their attack, their sabers flashing as they fought for a gap in Severak's defense. The Sith, glanced at the door, where hammering could be heard. He snarled and leapt backwards, hurling his double bladed saber at the ceiling slicing into it, then made a wrenching movement with his hand. Muz and Sildrin looked up as a pile of metal masonary and piping collapsed onto them with a crash, then the hangar was suddenly silent.
Severak retreived his blade, and deactivated it. Glancing with satisfaction at the pile of masonary burying the two Krath, he walked slowly to the two unconsious Sith. "This couldn't have turned out better," he gloated, "the filth who lead the attack on my keep," he said glancing at Macron, "and the one who killed my beloved Severina," he said looking at Malisane. "My revenge will be complete." He raised his hand and two unconsious sith drifted up the ramp into his ship.
The inner door burst open, and Revenant and Shin'ichi burst through it, any previous emnity forgotten. They saw the pile of masonary and ran to it, followed by Ashia, Sin and Acara. "Muz!" Shin'Ichi cried out.
"And Sildrin," Revenant added. "Are they dead?"
Shin'Ichi shook his head. "No, just bruised and unconsious. Whoever did this will pay for this!"
"Guys," Sin said coming up behind them, "where are Macron and Malisane?"
Revenant turned around. "Whoever that was has taken them."
Muz fought against the tide of shade, his mind focusing on the points of light in the void of unconsciousness. Swimming against the waves that rocked him, he climbed up from the depths, masonry dust and rubble drifting from the Herald's Raiment.
Fury washed his face, vestiges of primal rage hiding behind the cool posture he assumed. Raising his arm, the Herald used the remote control for his ship, maneuvering the alien ship to intercept the shuttle, giving silent orders to the artificial intelligence.
"Acerbus." Muz growled, his sabers flying to hand, summoned upon currents of living Force. "Get everyone who wants to live far away from me."
Acerbus watched on, his eyes widening as he saw a change in the Herald's demeanor, a slight twinge in his personality.
Sildrin blinked her dead eyes, registering the brilliant glow of energy emanating from within, the resonance of the Lion of Tarthos' madness a supernovae aboard the dead ship.
"I have faced down much more powerful than he..." Muz snarled through clenched teeth. "And I shall not suffer this fool to draw another breath."
Vibrations resonated through the Pontifex's blades, his hands shaking ever so slightly as he lowered his head in staccato twitching.
Sildrin froze, curiosity rooting her to the spot, her krath sensibilities over-riding her primal instinct of survival. Revenant over-rode his, fear driving him to wrap an arm around the archpriestess' waist and haul her away.
The air crackled with malicious intent, the inherent rage of the Keibatsu growing within. Shin'Ichi flattened himself against the wall, using the force to mask himself, unwilling to stray far from his brother's side, despite the danger.
A line of spittle dripped down the Herald's lip, feral grin splashed across his face as he looked to the foe's ship, thick tendrils of Force dragging the metal beast closer to him, the grating sound of metal on metal shredding through his senses.
The exhaust vents of the ship collapsed, the inverted Ashen's will having crushed the frail formed metal. A bellow of rage resounded inside the ship, as the blue flame died out in his engines, it's flightworthiness compromised.
"Who dares challenge me?" The Elder stamped from the lowering bay, dual blades igniting from a single hilt, their crimson screaming their birth with the razor hum of plasma.
"The first black memory of my soul, i was sifting through the ash..."
Severak sneered, his hubris blossoming into mocking laughter as he marched toward the Herald.
"and now i see your life's too long, and death, she yearns to catch."
The sunset tones of the Herald's sabers blared brilliant against the anger of the false master, his blades a blur of cauterizing light. Severak's Juyo danced backwards, his lithe form evading a narrow slash as Muz barreled backward.
Springing forward in dissonance, the Pontifex's Sokan seethed through his arms, the blades a manifestation of his will. Severak pressed himself to match the blur of strikes, his staff sorely overworked in defense.
The False master shifted his weight, the blade flipping in hand to aggression as he reached out to the Herald's leg, the crimson searing flesh.
Ashen spun himself away from the pain, the limp only granting Severak a tiny pause. The Pontifex's mind flashed forward, waves of willpower made physical snaring the synthetic adegans buried deep inside his foe's hilt, pulling them from their homes.
The vibrance slurped back into their metal homes, as the tiny crystals fell hot to the durocrete floor. Severak's eyes widened, their dull cognisence of the moment's tale reflecting the violet violence of the Herald's blade.
Severak's head thumped to the floor, his throat cauterized and his body illuminated in the futile lightning of a fallen elder of the dark side before falling alongside it.
Muz dropped to his knees, the exhaustion of unbridled anger taking it's toll. Muz banished Ashen back to it's incorporeal cage, deep within his fear.
Shin let a breath loose, stepping out of the shadows, his saber deactivating. "Yes, my brother?"
"Let me borrow your vial..."
A cheer went up from the Bridge, the security hologram playing live across the main screen. The death of the false Master ended a campaign of nightmares and cruel possibilities in their minds, granting them all a momentary reprieve from the intrigues that brought them all here.
The holograph showed Muz rise from the elder's fallen body, knife in one hand and metal vial in another, both hiding quickly among his robes. A tired smile crept across his face as Shin dragged Macron from the Elder's ship.
Muz looked up at the recorder, his black eyes glinting in sarcasm. "That's what the joker gets for frelling with Sadow, eh guys?"
OOC: I like how Muz thinks. A lot. If you want to delete this, then do it, but I'd really like to keep going on the storyline. /me steps off soap box and starts writing.
The crew's cheers from the bridge could be heard faintly even in the hangar. Smiles of temporary relief spread across all of the group's faces. Severak, their old enemy, had fallen, and hopefully his False Brotherhood would fall with him.
Acerbus chuckled. "Well, we've blown stuff up, kidnapped people, re-kidnapped people, seen Muz evolve from Muzzymon to Crazypoetmon, and sliced the head off a Grandmaster, all in one day. But that still leaves one thing..."
As he trailed off, the entire group shot a dirty look at him, thinking he was going to start on another rant about how justice must be done for Tissaya the traitor. Instead, Revenant interrupted him.
"We know, kid, we know. Everyone who is able, in the ship conference room right now. Everyone else - get to the medical ward, get healed up, and get to the conference room. Time for a little team meeting."
The younger Mandalore again joked, "Yay! It's like the Superfriends! To the Batcave!"
This, combined with his crack about being a crazy poet, caused Muz to deliver a swift backhand to the Sith's face. Acerbus, suprised, was spun around by the suprisingly forceful strike. The Keibatsu glared at him, as if to say, After that ordeal, Acerbus, I'm not in the mood to screw around.
Two hours later, everyone was rested and sitting in the ship's conference room. Commander Revenant and Aedile/Quaestor Malisane sat at the table's head. Going on down one side were Macron, Eldrad, and Acerbus, and on the other side sat Muz, Shin'ichi, and Ashia. At the foot end of the table (perhaps for aesthetic effect) was the defendant Sildrin. Everyone was silent, glancing around the table, waiting for someone to speak. Malisane, being the one with authority in the room, took the plunge.
His tone was official as he spoke. "I'd like you all to know that the hangar suffered no major damages, and the little hole in the ceiling is being fixed on the double. Now, on to more urgent matters. Sildrin, the charges against you still stand as thus: Selling bioweapons and information to our planetary enemies, the Jagred. How do you plead?"
Sildrin paused, and the air hung in the room as she did so. "I plead..."
Xayun burst into the conference room, interrupting the proceedings.
"Wait! I have something to show the Aedile before anything happens here."
He brandished the holodisk containing the evidence against Sildrin, and walked the length of the table to Malisane. Displaying the data, he selected several items of info, which then enlarged so that everyone seated could examine it.
"This information shows the dates that Sildrin recieved payment for the bioweapons into her account. However, these dates" - he highlighted several other pieces of data - "show when transmission of the payment was made. Looking closely, we can see these dates do not match."
Xayun turned and spoke to the assembly, hands clasped behind his back.
"After I discovered this error, I checked Sildrin's account myself. There has been no payment of any kind made to her that corresponds to these dates. This leads me to believe that this supposed evidence of Sildrin's guilt has been faked, and that she is innocent of the charges against her." He took a step back and nodded to the assorted Dark Jedi before him, surveying the impact this news would have.
Acerbus stood up and slammed a gloved fist onto the table.
"Just because the dates don't match doesn't mean they were faked! Perhaps the money was bogged down in the banking system's red tape and took a few days to get deposited into her account? Or perhaps she took a cash delivery, which took time, and then deposited the cash into her account herself?"
Malisane stood now as well. "Order! We will have order in this room! Sildrin hasn't even entered her plea yet! Xayun, if you wish to take part in this, have a seat."
He did so, sitting in the remaining seat at the foot of the table next to Sildrin. Everyone was aware that Xayun was Sildrin's student, likely to be looking to exonerate his friend and Master as quickly and easily as possible.
After everyone was again seated, Malisane continued. "Now, Sildrin, you were saying?"
The Blind Dragon arched her eyebrows in an arrogant way: "This is ridiculous. I am not guilty. I might have expected our Sith Alchemist to fiddle with bioweapons... but not even he would sell them to the people of Jagred. No - I never sold bioweapons or gave away informations to Jagred."
Her blind eyes appeared to glare directly at Acerbus: "These accusation are ridiculous. And this thing about me being Tissaya... ", she stiffled a laugh. "I am Sildrin Rys-Hastur.. also known as Xia Long. Apprentice to Shan Long. And I am not Tissaya." An amused smile appeared on her face, yet her eyes stared coldly at Acerbus and he was able to see a hint of the anger and rage burning deep within her soul.
Slidrin leaned back, reliefed that so many people supported her, something that really had surprised her: "And now... I am very unwilling to endure this charade for very much longer, especially after seing that Severak obviously had a finger in the pie. His appearance on the hangar was not a weird coincidence." Her eyes narrowed: "He attempted to kidnap Macron and Malisane... and we still sit here, discussing whether I had been selling.. ", her voice picked up a sneering tone, "bioweapons just for profit."
Slowly she leaned forward, folding her hands on the table: "And now... someone should go and check Xayun's data immediately. I still have bussiness to do. Quaestor bussiness that have been delyed by this ridiculous charrade." With the last word, Malisane felt how Sildrin reached out with the force to him, scanning and he shuddered, feeling uneasy - it was a brief reminder that she had expected better of him.
The Fallen Spear drifted through the gaping maw of the docking bay, the ship settling down gently as Muz watched on, standing silently over the corpse of the fallen master.
"You sure that the lab aboard is enough to do the recombinate analysis?" Muz's words came quietly, the weariness of the day's events resounding in his voice.
Macron's eyes lit up momentarily. "Yeah, I put enough of my older equipment on her last week when I upgraded my lab at Aeotheran."
Muz nodded as he wrapped tendrils of the Force around the severed bits of dead flesh, lifting them into the air as they walked it aboard the ship.
Settling the parts onto a stainless steel table in the medbay aboard the warship, Muz fell back into a chair, his eyelids growing heavy. Pulling out the vial from his robes, he traced the intricate binding patterns with hie fingertips.
"Why did you want me to run these tests, man?" Macron chuckled as he drew blood from the corpse, dripping a bit onto a sample tray.
"Just curious, that's all." Muz stood up slowly, his eyes watching the lab computer grind away at the problem. "I have a few suspicions...questions than need answering."
Macron nodded, his hands returning to the lab equipment.
"I'm going to go upstairs, take a nap." Muz grumbled, heading for the door. "Let me know if anything develops."
Malisane smashed a fist into the desk. "So, then who is selling those nerfherders the bioweapons?"
Sildrin shrugged, her white eyes still furious at the wasted time. "I suggest you check your *sources*, though, as they've already proven less than reliable."
Macron stepped through the door, heavy boots resounding across the threshold. "Sildrin, a moment, please?"
Varis Tornal slunk across the Docking bay, moving low to the ground in a pilot's suit. The young Sith Apprentice eyed the Autochthonian ship with great wonder, his eyes widening to see it here in person.
Something drew him here, the gravity of power... It must have been the famous Keibatsu and the tales that the older journeymen sometimes told about how he had beaten some of the best people on Antei. Varis grinned at the prospect of meeting the Herald, and held a hope somewhere deep in his mind that somehow chance would forgive his presumption.
He crept aboard the ship, slipping down the hallways, letting the Force guide his path through unfamiliar corridors. A door swooshed open, and the smell of antiseptic breached his nostrils, the Force beckoning him enter.
Grey eyes fell upon an ornate bottle, and fast fingers picked it up, the cool steel somehow comforting to the young one's hands. Shaking it gently, Varis heard nothing. Finding this odd, curiosity opened the lid.
Sildrin glowered at Macron. "You're sure?"
Macron nodded. "The DNA lines up to such a precise vector, it can't be chance."
Sildrin slumped slightly, her white eyes playing across the various paths to take from here. "For right now, we say nothing. He's dead, anyway, so it's not terribly important."
"Yeah. We don't need another Skywalker incident in the history books."
Varis fell to the floor, his throat rasping as the vapors flew down his throat, their chill necromancy flailing his soul and burning it as fuel for the Ancient's own purposes. Cackling dryly, the boy stood back up, grey eyes slowly contorting to the red and golden eclipses of the Sith.
Stepping toward the corpse, his hands dove deep into the folds of fabric, fingers closing around solid metal, withdrawing the Talisman of Rage from the form.
Blinking lights caught his eyes, and he read the datum from the viewscreen nearby. A cruel smile played across his face, spinning him around as he made his way back off of the ship. "I'll see you soon enough...son."
"What was that all about, Sil?" Malisane's eyebrow peaked in question, his distrust still not vanquished by the covenience of paperwork.
"Nothing of import, Aedile." Sildrin emphasized the word, hoping to quash the indignation in his tone.
"If it's not important, why not..." Malisane paused, lights flickering at his elbow, control panel warning lights screaming at him. "...the frell?"
The monitor showed a TIE shaking loose of the rails, a dozen other ships falling to crash on the dock floor below.
"Son of a chiss..." Malisane pulled up the comm array. "Pilot, you are not clear for launch. You're wrecking my fighters..."
Sildrin stepped to the array quickly, pulling up the checkout roster. "Got a dna check from embarking checkpoint... Tornal, Varis...but he's not qualified for..."
The howl of blasters snared their eardrums, and the dull roar of ion engines followed, the liberated TIE erupted from the docking bay.
"Where the hell is he going? Those don't even have hyperdrives..."
"Planetside, it seems like." Sildrin felt out with the force, the radar blips confirming her suspicions. "We should try to stop him before he gets too far..."
Malisane nodded. "We'd better launch fighters to..."
An alarm sounded on the bridge."
"Whats wrong?" Sildrin asked.
"An unidentified cruiser just left hyperspace." Malisane replied studying the radar.
Revenant rushed over, "Scan them I want to know who that is." he order a bridge officer.
They waited a few moments. "Sir it's the Jagred," the officer replied.
"What are they doing here?" Sildrin replied. Then her eyes widened in horror. "Message the Keepsake, and anything else we have in system, destroy that cruiser immediatley!"
Malisane and Revenant looked at each other. "Whats wrong Sil?" Malisane asked.
"Don't ask!" Sildrin ordered, "just do it!"
Revenent nodded. He clicked the communicator. "This is Commander Revenant to the Keepsake and all figter wings. Destroy that cruiser immediatley!"
Malisane had followed Sildrins line of thinking, "They wouldn't."
"After our attack?" Sildrin replied, "they would."
They watched the cruiser move closer to Sepros, followed by the Keepsake. The Naga Sadow ship was faster but the enemy capital ship had a fair lead. "Faster," Malisane said willing the Keepsake on.
"They're not going to make it." Revenant replied, "I'd better get to my TIE." He left quickly
Sildrin clicked the communicator. "This is the Quaestor to the Sepros Base," she sent, "seal the base, raise the shields, enemy cruiser incoming, suspected bioweapon load. All personell proceed with biological defense drill."
"You think it'senough?" Malisane asked.
"I hope so," Sildrin replied.
Revenant, running towards the hangar, grabbed his comlink from his belt. He set it to private-message the comlink of everyone on the ship.
"All pilots, including Sapphire Squadron, report to the hangar and sortie in your TIEs immediately! We have a Jagredite cruiser launching a major assault on the planetary base!"
As he burst into the hangar and jumped into his A-9 Vigilance, he saw Acerbus do the same in his TIE Interceptor. Following him were Eldrad Sin and Xayun Erinos. The quartet roared out of the hangar at top sublight speed, after the cruiser.
The Commander began to issue orders. "Gentlemen, we have a hijacked TIE Interceptor heading for the Jagredite cruiser. Disable him, then help the Keepsake take down the cruiser. Aim for his engines - break off and attack, sweep formation!"
The three ace pilots spun off in different directions while Rev maintained his vector. In unison, they let loose a volley of green laser bolts, the TIE pilot not even trying to dodge.
Curious, thought Acerbus, you would've thought he'd put up more of a fight than that.
Disabled, the hijacked Interceptor drifted helplessly, waiting for the Sapphire Star's towships to bring it back in, to question the mysterious pilot. All that remained now was to stop the opposing capital ship.
The Sith spoke again. "Gentlemen, this is our plan of attack..."
**Post deleted due circumstances beyond my control
Quaestor Sildrin had just left, and Mononoke was finishing the decontamination of his mini-lab when the news of the stolen ship launch hit. “What?” he muttered as he looked up at the viewscreen, gory gobbets of Severak’s stinking corpse in his hands. He flung the worthless flesh into the incinerator bin and washed off. Some things could not be rushed, and decon was one of them.
Some minutes later, he stepped out of the mini-lab as the doors closed with a hiss of gases. His maddened brain had been feverishly at work. He had drawn certain conclusions about ‘ole Crap-Master Severak
Macron was more than certain that the false Master had used Essence Transference, one of the most powerful of the Sith alchemical techniques. The corpse showed a tremendous amount of decrepitude, entering rigor mortis almost immediately after death. It had literally been consumed with the power of the Dark Side. If Severak had done it once, he could do it again. At least, a limited number of times that is.
A readout in the eyepiece of his armor showed the space battle, with the escaped ship being towed. Macron punched his comlink. He may be fairly useless in a dogfight, but he did have some highly pertinent information.
“All Kressh Forces. Severak is using essence transference. He probably used that journeyman, and then got within range of that capital ship. Then he moved to it, most likely into a pre-readied clone. We are dealing with an accomplished alchemist here. You’ll find nothing but a husk of rotten flesh and bones in a spacesuit in that TIE. That capital ship may carry a version of my flesh-melting bioweapon. It must be stopped at all costs.”
He stormed out of the lab at full speed, running for the Hangar and the Silooth.
