Orian Invasion Run On
This is where the Invasion of Orian run on will go, set to debut on Oct. 5. Please do not post until it opens.
Day five into the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of Antei...
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Anaxela sat at the head of the conference table, addressing the four Sith gathered around it. Agrist, the cold former mercenary leader with the scarred face and the eye patch, Garlina Megelos, the imperious dark haired woman who was one of the few survivors of Mustafar and a former Tarentum Archpriest, the zabrak Imgaril Garnath, the sadistic son of Severak's second apprentice and Mrussk, the powerfully built Trandoshan that towered over the rest of them, a brutal fearless warrior.
These four were the most powerful Sith remaining in the Brotherhood, the first to join or be recruited by Severina and Tslotha in the early days. Anaxela hated all of them, just as they resented her leadership of them and the alliance she had formed with Severak after the fall of Kangaras. They feared her though, except for the Trandoshan who had a grudging respect for the powerful force user. Stood behind her Mithlas, the quiet deadly Nogri Sith, watched them silently.
"We are ready," Anaxela announced, "the small Vong force has left the system, presumably to head for the planet Antei. Orian lies ripe for our taking."
Imgaril's eyes glittered, "Excellent."
"A new home and the riches of the Dlarit Corporation, and slaves for our cause," Agrist added eagerly.
Mrussk's only response was an eager laugh, but Garlina's face showed concern. "We are sure this is safe?" she asked, "we have remained hidden for so long, we risk all if Clan Naga Sadow return, backed up by their allies."
"They will not return," a cold voice said from the corner of the room.
They looked up in surprise at the robed figure that was materialising and taking form. The cold features of Severina surveyed them. None of them had seen her enter, but they were used to it by now. "I have seen all," she continued, "Clan Naga Sadow, and the rest of the Clans are being driven into the Shroud around the planet Antei by the Yuuzhan Vong. They are trapped, and they are out numbered. Within a few days the Dark Brotherhood will be finished, for good."
Anaxela nodded. "Indeed. If a few somehow survive and return here they will join us, or die. With the Dark Brotherhood gone we are now the most powerful force of Sith in the galaxy."
"And what of the Yuuzhan Vong?" Garlina asked, "what happens when they come searching this system?"
"Why should they return?" Agrist asked, "they came here, they found little of interest for them and they left. There are a thousand small mining systems like this one, and the other Clan worlds hold greater interest, as does Antei."
Anaxela smiled. "I couldn't have put it better myself. Now if there is nothing else you have your orders, follow them."
The four of them got to their feet and left the room. Anaxela glanced at the robed figure. "I despise them," she replied, "Their petty ambitions and their personal agendas. This is the best I have to work with."
"They are talented Anaxela," Severina, "and they have their uses. Not one of them I would trust to lead, but with my help they will serve you adequately."
Anaxela nodded, "Yes, or they will die."
Enroute to Marakith Skyhook
City of Seng Karash
Aeotheran, Orian System
Imgaril stood over the pilots shoulder as the shuttle descended towards the city of Seng Karash, its lights flickering in the night. A rich place, with its business's and its carbon production, the hub of the mining operations spread across the planet. Unlike Agrist he cared little for profit by itself, but with funds they could buy ships and armies to conquer. "We are nearly there."
Garlina nodded. "We are," she agreed, "and our force is prepared. I just hope those codes still work."
Imgaril smiled. "They will do," he replied, "they are hard wired into the system, and unchangeable. Severina has assured us of their legitimacy."
"Odd that they would put in such a gap in the defence, it does not make sense," she said thoughtfully.
"It makes perfect sense if you think the right way," he replied with a smile, "whoever put them in did so on the off chance he might want to do what we are attempting. I do not imagine many know about them."
"I suppose so," the former Krath replied.
The shuttle adjusted its trajectory, and the Marakith Skyhook filled the view screen, an immense disc floating over the city, with its concealed turbolasers and ion cannons, and if the rumour were correct launchers packed with baradium missiles, a great fortress in the sky.
"We are being hailed," the pilot announced.
"Give no response," the zabrak replied, "input the codes."
"Affirmative," the pilot replied.
"Disable the weaponry and drop the shields," Imgaril ordered, "and open us a docking bay. Knock out the auto defences as well we don't want to get our heads blown off as soon as we leave the shuttle."
"I do not like this method," the former Archpriest said quietly, "if we batter their doors down they will be expecting us."
"Then they will die."
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Anaxela entered the bridge of the Dark Fusion and walked up behind Commander Neido, the Imperial officer she had seduced and persuaded to desert his ship to her cause. Agrist followed her. She reached out her hand and brushed her fingers against the back of his head below the cap rim, and he turned and gave her an adoring smile. "We are approaching the planet Tarthos," he reported.
"Any defence ships?" she asked.
"We are detecting one Nebulon B2 Frigate near the planet. It is listing, and we're detecting massive power failure and only slight life signs on board. They've been disabled."
"The Fire of Sepros," Agrist added remembering the list of Dlarit assets, "it looks like the Vong did our work for us."
"Good," Anaxela replied, "that saves us the effort. What about the planet."
Neido pressed a button and the display homed in on the planet, showing the military structures of the Dlarit base and training camp. Nearby the ancient structure of the Cathedral of Ragnos was an impressive sight. "There's a defence shield stopping us landing directly, " the Commander reported.
"We'll have to do it the old fashioned way then," Agrist concluded, "I'll have the walkers prepared for deployment."
Anaxela nodded, "You will lead them, and have Mrussk prepare a landing party. I want that base disabled within the hour."
Agrist nodded, "It will be a pleasure."
City of Seng Karash
Aeotheran, Orian System
Imgaril and Garlina lead their force down the ramp into Marakith's docking bay. Behind them a collection of apprentices gripped lightsabers, swords, or blasters, depending on their ability. Inside a line of Dlarit marines waited, blasters aimed. Imgaril ignited his twin sabers and charged forward, deflecting fire back towards the marines. Garlina followed, her face grim and her own saber in hand. With the troopers a dozen Ludo Kressh journeymen rushed forward, to engage, the Knights with their own sabers and the lower ranking journeymen with a similar collection of weapons. Imgaril danced amongst them, deflecting sabers and contempously slicing through steel weapons before hacking apart the wielders. Garlina raised her hand sending a Guardian sailing helplessly through the air to smash against the wall, then impaled a marine on her blade. Behind them their own apprentices, spurred on by the ferocity of their leaders battled hard, slowly beating back the defenders.
Garlina looked around. "Hold!" she shouted, amplifying her voice above the battle. The combatants stopped, Imgaril giving her a curious look then stopping himself. She studied the dead and the living. "I am Garlina Megelos, formerly of Clan Tarentum. Now I serve the True Brotherhood. Your leaders are dead, slain around Antei by the Vong. Your Summit and your Dark Council are gone, and you are alone. If you continue to fight we will kill you all. If you put your weapons down and swear allegiance to our cause you will live, and you will prosper. I have no wish to see talented young Sith go to waste, or trained soldiers. Those who agree drop your weapons and walk over to the far wall."
There was some hushed conversation, and a few looks shared then slowly a couple of journeymen and marines disarmed and walked over to the wall, then more joined them. Left at the back of the room were half a dozen journeyman and marines, looking defiantly at Garlina and the invaders.
One Knight spoke, "I am loyal to Clan Naga Sadow, and I do not believe my masters are dead. You can slay me, but in turn you will die."
Imgaril laughed in contempt and Garlina smiled. "Not before you do," she replied. "Kill them."
Dlarit Security Force Headquarters
Tarthos, Orian System
The line of AT-ATs moved forward, the smaller AT STs between their legs, turrets blasting at the defenders who manned the weapon platforms around the base perimeter, and the cannons on the base fired back. In the cockpit of the lead walker Agrist sat calmly watching. Above the squadrons of the Dark Fusion's TIEs battled the smaller force of Dlarit fighters that had launched to slow the attackers. It was predictably easy. "You were fools to leave your system so poorly defended," he muttered.. He looked ahead. "There is the shield generator. Make for it and obliterate it."
"Yes sir," the pilot replied.
Agrist clicked the communicator. "Five minutes Mrussk, prepare to land."
"Acknowledged," the Trandoshan Sith's voice replied.
Above the small fleet of landing barges and shuttles descended through the atmosphere, Mrussk in the lead one. He looked down at the battle below, the walkers crushing the defenders one by one, the flying fortresses blasting the embattled marines from above and the TIEs shooting down the defending fighters and dropping bombs. This wasn't a battle, it was a massacre. His alien features smiled, as he sensed the panic and death of the defenders.
He turned to the stormtrooper Colonel, "prepare our troopers to land."
Mrussk and Agrist weren't expecting much resistance in the base, disappointingly. For years since the fall of Mustafar they had been bottled up on the Dark Fusion, and now they had a chance to battle. Mrussk, and he was sure Agrist, would have to make the most of what they had.
The shield generator exploded, and the sensors showed the field flicker then fail. Agrist smiled. "Target the outbuildings." Immediately the line of walkers opened fire, spewing death into the barracks and armouries surrounding the command building, raising explosions and fires across the compound, and Agrist laughed sensing the inhabitants burning and dying. He watched in amusement as a large water tower shuddered then collapsed, smashing buildings below as it fell and sending Dlarit personnel washing along in the flood as it cracked. Within a few minutes only the command centre and the Cathedral remained.
"Right I'm going down there, can't let Mrussk have all the fun."
Mrussk strode out of the shuttle, his armour gleaming in the fire and his double bladed saber ignited. Around him True Brotherhood apprentices and white armoured stormtroopers formed a ring around the Command Centre, and a team of engineers were laying charges at the entrance. Smoke from the surrounding buildings drifted across the area, obscuring the view. He strode towards the doors as they exploded, not bothering to duck as the head hit him and metal shards showered the area. The robed apprentices followed the trandoshan Sith, weapons grasped and troopers with blasters. "Kill anything moving," he ordered. Unlike Garlina he saw these as worthless scum, and they would die. He lead his force along the main corridor of the building, troopers and Sith branching off to check and clear smaller corridors and rooms.
Ahead a Sadow Knight came face to face with him, saber in hand. Seeing the trandoshan towering above him armour gleaming and double bladed saber raised, the man went pale. "I surrender," he said hurriedly lowering his weapon.
Mrussk laughed cruelly and brought his saber around in an arc, battering aside the weapon as the Knight brought it up and then slicing his own down through the journeyman's shoulder and into his chest. More journeymen appeared from corridors and charged, sabers and swords raised. Mrussk rushed forward, double bladed saber slicing off limbs and heads as he battled them. Two Guardians panicked and turned and ran. Mrussk laughed and hurled the saber, sending it spinning after them, dismembering them before with a flick of his wrist he called it back to his hand. With a roar he advanced, apprentices and troopers stepping over the dead as they moved forward behind him.
City of Seng Karash
Aeotheran, Orian System
Onboard the Marakith Skyhook Imgaril and Garlina sat in the C&C. Former Dlarit Lieutenant Dagris, the most senior marine to defect, was taping at a terminal. He swivelled in his chair. "Masters, they have woken the Mayor, he and the Chief of Police await."
"Put them on audio only," Imgaril ordered.
"This is Mayor Tlairis Jangar," a voice told them, "on behalf of the city of Seng Karash I demand to know who you are and what you want?"
It was Garlina who answered. "We are the True Brotherhood, your new masters. We occupy the Skyhook above your heads. We are going to tell you precisely what to do and you will obey to the letter."
"We will not respond to threats from terrorists," the Mayor responded, "you will surrender yourselves or face the consequences."
Garlina laughed, letting the mayor hear it. "Your military forces are destroyed or being destroyed, there will be no consequences," she replied coldly, "now listen to me and stop your idle chatter. You must be at least partially aware of the defensive capabilities of this skyhook. You will obey my instructions or I will burn your city to the ground." She paused. "You will order your citizens to return to their homes or the nearest building and stay there. Then the Dlarit police will stand down to their barracks. Our own forces will be arriving soon to maintain order on the streets."
"Go to hell!" the Mayor responded.
Garlina sighed and gave Imgaril a meaningful look. "Show them we're serious."
The Dlarit employees ran screaming as a hail of turbolaser fire scythed a path through the residential district, fire lighting the night sky as men, women and children were vaporised or burned alive. The blasts carved alone in a line, then back again, obliterating more buildings as the smell of smouldering metal and burned flesh drifted across the city. After a few seconds it stopped., leaving chaos in its wake, alarms deafening those around and panicked citizens huddling as droids fought to put out the blaze.
A minute later a loud hailer announcement was heard over the city, and terrified citizens fought to get into homes, shops, bars or factories. Within ten minutes the streets of Seng Karash were empty except for the droids still fire fighting. The police sat on bunks and chairs in the barracks feeling helpless. Seng Karash had fallen.
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Anaxela stood in her opulent quarters aboard the Dark Fusion, talking to Agrist over the display, the blood soaked and happy Mrussk stood next to him.
"The command centre is under our control," Agrist reported, "we suffered minimum casualties."
"What about the Cathedral?" Anaxela asked.
Agrist's face soured. "We cannot gain access. The doors are sealed, and are resisting our efforts. There seems to be some sort of force protecting it but we do not know what. It's even resisting lightsabers."
"We could try one of the AT-ATs lasers they pack quite a punch, " Mrussk added.
"No," a voice said from behind Anaxela. Severina thought for a moment. "I will go down there. We might not need a hammer to crack a nut."
"Very well," Anaxela replied. "In the time being send a company to Seng Karash. That will suffice, after Imgaril's demonstration I doubt the citizens or the police will cause much trouble." She smiled, reclining on a couch and poured herself a drink. "Orian is ours now."
Day seven; two days later...
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Orian Major came into view as the Star Destroyer reverted from hyperspace. The Covenant decelerated faster than normal, its engines wailing their despair as the battered ship engaged its sublight drives. It had taken more than a day to make the journey back from Antei. Sith Space was a difficult region to traverse at the best of times, right now the Covenant was in no state to travel. It was a wonder it had even made this far.
The past week had nearly seen its end. Seven days earlier the Yuuzhan Vong had laid siege to the Antei system, forcing the brotherhood's combined forces inside the Shroud. It had not stopped there. They had been chased, pursued to the seat of power of the Iron Throne itself. There the greatest battle in the clan's history had occurred; only chance had brought anyone back alive.
Some would never breath of Sepros's cool air again.
Never before had the clan faced a foe and lost. The Yuuzhan Vong had humiliated the once valiant heirs to the empire. Their spine had been broken. Defeated by those utterly untouched by the Force. If the Force is life, how can there be life without the Force? Indeed all the Yuuzhan Vong had brought with them was death.
The Yuuzhan Vong had not been all they had faced. Betrayal. Had the Heir had his wish, none would have died, but it had seemed as if the Force itself conspired to stop them. Tricked, Astronicus Sadow had led his brothers directly into the maelstrom, betrayed by two of his own sons. It was not just the clan the Yuuzhan Vong had broken. Revealed, the soldiers of the Dlarit Navy no longer knew whether to trust their dark masters. Only a mutual need to survive had held them together. Now, in the calm after the storm, none knew what was to follow. Could the Sith risk discovery? Could the men risk their lives?
The spine of the clan had been broken. Nothing but chaos remained.
But for the Children of Sadow this was just the beginning.
Special Operations Briefing Room
The members of the clan summit sat grouped around the table, a large holographic display of the Orian system was being projected in its center. They had decided to bring the Covenant out of hyperspace on the system's outskirts, far enough away from the main planetary alignments that if the Yuuzhan Vong had made an attack here as well they could escape again before discovery.
After Antei, they were taking no risks. They couldn't afford to.
“I don't see anything out of the ordinary,” said Macron. The consul studied the map, surveying the lands that were his to command as governor-general of the Dlarit Corporation and chief aide to the Heir, who also served as the corporation's viceroy. “A little quiet maybe.”
Astronicus exhaled hard. His face was taught, the Heir of Sadow had been forced to watch too many men die in the past seven days. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Astronicus cared about the would be subjects of his future empire. “I agree. I don't like it.”
Between them the proconsul stirred. Shin'ichi Keibatsu had been inducted privately by the Heir into the Sons of Sadow during the travel back to Orian. He would have to wait until they had a chance to visit Korriban to be officially named by the spirit of the Dark Lord himself. “Agreed,” said the lieutenant-governor and currently serving adjutant-general of the Dlarit Security Force, otherwise known as DSF. “Where are the courier ships? There is usually a constant flow of traffic in and out of the system.”
Quejo nodded. “I recommend we send a couple of scouts,” said the governor of Tarthos. “We're in no state to fight the Yuuzhan Vong again.” Beside him his fellow governor, Ashia Kagan, nodded her approval but did not speak. The loss of her son was still evident on her face. The Keibatsu had suffered more than most.
“I believe that would be a wise course of action,” said the lieutenant-governor. “I'll ask the captain to send a couple of damaged fighters. They should be able to establish contact with the DSF troops still on Tarthos, if not the civilian administration at Seng Karash on Aeotheran.”
Rear Admiral Araic Simonetti paced uncomfortably between the various consoles along the rear end of the bridge. The past few days had been a trying time for the ship's captain. Between the Yuuzhan Vong, the discovery he was working for the Sith and a thousand other problems he was in two minds to serve his resignation notice. The navy didn't pay enough for this.
Unfortunately for Araic, he just didn't have it in him to quit. He wanted to be there when they made the bastards pay. He sure as hell didn't like the Sith, but he didn't like the Yuuzhan Vong more. Apart from the freak and the Falleen the rest didn't seem too bad, at least, not the ones he had met. The viceroy was the same guy he had always been and Araic had always like Astronicus.
He was a bit unsettled by the governor-general though.
Right now, Araic didn't care. They hadn't told him but he knew why they'd had him pull the Covenant out of hyperspace early. If the Yuuzhan Vong had hit the Sith base chances are they'd have hit here too. The captain had family in Seng Karash. He couldn't run away now.
Yes, one day he'd make the bastards pay. He'd lost too many friends in the last seven days.
The turbolift doors opened and the adjutant-general stepped out. The admiral saluted as the DSF commander waved him a casual greeting. “Admiral, I need a couple of scouts dispatched,” said Shin'ichi. “We want to try and make contact with the forces left behind.”
He spoke of the troops left in the Orian system before the main navy had been called away to Antei for what had begun as a “military exercise”. The irony that they had been attacked while practising for if the Yuuzhan Vong attacked was not lost on any of them.
“I'll have the wing commander send a couple of ships,” replied Araic. The admiral went to turn but pulled himself back to face the adjutant-general. He swallowed hard. “Sir, if I may, could I request we send a pair of drones?”
Shin'ichi furrowed his brow. “Drones? Droid manned?”
Araic nodded. “Yes, sir.”
The proconsul stared at the admiral for a few moments. They both knew why the captain had asked, what had gone unspoken. I don't want to send any more men to their deaths. The image of his nephew flashed in front of Shin'ichi's eyes and he snapped out of his thoughts. “That would be fine, Admiral. They only need to make contact with the Fire of Sepros and confirm whether or not the Yuuzhan Vong are present in the system.”
Special Operations Briefing Room
The hour between the drones being launched and the first pictures being broadcast back seemed to span an eternity. It had been quiet, too quiet. Even at these distances they should have picked up something from the interplanetary radios, even if only static, but all they got was silence. It was as if the system had been shut off, no communication in or out.
However, the tell-tale signs of a Yuuzhan Vong armada were not present.
The planets were still spinning at least.
The first bursts of static as the drones began to relay information back to the Covenant brought gasps from several of the figures grouped around the display. Astronicus sat in silence, his eyes hardening as he stared at the wreckage of what had once been the frigate Fire of Sepros. It's hull was scorched black, pieces of durasteel plating torn completed off, and it was coated in pockets of molten metal, as if having been literally stoned to death by a thousand tiny pebbles.
Following Antei nobody could mistake what they were. Plasma burns. Made by Yuuzhan Vong weaponry.
“This is not good,” whispered Horus. The others stared on in disbelief as the pictures began to show the drone's passage down to Tarthos. If the Yuuzhan Vong had taken out the Fire of Sepros, the whole system would have been at their mercy.
The skies of Tarthos came into view as the drone passed into the planet's atmosphere, descending rapidly on the site of the DSF headquarters and home of Ragnos Cathedral. If the Yuuzhan Vong had invaded, they would surely have wanted to deal with the remaining military resistance first.
The base around the cathedral came into view. Quejo's fist hit the table as he elicited a loud curse. “Bastards!”
On the display the surface of Tarthos was blackened, massive craters where the once DSF headquarters had been. The Ragnos cathedral still stood at the center, its walls unbelievably still holding, but the land around was littered with debris and still burning wreckage.
“Something isn't right.” The comment came from Manji. “Where are they?”
Macron pulled his head away from the display to look at him. “Who?”
“The Vong. I don't see any. The craters, they don't even look right. Look at the shape, they weren't made by a plasma volley. They look more like the aftermath of a torpedo run.”
“They're dead,” said Ashia matter-of-factly. Despite her grieving, her face was as steely and hard as Astronicus's, “does it really matter how? They're still dead. Maybe the Vong developed a new weapon.”
“No,” said the Heir. “Look.”
Astronicus pointed at a region just coming into view closely behind Ragnos Cathedral. The drone swung low as it circled what appeared to be a handful of Lambda-class shuttles and several other Sentinel-class landing craft. Imperial shuttles. Not Vong. As the drone closed on the surface the unmistakable shape of Stormtroopers came into view, companies of them assembled in a prefab garrison erected next to the cathedral. There was an All-Terrain Armoured-Transport with its main guns angled at the building's entrance and the main doors looked charred from blast impact.
Beside it stood a tall, heavily built looking Trandosian clad in a black cloak and dark plated armour. In his hands he carried the unmistakable shape of a lightsaber.
The video feed burned with a blinding green light before it broke off.
“First the Vong,” spat Macron, “now this?” His voice seethed with rage. “Who the hell do these people think they are? We were only gone a week!”
The display flickered to life again as the feed from the second drone appeared. The distinctive shape of another Victory-class Star Destroyer came into view orbiting Aeotheran. Fire lanced from its batteries but the drone darted under the cloud cover of the planet's atmosphere before it could be hit. In the distance the towering disc of Marakith Skyhook came into view, dwarfing the city of Seng Karash far below on the surface.
Before the drone could even complete refocusing on the cityscape the feed cut off.
For minutes nobody spoke.
Astronicus's eyes flashed with anger as he replayed the image of the burning DSF base in his head. Almost a decade of work gone. Hundreds of millions of credits wasted. More lives ended needlessly. “Enough is enough. I'm tired of running. The Yuuzhan Vong may have beaten us. These cowards will not.”
There was a thunder of approval through the room. “Those who steal from the true heirs to the Sith Empire shall be made to pay the price. Those ignorant enough to believe the Sons of Sadow defeated shall do so with their lives. Whichever worthless clan these maggots have crawled out from they shall learn it is not wise to challenge a wounded tuk'ata.”
He turned to face Shin'ichi. The adjutant-general's face was still burning with anger of his own. “General, do you have any suggestions?”
Shin'ichi stared at where the holographic display had been for several minutes before answering. This was the second homeworld he had seen suffer such a fate. The Children of Sadow had been chased from the Phare system, forced to run away and live among the outskirts of the galaxy. The Yuuzhan Vong had humiliated them, crushing all resistance, destroying the Dlarit Navy until they had been forced to limp home.
Now these Dark Jedi, whoever they might be, were battering on the doors of their new home and seeking to steal their homeworld out from under them. The adjutant-general would not lose another world. Not now. Not after Phare. Not after Antei.
“We need to get to Sadow Palace. If they haven't managed to breach Ragnos Cathedral they won't have tried entering the palace yet. If we're lucky they may not even have found it.” Sadow Palace was located on Sepros, buried half underground in the ruin of an old Sith temple. “We should be able to rally any surviving troops there and assemble a resistance.”
Before anyone could argue Shin'ichi clarified his plan, “The Covenant is too heavily damaged. They have a Star Destroyer of their own, we couldn't take it out in a one-on-one fight and they have the system's whole defence grid to go with it. Also, before anyone gets any ideas, we can't call on the ships being built in the Corporate Sector either, they're not scheduled to be complete until next year.”
“We're going to need to send small teams in and recapture the main installations quickly and quietly. If we're lucky, they might not know we're here yet, though those drones will no doubt have them on high alert.”
Astronicus nodded. “I concur. I would recommend we focus on recapturing Marakith Skyhook first. I expect they are using it to hold the city of Seng Karash hostage. If we can retake Marakith, we can loosen their hold on the system. It may also help prove to the troops why they can still trust us," after what happened at Antei, the second half of the sentence went unspoken. The Heir had still not forgiven the betrayers.
Shin'ichi nodded. “Other teams can go to Sepros and Gamuslag. If they haven't taken Sadow Palace it's even less likely they'll have bothered with the Cenota Facility. If we can assemble enough men, we should be able to take down their forces on Tarthos and launch an attack on the Star Destroyer during the confusion.”
“Agreed,” said Macron. He turned to the two quaestors. “Ashia, Quejo, assemble everyone you can find. Sith, marine and officer alike. We're fighting for our survival. We're all in this together. Make sure everyone knows that. I don't want any more fighting, lots of people have their families in Seng Karash.”
The two quaestors nodded. “We're not losing anyone else,” said Ashia. “Whoever these people are, they can go to hell. I'm not losing my home.”
Astronicus smiled. “That's the spirit. The Sons of Sadow will not be defeated this day. I don't know who these Dark Jedi are or which clan they've come from but they will not defeat us. Not as long as we remain united. Let us show them the Yuuzhan Vong have failed and that Clan Naga Sadow has not been broken.”
“Let's take back our empire.”
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Astronicus left the Special Operations Briefing Room, his anger beginning to boil over inside, yet by all outward appearances he was as calm as ever. Still the Covenant's newly appointed commander could sense something was amiss. Araic Simonetti approached the Viceroy slowly then stood beside him, his hands clasped firmly behind his back.
"I beg your pardon, m'lord" offered Araic, "but you seem troubled?"
"We thought that the fight was over for now, but then we returned home and see this..." Astronicus gestured at their make shift intelligence work that had been gathered by the drones and put on screens at the tactical station. "But this is where we draw the line, here and no further shall we be pressed."
"Of course, m'lord, but the Covenant is in no shape for a fight, not even with a mark two Victory-class." Replied the ship's captain.
"Unfortunately, you are correct Admiral, otherwise I would hurl everything at my disposal at them in an attempt to lay hold of what rightly belongs to us." The Lord of Sadow paused, his eyes fixated on something out one of the view ports in the distance. "Call Colonel Karrel to the bridge, I wish to brief him on the current situation and prepare a strike team for a special assignment."
"We intend to recapture Seng Karash?" Simonetti's eyes lit up as he finally felt the forces that be were going on the offensive, he had seen how they had held off the Vong somewhat while on the defensive - they had been caught off guard after all - and knew that they would not be stopped now.
"We do indeed, Admiral, but that will be left to the Adjutant-General and his strike team, I have something else in mind at the moment." Offered the Viceroy. "I believe we may have a better chance at manuevering things if we have all of our pieces in place first."
"We only have a skeleton compliment of marines still alive, sir." Informed Simonetti, he was hesitant to send even those out lest they run out of troops all together.
"Well then we'll have to begin recruiting where we can, from here and there." Said Astronicus. "Anyone not fulfillng a role that is of the utmost importance shall take one up as a newly enlisted marine. Those of the officers who shall be placed in this category will retain their rank and will be afforded command based on experience." Astronicus kept his gaze locked on something out the viewport, never losing sight of it. "Helm set course for Inos."
"Sir, all due respect, but there isn't anything at Inos. Why do you wish us to go there?" Asked Simonetti, the Viceroy's order out of the blue simply left him confused.
"Oh, there is something there my dear Admiral, something indeed." Replied Astronicus.
Viper probe droid
Dlarit Security Force probot
Approaching Inos, Orian system
* Long range scanners on-line
* Power readings indicate life-support and minimal systems operating
* Life signs are inconsistent and fluctuating
* Approaching for closer and deeper scan
The probe droid approached the damaged lifeless skeletal hulk of the ancient Victory I-class Star Destroyer. The additional structure attatched to the bridge tower of the starship resembled a B'omarr Monk monastery. The entire structure was designated in the probot's database as Sadow Palace of Sif, not to be confused with the new Sadow Palace on Sepros.
As the droid came within range lights activated aboard, weapons turrets came to life, and a tractor beam emitted its gravitic beam and began to pull it in towards the lower hangar. The droid did not resist, it had been instructed that this would happen and it was to allow it so that it could complete it's mission. It was met inside the hangar by a squad of black armor clad stormtroopers and a blue skinned Saraii who was in similar armor minus the menacing helmet. They had their weapons drawn and aimed at the probot.
"Identify!" Ordered the Saraii officer, he did not need to go into further detail of what he needed, the droid would understand the order.
"Unit 538-XR1179. Assignment: Approach, make contact, debrief on current strategic situations. Authorization: 23A17 Epsilon 5." The droid paused, as programmed to allow the Saraii time to confirm. After a nod from the officer it commenced to debrief him on what had befallen Clan Naga Sadow in Antei up to what was now occuring in the Orian system. It ended with the final orders it had been given. "Prepare to disembark all personnel. All repair equipment and spare units to be transferred to the Covenant."
The Saraii officer raised a communications device to his mouth and began directing orders to whomever was on the other end of the line. Within the next few moments the evacuation began, soldiers and technicians loading all equipment they could.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Inos, Orian System, Outskirts
"Sir, the probot has transmitted that the evacuation has begun and has a head count of how many we can be expecting." Informed a junior officer to Rear Admiral Simonetti. The Admiral gestured for the officer to continue and give the details. "An assualt platoon consisting of 41 troops, a line squad that served as the Overlord's guard and thirty five technicians. They are bringing enough supplies and parts to get us up to working order, still no match for that Vic deuce, but enough to see to our needs. There are three turbolaser batteries that we could salvage as well, but that will take time. If we do that I recommend we see what we can salvage from the engines."