Malisane watched the screens, he wanted to be out there, or on board the Keepsake commanding the pursuit, he felt helpless just stood here, but it was now nearly a year since he'd climbed into a TIE and it wasn't the time to start now.
He looked at Sildrin who was stood by him. "So Severak's not dead." he said to her quietly, "I thought it was over."
She nodded. "Yes, but we'll get him."
"Who is this guy," Malisane asked, "we still know nothing about him."
Sildrin didn't answer but turned and gave Malisane a blank blind , her essense giving away more than her expression.
"What?" Malisane asked.
"Nothing." she replied quietly, and Malisane could sense a lie in her words.
"They're towing the ship in, I guess we'd better prepare."
He shielded his eyes as the display suddenly turned a blinding white. Sildrin staggered, collasping into a chair.
"What the hell was was that??" Malisane replied, his face suddenly pale and his body trembling, "a massive disturbance in the force."
"I do not, know." she replied slowly getting out of the chair.
"It's gone!" Malisane gapsed studying the display.
"The interceptor," the Aedile replied, "its not there."
She shut her eyes, searching. "He's gone." she said simply.
"Dead?" the Aedile asked.
"I don't know," Sildrin replied, "but he's nowhere near here."
"You guys picked that up?" Revenants voice came over the communicator.
"Of course we felt it," Malisane replied, "I imagine they felt it on Tarthos."
"Yeah," the Commander replied, "sort of hurled us around, never felt anything like it."
"You track anything of that fighter Rev," Malisane aske quickly.
"Negative," Revenant replied, "what do we do."
Malisane glanced at Sildrin. "Forget Severak he's gone!" she snapped, "that cruiser is coming up on my base! Destroy it!"
"You get that Rev?" Malisane asked.
"Yeah, we'll nuke the ^&^!s."
Malisane watched the display as the cruiser drew slowly closer to firing position around the Sepros base, the Keepsake drawing close to it.
"The Keepsake reports they will be in firing range in sixty seconds, and all fighters are preparing to engage." the bridge officer reported.
"This is going to be a close." Malisane said grimmly.
Once the Persphone was secured aboard the Fallen Spear, Ashia join Muz and Shin to get ready and launch from the Sapphire Star into the battle that had commenced. She entered the bridge moments before a violent shudder passed through the station.
"Malisane, what was that?" Muz radioed the control room.
"Not sure, but the Interceptor is gone." Malisane replied as he watched the radar screen, hoping for some sign he was mistaken.
"Gone! What do you mean, gone?" Muz growled.
"Gone! As in not there anymore. There's nothing on radar. There's no time! The Jagred are about to fire on Sepros though, we need all the help we can get!"
"We're on our way, Muz out."
The three of them ran to different parts of the bridge and brought the Spear up and out of the hangar. The Silooth exploded out just ahead of them as Macron made his way into the malay that lay ahead. An explosion hit the enemy cruiser coming from the Keepsake. Then a barage of fire erupted from the TIEs, taking out some of the shorter range weapons. The cruiser returned fire sending a jolt through the Spear.
"Shields are up and holding." Ashia relayed as she punched at the controls.
"Returning fire, targeting their engines." Muz punch commands into the remote control on his wrist.
Another wave from the Keepsake took out one of thier ion cannons. The TIES flew in followed by the Silooth and hit it again. An onslaught of fire exploded on the Keepsake. The Spear fired again crippling them.
Revenant and the rest of the TIEs swooped down at the crusier, firing again with the Keepsake, targeting the other ion cannon. A bright light lit the sky as it was shredded. The Spear fired again and took out the rest of the engines leaving the cruiser completly helpless.
Muz hailed the Jagred cruiser as they moved up along side it.
"This is Muz Keibatsu Sadow, prepare to be boarded."
The three left the bridge and strode through the corridors purposefully as they mentally prepared themselves for what was next.
Sapphire Squadron breathed a sigh of relief, seeing that the Jagred cruiser had been disabled just short of firing range from the base on Sepros. Commander Revenant saw the Fallen Spear moving towards the cruiser, and contacted the Spear and the rest of his squadron.
"Need any help there, Herald?"
"Certainly," replied Muz, "we just sent our boarding notification."
"Acknowledged. Acerbus, Eldrad, Xayun, form up behind me and prepare to dock. Be prepared, and may the Force be with us."
The squad returned a collective "Roger that."
The convoy of Dark Jedi - Muz, Shin'ichi, Ashia Kagan, Macron, Revenant, Acerbus, Eldrad Sin, and Xayun - entered a state of near-battle-meditation as they sped towards the crippled capital ship in their respective vessels. They would soon be joined by many others from the Keepsake and Sapphire Star, no doubt....
The Dark Jedi moved through the corridors of the Jagredite capital ship cautiously, Muz and Shin'Ichi on point, Macron and Revenant bringing up the rear. "If we find Severak," started Shin, but he was silenced as a platoon of Jagred troops emerged from side doors and surrounded them, blaster rifles levelled at their faces.
"Stop right there, our Lord wishes to speak with you," said the squad commander. Revenant noticed Muz's hands flex near the hilts of his lightsabers.
Leave it, Muz. This may be the chance we need. Muz relaxed slightly and the troops led the Dark Jedi to the bridge, where Severak awaited.
It was well past the time they had agreed for the rendezvous in an isolated area near the Kressh base hangar. Scithe was already dozing when he heard some noises coming from the bushes nearby. In a jump, he ignited the saber and turned to face whatever was it, still forcing sleep out of his mind.
The bush moved again, this time Scithe was ready for it and managed an attack. He seemed to hit hit something, then he heard it.
"Ouch! That nearly burned my ear off..." It was Malik, followed closely by Manesh, both crowched like thieves in ambush. "This is so undignifying... Huh? My cane!?" The duo tried to rise from the hideout, Malik looking for the support of his now severed cane, which almost resulted in a stumble and certainly resulted in an angry Warlord.
Now it was Scithe's time to yell under the pain of several half-cane strikes. "Ouch! Stop it, Malik. It was... ow ...your fault you were hiding there."
"Shht... We are trying to evade detection here or not?" Finally Manesh managed to say in protest.
"Ok then, you two best hury inside while I fire the engines." Scithe said moving towards his ship.
It was then that the two Warlords froze in place, faces full of disbelief.
"You are not pretending we will get out of here in this? Is you?"
This was a really dented T-Wing, probably smuggled out of rebel hands way back the New Republic foundation.
"Somehow, the bag'o'bolts managed to get here, so it'll get us out. And it's the only hyperdrive capable I found there on Obsidian. Well, that and a Bulk Freighter... Would you prefer the Freighter, gentlemen?"
The duo exchanged looks and then resigned. "Hmm... Let's get outta here now. And no more nonsense, please."
The Bag-o-Bolts managed to get airborne and, as soon as they were leaving atmosphere, all sensors snapped under maximum alert. A wave of fighters emerged from ground base, all inbound to the T-Wing. Then, they just passed the Bag doing no harm.
"Huh? What was that?" Manesh asked a little dumbfolded.
"I guess it has something to do with that capital ship they are bombarding up ahead." Scithe replied in a frown.
"Where?" Malik's head emerged from the back of the seat, almos smashing Scithe out of it. "We need to get there already and see what is going on."
"Hey fellas..." Manesh, in a thoughtful mood asked. "Have you ever noticed we always seem to be a bit too late to everything?"
"Hmm..." was the reply from both Siths.
Violence danced behind the Pontifex's nightmare eyes, his anger worn plainly on his face.
"So, you are the reason behind the Jagred's renewed aggression." Muz's hands drifted near his belt.
"Everytime I see you, I lose a body." Severak spoke through the Apprentice, his regal and measured voice dissonant for the form. "Who are you?"
Muz smiled. "You didn't think that the Brotherhood would stop hunting you, did you?"
"The Brotherhood is of no consequence to me." Hubris shone deep inside the young one's eyes, the usurper's spirit coiled within like a cruel parasite.
Muz stepped forward, a flare of energy flowing from him. "It is of the most dire consequence to you." The Lion of Tarthos growled as he spoke. "The essence transfer has taken it's toll on you. You've not had time to recover, nor build a new weapon. You'll not leave here alive."
"Oh, I think I will. Killing me would bring you no challenge, no honor." There was fear beyond the confidence that the elder showed, the truth of the situation eroding his spirit on some base level. "Oh yes, I know your type. So, if you should strike, the missiles will strike Sepros, and your clan will bleed."
"Tell your men to stand down their weapons and jettison the missiles."
Severak laughed, his voice a rasping cackle. "I think not." Severak eyed the Herald slowly. "Not while you are aboard this ship. Leave, and I will surrender this ship."
Muz snarled as he raised his arm, the comm array activated in his synthetic limb. "Command, this is Spear one. Fall back to theta niner. Plan Timmy."
Muz stepped back, ushering the team back with his motion.
"...plan Timmy." Muz's voice played over the comm speakers on the bridge of the keepsake.
Malisane shook his head in confusion at the words. Sildrin grimaced, thinking through the fleet details. "Damn that man..."
"What the frell is plan Timmy?"
Sildrin groaned. "Gravity Wells. Muz thinks the jerk is going to try to hyper out of here."
"But we haven't any gravity wells here..."
"I know that." Sildrin mumbled. "Hence the cursing."
Malisane grimaced as he stormed from the bridge, heavy boots stomping toward the flight deck, grabbing a black TIE helmet from the rack as he entered.
Muz sat down on the Command couch of the Fallen Spear, Shin'Ichi hovering near tactical and Ashia sliding in behind systems control.
"May I speak freely, brother?"
Muz nodded, his eyes glaring out the viewscreen. "Always."
"Firefox is going to kill you for letting this grand master get away again."
Muz chuckled. "This rogue is not a grand master. He's a master, but nowhere near as powerful as Cotelin." Muz blinked slowly. "We will track him and kill him soon. I had Sildrin get some Gravity wells up and running to keep him here."
Ashia looked up from her console. "Ummm, about that, Master..."
Malisane's TIE screamed from the hangar, the ship spinning as it pulled aside the Jagred ship, cutting engines and hiding among the debris from the attack.
Sure as clockwork, a small fighter erupted from the bay of the Jagred ship, flinging itself from the warship. Malisane frowned as his engines slammed to life, trailing the alien fighter.
"Amlisane...This is not a good idea... Stand down." Sildrin's voice sang through the earpiece in his helmet. "This is a direct order, Knight. Stand down."
Malisane's hand swung away from the controls long enough to mute the comm, returning to the yoke as he barelled after the rogue elder's ship.
"Frell, I can't get a clear shot." Shin growled as the TIE kept sliding back and forth in front of the targeting reticle. "That damned kid..."
"Stay on him..." Muz growled, swinging the Warship after the pair, the Spear's engines ramping up.
"Master, the Jagred ship is firing it's hyperdrive..."
Malisane cursed as he maneuvered his ship alongside the elder's, the TIE already pushed to its max speed. Jamming the power from weapons to engines was the only way to catch the speedy ship, but he had finally caught him.
Severak smiled with the apprentice's mouth as he saw the TIE swing alongside him. His luck seemed to be shaping up. The rogue swung the yoke sideways, his wing slipping between the tines of the TIE's radiator panels with a jarring wrench.
Malisane pulled his controls, and found himself very stuck. Swearing profusely, the knight punched the retrothrusters, but to no avail.
Everything went quiet.
And then the stars blurred.
"By Krath..." Sildrin muttered. The Elder had dragged her Aedile along. Falling into the captain's chair in shock, the Herald's voice penetrated the quiet.
"Sil, I'm sending you a list of probable hyperdrive routes, based on his last trajectory. First we're going to take down that Jagred ship, piece by piece. Then, I want you to assemble a small team to join me. I'm taking the 'Spear after them."
Sildrin nodded slowly as she relayed the communique to the Keepsake's PA system.
Malisane awoke in a dark room. He stood up, slowly letting his forces senses scan his body. He was unharmed. He reached for his belt and noded with dismay that his saber was gone, and he was unarmed. He looked around the room. It was a simple and plain, no windows or furnisihings, save the metal bed he had slept on. He closed his eyes, sensing his surroundings. He could feel the metal plates beneath his feet vibrating, indicating a spaceship in flight. He let it expand further, sensing the Jagred crew on the cruiser, going about their tasks quietly, and without emotion. This in itself suprised him. What was wrong with them?
He wandered over to the door, placing his hand on the metal. It was mechanically locked, but he let the force penatrate it, easing leavers here and turning cogs here, until finally it opened. He stepped out into the corridor and looked around. It was empty, dimmly lit leading to a door at the end. He edged along it slowly, his force senses searching for any signs of life.
He reached the end. He could sense more of the Jagred behind and someone else. Grimmly he prepared himself and then pressed the door button, tensing himself to attack. The door slid open and Malisane found himself facing the apprentice body of the Sith Lord.
"Greetings." Severak said pleasantly, a smile on his face.
Malisane stopped, staring at him.
"I have been awaiting your prescence, I feared you would sleep all day."
Malisane was momentarily at a loss but covered it well. "You have made your last mistake." he promised the Sith.
"I do not think so," Severak replied, "I have rested much over the last day and night. My strength is not full but it grows. You can attack me if you like, but you would regret the decision, and it will serve no purpose."
Malisane stared at him, sensing that the resurrected Sith Lord spoke the truth. "So why have you brought me here?" he demanded.
Severak smiled. "Because I have been searching for you for a long time Malisane. I feared you were dead."
"Why should you care?"
"Because of what you mean to me, my son."
Malisane starred at him. "Nonsense!"
"It is true," Severak replied, "your friend, Mononuke I believe his name is, discovered the truth back on your floating space station. He did not tell you?"
"No," Malisane replied, "he did not." He looked at Severak. "But you lie, my father was a cantina owner, he died fifteen years ago in a fire."
"I do not know where you have spent the last fifteen, or even thirty one years my son, but I am your father."
Malisane sensed it now, the older Sith spoke the truth. His thoughts raced but he forced himself to be calm. He had to know why he was here.
"So," he said, "that doesn't explain why you have captured me. Surely you do not expect me to join you. I serve my Clan now, I have and need no other family."
Severak laughed. "No," he replied, "I have no need of you. You are tainted, I sense your loyalty to your Clan and your Brotherhood. In time I will take on new followers but you will not be one."
"So why?" Malisane demanded.
Severak watched his son carefully. "Let me tell you a story," he replied, "to amuse us during our journey. I was once like you, young, ambitious, creative, and once I was loyal, not to a brotherhood like yours, but to the Old Republic. I trained under Master Yoda, who recognised my potential and taught me the ways of the force, so that one day if I met their standards I might sit with them on the council and help protect the republic. But I was unsatisfied, I wanted more. The Dark Side took me over. I wanted power, influence. I left Coruscant and went out to find my destiny. And I did."
"And what was that?" Malsane replied, suddenly fascinated.
Severak smiled. "The force is old, older than the old republic, older even than those like Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh, much older. There are powers that most modern Jedi or Sith cannot comprehend. In my journey over the decades I found scrolls, writings on tombs, scribbling in caves. Knowledge that allowed me to stay young by using the bodies of others when even as a Jedi I would have aged and died. ButI made other more interesting discoveries."
"Such as?" the Aedile asked quietly.
"I will come to that, my son." Severak replied, "However my searchings were interupted. After many decades I learnt of the Clone wars, and that Palpatine had destroyed the Jedi, including as I thought my old Master, and had created his Empire." His eyes misted, going back across the decades, "Powerful though I am," he continued, "I knew Palpatine and his apprentice
were stronger, an admission that hurt me greatly. So to avoid them I went to the planet Kangaras, and settled in an abandoned keep, the previous owners being long gone. I sought out followers, those who had potential and trained them, and those who did not meet my standards I slew. But two I kept, a young Zhabrak, Tslotha Garnath and a human, my beloved Severina, who I renamed after myself."
Malisane looked at him. "Is this going somewhere?"
Severak nodded, "Finally, convinced that Palpatine was invincible I returned to the knowledge I had gathered and sought out a way to defeat him, and I finally found a ritual, lost for thousands of years but now in my hands."
"And that was."
"It is a simple ritual, but powerful. Used correctly it grants the recipient immense power in the force, more power than has been seen for all those thousands of years. With this power, I would overthrow Palpatine and his apprentice and rule the as Emperor."
Malisane shuddered, he sensed the truth in his fathers words. "How is this ritual performed.?"
"It is not difficult," Severak replied, "The right time of day, the right symbols etched on the floor, the right words spoken. But it requires something else, a sacrifice. A special sacrifice, the firstborn son of the one performing the ritual."
Severak watched the face of the Aedile turn to horror as he realised the ancient Siths words, and smiled evily, "That is why I had a son, so that through his death, your death, I would become more powerful than anyone could possibly imagine. But on the day of your birth, a medic stole you from me and left for Coruscant. My beloved Severina tracked her down, but could not find the child. And for thirty one years I have wondered, until now. The time has come for my ascention, and you will perform the role you were born for."
Malisane backed away from Severak, suddenly terrified. "No," he breathed, "you cannot, I will stop you."
Severak laughed. "I have waited too long my son, soon we will reach my new stronghold on Mustafar, and we will leave my Jagred slaves and send this ship plunging into it's star. And then at the right time, I will perform the sacrifice."
"No!" Malisane said leaping at his father, his fist driving forward in the classic strike of the Teras D'ni, determinded to smash Severak's smiling face off his shoulders. Severak raised his hand calmly, and the Aedile found himself immobile.
"You will sleep again my son," he replied, "I promise when the time comes you will be awake to enjoy the ritual."
Malisanes eyes closed as the Elders force overcome his own and sleep overtook him
Revenant sat in makeshift quarters aboard the Fallen Spear. he was eager to get back to the Star, where the surroundings were familiar. Anxious, he tried meditation. He sat on the floor, eyes closed, and let his consciousness expand. He felt the tension that surrounded everybody. Malisane's confusion, Muz's aggression, Sildrin's fear, and it fed him.
His mental self expanded, drinking in the psychic traces left behind by recent events. A spot of light filled his vision. It grew more and more intense until it erupted into flame. Here and there were many more, much smaller spots of light. He could see now that it was a planetary system. One planet in particular screamed out at him. He focussed on it, until he could almost imagine an orbital approach. Down through black clouds of ash he travelled, sulphuric fumes that would choke his body barely registering mentally. No doubt about it, this was Mustafar. Two black shapes appeared on the bank of a river of lava, one small and cowering, the other imposing and consuming. They no form, as such. They were nothing more than the idea of a presence. The larger shape was full of red. Anger. Passion. Pride. This was Severak. The other was grey, frantic, but at the same time unsure, as if this might all play out differently. What exactly this was, at least for the moment, remained unclear.