"We don't have that much time, Lieutenant, the Viceroy wants to move in his troops now." Replied Araic Simonetti. He paused, then considering what he had said he took on a look of deep thought, "On the other hand, we won't be of any good to them now not in our current state. Do what you must, but I want this ship operational ASAP. The Viceroy intends to surprise them and use what shuttles we have to make their strikes, escorted by whatever craft Major Deth can muster together. See to the repairs at once."
"Yes, sir." Acknowledged the officer, with a snap of his heels he spun and went to his assignments.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Prefect Malisane de Ath sat alone at a terminal in one of the Anterooms off the bride, pouring over a terminal that was showing a layout of the city of Seng Karash. He looked up as the Consul entered. "Hello Macron."
"Malisane, thought I'd find you here. You're aware of the situation?"
Malisane nodded. "Yes, as much as we know anyway. I'm worried."
"About?" Macron asked.
"The camera footage from Seng Karash, the Marakith Skyhook doesn't look damaged."
"So?" the Consul asked, frowning.
"That means someone got onboard without a fight, which isn't possible, the defence systems would blast them to hell once they got near the perimeter. Its not like a Star Destroyer it doesn't have a blind side you can just sneak up on. And we screen all deliveries only Dlarit ships can land."
Malisane sighed. "The only way they'd have managed that is if they've got the emergency codes. Thats not a pleasant prospect. Who knows about them, me, you, Ashia, Shin'Ichi? We only put them in last year no-one previously had them."
"Only us yes." Macron thought for a minute. "Recapturing Marakith is a priority, we need time to gather troops on Tarthos, take out whatever is down there. We need to distract that VSD otherwise whatever shuttles we have will be destroyed before we get near the place. I want you to put a team together, get on board."
"You were Governor of the city and the Skyhook for a long time you know the place. Plus you're a Prefect now, and you're trained at this stuff. Get me that Skyhook back."
Malisane nodded. "Very well, I'll take a team of Clan Members to the planets surface, I'm not going to try and get onboard directly, if they do know about the codes they may have blocked them. We'll start in the city."
"Very well, I'll send some people to join you."
Malisane nodded, studying the screen again. "Who has done this Macron?"
Macron shrugged. "I don't know, maybe the other clans kept a force back from Antei, maybe its someone else? We'll see."
The Prefect nodded. "Yes, we will."
True Brotherhood Flagship
Near the Planet Aeotheran
Anaxela was sat on one of the comfy chairs in the Captains ready room. The picture of Commander Neido filled the screen.
"We have detected two probes entering the system," he told her, "heading for the planets Aeotheran and Tarthos. One of them was shot down by the ground troops on Tarthos, the other Imgaril reports he shot down over Marakith."
"Origin?" Anaxela demanded.
"Unknown, we've despatched fighters but we can't see anything else in scanner range. I've put the crew on amber alert, but to be honest we think they were just automated systems triggered by out actions. We're monitoring the situation."
Anaxela nodded. "Very well. Keep me posted."
"Interesting," a voice said thoughtfully, as Severina took form in the corner of the room."
"Do I get no privacy?" the other woman demanded to the world in general.
"I see all Anaxela, never forget that. Things are going well, Agrist reports they have the temporary shelters constructed. They will suffice for now until we can rebuild the base fully on Tarthos."
"No change from Seng Karash," Anaxela replied, "Imgaril reports the citizens are behaving themselves, and obeying the curfew. The Dlarit Police are still bottled up in their headquarters and are quiet."
"We're going to have to do something about them," Severina replied, "we must begin the conversion process."
"Well there's disputed opinion there," Anaxela replied, "Mrussk and Imgaril want them slaughtered, say they're a threat and should be marched out of the city and slaughtered, Garlina and Agrist say they'll be useful once they see support isn't coming for them, and will fight for us."
"I agree with the second opinion," Severina replied, "Garlina says the Naga Sadow journeymen and marines aboard Marakith are loyal, the police will become the same."
Anaxela nodded. "The only sore point is the Cathedral. It still resists our efforts."
Severina sighed. "I have tried and failed. There will be a way in but I do not see it yet."
"What about the Sadow Palace?" Anaxela demanded. "We should investigate it."
Severina shook her head. "We agreed to leave it for now, we've sent fighters to investigate, we can't scan it, we have no idea what is inside. Until we can draw more resources from Aeotheran and Tarthos it would be foolhardy to go in there blind. We will wait." She gave Anaxela a look that defied her to argue.
"Very well," Anaxela replied returning the look, "for now." She stretched. "Now I have work to be doing, leave me in peace."
Severina studied her for a few seconds then slowly faded away.
Victory Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
External Docking Arm
CR-90 Corvette Sanguinus
Sepros System, Outskirts
Touching a series of controls in succession, Christine Zara confirmed the vessel's flight status. Her First Officer threw power to the engines from the main generator, and nodded.
"Covenant, this is Sanguinus, preparing for release of docking arm" She said into the ship's communicator
"Negative, Sanguinus. Depature delayed by executive orders." A metallic voice said in reply
"What? We're ready to go. Master Trevarus will not be pleased." Zara responded, tension mounting in her voice.
"Stand down Sanguinus until you recieve further orders."
"Shavit!" She slammed down the throttle controls, and powered down the engines. "It looks like we'll have to break away, or stand down. Call Trev."
"You call Trev." The First Officer replied.
"Why are we calling me?" Came a voice from behind. Startled, both jumped and turned on the swivel of their command chairs.
"There's a problem, sir." The First Officer replied. "The Covenant is denying our departure status."
"What?" The Master asked, obviously annoyed. "My instructions were explicit. We were to detach and depart immediately upon arrival at Sepros."
"I don't know what's going on, Trev. Maybe you can get us cleared. If I break away from the docking arm, it'll either tear us in half, or expose the Covenant to vacuum. Fifty-fifty, we die." Zara said.
"I'll tear the docking arm out and take half of that damned Star Destroyer with it. We'll be leaving in fifteen minutes." Trevarus replied.
In a flourish of anger, Trevarus left the bridge of his Corvette, walking back to his cabin. Someone would answer to him.
Xanos... what the bloody hell is going on. I have work to do.
I'm not certain, the cold voice of the Falleen replied. Ask Mononoke or Simonetti.
Muttering under his breath, Trevarus retrieved his communicator in a snap-crack of displaced air. He dialed a particular frequency. It lingered for a moment, then Trevarus crushed it in his hands, cold metal and plastic falling to the deck in a shower of debris.
"What's wrong, Master?" Nero Pennant asked.
"I have to return to the Covenant. Someone is preventing us from leaving."
"What would you have us do?" asked Shaung Long, looking up from his reading.
"You might as well come with me. The di'kut commanders of that cursed warship have caused me enough grief over the last few days. Perhaps you will slay them for me."
Syrus grinned evilly at the prospect. Trevarus retrieved his favored jacket from a hook on the wall, and together with his Apprentices began to walk out of the ship. Pausing at the airlock, Trevarus depressed the control, and it opened with a gust of air, tousling his hair. The trio walked through the docking arm, back into the hangar of the Destroyer.
Smells of blood and sweat still lingered in the air. Shan Long growled in the back of his mind, his Brother Dragon was sleeping peacefully, dreaming of chaos. Workers had cleared away the frozen remains of his Ternikh and the Voxyn that Shan Long had struck down, but some blood stained the decking.
They walked into a turbolift, and arrived at their destination a few moments later.
The Bridge fell silent as the insane Master entered, flanked by his two Junior Apprentices. Some returned to their work quietly, others regarded him with fear and loathing. Trevarus ignored them all.
"Who denied departure clearance for my vessel?" He demanded, quite loudly, to no-one in particular.
"That would have been me, your Eminence." Simonetti replied, walking over yet maintaining a comfortable distance from the brutal man.
"I see." Trevarus replied, raising his hand, the Amulet of Orian flowed from around the gem, down his fingertips and trailed out to encircle the Captain's neck. Simonetti held his ground, as the silver metal began to constrict his throat.
"I'm leaving, immediately."
"Release him, Trevarus." A voice said from behind. Trevarus' eyes narrowed at the Overlord, yet he loosened his grip on the Captain, who fell to the ground gasping for breath.
"The Captain was acting under my orders. You will be cleared, once we have determined what this threat is." Tron said, his voice cold.
"Threat?" Trevarus asked.
"We've been invaded, it would seem. Why don't you tell me, Oracle?" Tron said this last word with such contempt, that Simonetti began to laugh, rising slowly to his feet
"Mock me not Overlord." Trevarus replied. Yet, he did sense something amiss. "There is a presence in the system... something that bears further investigation. What is our operational status?"
Mononoke handed him a datapad, Trevarus studied it while the Governor-General explained: "We've dispatched probes to Tarthos, Sepros, and Aeotheran... yet we're awaiting confirmation. It would appear that a mercenary Imperial element has taken advantage of our route at Antei."
"I see... I wish to go to Sepros and investigate. Something troubles me." Trevarus said.
Indeed, there was a strangely, powerful presence in the system. His irritation had distracted him. Now, called to his attention... he felt that other matters could wait.
"Where's Xanos?" Trevarus finally said.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Sepros System, Outskirts
Anubis got off the turbo-lift, and walked forward towards the room at the end of the hall. He turned his comm-link on, and continued his journey. The Guardian came to the end of the hall, and opened the door, reviling his master Horus Black-Heart sitting at his desk, working through countless amounts of paper work.
“Master, we need to talk”
“Not now, apprentice. I have to much work to do.”
“Maybe I could help?”
“This is summit only work, so no.”
Anubis bowed, and returned to the corridor. The young Journeyman was getting tired of this.
Don't let him bother you, Anubis he heard his Quaestor say, He just feels that you shouldn't be involved in his work. It'll all blow over, trust me.
Well if you say so, Ashia he relayed back. Anubis sought out his old friend Shayne Bronzestorm, an old friend from Anubis' Taldryan days. He met up with Shayne in dining hall three.
“Hey there Anubis, how's it going?” he asked.
“Not bad, are you getting used to your new position as Assistant Envoy of House Marka Ragnos?”
Shayne nodded, and had to excuse himself on business. Anubis had something small to eat, and returned to the hanger. When he arrived, his fighter was missing. The Guardian walked over to the nearest pilot, and asked what happened.
“Well” he said, “this kid came into the hanger, and said that he had always wanted to fly one of the fighters in here, and that he liked yours. So, I gave him the ignition codes.”
“You gave an unregistered pilot my fighter. Come on what's the matter with you!”Anubis accessed his fighters controls via his cybernetic arm, had the auto-pilot lock itself in on mode, and report back to the hanger. Anubis waited and waited, but the fighter didn't come back. He tried accessing his fighter again, but the connection was severed, permanently. Anubis yelled out in anger, and got into a T-65XJ-X-Wing Starfighter and started the ignition sequence.
Bridge, VSD Covenant
Edge of Orian System
Clan Naga Sadow Space
Both Ashia and Quejo had moved to gather their respective Houses and marshal any available troops. Now was the time for every single man, woman, and alien to step up and serve in honor. The Clan’s assets were dwindling, and new ideas and methods would have to save the day.
“Where’s Xanos?” queried the Krath Master.
“He does not feel the need to inform me as to his whereabouts,” chuckled Macron. “Probably doing something evil.” Macron smiled and rubbed his hands together. “He finally broke down and showed me the Trakata. Oh, I can hardly wait to… did you see the size of that chicken?” remarked Macron as he looked out the empty viewscreen.
“That is a safe bet, my insane friend,” laughed Trevarus as he walked away to locate the Sith Lord. “Be wary,” his voice trailed off as he left.
Macron turned back to Simonetti. “I am truly sorry for his outburst,” he canted. “You are an excellent officer, and I appreciate your service.”
“I personally am a bit tired of being threatened by every loose cannon on this ship,” chided Araic. “Was that necessary?” he asked as he loosened his collar. “Not as much of a surprise this time, but still.”
“Probably not,” sighed Shin’Ichi. “Trev has been a bit more… loose in the head lately,” he stated as he pointed at his temple and waggled his finger. “And the Heir did order him fired on, and you carried it out. He won’t forget that. I am concerned, however.”
“Well, I live with madness every day!” giggled Mononoke as he turned back to the readouts. He was troubled by the emanations in the Force. Several forms could be felt blazing bright as the Eye enhanced his visions. They ripped and clawed at the Force, sending ripples of energy out into the void. This was typical of Darksiders, and it was apparent to many that they faced Force-wielding foes down below. But yet one very faint presence troubled him.
“Overlord, Shin’ Ichi, I feel a faint whisper in the Force. Something strange and dark, and oddly familiar. It reminds me most of…” Macron closed his stark yellow eyes and inhaled deeply. “It’s hard to say,” he let out afterwards with a breath. “It’s so elusive, beyond my talents to perceive.”
The blood of Sadow bearer closed his eyes and concentrated as well. “Macron, I agree. The feeling is there- but only in the absence of it. Very strange. I have encountered something similar once in my travels. It reminds me of the Fallanassi way, but it would be hard to imagine them allying with scum like these,” said Astronicus. He furrowed his brow in thought. If that was the case, this foe could be extremely elusive.
“Admiral, keep us on the edge of the system. Be prepared to run. If the scans are accurate, they may have a large capital ship somewhere in the system. We cannot engage right now, at all. I suggest strike teams travel via smaller vessels, preferably any with stealth capabilities,” ordered the Adjutant General as he touched the console.
“Aye aye, “ replied the ever-professional Simonetti. “All Hands, now hear this…” he said as he fingered the intercom lever.
Over Seng Karash
“Nice place,” laughed Anaxela as she settled into the comfy command chair. “Malisane and Ashia have taste,” she chuckled. Her fingers opened the bottle of expensive Corellian brandy and filled a stolen crystal glass. Images of the earlier turbolaser fire swaths filled the newsvids that crossed the viewscreen. She smiled and licked her full lips, imagining the carnage below. Such a loss of life freed a lot of energy to work with.
The flickering shade frowned. “It should have been him who died, according to Severak. He was never quite the same after.”
“Who gives a damn what that old fart thought. He is enjoying the madness of hyperspace for all eternity. What better way to truly perceive the Force?” laughed the Dark Witch as she pounded her fist on the table. “He has all the time he needs to meditate now.”
“I’ll not have you speaking ill of him,” snarled the blue ghost as it intensified in color. Severina’s form wavered and became more feral as the anger washed over her.
“You’ll do nothing,” sneered Anaxela. “You cannot hurt me, or even perceive me if I choose. And I CAN hurt you,” she smiled as she patted the sword at her side. She did not want Severina to know of the energy it took to maintain her invisibility in the Force as some part of her mind Flow-walked.
Severina’s eyes narrowed as her form became less substantial. Her own perceptions had indicated the possibility of a new body somewhere near Sepros, and she intended to see about it. “No matter. This petty squabble serves us naught. Good day for now,” she mumbled as she faded out.
The door chime sounded as Imgaril entered. “We are about to review the new Dark Jedi recruits down below.”
OOC- I am not participating in the competition, this is for fictional development of the runon.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Darth Vexatus sat feet crossed in the center of his quarters, his eyes closed in silent meditation, his mind light years away across space, across time. A spark jerked him back to reality. Vexatus's eyes flashed open as he extended his senses, clawing at the darkness eclipsing the Orian system, searching for the source of the disturbance. Nothing. It was gone.
Whoever it had been had torn the very fabric of the Force itself, cleaving a hole, reshaping the past and the present. Flow-walking. Only a few knew of the ancient Aing-Tii ability to change the past and it required immense power in the Force to do so.
Nearby. It was the only sensation remaining.
Vexatus drew himself to his full height and reached out through the ship until he found the familiar presence he was looking for. I'm coming.
The turbolift doors slid open and the Falleen strode through, his cloak wafted behind him, as black as the skies of Antei, his skin an equally dark shade of gray. His presence burned in the Force and even the Force blind among the remaining crewmen felt the need to look around, instantly cowering and quickly turning back to their work as the Sith Lord who had led so many of them to their deaths marched toward the central viewport.
“You had need of me?” said Vexatus darkly as he approached the four Sons of Sadow who stood discussing plans with Araic Simonetti. The captain shot the Falleen a glance, his eyes narrowing in contempt. None of the Force deaf mundane would probably ever trust him again, too many had already paid the price in blood.
Vexatus no longer cared. The last remnants of his compassion had died at Antei.
Xanos was well and truly completely dead.
Astronicus turned around first, his face empty but his Force presence betraying the hate he now felt for the man who had betrayed him, the man who had cost so many of his kinsmen their lives. Vexatus had given up trying to explain why sacrifice was necessary. Astronicus's loyalty had been lost to the blind fools who called themselves the “Star Chamber”. Seers. Prophets. Vexatus now held them all in contempt.
“Xanos,” said the Overlord blankly.
Vexatus smiled, inclining his head slightly in greeting. Despite the utter contempt he now felt for the Star Chamber's puppet, he was more than happy to keep up the appearance of being a “loyal servant”. He still had need of the clan, for now. “Vexatus,” corrected the Sith Lord, smiling derisively.
When Trevarus turned around he mirrored the Falleen's sarcastic look. “Xanos.” Vexatus merely narrowed his eyes.
“Well?” said the Sith Lord. “Who are they?”
“You already know?” questioned Macron. “We hadn't been able to reach you.”
Vexatus's smiled widened into a grin that sent a shiver down Araic Simonetti's spine. The admiral really did hate the Falleen. “I always know,” said Vexatus. “I would have thought after Antei everyone should know that by now.” He mocked, his voice was pleasantly conversational, but nobody doubted the bitterness behind his words. Vexatus was a furnace of pure hate and malice now. Whoever he had once been was gone.
“It appears to be a group of rogue Force users,” said Shin'ichi, “we haven't yet ascertained who they are. They also seem to have enlisted the aid of a group of Imperials. They currently have Marakith occupied and Ragnos Cathedral is under siege.”
“Dirt generals,” Vexatus's voice was a mix of surprise and contempt. “I expected more. The presence I felt... it was powerful. Too powerful to concern itself with this. There is something more at work here.”
“You felt it?” asked Trevarus.
Vexatus smiled. “Of course. Whoever it is they can flow-walk. That is bad news for all of us.”
The Sith Lord's words were vague but his meaning was apparent to them all. Flow-walking was the ability to travel into the past and change the future. In the wrong hands it was much more than dangerous, it was potentially cataclysmic. Vexatus had shown little remorse for the deaths or the loss of Antei. Most had expected him to depart on another sojourn through the old Sith worlds once they had arrived back. If Vexatus felt the situation commanded his attention it meant it was serious.
The Falleen inclined his head. "So, what would you have me do?"
Astronicus nearly gagged as he struggled to hold back a laugh. "What would we have you do? You? I didn't think you took orders from us anymore."
Vexatus's smile darkened. "In this instance, Overlord, our interests in this matter are as one."
A Flow-Walker... strange that Trevarus had not sensed it. It was the signature power of his own First Master, but Kiln Tobasa was dead, his soul consumed. He considered that Vexatus was mistaken, but he knew his Apprentice all too well. Something was definately amiss.
"You're certain of what you sensed, my Apprentice?"
"Yes. I am not mistaken. It was a temporal paradox, the pattern was explicit." Vexatus replied.
"I see. Are we hosting Aing-Tii now? The only other Jedi I know of, capable of temporal manipulation was Kiln Tobasa. He is unquestionably dead."
"Yes, we all saw what you did to his body." Tron said.
"Where did Maeda go?" Trevarus asked.
"Your friend with the ponytail left during the funeral ceremony." Simonetti said, his voice cold and harsh.
"Ah, I didn't know... bastard didn't tell me he was leaving." Trevarus looked around the Bridge, then closed his eyes, and opened the Eye. Violet light flowed out of his forehead, as he swam through the masses of the tangled Weavery of the Third Sight.
Pulsing strings moved as lines of roads, Trevarus climbed along, following some primal hunch. He grabbed one mass of strands, and pulled them apart, inspecting the tinest core of thin possibility. Moving on, he began to sense a pattern. A shift in allegiances, a new movement between thousands. Betrayal... deceit... and a great torn pattern of frayed lines, as if strands had been cut with a knife, then hastily reassembled. Someone was a very poor tailor.
It was very close.
Trevarus opened his eyes. "You're right Xanos... there is a great power in the System right now. Yet, it is not Kiln Tobasa... the Weavery is torn, yet it was not through any Art of the Wanderer. Someone created a severe temporal paradox, very close by."
"Thank you stating the obvious, Master." Vexatus chuckled lightly. "Its not a dead man. Brilliant insight."
"Your wit is caustic as milk, Xanos." Trevarus said. "You were sending out teams to investigate. Xanos and I will head to the city, and look for the origin of this anomaly."
With a crack of displaced air, a comlink appeared in Trevarus' hand. "Christine, have my ship ready to depart... and prep the weapons crews. This could get dangerous."
"Right away, Trev"
"You're not going down there guns blazing Trev... My soldiers and employees are in that city." Tron said, standing between Trevarus and the door of the bridge.
Trevarus ignored Tron, and turned back to Simonetti. "My ship is to be cleared, or your ship will not survive my hostility."
"I will not be threatened by you." Simonetti replied.
Trevarus raised a hand, and Simonetti's body twisted into an image of pure pain. His body contorted as the Master strained his spine to within seconds of his death. The Captain fell to the ground.
"Death is not a threat... rather an oath." Trevarus said through clenched teeth.
Furious, Tron raised his hands. "Release him, Caerick." A blast of blue-white lightning cracked out of the Overlord's hands, tearing across the Master's body. Shimmering, the energy swirled around Trevarus.
Faster than any could perceive, Trevarus released the absorbed energy. A thunderclap echoed through the Bridge, and a blinding flash of light. Trevarus stood, hands raised, Tron had been thrown to the far side.
"Whenever you're ready, Trev."
The pair briskly walked out of the Bridge. Nero and Shaung Long followed close behind.
"Master?" Nero asked, as they walked.
"Yes, young one?"
"You spoke of a "temporal paradox... what is that?"
"It is a rift left in the Force, after a power has manipulated the proper sequence of events. It causes a scar in the Force itself, unless it is properly healed. Essentially, it is an impossible existence... because time cannot be truly altered. Hence, a paradox."
"I see.. how does one alter time, exactly."
"It is an art that few will practice, because of the risks it entails. Some call it "Flow-walking", so named by the Aing-Tii... an obscure cult of Force-users. I am not certain of the specifics... but my own Master alluded to severe meditation. He was quite proficient with the art. I learned to sense the temporal paradox through him."
They arrived at the airlock door, and Xanos gestured his head towards the corridor behind them. "We'd best make haste, Trevarus." A squad of Dlarit Security Force soldiers were in pursuit, though still a comfortable distance away.
"Something tells me that we'll be leaving 'guns blazing' regardless of the invaders."
The four made their way to the Bridge of the Corvette. "You crossed just in time, They just breached the docking arm, and detached. What did you do?" Christine asked.
"I simply offered a few reminders." Trevarus said. "Let's go."
Fate was a cruel thing, fickle and childish in its own twisted discontents. That they should escape the clutches of their greatest adversary only to be faced with another foe, settled and waiting at their very homes, was a truly bitter irony. The clan was tired, but not yet beaten. The taste of blood was still fresh in their mouths and the excitement of combat would easily reawaken their most feral instincts, spilling adrenaline into the blood, spurring them onward.
He followed in his Master’s footsteps, a quiet shadow, pacing. His eyes sparkled, rapidly flitting to and fro, gathering data for his mind to process. All his senses were sharp today, made more precise by his desire to understand. He listened, and in listening knew much.
Some brazen idiots had decided to take over the possessions of the clan while the battle raged. Such cowardice in itself was sickening, and the very concept filled him with rage. He would cast his net of suffering over them. He would reel them in and torture them until they begged for death.
Then, perhaps, he may be inclined to be merciful.
Master Trevarus had, as always, managed to irritate his fellows, inciting them to violence. The four of them had fled to his ship and hastily made their departure, eager to avoid any further confrontations. The engines flared, spewing hot gases into the vastness of space, propelling Sanguinus forward.
They waited with bated breath as the Covenant diminished. The turbolasers did not fire. No gigatons of energy lanced through space, eager to burn and char. The wounded beast was silent.
“Why don’t they fire?” queried Nero, eyes wide, brow furrowed.
“They cannot risk igniting the enemy sensors,” Shuang said, smiling faintly, “we are in the clear for now.” He turned to look at his master, a villainous grin lighting up his face. “Where to, master? The battle awaits us.”
“Zara,” Trev said, idly smoothing his robes, “take us to the city. Set a course, and do your best to avoid the enemy’s detection. We shall strike like shadows, unexpected and swift.”
The Sanguinus began the reentry process, hull awash with multicolored plasmas.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Malisane stood next to Macron watching the display as the Sanguinius left visual range.
"Whats going to happen now?" Macron asked thoughtfully..
Malisane shrugged, "You never know we might get lucky and whoever is out there will shoot the bastards down."
Macron smiled. "Well assuming that doesn't happen, what of your plan?"
Malisane shrugged. "I'll go anyway, alone. I'm not risking taking a team in but if Trev and co distract them enough I might be able to get onboard."
"What are you going to be able to do alone?" Macron asked.
"Well, all I need to do is disable the defence system. There's three thousand police in the city, once they're free of constraint they can take it back."
Macron nodded. "Very well, good luck."
Malisane nodded and left the bridge, heading for the docking bay and the Deathshead.
Nero stood on the bridge, watching the surface of the planet Sepros come into as the heat generated by re-entry faded, leaving the wide green canopy of Sepros' forests filling the viewscreen. He visibly relaxed as the forest came into view. The last hour had been a rude awakening in a series of rude awakenings over the last week, and it occured to the Protector that he was in for the long haul.
Standing on the Bridge of the Covenant was a harrowing experience. It was in one way worse than the war with the Vong. The Vong were predictable in their cruelty and malice, whereas being in a room surrounded by beings of both higher power and of higher station than he, Nero had never felt more like a child. He had been a single, unimportant drop in an roiling ocean of the madness created by these powerful Force users. Even Araic Simonetti had displayed more courage than he when he talked back to Master Caerick. Numerous times he'd had to fight the urge to run from the bridge then; his race's almost-legendary calm demeanor was unable to totally hold back the sheer magnitude of the power-struggle between the Overlord and the Oracle.
Nero shivered visibly on the Bridge of the Sanguinus, which caused Shuang Long to turn and study Nero, who stared ahead, the apprehension visible in his features and body language. He gripped the hilt of Master Beriss' lightsaber so tightly his knuckles turned white, and the thoughts ran through his young mind. Why was the Knight looking at him? Could even he sense his fear? Did he feel it too?
He wondered if Master Vexatus or Caerick would strike him down; if Shuang Long could feel it, then they would certainly feel it. Weakness was forbidden, especially in front of such capricious masters. A single mistake could get him killed, or worse. And now, still weary in body and soul from the Vong War, he was being sent to investigate a source of immense power, one that could affect the fabric of time itself?
It was madness. But Nero had come to learn that much like his Master and his other Apprentices, madness was to be considered a part of life.
Nero craned his head back, then to the side, stretching the muscles, and affording him a closer look at who was staring back at him. No eyes met his own, and Nero visibly relaxed as the attention was now drawn to more important things than whether or not this single, unimportant drop would fail to mingle in the madness around him.
"We are landing soon. Soon we will see just what we're dealing with." Trevarus said, "Nero, Shuang, prepare for our arrival."
Nero nodded, turning on his heel and walking out of the bridge. He was glad to be away from there. But maybe once he'd gotten on the surface he'd run up here again, like the scared child he was.
He swallowed, this was going to be another harsh lesson.
CR90 Corellian Corvette Sanguinus
Orian System, Approaching Aeotheran
The speakers crackled to life with static before a gruff, deep sounding voice sounded over the comm channel. “This is the Star Destroyer Dark Fusion. Unidentified transport please identify yourself.” The voice was harsh and did not sound very inviting.
Christine Zara inclined her head to look at Trevarus. “What should I say?”
The Krath Master shrugged. “Just tell him we're visiting.”
“Dark Fusion, this is the Star of Ombus,” Zara said in as pleasant a tone as she could manage. She had changed the Sanguinus's transponder codes during their brief journey from the Covenant, there was a danger if the Dark Jedi were part of the brotherhood they would have recognised the name. “We're here visiting friends.”
The speakers fell silent for a moment. No doubt they were conducting every possible scan on the ship and running the name through not only the public databases but the ones on Marakith as well. After a moment the gruff voice answered, “Star of Ombus, we request you turn around and head home. Seng Karash is currently under quarantine. A recent scare with the Yuuzhan Vong.”
The story was believable. The Yuuzhan Vong had been in system recently to destroy the Fire of Sepros. Zara had to give them credit. She glanced at Trevarus who nodded his approval. “Negative, Dark Fusion, this really can't wait. We've come all the way from the Hapes Cluster. You wouldn't begin to believe what we've had to go through to get here. There's no guarantee we'll even be able to make it back. Not after Coruscant." Zara refered to the recent fall of Coruscant to the Yuuzhan Vong.
The line stayed dead for several minutes. The uncomfortable sensation that they were about to be shot out of the sky began to crawl up Zara's spine but she could hold her calm so long as Trevarus and Xanos remained cool. Their combined danger sense hadn't gotten her killed yet. The gruff voice finally came back, “Very well, Star of Ombus, permission granted.” A flood of relief shot through Zara. “Please make your way to docking bay thirty-two. Have you ship prepared for inspection upon landing.”
“Inspection?” queried Zara. She could almost feel the sneer the man must have been making on the ground.
“Affirmative, Star of Ombus, all ships allowed through the cordon need to be screened. For all we know you might be Yuuzhan Vong infiltrators.”
The relief quickly drained out of Zara again. “Understood,” she said, feeling resigned. “Setting course for docking bay thirty-two.” She waited for the line to fall silent before snapping her head around to face Trevarus. “Do you realise how close we were to getting shot down?”
Trevarus shrugged impassively. “Of course.”
Zara sighed. “I wish I had your certainty. I'm not able to sense when things are going to be alright.”
“Sense?” Trevarus let out an amused laugh. “Christine, I can't sense anything right now.”
Xanos smiled. “What Trev is trying to say is we're both keeping our Force signatures shut down right now. I'm sure the reason it took them so long to give us an answer was because they were crawling all over us with their own Force senses, trying to make sure we weren't survivors from Antei.”
“So we could have died any time just now?”
Zara shook her head as she collapsed back in her seat and guided the ship in for it's final approach.
Marakith came into view in the sky above, a massive upturned cone, widening at its summit into a disc more than a kilometer wide which eclipsed much of the city below. Marakith was bristling with firepower, banks of concealed turbolasers lined its outer edges and numerous sensors, tractor beams, torpedo launchers and other devices were situated across its main disc. Its underside stretched down in a long cylindrical core which narrowed to a point as it neared the surface, almost connecting with the upper levels of the skyscrapers in the central government district.
Seng Karash itself was a largely uniform and prefabricated structure, a collection of blocky structures covered the entire extent of the city, forming a dense urbanised area spanning several kilometers. The tallest buildings were located in the center, the government district, the City Hall and Dlarit Police headquarters rising nearly ten storeys into the sky, making the rest of the city look insignificant. The only other facilities which matched City Hall were the spaceport at the southern end of the city and a framework of the soon to be completed Dystopia nightclub in the middle of the commercial and leisure district in the west. On the whole Seng Karash looked like a blot upon the surface of Aeotheran, a dark speck amidst an endless sea of rolling jungle which stretched beyond the horizon in every direction.
The spaceport came into view as the Star of Ombus came into landing. Not as high as City Hall, the spaceport panned a much wider surface, in truth forming probably the largest stand alone structure in the whole of the city. If one could have seen it, the spaceport stretched several additional levels under the city surface, deep into the undercity where many of the commercial freighters were loaded with their cargo. The undercity itself was located in the artificial crater beneath Seng Karash, housing the power and hydroponic facilities that kept the city running and it's population fed.
As the docking bay widened in the corvette's viewport the nature of the “inspection” became clear. A squad of stormtroopers stood at the rear of the hangar, weapons lowered on the ship as it approached. Two other teams guarded the additional exits, fixed heavy repeating blasters deployed, the other men standing by with what could only be some form of portable missile launchers narrowed on the ship.
None of them were looking at the stormtroopers though. Zara, Trevarus and Xanos's eyes were all fixed on the lone figure standing at the front of the hangar, his dark cloak billowing in the wind as the Star of Ombus extended its landing gear. In his hand he carried a lightsaber, it's viridian light making his blond hair appear a dirty green. His clothing was instantly recognisable as the formal robes of a Dark Jedi Knight.
“Remember, Trev,” said Vexatus sourly as if lecturing a child, “let's try and do this quietly. I'd rather not have a Star Destroyer firing on my head.”
CR 90 Corellian Corvette Star of Ombus
Docking Bay Thirty-Two
Aeotheran, Seng Karesh
Domain of Clan Naga Sadow
"There is no need to patronize me, Xanos." Trevarus said, pulling off his coat, overshirt, and the sleaveless undertunic that he wore. Standing bare-chested in the Bridge, Xanos stared at him.
"This is no time for a burlesque performance, Trevarus."
"Nothing of the sort." Trevarus smiled, the silver-metal of the Amulet of Orian flowing across his bare flesh, over his face, even his eyes and down into his mouth. For all intents and purposes, he seemed to be made of metal.
"My designation is XT-4519, a new type of droid designed in the Constortium. You're here to deliver me to Professor Goratis, at the Dlarit Security Academy, an old colleague of yours... Doctor Faustix.
"Eosara? There's no way he returned from Gallinore by now." Vexatus sounded skeptical.
"Quite true, but they don't know that."
Trevarus looked Nero and Shuang over carefully. Each wore a pilot's jumpsuit, still torn and dirty from the previous day's fighting.
"You two need to blend into the ship's crew. And... I'm sorry to do this...." Touching the Force slightly, Trevarus inhibited their access to the enegeries they had been so used to bearing. His will overpowered theirs, and soon they bore the Force signatures of an ordinary Mundane.
"Xanos and I have shielded your signatures with ours, but when we leave... that will diminish. The effects will wear off the farther I go from this ship. When you feel the Force flowing through you once more... it is time to come join us."
"Master... that could be quite dangerous." Shuang Long said. "We could be easily discovered."
"You hunted Krin. Your adversaries are no more dangerous than they." Trevarus said, with a slight smile. "I expect you to guide Protector Pennant through the necessary precautions." He paused, deep in thought for a moment. "Christine, lower the main ramp, and signal the troopers of the Cohort to prepare for a fight, if it becomes necessary."
"Right away, Trev." As she spoke her commands into the communications array, Trevarus and Xanos
The pair walked out of the Bridge, through a small corridor, and down an exit hatch from the Sanguinus. The floor of the docking pay was once a polished, pre-fab metal, but had long grimed to a dull sheen covered with black soot and sand. They looked around, and approached the Jedi holding his ignited emerald lightsaber aloft.
"Your identifications?" The young man asked.
"Doctor Mephist Faustix, of Irad Androhominid Research Institute. This is a prototype droid, designated Tee-Ex. or simply Tex."
The blonde Jedi's eyes narrowed, and his lightsaber lowered, inspecting the disguised Master rather carefully. The Master felt the subltle nudges of the Force, yet they seemed to altogether miss thier signatures. He motioned with his free hand, and six stormtroopers lead two scanning crews carrying heavy portable equipment up into the body of the Sanguinus.
"Doctor Faustix is a Rodian, he finally said."
"How dare you, insolent human. Threatening my life, and my heritage?" Xanos poured the proper measure of aristocratic insult into his voice, the Knight seemed taken aback.
"What did you say your purpose here was? Visiting friends?"
"I told you. Professor Goratis at the Dlarit Security Academy is waiting for this prototype. He is a colleague, and old friend of mine.
"I see. How is a ship so heavily armed, out on a research expedition?"
"This droid is worth more than the combined gross domestic product of the Orian System. Tex?"
"Yes?" Trevarus added a tinny, electric element to his voice. "Input command."
"Security Sequence Seven."
Trevarus raised his hands, and the silver of the Amulet flowed from his left and right hands respectively, forming a broad shield, and a long sword. He assumed a strong defensive stance against the Knight, and prepared to advance. The Knight raised his lightsaber defensively.
"Stand down, Tex."
"That technology is incredible... what is it?"
"Phase shifted tera-linkages. The metal of its outer flesh will produce almost any number of simple objects. I'm developing one line for commercial grade vinological harvests, and still more to counter the growing threat of the Yuuzhan Vong."
"Fascinating," the Knight said, inspecting Trevarus extremely carefully. "It looks almost human."
"Precisely. This is an entirely new revolution in android technology. If it does not trouble you, please allow me to continue my work unhindered." Vexatus said, edging desperation into his voice.
A stormtrooper approached him, nodding through starkly white armor.
"Your ship checks out... and I'll grant you permission to continue your mission. But I'll be keeping close tabs on you."
"Thank you." Vexatus said.
The Knight nodded at his detachment, and they slowly began to pack up their weapons. Within a few moments, all but six of the troopers had disappeared into the main hangar facility. These remained standing at the entrance, weapons held at ready.
Vexatus walked between them, his "droid" following closely behind.
Though he had lived for many years, wearing many masks and many names, he had never encountered such an alien feeling as this. His very flesh seemed to crawl with disgust, but he was numb. The elegant strands of the force had been severed. He had been plucked from the calm ocean, the soothing rhythms of the dark side, and cast into burning darkness.
With his eyes, he could see, but he could not see. He was a simple mundane now, and the feeling was unwelcome. He knew that his powers would return once his master had traversed a sufficient distance, but even this thought was frightening to him. How far must Trevarus and Vexatus go before his eyes returned to him?
By then he was sure he would be left alone in this hostile environment, the young Pennant his only sure ally. Though he was still a Protector, he was far more talented than average. With a bit of luck they would make excellent partners, working through the force to fight as one.
Before his master had stolen his sight, Shuang had felt Nero’s unease. It emanated from the boy, cascading through the force as a ripple through water. The boy would have to control it if he wanted to survive.
He glanced at Nero, his icy blue eyes inspecting the Protector’s own. Their attention was diverted as stormtroopers entered the craft, making quite a ruckus with their heavy equipment.
He yearned for his power to return to him, but to no avail. All was silent, the incessant crashing waves of the force, silenced. When his powers returned to him he would slay them, tearing out their eyes, slicing and singeing their flesh.
The two dark jedi sat with the rest of the crew, waiting, nothing differentiating them from their fellows. They were in no danger until their abilities returned to them.
The troopers departed. In their wake came whispers as the crew spoke amongst themselves, wary and confused. He rose and quickly went to the exit hatch, quietly listening in to the conversation outside. It seemed that the wily duo had successfully gained entry, duping their opponents.
This was good news. The sound of troopers packing up and leaving was also good news. Shuang decided to cast a glance through the doorway as he walked past, making it look as casual as possible.
The sight of six troopers, fully armed, met his eyes. He walked back and fired off another glance, making sure his previous observation was correct. It was. He knew that he could easily take down those stormtroopers with Nero at his side and the appropriate amount of firepower.
“Nero,” Shuang said, approaching the protector, “it seems that our friends have been granted access, and the brunt of the force has been removed.”
“How many remain?” whispered Nero, his eyes betraying his unease.
“A paltry six.”
“Excellent. Now we wait.”
“We wait,” he said, sitting down beside the Protector, “until our birthright is returned to us.”
He closed his eyes and began to meditate, reaching into the recesses of his mind, trying to understand the darkness within. Soon the force would return to him.
Captain's ready room
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Astronicus sat at the command desk in Simonetti's office puring over tactical data that had been recieved from the drones they had sent out when Macron decided to come in. The mad alchemist was far from his typical smiling self, but instead had a look of concern on his face. Astronicus could also sense that he was troubled and so he averted his eyes from the intel reports and looked the Clan's current Consul up and down.
"Something troubles you my friend?" Asked the Overlord. "What has brought you here?"
"It's your rash and uncontrolled rage towards Trevarus." Answered Macron, "It's the dark side and all, but with that damn amulet he is stronger than you and it only shows you to be weak before the crew. I can sense their fear heighten every time you fight him and he throws you into a wall like a stringed puppet. They worry that if you, the lord of the clan, cannot contain him that he'll kill everyone and that Xanos…err Vexatus will do nothing to stop him. And I'm afraid it's not only the crew who hold those fears, many of the younger ones in the Clan see the power struggle and are losing faith and loyalty to you as well."
Astronicus sighed and leaned back in his seat, his eyes travelling upward to nothing in particular on the ceiling. He sat their silently for a moment before responding to Macron.
"Vexatus and Trevarus have … upset me as of late, but do not concern yourself, I no longer intend to take their insults." Replied Astronicus. "They know who I am and I know who they are. They are powerful, they have both mastered many powers while I am yet still denied such a title, but do not let it worry you any longer. I have decided that there is no controlling them and thus we will simply protect the clan by denying them the opportunity to threaten us further. When the Sanguinus returns I would appreciate it if you would deny them docking privileges with us. It is your ship and you have been duly appointed to lead this clan, so I leave it in your hands to do what you wish."
"Well, I must say, thank you for acknowledging that, Tron." Said a now smiling Macron, "the last week it just seemed like I was a back seat leader while the three of you assumed command, but really I do appreciate that."
"While I have you in a good mood, I need to request a favor of you." Tron paused, waited for Macron to think it over and when the Consul nodded he continued with his request, "Since the Covenant is only at around three quarters it's fighting capablity thanks to what we salvaged from the old Sadow Palace, and since it really cannot take much more of a beating, I will be leading a strike team to the new Sadow Palace to gather what forces we can and then on to Aeotheran to help in the liberation of Seng Karash. I would like to take Simonetti along with any marines and clansmen you can spare."
"Whoo, that's a tall order. I gotta tell ya, the marines and clansmen I can probably do, but I don't know about Simonetti." Macron paused and thought about it for a few minutes. Simonetti was looked up to by the crew, he was a good officer and knew how to run the ship efficiently and effectively so far. Letting Tron take him away on an assault mission would not only leave them minus a command officer but also a veteran who could handle the stress of battle unlike his predecessor. "I just don't know if I can do without him, he's a real asset. I would need some assurances that you won't waste him as fodder and I'll need something or someone in exchange."
"The assurances I can do." Replied Tron, he consulted a datapad and scrolled through a list of names before finding the one he wanted. "As for a replacement, how about this; one of my most trusted guards, a Saraii lieutenant by the name of Talcor’tan’chaf. He was the captain of the guard at my retreat and is versed in naval command & combat should the need arise."
"From the sounds of it, you should be taking him instead of Simonetti." Observed the Consul matter of factly.
"Yes, except that Saraii don't blend in as well as regular humans, thusly why I need Simonetti." Stated Astronicus. "I know he's an asset here, but he's also one for my plans Mac. I really need him for this mission, please"
"Hmm, the trade seems legit and you did use that magic word, so…" Macron let the last word hang in the air as he made his decision. "…alright. When do you leave?"
"Right away, theres no time to waste." Astronicus rose, shook Macron's hand and as he made his way to the door turned back to make a final comment. "Besides, Trev will probably let that monster Shan Long loose and all the baddies and most of Seng Karash will be killed as a result, consider this a mop up operation." With that said he turned and exited the office leaving the Consul to contemplate what lay ahead for Clan Naga Sadow.
Astronicus went through the preflight checklist with Araic Simonetti, everything seemed to check out and in a few moments they would be on their way. When He had offered the prospect of leaving the Covenant to do some actual fighting against those who had attacked his home, Araic was more than willing to give an affirmative answer. He had family in Seng Karash and wanted to find them and protect them, if the Viceroy was going to take a strike team there and wanted him to tag along then he was all game for being apart of the crew.
"I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your asking me to be on this mission, sir." Said Araic, his face was beaming with happiness at the prospect of seeing his family again. He couldn't think of anything negative at the moment, if he did then thoughts of terrible things befalling those he loved and cared for would enter his mind and take over his waking thoghts. "There's only so much I could do on the Covenant right now anyhow. It'll feel good to get out and have a piece of the action."
"Your a good man and an excellent officer, Araic, I need the best we have for this mission." Astronicus paused, what he was about to reveal to Simonetti was classified information that only members of Clan Naga Sadow were privy too, but with everything that Araic had been through recently and the revelations of what the leaders of the Dlarit Corporation really were, it was of little consequence and he was entitled to it as well. "We'll be making a stop at Sepros to gather some additional soldiers before we move on Aeotheran."
"Sepros? I'm not sure I understand, the only thing there are some primitive tribes. What type of soldiers are you talking about?" Asked Simonetti, a look of confusion on his face.
"We have a secret…base, I guess you could look at it that way, located there." Answered Astronicus. "Guarding that base is a special detachtment of troops under the command of Colonel Kal Septka. Four battalions to be precise. The enemy will want to move on it as soon as they can, which is why we need to move on Seng Karash before they re-organize their forces."
"Secrets and even more secrets." Sighed Simonetti. "And I bet it doesn't end there does it?"
"No, no it doesn't." Said Astronicus dryly. Looking over his readouts he noticed all troops were aboard and all systems were green. "Alright, looks like we're good to go." He flipped a swith and commed the hangar bay control, "This is Delta Sierra Foxtrot One requesting departure."
"Copy Delta Sierra Foxtrot One, you have clearance and are good to go." Replied the Control officer. "Happy hunting."
The four shuttles lifted off of the hangar bay floor and made their way out the magnetic field into the blackness of space. As they assumed a flight pattern Astronicus transmitted the coordinates for a micro jump and the four vessels accelerated away at top velocity until there was once again nothing occupying the empty blackness they once were at for a mere moment.
Seng Karash Starport
Diermot Hain yawned as he watched the line of passengers walk past the barrier. He was bored. He'd been on duty all day at the starport and nothing interesting had happened. Having a Dark Jedi Knight on duty here was unessesary, and he hadn't joined the True Brotherhood to be a customs inspector. He shrugged. To hell with his orders, he was going for a drink in the nearby bar. An hour wouldn't hurt. He checked he still had his saber and turned and left.
The stormtrooper Lieutenant watched him go then turned to the next arrival. It was a man in his thirties. "Datacard."
The man produced it and another stormtrooper ran it through the machine. "Jagos Var, local businessman, proprietor of the Dystopia entertainment complex."
"Purpose of visit?" the Lieutenant asked.
The man shrugged nervously. "My club is near completion, I've come to supervise it being finished. Perhaps in a few weeks your men would like to come for the launch?"
"Get moving." the Lieutenant ordered impatiently. The man passed through the weapons scanner and into the hall beyond.
Renix's Wine Warehouse
Seng Karash Commercial and Liesure District.
It had been a quiet day. Renix was suprised. With the nighttime curfew in place sales of his beverages had risen yesturday and he'd expected another good day. Oddly it hadn't happened. Maybe he'd shut early and go home, curfew was in an hour anyway.
The Ithorian looked up as the door opened and a man entered. He smiled. "Yes."
The man shut the door behind him and glanced around at the warehouse, with a few droids carting crates of wine and liquor about. "Hello Renix."
Renix's eyes snapped open in suprise. "Mr Var, what are you doing here?"
"I need a favour Renix, a big favour."
Renix nodded nervously. "What favour?" he asked.
"I need information, and I need that package I left here a while ago, and your help with a transportation issue."
The Ithorian studied the man. "I don't want any trouble."
The man fixed him with a stare. "Good then I won't cause you any. The package now, then we can talk."
Renix nodded. "Very well."
The chamber was dark and silent, it was still short since Macron himself used
his pwoers in alchemy upon the Sith. The procedure itself was painfull, the blood
in his body burned when it was being fused with pure Valheru blood. Although
Draken-korin Elariel altered the genes of Ylith from the outside, he was never
fully removed from humanity.
After seven hours of intense treatment under the supervision of the Consul, the
procedure was complete and Ylith was removed from a spaarti cilinder rebuild on
the Covenant to make this possible. The mutagenic materials used in the transfusion
still burned into the cells of the Battlemaster as he was carried away to his quarters for
recovery and treatment.
It has been three days since the treatment and Ylith slowly opened his eyes. The room,
although dark, was perfectly seen by the lizard like Valheru eyes, a feat unrivalled by any
race in the known galaxy. He tried to sit up and noticed his skin was harder now, thicker
and less sensitive. He rose from his bed and walked to a mirror and gazed as his newfound
self. His long white hair covering his face partly as he looked at himself, the lizard eyes glancing
back at him. Now he was a pureblood, the first in millenia, and now his quest could truly begin
to reclaim the Valheru Sword of Darkness, which he lost at the end of the Vong War.
Suddenly his comm bleeped and Ylith pressed the button to take the call.
"Sir, we are on route to Gamuslag. But before that Consul Keibatsu Goura requested that you will need
a briefing about the current situation. Right now he is in a meeting with the Overlord, but he did
ask me to send you this file and to meet up with him after. That is all"
The link was broken before the Sith could ask what was going on, but he took a datapad and downloaded
the data to read before Macron was done with his meeting with Tron. Something felt out of place but
he didnt let that take over his mind. First he needed to see Macron and get some information on what
he should do next.
Seng Karash Starport
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
The sun was beginning to set on Aeotheran as Doctor Faustix and TX-4519 made their way through the starport to the departure lounge. The blue glow of Orian Major illuinated the city in beautiful shades of purple and violet at this time of day. The aura was noticable even inside the ordinarily gloomy corridors of the starport.
“Where do you think we should head?” said Tex.
Doctor Faustix smiled. “That should be “where do you think we should head, Master,” Tex.”
Tex glared at Doctor Faustix in a manner quite unlike any ordinary droid eliciting stares from several bystanders as they waited in the departure lounge for a hover taxi.
“That's amazing!” said a Twi'lek standing beside them. “How does it do that?”
“I am designed with state of the art phase-shifted tera linkages,” said Tex, trying to make his voice sound as robotic as possible.
The woman looked on confused. “What are tera whatsits?”
Doctor Faustix smiled. “Tera linkages. It's an artificial liquid alloy. “
The Twi'lek studied Tex for another few moments before signalling a taxi and waving goodbye.
“Well this is working better than I expected,” said Doctor Faustix. “Anyway, we'll need to make our way to Marakith somehow.” Faustix looked up at the dark shape hovering in the sky above them. “I'm just unsure how we get there without being seen. We can't exactly fly up and knock on the door.”
Tex studied the skyhook as Doctor Faustix hailed the next hover taxi. After Faustix was done telling the driver to take them to the leisure district Tex followed the doctor into the rear compartment. Once they were seated Tex resumed speaking, “I've got a friend in the city who might be able to help.”
Doctor Faustix glanced sideways at him. “Your friends usually have a habit of causing a scene,” he said dryly.
Tex began to shake his head then remembered he was supposed to be a droid and went rigid again. “You remember Stacia Jasbeec?”
“The rogue knight? Left a few years ago?”
“The one and only. She's working as an information broker in the city now. I usually use her when I'm staying at...” Tex stopped, remembering what had happened only days before. “I used to use her when I was staying at Antei to keep tabs on things in Orian.”
“Spying on the clan?” said Doctor Faustix mildly amused.
“Of course. Anyway, I think I should go see her. She might have a way into the skyhook without being seen.”
“I notice you didn't mention me going to see her. What am I supposed to do until then?” said Doctor Faustix irritably.
Tex gave a mechanical shrug. “We're heading to the leisure district. I'm sure you'll think of something. We can meet up after nightfall.”
Anubis' comm-link buzzed.
Guardian Anubis Wrath, you are not permited to leave the Covenant.
"What!" Anubis answered.
These are the orders of your Consul. you will obey them.
Anubis sighed, got out of the X-Wing, and headed towards his personal chambers, to work on his cybernetic arm. He decided it would be quicker to walk through the mess hall, so he did. As he was walking, he went into a day dream. In this dream, he would meet another Valheru.
Anubis suddenly fell to the ground. He looked up, to see what he was dreaming about. Another Valheru. He stared at the Valheru, and got up. He removed his mask, to yet the man see his own Valheru face.
"Uh, hello" is all Anubis could muster up to say. The man grinned.
"I'm Anubis Wrath, one of the Valheru descendants" Anubis answered. The man paused for a second, and turned his back to Anubis.
"The name's Ylith," the man said as he walked off.
Anubis placed his mask back on his face, walked back to his quarters
Anubis sat down at his desk, thinking about what happened.
I didn't know that there was a Valheru on the Covenant. How come I couldn't see it before? Anubis asked himself.
Anubis left his quarters, and walked up to the bridge. When he arrived, he was greeted by the common men. He walked up to Macron, and bowed.
"Hey Mac" he said.
"Well if it isn't Guardian Anubis."
"So is there anything that I can do around here, since you denied my departure?" Anubis asked.
"There sure is. I need someone to take a good look at some of the cannons around the ship. We can never be to sure in case it comes to a fight, I'll send two mechanics with you for extra help," he said. Anubis nodded, and went to check the various laser and ion cannons around the vessel.
[[OOC: Ha, Made It]]
Renix's Wine Warehouse
Seng Karash Commercial and Liesure District.
Malisane sat in the backroom of the warehouse talking to Renix. "So you don't know who they are?"
The Ithorian shook his long neck."No, they give public service announcments saying appealing for calm and promising the curfews will end in a few days but they've never said who they are."
"Any clues at all?"
Renix thought. "The announcement come from a woman, saying she's the new planetary Governor."
"Did she give a name?" Malisane asked.
"Yes, her name is Garlina."
"That sounds familiar," Malisane mused, "heard it somewhere before."
Renix reached his arm over and picked up a remote. "I have a recording of the last message."
"Play it." Malisane watched as a strange logo appeared on the screen, then a womans face appeared, talking softly. Malisane jolted in shock, his mind casting back to two years earlier on Mustafar, bolted to a table while robed figures drew designs on his face.
"So who are you?" Malisane demanded of one of them.
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."
"I am, or was, Krath Archpriestess Garlina Megelos of Clan Tarentum. Now I am just Garlina Megelos."
Malisane sat quietly, his mind racing. It wasn't possible, was it? They were dead, should be dead anyway. He thought for a few minutes then, "You have to get me into the Skyhook."
Renix gave a startled noise. "No, that is not possible."
Malisane got to his feet, pacing up and down in front of the confused ithorian. Then he stopped. "I have a plan."
"This is not going to work," Renix said in a panicky voice, "we will be killed."
Malisane sat in the co-pilots chair, watching as the cone shaped skyhook he had lived in and done so much work on came closer. "Yes it will."
The communicator crackled, and a voice said, "Unidentified shuttle, state your identity and business."
Malisane nodded to the ithorian who took a breath and said. "I am Renix, I am the owner of Renix's Wine Warehouse. I am bringing a complementary delivery, in the hope that you will place further orders." Malisane gave him a nod of approval.
There was a pause then. "We are scanning you, maintain your present course."
"They are not going to accept this Mr Var." Renix said quietly.
The communicator crackled again. "Proceed to public bay two. Follow the guidance beams."
Malisane smiled. "You heard them."
Public Bay Two
The Marakith Skyhook
Malisane followed the ithorian down the ramp, carrying a crate of wine. Ahead of them a party of stormtroopers waited, blasters ready. "You will wait there. Put the crate down."
Renix nodded. He was terrified, but knew if he called out he would die first.
Malisane put the crate down carefully then straightened up.
A minute later a tall zabrak entered, wearing expensive clothing and a pair of sabers at his belt. Malisane felt another stab of recognition but couldn't place it. The zabrak studied them. "Move over to that wall," he ordered pointing and Renix began to move. Malisane stood still, watching the zabrak intently.
"Did you not hear me correctly?"
"I did." Malisane replied.
The zabrak snarled and was about to act when a familiar woman entered from behind the stormtroopers. "What is happening Imgaril?" Then her eyes widened as she saw the Sith. "Its him!"
"Who?" Imgaril demanded looking from her to Malisane.
"Severaks son." Garlina replied.
Imgaril studied the Battlemaster curiously, fingers near his twin sabers "Are you?"
Malisane nodded. "I am."
"What are you doing here?" Garlina demanded.
Malisane looked at one then the other in a relaxed manner. "I would have thought that was obvious," he said pleasantly, "I've come to join the True Brotherhood."
Dlarit Corporation Factory
A small squad of stormtroopers marched on the streets near a factory, checking for any citizens out on the streets. The factory they walked past was the main producer of datapads in the Orian System, so said the ad hanging above the entrance. They mostly produced cheap ones, with little memory capacity and computing power. But the section that Atreyos was standing in was clearly not the cheap section. If he wasn’t in his current situation, he would have been as giddy as a schoolboy.
He picked up a smaller datapad and fiddled around with it. It was clearly more powerful than his own, his being an older version. Glancing around him, he noticed that he was the only one in the factory. The others probably tried to escape by now. Foolish of them, considering that they were outgunned, he thought. The remaining workers had tried to formulate some way to get back to their families. He shook his head as he remembered the look in their eyes. Determination had lined each of them, but in his experiences, determination was not enough. Besides, they were factory workers, not soldiers.
He shook his head again to clear his thoughts, and pulled a small cable from his old datapad to fix to the newer one. A few command sequences later, he had started to transfer all of his data into the more compact datapad. Satisfied with his work, he pulled his DH-17 out of his robes. There wasn’t much left in the energy pack, probably enough for another 20 shots. Oh well, it will get me out of this factory, that’s for sure, he thought with a smile. He had been stuck for too long in this factory, ever since he had seen the turbolaser blasts cutting into the residential district.
The sound of the opening door at the other end of the factory drew his attention. His smile faded as he saw two stormtroopers come through, and two more fill the doorway. He quickly ducked behind a metal container. The footsteps of his enemies seemed to stop, and he heard the small clicks of the power settings on the E-11 rifles. Well, so much for surprise. No doubt they just set their blasters to kill, he thought to himself. Bah, at least I’ll take a few of them with me. Talking isn’t my style, anyway.
Taking a deep breath, he leaped to the side, aiming his blaster towards the nearest stormtrooper. His first shot went wide, slamming into the door control panel, and frying the circuits. His second shot hit, a lucky shot that tore into the neck of the unfortunate trooper. He watched as the trooper lifted his hands to his scorched and bleeding neck, before he flew into cover of another metal container.
A loud clang filled the room, two separate screams following it. One was continuous, while the other was short and immediately cut off. Atreyos glanced quickly around the corner and saw the source. The two troopers in the doorway had been crushed by the rapidly descending door, their limbs twitching desperately. The last remaining trooper had dropped his rifle and took off his helmet, screaming in fear and revulsion.
Atreyos moved quickly to rush the last stormtrooper, pointing his weapon at him with authority. “Don’t move,” Atreyos stated. The man freezed, but continued his heavy breathing. The Acolyte shook his head and scowled, thinking, They send rookies to do a soldier’s job. Must’ve been his first time to see death.
“Who are you? Why are you here?”
The man (He can’t be more than 18 years old, Atreyos thought as he studied his face) said, “P-private Gatters. We’re here t-to take over the O-orian system.”
“And I take it that you’ve succeeded so far?”
That figured. Atreyos had wondered why the hell someone would fire on the residential district. He needed to find a way to get a message out, perhaps by holonet. If the Covenant had or was returning, he was sure that the Clan would want to know what was happening. But that meant moving through the streets, something that he was sure wouldn’t go unpunished by the Stormies. Unless… he thought.
He raised his blaster to point at the trooper’s face. “Take off your clothes. I’m borrowing them.”
Cannon Room 6
Anubis and his mechanics team checked out the three laser cannons in the room. After examining the cannons they met up in the center of the room.
"Report?" Anubis asked. The men took out their datapads, and started reading,
"Laser Cannon one has had poor mantenince, but after a little tweeking I should have it operational," said the first mechanic. Anubis motioned the second.
"Well, aside from the cannon's targeting systems down for now, it shouldn't need that much repair. All I need is a hydrospanner, some wiring, and time" said the second mechanic. Anubis nodded, and sent them to do their work. Anubis himself had to repair some things on his cannon, the targetting system, firing mechanisim.