A few minutes later Revenant reappeared on the bridge of the Fallen Spear. "Muz," he said evenly, "they're headed for Mustafar..."
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi kept a watchful eye at his station ready for any sort of ambush. He had a bad feeling about what they were doing, and considering where they were going he felt he had that right. Mustafar was normally not a pleasant place even without factoring in the signifcance it held to the post-imperial Sith. He only hoped that Muz knew what he was doing, and that Sildrin assembled a top-notch team to aid them.
He felt the rage begin to burn inside him. With each moment he grew in anger. He didn't know why, but that mattered little to the Archpriest. Soon all hell would be unleashed, and so would he.
Ashia watched Shin'ichi out of the corner of her eye. The trepidation of the Archpriest dripped off him like water. It bothered the Zabrak when he was this tense, not much shook the Keibatsu. She licked her lips as a cold sweat broke out on her skin. She had never been to Mustafar but had heard horrid tales of the place. The lava rivers and volcanoes that covered the planet made it sound very uninviting to her.
The Herald paced the bridge anxiously; his boots resounding on the floor with each step. The hilts of his sabers floated around his nimble fingers as he lost himself in deep thought. She watched him for a moment in silence then turned back to the console before her. She trusted Muz and knew he would think things through before acting, he always did. He would never lead his family into a battle without a plan. Still, the restlessness of the younger Keibatsu put a knot in the Guardian's stomach. A bond had started to form between them and she could tell that what lay ahead would not be pleasant by any means.
Revenant broke the tension-filled silence on the bridge of the Spear.
"You know, it's going to take more than a handful of us to stop that entire damn cruiser full of Darth knows what." He grabbed his comlink and keyed it to Clan and House Summits, including those of Marka Ragnos.
"All forces, this is Commander Revenant. We have a very urgent situation, and all available forces are needed in the Mustafar system at once. Prepare for an assault on a Jagredite capital ship, as well as fighting a dangerous and desperate Darth Severak. I repeat: all forces to the Mustafar system at once. Revenant out."
He sighed. "We'll see how Jagred and Severak stand up against the entire Naga Sadow Navy and all of its best warriors and pilots, eh, gentlemen?"
"...all forces to the Mustafar system at once."
The Sith's voice echoed on the restored Quaestor's comlink as she sat on the bridge of the Keepsake. She turned to one of the deck officers and said, "Well, you heard the man, lightspeed to Mustafar right now!"
"Yes, ma'am!" He saluted, and ran to a computer to start making the calculations. The fist of Clan Naga Sadow was about to slam down onto Mustafar, and it was not going to be pretty.
The order had been given. Before long the entire CNS fleet would descend on Mustafar. Severak was powerful, but not limitlessly so. It wouldn't take the fleet much more than a couple of hours to get there. That would give Revenant and the others time to scout the area and formulate a plan.
Muz had already shown his mettle against Severak. Revenant had battled with Shin'Ichi, his old master, many times during his training and the Rollmaster was indeed a fearsome opponent. Keibatsu was indeed a name to be feared. Sin, Revenant's friend and squad-mate, had an uncanny eye for detail and for strategy. Acerbus's loyalty to his Clan was unquestionable. If his duty required personal sacrifice, he would not hesitate. Xayun, Revenant was discovering, was full of surprises. No doubt he would be useful. Macron, like the other two Keibatsus, was formidable. Revenant had served under him in Sapphire Squadron before assuming command, and had been Macron's Black Guard while he was Aedile of Kressh. He was a warrior indeed, but he was also very, very sneaky. Ashia was someone Revenant was not familiar with, but she had performed admirably thus far.
Before long, the Fallen Spear had reached Mustafar orbit. "Ashia," said Muz evenly, "scan the surface for anything unusual."
"Sure," she replied, "but with the thermals off the chart it'll be difficult to spot energy signatures."
"Pardon me," ventured Sin, his usual exaggerated eloquence still made Revenant chuckle. The Flight Leader continued. "If I remember my time in CORSEC correctly, doesn't that particular class of cruiser run on ion engines?"
"What are you getting at?" asked Shin'ichi.
"Well, couldn't we track the ion trails? Find out where they went? They couldn't have been much further ahead than us."
A few minutes later, they set down on the surface of Mustafar. As they made their way down the boarding ramp, the rivers of lava and the flame kissed sky cast their red/orange glow upon them, making them appear hell sent and primal. The ion trail they had tracked had led to a supposedly abandoned outpost that had once served as a communications array. This was one of the oldest facilities on the planet. Macron's keen geological eye had noticed that it lay on a fault line. This would be useful, perhaps. If Severak was here.
"Master, this is odd..." Ashia's melodic voice rang through the bridge of the Fallen Spear. "The Ion trails lead to their star."
"The star?" Revenant stuttered. The capital ship must have already been destroyed, it's usefulness resolved.
Muz stood abruptly. "Open Channel to Sadow Consul, Frequency Authcode delta niner."
The communications array blinked twice, and Korras' Face filled the screen. "Muz..."
"Korras, This was a fundamentally bad idea. Pull your Fleet back to Orian, as soon as possible..."
"We've already engaged our hyperdrives..."
Muz grimaced, his eyes narrowing into black pits. "And the Jagred Forces are probably already marshalling over Sepros." Muz paced, his mind feeling through the Force. "It was a trap, Korr. Severak's already scuttled his capship."
Korras cursed, a foul stream of language that made Revenant cringe. Pausing, the Consul took a deep breath. "You have this rogue master, then?"
Muz smiled. "It's what I was sent here to do. Herald Out."
Muz turned at the end of his pace, twilight eyes regarding the Sith commander. "We're going to have to teach you a little bit more about tactics and subterfuge, young Knight."
Revenant sputtered for a second, backing against a wall. Muz spun quickly, stepping toward the command couch. "Ashia, run a trace on Malisane's ID card... the nanites might register on our scans."
The throat of the apprentice collapsed, the necromantic energies flaring veridian in the dark chamber. The final breath of the young one escaped his lips, wafting up and roiling towards his murderer.
"Yes...it's working!" The ritualist's hood obscured them from view, their hand having drawn the rituals with great care. The essence of the slain, chained to the will of the ritual, strengthening the caster exponentially... the rites found in the tome aboard Severak's ship were a necessary thing, especially if they were to take on the rogue master again.
The mists swirled around the caster's hood, the hushed screams of the unleashed soul howling in the agony of realization.
The vapors flailed wild, the arcane bondage going astray as the grave threads shifted, the soul mist disbursing into the Force.
Curses ran through the mind, but secrecy stilled the tongue. The rite must need the sacrifice to be a descendant, after all.
Muz snarled as he peered out of the bay of the Fallen Spear, having found nowhere to land the large ship close enough to the sensor beacon.
"We're gonna have to jump down." Muz grumbled, looking to the assembled squad. "Ashia, stay with the ship, keep her out of harm's way. Shin, Rev, Acerbus and Sin, you're with me. The rest of you, stay here, and man turrets. If that murglutz manages to make it past us, blow him out of the sky."
Nods and fast footsteps filled the next few moments.
"Sildrin, We're pulling out of hyperdrive and heading back home. I just got a distress signal from Sepros, the Jagred are attacking en masse..." Korras snarled through the viewscreen.
Sildrin cursed her luck as her day seemed to grow into a trial of endurance. Sweeping red strands away from her face, she nodded at the pilots to acknowledge the Consul's Order. Flicking on the Public Adress speakers,she sat down, composing herself.
"This is a red alert. All pilots are to report to Hangars, everyone else to assume battle stations. Sepros is under attack."
The keepsake wheeled around, Dantooine a glistening gem on the black blanket of void in the distance. Reconfigured trajectories calculated, the ship burst away in defense of their homes.
Malisane found himself shaken awake roughly. "Wake up, it is time you are prepared."
He opened his eyes and saw he was in a large room with metal walls, surrounded by three hooded figures, and he was restrained to a metal bed.
"Where am I?" he demanded.
One of the figures looked down at him. "You are in the fortress of the True Brotherhood, on Mustafar." she said in a throaty female voice.
"True Brotherhood?" he repeated, "impossible, we destroyed all of them except Severak back on Kangaras."
She laughed, "Fool, you have no idea." She glanced at another figure, "Prepare the markings."
Another of the figures drew a charred stick and began to etch designs on Malisanes face, he tried to stop this but his head was held in place by a bolt around his neck.
"So who are you?" Malisane demanded.
The female drew back her hood to reveal an imperius woman in her fourties with dark hair. She looked down at him. "I have told you, we are the True Brotherhood."
"We destroyed Severaks Brotherhood on Kangaras." Malisane said again.
"You killed some of the True Brotherhood, but all cannot be destroyed."
"How?" Malisane demanded, "So Severak had more members of his Brotherhood?"
"Severak did not create the True Brotherhood," she replied, "but on Kangaras some of us decided to join him, just as once again some of us have here on Mustafar."
Malisane was puzzled, "So who did create the True Brotherhood?" Malisane replied.
She laughed. "No-one did." she replied, "or rather it is a creation of the Dark Brotherhood."
"I do not understand." he admitted.
"The True Brotherhood is not a set group of people like the Dark Brotherhood," she replied, "it does not have ranks, it does not have a structure or clans or a ruling Council. It is a concept, or a way of life."
"What do you mean?"
She looked down at him. "It might be easier if I told you what the Dark Brotherhood calls us," she replied, "you call us The Rogues."
Malisane looked up at her, his mind racing."You are former Dark Brotherhood members?"
She nodded. "Yes. We are those of you who did not fit in, those of you who grew bored of the structure and the beaurocracy, those who were overlooked for promotion and positions. We left the Brotherhood, not in a group but slipping away individually, finding places to hide and learn."
She scowled. "Many do not make it, the Grandmasters Royal Guard hunt many down and neutralise us, the Jedi kill many they find as well. And some rejoin their clans later. But for the rest of us we live out lives of solitude, but some band together, and like Kangaras some of us have chosen to follow Severak."
"Why?" Malisane asked, "why follow Severak?"
"Because he is a symbol," she replied, "a rallying point. We believe he willl lead us against the Dark Brotherhood, and the Jedi, and give us power. And with your sacrifice our moment is nearly at hand. Severak will gain the power to topple the Dark Council and the Clans, and we will be with him."
"So who are you?"
She shrugged. "I am, or was, Krath Archpriest Galina Megelos of Clan Tarentum. Now I am just Galina Megelos. As I said, the Dark Brotherhood cannot destroy the True Brotherhood because we are spread across the galaxy, and with every member who leaves your Brotherhood our numbers grow. Destroy us on Mustafar and others will form on Hoth, destroy us on Hoth and others will form on Coriella, or Caladan, or Naboo. How can you destroy that?"
Malisane knew she was right, and it worried him. "Anyway, she said, as one of the other figures finished his work. "It is nearly time, we will take you to Severak, and the ritual will begin."
The Assault Transporter floated in space, nearby Dantooine. The Keepsake slowly turned and jumped into hyperspace. The Quaestor's blind eyes stared out of the window as she laid a hand on the pilot's shoulder: "Bring us to Mustafa..." She knew how important the defence of Sepros was, but she trusted Korras and the remaining people to take care of that. What worried her more was the fact that Seerak had kidnapped Malisane. And even more, because she knew what he had in mind.
A sacrifice of blood - a sacrifice so vile and evil to gain power. She licked her dry lips, a ritual she had studied very well from a book that she had found after the first fight with Severak. She breathed in deeply, and for a moment she smelled the blood she had sacrificed herself a few weeks ago - a faint memory. She had found out about the flawed potency of powerless blood - the life of the journeyman had only brought a temporary surge. Further studies had told her that only the blood of a close relative would bring up the wished effects. The journeyman's body was easily disposed as to that time a murderer among them ran rampage. A murderer who had strangled several of the journeymen with a wire, leaving behind a ring of blood around their necks. One murder less or more didn't count very much and the truth was never found out.
And now Severak had Malisane - his son. He surely was about to perform that ritual very soon. The Blind Dragon turned to the small comm center onboard, sending a brief encrypted message to the Herald: "Muz! You have to hurry! Severak wants to sacrifice Malisane in a ritual to gain more power. I am on my way to you - having taken some people from the Keepsake with me. I do know about a few ways to disturb this ritual."
The Transporter jumped into hyperspace - soon to arrive on Mustafa.
Muz's sable eyes stared at the small screen on his wrist. Indeed worrying news, but the fact that Sildrin appeared to know this ritual nagged on his mind.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi stood in the common cabin of the Fallen Spear and checked his suit for the third time. Jumping onto the surface of a planet was hazardous enough without the added worry of faulty equipment...or the fact that the planet you were dropping onto was seventy percent liquid hot magma. The Archpriest had just completed his one hundredth combat drop not too long ago during the Gethsemene rebellion. With those thoughts fresh in his mind he stepped up to the hatch and readied himself for one hundred and one. He looked about the cabin bathed in crimson light and saw his brother Muz and clan mates Sin, Revenant and Acerbus. Then the red was gone replaced by the green light that signaled it was time to drop and the hatch opened into the boiling heat of Mustafar.
Riv walked up to Sildrin
"What is it?"
She looked at him with her blind eyes
"They have Malisane, Muz is going to check it out"
He nodded and added
"So...what exactly are we going to do once we get their" he tighted his grip on the Sith Sword that was on his hip
Ashia brought the ship in as close as she could. The lava bubbled and boiled just below them as it floated closer to land. Positioning the hatch just past the pools of magma to the little bit of ground there was, she steadied the ship as much as was possible; the firey winds threatening to blow it off course at any moment.
She watched Muz, Shin, Rev, Acerbus and Sin make the jump on the monitors. Once safely on land, she pulled the ship up and away from the heat and began system checks. As she punched the keys on the control panel, her wrist communicator went off, Muz was forwarding a message from Sildrin: "Muz! You have to hurry! Severak wants to sacrifice Malisane in a ritual to gain more power. I am on my way to you - having taken some people from the Keepsake with me. I do know about a few ways to disturb this ritual." With it he added his own message. "Ash-I wanted you to be aware so you'd be ready to help her if she needs it when she arrives. There's no telling what we'll face here."
Ashia rang Macron in the ships lab. "Mac! I need to see you on the bridge, immediately. I have a message from Muz you should hear." Moments later, the door swished open and Macron swept into the room. She played the message for him and waited in silence.
"Do you know what she meant by, 'a few ways to disturb this ritual'?" Ashia watched him carefully as the Sith rubbed his chin in contemplation.
"I'm not entirely sure, but I have some ideas. I'd better get back to the lab and get some things ready, just in case."
She nodded as he left to do his work. The vague answer haunting her as she went back to work herself. She tried hard not worry about the other's on the planet's surface.
The bubbling liquids with their shocking green and red colors seethed in front of the alchemist. A flick of a fingertip activated the high-energy electric discharge, sending millions of volts through the apparatus. Blue coronas of static began to discharge all about the maniac.
Macron feverishly worked on the solution. The Holocron of Antar 4 had mentioned the precise formula necessary for the job. Perusal of the disturbing artifact at the behest of Xanos had uncovered the relevant data. The Gatekeeper was Darth Malak. Macron had a long history with this spirit tormenting him, literally and figuratively.
His brew would have an interesting effect. One inoculated with it would be unable to transfer their essence. In fact, they would truly dead once killed. It would also disrupt the arcane energies needed for the ritual in particular. It acted as a serious dampener for Dark Side rituals. Undoubtedly, it was a product of some war between ancient Sith. Manji had taught him that it was much harder to perform a ritual than to stop one.
Mononoke sneered as his concoction came to fruition. He signaled Ashia. "I'll need your help- we have to go down there and deliver this stuff. Personally. I have a score to settle with Severak. Besides, there are the historical attractions, like Vader's flaming pit."
Shinichi Endymiron K
The sounds of boots hitting the ground could not be heard over the roar of the rivers of lava. Hot ash spewed into the air and made breathing a challenge for the Dark Jedi Strike team. Five warriors crept with stealth along the formations of cooled magma and made their way to the not so hidden stronghold of their enemies. The once abandoned processing facility was now being used as a makeshift base for Severak and his followers. Shin'ichi remembered the secret histories he had learned and could imagine the deaths of the separatist leaders at the hands of Darth Vader heralding the end of the Clone Wars. He felt the rage and pain and drew into himself. Looking at Muz he saw the Pontifex do the same.
As they made their way in silence Shin'ichi observed several armed troops patrolling the perimeter. As the team made their way under an overhang he halted them and brought them into a circle. "You've seen the armed troops no doubt." he started. One by one they nodded. "It would seem as if our friend isn't as confident in his powers as he would have us believe." Each of them concealed a little smirk as Muz took over and gave them the first plan of the day. Within minutes they had dispersed and moments later regrouped in the uniforms of the slain soldiers.
"These disguises and access cards will get us into the structure, but once we're in I suspect all hell will break loose." Muz spoke directly and without and florid speech. They all knew the s**t was going to hit the fan now.
Ashia blinked for a moment at the comment. Historical attractions? Ashia just shook her head...crazy Sith. She returned his message, "I'll be ready, but we had better wait for Sildrin." He replied with an affirmative and the Guardian went back to her work. Moments later the Assault Transporter hailed the Spear and Sildrin's voice came on over the radio.
"Ashia, we need to get to Severak as quickly as possible. We have to stop him!"
"Muz relayed your message to me. Macron and I are ready to assist you. We'll meet you on the planet's surface."
Ashia gave the ships controls over to VASIC and sent a private message to Muz: "Sildrin, Macron and I will be on the planet's surface in moments." Muz acknowledged her and she left the bridge to join Macron in the common cabin. The alchemist cackled gleefully as he checked over his gear, making sure he had everything he needed for this. He carefully placed a vial of bluish-green liquid in a secure case and placed it amoung his belongings. Giving Ashia the thumbs up that he was ready, she opened the hatch. He started for a moment as he looked out.
"Couldn't you get this thing any closer?" He stared nervously as they floated some 100 feet above the planets surface.
"This is as close as we can get. Any closer and the heat will damage the sensor arrays."
With that said, she pulled the Force around her and jumped. Macron sighed as he watched her float to the surface, then taking a deep breath, followed suit.
Sylvana opened her eyes slowly. She remembered this field, she'd been here most of the day in meditation.
This time was different though, a group of somethings were positioned on the edge of the field where she sat and moved as opne towards the Dark Hall. Getting up slowly, she pulled her saber from the loose belt around her waist, her skirt moving in the wind just slightly.
"What is this?" she wondered aloud to herself.
She watched them move a little more, then started towards the back of this group.
Stealth, soft footsteps... she noted to herself. She could be very silent when the need arose. She strode quickly towards this group, reaching the back as the walls of the Hall loomed ahead. She looked at the walls and saw people scurry across the ramparts towards the canons. She looked at this quizzically and looked back to the group that was in front of her. In her watching of the walls, she had erred and stepped on a fallen branch. The resounding CRACK from the branch brought their attention straight to her.