He got to work, fixing the cannon after a while, as did his two mechanics. They set out and examined a few more cannons around the ship, until they were all ready for combat. Anubis let the mechanics go do something else, but to keep in touch if something went wrong. He thought he should report his news to Macron, and the fire conrtol opereator at the bridge, so he made his way to the turbo lift.
Anubis stepped of the turbo lift and greeted Macron. Macron greeted back, and they started a short conversation.
"Consul, all cannons around the ship are fully operational. I know that my fighter has been destroyed, and the pilot that was in it killed. I would like to have access to salvage two old fighters that we still have in the hanger."
"Thank you, Guardian. And you may have access to them, seeing as they are about to be scrapped anyways. Report your news to the fire control officcer, and continue on with your work."
Anubis bowed, and walked over to fire control.
"All cannons fire ready," was all he said before getting on the turbo lift. After getting off the turbo lift, He made his way to the Hanger.
Anubis got to work on the old Eta-2 Actis-class fighter, and the Delta-7 fighter near the repair station. He removed parts of the Eta-2, and placed them onto the Delta-7 frame. He removed the targeting systems, navigational systems, and the shielding systems. He installed his own, and patched up the frame.
With the fighter finished, he named it the Valheru Storm after his race. He requested permission to test the fighter and it was granted.
Anubis turned on his comm-link,
"This is Valheru Strom requesting opening of the bay doors"
Opening the bay doors Valheru Storm, you are clear for take off.
"Roger that" he replied before taking off.
Anubis quickly did a few arial manouevers, before returning to the hanger, making sure that the fire-linked cannons, and missile launcher worked.
That was quick, said hanger control. Anubis chuckled a bit, and returned to his quarters.
The Valheru walked through the corridors and finally found the command deck. The
doors flew open and the Battlemaster walked in without hesitation.
"Sir Atema, I was expecting you. Please sit down." The commander said and Ylith took
a seat at the edge of the command deck.
"The Consul shall be with you shortly." The commander said and he took a short bow, then
left to check on the ensigns at the helm.
Suddnly a door opened and Macron walked out towards the Sith, who rose and shook the hand
of Macron, then smiled.
"It has been a long time Consul, tell me, how can I aid you?"
"You know of the situation in Gamuslag?"
"About the True Brotherhood? Aye."
"We need a seasoned warrior like yourself to lead the first assault squad to Gamuslag."
"How long untill we arrive."
"Wont be long, so it would be best to arm yourself, how is your body coping with the treatment?"
"It still burns but I am recovering as we speak. My strenghts are returning by the second."
"Good Ylith, now, head onto the hangar and take a shuttle. Wait for my signal and when you
do, head out and engage the enemy. We will support you after we sort things out."
The Valheru rose and bowed, then left off to his quarters to gather his weapons. He was ready
for blood, it was time for the true Valheru to return to the battlefield.
Aeotheran, Seng Karesh
"I'll need proper attire. Tex has no business going where I will" Trevarus said, "Where to find a decent shop around here?"
Xanos arched an eyebrow. "And I thought proper attire was optional for most establishments?"
"Only some," Trevarus said, with a sly grin. "And only if you pay the right price."
The pair walked down the side streets of Seng Karesh, through a rather sparse crowd in the early evening. Humans, civilian and Dlarit employees, a few scattered off-world traders and business-creatures. Most of the shops seemed new, specializing in droid repair, weapons, sundry purchases... but not a decent clothier. They paused outside a small art dealer.
"How horrid." Trevarus said, looking at displays of flowers, dessicated and painted with what seemed to be little flecks of glittering metal.
"Trev... over here." Vexatus said, "This will probably suit your needs."
"No it won't, yet it should suffice."
The pair walked into a small boutique, arrayed with outdated, if slightly trendy formal wear. The cut of the jackets was more casual than Trevarus favored, the material too coarse, and the construction downright crude. He tugged at the seam of one.
"May I help you, gentle....men?" A small humaniod man, with insectoid eyes had approached. He looked at Vexatus and Trevarus, unsure how to properly greet them. Trevarus almost started laughing, Vexatus looked genuinely irate.
"I am looking for clothing suitable to cover my droid. I grow tired of people gawking at the intricacy of my design. What do you have, that isn't obscenely obnoxious or as crass as what you have displayed here? Price is of no concern." Vexatus said, containing his irritation through subtle hostility.
The clothier motioned the pair deeper into his shop. Along one back was, was a triage of mirrors tall, with a raised platform on the base. "Have your droid stand there."
"It understands basic, shopkeer." Vexatus said, as Trevarus stepped up to the platform, looking at his shimmering metal flesh in the mirrors, even his eyes had the silver cast. He looked truly mechanical. After a few measurements were taken and the clothier had fitted him with a few different selections, Trevarus had clothing again. He had selected a blue tunic with a banded collar, that fit him snugly, a black seamless vest, and a jacket nearly matching his favorite in style: Three quarters of his length, with six buttons and a pointed collar.
"Tex, my wallet please." Vexatus asked. Trevarus reached into a pocket of his trousers, and retrieved a simply black billfold. It contained nothing but a standard credit chit. "Republic Credits will suffice?"
"I will require another 3,000, for the exchange rate."
Vexatus handed him the card, the man narrowed his eyes by accepted it, pulling an ancient scanner from under his counter. When the funds had been debited, the man walked them out of the store.
Just as they were about to exit, Trevarus took a wide-brimmed black fedore off a display model, and cocked it on his head.
"Your droid... sir."
One glare from the Falleen was enough to silence him.
"I've never paid so much for trash." Trevarus said, as they walked down the street. "Yet, I don't think we've been followed."
"You are blind without your senses, that will be the death of you someday. We've had a tail since Kento Square." Vexatus said, his voice low. "And someone went into the shop after us."
"I see. Carefully, the Master stopped and scanned the crowd. There seemed to be soldiers milling about casually. "You're referring to the Rodian in black robes, perhaps thirty meters... on the far street corner?"
"Yes. She hasn't been probing us with the Force... but I don't believe she needs to."
"I would agree... her gaze is most unsettling." Trevarus carefully opened a portion of his senses, trailing a slight touch at the alien female. "She is trained in the dark arts... but is a minor power... low-tier Journeyman." He finally said.
"She will likely follow me, so I'll deal with her while you go about what ever it is you're going to do." Vexatus said. "Do you still have your communicator?"
"Yes, I'll contact you when I've finished." Trevarus said, turning into the crowd. He knew where to look for his contact.
Aeotheran, Seng Karesh
A maelstrom of pulsing, writhing music blasted through the hazy air of the old warehouse. Thousands of young rebels--from as many species--danced to show their rebellion, dancing, drinking and flirting--at least until the night’s money ran out. Couples sitting in dimmed booths, Lust crazed singles, seeking out a suitable mate, prowling across the flashing dance floor. It was the perfect setting for the folly of youth. Trevarus stood at the bar a tall glass of some heady lager cradled in his hand, next to a young man, drenched in the spicy tang of a glitbiter. He hated the smell of spice, but that wasn’t his concern right now.
Instead, he was looking through the ornate display of liquors, past their brightly colored, intoxicating mixtures to a young human male, trying to seduce a human female. It was the same Knight who had confronted them in the spaceport.
The young woman was quite attractive. The Knight wasn't bad looking, but she could clearly do better than he. Her skin was smooth, bright eyes, perfect curves. She held her drink with that certain panache, her amore was quite boorish by comparison. The bartender refilled his tankard with the same spicy brew, and Trevarus tipped him well. He watched the pair drift off into the crowd, waving their bodies in time with the music blasting with heart-throbbing intensity. His ears were ringing, wondering how the hell these kids could function in such noise, but then, he thought, that was probably the point. They came here to show their parents how adult they were.
Trevarus had looked carefully, and he was pretty sure that his target was the only one carrying a lightsaber in this building. He drained his lager and stood to leave, watching his young target lead his beauty of a lady friend through the large exit doors. A few credit chits bounced on the counter, but he never saw the bartender’s gratitude. Instead, he saw a slender hand on his shoulder. He was surprised, but he regained his composure quickly.
“Why do you always make yourself so damn obvious,” a seductive voice mewled softly, guiding him back to the stool he had just left. He sat down, regarding the beauty that had now distracted him.
“Its been awhile Stacia,” he said as carefully he could manage in the noise. “I expected you early.”
A swath of golden yellow hair fell across her face as she smiled, “Eosara never seems to expect it when I show up either.” She took a sip of a fruity looking drink. “I’m fulla surprises.”
Trevarus didn’t say anything, but instead regarded the new lager that had been set for him by the eager barkeep.
The woman stayed the silence for a space of heartbeats, “Why the hell are you dogging Diermot Hain, anyway?”
“I hadn’t known his name, thanks.” He said, wondering what she was going after.
“We’ll make that a freebie, but you still didn’t answer my question.”
“I’m trying to get dating tips,” Trevarus said, “He seems to take the hottest ones home.”
“You’re wondering about his lightsaber, and why no-one seems to know him.” It wasn’t a question, she clearly knew something about this character he didn’t, and the pissing around was starting to piss him off.
“I was, actually.” He said, letting a bit of his annoyance slip out in his tone.
“Hey, don’t get bitchy with me,” Stacia said, feigning insult. “I just want to see how much you’ve actually figgered out.”
Trevarus laughed. He hadn’t expected that Stacia would be so evasive; she was one of the better information brokers this side of the Republic’s border.
"Regardless, what happened here?" Trevarus asked. "I was on Antei when the Vong first arrived... but the governors of this system were gone for three days."
"Word on the Holonet, is that the Yuuzhan Vong had amassed a fleet near the old Sith Empire. The Republic's military leaders seemed to ignore the fact, as most of those sectors are officially uninhabited these days, with the exception of a few scattered system holdings, such as here. I think the leaders of this operation moved in, when they realized who was under attack."
"Do you have any more names?" The Master inquired.
"It was strange, they arrived maybe three days ago with a Star Destroyer, and set up a blockade, and a ground invasion. The "new Governor" gave a small speech over the networks, and imposed a curfew, as a defense against the Vong. I've tracked a few Dark Jedi on the ground, mostly small fish, like Hain... and another Rodian who's probably the equivalent of a Protector. There are three very powerful Presenses on the world. I haven't seem them."
"Alright, thanks Stacia... I need to meet back with Xanos." He stood, leaving the bartender a few more bills.
"Stay in touch Trev... you know where to find me." Stacia kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Oh, one more thing. The Dark Jedi call themselves The True Brotherhood."
"I see. I thought they were eradicated a few years ago. Thank you."
Trevarus melted into the crowd, leaving Stacia at the bar. He thumbed his communicator from under his jacket, and sent a short chirp to Vexatus.
"Kento Square, one hour." Was all he said, certain his frequencies were being monitored.
Sitting by the viewport where he, Shuang Long, and the remaining crew were stationed, Nero casts a glance out of the viewport into the city. He'd heard there was a curfew in place, and this didn't help Nero's unease. The other crew seemed to be fine with it; they were in no danger as long as they did as they were told.
To Nero, it seemed a good idea to wait until his powers returned to him. He was glad that he at least still had enough of a connection to the Force to be able to see; if his Master had completely suppressed his Force signature he would have been blind, making this all the more hard.
But now the slight feeling of paranoia began bleeding into his thoughts. Eventually they would figure out that two of the crew assembled here didn't check out. If six stormtroopers and a Jedi Knight blocked their way out, it didn't matter that Nero had a Jedi Knight by his side, they would be overrun and captured, maybe killed if they were lucky.
"Shuang," Nero said softly to the form of Shuang meditating on the floor, "Let's go see if we can do something."
The Jedi Knight bristled with annoyance of having his meditation interrupted, "Why? Without our powers we're missing a distinct advantage."
"We've got another one," Replied the Protector, "This planet belongs to Clan Naga Sadow. There must be some kind of resistance group. And I get the feeling that our disguises as pilots will only work so far until they find out, and we are essentially trapped in here." The Miraluka reminded the Falleen/Zabrak.
Nero's attention was caught by a Rodian in black robes. She strode confidently, with the grace that could only belong to a highly trained individual. Walking briskly to the commander of the force guarding the entrance to where Nero and Shuang were holed up, the commander pointed in a direction leading into the city.
Directly the route taken by Xanos and Trevarus.
"It appears we don't have a choice now. Come take a look at this Rodian." Nero said quickly, motioning Shuang over.
Shuang Long brought himself to his feet and looked over, "Is she thinking she can take out the Master and Xanos? Seriously?"
"Doesn't matter, maybe she'll succeed. Then we'd be out two Masters. Let's tail her and see what she does." Nero suggested. "I need some fresh air anyway. I know a way around those guards."
"What are you thinking?" The Knight asked.
"Punch me and knock the wind out of me, then help me get to them and explain that I need medical attention immediately, they'll likely send an escort with us, but it shouldn't be more than six of them. We take them out and make our own way to where she's going."
"A daring plan, if I may say so. Let's see if this works." Shuang replied, and without warning balled his fist and with full force drove it into Nero's chest, pushing the air out of his lungs. Nero immediately went limp, gasping desperately for air.
Slinging an arm over his shoulder and snaking another around Nero's waist, Shuang carried the much smaller Nero outside.
"Halt!" It came from one of the stormtroopers, his blaster rifle pointed at them, "Get back inside. This is your final warning."
"Sorry to trouble you, medical emergency!" Shuang Long replied, putting enough panic in his voice, "My friend here just keeled over, and he can't breathe. He needs medical attention."
"We'll have a medical officer come by-" The stormtrooper replied when he was cut off from a rasping and seemingly desperate Nero. "Can't breathe... Help me." Before closing his eyes, his breath coming in ragged gasps.
The stormtrooper was at a loss, he looked around for an answer he wasn't going to find. Shuang put the pressure on. "He's going to die if you don't do something! Let me take him."
"Alright, alright, but you're getting an escort." He motioned to two of the other troopers to follow them, "If you don't come back, we'll find out and bring you back in a lot worse condition."
"All right, friend, I get the point. See you in a bit." The Jedi Knight replied, carrying his gasping charge down the street at the behest of the two stormtroopers that followed them. "Let me know when you're ready to go," Shuang whispered into Nero ear, then raised his voice slightly, "Don't die on me, buddy."
They had gotten out of sight and earshot of the rest of the troopers when Nero began the attack. He took Master Beriss' lightsaber and held it to the throat of the closest trooper. Igniting it with a snap-hiss and a stabbing blue light, the blade pierced the neck of the trooper and with a deft movement snapped to the side. The trooper was dead before he could utter a single scream.
Nero stood of his own accord, freeing Shuang to take take care of the other one. The tall halfbreed sweeps his legs along the floor, kicking up dust everywhere and knocking the trooper off his feet, falling forwards on top of Shuang's lightsaber, the amber glow of his lightsaber mixing with the blue of Nero's.
Shutting down his saber, Nero picked up his kill and began to drag in into a dark corner, then stood guard while Shuang piled his kill on top of Nero's. "We'll have to hurry if we want to catch that Rodian." Nero said, taking off at a full run into the direction the Rodian was going in.
Anubis sat on his bed, reading a data pad on the history of the Valheru. How it made it into his Quarters was unknown. He read and read and read, until his communication center rang. Anubis stopped reading and strolled over to the screen, and placed on his mask. He hit the accept button, and his Quaestor's face appeared.
"Guardian Anubis, nice to see you."
"Same to you, Quaestor, anything you need?" he asked.
"Actually yes there is. It concerns your new master. Please come to my quarters/office when ever you get the chance. Good day to you, Guardian." the screen went blank. Anubis gathered his outer robes, and tightened his mask, before heading out.
Level 5, Turbo Lift Area
He headed towards the nearby turbo lift, to take down to level two, where he would meet his Quaestor for their meeting.
Level 2, Turbo Lift Area
He got off the turbo lift, and walked down the halls, counting three doors in his head. When he came to the third, he turned to the door, and rang the buzzer. The door opened a few seconds later, with Ashia in her usual atire.
"Come in," she gestered him to sit in the chair beside her make-do desk. He took his seat, and waited for his Quaestor to get settled in. Settled in, Ashia spoke,
"I have called you here to see your new master, I, am your new master." Ashia could sense the smile on Anubis' face.
"Well, I am honured to have you as my master, Master Keibatsu."
"Good to know. As of right now, anything you do, you report it to me. Don't think that I'll be any less strick then your old master. You may be excused, apprentice."
Anubis stood up, and started to reach into his hood,
"Well if your going to be my master, you should have the right to see my face," he said before unclipping and removing the mask from his face.
"Ah a Valheru. I thought that Ylith was the last remaining one?"
"No, and I would like to more know about that "Ylith" character." Ashia smiled.
"He will contact you when he is ready to talk," she said. With that finished, Anubis reclipped the mask, and bowed to his master. He left her quarters, and waited for the nearby turbo lift.
The Detention Centre
Malisane sat in one of the interogation rooms, sipping a cup of coffee. They'd been suprised, and that seemed to have given him the edge so far, but now the questions would start. He glanced over at Imgaril who was leaned against a wall, watching him.
"Whats the delay?" Malisane demanded. "Whatever you've got to ask, ask it."
The zabrak studied him. "Be patient De Ath, we have to check out your story."
Malisane shrugged. "Very well, but don't be too long about it."
"We will not be," a voice assured him from behind.
Malisane fought to control his emotions. Striding around the table was a figure he was not expecting, had never expected to see. He looked up into the woman who had been his fathers lover and apprentice, who had posed as Malisane's own apprentice to infiltrate the Clan while manipulating him and others, who he himself had knifed during that confrontation allowing the Keibatsu to leap in and finish off, and who had turned up later on Malachor to gloat over his upcoming death.
Severina looked down at him. "You are either telling the truth or you are extremily foolish Malisane," she told him gravely, her cold beautiful features boring into him. She turned to Imgaril. "Ask your questions again, I will determine if he lies."
Malisane took a deep breath, trying to appear calm, then looked at the zabrak.
Imgaril studied him. "Why are you here?"
"I told you, I have left Clan Naga Sadow. I have come to join the True Brotherhood."
"Where is the rest of Clan Naga Sadow?" Imgaril continued.
"I do not know," Malisane replied, " the last time I saw the VSD Covenant it was inside the Shroud under heavy attack from several Yuuhzan Vong capital ships."
Imgaril glanced at Severina then continued "Did you see it destroyed?"
"No, but it was loosing badly. I left quickly in my ship while their fighters were distracted."
"Did you see anyone else leave the Antei system, or have you seen anyone since?"
"No to both," Malisane said, "I returned to Seng Karash and discovered your presence."
"Why did you sneak onboard with a wine merchant rather than contacting us directly?"
"Because I wanted to be sure it was definatley the True Brotherhood, not another group. The merchant Renix knew nothing of my plans. Seeing Garlina Megalos confirmed it."
Severina was silent for a moment, then "He speaks the truth, as far as he knows it."
Malisane was as suprised as anyone at her words, but kept his emotions under control. Maybe his defences were better than he expected, or maybe her powers had weakened in death. He hadn't expected to meet anyone of Severina's powers but somehow it had worked.
"So what now?"Imgaril asked when Malisane had been taken back to his cell.
Severina studied the zabrak. "We need new members, a Dark Brotherhood trained equite is a useful find, and he has demonstrated that his loyalty isn't as firm as his file on the computer suggests. That file did however suggest that since his suprise resignation from Quaestor his behavior has altered somewhat. He is however regarded as an able leader and will be useful to us."
"So we will accept him?"
Severina nodded. "I will inform Anaxela, I will take him under my authority she will not argue."
"She will be suspicious." Imgaril pointed out.
"Then allay her suspicions as well as you can," Severina ordered, "remember where your loyalties lie."
Imgaril bowed, "As you wish."
"He will give the Oath tonight, then he is one of us."
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
The room was dark save the low light emitting from the two candles on the floor. Between the candles, a small dish was bellowing wisps of smoke. As the smoke started thinning, a dark figure is knelt before the candles frozen as if a statue in a museum. Tsingtao Ming has been in this trance since the Covenant left for home. A beep in the room broke the silence.
Tsingtao raised his head and embraced the Force, floating his communicator towards him. The communicator reached Tsingtao's open hand, beeping again. He activated the device, "Yes my Master?" A metallic voice responded making the dark room colder than it is. "Meet me on the bridge. NOW!!" Tsingtao rose to stand erect, "As you command, my Master."
Tsingtao exited the turbolift and onto the bridge. He approached his Master, Shin'ichi Keibatsu Sadow, bowing his head. "My Apprentice. I hope you are well rested. It seems as we have new business to take care of." An evil grin crossed Tsingtao's face, "Where do I begin?"
“Slow down, Protector,” Shuang said, eyes glittering with bloodlust, “simply walk briskly. We look quite a bit more like murderers and escapees when running at full speed.”
“I am sorry. I’m just a little nervous,” said Nero, his hands shaking slightly. He was not the old veteran that Shuang was, and every kill was a new, perhaps painful experience for him.
Shuang smiled faintly and glanced at Nero’s hand. “In your haste, friend, you seem to have forgotten to stow your weapon.”
Cheeks flushed, the young dark Jedi hid his saber in a pocket of his flight suit.
“Now let us go,” Shuang said, his pace brisk as he led Nero to the departure lounge.
“Where are we going?”
“If this Rodian is tracking our Master, I can only assume that she will follow in his footsteps. She will want to make her way to the city proper. The departure lounge is the most logical place to go to.”
“With any luck, we will catch this spy en route.”
They continued on their path, attracting some rather curious looks from passerby, most likely due to their torn and damaged flight suits. But that was to be expected, especially in such dangerous times, and many people simply saw them as veterans of the countless conflicts scarring the galaxy. There were plenty sites more curious than they in this spaceport.
A sense of urgency filled them, inexplicable and inextricable, and they sped up just a little. Mere moments later, turning a corner, they spotted their quarry.
“There,” Shuang whispered, the word coming out in a sibilant hiss, “follow me, Pennant.”
“Excellent timing,” said the Protector, his tone hushed, as they came closer to the hovertaxi stand. Their quarry hailed a hovertaxi. The vehicle was still for a moment, hovering a few centimeters off the ground, before rocketing away.
Nero took the initiative, stepping forward and raising his hand. Almost immediately a hovertaxi landed in front of him.
The two krath crammed inside. “Follow that taxi,” Shuang said, pointing at their receding target. The driver did not need further prompting, his expectation of a big tip going unspoken.
“Master Caerick’s concentration is waning, Pennant.”
“My connection to the force grows stronger.”
“I assume that he is suppressing his abilities. He likely expects that someone, perhaps force sensitive, is tracking him.”
“Let’s find this someone.”
“Yes. It is regrettable that we lost the Rodian in the crowd.”
“Can you sense her, perhaps?”
“I can,” Shuang said, extending his net of perception over the crowd. Carefully, tentatively, he probed, afraid of alerting other force sensitive individuals to his presence.
One light burned brighter in the darkness.
“A little farther ahead,” he whispered, “on the street corner.”
“Now it is our turn to hunt,” said Nero, slipping into the shadows.
Level 5 Turbo Lift Area
Anubis got off the turbo lift, walking down the hall to his quarters. He emerged with sheathed daggers strapped at the side of his upper legs. He didn't know why he was all geared up, but thought he may need it. Anubis wanted to see what was going on at the bridge, so he took a ride up.
Anubis emerged from the turbo lift, and walked down the bridge to the viewing area. He was greeted by common officers. He ignored most of them, until a friend of his strolled up. It was Shayne. They talked like usual, nothing special. Anubis eventually got bored, and made his way towards the hanger.
Anubis arrived to see the Valheru Storm where he had left it. He layed on the fighter, looking up at the top of the hanger.
"Going somewhere?" a shuttle pilot asked.
"No, why do you ask?"
"Just thought that you were wearing those robes, mask and daggers at your side for a reason."
"Nope. Just bored as usual." The pilot smirked.
"Some of us are about to head over to the mess hall and have a few, care to join us?" he waited for Anubis to speak his name.
"The name's Anubis. I'd be happy to join you until something comes up," Anubis said. The mess hall was in a way connected to the hanger. Anubis and the pilot met up with others, and moved into the mess hall. They drank a little, until Anubis decided that getting in-toxicated right now would not be the smartest choice. He left the pilots to their drinking, and returned to his fighter. On his way there, he grabbed a hydrospanner so that he could do some work on his arm. He would have to be contacted through the Force for now, as the arm needed to shut itself down before anyone could remove the service panel.
Ashia let out a long sigh. The past seven days had taken their toll on the Quaestor and all she really wanted was hot bath.
She rubbed at her eyes briefly then went back to the datapad in her hands, going through the roster and getting troops in order.
She was pissed as hell that after everything they had been through, they had to come home only to find out it had been overtaken in their absence.
The only comfort she had been afforded was the transmission she had received from Kaine when they had dropped out of hyperspace.
‘The Lion lives.’ Was all it read, but she knew what it meant. Muz had been found and was in the care of the Dark Council. She wished she had similar news on Sanjuro.
Ashia tried not to think about it as she went about her duties.
‘There’ll be time enough for that later, sister.’ Shin’ichi’s familiar tone rang throughout her mind, right before the door slide open admitting him to the room.
The Proconsul stood in the door way, an imposing figure to be sure. The bottom half of his face covered by a mask, the result of a fight with Eojin awhile back.
She punched a few things into the datapad then set it down.
“There. That’s done. How’s the ship look? We up for this, whatever it is?”
Shin’ichi shrugged, his thick shoulders barely moving under the suit he wore.
“We’ll find out soon enough. Malisane has gone down to try and gain entrance in Marakith Skyhook and see what he can find out.”
“He did what?”
A lump formed in the Quaestor’s throat. She remembered how the Prefect had been during the Vong invasion. He had fought bravely to kill as many of those chui kang as possible, but he always seemed to find himself in one of the bars on the ship doing it. Sometimes his actions seemed reckless, unstable; he wasn’t the same anymore.
She worried about him and what might happen.
Malisane sat in his new quarters, drinking a coffee and thinking. It was a weird sensation. After all the weeks around Antei he was home, and yet it wasn't home. This was the city he'd developed, setting up new businesses, the monorail system, improving the infrastructure. And Marakith he'd overhauled as well, supervising updating the systems, rearming with new technology. And yet it felt foriegn to him. After being released from the detention centre he'd taken the oath in front of Severina Imgaril and several others, and assigned quarters, and closely followed by stormtroopers, a sign they didn't trust him yet, he'd sat on one of the shielded balconies and overlooked the city he'd ruled for over a year. Where was home now, here, Kangaras, anywhere?
He looked up as there was a beep as the door locked, and the figure of Severina appeared in front of him. She looked down at him, the cold smile he remembered. "I hope you have settled in Malisane, I'd ask you if you were finding your way around but of course you know this place well."
He held his tounge from a retort. "How can I help you?" he asked.
Severina looked around her, checking with the force that there was no-one observing, mechanically or otherwise. "Well Malisane, now we're alone its about time you began telling me the truth."
Anubis called out to his master,
"Something bothers you, Master Keibatsu."
"It is nothing, apprentice." replied the Quaestor.
"I have just recieved word that Lord Ashen lives, how is he?"
"That is unknown to me, but I know that he still breathes. There is no need to concern yourself with this."
"As you wish. I would like to make a trip to the Sadow Palace."
"The answer is no at the moment, we may need you here when the time comes."
Those were Ashia's last words, before she cut the feed. However hard Anubis tryed, he could not enter his master's mind and speak with her. Something was bothering her, and it was affecting Anubis. Anubis rang the bridge through his comm-link installed in his cybernetic arm.
"Bridge Control here."
"This is Anubis Wrath, I request clearence to leave the Covenant."
"Clearence denied, you will remain on the ship." Anubis should have known better.
Note to self, never doubt Ashia.
Anubis continued working on his arm after shuting it down again. Why he entered his master's mind without persmission was beyond him. It was his honour getting to him. He did not want any harm to come to his master. Anubis unstrapped the sheathed daggers, unsheathed them and sharpened them. Anubis applied presure to the blade against his hardended skin. As it started to leave a mark, the Guardian did the same thing with the other dagger. They were perfectly sharp, so Anubis returned them to their old position at his side. Anubis could feel that something was wrong, very wrong indeed.
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Night had long since fallen on the streets of Seng Karash since Trevarus and Vexatus had gone their separate ways. The Rodian's disappointment at having been unable to continue tracking them both had been palpable, even without the Force. While Trevarus headed to the Club Xero on the outer edges of the leisure district, Vexatus had headed inwards, past the towering construction site of the future Dystopia nightclub as he slowly made his way toward the central government district.
Though his robes were unbecoming of a typical member of the brotherhood, Darth Vexatus stood out enough to have made it easy for the Rodian to keep track of him. His dark travelling cloak, blacker than the night sky, was the mark of someone not wanting to be seen, only ironically was far more noticeable than the baggy clothing and low cut tops worn by most of the regular clientèle walking the street at this time of night.
Despite having barely visited the lower reaches of the city since its construction Vexatus could remember its layout as well as if it had been built yesterday. Little had changed, indeed little ever would, Seng Karash had been designed to grow outwards, not upwards. The inner city would only ever become more inner city. The rot in the air almost made the Falleen reel. It was not the smell of poverty itself that bothered him, it was the reek of the Mundane, the Force blind. The willingness for them to accept this life and not aspire for anything more. He would have pitied them if he did not disgust them so. The galaxy was better than these people.
The Rodian continued to trail the Sith Lord at a careful pace as he passed through the archway into the government district. Walls separated the various regions of Seng Karash, the tallest looping around the government district. Whatever plan he and Trevarus would eventually decide on, it would take place near the city center, where Marakith hung lowest in the sky, almost within jumping distance from the summit of City Hall. Were it not for the anti-personnel lasers which secretly lined the skyhook's edges he was sure he could make it with a little Force assistance.
“A little late to be wandering the streets of the government district isn't it, sir?” asked a passing member of the Dlarit Police.
Vexatus narrowed his eyes. “Is there a problem, officer?”
“Oh, no, not all,” said the officer casually, “just, what with the occupation,” he said the word so bitterly, “I wouldn't have thought someone would want to be wandering the streets. What with the rumours.”