She watched as the small gaggle of seemingly poorly-armed men pulled their blasters and a few pulled blades, "Yeah. Okay, this might be interesting..."
They looked at her and laughed as they approached her, pointing to her saber,"Yes, I'm a dark jedi. Care to try your luck?"
They rushed her with their blades as the others fell back to lay suppressive fire as Sylvana's pale blue blade hissed into existence. Several of the closest men lost various limbs, and the blaster bolts were deflected back towards the host of gunmen.
About fifteen minutes later, after receiving a blaster bolt into her thigh, she finished the rest of them off.
"Korras! It's Sylvana. I just encountered a group of some humanoids heading towards the Dark Hall. They're dispatched and I'm mildly injured. I'll be back at the Dark Hall in a little while. Just letting you know, we aren't going to be alone for very much longer. Sylvana out."
Sildrin stood on the planet's surface waiting for them; her blind eyes staring out over the abyss. The blistering heat created an enraged wind that picked up her hair, making it dance around her. A knot had developed in her stomach. She knew what she needed to do to save Malisane, but would it work? Macron and Ashia approached, interrupting her silent reverie.
"Macron, do you have it?" She looked anxiously at Mononoke with a certain dread crossing her visage.
He nodded his acquiescence and grinned gleefully, looking around with a strange wonder in his eyes. Ashia had never seen him like this, acting more like a tourist then the Sith Alchemist she had come to know. The three made thier way across towards the stronghold cautiously. Ashia noticed the body of a gaurd laying around a corner, a thin line of crimson showing on his bare neck. She smiled to herself as she recongized Shin'ichi's handiwork. They had deffinately come this way.
They entered the building and made thier way silently through the corridors. The distant hum of voices reached thier ears as they rounded a corner. Acerbus and Sin were speaking in hushed tones. Ashia narrowed her eyes and strained to hear what they were saying. Sin she didn't know very well and Acerbus...well, his rantings about Sildrin's guilt had put a bad taste in her mouth. For the time being she didn't completely trust him.
“Status Report!” Acara barked across the bridge of the Sapphire Star.
“We are back online Flight Leader,” a nervous voice replied to Rayden.
“Good,” Acara had been annoyed since Muz Ashen had disabled the Sapphire star and left him trapped inside his room. By the time he had gotten out the others had already left. “Set your course for the Dark hall.”
“Not to ustafar sir?”
“No, its unlikely we will get there in time plus there are reports of the dark hall coming under attack. Set your course for the Dark hall and do not question your orders again or Gorg may find he has a delicacy of eyeballs.” Acara turned round and watched the officer hurrying to get the Sapphire Star moving.
Acara walked over to a console and activated a transmitter.
“Commander Revenant, this is Flight Leader Acara Rayden, the Sapphire Star is operating properly again. I have intercepted a few communications which indicate the Dark Hall may be under attack. As we will not be able to make it in time to help you I am going to investigate.”
Acara hit the send command and turned round to look out the forward bridge of the Sapphire Star. The stars became streaks as the Sapphire Star engaged it’s Hyperdrive
"... will not be able to make it in time to help you I am going to investigate." The star was on its way to the defense of Antei. Which meant the damage hadn't been permanent. That was good. Meantime, he had more pressing matters. "So, Master, what's the plan?" he asked Shin'Ichi. Heh he laughed silently to himself. He had been Knighted months ago. Old habits die hard.
"Well," the Rollmaster regarded his former apprentice, "we find Severak, knock the frell out him, save Malisane and get off this rock." He had a wicked grin on his face. Despite the dire circumstances, Shin'Ichi was still managing to enjoy himself.
Malisane was lead along the corridors of the ruined installation that served as the retreat of the True Brotherhood, lead by the former Archpriest and her two companions.
"We are here." Galisane said as the doors slid open to reveal a large former storeroom, now lit by flickering candles, now lit by a thousand flickering candles. About twenty dark robed figures formed a circle around an altar, by which Malisane recognised the figure of his father. The floor surrounding Severak had been covered in mysterious sigils and runes beyond the Aediles comprehension.
The Sith Lord turned as they entered. "My followers, the sacrifice has arrived, the moment of our triump is at hand. Bring him to me."
Galina shoved Malisane forward, towards the altar.
Malisane walked to his father and then stopped. "Severak," Malisane said refusing to acknowledge the relationship, "if I am to die here I wish to die as a Sith, give me a saber and I will fight you."
Severak laughed. "You would provide poor entertainment my son," he replied, "and that would not suit my purposes. The manner of your death has been decided."
Malisane nodded. "Very well."
Quickly, he spun, his fist moving forward in the classic devastating move of the Teras D'ni, and connected with the chin of Galina with a crack. The Krath fell back, blood spurting from her mouth and Malisane streched out his hand, the former Archpriests saber flying into it. He ignited the purple blade and sliced it around in a wide arch decapitating the nearest figure beside him, the headless corpse hitting the floor with a smack. The other figure who has accompanied Malisane from his cell drew his saber and raised it as Malisane attacked, his usual defensive style abandoned as he deflected a strike aimed at his chest and ripped the stolen saber into his enemies abdomen, sending the rogue twitching to the floor beside the first corpse.
Malisane spun around, glowing purple blade in hand as with a roar the assembled rogues surged forward, sabers igniting, lighting the room with multitude of colours. Malisane faced them grimmly. There were too many of them, far too many, and many were of a higher rank, but he would take a few of them with him before he died.
"Stop!" Severak shouted, "that is what he wants, he thinks to deny me of my sacrifice." With a flick of his hand he sent Malisane soaring from his feet to smash into the wall, crashing to the floor with the stolen saber spinning away.
He looked up groggily, as he fought to stand, then felt himselve rise helplessley under Severaks will and drift through the air towards the altar. He felt the cold rock under him as he was deposited on it and felt his arms pinned to the surface, followed by Severak snapping medal restrainers in place.
"Now there will be no more interuptions," Severak shouted, "we will begin the ritual." Galina got to her feet, retrieving her saber as she joined the circle of rogue dark jedi, all of them listening and concentrating as Severak began to chant the ritual. Malisane shut his eyes, he knew he was finished, and prepared for death. He looked into the eyes of his father. "You are dead Severak, when my Clan come they will kill you."
"And that is sooner than you think." Muz growled as the door fell open before him, the light from the hallway cascading across the ritual chamber.
Sabers erupted into their brilliance, Muz leveling his own at Severak with a feral grin. "Take the others, boys. This fool dies twice by my hand today."
Shin'Ichi laughed, his blade spinning around him as he threw himself at a hooded foe, his violet saber snaring against the Rogue Sith's blade.
Macron threw his hand, three tiny darts flashing in the light of his saber, the viscous fluid modules colliding with the Master's assumed flesh, tiny motors delivering the insidious drug into the blood stream.
"What is this..."
Macron smiled, his facial tatoos seeming to writhe across his face. "Force inhibitor fluid, distilled from the blood of ysilimari."
"Your ritual is ruined, Severak." Muz stepped forward, the inner shade erupting from within. "Let's dance."
"NOT ANTEI, you fools!" Korras screamed at the ship communicator. Somehow the communications got garbled, and his fleet was rallying toward antei when the threat loomed above Sepros. With his ships off on their own accord, the Sadow Palace was in jeopardy, and the Clan could fall.
"Return to Sepros, rally to Sadow. Antei can defend itself from whatever they are dealing with. The Jagred have begun their bombardment of our homeworld..." Korras anunciated the words clearly, making sure that the Sadowian ships understood this time.
"If you don't, there might not be a clan to come home to..."
Acara heard Korras' words and cursed under his breath. He relayed the new coordinates to the Star's controls and glared at the officer who had looked up with an inquistive eye. The officer immediately went back to what he was doing, knowing better then to test the Madalore's patience. The Sapphire Star turned back towards Sepros and moments latter encountered another Jagred crusier.
The Keepsake was desperately trying to defend Sepros. More TIE's exploded from the Keepsake's hagar bay and dove forth concentrating thier fire power on the weapons of the crusier.
A volly of explosions errupted around the Star as they quickly tried to maneuver themselves between the Jagred and the planet.
Ashia and Sildrin slipped in and around the group as the battle unfolded; slinking between the shadows to try and reach Malisane.
Severak was preoccupied with what the Hearld was dealing him. As were the other's by Shin'Ichi and the rest. Still a bit groggy from being slammed against the wall, Malisane struggled to regain his composure. Ashia rushed to release him from his restraints as Sildrin talked to him.
"Malisane! Can you hear me?"
He nodded his head as he slowly started to come around. Ashia got one arm free then went to work on the other one. He lifted that arm to rub at his eyes.
"I'll be ok, just got a bad headache is all." She got the other free and Sildrin helped him sit up. His eyes began to focus as he watched the Pontifex battle with Severak.
“Guess that f&*#ed up your plan, eh Severak? You should pay attention to modern science. That is the second time it has unmanned you. And now, I get to watch you die again by the hand of the Herald,” snarled Mononoke as he gutted one of the hapless acolytes.
Severak yelled, and raised one had to deliver bolts of blue Force lighting toward the hated alchemist as he fought Muz.
And out of his hand came… not much. Little blue fizzles that danced harmlessly like sprites off Macron’s electrically shielded armor. Severak’s internal Force usage was mostly unaffected, but his ability to alter the outside world was sorely inhibited. Macron guffawed hard while Muz tied up his saber and planted a firm knee strike into the Master’s gut. The formula from Malak’s holocron had been effective, indeed.
This fight was beginning to go badly for the false Sith and Darksiders in Severak’s entourage. Muz and the Master went back and forth, twin Sokan blades against the Juyo saber staff. Neither seemed to be noticing the battle around them, as they dipped into the flow of the Force. The drug was just enough to take the edge away from Severak’s power and make him even with the Pontifex.
Shin’Ichi had added to the bodies already stilled by Malisane with glee, and Macron was tied up with a powerful Darksider who seemed to be a Krath. The foe was a female with a backup custom blade, and she was slowly getting the better of the alchemist. Galina’s hatred boiled up in her face as she sent her saber crashing again and again against Macron’s orange blade. He gritted his Nashtah teeth implants so hard they began to grate with the sound of screeching metal as he drew upon his own hatred and loathing to counter her blows. "I'll see you in hell. Today, you fight a real Sith! " he screamed as he delivered a vicious Echani kick.
Malisane and Ashia had covered the escape route. The corridor was a bottleneck and they were slaying the escaping Darksiders with glee. The rage they both felt against these traitors was used to slay them. Sildrin was making her way toward the altar, and seemed to be desecrating it with a chant and incantation.
Acerbus and Sin, watching the battle at the room's front, stood in a state of awe. The crack of the false Krath's face responding to Macron's Echani kick instantly shook them from the daze.
"Sin, Ashia and Malisane might need help over there. Go, I'll be over in just a sec."
"Got it." He nodded and ran towards the escape route.
The young Sith whispered to himself, "Now it's my turn!"
Bursting into the room, he instantly slashed one young false Dark Jedi in half from behind. Shin, Macron, Muz, and Sildrin briefly glanced at the Mandalore before continuing their other battles. Macron's opponent leapt up, recovering quickly from her kick, and addressed Acerbus.
"So, the little whelp wants to get his hands dirty, hmm?"
As the battle raged around him, Acerbus paused momentarily. "Gar aruetyc dar'jetiise lise nau'ur ca ti jetii'kade, a'a'denla Siite hibira atiniir darasuum."
His statement had the previously known effect of making his opponents pause momentarily and look at him like he was off his rocker. Taking advantage of this, he leaned forward and began a sweeping Djem So attack.
The Blind Dragon's lithe body shivered as the woven threads of the force rushed surged up within her. Quiet words of an ancient incantation rolled from her soft lips and she tilted her head lightly backwards, stareing at the ceiling. The Krath within her pushed her further, a growing temptation to finish this ritual - the knowledge to do so was within her.
She pulled the threads of the force closer to herself, sigils began to appear on the ground, surrounded by an aggresive purple glow. The sigils rose from the ground hovering a few feet above it. ... now... do it.. a sacrifice of someone of your blood.... Sildrin gasped, her mind was racing: no.. no... I can't. And there is no one of my blood here.... - .. are you sure?...
A familiar piercing voice pushed through the haze of her mind: "Sildrin! What are you doing?!"
A low growl escaped her lips and reluctantly she withdrew from the ritual, letting the built energy dissipate. The glowing sigils bursted apart as they released the energy. She gritted her teeth, annoyed and angered about the loss of control. But the temptation had been so strong. With a fluid motion her blade was ignited, venting her anger and frustration on one of the members of the True Brotherhood. Her constant attacks began to overwhelm her enemy and with a quick parry and redirect of the enemie's weapon she disarmed him. The dark jedi looked at her, but then his head dropped to the ground soon followed by the rest of his body. Someone had been standing behind the now dead member of the True Brotherhood - Xayun.
Obviously he had decided to abandon the stupid turrets and went for more action. He grinned at her, holding a blood stained sword in his hand. Then she recognized the voice that had called out for her.. it had been Xayun's voice. The purple blade of her saber casted a strange hue into her blind eyes and the Blind Dragon muttered: "Let's go.. we have to erase this filthy nest of vermins...".
“Sir, arriving at Seperos.” The voice of the helmsman carried across the bridge.
Acara nodded towards the officer before activating shipwide communications. “All pilots to the remaining TIEs prepare for immediate launch.” Keying the console the communications were deactivated. “Helm drop us into realspace.”
“Sir.” An officer on Acara’s right was speaking. “We have detected a Jagredite Cruiser.”
Acara stood and turned round before replying. “Deflectors up, target that cruiser Maximum firepower, Launch all fighters.”
“Yes sir, Target locked”
“Acara let a hint o a smile flicked over his face, “Fire at will.”
The pain was grating and his patience was growing thin. Of all the pilots in all the galaxy he had to have chosen this one. He should have guessed it was a big mistake, this particular pilot a one Darius Venn was one of those with a very special sense of humour. As he had approached the shuttle for take off he had heard Venn mutter the immortal words 'should get us there' followed by a swift kick to one of the engines. Once airborne things didnt improve with Venn making comments such as 'dont worry if you hear any alarms' and 'what does this red flashing light mean?'.
Godo had hoped leaving hyperspace might have improved matters but he was to be sorely dissapointed. Within minutes of arriving in orbit of Seperos the shuttle had begun violently shaking. Letting out an audible hiss he began making his way to the cockpit, almost braining himself against the shuttle walls serveral times, making the pain in his head worse.
"Mister Venn, I had suspected your 'experience' was greatly exaggerated but it appears you have out done yourself. Now I have a roaring headache and it seems you are attempting to kill me with your piloting skills."
Another violant shake forced Godo to sit in the co-pilots seat.
"Not.....my...fault" Venn muttered through gritted teeth
Godo craned his head over the tactical display "We're under attack!?"
Venn only managed a grunt in responce. Rubbing his eyes in the vain hope it might actually improve matters, considered his situation. He'd been traveling for the past couple of months away from the intrigue of the Brotherhood, now he had returned. Delivered by the most insane 'pilot' in the galaxy and to a Clan that appeared to be in the middle of a war. His TIE Defender, a gift from Bloodfyre himself was in storage and..."Does this sorry excuse for a shuttle have weapons?"
"Umm....I think there's a pistol in the hanger at the.....opps...oh yeah, in the back"
And no weapons either, in short a sitting duck! Tapping the comm button "Naga Sadow command this is...this isn't working!? Venn? who the hell takes off without comms!?"
Straining with the controls Venn responded with an almost casual tone "Oh I err...meant to fix that"
"Plot a course for the nearest friendly cruiser, and make no mistake Mister Venn, if they open fire on us I shall make you suffer for however short our miserable lives will be!"
The pilot shifted uneasily in his seat.
Sylvana went into the Sadow Palace, stalking quietly though the dimly lit hallways. She made her way to the hangar where she kept her ship, Cat's Cradle.
She entered her ship, and began to work through the ignitions sequences. Her hands moved quickly, hitting everything that needed it as she managed to get her entire ship ready and off the ground.
"Palace, this is Priestess Katase. Sorry about the abrupt launch, I'll repair whatever I break on the way out."
She tore through the atmosphere and began scanning for friendly and hostile ships.
She began searching, locating a hostile cruiser and Acara's ship, "Acara, it's Sylvana. Let's have some fun."
Malisane watched the battle in front on him in a relaxed manner. He has survived once again, or so it seemed, saved from the jaws of death at the hands of his father by his fellow Clan members.
He and Ashia stood beside the door, watching as Shin'ichi, Macron and the rest slowly but surely mopped up the True Brotherhood members in the chamber. On the far side Muz fought saber against saber with Severak, for the moment perfectly matched with a glowing blade in each hand. Malisane couldn't decide who would triumph at the moment but it was fascinating.
Something knawed at his mind, and he looked at Ashia. "Wait here I have something to attend to." He turned and left the chamber, searching for the stairs. He spotted a young rogue, hiding in the shadows near the stairs, katana in hand. He bored down on the suprised member.
"Severak's chamber, where is it?"
The rogue looked at Malisane then snarled. "Why should I tell you?" he demanded and lunged forward, blade outstretched. Malisane angled his body to one side then smashed a fist into the mans head, catching him as he fell then smashing him up against the wall.
"Perhaps you didn't hear me?" the Aedile asked staring the man in the eye.
"Up the stairs, along the corridor and second door on the left."
Malisane nodded, then smashed the mans head against the wall, before dropping him twitching to the floor. He headed up the stairs.
Severak's door was locked, and Malisane placed his hand on it, letting his force senses enter it. Satisfied he stepped back, looked around, and seeing a heavy statue he lifted it with the force, before hurling it at the door. There was an explosion of force energy, ripping the door and part of the metal wall apart as Severak's trap went off. He stepped through the ruined doorway and looked around.
A few minutes searching turned up his familiar lightsaber hilt, which he grasped and stuffed under his robes in relief. It would have been a great loss. He was about to leave when something caught his eye. He grasped the datapad, and activated it. What he read stunned him.
All of his fathers research, the combined knowledge Severak had picked up during his years of searching before the Clone Wars. Malisane studied it. Here was the same fast track route to power that his father had taken, rituals and force secrets dating back thousands of years. With this Malisane's route to power could be quick and easy. He looked at it, considering what he wanted. Then memories came back to him, meeting Andredi on Koplar and remembering what she had said about ambition. Here was one of those tests that would either lead to success or failure.
His mind made up, he walked quickly to the window and looked out into the Mustafar night. He opened it and with a swing of his arm hurled the datapad out into the nearby lava stream, seeing it flash then sink into the red flow. Satisfied he turned and headed back downstairs.