Vexatus would have raised an eyebrow if he had any. “Rumours?”
“Yeah. Dark Jedi,” said the police officer in a hushed voice. “And Vong.”
“Dark Jedi?” asked the Falleen innocently.
“You haven't heard?” said the officer with surprise, clearly now trying to mask his suspicion given the way his hand moved closer to his blaster. “Apparently the new governor is some kind of Jedi spook.”
“I see. You don't like Force users then?” said Vexatus carefully, though with growing displeasure in his voice.
“What, are you kidding?” exclaimed the officer. “I served in the Imperial Army. Nobody liked Jedi until the New Republic came along. If I could track the governor down I'd blast her myself. You can't trust Jedi. They can mess with your mind. Make you do things you don't like.”
There was a brief flash behind Vexatus's eyes as he opened himself ever so slightly to the Force. “Well, I believe I can help you there.” He waved his hand, gently nudging the officer's mind as he pointed behind him with his thumb. “You see that Rodian back by the district wall?” The officer squinted and Vexatus could tell he was having trouble seeing her. “Near the entrance to the district, I expect she's leaning out from behind one of the security checkpoints.”
“Ah, I got her,” said the officer slowly.
“She's one of them. One of the Jedi occupying the city.”
The officer's eyes widened. “Her?”
Vexatus waved his hand again. “Yeah. You might want to go and say hello.”
The police officer nodded his head briskly. “Yes... yes!” he proclaimed, drawing his blaster rifle as he quickly headed over to where Shovim Dal was hiding. “You there! The one hiding behind the checkpoint! Out! Come on, out!”
Vexatus laughed as he continued on down the street toward City Hall. He really did hate the Mundane, especially those naïve enough to believe they could live without the Force. If the man was lucky he'd get himself killed, if not he'd start a street brawl between the police and the occupying forces.
Either way, the Rodian wouldn't be bothering Vexatus anymore.
Commercial and Leisure District
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
In the shadows outside the entrance to the government district Shaung Long and Nero Pennant looked on in dismay as an the officer from the Dlarit Police drew his blaster and rushed at the Rodian they had been tailing.
“This is not good,” said Nero.
Aeotheran, Seng Karash
Inner City, Unknown Residence
Trevarus stood watching the building with a detatched interest, from a side-street shadow. The cool Aeotheran evening chilled his cheeks after the heady, heated atmosphere of the Xero. He snorted in the sweet breezes coming off the jungles, trying to flush the smell of sex and the city streets from his head. Seng Karash never slept, and like most of the larger cities of the Galaxy, it carried the same array of bustling activity long into the night. He watched a young-looking Saraii native climb into a speeder with an older human male. Her blue-skinned friends were dressed in the same way, looking with a coy gaze up the streets, hoping to turn a few more tricks before sunrise. He mulled over what Stacia had told him, ignoring the seedy early morning streets, and the smell of rotten cabbage that seemed to hang in the air.
Playing shadow to a young-looking player was not his idea of a good time. He hated the crowded nightclubs, he despised the smell of spice and sex, he hated Hain for his youth almost as much as he hated following him around. Standing outside the flat that his enigma of a target called home, Trevarus rested against a streetlamp, watching the shadows writhe in the loose covering over the windows. He liked to [Expletive Deleted F-word] with the lights on, he must know that everyone could see the shadows from the street. He wondered if Hain's ladyfriend enjoyed the exhibition, but judging from her shadows, she wasn’t interested in complaining.
He looked down the cold street, softly illuminated yellow, but dry, paper billowed from an overturned trash-can. He looked back at the window, the shadows now still. They wouldn’t move until morning, although he would interrupt their revel. Something flicked just inside his line of sight, his head turned quickly, watching a small figure creeping up porch of the flat’s entrance. The figure obviously hadn’t seen Trevarus watching the building. His boots clicked swiftly on the dry night pavement, and before the mystery-figure could knock on the door, it found itself being dragged to the dark alley. A small blaster cluttered to the ground uselessly, so swift was the Master. A A silver-covered hand clutched the throat of the human male, his thumb just shy of the carotid artery, barely cutting off blood to his brain.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he said carefully, a dark stain spreading down the terrified man’s leg, liquid dripping off his boots, and collecting in a small puddle on the pavement.
“C-c-can’t b-b-reath” his captive rasped, his face turning blotchy purple.
“Well, excuse me for interrupting your late-night visit. Your friend’s appointment book is full, so maybe I can help you.” Trevarus released some of the pressure on the kid’s neck, but still held him up. He obviously didn’t need any weapons to intimidate this punk.
“Let’s start by telling me why you came here so late at night.”
"I just wanted to buy some ice, man. Its no big deal."
"Ice?" Trevarus asked. "What is that?"
"Ice, Blast, Chill... Koikana man..."
"Get the hell out of here." Trevarus released his grip on the terrified kid, who scuttered away, climbing over a mound of trash in his haste. The Master didn't watch him flee... merely considered this new revelation.
He walked up to the front door, knocked three times. After a few minutes, Hain answered, wearing only a pair of trousers, his feet and chest bare. He looked disheveled and intoxicated. A faint smear of white was traced around his nostrils, and his pupils were dialated beyond all measure.
"You're the droid from earlier. What the hell do you want?"
"My master requires a decikilo of ice. I was told you had ready supplies. Trevarus flashed a small rolls of credit bills in his right hand. Hain looked at him, incredulous.
"Come on in." He said, forgetting his concern. Trevarus walked into a small sitting room that looked like a ravaging band of homeless savages had lived there. Three couches that smelled of excrement and spilled substances surrounded a glass table covered in dusty mirrors and empty bottles. Trays full of ashes seemed to be everywhere. Masking total disgust, Trevarus entered.
"You want a deck. That's gonna be 2,000. I see you have Repcreds... that'll work. Are you human enough to do a bump?" Hain asked.
"Yes. My master enjoys this substance, and I enjoy it much as well." Trevarus said, his voice almost monotone.
Hain laid out a measure of bluish-grey powder on a small mirror, and began seperating the dose. Trevarus watched him inhale a line of the stuff into his nose, through a small metal tube. He passed it to Trevarus, who repeated the same, neutralizing the poison as it entered his body.
"This is of bery good quality. Let us do another dose." Trevarus said. Reaching into the supply that he had purchased, Trevarus laid out another line, four times larger than what Hain had done. Touching the Force, Hain did the line without thinking.
Trevarus removed his hat, and laid out another line. As the Knight did it again, he began to flow the metal of the Amulet off his flesh, revealing his true features.
"WHAT THE HELL?" Hain said, nearly delerious from near-overdosing levels of an extremely potent drug. Trevarus could feel Hain's body screaming in despair through the Force.
Desperately, Hain managed to locate his lightsaber in the trashed room. It soared across, to his waiting hand. Just as it was to touch his fingertips, it vanished, reappearing in Trevarus' waiting hand.
"You are a waste of a life, and you do not deserve to bear such a noble weapon. Before you die, tell me who is on the Skyhook? Where is the main entrance, and who is guarding it?" Trevarus said, placing the lightsaber inside his coat.
"The Priest and the Warmaster. T-t-they'll take you down."
"I'm certain. Have another hit." Trevarus said, holding the mirror out to him.
"I said... have another hit." The Master emphasized his words without application of the Dark Side.
"No! I'll die!"
"Nothing can stop that now." Lightning crackled around his hands, frightened, his mind racing with drugs, alcohol, and fear... Hain did the hit.
Trevarus broke the mirror once the last of the powder was up Hain's nose. He studied a shard carefully, and handed it to the Knight.
"How about cutting out your own worthless heart?"
Hain took the shattered slice of glass, and turned it over in his hand for a moment. Without even screaming, he ran it across the bare flesh of his chest. He didn't make a sound, as fresh blood gushed from the wound. Hain twisted a flap of skin, exposing several ribs. Trevarus watched, fascinated.
"This might help." Trevarus handed him a broad dagger that appeared in his hand with a clap of air. Nodding dumbly, Hain took it, stabbing it between his ribs, and breaking two. He managed to cut the ventricular arteries before he fell over, dead.
Trevarus stood, never looking back at the body of the dead Jedi.
I'm coming, Xanos. I'm finished here... and we have a few more problems.
Very well... you seem to be quite close by. Vexatus replied.
Three blocks later, Trevarus met Vexatus at the entrance to a dark alley facing City Hall.
"You have blood on your hands, Master. More amusements?"
"Something like that." Trevarus said, with a slight grin.
Hangar Bay, VSD Covenant
Edge of the Orian System
"All systems check. " Macron frowned as he waved his hands over the responsive holo controls. "Weapons systems online and primed. Stealth system operational, all shields at peak capacity. Thanks for joining me, gentlemen."
"We are go for launch," replied Sai as he opened the comlink. "Covenant, this is Nachzerer requesting permission to debark." The Krath had a natural affinity for the strange systems aboard the Nachzerer, and knew Macron was glad to have him aboard.
"Copy that, Nachzerer. You are go," came the communication officer's voice. "The Viceroy wishes you luck on your hunt."
"Roger, Covenant. Nachzerer departing in 10 microts," canted Macron as he pushed the ship's engines to liftoff power. The Verpine enhanced engines rippled with power as the beetle-shaped transport lifted from the deck. Her black hull joined the blackness of space as she streaked from the bay. "I understand Ashia will be leading the assault on Seng Karash eventually."
"You sure this is wise?" asked Shin'Ichi from behind the swivel chairs. Manji merely grunted and continued to work on his saber, making sure it was ready for sweet bloodshed.
"Not really," giggled Macron. "However, this ship is the stealthiest we have besides Shikyo's Adralech. And he is going to meet us there."
"Where?" asked Manji. "You didn't mention the location yet, you nutcase." All four Dark Jedi laughed as Manji rolled his eyes in disgust.
"Right. We make for the Miner's Brother, to collect some supplies I have stashed. That will give us a good working base to eventually move to Gamuslag, and then from there hopefully we will have more intel. Malisane and the others should be able to get what we need to hear. I also understand they have a big ship out there- I'd love to drop in for a visit," chuckled the Consul. "And commandeer it."
Sai looked at the alchemist with his strange tripartite eyes. "Are you nuts?" The cockpit went dead silent for a few moments. Macron began laughing, and so did the others.
"Yeah," replied the Warlord. "I think I am. And I also can't wait to butcher as many of these invaders as brutally as I possibly can. Maybe make a few suffer for weeks. Nice of them to drop by, they are a convenient source of biomass for my experiments. Wonder if they scream well? Prolly not," he mused as he turned his yellow eyes back to the controls. "Weaklings."
All four Dark Jedi set their jaws firmly at the thought of killing the invaders. The Darksiders could hardly wait, and yet for now they must be patient. The time would come to slake their lust for destruction, and the Sadowites would strike from within and cripple the enemy.
Edge of Orian System
En Route to the Wreck of The Miner’s Brother
The mood inside of the Consul’s transport was somber as the beetle-shaped craft sliced its way towards its destination. Each man, a Keibatsu in name as well as heart, was lost in his own thoughts as they mentally prepared for the task at hand, eager to forget about the nightmarish and logistical debacle that was the Yuuzhan Vong invasion in which they’d lost one of their brethren, Sanjuro, and had almost lost Muz. Truly, the entirety of the Clan was affected by the events, but none more so than the venerable family.
Sai, for his part, reflected on the derelict freighter and its intrinsic value as a strategic target. During his days as an Operator at the Antei Combat Center, he presided over a session between two of his family members, Macron and Shikyo, and was amazed that they chose such a far-flung location, rife with its own inherent dangers, in which to test their mettle. Only now, with the reality of its airless void looming ahead, did the prudence of the choice become evident. Did the Alchemist, mere months before being named a Son of Sadow, already display the foresight for which that elite cadre were so famously known and decide to subject himself to a dry-run in combat there?
A question to be asked another day, another time, mused the Priest. The more pressing question was, as the quartet saw its strategic value, did, too, the nameless invaders? Was the wreck being used as a “listening station” of sorts, ready to raise the alarm at Gamuslag at any sign of trouble? Further, if they were to carry out the designs on the insane drawing board that was Macron’s mind and take by force the large ship looming nearby, were they sufficiently focused to pull off such a feat?
Without question, decided Sai with cold finality. They were, to a man, of Keibatsu blood, efficient killers and swords of the righteous anger of Clan Naga Sadow, all. Whoever the hapless invaders were, they had come at the wrong time, to the wrong place, with entirely the most misguided of intentions. Let the others in the clan machinate and fact-find and skulk about, winning hearts and minds, if they so chose; these four were born for conflict, and when the time came, woe to those that stood in the way of their furious revenge.
Sai Keibatsu, the Mad Alchemist, Kyataru’s Abomination and the One-Eyed Dragon would be as Famine, Pestilence, Death and War, Dark Seraphim out of some spiritual tome made flesh, harbingers to the invaders' own private apocalypse; the bretheren would have it no other way.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
Tsingtao made a quick check of his ship's systems. "Bridge control, this is Tsingtao Ming. Requesting permission to launch." The hanger doors began to open, "Tsingtao, you are clear for launch."
The ship lifted off the hanger floor and proceeded out the opening into the blackness of space. Tsingtao entered the coordinates, and the ship lurched to its new heading.
Tsingtao awoke from a meditative trance and proceeded to check the ship's console. He had arrived at the remote space station built into one of the large asteroid of Dentavii Prime. The station was dark as it has been abandoned. If he didn't know the existence of the station, Tsingtao would have missed the location altogether.
The ship landed in the hanger bay with little trouble. Tsingtao made his way off the ship. The air around him was stale. He pulled out his datapad and pulled up the schematics of the station. He pressed a few locations on the datapad marking the locations he needed to go.
"This is Knight Tsingtao Ming hailing the VSD Covenant. I request repair parts and a skilled technician. Preferably someone with some piloting skills too,"
The message was transfered over to Macron on his shuttle. He thought thought about it for a moment.
"Will Anubis Wrath do?"
"Yes, send him here."
Macron opened a link with the young Guardian.
"Anubis, report to the hanger aboard the Covenant as soon as possible. You're making a trip to Dentavii Prime, where you will meet Tsingtao."
"Already there Mac, parts have just arrived. Anubis out."
Hanger, VSD Covenant
Anubis oversaw the loading of the cargo shuttle. When the men finished, Anubis gave orders to the pilot of the vessel to follow his lead. Anubis got into his own fighter, before the shuttle took off. Anubis ignited the engines, taking off with the shuttle right behind him.
Anubis flew out from the hanger, moving farther away from the Star Destroyer. When they reached a hyperspace mark, they fired up their hyperdrives, making the jump to lightspeed.
They came out of lightspeed directly in front of the facility, only farther away. Tsingtao sent out co-ordinates to the vessels, and on where to dock. They flew into the hanger with ease, setting down lightly. Anubis and the pilot exited their spacecraft.
City Hall, Government District
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Trevarus finished relaying to Vexatus what he had learned from Diermot Hain about the occupying Dark Jedi's relationship with the True Brotherhood. Taking an opportunity to look down at his hands, Trevarus rolled up one sleeve of his tunic and rubbed the blood off on the inside before continuing, “He also told me there's a couple of their senior members overseeing the skyhook. I wasn't able to catch their names though.”
“The True Brotherhood...” Vexatus pondered for a moment. “I remember the reports. Something about a “Darth Severak” and a disgruntled band of brotherhood rogues.” The Falleen allowed himself a laugh. “Truly a case of the blind leading the blind.”
“We need to find a way aboard,” said Trevarus, gesturing skywards, “what brought you to City Hall?”
Vexatus shrugged. “The Force. What else?”
The Krath sighed. “Anything more specific?”
“Not really. I figured we'd just go inside and take a look around. Maybe find something.”
“Are vague hunches how you usually solve all your problems?” asked Trevarus rhetorically.
Vexatus laughed. “Unlike you, Master, I don't need a third eye, things come to me naturally.”
The pair strolled casually through the security checkpoint outside City Hall, a quick Force flash blinding the cameras and other electronics to their presence. If the guards inside were alert they'd send someone to check it out, but a slight wave of the hand would divert their attention too. City Hall had never been designed with keeping Force-users out in mind.
Passing through the brief courtyard which surrounded City Hall revealed the full extent of the building. It was massive, rising over ten storeys into the sky, it's summit almost reaching the lower levels of Marakith itself. City Hall was not just tall, it was huge. It's floor area covered several blocks, housing all the government, logistics, security, commerce, state and other offices required to run the Dlarit Corporation. Despite being a relatively small operation compared to galaxy spanning mega corporations like Kuat Drive Yards, the Dlarit Corporation still spanned worlds, even star systems, with a presence felt across the stars. Though it may have appeared to the world at large as a relatively minor corporate interest, behind the scenes it was one of the few suppliers of baradium in the Outer Rim.
If people wanted fuel for their rockets, they came to Seng Karash. Baradium was a deeply unstable compound, mined on only a handful of worlds. It was used chiefly as the active ingredient in proton torpedoes. Fortunately for the seedier inhabitants of the Outer Rim, unlike Duro and Adumar, Orian was not a member world of the New Republic, nor bound by their strict export laws. All this necessitated a small army of staff much larger than ordinarily required by a simple mining guild simply exporting regular ores and minerals.
City Hall was the home to those staff.
Fortunately, it was night.
“Don't they work at night?” asked Trevarus, surprised at having only seen droids so far as he and Vexatus made their way across the entrance foyer to the turbolifts. “I would have expected this place to be going all hours of the day.”
“They are,” said Vexatus cryptically. “Don't you see them?”
Trevarus scowled. “Come again?”
Vexatus snickered. “The master of riddles defeated in his own game? For shame.”
“Enough,” spat Trevarus. “Just explain.”
“The droids,” said the Falleen simply.
“This place is run by droids?”
Vexatus nodded. “More or less. There is a limited civilian staff but most of the basic work is dine by the droids. Still, I'm sure it would be much busier during daylight hours. If we're lucky we'll only come by the night watchmen, unless the True Brotherhood have set up additional security.”
“Diermot Hain didn't indicate anything. I think they believe having control of Marakith gives them all the leverage they need over the city-side population. They seem pretty confident we all died at Antei.”
Vexatus sighed, a mild sense of regret flowing into the Force. “If it wasn't for that Star Destroyer I almost think it'd be easier to just drag the skyhook out of the sky and be done with it.”
Trevarus laughed. “And destroy such a valued asset of the corporation? Shame on you for suggesting it.”
Pulling the skyhook out of the sky would have been a dangerous act. So close to the city it would surely have crashed directly into Seng Karash, the explosion from its reactor once it went critical likely to vaporise the entire government district and most of the outlying quarters, killing several hundred thousand innocent civilians in the process.
But to Vexatus and Caerick it would have been a small price to pay to deal with the flow-walker. The past was something even they chose not to alter. This leader of the True Brotherhood was too great a threat to their plans. There was no price too high to destroy him... or her.
Malisane looked at her. "What do you mean the truth?"
Severina looked into his eyes. "I know when someone is lying Malisane, and I know you were. If you like I can wrench the truth from you."
He glowered. "So why clear me? Why not tell the rest?"
Severina shrugged. "I have my reasons," she replied, "now the truth."
Malisane looked at her cooly. "Do your worst."
She sighed. "I don't want you dead Malisane. Oh I did once, last time on Malachor I did, but things change, lots of things."
She walked over to the window, looking over the city. "I have two problems," she replied, "I have been reduced to a spirit, and I have my Brotherhood under the control of Anaxela."
She shrugged. "I worked hard to convince your father to set all this up, he was hardly helpful back then, obsessed with his rituals and his ultimate plan. Foolishness. I wanted action, and a long term strategy."
She turned looked at him. "I am provided to do a deal with you Malisane, maybe with others."
"I want Anaxela out of the True Brotherhood, and I want her dead. I also want a new form I can possess."
"You could take that now."
"I want my own form," she replied, "not someone elses body. I want a clone."
Malisane considered this. "And what do you offer in return?"
She shrugged. "I'll make it easier for you to kill Anaxela, and those more loyal to her than myself" she replied, "and once she's dead I'll withdraw the True Brotherhood from your system and our vessel and forces will also leave. I am prepared to accept some losses in the process. Once I have a new body I am prepared to rebuild elsewhere away from here."
"To attack us again?"
She shrugged, "Maybe, but not for a long time. Maybe ten years, maybe twenty. On the otherhand you can fight us right now. I know your clan survived, I imagine they're planning an attack now. We have greater numbers, and are dug in. You will take heavy losses even if you do succeed in retaking this system. Suppose you do beat us, how weak will you be? What about the other five Clans in your Brotherhood? What about the Yuuhzan Vong. What shape will you be in to face them?"
He considered this. "I need time to think."
She nodded. "Very well, but don't think to long." She gave him a final look then disappeared.
Tsingtao approached the shuttle as it landed and proceeded to unload the cargo. He turned towards the pilot, "Take my fighter back to the Covanent. The shuttle will remain here with me. Go now!" The pilot saluted the Dark Jedi and hurried toward the waiting fighter.
Anubis came up and bowed before Tsingtao. The Dark Jedi Knight nodded. "We need to get the power generators back online and then reset the defenses in the Dentavii Belt. I want to you go to the engineering bay and get that generator online."
Anubis nodded and went to work as instructed. He made his way to the engineering bay and began his work.
Tsingtao made his way to the control room. As he expected, all the consoles were damaged. He ripped open a couple of terminals looking for a connection. "Ah here is one." he said as he hooked up a portable console Anubis brought from the Covanent. He powered the console and waited for the system to go live. "Anubis, what is your status.?"
"System is charging, up in fifteen minutes." Fifteen minutes can seem like a life time. Tsingtao was eager to complete this task and then look for the interlopers. "Systems online!" came through Tsingtao's comlink. "Excellent. Report to the Hanger and I'll meet you at the shuttle."
Tsingtao turned his attention back to the console. He set the stations power to minimal to avoid detection. He entered his access code to get into they system and activated the sentry droids in the station. Next he activated the sonic charges floating in space near some of the larger asteroids.
"Next unwanted visitor is going to get a surprise when they pass through the belt." Tsingtao told Anubis as he was boarding the shuttle. "Now let's go find this True Brotherhood."
Anubis nodded and activated the shuttle's engines. The shuttle rose off the hanger floor and out into space. "Where to?"
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Orian System, Outskirts
StarLion sat calmly, watching through the Force as those around him bustled with activity. Such fluries of movement for no real goal. Action without understanding. Such was the way of the Obelisk. He had expected more than that from Trevarus. Still, the enemy that confronted them, if the information rumored around was correct, provoked such a reaction. It must have been one of great power, to attract Trev's attention.
It seemed odd to him that such a coordinated attack was prepared for such a rare possibility. Too many coincidences, and too little time. The enemy had been watching... waiting. Such a plan was decidedly... Krath-like. Someone with a keen mind sat behind this action. Yet... an arrogance. The taint of the Sith. Only that could explain the lack of observance of the Clan's return.
Here, the Priest's tactical mind began to cycle through the possibilities.. Trevarus and his band would be in place when the time was right... but the answer to this invasion was a single strike. A multi-point blow before the enemy could amass it's forces and supplies after spreading out to claim the system. Covertness was their sole advantage; If the enemy discovered their presence, the battle would probably be more than the limited resources of the Clan's war-torn forces could manage. To get that many pieces in place would be the major challenge....
There must be loyalists still, of course...perhaps they could be enticed to action at the appropriate time. Again, too soon, and the Clan would tip it's hand... too late... well, that possibility was worse.
For a brief moment, his thoughts traveled to his room in what had been Marka Ragnos' base.... he still refused to call it the Cathedral. The Cathedral had been on Loki. The contents of that room were meaningless to most... looking more like a scrambled mess of paper than anything else. Half of them would be nothing but random scratchings, yet among them.... years of research... discoveries... and the mysteries within. If these... defilers had so much as moved a scrap within that chamber, he would ensure that they all suffered. Not died.. just suffered.
Shaking his head, StarLion took a deep breath once more, and focused his mind on trying to sense that which was going on around him once more.
Anubis nodded, and punched in the Hyperspace co-ordinates. The hyperdrive activated, and they made the jump to lightspeed. Anubis left the cockpit, and met Tsingtao in the hallway.
"How are we doing, Guardian?" asked the Knight.
"We are currently on route to Sepros, as requested. We have an hour or so before we exit hyperspace, and reach our destination."
The shuttle came out of Hyperspace near the planet. Anubis called Tsingtao up to the cockpit, to help communicate with the palace, to set up a landing. As Anubis piloted through the atmosphere carefully, Tsingtao made the call.
"Sadow Palace, this Knight Tsingtao Ming. I have on board with me Guardian Anubis Wrath. We are requesting to land."
"Knight Tsingtao Ming, you are clear to land. Make sure your pilot is weary of incoming fighters."
Tsingtao looked over to Anubis,
Anubis slowly kept his course.
As he piloted the vessel into the hanger, a Headhunter zoomed into the hanger, nearly hitting the shuttle. Anubis had to jerk the ship to the right, knocking over some weapon canisters. They exploded a few minutes later, causing engine damage to the shuttle. He set it down, and exited the shuttle pissed, with Tsingtao following. The pilot from the fighter also got out of his craft, and the three of them met half way between the spacecraft. They got into a heated argument, but it was quickly ended when Tsingtao ignited his lightsaber between the two faces.
VSD Dark Fusion
The guard of stormtroopers stood to attention as the shuttle cleared the atmospheric shielding and landed on the deck. Commander Neido waited at the head of them. He watched as the robed figure of Severina drifted down the ramp, her feet not touching the metal. An unfamiliar man in black walked after her.
"Lady Severina," Neido said with a bow. "I had thought our leader would have returned with you?"
A flicker of annoyance passed over Severina's features at the leader reference but it passed. "She remains in the Skyhook," she replied, "I am returning to my quarters." Without another look she strode off, the stanger following.
She lead him to an oppulent state room, with many paintings and ornaments. It was devoid of furniture however, something Malisane remarked on.
"Why would I need it?" Severina asked wearily. She waved a hand and a metal bench slid from the wall, "You may sit on that."
He did so. "You will keep your side of the bargain?" he asked.
She nodded. "We will remain here for now," she replied, "and once word reaches us of Anaxela's death I will order the Dark Fusion and our forces to leave your space. What about your side?"
"I have the location of a spaarti cylinder suitable for your purposes." he replied.
She nodded. "Good."
Edge of Orian Space
With a fluidity that came from the sleek design of the craft, the Shinnyuasha Fighter Seraphim exited hyperspace at the designated coordinates. Though the VSD came into full view, Exarch Raistlin knew full well they didn't detect him, as his ship was practically cloaked. He disengaged it and almost immediately his comm blinked.
"You are cleared, welcome home." The hangar officer said. Raist's ship adjusted slightly and as the autopilot kicked in, he moved to the rear of the cabin to gather his things. It had been a long week, and even that was an understatement. The Vong Invasion had taken its toll on the entire Brotherhood, and immediately after the retreat had been ordered, Raist had taken a quick detour to Corporate Space. Well... it would have been quick, but the situation on Mytus IV had been disastrous, though hardly his fault. No, he was simply the cleanup man, and he only hoped his strategy would stave off the infection that had spread rampantly through Star's End. He had received no word, nor had he asked for any, for he had planned to take a short leave, but had been immediately called to his current location by the Overlord himself. Tron Sadow was one of the few people in the galaxy he would not keep waiting.
As his ship finished docking he grabbed some of the more choice belongings from the ship, for he had a feeling the Covenant was going to be his home for awhile.
"Arise, my son." Tron said as Raist stood from a kneeling position. The two men were in Tron's private mediation chamber onboard the VSD, and Raist regarded the Overlord quizzically. It had been sometime since he had seen his friend, ruler and Emperor of the Naga Sadow dynasty, and though he looked the same, Raist could sense immediately something was amiss. If he expected any visual clues to be given away, he was to be proven wrong as Tron said nothing.
"There is much amiss here, though I cannot place my finger on it. Many forces are at work, conspiring, some you would not expect, and others, who have yet to reveal themselves. I know you can feel it too, Raist." Tron said, pausing as Raist nodded. Immediately, Raist's mind became flooded with images and for a lesser man, it would have been sensory overload. Even the Exarch paused and had to sit down, taking several moments to process the images he had received.
"My liege....." Raist said, pausing, "are you certain?"
"No, I am not certain of anything. Nor am I certain of the role I will be playing in these affairs, if any. That is why I requested you. Currently Xanos, Trev and some others are on Aeotheran, in the Capital. I want you to rendezvous with them, assist if necessary and gather any and all information you can. If you feel something is amiss, particularly, with what you now know, report to me directly." Tron paused, handing Raist a private commlink. "Failure is not an option, Son, there is too much at risk here."
Raist pressed his fist to his heart, and then outward. "I will not fail you Overlord, for I leave at once for Seng Karash." as Raist turned to leave, Tron stopped him. "Do this as covertly as possible, there are more elements at work here then you may think. Raising suspicion or making those aware of your prescence in this could prove costly for all." Tron said.
Raist turned, nodded, and in less then a half hour, he was in his ship, making his way toward Aeotheran
Aeotheran Seng Karesh
City Hall, Government District
Two of the most evil beings to ever land on Aeotheran walked through its heart. Their purpose was simple: Destroy another being whose power could potentially upset their own designs.
Trevarus studied the droids moving through the corridors, in and out of offices. The thought of mechanicals performing the duties of a mundane civillian commander unsettled him. Even the central computer of his residence was empowered to merely oversee... The Master distrusted droids, because they were far too easily compromised. Even more so than a mundane. He considered hacking into the City Hall's central computer for a moment, but that would simply take too much of his time.
Time. Immutable, intransient, yet there was someone here arrogant enough to attempt it. They would be made to suffer. Even now...
Trevarus stopped outside a turbolift door. "...Do you feel that, Xanos?"
"Yes. The Flow-walker is at it again." Vexatus responded.
"She. It is a distinctly female presence. She is investigating something." Trevarus said, considering the implications.
"Considering that your treatment of Diermont Hain screamed through the deepest levels of the Dark Side, I believe we know what."