"Acara, it's Sylvana. Let's have some fun." ... the priestress' voice crackled over the comm. Acara leaned forward: "Sylvana! Good to have you here. We have a shuttle incomming and from its signature its suppossed to have Battlemaster Godo onboard. At least I hope so. The shuttle is not responding on any attempts to contact it. Could you please check it out? Make sure he gets onboard safely. We need every help we can get!"
"Ok! I will intercept the shuttle!", Sylvana responded. Her ship was dodging several incoming ships and she cursed as she watched how those ships headed directly towards the shuttle Battlemaster Godo Nurok was suppossed to be on. "I guess I first have to kill some damn bastards!", she hissed and turned her ship, feeling the vibrations of the roaring engine beneath her. Then her eyes widened as she saw a T-Wing pulling up from the sun, diving down and shooting at some of the enemy ships. Immediately two of them exploded in a brilliant light.
"Wooohhooo!" - more voices crackled over the comm. "Hey.. this is Scithe, Manesh and Malik! Leave enough for us to kill! We also want some fun!"
The heavy warcoat trailed the motions of the Lion of Tarthos. Flickering lights of purple and blue danced across the floor as the sabers of the opponents locked. A feral growl escaped the Herald's lips: "Your life will be mine to take.. again!" Severak laughed hard, yet a tone of dispair intermingled with the laughter and the false master bursted into staccato-like movements, his blue saber attacking at a vital spot of the Herald. Muz's sable eyes widened lightly, having fallen for the hard to predict attack of a Vapaad duelist. If not for his famous reflexes this stroke definiately would have killed him. But now it only caused a long cut in his warcoat as he flipped backwards.
"Now you really got me damn f*cking mad!", he snarled - a sound that was accompanied by the hissing sound as he ignited his second blade. Severak immediately had snapped back into position awaiting the Herald's attack, unfortunately his double saber was left at the Star - now probably a trophy in the Herald's room. Purple and red blades whirled, attacking Severak with a blinding speed. The blades found their home several times in Severak's flesh, leaving a stench of burned skin in the air. The leader of the True Brotherhood cried out, stumbling to the ground.
"Get up, you [heavily censored]..!". Cold charcoal eyes locked hard onto his enemy, who lied on the runed covered ground. Blood trickled from the torn skin right onto the runes. Severak's eyes opened wide as they started to glow again. "No... NOOO!", he screamed out. "What the..?", Muz's eyes narrowed, wondering about the flare of energy that bursted from the runes. He had been sure that the ritual had been stopped. He lifted his gaze eyes a trembling Quaestor. White eyes stared beyond him, her right fist was clenched, white skin showing over the knuckles. He sensed the weavery of the force, the threads running between them and he saw the Dragon had woven herself into the net of the ritual - on purpose or accident he couldn't tell. But against all odds, there was no hint of Severak taking part in this ritual anymore - his spot was now taken by the Krath Archpriestress.
Her voice touched his mind, the touch of a snowflake on skin: "The ritual.. I thought I it had.. stopped! I can't cut the threads!" Glowing sigils casted a strange hue on her face. Her senses searched for the others, Shin'ichi, Malisane, Macron. She sensed the spirit of the ritual awaken - rising from the darkness. Soon it would pick someone to kill, ending its existence, ending its purpose, ending the ritual. "... we need your help..", her mental voice reached out ".. Malisane, Macron, Shin'ichi, Ashia, Acerbus, ..."
The battle stopped, combatants stopped as they turned to back away slowly from the Quaestor, as she staggered backwards, light racing around her skin. "Sildrin!" Muz shouted.
"Keep away," she gasped, "away. I can't control the, power." A member of the True Brotherhood leapt at her desperatley, saber swinging and in a second his body was ripped to peices, showering the floor with blood and innards.
"Back," a rumbling voice came from behind the Herald. Muz swung around to see Severak getting to hisr feet.
"What is this ritual?" Muz demanded, raising his saber, "tell me or I will kill you!"
Severak laughed. "Do so if you wish," the Sith Lord responded, "your death is iminent anyway."
"What do you mean?" the Herald asked.
"It has her, the Kazala has her."
"What," Sildrin gasped as the symbols started to flicker faster and faster, "what is the Kazala."
"It is a spirit," the Dark Lord replied, "the ritual summons a spirit into the body of the caster. The caster must then destroy the spirit quickly before it gains a hold and a battle commences for the control of the power. I spent decades buidling up the will to fight the spirit. Your Archpriest has neither the knowledge or the strength. Soon it will consume her, and slay each of us."
Sildrin fell to the floor, her body twitching and she screamed, her voice shaking the chamber.
Muz watched helplessly, Shin'ichi and Macron moving to stand alongside him. "What do you suggest?" Muz demanded of the Sith Lord.
"You must destroy the body before it takes hold." Severak responded simply.
"Never!" Muz replied.
"Then you will all die." Severak responded simply.
"We will all die." Shin'ichi corrected.
"I think not," Severak gloated, "it is time I departed. I sense your alchemists toxin disapate against my will. I bid you goodbye." He closed his eyes and for a second he glowed, then his body collapsed, now a spiritless husk.
"Where's he gone?" Macron demanded.
"Nevermind him!" Muz replied, "Sildrin!"
The Clan members concentrated on the Quaestor, faling to notice the rogues fleeing the room.
Sildrin continued to scream and writh on the floor, "Help me," she gasped weakly.
"We have to do something!" Ashia shouted.
"What?" Macron demanded.
"Concentrate." Muz ordered, "we must find a way to aid her."
Muz and Shin'Ichi concentrated together, weaving the Force through the struggling Quaestor as she fought for her life. Macron produced a datapad and punched at the keys for a moment as he mumbled to himself. He quickly delved into his bag, pulling out the various accoutements that he usually carried. He produced a couple of bottles and several small bags.
"Ashia! Here, hold this." He handed her a bottle and the datapad. He read through the information, and began to pour an omnifarious amount of things into a bottle. He checked the datapad a couple times more before he was done. The liquid inside quickly changed from blue to red and pulsed with an energy all it's own. Ashia's hand began to tingle with the power that seemed to eminated from the small container. The Sith alchemist's eyes danced with delectation as his contrivance came to fruition.
Sildrin let out a cry; wrestling with the Kazala as it tried desperately to take hold. Muz increased his hold on the demon, his sable eyes flashing to their natural purple for brief moments as he fought to keep her alive.
Macron wrapped the Force around him as he took the bottle from Ashia. "We need as much power as we can for this. The spirit she is fighting is old and powerful, it will take all of us." He bent down to Sildrin. "Ashia, see if you can't help her sit up."
Ashia, knelt behind her Quaestor...her friend and helped her to a sitting position. Sildrin's blind eyes were wide with fright. Macron looked at Shin and Muz as their power began to wane. Malisane staggered briefly under the strain but pressed on.
Slowly, Macron began to chant; arachic words rolling along his tongue as he wove threads of Force through the bottle. A moment later, Ashia felt the Force pulled from her and interwined with his. He pulled the energy from all he could without distrupting thier endeavors to keep the spirit from consuming Sildrin. The chant rang out as he slowly poured the concoction into Sildrin's mouth.
Her body convusled as the elixir roared through her body. The runes on the floor rose to life as if on fire, and as Macron's chanting continued, one by one they exploded with a tiny poof, disovling back into the ground. Sildrin opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out.
The Kazala tore through her body trying to get hold of it's new host. Her white eyes glowed momentarily as an evanescent wind erupted from her, the spirit soaring up and out of her in a blinding white light before quelling just as quickly as it came.
OCC: My bad... We were orbiting the wrong planet... Duh...
The "Bag-o-Bolts" was suddenly swarmed by a wave of somewhat equivalent craft. It was almost a spacefaring museum, if it wasn't for the fact, most of them were desperately firing at the incoming TIEs and other larger vessels under Naga Sadow banner. Inside, the ex-QUA triumvirate, cramped as they were on the minuscule cockpit, delighted the randomness of destruction.
"Hey Scithe... What's going on with those bogeys they don't shoot us out?" Manesh pointed a little aprehensive.
"Oh... I guess it's because I didn't have the time to replace the IFF card. Consider ourselves unnofficially members of the Rebellion..." A wicked smile showed on the Battlemaster's face as he smacked another unsuspecting Y-Wing.
"Hmm... Does that mean our fleet does not know us as friendly?" Malik concluded.
A quick volley of green laser passed inches from the cockpit as the fighter rolled away. "Well... Yep." Scithe had to agree. Then he opened the comm channels screaming. "Naga Sadow defense fleet, this is Battlemaster Scithe along with Warlords Malik and Manesh. We are onboard T-Wing Green 3. Do not open fire. I repeat, do not open fire."
Malik was turned to the back of the ship and seemed relieved. "Whew... The TIEs are losing pursuit. I thought we woul..." Then a red volley hit the left wing.
"Scithe, did you broadcast that transmition to the enemy?" Manesh stared the Battlemaster in outrage.
She sped towards the nameless shuttle, and stopped it as she began boarding procedures.
"This is the Cat's Cradle. Identify and prepare to be boarded," she said into the communication terminals.
With no response, she opted to treat any such passengers and crew as hostile unless seen otherwise. Supposedly, there was a Battlemaster onboard this small ship.
Docking with the shuttle, she opened the aft hatch of her ship which led into the mouth of the shuttle, "This is Priestess Katase of Naga Sadow. Identify."
A rather tall pale faced man stepped towards the hatch, "I am Battlemaster Godo Nurok. Thank you for saving me from the ineptitude of this pilot."
As though summoned by Godo's words, a stupid looking man stepped up from behind him, "Venn's my name, Priestess..."
She dismissed the pilot and beckoned the battlemaster onboard her ship, "Find your own way home, Venn. Get away from my ship, I really don't want you touching anything and it breaks."
Godo laughed as he headed towards the cockpit and Sylvana closed the rear hatch, leaving the shuttle to fend for itself.
"That wasn't very nice," Godo remarked as she reached the cockpit.
"I'm not paid to be nice. Now get to the turret, Sith. I spent too much time rescuing you from Venn."
She opened up the com to Acara's ship, "Acara, it's Sylvana. I have retrieved..."
"Retrieved?! Battlemaster's are not retrieved," Godo said indignantly.
"RETRIEVED Battlemaster Nurok and am enroute to assist you."
She turned and glared at the battlemaster, "My ship, my rules."
She closed the com after getting confirmation from Acara and opened it back up to Scithe's ship, "Scithe, you, Malik, and Manesh keep blowing things up. But, move to assist Acara when able."
She closed the com again and looked at Godo, "Turret, Sith. Go."
Godo glared at her and headed to the turret with a flip of his wrist, "Aye aye, Captain."
"I know you're dying to let off some anger, Nurok. Go blow some Jagredite ships into space dust."
Godo's eyes lit up as he smiled, "Now, Sylvana, you're speaking my language."
They laughed softly, as he headed for the turret and Sylvana shook her head, "Time to play."
Revenant awoke on a beach of ash. He remembred battling with some of the True Brotherhood members and then... Nothing. As he looked around to get his bearings he saw his lightsaber, slowly rolling towards the lava flow. He quickly retrieved it, his cape catching fire at the bottom. He discarded the heavy garment, grateful for the freedom of movement, and headed back to the others.
Sildrin looked rough. "You okay?" he asked.
"I'll live, but we need to get back to Sepros." She was right. Severak had escaped again and Sadow Palace may very well be under assault from the Jagredites at this very moment.
Before long they were all assembled on the bridge of the Fallen Spear, Muz in the command couch, Shin'Ichi and Macron tending to the recovering Quaestor. "Helmsman," barked the Herald, "plot a course for Sepros, point six. Go!" The stars outside the viewport lengthened, blurred and eventually gave way to the swirling ether of hyperspace as the Fallen Spear shot away, leaving a dwindling point of light at the jump spot.
Severak watched as the ship left. His new body was odd, an Acolyte from the rogues but he'd get used to it. He'd survived again. Revenge, he thought, would be sweet when it came.
He walked across the rocky terrain, heading for his ship, which was nearby, along with a few abandoned llamda shuttles. He entered the famiiiar hatch. His plans were in tatters, but they were recoverable now. The ritual was gone, along with his son, but he still had a future ahead of him, he would recover, build his strength, find more members of the True Brotherhood, and rebuild. He would have revenge on his son, revenge on the Pontiflex Keibatsu who had hurt him, revenge on the Archpriest Quaestor who had ruined his chance at greatness. He keyed the launch sequence and lifted his ship up off the rocky floor and into orbit.
Malisane watched from the shadows behind one of the shuttles, Severak had fallen for it, he thought, this time revenge would be his. He watched the ship disapear from view then headed for a shuttle. It would take longer to get back to Sepros in one but he had time.
Severak smiled as the ship entered hyperspace, the star lines blurring. He would make for Hoth, where rumours of True Brotherhood members had come. Suddenly, the console flashed and alarms went off. He looked down in confusion. A warning sign flashed on the console and a voice filled the ship. "Hyperdrive motivator failing."
Severak panicked, pressing buttons, without the motivator the ship couldn't navigate through hyperspace. He had to repair it. Suddenly a new light flashed, the incoming mesage display. He pressed a button and a hologram of his son appeared.
"Greetings father. I guess you're on the way here, and I don't have much time. This message should have been triggered by the hyperdrive motivator failing. I have made a few minor but permanant adjustments to it, you can try and fix it but you won't succeed." The figure of Malisane smiled. "I think this is the final revenge for all you tried to do to me, and the harm you have caused my Clan. I could find and kill you, your transmission to another body will weaken you, but I figure you can always come back like a bad penny, so I have arranged something more permanent. Welcome to eternity in hyperspace father, you will not find another body to steal there."
Severak raged as the figure flicked off, smashing his fist helplessley on the console. His son was right, he was trapped here, to drift forever after the food, drink and oyxgen supply eventually dwindled. "NOOOOOOO!" he shouted helplessly.
Malisane shuttle cleared the orbit and he entered hyperspace, bound for Sepros and home.
"You do know your supposed to hit the enemy, right?" Sylvana barked out, not even turning to look at Godo.
"My dear priestess give me a target to shoot at and I will be more than delighted to blow them to bits"
"Just get these damn fighters off me!" Sylvana responded with more than a hint of rage
Godo liked her, a lot.
A Twing flew across his sights, lining up the reticule he unleased a volly with blew the hapless enemy apart.
"Found the trigger then?" Both chuckled darkly
The scene in high orbit around Sepros echoed the great battles from the clone wars, cruisers of many shapes and descriptions were exchanging fire. Laser batteries were creating a colourful and deadly display illuminating wreckage of the unluckly and foolish. Explosions errupted all along one Frigate before violantly breaking in two. In another scene an enemy fighter, having lost its control systems ploughed into a Naga Sadow hanger bay causing horrendous damage.
As the mamoth vessels fought and bled, fly like swarms of fighters danced in and around each other. For the most part the forces of the True Brotherhood were employing older fighters. Headhunters, Twings and even Ywings were being launched at an almost dizzying pace. From hyperspace two squadrons of xwings emerged. Two peeled off the main group and began an intercept cause on the Cat's Cradle.
"Incoming" Sylvana called.
It was times like this that Godo really wished he had his fighter, he would make short work of these fools. "Still make the most of what we have" he muttered
Lining up his sights he opened up, they were well versed and avoided his fire. Both opened up, bringing red death upon the small ship. It rocked violantly causing alarms to sound and, though he couldnt tell for certain, colourful language to errupt from the priestess.
One of the Xwings came round for another pass, it began firing, Godo responded in kind. To his dissapointment it wasnt enough, only forcing it to break off from its attack.
"They have a missle lock!"
Cursing under his breath Godo took another shot, it dodged.
From seemingly nowhere a large, rather sorry excuse for a shuttle emerged, colliding with the remaining Xwing causing both to explode.
"What the hell was that!?"
"I think our Mister Venn proved he had some redeaming features afterall."
Sylvana looked out of the cockpit at Acara's ship, "Acara, we're here. Battlemaster Nurok and I are steadily blasting these sons of b*tches."
Before she could pull her hand off of the com, Godo screamed loudly, "Come on! Let's get some more!"
She laughed and closed the com after Acara made a bewildered sound that echoed through the Cat's Cradle. She rather liked this old Battlemaster. He was interesting to say the least.
She flew her ship as though nothing else mattered with reckless abandon, "Sylvana! You keep that up and we're better off ramming them!"
She looked over her shoulder, "You watch the turret. Should I choose to ram them..."
Godo ducked as the one of the foils from an X-wing rocketed across the front of the ship.
"I'll bloody well ram them. We don't have Venn to take anymore hits for us, so you better aim better and I won't have to hit them myself."
Godo looked rather suprised and went back to the turret as the ship rocked again.
"Thank the gods I put REALLY thick armor on this bad boy before I took it out again," she muttered softly.
She flew close to Acara's ship, letting them have a little fun picking off her tails she accidentally on purpose picked up. Moving further from the main fleet, she headed towards the small detachment of ships sitting on the edge of her radar, as though they were waiting for the right moment to strike.
"Godo, lock onto these ships coming up on us. Well, we're coming up on them, but who's counting."
Godo chuckled softly as he took aim, "Just say the word, and I'll open fire."
She neared the cluster of ships, noting a larger capital ship behind it, "Aw [Expletive Deleted]! Acara! It's Sylvana, there's a capital ship over here and I may need the assistance of a few fighters. Send some to chase me and they'll find 'em."
Acara's voice came over the com, "You and Nurok are both equally insane! Return to the main force..."
Acara's voice was cut short as bolts raked the sides of her ship, "Too late, Acara. They've seen us. Send assistance now, Hunter. That would be an order."
Acara's voice came back over the com and he sounded very unhappy, but complied.
"Godo! We've got little company and BIG company. Focus on the small fighters and I'll keep good enough distance from our larger company. All you can eat buffet, Godo. Have a blast."
The "Bag-o-Bolts" banked and rolled, evading another attack.
"Ouch, my rib." Malik screamed. "Get to your side of the ship, Manesh..."
"My side of the ship?" Manesh replied. "C'mon. There's barely no room for my feet on this bucket. I can't avoid it."
"Hey ladies..." It was Scithe's turn to intervene. "Could you stop bickering and push that missile away from us?"
The advantages of having two warlords in a starfighter... The missile came dangerously close before spiraling away and hitting another T-W full in the face.
The triumvirate advanced through the ranks of the Jagred and reached the other side of the conflict. There they could see a ship diverging from the main group and heading towards an jagredite capital ship.
"We're going to cover the Cat's Grace. You two kee pushing the bogeys." Scithe made a sharp turn, followed by another rib-stabing sound and a pained moan.