"Haste... is too light a word for our necessity." Trevarus replied.
The Falleen punched the key for the turbolift, and the doors slid noiselessly open. A protocol droid stepped out.
"May I assist you in any way?" It said. Eyes narrowing, Trevarus motioned with his right hand, and the mechanical was flung down the corridor, smashing into a sparking mass against a wall.
"I hate droids." Trevarus said menacingly. Vexatus shrugged as the doors slid closed. They studied a legend on the interior wall of the lift, and found what they were looking for. Shuttle bay was on level ten, the uppermost floor, along with the offices of the Governor-General of Aeotheran.
When the lift stopped, the doors opened... and they stepped into a hail of blaster fire.
"Shavit!" Trevarus shouted, deflecting the rain of bolts against the flesh of his hands. Both crouched low, and in a second, lightsabers appeared, flashing to life in both hands of either man.
"You're the Soresu Master, Xanos... hold them off... " Trevarus said through the noise. A least thirty stormtroopers had blasteres leveled on them. They had obviously been expected. Whoever it was investigating time... knew who they were now.
The Falleen walked into the middle of the battle, his lightsabers flashing against blaster-bolts, deflecting in turn, stormtroopers began to fall from reflected energy. Trevarus himself swept into the melee, twisting and arcing his blades in a flurry of violence.
Something flashed into Trevarus' buttocks as he cut down another soldier. "Watch where you're aiming, dammit!" The Master shouted.
"I couldn't resist," Vexatus replied, laughing at his own humor.
The last squad of troopers was huddled behind a speeder, peppering the pair with potshots as they ducked back down to avoid the deflected fire. Rolling his eyes, Trevarus levitated the speeder, and Vexatus flung his lightsabers forward, cutting down the fleeing men as the scuttled for cover.
When the last had fallen, their lightsabers disappeared. Trevarus pulled off his coat. "I think it actually looks better with a gaping burn hole through it."
"Quite possibly." Vexatus replied as Trevarus threw the coat down. The Falleen studied the speeders and shuttles carefully. "Which one was Hain's? We would possibly have the best luck with that."
"Look for something flashy... probably even brightly painted." Trevarus said, studying the vehicles.
After a moment, the spotted a vibrantly capara-green Incom-type sport airspeeder, with black trim detailing.
"Hideous, isn't it?" Trevarus remarked.
"It must be Hain's." Vexatus said, opening the hatch. "It isn't even locked. Quite arrogant, he was."
"And dead now." Trevarus said, climbing into the backseat.
"I suppose that means I'm flying?"
"As always, my Apprentice. Did you forget how to be my chauffeur on Korriban, as well?"
Vexatus glared at the Krath with enough violence to kill a man, but climbed into the pilot's seat anyway. Hijacking the controls was short work for the experienced pilot, and they rocketed out of the shuttle-bay. So late into the Aeotheran night, the City looked deserted and dark, far below, only a few lights shone into the sky. The curfew imposed by the invaders must have been especially harsh.
They circled the tapering point of the Skyhook twice, looking for a landing port. When a bay door slid open at their approach, Vexatus swooped the speeder inside. The small hangar was empty, and they sensed it devoid of any menacing presence.
"Well... shall we finish this hunt?" Trevarus asked.
Wreck of the Miner’s Brother
The asteroid tumbled lazily through space, trapped in an orbit that had been established in the days of the Old Republic, when it struck a mining ship and killed all hands aboard and sealing its secrets within its rapidly degrading hull.
The Nachezerer approached just as languidly, wrapped within folds of its cloaking system, and the four men inside poured over various readouts as they finalized their plans.
Macron was the first to speak, swiveling in his gungan-hide covered command chair, his fingers steepled in front of his face. “We are nearly a ‘go’, gentlemen; status, if you please.”
“Readouts indicate at least five life signs; there may be more within the skin of the ship, but residual ion traces are making confirmation difficult,” reported Sai, his hands flying over the holo controls to coax the ship to a halt just short of the asteroid.
Manji spoke next. “Minimal systems online. Traces of atmosphere and gravity; the remote link up is still functional. I can get us enough grav and air to work in from here...”
“Belay that,” interrupted the Consul. “We’ll do it from there; no sense in giving those dren down there a warning we’re coming. Status on ion storms, Shin. Shin?”
Shin’ichi had long been silent, well before the Nachezerer had reached their destination, and even in the face of impending action, the Adjutant-General still hadn’t broken his impassive façade. Instead of reporting on the approach of any impending stellar phenomena, he sat, absently fingering his chronometer. The innocent looking timepiece held a length of durasteel wire that Shin would use to garrote his victims, and then, only while in the thrall of a darker side of his psyche.
In Shin’s stead, Sai spoke up. “Er, approaching ion storm in a cycle and a half, so whatever we’re gonna do, we’d better do it fast.” He knew something was bothering his Master, fleeting images floating to him within their bond. When Shin’ichi was in such a mood, it was best to either let him get over it; either that, or he’d vent in a more...destructive...way. The way things were looking, the latter was becoming evident; the Abomination was well on his way to making his presence felt.
“Very well; gents: let’s go get dirty.” With Macron’s order, the Keibatsu all rose and left the cabin, Death reflected in every eye.
Surface of the asteroid holding The Miner’s Brother
The Force-user and his compatriots busied themselves around and within the derelict craft, setting up varied electronic devices and searching for presumably the same thing that Macron had brought his brethren there to collect. They didn’t use their names; as this was an official mission, they instead used alphanumeric nomenclature, just in case their enemies whose home they’d claimed would be listening. Secrecy, above all else, was paramount.
The one designated Alpha-One spoke first, his voice resonating static through their comms. “Has Charlie-Three and his team figgered out how ta turn on the air and grav yet? I wanna get inside, and this damn suit’s itchy.”
The one to whom he spoke, designated Bravo-Two, sighed within her helmet. She’d been asked on this particular mission because of her espionage and intelligence expertise, but lacking field experience, it meant she’d have to suffer under the command of the likes of Alpha-One, what with his lack of decorum and wandering eye. Bent over as she was, Bravo-Two knew that his complaint wasn’t to get a response, but more to give him an excuse to assess her...talents. Still, she stomached the man, if only for the promise of power and favor upon her return.
“Not yet, Alpha-One,” she replied sweetly. “Besides, the treasure’s paramount; you know that.”
Feeling a twinge in the Force, the mission commander turned away from taking in Bravo-Two’s ample...capabilities, his eyes chasing a shadow. Absently, his hand strayed to the lightsaber hanging at his belt. “Well, they’d damn well best hurry up; we..er..I mean I need to get outta this thing; what the hell are you hissing at?”
Alpha-One began to turn, a smile on his face, self-satisfied at his thinly veiled innuendo; his visage cracked and turned to horror and outrage as his eyes beheld something far less desirable than Bravo-Two’s derrière.
She was on her knees at her workstation, her hands clawing at her neck; a fellow Force-user, but one he was in no wise familiar, stood at her back, holding a length of durasteel wire, barely visible in reflected star light. The hissing in Alpha-One’s comm came from the precious air being vented from a thin line at Bravo-Two’s suit’s neck. Alpha-One caught a glimpse of a veil and ice-blue eyes within the offender’s helmet before the latter brought a boot to Bravo-Two’s back, rendering her prone in the asteroid’s dust. Around her neck area, the dust began to billow about, disturbed by her suit’s continued venting of its atmosphere.
Instantly, Alpha-One brought his lightsaber to his ear, a snarl on his lips and the green of the blade reflected in his visor. At the same moment, the first offender was joined by another, clad in a black and red battle-suit; strangely, the second arrival walked past the scene towards a gaping hole in the derelict ship, and Alpha-One swore he caught the unmistakable sound of merry whistling in his comm.
“Hey, where the frell d’ya think you’re goin’?! All units, all units; this is Alpha-One! There are two bogies...”
“I think you’d better get your math right, you karking idiot.” Alpha-One whirled at the new voice in his ear, cold and detached in its timbre, and saw two more arrivals to the scene; the one who spoke ignited his own ‘saber, the cerulean column shining brightly.
Instinctively, Alpha-One lashed out with the Force, sending a wave of telekinesis towards the two; impossibly, instead of tumbling off of the asteroid and into the void, they merely grunted and slid back a half a step.
“Alright, now we know what we’re dealing with, gakusei; remember what I’ve shown you, and remember that if you’re sloppy, you’ll have extra exercises tonight. And try to hurry; Macron awaits within.” “Of course, sensei.” The strangers’ voices rang through Alpha-One’s comm, full of authority and confidence, but containing no concern for him; their nonchalant tones infuriated Alpha-One.
“Hey, I’m standing right here! Pay attention when I’m trying to kill you, and what’s with this ‘sen-say’ dren?!”
The one with ice in his voice spoke again: “It’s a Kyataru thing, you wouldn’t understand. And please accept my deepest apologies; I’ll give you another chance to kill me, and trust that you have my undivided attention.”
To Alpha-One’s chagrin, the man with the blue blade twirled it while filling himself with the Dark Side, and stepped confidently to join him in combat. As his blade strokes were expertly parried, batted aside, and overwhelmed, he began to call frantically for back-up, which in the depths of his cowardly heart, he knew would probably never come.
Meanwhile, in Gamuslag, on a non-descript communications panel, an equally non-descript LED began to flash.
Wreck of the Miner’s Brother
“*Well Twelve, do you copy?” rang the Warlord’s voice as he used the com system hidden deep in the ship.
“This is the Well,” came the reply. “We have reports of trouble in the system. Advise?”
crackled the tinny voice as the loose ions interfered with the signal.
“Raise readiness to highest status. All units are to be prepared for deployment into a hot zone. Gather your equipment. Stand by for further orders,” cackled the alchemist. Almost as an afterthought, he added “And be prepared for our arrival. Also, open the… cages. Get the critters woken up and sober. We will need them.”
He smiled at the thought of playing with his pets. Gamuslag, and the *Cenota facility held a nasty secret. Most of the alchemical abominations that Macron had made were housed in the depths of the facility. They were far too dangerous to keep anywhere else.
By now, there were several of the beasts. Sweetums in particular would be hungry. He hadn’t fed the Silooth much since the incident on Coratua.
The pressure door hissed open as a lightsaber-wielding figure stepped through. The huge Trandoshan snarled, igniting a double-bladed yellow lightsaber. Mrussk was the senior in command, and had been sent to pilfer the alchemist’s lab. Anaxela knew of the dangers involved and had relegated one of her best warriors to oversee the crucial mission. Reputedly, the codes to enter the locked palace would be found within. Now, he intended to slay these shuttas and be done with this boring detail.
“Oh, I see. You want to play rough lizard-boy?” giggled the Sith as he raised his hands. Tendrils of invisible Force energy drew both lightsabers into his hands with a snap of metal on gauntlet. The twin blades ignited with a crack and hiss, illuminating the room with tangerine and crimson light. “That’s how I LIKE it,” yelled the Sith as the Dark Side surged in his frame, imbuing him with seething might and alacrity. “I see you enjoy the fear of others. Let me show you the meaning of fear,” hissed the human menacingly.
The yellow skinned reptilian launched himself with a burst of speed and a cry of rage at the Consul. His double bladed lightsaber spun and slashed, weaving a web of Shien strikes. Sparks flew as Macron used Makashi to slip the blows, working his two swords like twin stabbing rapiers. With the Force enhancement, Macron would have been able to hold his own. However, the Trandoshan was noticeable stronger and was enhancing his own frame with the Force as well. Macron began to be driven back as the Lizard man growled.
Mac laughed openly, switching forms to the Dun Moch style. As he slipped and evaded the Dark Jedi’s saber staff, his mind ripped a bank of machinery loose from the wall. It sailed at Mrussk from behind, smashing into him as he struck at the Sith. The mass and speed were stout, and it knocked the Trandoshan forward. An X formation of Mononoke's blades caught Mrussk's saber staff as he stumbled, and an armored knee pistoned twice into his crotch as Macron snarled furiously.
* A Cenota is a deep hole, similar to a natural well that the Mayans threw people into as sacrifices.
Private Hangar 04
Marakith Skyhook, Aeotheran
The Prophet and the Oracle hopped out the airspeeder, their lightsabers still in their hands as they reached out with the Force to survey the hangar. But for a few stacks of crates and a couple of other small speeders it was empty. They could sense no hostile presence either.
“They will soon realise something is amiss,” said Vexatus. “We need to make haste.”
Before they could reach the doorway to the main complex a pang of danger sense crept up Vexatus's spine. “Down!”
The pair dropped before the word had even left the Falleen's mouth. Four panels dropped from the ceiling revealing their pairs of heavy blasters, the bolts singing the back of Trevarus's tunic as he flattened himself against the floor.
“Two back, two front,” barked the Krath. “I'll take the ones behind.”
Indigo blades flashed into existence as the Oracle leapt into the air, a whirlwind of colour encircling him as he parried the incoming blasts with perfect elegance. The Prophet followed, a flash of crimson coming to life with a snap-hiss quickly replaced by the pang of deflected blaster bolts. Trevarus reached one of the blasters first, consuming it in the swirl of dark energy. The device flashed, bursting into flame before the Oracle resumed his dance across the hangar to the next of the four weapons.
Vexatus deflected the lasers effortlessly, his mind drifting instinctively into the motions common to a Master trained in Soresu. Crimson met jade as the Prophet's lightsaber met blaster bolt after blaster bolt, flashes of white light blinding the room with each strike. Vexatus dropped into a roll, crossing to beneath one of the weapon emplacements before rising up, cleaving through the device with one swift thrust.
The typhoon which had once been known as Trevarus Caerick reached the third of the devices, surrounding it in his dance as the twin blades of dark light tore through it, shredding the twin blaster into a dozen tiny pieces.
The Prophet turned on the final weapon, reaching out with the Force as he wrapped a net of energy around it and squeezed, buckling the device until it became nothing, leaving only twisted and crushed remains.
Trevarus raised his eyebrows, his lightsabers falling silent as he walked over. “I thought this was meant to be a stealth op?”
Vexatus shrugged. “Their leader is aboard. They're not going to fire on us. No need for games anymore.”
The Oracle smiled, letting the Force flow into him fully for the first time in over twelve hours. His eyes flashed, violet light burning brightly behind them before falling silent once again. Trevarus gaped, yawning as if feeling awake for the first time in his life. “Much better.”
The Force shook as Vexatus's own presence returned, the dark side twisting into a net of caged energies, focusing inward into the shape of the red skinned Falleen. The Sith Lord's good eye burned orange as he allowed the dark energy to eclipse him. Vexatus's voice became icy, “They will know we are here.”
Trevarus nodded. “Then let's put an end to this game,” said the Oracle as he and the Prophet made their way through the exit into the main skyhook.
Anaxela sat in the control room speaking to Agrist over the communicator. "What do you mean Mrussk has left Tarthos?" she demanded.
The scarred warrior shrugged. "We received orders from Lady Severina," he replied, "he has been sent to the Miners Brother to retreive some alchemical equipment."
"I have heard nothing of this order. Why did she order this?"
Agrist thought back, "She said there were alchemical research supplies there," he replied, "which she hoped would finally allow access to the Cathedral of Ragnos."
Anaxela considered this, "There is some merit in that," she admitted, "but the woman needs to update me on this. Very well, keep me posted."
Imgaril stood watching, a frown on his face. Severina had made no such reference to him either. He looked down as his communicator beeped. "Yes?"
"You have a private message in your quarters Sir."
"Very well," he replied. He turned and left the room.
In his quarters he locked the door and turned to the viewscreen. "Imgaril here."
The face of Severina filled it. "This message is encryped Imgaril it is for you and I only," she told him, "I have urgent news for you."
"What?" he asked curiously.
"A force of Naga Sadow Elders are making their way there."
His face blanched. "I must warn Anaxela."
"You will do no such thing," she said coldly.
"Why?" he demanded.
"Because it suits our purpose. Our time is nearly here, we will be free of that acursed woman forever. Naga Sadow will do our work for us."
He nodded. "As you wish," he agreed. "what will you have me do?"
"You will leave Marakith and head for Tarthos. Do not inform anyone of your actions including Garlina, she will be a sad loss but her loyalties are divided she is confused and uncertain. I have already removed the Trandoshan from Tarthos on a fools errand. He is Anaxela's pet and is safer out of the way. Agrist you will keep an eye on to determine his loyalties."
Imgaril nodded, "At once." The screen went dark and he quickly headed for the nearest docking bay.
The Hand of Glory
Entering Orian Space
Jin'gi Moksuna sat at the controls of his personal YT-1300 freighter, watching as the scanner updated the details of the system behind him. He quickly studied it, noting the position of the Dark Fusion. He smiled and clicked the communicator, scrambling the signal to one specific receiver.
"Report Jin'gi," Severina's voice ordered.
"I have found him," he replied, "it was not easy but I have his location. It will suprise you."
"We have more urgent issues," she replied, "you will head for Tarthos, location details I will send you, and await my orders. Do not communicate with anyone until you arrive."
The Quarren Elder nodded. "As you command Master."
VSD Dark Fusion
Severina turned in satisfaction to the Battlemaster. "It is all falling into place," she gloated, "that witch womans days are numbered.
Malisane nodded. "Remember your agreement," he told her. "You will leave Orian when this is over."
She nodded. "Very well," she replied. "And yours."
"Instructions have been sent to my droids in the Kangaras Severina," he replied, "the spaarti tank in Usharak's cellar has your genetic data and they are proceeding."
She nodded. "Good," she said quietly.
(OOC: Sorry for the late posting, Shuang, internet problems on my end)
The Krath Knight and Obelisk Protector watched from afar how the take-down of their mark had just gotten more complicated. At the entrance to the Government District, crawling with police and patrols from occupying forces, they had seen Xanos walking around and assumed that the Rodian wasn't far behind.
She wasn't, but that didn't make it any easier for two Dark Jedi with their Force signatures suppressed to fight her, despite the advantages of both numbers and surprise. And now Xanos himself had thrown another wrench in their plan; he had set a police officer on her trail to get her off of his own. A sound strategy, but this wouldn't work out for Shuang or Nero.
"You! Yeah, the Rodian behind the checkpoint! Cease and desist! Come out and identify yourself immediately!" The police officer was shouting, striding purposefully towards the black-clad Rodian, who at this point was assessing the situation.
"What do we do now?" Nero whispered, keeping an eye on the situation.
"Let's wait till either the officer goes away or the Rodian kills him, either way he'll give us some time to get closer, so long as we stay in the shadows, Pennant."
Nero nodded, "How do you know she won't sense us?"
"I don't. We're in the middle of occupied territory; that's the same as enemy territory. Xanos wouldn't fight someone of his level in a situation like this unless he has all the advantages, so if she is powerful the most we can do is pray. However, it could also be that Xanos doesn't think this one is worth fighting, and is trying to have the officer kill or capture her to buy him more time."
"You make a good point, Shuang, follow me." The Miraluka whispered, tapping the taller being on the shoulder as he crept along slowly, hugging the walls and staying in the shadows as much as possibly. Both Jedi went slowly, their feet carefully pressed against the ground for fear of any noise distracting their target. The sound of their conversation was getting louder as they approached, each Jedi pulling their lightsabers out, ready to use.
"Just what do you think you're doing here? You a Jedi?" The officer asked. The Rodian gave no reply, but her gaze was enough to tell the officer that she was livid at being disturbed on her business. This inflamed the officer even more, the pretentious arrogance of the Jedi against those they considered inferior.
"We don't like your kind around here. No one does, so why don't you and your Jedi friends go find some other place to occupy and bother, huh?" The officer sneered.
No sooner had the words exited the officers mouth when a deft movement and a flash of light striking metal caused the officer to jerk, grunting in pain as he lost his footing slightly. Blood began to trickle out of his mouth as he realized his mistake, one which he would never have the chance to correct.
The Rodian pushed the blade further into the officer, his blood running down her hand to the floor. She grimaced, disgusted that she had been distracted from her target by filth such as this. How dare they think that they can speak to their Masters this way? She would enjoy teaching this pig the consequences of getting between predator and prey.
Nero and Shuang watched, motionless, close enough now to close the distance as the Rodian pulled the blade upwards, sickening squelshes heard as the blade cut through organs and tissue. A light tap on on the shoulder from Shuang was all Nero needed to spring into action.
Both Jedi dropped out of the shadows, closing the distance as quickly as possible. Nero's own dagger flashed as he plunged it into the Rodian's elbow, cutting tendons and rendering the arm useless. The Rodian cried out in pain, realizing her own mistake; she'd let her guard down in her passion.
Shuang quickly circled around the officer as his killer twisted to deal with the Miraluka. Igniting his saber he swung at knee level, severing both the officer's as well as the Rodian's legs, cauterizing the wounds immediately as the energy blade cut neatly through bone and tendon.
Both targets screamed, but Nero put the officer out of his misery as he plunged his dagger into his neck, cutting off all sound and making sure that he would fall unconscious before bleeding to death. Nero considered it a favor to the Mundane.
The Rodian fell backwards, rendered immobile and defeated. Her hard stare caused Nero to flinch as he and the other Jedi pulled her and the body of the officer into the shadows.
"Who are you working for? Why are you on this planet? This planet belongs to Clan Naga Sadow, did you really think we'd let you keep it?" Shuang asked the Rodian, his face hard as he was interrogating her.
"You? Jedi? Don't make me laugh. I sense some Force talent in you, but you are no Jedi. Especially not that one." She spat back, her voice edged with venom as he motioned to Nero with her head.
"We defeated you, so please don't tell us who the superior beings are. Answer the questions, please." Nero replied as calmly as he could, looking around at the windows surrounding them to see if anyone had noticed and called the authorities. Either way they didn't have much time.
"I am of the True Brotherhood. I was told I would have a chance to become stronger here by hunting those of Naga Sadow. Why the True Brotherhood is here was not a secret meant for my ears; the fact that I could do my part was enough for me. What reasons have you for taking life?" She countered, every word laced with contempt.
"Save the speech, it's obvious that you're a small fish in a big pond. You were bound to be swallowed up, so don't look at us with contempt, you brought this down on yourself. Who leads the True Brotherhood?" Shuang said, forcing the Rodian's attention back to him.
"Anaxela... She is Master of the True Brotherhood, and she will lay waste to the collection of weaklings that you call Clan Naga Sadow. That you take the name of a Great Sith Lord is an offense upon the Force. You cower in that organization you call the Brotherhood, drowning yourselves in it's lies," She paused, "I will tell you nothing more, little pawns. Kill me, for if you do not, I will visit terrible things upon you and those you love."
Nero looked to Shuang for guidance on what to do next. He didn't feel entirely comfortable in a head-to-head confrontation like this. It was something he still had to get used to, considering his time in the Brotherhood had been spent learning how to live all over again.
Level nine, Hangar Corridor
Aeotherean, Seng Karesh
"My Apprentices have crippled the Rodian Jedi." Trevarus said, as the pair walked down a deserted corridor outside the hangar. "And we're set up for a trap."
"I sensed that as well... what do you think?" Vexatus replied.
"Well... last time this happened, we lost our lightsabers to that lava flow on Kormanal... do you think we're up against any molten rock?" Trevarus said, breaking into a broad grin.
"Only if you keep up the riddles. I'd be inclined to melt that rock you call a skull." The Fallen replied, his face grim yet humor lighting across his eyes.
"I cannot sense the flow-walker... but she is here. Her's a a most powerful signature, through the temporal paradox." The Krath said after a moment. "Who do you think it is?"
"I'm beginning to suspect that Mononoke's elder sibling might be our Flow-Walker... She's nearly as insane as you." Vexatus responded.
They stopped outside a turbolift. "We're expected on level twenty... let's not be late." Trevarus said. "After you, my Apprentice." He motioned into the open lift.
As the lift rose... Trevarus closed his eyes, and probed the as far as he can reach. "Our host has sent another of the Krath... bearing the scent of death.... I suspect a necromancer is in our midst. She too seems to know the secrets of the paradox... because her point is oh so very near the rift."
"Riddles again, Trev?" Vexatus said driely.
The Master shook his head. "None whatsoever. This Krath was trained by the Tarentae."
Vexatus nodded. "What of Max? He let a Rogue escape alive?"
"Its happened before... anyway... how about we take down this offending bitch?"
"Language, Trev." Vexatus chuckled. "Children might overhear you."
The lift door opened into a silent corridor. Walls of vibrant white were casted with shadows from large viewports overlooking the city at night. A lone airspeeder rocketed past their view, as the pair easted there way down the circular passage.
Nothing impeded thier search, until they paused outside a door, leading into the center of the Skyhook.
"Shall we?" Vexatus asked.
With a feral grin, Trevarus ignited his lightsabers. The door slid open, and they stepped through.
A violet lightsaber shown in the dimly-lit atrium. A figure in dark robes stood, holding the blade aloft, surrounded by three squads of stormtroopers. The lightsaber fell, and the soldiers opened fire.
"How crass." Trevarus said. "She can't even face us alone."
Blocking a series of blaster bolts, Trevarus grunted, "Now that you mention it..."
They danced... a dual dervish of sweeping arcs, moving with such fluidity it seemed that they had become as water. Nothing stood in the way of their storm. Sweeping to opposite sides of the Atrium, each Elder began to cut down stormtroopers with unbridaled violence. Lightsabers flashing to bring death, fear, and outright chaos. Their true adversary watched from a small dias, leading into another room of the skyhook, observing the carnage the pair unleashed upon the mundane warriors. There was no hope for any of them... yet she alone believed that her own insights would allow her to best the duo.
After a few moments, the only ones standing were Jedi. All the soldiers lay, smoking mounds of carrion on the cold marble floor.
"Who are you?" Trevarus asked.
"Death" the woman responded. "Yet you may call me Garlina Meglos."
"Ahh... I see... I remember you from Clan Tarentum." Trevarus said. "Maxamillian always described you as ineffective and arrogant."
Vexatus stood back, understanding the Trevarus wanted this Krath heretic for his own.
Trevarus leapt forward, his lightsabers flashing violet black in the dim light... as if they absorbed the ambient light for the very air. Garlina countered his violence in the defensive stance of the Soresu Masters. With a mere instant of concentration, Trevarus shortened his second blade, and adjusted his stance. Taking the steps of the Kirili, he advanced again, thrusting quickly with his full blade. Garlina picked up the thrust with a quick sweep, and Trevarus feigned a strike with his dagger.
"You bore me." Trevarus said, stepping into a leap, landing several meters away from the Krath Archpriest.
With a nod of his head, the Archpriestess's weapon disappeared from her grasp. Trevarus flexed his right hand, and the lightsaber fell into a smoking, sparking mass. Curling his hand, the Krath Master twisted her body into an image of pain. Slowly, he walked forward.
"Tell me... who is the Flow-Walker?" Trevarus asked, the menace in his voice harsh enough to cut durasteel.
Through her screams, Garlina answered. "Lady Anaxela will crush you. She is Mistress of of all that is, and shall be!"
"I am Master of All. And your life has been found wanting. Unity with the Dark Side is your only end." Trevarus tapped the rage of his soul, and after a moment, Garlina's body ceased to move.
"Come my Apprentice... we have the matter of the temporal paradox to investigate." Trevarus nodded his head towards the door against the back wall.
"Yes... we do." Vexatus replied.
The pair walked through the door, stepping over the bodies of fallen soldiers, and the Krath alike. The passage led into a small chamber, dimly lit and without any fixture of comfort.
"This is the place," Trevarus said. "I will meld my mind to yours, and together we will see what has been seen."
Trevarus closed his eyes, and touched the connection to his Apprentice. The Weavery shimmered in the Sight that Trevarus shared with Vexatus. The Sith watched as the Master touched a particular line...
It was hovering before him, a glittering orb almost a meter across... glowing with vast internal light. The Star of Ombus is beautiful... within is the life of its people. Uttering a curse, Urias Orian shattered the Star.
All around him, the energies of life swirled and folded, screaming out their rage. The Dark Lord was pleased.
Trevarus and Vexatus stood as ghosts, in the grey-dark sepia tone of the past. They watched as the very ground around Orian was torn asunder by his destrutive power. Everything around them seemed to fray and shake, as if watching a poorly transmitted holo.
"She attempted to manipulate this." Trevarus said
"But why?" Vexatus asked
Feelings of fire crawled up Trevarus' ghost-arm, both men stared at the Amulet of Orian, as violet light began to fill their vision, blotting out everything. When it cleared, they watched a scene out of the Master's past.
Trevarus, nearly two decades younger stood on a high central dias overlooking the central temple of Urias Orian. Approaching him was the form of his first Master, Kiln Tobasa, the silver of his hair was full, even then.
"Stand down, Trevarus, you are meddling with powers you couldn't begin to comprehend." Tobasa said, climbing the stairs to where Trevarus stood. The Epis was studying the statue carefully, attempting to gather a sense of what it meant. And Tobasa was approaching. Tentatively, he brushed a finger along the cold stone. It abruptly collasped into dust and gravel.
Alone in the rubble was a gleaming silver-gauntlet of almost unbelievable intricacy. Tobasa was nearly upon him, his lightsabers flashing violet in the failing day-light of Sepros. Trevarus bent down and picked up the Amulet, thrusting his hand inside. His screams nearly doubled Trevarus over, watching himself, remembering the fire.
Fire is always hard to forget. It seemed that he had screamed for an eternity.
Opening his eyes, Trevarus looked grim. "I believe we have our answer. Anaxela seeks immortality."
"Or that abomination on your arm." Vexatus responded.
"Urias Orian unlocked many secrets of life and death...." the Master said. "Our Flow-Walker does not realize what she is meddling with."
The Rodian’s boldness and aggression, even in the face of imminent death, was something that many people would envy. Courage was hard to come by these days, when planets were run by cowards and fools. Shuang felt a twinge of regret at having to kill someone with such potential, but it quickly faded.
He would need to make an example of this brazen heretic. She would not go to her grave with defiance in her eyes. She would go to her grave broken, a twisted and weeping shell.
“Mr. Pennant,” Shuang said, his eyes twinkling with mirth, “kindly restrain our quarry. Her right arm is useless, I believe?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Then restrain her left.”
Nero crouched down and gripped her arm with as much strength as he could muster, trying to hold it in place as she flailed.
“Use your knees.”
The Protector followed the instructions, pressing the full weight of his body against her, one knee on her elbow, the other on her chest. The Rodian grunted in pain, whimpering slightly as Nero shifted his weight.
Shuang began to pace around them, a faint smile playing about his lips. Motionless and now visibly distraught, the Rodian looked up at him from her place on the ground.
“There are certain principles that must be adhered to, Nero, when fighting and slaying an opponent. You see, one must never let a foe die with defiance in their eyes and curses on their lips. Your foe must die only when they beg for death, only when the pain is too much for them to bear, only when their tears soak your boots.”
He fell to his knees. His quarry spat at him, defiant to the last.
“Filth!” she screamed, struggling and flailing to no avail.
The Frost Dragon grabbed her wounded arm and brought it to his lips.
“You may be unable to move this arm, but Nero was considerate enough to leave many of your nerves intact when he sliced your elbow. Do you understand?”
He placed her index and middle fingers into his mouth and bit down, hard, relishing the spray of blood and the sound of grinding, crunching bone. The pain startled her, and she instinctively bit down on her tongue, doubling her agony.
Shuang began to chew, his expression thoughtful, as Nero watched in horror. The Rodian began to scream, an ear-piercing wail that was surely loud enough to alert the authorities.
“No, no!” said Shuang, letting her arm fall limp to the ground. He cast out a tendril of the force, summoning her severed leg. Quickly and viciously, he shoved it into her mouth and held it there as she struggled.
“No more screams.”
“Shuang,” Nero said, eyes wide, “we had better get going. Time is running thin.”
“There is always time for torture, Nero! But I see your point.”
He removed the boot from her as she choked and sputtered. She looked up at him, still defiant, but now her defiance was tinged with terror. She began to weep.
“That will be sufficient. Mr. Pennant, it would be prudent of you to kill her now.”
Nero’s eyes radiated his apprehension, but his resolve was strong. He reached for his dagger, which he had sheathed earlier.
“No, I don’t think so, Nero.”
“What?” asked the young Protector, eyes narrowing in confusion.
“Use your hands. Kill with your hands.”
“Why? What does it matter, as long as she dies?”
“Any fool can kill with a tool,” Shuang said, smirking at his unintential rhyme, “but it takes a man to kill with his hands.”
“I…I don’t want to.”
“I can smell your fear, my friend. You fear death. You fear gifting death, you fear receiving it. Today, you conquer it. Make death yours. Make it personal. Any fool can kill from afar with a blaster, from close range with a blade or saber. But to kill with your hands? Thus, you make death yours.”
“I don’t know, Shuang.”
“You call yourself an Obelisk, a warrior, aggressive and strong! You disappoint.”
The jibe struck the boy at his core, a vicious blow to his pride. Shuang knew that he had won this particular battle. He leaned forward eagerly, watching Nero’s every move.
The boy released the pressure on her left arm, and the Rodian sighed audibly with relief. A mere moment later he pierced her elbow with his dagger, the vicious blade holding her arm in place. His hands shook as they closed around her neck.
He increased the pressure on her neck. Very soon, she began to convulse, twitching spastically, a rattling hiss emanating from her throat. Nero clenched his teeth, panting, and applied one final, vicious squeeze.
“Very good,” Shuang said, extending a hand to his fellow. Nero clasped it, perhaps gratefully, and was pulled into a friendly embrace. “This was just one step on your journey, friend.”
Nero nodded and leaned down to retrieve his dagger.
“What should be our next course of action?” Shuang asked, toying with his Coilbolt.
Wreck of the Miner’s Brother
The Trandoshan spewed a half-digested Nerf steak from his scaley lips onto the deckplating of the old hulk. The food steamed in the chill air, rapidly cooling to the ambient chilly temperature of the place. Macron laughed as the reptile shoved him backwards with a push of his yellow saberstaff.
“Dinner not agree with you?” he asked with an ominous glare as Mrussk snarled. “Or maybe you’re just a pussy,” laughed the madman as he raised his blades again. “Hmm. I seem to think your kind have balls. Or at least, you used to. Hahahaha!” Tears slid from Macron’s eyes and his nose ran some as he laughed manaically.
“Screw you!” screamed the yellowskin as the Dun Moch taunting drew him out. He reached deep into his alien soul, tapping the anger and hatred that lived there as his flesh seethed with power. “Anaxela will kill you for this!”
Macron’s cheery demeanor instantly changed like a cold wind blowing over the desert. “I see,” he remarked dryly. “My sister. That changes things, pig. Now I make you suffer.” His fingers twitched, seemingly at random. In fact, it was a release code that allowed a small dose of invisible gas to puff out from a hidden reserve in his armor.
Both warriors slammed into each others twirling blades with resounding screams in the thin air. A stiff kick from the Shien stylist slammed into Macron’s chin, knocking him back with the impact. A resounding ‘oof’ echoed from Mononoke’s helm as the Trandoshan turned and ran with a blast of Force speed down the echoing corridors. Macron chuckled and shut his twin blades off, re-clipping them to his belt and humming a popular holonet tune as he waited. "Dem bones, dem bones... hmmm hmmm.."
A minute later, the Sadowite strike force stepped into the room bloody from combat. The lesser group with Mrussk had been completely butchered, predictably. Only the reptile had gotten away in a speedy TIE Defender.
“Mac! You let him get away?” asked Shin’Ichi. "Dren!"
“Indeed,” replied the alchemist with a shrug.
“What the hell? Surely you could have taken him,” queried Manji as he studied the scene. “I taught you better than that.” Echoes of the powers used in the Force reverbrated in the room, and the Krath knew Macron could have gone much deeper into the Force but chose not to for some unknown reason.
“Do not underestimate him- he is gifted physically and with the saber staff. But yes, I could have. I have plans for him,” giggled the alchemist. “The Sith way is to scheme. And he did let slip a tasty morsel of information. My sister is behind some of this plot.”
Sai looked at the Sith with a grin. “Slipped him a mickey, eh?” he looked at the comlink send logs. "I see you got the message off to Gamuslag.”
“Yeah.” Macron looked at his chronometer. “The time-delay bioagent should take effect in a few hours. Haven’t tested the Violator on a Trandoshan yet- should be interesting. And the tracking nanobots are working just fine. Let’s move out to Cenota and collect the troops.”
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
The Fragment of Ombus housed on the back of the Amulet of Orian stopped glowing and the vision faded away, the pristine halls of the former Palace of Orian once again becoming the cold hard durasteel of the artificial walls of Marakith skyhook.
“At least we now know how the Star of Ombus was destroyed,” said Vexatus. “As well as the origins of the crater this city was built in.”
“I had always had my suspicions,” considered Trevarus. “We need to hurry.”
Trevarus led the way out of the atrium, giving not a single glance to the motionless body of Garlina Meglos as he made his way through the hatchway she had been guarding into the hallway beyond. If she had not before, after Garlina's death Anaxela would surely know they were coming by now. Time was of the essence if they were to catch her before she could escape and order the Star Destroyer overhead to rain fire down on the entire city.
The tenth level of Marakith skyhook housed the command and control rooms for the entire skyhook. If Anaxela was anything like her brother oft described she would be in the main control room, the skyhook's equivalent of a bridge. There was, of course, still the danger she had already left, but both Elders could still sense a powerful presence in the structure ahead.
Blaster fire erupted as the Oracle and the Prophet rounded the hallway, a team of Stormtroopers opening fire with a heavy repeating blaster along with their own rifles. Lances of red and green flung down the corridor, rebounding lethally off the walls.
Lightsabers flared into existence and blaster bolts flashed back at their point of origin. Before they could reach a blue energy shield shone into being before the Stormtroopers, absorbing the rebounding bolts, yet still allowing the fire team's own attacks to continue threatening the Elders.
“I tire of this,” growled Trevarus as he twirled his darkly violet weapons. “Xanos, roof!”
The Falleen nodded, understanding immediately. Trevarus strode at their enemies, his lightsabers spinning before him, absorbing the blaster bolts like a whirlpool. Vexatus clipped his own weapon back to his belt, reaching out with the Force at the structure around them. Pulling, the Sith Lord dragged at the restraints holding the skyhook together, pressing at the durasteel harder and harder until it gave.
The panelling along the ceiling of the hallway gave way, clattering to the floor as the heavy girders behind tore free, swinging through the air at the Stormtroopers. The fire team separated, flattening themselves against wall or floor, but it was no good. The girders had a mind of their own, driven by Vexatus's will, and angled toward the Stormtroopers, smashing into them with enough force to elicit a thunderous clap.
The Stormtroopers went spiralling down the hallway, pieces of twisted metal jutting through them as they collided with the opposite end, else crushing them against the floor beneath overbearing weight.
Trevarus closed off his lightsabers, shaking his head. “The Mundane never learn.”
The pair continued onward down the corridor, throwing metal and flesh alike aside as they made their way toward the central control room.
Six hours ago
New Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian system
The four shuttles had landed just outside the Palace's defensive shield and their crews disembarked for the journey to the great building. Lead by the Viceroy they made their way to the secret entrance hidden deep in the jungle. From there they gained entrance and made their way to the command center. The Palace was ominously quiet and seemed deserted. Stationing guards at the entrance, Astronicus continued onward with his detatchment to the communications pit. The command center, a war room prepared for the event that the Palace should come under attack, was designed much like a Star Destroyer's bridge save that it was circular. The center was an elevated platform with a holo-display situated at the core. Surrounding it were the pit stations at sunken levels.
Astronicus was in one such pit and scanned the communications equipment, then after familiarizing himself with it he opened up a comm channel that would be recieved by any personnel in the Palace.
"Attention all personnel, this is the Overlord speaking." He was able to address himself with his clan title rather than the corporate one since those troops stationed here had been deemed loyal enough to informed of their true master's identities. He would have to organize them into a special unit one of these days. "We have lost all contact with Aeotheran and Tarthos. We have detected numerous enemy forces in system and can only assume the worst that the bulk of our forces have been neutralized. I intend to take what military might we have here and retake Tarthos that we may have a force once again that can save our beloved Seng Karash. I am giving a general order for all able-bodied men and women to meet me in the Grand Hall in half an hour to prepare for our
invasion of Tarthos."
Astronicus killed the feed and turned to his trusted military liason, Captain Araic Simonetti. The captain had been eager to get off the Covenant
since there was nothing he could do there or do with his ship in this crisis. Astronicus motioned for him to follow as they left the communications pit, from there they went up to the holo-display at the center of the room. Astronicus typed in a few commands into the display and soon an inventory of the Palace's armory and hangar appeared. It wasn't overly impressive, but he had had worse to work with before.
Five and a half hours ago
Grand Hall, New Sadow Palace
Astronicus detailed his tactical plan to all those in attendance, Dlarit Army troopers, Marines, and Dark Jedi alike. This wasn't going to be an easy thing, the enemy was dug in, they had more firepower and all the Sadow/Dlarit forces had was the element of surprise. Lives would be lost, good men and women who had pledged their lives to Astronicus whether as Dark Jedi or as his corporate employees. He hated the loss of life, simply because it was less for him to lord it over, but more importantly because the fewer he had around him then the fewer he had to sap the energy from through the Dark Side should the need arise to replenish his lifeforce.
The plan was simple: He and Captain Simonetti would lead a platoon of troops to Ragnos Cathedral, capturing it - should they need to, and using whatever resources it had inside to drive off the invaders. The rest of the troops would attack the enemy from the rear, no doubt they had turned to face the direction they themselves had advanced from to ward off any reprisals. Though they didn't necessarily have too many heavy weapons, three E-webs at most, they did have a considerable amount of grenades and thermal detonators - someone at the Palace was bomb crazy apparently. Attacking from the rear, behind the remains of the Dlarit Security Force headquarters, they would bombard the enemy with grenades - achieving, in theory, chaos and thus be able to advance and pick off the invaders before they could mobilize. The only flaw in the entire plan was the reliance on scattered intel that Admiral Aramis Nestor had gone into hiding leading a rag-tag resistance movement. They had no way of getting in touch with them and their support was crucial for this operation to succeed. Astronicus only hoped that Aramis would see his assault for what it was and join in before it was too late, perhaps even take command of the troops from Sepros.
Present time - just before dawn
Outside DSF HQ
Tarthos, Orian system
Astronicus and his team crept through the tattered remains of the Dlarit Corporation's military might. He could a squad of All Terrain Armored Transports in the distance, two of them active but for the most part the area was quiet while the enemy troops slept. There were a few sentries here and there, but Astronicus and his men made short work of them. Making his way to Ragnos Cathedral he noticed it had not been touched, there was no enemy presence - which meant the shield was still up and operational. Calling a squad of Dark Jedi Knights to his current position, he re-evaluated the attack plan.
"Knights, I have a new mission for you." Began the Overlord, "It is you that will enter the Cathedral and gather our forces. I will lead the advance on the enemy along with Captain Simonetti. Once you have all assembled, attack the flank here and here." Astronicus pointed to two key positions on his holo-map, emphasizing the importance of the attack from those areas. "Now go, hurry and make haste."
As the six Dark Jedi Knights scurried off into the darkness Astronicus gathered all of his troops and gave them designated targets to assault. The AT-ATs would be the primaries, smaller assault vehichles secondary and the troops tertiary. The enemy had erected make-shift shelters out of pre-fab materials, centralising it all outside the front of the DSF HQ. Standing off in front of them were the walkers, as if guarding the sleeping troops from an ever present sinister force. Astronicus and his troops made their way into the camp as quietly as they had arrived. As he approached the corner of one building he snuck a peek around and saw a squad of troopers approaching. They were clad in stormtrooper armor and carried heavy blaster rifles.
With the aid of the Force, Astronicus scaled the wall of the building, and from above had a better venue of the oncoming squad. As they came within spitting distance he leapt from the roof of the building, lightsabers igniting in mid air - their white light not forsaking his position since they blended in with the security light poles stationed about. He landed atop one of the troops taking him down, but with the Force he leapt up to his feet and taking up the lightsaber form known as Banlanth
- one of many he had come to master over the years. Swirling about he sliced at one trooper, it's armor falling apart as the blade cut through it and deep down into his abdomen. A foolish but brave stormtrooper came at him from behind, ready to hit Astronicus over the head with the butt of his rifle. The Overlord simply twirled the saber in his off hand and stabbed backwards, he felt a slight of resistance as the blade sunk into the trooper's chest. He brought his right hand about with his primary saber and halved the rifle of the next. It continued in this fashion until the entire squad was dead.
Simonetti and his squad on the other hand had made their way to the AT-ATs. Though not active, the ones not operational at the time were still fully manned, yet that didn't matter. Pulling out grappling equipment from their packs they quietly made their way up to the entry hatch and with the help of a few explosives made their way inside. The crew aboard weren't accustomed to being boarded and so did not have the much needed and wanted weapons at the ready. Simonetti and crew made short work of them, no mercy for filth such as these - even if they once served the DSF. They had captured two of the AT-ATs simultaneously before any alarm had gone up, but with Astronicus' attack and the sound of their explosives, they had gathered the attention of most in the camp. Before the up and running operational walkers could turn about to open fire, Simonetti and the other captured AT-AT had already done so, their blasts devestatingly destroying the rear joints of the enemy's.
With that opposition out of the way they began opening fire on the camp and any military vehichles, AT-STs, tanks, light assault vehichles, you name it they were blowing it up. The enemy ran in confusion, all save for the Dark Jedi that lead them. Their commander, Mrussk the Trandoshan, had been called away, yet others remained - and now they would face the rage, hatred, and fear of Astronicus Aurelius Sadow - Heir to the Empire, Lord of the Sadow. His robes were tattered and torn from battle, the bodies of countless stormtroopers litter the ground before him and on the edge of that carnage he caught sight of a Zabrak, Imgaril Garnath. The Dark Jedi ignited his two red lightsabers - taking up a fighting pose in the art of Sokan. Astronicus likewise went into the fighting style of Ataru. The Zabrak was no match for him, but it would make for an interesting fight. Letting his rage over take him, Astronicus charged forward and struck out at Imgaril. Their sabers met, white against red, red against white.
"White isn't very becoming of someone professing to be a Sith." Taunted Imgaril
My last post
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
“We have reports of heavy fighting on Tarthos,” stated Mrussk as he talked to Anaxela over the holonet link from his TIE Defender. “I am enroute there right now. Also, a Golan XQ-3 platform and another unidentified smaller one have moved into place around Sepros. I sincerely doubt we can take them, even with the VSD. And the mission to the wreck was not a success.”
She raised one eyebrow quizzically and smiled. “And why not, my dear Mrussk?” Her voice was cold, unlike the fake smile painted tightly across her face. “You had better choose your answer carefully.” Her fingers played across the control board, relaying the information to the Dark Fusion.
“I um. I ran into… several powerful Force users. At least one was a Sith wearing battle armor as good as my own. He was toying with me, I sensed. I felt the rest of the team go down, and I ran.”
“That’s a first. And I thought you were the best. We’ll have to discuss this weakness later. Did he have extensive tattoos?” asked the woman as her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“All over his face, yes. And red hair dyed with black stripes. Do you know him?” queried the Trandoshan. “He seemed insane.” A cough resounded from the comlink. “Blast, I think I have a cold,” mumbled the reptile as he sneezed.
“Macron,” she snarled. “My dear brother has interfered with my plans for the last time. I bet those Keibatsu bastards were there too. By the gods…next time, I’ll kill that damn Shin’Ichi.” she stood up, a swirl of power manifesting about her. “I have my own issues to deal with right now. Anaxela out.”
The red-haired woman spoke. “Severina… I have need of you.” Usually the shade responded quickly, but this time there was nothing. No sense of chill, no wavering shape manifested. “Bitch!” growled the Force Witch as she waved at the empty air. “She has set me up… left me out to dry. I’ll bottle her in a crystal for all time!”
The sense of approaching conflict wavered in her mind’s eye. Beings were coming with ill intent… for her. “Well then,” she chuckled. “We’ll have to show them the error of their ways.” The powerful Master unsheathed the Sword of Shar Dakhan, and relished the rush of dark power like an addict. She began to immerse herself in the White Current, becoming invisible even in the Force. Illusion swirled in the room, creating scenes that hid subtle dangers, like the trio of death-gas traps and the thermal detonator traps.
“Looks like we are in good shape,” commented Sai as he looked over the data pad. “We have almost 500 clones and gear ready. Stashing them here was a good idea.” He went over the supplies again in his mind, calculating the med gear and ammunition reports once again for good measure.
“They are top notch too,” commented Shin’Ichi as he reviewed the clones filing into the transports. “Hard chargers. I made sure of that myself. And they are... well Mac had his way with them in the creation process.” The clones were alchemically altered in subtle ways- increased strength, resistance to shock, and healing abilities were common. The alchemist had studied the works of Kun and Sadow extensively.
Macron smiled, and continued his own work. The aging freighter would hold his precious beasts. One 10M long Silooth beetle (Sweetums was now fully grown), several chrysalis rancors, some Hssiss, a few Dxun Tomb beasts, and 8 battle hydras shuffled in a drugged stupor into the cages. They were followed by 30 wicked-looking Sith battle droids in full panopoly. "Wish I had more," he mused. "Oh well. use what ya got."
Nekura piped up. “I have confirmation from the Platform Obsidian that they will be here shortly to rendezvous. We will meet them with the Golan XQ-3 platform that the Dark Council has here, and move in on Aeotheran from there. Ashia is on her way with the forces she can muster from the Covenant.”
Shin’Ichi smiled. “Contact the Overlord if you would, and tell him the second prong is about ready. And the operatives on Aeotheran too- the pudu is about to really hit the fan down there. Let’s hope Xanos and Trevarus get control of the Skyhook soon.”
It was a good plan. Although the platforms were slow, they had tremendous firepower and would hold up against even a VSD II quite well. Only time would tell…
Asteroid Belt K240
The Kangaras System
The Argnok was silent, the droids onboard inactive, their systems plugged into the ships sensors. It floated on the edge of the belt, its systems barely registering power. To a passing ship it was just another floating piece of metal.
Suddenly a display it up in the drive room, and symbols rolled across it, decoding the incoming signal. There was a pause for a few microseconds while the ships computer confirmed the accuracy of the signal. Then the lights on the outside illuminated, followed by the interior lights flickering on. The droids onboard twitched as their power systems were triggered, and thier eyes blinked on and off as they received updates and orders from the ships computer.
As more systems fired up the ships sensors scanned the nearby area, searching for the right response signal. Then the Argnoks tractor beams activated, pulling one of the nearby objects towards itself, assisted by the small jets on the object that obeyed the instructions of the ships computer.
As the cargo section moved closer, the Argnoks computer sent a final confirmation signal to insure this was the right pod, then thrusters fired sending the Argnok into a rotation, adjusting its speed until it was aligned with the cargo pod, before gently manoeuvrering into place. The magnetic and mechanical docking clamps snapped on securing the pod to the ship, and with a hiss the cargo pod repressurised in line with the rest of the ship.
When this was completed the Argnoks main engines came online, and computer plotted a course, before it began its slow subtle journey towards the planet Kangaras.
Sepros, Orian system
The tension was high as Anubis and the pilot. Tsingtao retracted his lightsaber, "You two will settle down NOW! We are in a middle of another invasion and we need able bodies in retaking what is our." He glared at the two until he thought his message had settled in. "Anubis, come with me."
The two Journeymen walked out of the hanger and proceeded to walk the halls of the Palace. Tsingtao was in awe of the structure and glad it still is in possession of Clan Naga Sadow. "Anubis, Guardian of the Dark Side, I need your service. I will do what I can to rally our troops and join our brothers against these interlopers. What I need you to do is go out and get me a detailed assessment of our enemy.
Anubis bowed in acknowledgment and turned to leave. "Just a minute." Tsingtao said, holding up the Assassin. "I know you are not yet a Dark Jedi Knight, but you may come in contact with them. DO NOT USE THIS unless it is really necessary." He handed Anubis a bundle wrapped in cloth. Anubis unwrapped the bundle to find a lightsaber. "This might come in handy, but it will also reveal you as a Dark Jedi."
Sepros, Orian system
Anubis gave the saber back to the Knight.
"It's not needed. I can do just fine without it."
Anubis left the walls of the Sadow Palace, heading out into the rough terrain that was the surface of Sepros.
Sepros, Orian System
Anubis climbed over a ridge not to far away from the Sadow Palace. He had been walking for an hour now, and had removed his mask. He scanned the far distances with his advanced sight, just barely spotting an enemy encampment.
“Knight Tsingtao, I have visual contact with the enemy, they are about four miles north from my position.”
“Roger that Guardian, how soon can you have actual contact with the targets?”
“Give me an hour, or four. I will turn off my communications until I reach the enemy camps, to avoid detection.”
“Good. Continue, and be careful. Tsingtao out.”
Anubis turned off his communications link, and placed his mask back on his face. Anubis continued on his way, making it across the surface of Sepros without much trouble. As he came up on the enemy encampment, he turned on his stealth field generator. Blending into the surroundings, Anubis made his way just into the enemy camp. He found a safe location, and contacted his Envoy.
“Tsingtao, this is Anubis. I am inside enemy territory.”
“Anubis, what have you observed so far?”
“I just arrived, but I will keep you posted. If I am spotted, what would be the best course of action?”
“It depends on how many Force-sensitives there are in the area.”
“Not that many.”
“Just lay low for a bit, and gather some info. If you are spotted, make sure the get out of there, and contact me.”
The transmission ended. Anubis looked up, to see a man standing in front of him. He sighed.
How stupid of me.
Seng Karesh, Aeotheran
With a slight whisper of mechanical workings and air pressure, the turbolift door slid open. lightsabers at ready, the Elders hastily checked both sides of the circular corridor. It seemed utterly quiet, unsettlingly so. They advanced quickly, senses and weapons at full ready for any mundane, or mystical assault. Both felt uneasy.
"Its too quiet, Xanos. Something isn't right." the Krath said, almost under his breath.
"I agree. Yet, I sense nothing out of the ordinary." The Falleen responded.
"Nor do I." Trevarus stopped and shut down his lightsabers. "I need to concentrate... cover me."
The Master closed his eyes, and the Mark of the Wanderer opened on his brow, violet light growing to severe intensity. The Third Sight, was a powerful tool for the Master, and ultimately the source of his prophetic gifts. The Mark of the Wanderer allowed one to perceive the deepest levels of the Force, beyond even mere notions of Light and Dark influences, instead flowing into the Unifying Essence. Trevarus followed the tangled network of influences, a brillaintly red-hued current of malicious intent driving him forward. He followed creations of an extremely powerful being... intricate knowledge, with a backing of something else. The impressions were vague to Trevarus, a very ancient presence, cold, dead. Yet its influence was of exceptional power. He probed deeper, looking for an answer, yet it merely showed him the taunt thrumming of singing steel.
He opened his eyes, and the Mark closed. Vexatus looked at him with a detatched level of interest.
"You look amazingly easy to kill when you do that." he said.
"I can still fight, while immersed in the Tapestry... as you well know" Trevarus replied. "We're up against something powerful... and ancient. I cannot determine what, exactly. Perhaps Mononoke's sister has tracked down an amulet of her own. She has utilized some manner of ancient power to create a series of heavy illusions, hiding mundane traps. We must be cautious."
"Since when are you cautious? Remember that little incident on Antei, a few days ago?" Vexatus said with a faint glimmer of laughter. "I'm still surprised the Dark Lord didn't strike you down."
"Irregardless... the control room is very close." The pair hastily swept down the corridor, to a wide door. As they approached, a series of blast doors slid closed.
"Lightsabers are out... that would simply take too long." Vexatus said.
"Simple telekinesis, I think." Trevarus said.
The pair stepped back a few paces, holding their hands, palm out, at the door. After several seconds, the sounds of stressed metal began to tear through the corridor. Shrieking cries of protest as metal was sheared from its place. A few more seconds, and the blast door, its mountings, and the door it protected imploded into the control room in small flechettes of ruptured durasteel.
"Think she'll know its us?" Vexatus asked
"We seem to make a unique entrance."
Lightsabers flashed in either hand, as they stode over the carnage they had unleashed. Two technicians had been killed by flying shrapnel, their mangled bodies lay crumpled on the floor. The blast had damaged several computer terminals, one was smoking inside its housing.
Yet, it was quiet. There was no trace of the Flow-Walker... They stood back to back, looking for a trap.
Shots began flooding the room from concealed vantage points. Trevarus and Vexatus flashed their lightsabers, tight arcs deflecting the bolts. They stayed relatively motionless in the center of the room, each concentrating against the powerful illusions.
"Enough of this." Trevarus spat. His lightsabers vanished in a crack of displaced air. He stood, right hand clenched into a fist, focusing his will through the rage of the Amulet of Orian. He felt the Amulet's ancient will begin to tear through the Force. Ripping and clawing at another ancient malign presence. The contest of wills nearly drove Trevarus to pain... fire crawled across his body, as an invisible memory of the pain he bore every day of his life.
Out of nowhere, or possibly out of Time... the figure of a woman appeared. She was tall, slender, with a brilliant array of reddish-gold hair, parted over her impossibly evil eyes.
"Darth Vexatus, Trevarus Caerick." Anaxela said. "I have wanted to meet you for a very long time."
"And I you, Flow-Walker," Trevarus said. "You have meddled in my affairs for too long. This system belongs to me."
"And that fascinating relic on your arm... belongs to me." She said, her Sword held aloft. "With the Sword of Shar Dakhan and the Amulet of Urias Orian... I will become the true Mistress of the Dark Side."
"You'd make a lovely couple, Trev. She's just as insane as you are." Vexatus said.
"The relic I bear... is not path to power. It is a curse to long-life. Are you so short-sighted, as to not see the implications of commanding power through the minds of others?"
"Power is power, young one." She said.
"Young one... heh... she's definately you... except with breasts." Vexatus said. "As such, I grow tired of this game." The Sith Lord raised his lightsabers, and swept forward.
"Xanos! Wait!" Trevarus shouted. Too late, Vexatus crashed to the floor, his lightsabers shutting down almost automatically. Anaxela had projected another illusion... and stood smiling off to one side of the Command Center.
The Sith Lord rose to his feet, brushing dust off his clothing. He said nothing, but raised his hands. Violent lightning flashed out of his fingertips, and Anaxela raised her arms in turn, holding the Sword as a conduit for her malice... lightning poured from its tip, coarsing across her arms and down the blade.
Their energy flashed, comingling through the focus of their rage. Trevarus raised his own hands, and he took fought against the raging Mistress and her undeniably powerful Sword.
The Master and Apprentice pooled their energy, fighting back against the mad rage of an insane witch. The very air seemed to pick up the tingle of static, from so much free energy being released as they summoned unholy powers through the Dark Side.
In a thunderclap, Anaxela was blasted to the floor. Lightsabers flashing again, the pair lept forward.
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Anaxela's Sith sword was ready to meet them as lightsabers both dark as night and bright as the sun descended upon her. The witch's movements were swift as she parried the blades harmlessly aside, swinging her own weapon forward. The thrust caught Trevarus Caerick by a hair, slicing through his tunic as he quickly withdrew beyond Anaxela's reach.
While the witch occupied herself with Trevarus, Vexatus moved to her side, angling his blades behind her. As Anaxela thrust at Trevarus, the Sith Lord swung his own weapons at her midsection. With her free hand, Anaxela deflected one of the blades aside, the air shimmering where the Force itself parried the weapon. But no tricks guarded her thigh as Vexatus brought his shoto down, the half sized lightsaber slicing effortlessly through the Force witch's flesh.
Anaxela screamed. Recoiling, the witch flung herself vertical, climbing beyond the range of both Masters' weapons before gliding softly overhead, flying to the far side of the room. Anaxela reached down, running her palm across where Vexatus had struck. Raising it, there was blood on her hand.
The witch's face was awash with fury. “How dare you!” spat Anaxela. “I shall make you pay for that.”
Anaxela stepped forward, limping slightly as she put weight on her injured left leg. Lowering her sword arm Anaxela reached out with the Force, focusing her mind on the skyhook. With a jolt the two attackers stumbled, the very structure seeming to shake as the dark witch reached out, pulling at the structure's very foundations.