The Bag emerged from between the dust of two downed X-Wings right behind the Cat's Grace. It was quickly received by a shot right between the plates from the rear turret.
From the comm link, Sylvana could hear a cry, muffled by the sound of static and laser charges. "Ow... Stop that, dumb! It's me. Hold your fire..."
Looking back to Godo, she asked in a polite manner. "What are you doing there, Godo? That T-Wing is friendly."
The Spear had a solid 24-hour trip through hyperspace, even with the modified drive and expert pilot. Normally the trip would take 72 hours or more, but the Autocthonian technology was superb. Brotherhood space was in the “Unknown regions”, quite well outside of the galaxy at large. All aboard the vessel were eager to reach Sepros and join in the fray.
Reports drifted in, of this ship or that taking or giving damage. It was known a large variety of craft were involved in the battle, something that had not happened on Sepros since the Last Clan Feud. T-wings, Y-wings, even the vaunted X-wings were dog-fighting. Muz seemed to be keeping track of losses as he flew the ship via an old abacus-type device of Kyataran manufacture.
Several capital ships spat forth the swarms of snub fighters like angry wasps. Macron longed to be aboard the Silooth, launching rockets into their bellies. The alchemist wondered of the rest of the Clan would show up to help. Even the trio of Scithe, Malik, and the new Proconsul Manesh were crammed into an aging T-wing. He realized he had joined the club of ex-quaestors, making it a quadrumvirite.
Mononoke giggled as he watched the vid of Malisane leaving Severak’s ship. The Dark Eye surveillance droid had caught the Knight hell-bent on revenge. Given that he was carrying a hyper-spanner, it was likely that Severak was enjoying an unusual voyage by now. “Well done,” thought Macron. “Thoroughly Sithly and mean. You are your Father’s Son, that is for certain.”
Sildrin seemed to have recovered from the punishing ritual, and had retreated to her quarters to meditate. “Some Krath thing,” grunted Mononoke when asked by Revenant.
He shrugged by way of ignorance. He knew a few Sith meditations, but that was about it.
The alchemist busied himself trying to restock the mini-lab, as it was now fairly depleted of chemical stocks. Ashia was helping, and Mononoke acknowledged by showing her some basic alchemy techniques in gratitude. She seemed to have an aptitude for the Art, and her Master was Macron's friend and peer.
Only the sounds of Shin’ichi catching some shut-eye before the next fight punctuated the quiet room. The low throb of the hyperdrive engines could almost lull one into complacency.
The pulsating sound of the hyperdrive engines casted her further into the trance, but the strings of pain and guilt always pulled her back again. The Quaestor was sitting on the ground with her back against a wall, her legs outstretched. .. Severak wouldnt have escaped.. if not for my foolishness... She ran a trembling hand through her hair, at least she had been able to be alone for a while. Wounded mentally, she took a deep breath, trying to knit what had been torn apart - memories and thoughts.
A purple haze brushed up against her, she opened her blind eyes, staring at what was beyond the walls and doors. ..No need to, Shin. For now - the strength you had given me, is still supporting me... , she gently replied and the mental touch retreated. A faint smile appeared on her face. I owe Macron - yet again - ... curse that damn Sith Alchemist ..., she softly chuckled, not meaning it in an unfriendly way.
The Blind Dragon let her head tilt forward and frowned as memories passed by she didn't recognize. For a moment her inner eye closed, refusing to view the loose threads of memories that drifted within her mind. She knew too well how much she had messed up her mind, only wanting to survive - to find a way to go on. A sigh made her lithe body shudder and she began to lock away those unwanted memories. Her consciousness drifted deeper into the trance .. hopefully Sepros is holding up well enough without us..
Ashia punched at a datapad and looked over the various tubes and bottles Macron pointed out various things and took a moment or two to explain them to her. She felt honored; it wasn't like the Sith to be so forth coming. More and more she had started to feel like part of the family. Even Shin had taken her under his wing and helped her with her training. As she helped Mononoke catalog and restock, she reached out with the Force and sought out Sildrin. She was concerned, for her after her ordeal. She had retired to her quarters to rest and meditate.
'Not you too, Ash. I'm fine, I just need some time to myself, please.'
Ashia grimaced as Sildrin's thoughts came floating back to her. She hadn't wanted to pry, but Xia had been through a lot. She had felt the pain and fear flowing through the threads of the Force as Macron had worked to rid the Kazala from her. The spirit had been strong and her worry for her friend's well being was not unfounded.
She finished helping the alchemist with his labors and made her way to the dojo. Quieting her mind, she unsheathed her Tiger katana. She starting going through some of her training excercises. Her restless mind fought against the idea that Severak had gotten away and Sepros was under attack. Minutes later a presence filled her consciousness.
'You ok?' Muz swam through her mind with ease.
'Yes, Just...concerned. For Sildrin and for all of us.' She let her thoughts drifted back to him on the empty air as she looked up at the Keibatsu family crest hanging on the far wall of the dojo.
'We will prevail, fear not, for we are strong.' The words drifted back to her as he left her to her studies.
Sylvana looked at the radar screen and swore slightly, something needed to be done. The sole ship that had gotten to them already was in almost worse condition than the shuttle Godo came in on.
She opened the comm up, "This is the Cat's Cradle, requesting immediate assistance."
"Priestess Katase, this is Eldrad Sin. I've got a small squad of fighters and we are enroute to your position," Eldrad said cautiously. "Just try to stay alive long enough for us to have someoen to assist."
Sylvana grinned, as she cut the comm off, "Godo!"
"Yes, my dear?"
"Don't call me that...but, anyway. Keep the fighters off us, I'm going to make an all stop and hope this works," she said quickly.
"Sylvana, what are you going to do?"
"Just keep them from killing us."
She cut power to the engines of the Cat's Cradle, knelt down on the floor in the middle of the cockpit, and closed her eyes. She began meditating, sending confusion to the Jagredite host, and confidence to the Sadow soldiers fighting above Sepros.
Scithe looked around and began to locate obvious exploitation areas in the Jagredite fleet ahead of him.
"Malik, Manesh. Ahead of us. Focus on those ships."
Eldrad came up to the host, noticing the Cat's Cradle was not moving anymore, nor was it responding to any attempts at communication. While it's turret was still blazing away, the ship moved not at all.
"Attention. This is Eldrad Sin. Your orders are as follows, primary objective, defend Sepros against the bastards. Secondary objective is to keep the Cat's Cradle from exploding. I'll have your heads if you fail me."
Godo looked around and saw that the fighters advancing on them, bore the markings of the clan and zipped past the Cat's Cradle. He began to see the working of Battle Meditation at work and realized that Sylvana wouldn't be able to keep this up by herself.
He centered himself and closed his eyes as well. He let his body react as it should and his mind focused on assisting the priestess.
Let's do this Sylvana, Godo sent his thoughts to Sylvana.
Yes, Sylvana replied vacantly, Lets.
“This is getting a little stupid,” Acara spoke as he looked out the observation window at the front of the Bridge. “Helm take us closer to the first Jagredite cruiser, Bring us beside its port side.”
“Yes sir.” The helmsman entered some commands making the ship move towards the Jagredite cruiser.
Acara raised his voice as he spoke next. “I take it you are well aware of what I am doing.”
The reply came out of the Sapphire Star’s speakers, “Naturally though personally it seems risky.”
“Personally? You are an AI Just do your job! On my command open Fire on their port side, then Fire again on my command.”
The Sapphire Star was getting close to coming alongside the Jagredite cruiser when one of the officer’s approached Acara.
“Sir, some of the Clan seem to be having a little problem with the fighters from the other Jagredite cruiser.”
“Send all bar one wing of our TIEs to help. Have the other assault this Jagredite cruiser, the Bridge is the main Target. Before you say it I know they aren’t a match the point of this is keeping the attention off us till we are ready.”
“Yes sir” The officer walked away leaving Acara to think as he watched a squadron of TIEs beginning to harass the Jagredites.
“Sir coming alongside the Cruiser now.” The helmsman was concentrating but gave his report over easily.
Acara grinned as he spoke to the air, “Fire!”
The full Starboard side Complement of weapons on the Sapphire Star fired on the Jagredite cruiser, expertly targeted by the AI. Initially hitting just over the Cruiser’s shields and then penetrating them causing a nice pattern of flame as the port side of the Jagredite cruiser lost all its weapons.
Muz watched the galaxy spin past, the stars streaks of light outside the viewport. A few fingertaps brought up the starmap, his twilight eyes guaging distance and speed before opening up the ship's public address system.
"Battle stations, people. Five minutes to drop."
Malisane swore on the deck of the 'Spear, his eyes glaring at the fact that only his ship lay in the hollow belly of the autochthonian ship. Fighters would have certainly been of use to the Seprosian defense.
Boots clattered as sadow fists wrapped around turret controls, glowing reticles illuminating bright against the pitch of the void.
Ashia grumbled as she sat down at systems control, Shin'Ichi and Macron filtering in to take over the more aggressive systems. Sildrin wafted in behind them, still uneasy on her feet, but unwilling to remove herself from the battle.
Muz flicked over the comm array, his voice booming across the ship's bridge. "Sepros Command, this is the Fallen Spear. Arrival imminent, what is primary target?"
Korras's voice came garbled across the speakers, laughing to hide his stress. "The...lling cruiser is...ving us a bit of heat. Take tha...wn and then hit the troop carr...we shou....ndle the figh...."
Muz swore at the hyperspace blur before acknowledging the comm.
The Spear erupted from space, the sudden decceleration deceptive as the turrets opened fire, dozens of beams flashing out at the Jagredian host. The ship seemed to swim as it maneuvered to the Cruiser, the angry look of it's maw snarling at the Jagredian ship.
"Assault missiles, Shin." Muz smiled. This was going to be pretty. "Fire at will."
The missiles shredded the space between the craft, the lasers of combat reflected on the missile's sheathing. The gout of flame that erupted with the white devastation that blurred the lines between metal and void.
The Jagredian ship cracked, the fires burning out of control as the cruiser began to crumble to debris. Muz smiled as he swung the 'Spear around. It was an expensive payload to deliver, but he was sure that Korras appreciated the gesture.
"Now, there's a transport around here?"
The doors swung open behind them, and Malisane stepped through, his eyes widening to see the Cruiser in shambles.
"Herald, I'm going to take the idle staff back to the Keepsake and launch TIEs." Malisane spoke, his mind recalling the fifteen Kressh that stood watching the battle from the Launch Bay.
Muz nodded, and Sildrin spun to look at Malisane, her weariness instantly visible on her face. "Let's go."
They turned to exit, the herald interrupting their steps. "Malisane, I want you back aboard when this is clear. I have some matters to discuss with you."
Malisane shuddered, nearly imperceptibly, but all the same to their heightened senses. "Of course, Councilor."
Malisane sat in the cockpit of the fighter, Sildrin cramped behind him as they launched from the Spear. A few moments later, and Malisane would dispatch a transport to the Spear to pick up the others, as not all would fit aboard the cramped TIE, and they had no time to ferry them all with it.
"Korras, this is Sildrin and Malisane. We're docking with the Keepsake now..."
"Sir, we lost the Sovereign"
The commander merely nodded. He had watch the arrival of the Naga Sadow forces with a grim acceptance and his face remained an impassive mask even as his comrades pleaded for assistance aboard the doomed Jagredian vessel. He could see clearly now from the numerous tactical screens that this was a battle that was no longer winnable. Though, perhaps the war was.
He waved his senior staff over.
"Gentlemen, the enemy are overpowering our vessels and our squadrons are being decimated." he indicated with sweeping hand movements.
"However they have failed to secure the orbit around Sepros. Move all remaining vessels in support of ours, I want a 'shield' about us a free access to Sepros."
The officers nodded stiffly
"Once we are in orbit of the planet, unlesh our payload."
"That is an order, they may have defeated our forces but we shall leave a legacy like no other. Dismissed"
What ships and fighter squadrons remained began to form up around a single Jagredian ship, a Drednaught called "Deliverance".
Sylvana snapped out of battlemeditation, the battle had turned and the Jagredrian fleet was being decimated. But something was wrong.
"I sense a disturbance, they're up to something"
Godo also emerged from meditation, but the battle had taken its toll. Blood flowed freely from an open wound in the head, a result from a small explosion. He was feeling groggy and struggling to remain focused.
"They have lost, though I fear your ship might be beyond repair" he noted
Godo gazed out at the stars watching the scene occasionally altered by a ship being destroyed and streaks of green and red light. It was hell out there. Still something was odd, the enemy were moving, breaking contact with the Naga Sadow fleet. Retreating? No they were moving enmasse to Sepros but what could it accomplish?
"They're moving towards Sepros, but why?" Sylvana looked round at Godo as she spoke, a look of confusion on her face.
Shinichi Endymiron K
Shin'ichi shook his head as the Kresshians departed the Fallen Spear. He knew Malisane was in for some deep s**t when he returned. For now the Archpriest focused on the tactical display and the weapons systems at his command. "Musashi, we've got fighters inbound at zero-five-niner. Mixed Squadrons of T-Wings and X-Wings." He reported.
Muz turned the vessel to an intercept course and gave the order to amplify shields and fire at all targets of opportunity as they presented themselves. Within moments the fighters screamed around the Autocthonian vessel releasing laser fire and missile barrages. The ship tore through their formation releasing several of the pilots from the mortal coil that kept them in this world. Debris bounced off the Spear as turbolasers and rockets vaporized the enemy from every angle.
The ship rocked from the impacts and shockwaves of weapons explosions but maintained it's course slowing gracefully in the chaos of battle, the faces of her crew remained rock steady as they engaged in their deadly task. Both Macron and Shin'ichi were a blur as they controlled every offensive system the ship possessed. Mentally they were keeping score between themselves.
That makes seven for me Mac...what are you up to?...Five?
The Sith smiled wryly as he vanquished three more opponents.
I believe that's eight for me now brother.
The Archpriest grunted and blasted two more fighters into nothingness.
Suddenly they were clear as all that remained of the enemy fighters floated lazily past them. There was silence on the bridge for a moment before Muz spoke up. "Where's that Troop Carrier Ashia?" He asked, his voice cold and steady. The Guardian keyed several buttons on her console and looking up reported. "Enemy Troop Carrier at one-niner-five." Almost immediately Macron followed. "It's under heavy escort. I'm counting at least two-zero enemy fighters surrounding it. There could be more hidden in the jet wash."
Muz looked grim as he brought the Fallen Spear about and pressed forward. Shin'ichi grinned in macabre determination. "Time to show these Jagredites what fraking with the Keibatsu earns you." Macron nodded and spoke quietly. "Today is a good day to die." Silently Ashia felt the power of her comrades bolster her resolve, and she looked ahead at the possibility of fiery death that lay before them with a fearless resolve.
Malisane and Slidrin entered the bridge of the Keepsake and studied the screens. "Situation report." Sildrin ordered.
The Captain turned. "The final dreadnaught and it's escorts are making for the planet, our ships are moving to pursue."
"What are they doing?" Malisane demanded. Then he turned to look at Sildrin. "You don't think.."
"Yes. Didn't we do this once already?" Sildrin cursed, "pursue that ship and get us into firing range."
"Very well madam." the Captain replied.
They waited a few minutes. "We're not going to make it." Sildrin said quietly.
"We have to," Malisane replied. Then his eyes narrowed. "If our ships don't destroy it there's one last way."
Sildrin nodded. "Drastic but nessesary if all else fails."
The Aedile turned to the captain. "Begin evacuating all none essential personell. I want a bare skeleton crew."
"Very well Sir," the captain replied giving the orders to his officers over the communicator.
"Telll them to get a move on we don't have much time." Sildrin ordered.
Malisane looked at the captain. "Prepare for a miniture hyperspace jump, bringing us out between Sepros and that dreadnaught at a range of one hundred metres."
The captain stood up. "Can I remind you sir of the dangers involved in coming out of hyperspace that close to a planet, and of jumping close that close to another ship. We'd be liable to crash..." The officer stopped in realisation.
"Yes captain," Malisane replied, "if all else fails we'll take that dreadnaught and it's bioweapon load with us to burn up in space. I'd rather us than our Clan down on Sepros."
"Yes sir." the captain replied, his eyes gleaming suddenly.
Sildrin looked at him. "We will have to time this right if this is going to work."
Malisane looked at her. "I will, not you." he replied
Sildrin turned to him, "Now just a minute."
Malisane took a breath. "Quaestor Xia Long," he said with unusual formality. "I respectfully request that you leave this vessel with all due speed and leave me to my duty."
"You expect me to leave while you all die here?" she demanded staring at him, "I will not do that."
"Sildrin, no matter what happens Ludo Kressh will need its Quaestor more than anyone." He looked at her, "please."
She paused, her face showing she was drawn between two hard decisions. Then she nodded. "Very well. Good luck to all of you. I will go and join the battle." Malisane bowed to her and she left.
Malisane sat down next to the Captain and thumbed the communicator, broadcasting to all Naga Sadow ships. "This is the Aedile of House Ludo Kressh. All forces converge on the enemy dreadnaught heading for Sepros. Stop that vessel at all costs. The lives of everyone down on Sepros depends on this."
He switched it off. "Captain prepare the Keepsake for the hyperspace jump, and wait for my signal. We'll give our ships every chance until the last moment, if they fail we'll take care of it ourselves."
The alchemist nodded to Shin in acknowledgement of his superior gunnery skills. Macron was okay, but not nearly as seasoned as Shin'Ichi was.
Macron had an idea, and that was usually a bad thing. He turned to Shin’Ichi as they passed through a gap in the fighters. “Shin, you are EVA trained, right?”
The Archpriest snorted by way of reply and mumbled something about being so while Macron was in diapers, and Macron smiled. “Of course you are. Excellent. I have a plan. Get suited up man, and we can go have some fun on that ship.”
“Are you insane brother? They are gonna be toast in a few.”
“Yes, I am, and besides. The bioweapon will just aerosolize and drift down into the atmosphere. If we blow them, they win. I should know, as they stole my design. And, I know how to neutralize it once we get inside. “
“Frell, what did you have in mind then, you nut job?”
Mononoke smiled. “We get Muz to drop us out the back on a near-hull flyby. We move EVA to the hull, cut our way in, and have some fun with the Jagredite frackers. Sound fun? I can hardly wait to introduce myself to the captain.”
The Krath smiled, images of the carnage and destruction they would wreak in his head. “Sounds nuts to me man. But, you usually are. That suit of yours good for EVA?”
“Of course. Better than yours, I might add,” he replied softly.
“In your dreams alchemist,” chortled Shin as he prepped. This was bound to be interesting in the very least. And, he would get the chance to get personal with some Jagredites, something the soldier loved to do. Both of them might die, but they were hardened fighters and knew the risks. No risk was too much for the Clan. Both would gladly give their lives for honor. Any time.
Macron relayed his plan to the bridge, and had them key Malisane and Sildrin in via tight beam channel.
The Herald just shook his head as Macron relayed thier plan to the bridge. 'Crazy Sith, prolly all his idea.' He thought silently. Ashia kept her anixiety to herself, knowing all to well what they might encounter, once aboard the Jagerite crusier. She dilgently punched in controls on the console infront of her, pushing her fears aside, the Zabrak sat proudly in her chair and focused at the task at hand.
She noticed Muz watching her from the side; no doubt already picking up on the traces of apprehension that had leaked out, but said nothing.
"Ok, Ash...bring her in as close as you can to the other ship."
She punched the controls and nudged the 'Spear closer. Macron and Shin signaled when they were ready and she opened the hatch.
Muz and Ashia watched as escape pods started firing from the Keepsake. Muz signaled it. "Keepsake this is the Fallen Spear. Is there a problem? Do you need assistance?"
Malisane's voice floated back over the radio. "No, I have evacuated all none essential personel. If all else falls, then we will make the jump to hyperspace and position ourselves between the dreadnaught and the planet. We can not allow it to active the bioweapons."
"Macron and Shin'Ichi are boarding the dreadnaught. Macron says he can neutralize it. If that thing blows, they win."
"Understood, still, we will do what is necessary"
Muz was quiet for a moment, "Is Sildrin with you?"
"Negative, I had her leave the ship too."
"Ok, we'll do what we can to cover you and give Mac and Shin some time. Muz out."
He looked quietly at Ashia as silent thoughts passed between them. For the moment, they were both glad that Sanjuro was far away and safe. Neither of them knew if any of them would make it through this.
As the blue flash erupted into the system, Raven could not beleive teh radings on his monitors. Gone from field assignmetns, he had been in hyperspace scincce the day he got the alert that Naga Sadow was having trouble. The world spun in his mind. His eyes must be deicived, only the Fallen Spear, Lord Muz's starship stood between a collosal construct, a Jagredite cruiser, and Sepros.
How could this be the fate of this Clan?
"We cannot understand but we can follow
We cannot win but can try
To die is our ultimate end, but that end is what matters"
The word of his mother rang in Raven's mind. He punched the comm, "Fallen Spear, this is the Fearless, where do you need me?"
The small transport floated in the complete silence of space escorted by two ships. Sildrin sat in the co-pilot's chair. Her blind eyes stared at the scene in front of her; two dead orbs that took no notice of their surroundings. Her force senses picked up the Jagredite ship that was heading towards Sepros. She murmered: "We can't allow them to succeed.", she knew the timeframe to act was pretty small. If there was just a way to slow them down.
Her eyes widened lightly, and she laid a hand on the pilot's shoulder: "Stop. Hold the position, Captain!". "Aye!". The transport came to an hold. The Quaestor quietly murmered: "Size does not matter... it doesn't..." as she reached out with the force reaching for the "Deliverance" that headed toward Sepros. Metal groaned beneath the mental grip of the Archpriestress, straining to escape. She felt the ship buckle, trusses bending and she immediately released her grip. She shook her head, wiping a sweat bead from her forehead. .. this might cause to break the ship into several pieces...there must be a different way...
Time swiftly passed, running through her fingers like grains of sand. ... size doesn't matter...size doesn't matter .... thus ... mass doesn't matter... The Blind Dragon lightly smiled and took a deep breath. The space bent beneath her will as she added another centre of gravity besides the planet Sepros. The growing mass started to affect the "Deliverance" with its clasps of gravity, slowing it down. The transporter shuddered as it also was affected, being close to the event horizon created by the folds of the gravity well. The Captain's fingers danced across the controlls of the transporter, trying to keep the transporter stable.
A low growl escaped her lips as she continued to bend the space, pushing the pocket of the gravity field into place with only the "Deliverance" in it's centre. .. this should keep the gravity field from harming or affecting any other ships..., she thought. Her breath condensed in front of her mouth, the temperature dropped as she absorbed any kind of energy of her surroundings to aid her. She strained hard to keep up the control for as long as possible, hoping it will be long enough. The Captain of the transporter stared at her, not sure whether to be scared or concerned. His eyes stared at her face, seeing it's right side getting covered by a faint net of dark veins from beneath the pale skin.
“Alright, dude this is the sh@t!” hooted Macron across the private com channel linking him and Shin’Ichi. The vast blackness of space surrounded them both, punctuated only by the points of light that were burning suns in the distance. Sepros could be seen to their right, looming ahead of the Jagredite vessel.
Shin’Ichi gestured to him to be quiet, and they grabbed a hold of a sensor array sticking out on the old Jagredite vessel and clipped in. The ship seemed to be slowing a bit, which was good. Both warriors activated their mag-boots, sticking tight to the hull. They clomped along it for a bit, avoiding a view port that seemed to be empty. Macron took a second to spray paint “Jagredites suck” on the hull with black paint, drawing a grin from Shin’Ichi.
Macron gestured to a spot on the hull and tapped a silent code. “According to my information, the bridge should be close to this spot. There’s no mag-shielding here, so we should be able to cut right through.” Both gave a thumbs up, and activated their sabers. The hot orange and purple blades of their custom sabers cut through the hull slowly, opening a space in the service tunnel.
Both Dark Siders dropped in feet first, and Shin’Ichi sprayed a bit of synth-plast around the edges of the cut metal circle while Macron held it in place. There was no need to worry about hot edges- the coldness of space had chilled the metal instantly. They were inside.
It was time for the surprise party to begin. Both had brought plenty of party favors. Shin’Ichi had his usual accoutrements, and a full belt of thermal detonators. Macron had brought an array of gasses and other alchemical treats. It was time to show these dogs the folly of screwing with Clan Naga Sadow.
Ashia returned Raven's hail. "Stay with the TIE's and do what you can to take out that crusier. We have a couple tricks up our sleeve yet for that dreadnaught!" She turned the com off and looked at Muz.
"You think Mac and Shin made it aboard?"
Muz nodded. "Yeah, they're working their way towards the bridge now."
An invisible hand reached out to Ashia only breifly and she froze in place.
"What was that?" Muz had felt it too. The Guardian scrambled to pull up the monitors. A gravity field appeared out of nowhere, the Deliverance in the middle of it.
"What the frell?" The both watched as the field grew larger, then noticed a small transport on the outer rim.
"Sildrin" was all Muz said as they watched in disbelief. "Hail that transport."
Ashia complied instantly. "Transport unit 9-11, this is the Fallen Spear. Is everything alright?"
The captain of the the transport was unsure how to respond. The Archpriestess' face contorted with the exeration of maintaining the gravity field. Her unseeing eyes more vacant then ususal as the dark veins pulsed and throbbed under her ashen skin.
"The Quaestor is...well, she's under a lot of strain. I'm havi..dif...cul...s
main..ning ...ntrol .f ...tran..port." His connection started to break up as the transport got swallowed up by the gravity field.
Muz jumped to his feet. "Radio the 'Star and let Malisane know what's going on. He's probably already picked up on it by now. I'm to my quarters to help her, have VASIC take over navigation."
Ashia nodded as he swept out of the room, his long warcoat trailing behind him. She sighed heavily as she watched the cruiser become completly engulfed by the gravity field.
The captain's quarters of the Fallen Spear were luxurious, to say the least. One side was all windows looking out into the depths of space. The other side held the bed and a large circular couch with Muz's desk nearby. In the middle was the mediation circle.
Muz sat down in the middle and quickly immersed himself in the Force as he went into a deep trance like state. He sought out the Quaestor as she struggled to keep her hold on the gravity field and slowly proceeded in taking hold of some of it himself.
Soon he felt her start to relax from the constriction it had placed on her.
'Thank you, Hearld. I wasn't sure I could keep it up much longer.'
Sylvana looked at the interfaces inside the ships computer, "Frack! This isn't good. Godo, get to the cargo hold. I've got a plan. If we can't get this done this way, we'll find another way. It's still got a faint impulse speed, but I've got another plan."
Godo left the bridge and Sylvana moved her hands quickly, sending her ship drifting in a direction, arming the EMP she had aboard that would detonate at the instant the ship was destroyed, "Come get some, boys."
She set the ship drifting towards the cruiser, hoping they'd take the bait and stalked towards the cargo bay where Godo stood waiting, "What in the hell is this? This is our escape plan? I doubt it's still spaceworthy!"
"Get in, sit down, and shut up. Let me drive."
Sylvana and Godo entered the shuttle and she opened the cargo hold and started the engines, letting the shuttle drift from the ship as though it was just junk.
As the shuttle got further away from the ship, Sylvana saw Jagredite fighters swarm the ship and began pelting it with volleys of shots. As it neared the cruiser, a pale blue force emanated from the Cat's Cradle mere seconds before the ship exploded.
The low-grade com on the shuttle gave forth gasps as people thought she and Godo had been trapped in the ship when it exploded. She piloted the ship towards the cruiser, "Hold on, Godo. I get one shot at this."
She aimed the shuttle at the cruiser's hangar, "You're insane, Sylvana! You can't make that!"
She gritted her teeth, "Watch me. With that EMP, most if not all electronic systems are offline for at least the time being. Thus meaning, what Godo?"
"The shields to the hangar are off....Go, priestess. Fly like the wind."
She made a head on line for the hangar bay, knowing she had enough time before the systems went back online to get inside of that damned cruiser.
"Hold on, Godo..." she said softly as she glided into the hangar, throwing the afterthrusters on as soon as she cleared and skidded across the hangar.
The Commander reached into his pocket and produced a simple golden locket attached to a silver chain. He held it very gentley, releasing the clasp he stared at smiling faces from another time, another age. One was of a happy man and his wife, whilst on the other side sat a small boy holding with a large degree of triumph a fish.
"I have nothing left to live for, save the enemy that robbed you from me" he said outloud
The commander closed the locket and deposited it back into his pocket, ignoring the officer he glared at the monitors. His remaining forces were being decimated but it would make little difference they were too far ahead to be caught now. Suddenly he felt a slight shudder, then a more violant one.
"Why are we slowing? Report!"
"What!?" the commander barked impatiently
"We are caught in some sort of gravity well. I...I don't understand"
Looking at the displays he could see no sort of Interdictor or other ship he didn't recognise. Foul sorcery was his only thought, he had seen some amazing things before.
"Are we close enough to deploy the weapons?"
He stared at the map, they were close enough that should they be destroyed it would be enough to cause damage but it wasnt certain and their enemies were approaching rapidly.
"Arm the self destruct, drop shields but make it look like an accident..."
"Sir I must..."
"Activate the weapons, I want them armed and access locked out."
The crew started working feverishly to completely the Commanders order.
"Issue orders to the crew, instruct them to arm themselves. I want the bridge and engine room protected. If necessary I want suicide runs. Do it!"
"The crew have been notified, but I don't see..." *clomp clomp clomp*
The Commander raised a hand for complete silence.
"What the hell is that? It almost as if...my god, Security! Lock out the bridge, NOW!"
The young Knight twirled and spiraled circles around the massive cruiser, hitting random guns and sensors with green potshots from his twin cannons.
This is getting boring. He thought to himself.
Moving on a vector towards the Spear, Acerbus turned and looked at the cruiser over his shoulder, when something very out-of-the-ordinary caught his eye.
What the frell?! The hangar has no shields! Anyone could just...oh, boy.
Again, he spun, downwards towards the hangar. It looked somewhat dark - maybe the electrical systems were malfunctioning. A twinge in the Force told the Sith to take caution as he dove for the bay. Slamming on the retro-thrusters, the Interceptor squealed and skidded to a halt as he opened the hatch and leapt out (OOC: ROTS style, for those of you taking notes), robe flowing over his pilot's suit, his saber cutting through the air like a golden knife through warm butter.
The lone squadron of Jagred security guards immediately opened fire on him. His rudimentary Djem So training let him instantly kill three, batting back their shots. The Mandalore leapt and disembowled another two, then rolled and stabbed two more. Two off to the side had their heads knocked together. Deflecting away the shots of the remaining four, he dashed to close the distance, and leap-slashed, performing a bit of a mass-lobotomy.
Deactivating his saber, he grinned. Fracking morons.
The Sadowite realized he might need backup. He grabbed and spoke into his comlink, "This is Knight Acerbus. I have just landed in the hangar bay of the Deliverance, and am en route to the bridge to take control of the ship. Requesting backup."
A hand grabbed him on the shoulder, spinning him around. He grabbed his saber, but quickly put it away, realizing who it was - his old friend, Sylvana Katase. However, Acerbus did not recognize the other Dark Jedi.
"Looks like my backup's already here. Don't scare me like that, though. Who's this, Sylvana?"
"Battlemaster Godo Nurok. He's in our House, for Darth's sake."
"Sorry. Good to meet you, Godo. Let's head out."
A sliding service door popped open in the bridge, revealing a billowing cloud of gray smoke. Two small round shiny balls flew out from the smoke, lights blinking on them as they hit the floor with a clang. The assembled bridge crew turned in surprise at Shin’Ichi’s party balls. The ship Commander screamed “Thermal detonators! Take cov….”
The plasma explosions tore bodies apart, scattering the limbs and organs like chaff in a slaughterhouse. The crew not wearing full armor was deafened and stunned by the twin explosions. Bridge security guards reacted by spraying the cloud of smoke in the doorway with blaster fire, but Shin’Ichi and Macron had already moved.
Several small, insect like creatures flew forth from the mass of smoke and dust, streaking for the bodies of the crew. The little horrors were cyborg insects, and each one carried multiple doses of a nasty paralytic venom. It was a synthetic version of the venom used by Killik warriors, but much more toxic and potent. Miniature hypodermic injectors delivered the doses. The tiny insects were difficult to hit due to their size, and they began to sting and bite the flesh of the crew.
The Commander slapped the security alert button as he heard an ominous sound from the nearby ductway. The cover popped off, flung like a piston by the Force. Twin sounds of igniting lightsabers could be heard, and orange and purple glows came from the hatchway. Macron and Shin’Ichi had reached the bridge.
"Acerbus, You are to rally the Sadow forces aboard that ship and aid Macron and Shin'Ichi." Muz' voice carried gravelly over the airwaves. "If you fail to locate them in time, the explosion will kill you all."
Muz clicked off the comm array quickly, dropping his mind into a battle-state. These children, always acting without understanding of what was going on around them... It was a miracle that they have survived as long as they had already.
Muz threw off his warcoat, crouching at the edge of the circular carpet, his black eyes narrowing as he wrapped his mind around the ship.
"That's right, Jagredian...you aren't going anywhere..."
The Deliverance sat, trapped in the middle of the gravitational field supported by Sildrin and Muz. A private message came through to Ashia from Shin stating they had made it to the bridge. She breathed a sigh of relief and radioed Sildrin's transport to let the captain know. Weaving her thoughts through the Force, she let Muz know as well. His thoughts floated back to her as if on air.
'Acerbus is on board the Deliverance too. He's got Sylvana and Godo with him. They're going to try to get to Mac and Shin, if not, they know it's going to be blown.'
Ashia gulped, they were not suppose to be on that ship. How the frell? She shook her head and keyed in Shin's comlink.
"Shin, Acerbus, Sylvana and Godo are onboard. They're trying to get to you. Ash out."
Shin'Ichi looked up at Macron as the message came across.
"What the frell are they doing onboard?" Macron hated it when his plans got screwed with. Shin'Ichi just shook his head in disblief.
"I don't know, but they'd better find us soon."
Macron nodded and went back to work locating the bioweapon. Shin worked at disabling the ship.
Shinichi Endymiron K
"of all the stupid idiotic imbecilic things these retarded CHILDREN could do!" Shin'ichi continued to curse as he routed and rerouted systems to disable the ship. "if they're not here by the time we're done they're humped. I won't risk our lives and the mission to save fools who can't be bothered to follow orders or even pay attention in a battle."
Macron nodded in agreement as he scanned the ship. A moment later he let out a triumphant whoop as he located the bioweapon. "I found it Shin, it's in what should be the MedLab. Seems they gutted the facility to accommodate the weapon." The Archpriest looked at his brother and smiled. "Go get'er done Mac, I'll keep working on these systems. If you find the insolent babies on your way order them here immediately." Macron nodded in agreement and bolted from the bridge. Several minutes later Shin'ichi had deactivated the self-destruct and was finally able to access the ships propulsion and navigation systems. His jaw dropped when he saw the last command. The ship was never intended to deliver the weapon, the whole ship had become the weapon, and a suicide crew piloted it. The worst part was...they were all infected with the disease.
Getting on the personal comm. Shin’ichi contacted Macron. “Mac…you’re not going to like this. Please tell me you haven’t removed any of your gear.” The Sith responded. “I was about to why? What’s up?” The Archpriest expelled some air and continued. “Everyone on this vessel is infected Mac. No one was expected to return from this mission. If we had disabled the ship and taken prisoners, we’d be infected. If we destroyed the ship and anything made it to the surface, we’d be infected. Hell little ones are probably already infected and don’t even know it.”
Macron slammed a fist into the nearest wall leaving a good-sized dent. “I’ll neutralize the weapon. Then we’re out. I haven’t seen the others. Contact Muz and let him know. We have to get a tractor beam on this thing and send it far away.” Shin’ichi acknowledged and moments later relayed the news to the Fallen Spear.
Ashia cursed into the comm. and then caught herself, apologizing to Shin’ichi. “Don’t sweat it Ash, Mac and I just said the same damn thing. Let Muz know and see if you can’t get us some assistance in pointing this thing towards a sun or clan Tarentum or something.” The Guardian smiled at that last statement and replied. “Copy that Shin. I’m alerting Sepros now as to the danger this vessel possesses. Will contact you when news arrives. Fallen Spear out.”
Ashia looked up at the Herald. "Muz, Malisane wishes to speak to you."
"Very well." Muz replied.
The image of the Aedile appeared on the screen."Yes Malisane?"
"Herald, I have been moniitoring transmissions. The Keepsake is inbound to your location to offer assistance, ETA two minutes."
"Very well await my instructions." Muz replied.
Malisane paused. "As a precaution I have ordered an unmanned medical transport from the planet surface to rendevue with you as well."
Muz stared at him. "You fear our clanmates may be contaminated." It wasn't a question.
Malisane nodded. "I think it highly unlikely," he replied cautiously, "but it seems a sensible precaution. Revenant assures me that the medical facilities on the Sapphire Star are second to none. We could evacuate the station as a temporary quarantine zone until we are sure they are not infected.."
Muz nodded. "I will speak to my brothers and decide the nessesity of that action. Wait for my orders."
Malisane nodded. "Very well Herald, as you wish."
The Sapphire Star was able to get a tractor beam on the Deliverance and keep it from getting closer to Sepros. Muz had joined Ashia back on the bridge of the Fallen Spear and Sildrin arrived not soon after.
"Get Shin'Ichi and Macron on their comlinks." Muz's sable eyes stared out at the chaos that ensued just beyond. A slight shudder past through him at the thought that they might loose a great deal of people in this, including his own family members.
Ashia had gotten a hold of both of the Keibatsu's, "Malisane is concerned about contamination." He paused and Macron spoke up.
"Shin and I have not removed any of our gear. The chances of us being contaminated are slim to none. I will be able to disable this weapon, but we need some where to send it."
Ashia spoke up, "I have that problem solved. The tractor beam of the Sapphire Star can tow the ship as long as it has been disabled. The only question now, is where do you wanna send it?" She grinned at this.
"I like the idea of sending it to clan Taldryan. A little present from the Keibatsu" Shin responded and Macron concured.
"Any sign of the kids?" Muz was still throughly agitated.
"Negative. We've seen nor heard nothing."
Muz sighed heavily. "Ok, you two, get everything done as quickly as possible. We'll send a transport to get you. Try to find those kids! We'll let Sepros, Malisane and Revenant know what's going on. Muz out."
Ashia turned off the comlink and looked at him. Her silent eyes said it all. He put his hand on her shoulder and nodded grimly to her; they weren't out of this yet.
"She's resting, the gravity field took a lot out of her."
Ash nodded, then procceded to make contact with the planet and the Keepsake.
A loud metal scraping noise could be heard from inside the Sapphire Star's hangar. The floor was showered by distorted pieces of hull from the crashing fighter, sparks sending shadows and smoke everywhere.
The damaged T-Wing came to a halt, its right wing smashed against the floor. Silence was then broken again as the cockpit hatch opened, sending the windshield away, hitting with a loud pang one nearby cargo droid and spilling a good amount of concussion missiles shells.
From the smoke and shadows emerged two figures, black flight suits sillouetted by the eventual spark. One of the figures turned his attention back to the ship as if looking for something.
"Hey Malik. Wake up, dude..."
From the depths of the cockpit, someone managed to reply. "Huh? What's it?"
"We already landed. You can break the grip on that wing now." Battlemaster Scithe remarked as if it wans't obvious enough.
"Oh, true. Be right there." Then another loud pang echoed through the hangar as the left wing came loose from its hinges and bounced on the floor heavily.
The other figure in flight suit advanced in slow steps. "Could you two stop talking nonsense and help me find the bridge? Where the fr... Whoa..." Another metal gritting sound erupted and the smoke quickly gave way in a sudden move as Warlord Manesh was midair, a concussion missile cylinder from under him rolling back to the pile.
All the other two Siths could do was interject. "Ooops!"
"My head." Cain shoook his head as he got off the bed on which he was laying on.
"Where the frag am I?"
Looking around he frowned ~"a cell"~ he thought. ~"but where?"~
Closing his eyes he felt for life forms. Opening his eyes suddenly a single thought filled his head. "Severak... But how?"
Feeling again he gasped.
"Raziel?" collasping on the bed he sighed. He knew where he was "the soulless" his brothers flag ship "What am I going to do now?"
Pressing his fingers to his temples a sudden thought came to mind. Sildrin.
Gathering all of what he knew about where he was he sent the images through thier bond. "now?" He whispered. "To wait."
((OOC:a bit short but i will have more later on. ))
Revenant had been sitting in his makeshift quarters on the Fallen Spear for too long now. He'd been feeling like a fifth wheel and decided to do something.
The Sith Commander made his way to the bridge. "Muz," he spoke, "give me a secure channel to the bridge of the Sapphire Star." The Herald nodded to the comms officer who carried out the order. A cone of blue light appeared, swirling incoherently, before the image coalesced into that of Acara Rayden. "Acara, this is Revenant. I need you to organise an evacuation of the Star." Acara simply frowned at his Commander.
"That's not possible, Revenant."
Of course. All the transports had been sucked out of the hangar and into space when Severak was aboard. "All right, clear all areas en route to the medical center, reroute the ventilation systems to circumvent the evacuated areas, the ship's AI can supply an internal loop." Acara's face suddenly lit up as he understood.
"Quarrantine?" He asked. Revenant explained that Acerbus, Sylvana and Godo may be contaminated.
There wasn't a whole lot Revenant could do from here. "Acara, are there any functioning interceptors still aboard?"
"Yes," replied the Flight Leader, "yours and two others."
"Can you rig the Star's AI to interface with the TIE's computer and send it over to the Spear?"
The Jedi hunter turned away, to converse with the Star's computer. They really had to give it a name. A few moments later he turned back to the comm. "Your interceptor's on its way."
Ten minutes later, Revenant was back in business, spiralling through the remains of the Jagredite fighters, picking them off wherever he got a chance. Now he just had to hope that his Master, Shin'Ichi, and his former Commander Macron, could get Acerbus and the others off the Jagredite death trap before the Star's tractor beam sent them far off into space on a plague ship.
Ashia sat at the control station of the 'Fallen Spear'. She punched in keys and examined readouts diligently, tyring to keep her mind focused. A familiar hand was laid on her shoulder and she looked up into Muz's sable eyes. Most people feared what lay beyond that dark abyss, she, however, always found herself drowning in it instead. She let out a heavy sigh.
"Any word yet, if they've been found?"
She shook her head, "They still haven't located them. Shin has the ship disabled and Macron is almost finished disabling the bioweapon. Apparently, they made a few, 'modifications.' Mac said he'll be bringing back a really neat present that we'll be able to use in the future."
Muz's facade flashed a brief moment of mirth before falling back to it's usual malaise. He really didn't want to see anyone from the Clan die for all this. The Jagerites had it coming, they should have known better then to attack. He patted her on the shoulder as he nodded to her, letting her go back to keeping a watchful eye on everything.
Sildrin sat in her room in deep meditation. The Force flowed all around her as she sought out the missing ones, trying desparately to make contact with them. She didn't want to see anyone die this way, especially those under her own watch.
'Where are you?' Her thoughts drifted in and out of the dreadnaught searching in vain.
“By Darth,” mumbled Mononoke as he closed the casing of the foul weapon. The agent had been sampled, and the alchemist had a viable culture. An injection of the right phenolic compound had disrupted the nerve-destroying prion culture. His analysis indicated it was not the agent he had designed. It was something far more fearsome, and virile. It was the weapon of a true nihilist.
Of course, the ship was a living weapon of sorts as well. The remaining option was to tow the rotten plague ship directly into the system’s star. It was amazing how good plasma and hard radiation were at sterilizing things. He walked in search of the others, musing about crushing pressure and ion streams.
“Mac, you there?,” asked a tinny voice in his ear as the helm comlink came on.
“I copy Shin. Nothing here, but my way to the hangar is blocked.” He looked at the fused doors. It would take some time to cut through.
“That’s alright. I am moving to intercept them right now, and I’m about there.”
“Affirmative. I have the data on the weapon. It appears the crew is not infected with the weaponized strain, but some lesser permutation. I’m moving to your signal.” replied Macron.
Commander Revenant's TIE screamed through the empty space between the drifting Jagredite cruiser and the battlefield, slicing through the air like a grey knife through black, spotted butter.
He keyed his comlink to Acerbus, whom he knew stood with Sylvana and Godo. "Acerbus, this is Rev. Do you copy?"
No answer came from the black comlink in his hands.
"Flight Member Acerbus, do you read me?! This is Commander Revenant!"
Still no answer. The hangar door sat closed - some things were possible through the Force, but not a feat like that, especially from a Knight. The charcoal monolith of a ship stood, opposing him.
He rekeyed the comlink for Macron and Shin'ichi, aboard the ship. "Gentlemen, this is Revenant. I just tried to contact Acerbus and received no response. I am orbiting the ship in a Sapphire TIE. The Fallen Spear and Sapphire Star are on standby. What is our next move?"
A garbled message reached through to Shin'Ichi's comlink. All he got was that it was Revenant in a TIE and something about standbye. He grumbled about the com's in some of the TIE's then radioed the 'Spear.
"Ashia, I just got a message from Revenant but I couldn't make it out. Please see if you can get a better signal. Shin out."
"Copy that Shin." She punched in the key code for Revenant's fighter. "Revenant, this the 'Fallen Spear' to you copy?"
A moment of silence ensued before his voice crackled to life.
"I'm here, Ash."
"Shin said he got a message from you but couldn't make it out. What's your status?"
"I can't reach Acerbus, what's our next move?"
"Shin is about to intercept them and Macron has the bioweapon disabled. He says the crew is infected with a less violitale strain then what is in the weapon. They should be on board the Sapphire Star shortly. Remain on standbye until we know more. Ashia out."
She sat back in her chair; her azure eyes staring out over the battle field. A few skirmishes errupted here and there, but for the most part, things were dying down. All that remained was to get the rest of their people to safety and get rid of that ship.
Revenant's brow furrowed as he felt a tickle at the back of his mind. The fabric of space blurred and three Skipray blastboats dropped out of hyperspace, heading straight for him.
The Sith Commander shoved his control stick forward and to the left, throwing his TIE interceptor into a corkscrew dive as the Skiprays pased by overhead. He pulled out of his maneuvre, facing and in pursuit of the newcomers. The Mandalore stroked his fire control, lances of green energy searing through the vacuum, and the right hand Skipray exploded in a rapidly expanding cloud of superheated cloud and gas as its engine ruptured. The interceptor's twin ion engines screamed as the Knight gunned the throttle and continued pursuit of the other two blastboats.
Muz frowned on the bridge of the Fallen Spear as three more signals appeared on the tactical display. The Pontifex keyed the comm and addressed the Sadowite forces. "Heads up, people, reinforcements inbound." Something told him there's be more of them. The Krath's eyes narrowed to inky black slits as he switched the comm to Shin'Ichi's private channel. "Brother, you need to hurry, the Jagredites are sending reinforcements."
"...sending reinforcements." Shin'Ichi cursed. The battle outside was all but won, and there was little a few extra Jagredite ships could do. But that victory would count for nothing if this plague-ridden ship was allowed to plow into the surface of Sepros.
“Shiznat, you idiots,” murmured Macron as he cut through the durasteel. He was grateful that his blade was exceptionally hot, sharp, and well-charged. It was a matter of time, and he had already doused his sealed armor with decontaminant chemicals. This punk-arse ploy would not stop him. Said bulkhead was due to be sabered.
“Macron, what’s your status?” came an urgent comlink message from Sin’Ichi.
“I’m cool as a Corellian cucumber,” he replied as he shifted the debris around himself.
“I read. Situation resolved. I have the younglings (insert slapping noise) and we are debarking on a shuttle. I caught them in the hangar byway.”
“Yeah. What’s your status on weight?” replied the alchemist. He smiled, knowing Shin had his own way of making things happen.
“Not enough for you, fat-arse,” laughed the Archpriest. “We are leaving via transport.”
“Right. So what if my armor weighs a ton,” retorted Macron. “Blow me.”
“It’s not the weight, it’s the size, you Sith-spawned arse. You are contaminated. You cannot take it off, and knowing you it is a full seal.”
“It is.” The Sith thought for some moments. “ I see.”
Macron considered his chances. A full EVA evacuation through the hull would secure his breach and maybe sterilize him as well. He hoped he lived, and the Clan would not destroy him. He knew drifting through space would be deadly, but it may forge his power in the crucible of strife.
“I copy. I am set for personal EVA in ten microts.” Mononoke ignited his orange blade, and began to carve into the hull nearest him. The blast of evacuating pressure knocked him out as he floated in the void. “For Darth’s sake, catch me fast,” he thought as the blackness caught him.
Macron began the hibernating trance as he reached out. “Help me, my Brethren!”
As Ashia sat gazing into the fray, she noticed a bright light erupt from the hull and something float away from the dreadnaught. She punched in a few commands to the 'Spears computer and was able to recognize it as a life form. Seconds later, the radio crackled to life.
"Ashia" Shin'Ichi's voice came to life. "I have the younglings, we're headed to the Sapphire Star via transport. Macron is...well, he's had to breached the hull and is currently floating in space. Get a transport to him right away!"
"Copy that, Shin, Ashia out."
She radioed the Sapphire Star. "This is the 'Fallen Spear' we need a transport unit enroute to pick up Macron. He has just breached the hull of the dreadnaught and is floating in space. Do you copy?"
She waited a moment before the captain of the 'Star responded. "Copy that, 'Spear. However we don't have any available transport units."
The young Krath grumbled under her breath as she keyed into the life form floating alongside the Jagerite ship. She couldn't wait and take the chance of loosing Macron. She looked at Muz in silence. He nodded his head and she jumped to her feet. Locking on to the life form floating along side the enemy crusier, she punched the co-ordinates into the ship's navigational computer and moved the massive Autocthonian ship to intercept.
Then gathering the Force to her she reached out with it, seeking out the Sith's mind.
'Ashia! I'm here...barely.' He breathed a small sigh of relief as he struggled to hold on to the connection through the Force.
We're on our way. The hanger bay doors will be opened. Then we'll re-presserize the bay manually.
Ash...I'm contaminated. We need to contain this...you know what to do.
Then the connection to him was lost. Looking over at Muz she said, "I will have to be down there when he boards the 'Spear."
"Be careful. I don't want to loose you...again." There was a stillness in his voice that she recognized. Rarely did he show any kind of emotion outside of aggression. She nodded to him.
"I have to help him or we'll loose him. I will be careful."
She left the bridge and made her way towards the alchemist's lab. Gathering a few items together she ran for the hanger bay and suited up herself to protect herself from contamination from the bio-weapon. They weren't prepared for quarantine on the 'Spear so she would have to improvise.
Evacuating all staff from the area she radioed the Herald in the bridge that she was ready. The doors to the hangar bay were opened and Macron entered and they slowly closed behind him. Once the room was re-presserized, Ashia entered and moved to his side. His breathing was raspy but he was still conscious. Ice had started to form on his suit and his mask was frost covered. She took this as a good sign. If the temperature was low enough, it may have killed off the virus, but it could be determental to him as well. She pulled a small device from her bag and scanned him with it. Low level toxins showed up, but nothing serious. She sighed with relief, Pulling his mask off, she gave him a breathing apperatus. He coughed a few times as the warm air was suddenly expelled into his lungs.
"That stings." He said between breaths.
"Keep that on for a few minutes." She rummaged around in her bag and produced a vial and handed it to him. He drank it down and winced at the taste it left in his mouth.
"Remind me to improve the flavor of this."
She removed her own mask and smiled at him. Then she radioed the bridge.
"Situation is under control. The coldness of space killed whatever had been on his suit and he'll live to tell tales of crazy Sith who float around in space. We need to get the antitoxin to the Sapphire Star immediately though, to Shin, the kids and anyone else that may have come in contact with it. Then we can get rid of that dreadnaught."
Malisane sat on board the Keepsake, sipping a cup of coffee. “Ashia are we ready yet?”
Ashia’s face appeared on the hologram. “Yes the Fallen Spear is in position.”
Malisane nodded. He glanced at the captain. “Engage tractor beams.”
He watched the display, as on either side of the Jagred ship the Keepsake and the Fallen spear began to drag the cruiser towards the nearby sun, supported by a flotilla of tugs from the Sapphire Star. Malisane clicked the communicator on broadcasting to all in range. “Keep speed constant,” he ordered, “if one of us goes out of line we’re going to alter the angle and miss the target.”
“It’s a Sun,” Revenant, co-ordinating the flotilla of tugs, came back, “it’s not exactly easy to miss.”
“At this sort of range one hundredth of a degree will miss by a large margin,” Shin’ichis voice argued from the Fallen Spear.
“Indeed,” Malisane replied, “so keep it tight.”
They waited a few minutes longer, keeping the perfect formation around the cruiser. Malisane watched the Sun slowly growing larger on his screens. They had to time this perfectly, even at this stage any slight miscalculation would ruin the plan. “Everyone release on my signal,” he ordered, watching the display, “now!”
As the Keepsake released its tractor beam, Malisane watched the Fallen Spear and the tug ships moving off as well. Now they had to wait. In the vacuum of space the cruiser had the momentum to continue on its course towards the sun, before the gravity field caught it and dragged it in. With agonising slowness the assembled Dark Jedi watched the cruiser as it drifted towards the sun, before the radiation blocked the signal. However with the force they all felt its fiery death inside the star.
“It’s over.” Malisane announced unnecessarily.
“Malisane this is Ashia,” the Krath’s voice came over, “the treatment has been a complete success, we’re heading back to Sepros.”
A few hours later Malisane sat in the bar on the Sapphire Star, along with Xayun and Macron, sipping a beer.
“So what happens now?” Xayun asked.
Malisane shrugged. “Sildrin has gone to report to the Clan Summit. I imagine Muz is doing the same to the Dark Council, and I filed a report to Siyavash a short while ago.”
“Saying what?” Macron asked.
“Based on what I was told on Mustafar about other gathering of rogue members, I’m recommending the Society of Envoys conduct an investigation into possible gathering sites. I think this is a future threat we need to take seriously.”
“Those gathering sites could be anywhere,” the Clan Envoy pointed out.
“Indeed,” Malisane started, “we already conduct operations outside Brotherhood space, so it will be a case of keeping our eyes open while we’re out there. They’re unlikely to be anywhere the Jedi is likely to stumble on them, or ourselves, that gives us a start.”
Macron sipped his drink thoughtfully. “What about Severak?” he asked, “you convinced he is gone?”
The Aedile shrugged. “He’s on a ship in hyperspace without a motivator,” he replied, “theoretically he has no way of escaping, and his supplies won’t last forever.”
“I’m not sure about theoretically,” Xayun replied, “he’s a Sith elder. Anything is possible with someone like that.”
“I don’t think we’ll see him again,” Malisane said confidently, “in the immensely unlikely attempt he does escape he won’t be foolish enough to try anything after what Muz did to him.”
Macron nodded, “Let’s hope not. If he didn’t have a grudge against you before he does now.”
Malisane shrugged, “I’m not concerned. Hopefully as well the reports of other True Brotherhood members will turn out to be nonsense and we can put this behind us.”
Xayun smiled. “I’ll drink to that.
The robed figure stood watching out of the large window of the Victory Star Destroyers bridge. From behind another approached. “One of our number has returned from Mustafar Great One. He reports that Severak’s faction were destroyed by Clan Naga Sadow. He said he barely managed to escape himself from their wrath.”
“What has become of the fool Severak?” the robed figure asked, still staring out into space.
“He left on his ship and was observed entering hyperspace,” the other figure replied, “he has not been seen since.”
“He is irrelevant now. If he is found he must be eliminated. He has become a liability by his failure and his obsession. He will no longer be a feature in our vision for the future.”
“As you command great one.”
TO BE CONTINUED!