“Up!” cried Vexatus, diving aside as the ceiling itself shattered, durasteel splintering like glass, chunks of metal crashing out of the sky.
Trevarus sliced his lightsabers through the air, cleaving the falling piece of ceiling in two a second before he was crushed. The Krath sighed slightly and gave his old apprentice a bitter smile. “Thanks.”
Vexatus grinned. “I'm shocked I actually warned you too.”
Anaxela laughed. “You two should get a room,” spat the woman. Her faced contorted hatefully. “This time I won't miss.”
Anaxela rose in the air, gliding gracefully into the gap which formed the room's new skylight. Lighting surrounded the woman as she drew the Force inside her, static crackling at her fingertips and through her arms before she released it, bolts of white hot lightning surging forth from the tip of her sword, a solid beam of energy tearing through the room.
Trevarus dived for cover behind a large piece of fallen debris.
Vexatus rose his hands, the air before him shimmering blue where the lightning dissipated harmlessly. The Falleen's eye was burnt orange with the power of the dark side pumping through his veins. “Nice trick,” said the Sith Lord. “I can do better.”
Lightning burst from the Falleen's hands. Like two fountains, the dark energies between Vexatus and Anaxela exploded where they met. Anaxela's face creased as she focused her rage through her ancient sword. Perspiration flooded down her cheeks, her face flushed as red as her hair. The witch screamed as her very cells burned with the exertion required to maintain the heavy flow of the dark side.
Vexatus's face contorted in a smile and the Falleen laughed as his own heavily scarred face flooded with sweat. “Can you feel it?” cried the Sith Lord over the roar of lightning still crashing between them. “Can you feel the power?”
The Falleen roared with laughter. “You lecture us about power, witch?” Vexatus's voice was cold enough to extinguish a star. “You know nothing of power.” The Sith Lord cried out as he flood the room with the dark side, the ball of lightning enveloping Anaxela. The Force witch screamed, the explosion shattering what remained of the ceiling as she was flung to the far side of the room. The wall crumbled, pieces collapsing atop her.
“Kark you!” cursed Trevarus. “Why did you have to go and kill her?”
Vexatus shrugged. “I already said I'd grown tired of her.”
The pile of rubble burst apart. “You think me defeated?” cried Anaxela, her laughter echoing through the room. The witch pulled herself to her feet. Her face was bloodied and bruised, her hair knotted and her clothes in tatters. Anaxela's face was a mixture of pure rage and fury. “You fools.”
The Force itself seemed to scream as Trevarus and Vexatus both fell to their knees. “What the?” cried Vexatus before feeling a foot slam into him from nowhere, his body flying backward as he was battered to the ground.
Anaxela laughed. “Young fools. You know nothing of power.”
The Force continued to scream as if it was being torn in two. The Mark flung open, violet light shimmering as Trevarus felt his mind losing control. The Force itself was bending to Anaxela's will, time and space distorting as she attacked them from out of time. Punches and kicks flew at the Masters, out of nowhere, out of nowhen.
“Enough!” shouted Trevarus desperately before a punch threw him across the room, his head slamming into a broken terminal. The Mark closed shut, the tattoo fading away as the Master seemed to convulse, his eyes clouding over before he collapsed on the floor.
Anaxela screamed with laughter. “Is the great Trevarus Caerick truly defeated that easily?” The witch's laughter grew ecstatic. “You are pathetic,” spat the woman before turning her eyes on Vexatus. “I hope you prove more of a chal...”
Anaxela stopped as Vexatus brought himself to his feet and began to laugh himself.
“What are you laughing at?” spat the witch.
“You.” The Sith Lord stopped laughing, his voice turning to ice. Anaxela glared at him, her eyes filling up with hatred. “You think Trevarus Caerick defeated so easily? You are the fool.”
Beside him, the body of Trevarus Caerick stirred, raising to his feet, his eyes still closed. Anaxela seemed to gasp as if mesmerised, her mind unsure whether her eyes deceived her. “...but how?”
The Krath's eyes opened slowly, violet light surging forth. “We...wake." The voice was deafening, a cry that came from nowhere and everywhere. His lightsabers clattered to the floor as his hands hooked into claws. Anaxela's eyes opened wide in confusion. “We...feed.”
Vexatus glared at Anaxela, shaking his head slowly. His mouth curved into a twisted smile. “Say hello to Shan Long,” said the Falleen mockingly as he snapped his own lightsabers back to life.
Seng Karesh, Aeotheran
The Thunder Dragon screamed, awakening to a Force shredded by a time-manipulator. He screamed, and his voice raised a cacophony of the Nameless Ones, it seemed that a hundred thousand million cries of anguish and terror reverberated from his mouth. Vexatus grimaced, the sound even more terrible than the howling of the Voxyn he had fought days before.
The Dragon was angry.
Violet energy shown out of his eyes, and seemed to shimmer through the air itself as if an aura of violet rage surrounded the insane Master. His head was thrown back, crying forth utter rage, and even Anaxela paused, fear on her face.
"We... are... cold... so cold... and the dark... " Shan Long muttered, his howl drawing to a close.
Shan Long stood still, arms held at his side, head thrown back, feet wide, and crouched. It seemed that he was about to leap into the very air.
The lights dimmed, and the air chilled, even from the cooled middle-atmosphere of Aeotheran that now blasted through the ruptured roof of the Skyhook.
Vexatus recognized what the Master was doing. By drawing the Force into himself, he was establishing a Conduit. The Dragon leapt upward, drawing a wake of shattered glass, ruptured steel, and battered electronics into the air with him, as water trails behind a fast-moving ship. He latched unto a free-girder that hung low, twisting his body around, and launching himself at a far wall. The debris followed him. He danced, and Anexala found herself caught in the storm of scattered wreckage.
The Mistress of the True Brotherhood slashed out with the fury of her sword, but the lightning did not reach Shan Long--he simply moved too quickly. The Dragon circled her, smashing bits of steel tearing through her flesh, broken glass digging into her skin, a scrap of metal bashed her across the face, leaving a long ragged flap of her skin hanging loose with free-flowing blood. She raised her hands, and a barrier of telekinetic energy surrounded her, protecting her from the storm.
She struck with lightning again, And Shan Long paused, leaping off the wall again, launching himself directly into her attack. Her white-lightning impacted with the Master, and began to swirl around him. She poured more and more of her rage into the Dragon, but more and more energy built up around him. He paused, and began laughing, his aura drenched with incredible amounts of subdued lightning.
"What is this beast?" Anexala asked, incredulous, her body beginning to show the toil this battle was taking on her.
Shan Long released his captured energy, and the Skyhook was filled with a cannon-blast of noise, and utter immersion of white light. Heat washed over Vexatus, even as he had crouched low, shielding himself from the blast. Anexala swung her sword, striking the ball of energy that Shan Long released, it richocheting back at him.
The Dragon snarled, and hurled himself forward, the Amulet of Orian flashing into the ball-lightning, and driving it back forward. He screamed again, and flashed his own violet black lightning into the Witch... and when the combined energies struck, she flashed into immolating fire.
She was prone on one knee, head bent over her sword.
"Shar Dakhan, give me power..." she muttered.
Shan Long leapt forward again, grasping her arm between his two hands, and slashed into her flesh with his teeth, shattering bone, flesh, and sinew. She dropped her Sword, and screamed, clutching at the bloody stump of her forearm, and the dangling viscera of flesh that hung from Shan Long's mouth.
Shan Long grasped the Sword of Shar Dakhan, and raised it to sever the neck of Anaxala, when a dagger struck him clean between his shoulder blades. The Master raised the Sword high, howling in pain.
A Noghri warrior flashed across the smoking rubble of the control room, leaping between wreckage, a crimson lightsaber flashing in his grasp.
Severina sat with her eyes closed, Malisane watching her. "I can feel her suffering," the Sprit said with a smile, "she is loosing, and her life ebbs away. Soon she will be dead."
"What about the two elders she fights?" Malisane asked eagerly.
"They are injured but winning," she replied, "they are in no grave danger."
She opened her eyes and looked at him. "I sense that news does not fill you with pleasure De Ath."
He shrugged. "You have problems with Anaxela in your Brotherhood. Though I am no longer directly involved in the leadership of my Clan I still take an interest in its affairs. There are several older members with their own agenda's seperate from the Clan's aims who are a long term threat. If Anaxela were to relieve us of one or two of them it would be no loss to my Clan."
She laughed. "You think like I do, you have grown up since we last met."
He shrugged, remembering the politics and power struggles around him in his time in the Summit. "It's been an interesting time."
"Do you have news from Kangaras yet?" she asked him almost eagerly.
"I have sent the signal summoning the Argnok, the freighter. Once the cargo is onboard it will make it's way here. The hibernation pods already onboard can be adjusted for incubation."
She nodded," Excellant."
Orian Space, Approaching Aeotheran
The Consul’s transport, laden with its deadly cargo, eased into a geosynchronous orbit around the besieged planet, the escorting platforms in tow. They were to act as a veritable cavalry, ready to swoop in and change the tide of any battle. The problem was, there were so many battles raging that they were temporarily paralyzed with inaction.
Macron’s armored fist slammed down on one of the consoles. “Kark it all!” he exclaimed, and the Nachezerer lurched violently, its holocontrols responding to its master’s touch; Sai, temporarily receiving instruction in ‘saber form from his sensei, tore himself away from Nekura’s tutelage to seat himself back at co-pilot, his fingers flying over the controls while simultaneously keying the comm.
“Platforms Obsidian and Golan XQ-3, return to geosynch Bravo; do not, repeat, do NOT match Nachezerer heading!” Sai coaxed the transport back to its original heading, his strange eyes flashing over at Macron in amused annoyance. They had done a good job thus far at avoiding detection by the enemy VSD II, but there was no telling what their “inspired” course change had done at maintaining that secrecy. Shin’ichi merely chuckled.
Macron, if he had noticed either their sudden plunge or Sai’s chagrin, made no indication as he stared at the image on the main viewscreen over steepled fingers. An image of the Markith Skyhook hung there like some obscene ornament, but it wasn’t the battle station itself that held the Alchemist’s attention; even at this distance, he was forced to take note of the massive use of the Dark Side throughout the embattled station.
“Elders...Xanos and Trev, from the feel of things. Someone else, too. Someone...familiar.” His voice took on a dreamy aspect as he was lost in the impressions pouring off of the Skyhook. Macron shook his head to clear it as he refocused on the mission at hand.
“Well, gents, here’s where we stand,” he began, swiveling in his gungan-hide covered chair to face his kin. “On one hand, we have Ashia, who by now is no doubt preparing to launch the full assault to retake Seng Karash, but if we head down now, we’ve no idea if we’re gonna get pummeled by the Skyhook. On t’other, we have Tarthos, that we are...obligated, for lack of a better term, to assist the Governor in retaking, but if we go there, Ashia may be hung out there to deal with any surprises those dren may be hiding. The problem, as I see it, is this: fresh from the war, we’re spread too thin. We commit to one, we risk losing the other. I, admittedly, am at a loss.” He clenched his fists, the frustration evident at the impasse they faced.
Miraculously, it took the “youngest” of the quartet to state the obvious course of action. Sai jerked his head in the direction of the Skyhook:
“Why don’t we just ask?”
Macron opened his mouth as if to offer a rebuttal, then clamped it shut, letting a grin play across his tattooed visage as he was granted crystal clarity. The Consul swiveled back to the console, and letting his fingers glide across the holocontrols, he keyed into Trevarus’ private channel.
“Hm. No answer; I guess he must be busy.” Macron swiveled back around.
“What, now?” asked Nekura.
Seng Karesh, Aeotheran
Vexatus leapt into action. Shan Long snarled some meters away, and the Noghri in the robes of a Warrior leapt forward, ducking between debris, and the remnants of command stations. The Fallen vested his own lightsabers, giving chase. Nodding his head, Vexatus levitated a broken steel deck-panel beneath the Noghri's feet, and the warrior toppled to the ground, though recovering quickly into a tight roll.
Both Shan Long and Vexatus failed to notice Anaxela creeping off to the side.
The Dragon raised the Sword, and lightning flashed into the Noghri, mid leap. A shrill cry erupted from its narrow-fanged mouth, and it collapsed to the ground. Vexatus swept over, severing its saber-arm in one flash of crimson fury. The Noghri collapsed to the ground as Shan Long's eyes began to fade, reverting to icy blue as he closed the distance to where The Noghri lay severely wounded. Trevarus raised his right hand, and the dimunitive warrior was lifted in his grasp.
"And you are?" The Master asked, his voice smooth.
"I am already dead, my name dishonored." The Noghri spat.
"You are quite right," Vexatus responded. "Yet, where were you hiding."
"In the Lady's dreams." He responded.
"I see..." said Trevarus, who flashed a measure of his anger into the Noghri. "Once again... your name." He asked.
"Mithlas!" the Noghri screamed in raw anguish
"Okay... that's all I wanted to know... how about you Trev?"
"Quite right." The Master responded. Vexatus flashed a wide arc of his lightsaber, and Mithlas' head rolled the rubble-strewn ground, his eyes already faded to lifeless black.
"Now to our real quarry... I have many questions to ask of her."
Trevarus said, the body falling to the ground. The Master turned, and looked around. "What the kriffing hell?"
"She's gone." Vexatus said.
"But to where?" Trevarus said, incredulous. "Or, perhaps I might more accurately ask, to when?"
"Ask yourself the same question, Oracle." The Sith Lord responded, not disguising his spite.
Both men stood silent in the carnage that was the control room. In his right hand, the Master loosely held the Sword of Shar Dakhan. He studied it, carefully, turning it over in his hands. It was broad, like a gladius, and emanated a presence of such raw evil, and ancient malignancy. Intricate lines of black mottlings seemed to cover its mirror-finish surface, and Trevarus noticed the cold creeping of some ancient malice up his right arm, as if it craved the very essence of his spirit. It seemed almost a counterpoint to the Amulet of Orian, who's fiery presence he had born for the last twenty years.
"I distrust this sword... it seems almost to have a consciousness of its own." Trevarus finally said. He passed the Sword to Vexatus.
"It is a genuine Sith Sword... one of the few I have ever encountered. It is indeed extremely ancient... perhaps even to the time of Lord Ragnos."
"My insight agrees with you Xanos... do we present it to the Consul, as he undoubtedly wishes?"
"Unlike you, I do not require Amulets or artifacts to manifest my power." the Sith Lord said driely. "This sword could destroy Mononoke, if he chooses to bear it."
"So be it... I have no use of it. Let him wield it as he sees fit." Trevarus said.
Almost as if on cue, Trevarus' communicator began to buzz in a pocket. It appeared in his right hand with a crack. Flicking it on, the dimunitive blue-white image revealed Mononoke Goura himself.
"Master Sadow... I've called three or four times." The Consul said.
"Forgive me, Mononoke... my Apprentice and I were busy dealing with your elder sibling."
"From the boiling of the Force, it seems you did a damn good job of it." Macron responded, giggling a bit.
"Indeed... yet she escaped... albeit... sans her curious Sword."
"You have the Sword of Shar Dakhan?" Macron's voice sounded almost... surprised... surprised as if he never expected to hear such good news in all of his life.
"Young Sith and their toys..." Vexatus said from the sidelines, watching the exchanged with interest.
"Yes, Mononoke... but that was not the purpose of your call." Trevarus said to the hologram.
"Uhm, right. Well, you see... we lack a commander to reclaim Tarthos. The Dlarit Security Force installation there has been overrun... and we require a commander to retake the world. Will you go, and secure the Dlarit facilities there... as well as the Cathedral?"
Trevarus stared into the hologram for the barest of seconds. "Yes... I answer your request to lead House Marka Ragnos once again... begin transferring loyal troops out of the facilities on Amphor and Kangaras... I require a division..."
"It is done, rendevous with the Covenant... and muster your forces."
"Very well... field my Warbanner, I go to battle." Trevarus said evenly, and shut down the communicator.
"What the hell are you up to Trev?" Was all Vexatus could ask.
Seng Karash Starport
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Anaxela had escaped Marakith skyhook, making off with one of the light shuttles left in the private hangar. The elders could not tell where she had fled to, the witch had closed down her presence in the Force so tightly not even Trevarus could detect her, even through the mystical powers granted him by the Mark.
“Well, I won't miss this place,” said Trevarus.
“Too mundane for you?” joked Vexatus.
Vexatus shook his head. The old Krath was ever so predictable. Though the Falleen, too, disliked the city of Seng Karash. It was so crude, so vulgar. It lacked a certain finesse. More importantly, it was loud. Not just the sound of traffic and the constant bustle of activity, it was the noise in the Force. The sound of millions of voices crying out.
It was why they had first built the city there, true, but it had always been a distraction. It served it's purpose, helping to mask the presence of the Dark Jedi who had chosen to live there, but it made communing with the Force difficult. Vexatus was at least pleased they now understood why this was so. The sundering of the Star of Ombus had silenced many billions of voices.
But then Vexatus always did prefer to be alone. The constant voices ired him. The... anarchy of it.
“I take it you plan to rendezvous with the Covenant then?” asked the Falleen.
Trevarus nodded. “These revelations of this world's history are... intriguing. I must complete my study of the life of Urias Orian.” He glanced down at the Amulet. “It may help unlock the last secrets.”
Vexatus nodded. It was true the Amulet of Orian still contained mysteries unknown even to the Oracle. A week ago it had fallen from his arm for the first time in over a decade. It still remained unclear how or why that had happened. The Amulet had always appeared locked to the Oracle's body until his death.
“I can still sense something,” said Vexatus uneasily. “Out there.” He nodded upward. “Close.”
Trevarus nodded. “I can feel it too. A second presence. More powerful than Anaxela but... distant somehow. Not quite alive. Not quite dead.”
“A spirit?” asked Vexatus incredulously.
“I believe so.”
Vexatus considered the point. The presence of a spirit was almost as big a problem as Anaxela's flow-walking had been. Anaxela had threatened the past. An immortal ghost could threaten the very present.
“I take it that's why you're volunteering to lead this assault?”
Trevarus nodded again. “That and to win back the Overlord's good graces,” the Oracle said cynically. “If I am to unlock the mysteries of Urias Orian I cannot be needing to watch my back every second.”
Vexatus laughed. “Indeed.” The Sith Lord sighed, staring over at the Sanguinus waiting at the far side of the hangar. Seng Karash was still technically under siege. A handful of journeymen continued to patrol the streets, along with the remaining stormtroopers. Marakith was now secure, Vexatus had made sure of that by shutting down the primarily weapon systems and locking out the control panels. Even if more True Brotherhood forces boarded the skyhook they would be unable to take further control of it.
That did not change the threat to Seng Karash. The True Brotherhood could no longer threaten to blow it up but they could still sabotage its infrastructure beyond repair.
Not that Vexatus cared for the fate of the city.
“I expect Macron will be sending forces down here too,” said the Falleen.
“Probably,” agreed Trevarus.
“I may remain here for now,” said Vexatus. “We still do not know whether Anaxela left the planet. I would be surprised if she attempted to sneak by Marakith and whatever forces Macron has assembled in orbit.”
Trevarus considered the point. “This is true. You will not accompany me to Tarthos then?”
Vexatus shrugged his shoulders. “I do not know yet. I'll leave you to rendezvous with the Covenant in the Sanguinus. If Anaxela even so much as tries to mind trick a guard into letting her out I will know. I'll be waiting if she does.”
“And if she has fled to Tarthos to regroup with her “spirit ally” I'll know,” concluded Trevarus. “A sound plan.”
Vexatus nodded. “I'll make my way to Tarthos once Seng Karash is secure.”
The elders went their separate ways as Trevarus made his way up the ramp of the Sanguinus while Vexatus headed back into the main spaceport lounge. Marakith was now secure, that much was a victory for the clan, but the Oracle and the Prophet had bigger concerns. The flow-walker and her believed ally were still at large and Tarthos, together with Ragnos Cathedral, was under siege.
There was still much to do.
Just inside the Government District, some time ago
Both the Obelisk as well as the Krath felt it. It was as if a wave spilled over them, nearly knocking Shuang Long to the ground. It was the first, and hopefully the last time that Nero and Shuang had to feel the Force returning to them after being suppressed by their Master.
"That's the signal, right?" Nero asked tentatively, looking over the corpse of the Rodian that he had just killed with his bare hands. He felt oddly calm, despite his earlier objections to killing her with his own hands. He remembered Shuang's pearlm of dark wisdom. You are afraid of death, Nero. You fear delivering it to your enemies and loathe the thought of recieving it. This kill will mark your first step to alleviating that fear.
Shuang collected himself, knowing what Nero meant. "Master Caerick did tell us to come and find him when our powers returned to us, but I feel something else..." He closed his eyes for a moment, reaching out with his newly returned power, and almost instantly opened them again. "We must make haste, they are in the government district, but we must wait once we get close. Can you not feel the ripples in the Force?"
Nero closed his own eyes for a moment, though he didn't need to; it was a movement that focused his thoughts, letting him prod and comb through the intricacies of the Force with his limited ability, much lower than that of a Knight but much more than the average man or woman. He felt... something. It was familiar to him. It also scared him; the raw power coming from the epicenter of those ripples was something that had perhaps cost him his life if he hadn't been warned by Xanos during the Vong War. That seemed a lifetime ago.
He opened his eyes again and looked to Shuang, "Shan Long?"
"Yes," Replied Shuang, "Let's hurry to get there, and we'll get to cover when we get there, in case Shan Long decides to visit his attention upon us instead of whoever brought him out."
The Miraluka nodded, making a quick check of his equipment. "Maybe the officer had a vehicle of some kind."
"Wouldn't that be convenient." Shuang replied sardonically as he made his own check of the equipment.
"You can quip all you want," Nero said, crouching beside the body of the dead officer and lifting the man's shirt, looking for pockets, "But if I find the key to a vehicle you owe me a drink."
The Zabrak/Falleen raised an eyebrow, "You're not even old enough to do so in most star systems, what makes you think I'll go for that wager?"
Nero smiled as he felt something inside the pocket of the officer's coat. "Because, my dear Shuang, despite the fact that you and I are both Dark Jedi does not mean that we are above having a drink or two," He paused as he felt around the object and pulled out a set of keys for a police hover-cruiser and held them aloft triumphantly, "And I just won the bet."
Shuang Long scoffed, "I'll ask Trev first if you can drink, how about that?"
"If you feel being awake for the rest of your days waiting for me to fulfill my promise to one day end your life with my bare hands, you'll do that. And that is a promise, by the way." Nero replied, his demeanor serious.
Shuang felt the feelings of the young Jedi, however; the beginning of a friendship was forming inside the boy. "Alright then, but only when all this is over and we've got free time, deal? Last thing you need is to show up to one of Trev's lessons while drunk."
"Deal, now let's go."
Outside the City Hall
The unlikely duo hid themselves behind the rubble of several destroyed police and Dlarit cruisers; it appeared at least some of the people had put up resistance to the occupation, though they were destroyed for their efforts.
"I have a bad feeling about this." Shuang remarked, looking over the eerily silent sight before him; there was absolutely no activity going on. Not so much as a peep from the place; either the Force signatures of Trevarus and Xanos was very well hidden, or they weren't there. And with Shan Long loose, neither felt like going inside to check.
"What should we do?" Nero asked.
"What every sane, rational Apprentice would do. Come back to their Master."
The message shocked and surprised both of them. "Master?"
"Yes, yes, it's me," came the curt voice of Trevarus Caerick, "I felt that you have destroyed one of our enemies... This is good, though she brought it on herself. Congratulations, Shuang and Nero. But you missed the greater battle. Come back to the Sangiunus, we're leaving."
Both Apprentices looked at each other, both genuinely sad that they had missed the battle as they stood and began making their way to their Master.
"You still owe me a drink." Nero said matter-of-factly as he got back into the police cruiser.
VSD Dark Fusion
Severina looked at Jin'gi's Quarren face as he gave his report over the scrambled communicator.
"You are sure about all of this?" she asked.
He nodded. "Of course master," he replied, "I have sent you the images. We do not know what his next move is, but I'm guessing with the Yuuzhan Vong making further incursions into Remnant territory and increasing disatisfaction with Pellaeons bonds with the Republic it will only be a matter of time before he moves his forces out of the sector, destination unknown."
She nodded. "How are you fairing down there?"
"Imgaril and Agrist are organising the defence, so far we've experienced limited attacks by weaker Naga Sadow forces, we're holding without any serious threat.
"Good," she replied, "keep me posted. And if Anaxela turns up there give her medical care but keep her under observation."
She turned to Malisane who was sat thinking to himself. "You are troubled."
Malisane nodded. "I'd heard about his return, we received a report from Kangaras of him being there, but I had no idea he'd progressed to that level."
She shrugged. "He has abandoned his silly ritual ideas, and now concentrates on his aims once more, the man he used to be. Now he controls a sector fleet and is a grave threat to both of us, you especially. He is not forgiving, as his visit to Usharak has proven." She studied him. "You will do well to survive the next year De Ath."
"Thanks," he replied bitterly, "hopefully he will not make another rash move."
She shook her head. "He is cementing his position, and building his strength in the force. He is more now than he ever was, his strength and experience with new purpose and ambition. Personally I do not relish the idea of meeting him again. You no longer face some old Sith obsessed with rituals and ancient secrets, with the Republic and the Remnant weakened he'll be setting himself up to be a Warlord."
Malisane nodded "What of Anaxela?"
Severina smiled, "She has survived and is making for Tarthos. Your elders were not as efficient as you made out."
"Why there and not here?"
"She does not trust me," the spirit said with a smile, "they say you should keep your enemies close and your friends closer, right now she knows I could be either and in her weakened state could obliterate her. She will hide and lick her wounds on Tarthos before we meet again."
Malisane nodded. "Good."
Sepros. Orian System
Anubis thought quickly, running through different scenarios, fright entering his mind. He soon came up with a solution. The Guardian slowly drew his sword, hoping that he had not been noticed. Just as the edge of the blade had been unsheathed, it made a screeching sound, alerting the man in front of him. Anubis thrust harshly at his enemy, empowering his arms with the Dark Side, channeling his all-encompassing hatred into a vicious stab. The blade went through the man's armour and into his upper torso. The soldier gasped for air, spattering blood over Anubis' outer cloak. He got to his feet, extracting his sword from the man's bloody torso before pushing him backwards into a swampy marsh. Anubis removed his blood soaked cloak and retreated, fleeing from the camp.
His stealth field generator was no more use to him, just dead weight. As the Guardian ran, he took off the stealth machine, and tossed it in the trees. He was able to run a lot faster now, still running because he feared that the enemy was on his tail. A blaster bolt nearly hit the fleeing man's feet.
Well, guess I was right, The Journeyman thought to himself.Anubis opened a communications channel with the Sadow Palace.
"Uh hello! This is Guardian Anubis Wrath, requesting", Anubis had to jump to avoid another shot, "help!"
"Anubis, it's Tsingtao. I'll get there as soon as possible."
"How will you find me?"
"Homing beacon. Know of any quick means of transportation around here?"
"Yeah, I have a fighter hidden away in the hanger. Enter the hanger, take a left" Anubis turned around and threw a branch at the following men, "take a left, proceed down the whole side of the hanger, until you reach a covered object. Uncover it, and speak the numbers seven-five-five-six-nine-oh-one. Get in, and activate the Artoo unit installed inside the fighter. Give him the co-ordinates, and get the hell over here!"
Anubis had begun to outrun the men, but kept on running. He was glad that his Valheru endurance was kicking in, as this would be the worst time for it to give up on him. He ran for another half an hour, before Tsingtao had made it to him. The Miy'till fighter landed, the hatch opening to reveal the Knight.
"Took you long enough?"
"I didn't know that the fighter could go any faster. That reminds me, on the way back you get to pilot this thing."
The two men chuckled and got into the starfighter, heading back towards the Sadow Palace.
CR-90 Corvette Sanguinus
Flagship of Trevarus Sadow
Seng Karesh, Aeotheran
Trevarus walked up the ramp of his personal conveyance, and made his way to the Bridge. He considered the task at hand, and the implications of the coming storm. Christine was busy at work, programming some aspect of the ship's central computer, and didn't notice the Master's entry. Nero and Shuang Long sat in a corner, playing a game of holo-chess with interested distraction. He let them be for the moment.
He touched a few keys on an unmanned command station, and looked for reports from the Clan's network. Astronicus had already deployed forces to Tarthos, and the fighting was extremely heavy.
He dialed again, looking for an inventory of the Covenant's ground assault forces. The numbers flashed in a few moments. Personnel losses had been heavy, yet it seemed that at least six-hundred Dlarit Army Troopers were still considered active. The warship's armored calvary had not been damanged, save fire-scorching to one of the drop-ships.
He retrieved his communicator, and dialed the Command line for the Covenant's bridge. "Captain Talcor'tan'chaf speaking, came a terse reply."
Trevarus was familiar with the Chiss Officer... he served as a Line Captain, and cheif of Security at Astronicus' retreat.
"Captain, this is Trevarus Caerick, Governor of Tarthos. What are the lastest reports from the forces deployed to that world, and the state of the Covenant's armored division?"
"Six brigages of Dlarit Marines were deployed with The Viceroy, howeve the Governor-General directed the Fifth and Seventh divisions redirected from Kangaras and Amphor. If you wish to make use of the remaining armor, you have the soldiers to deploy."
"Excellent," Trevarus said, "ETA for the Sanguinus is approximately 30 minutes."
"More haste, may be required Governor... the loyalist forces are heavily embattled."
Christine Zara had turned when he started speaking into the communicator. She hadn't said anything, until he'd finished.
"You always do that, sneak up on me." She said.
"You enjoy it... don't lie to Trev." The Master said, flirting just a bit.
"You're almost as bad as Maeda." She said, her face a bright grin.
"Get us back to the Covenant... its still deployed on the far-reaches of the system. We'll dock, and you can begin your vacation. This time, its a complete promise."
"Alright, deal." She said.
Trevarus left the bridge, without saying a word. Even as he walked down the various corridors towards his private cabin, he felt the ship begin its flight. Christine was an extremely capable commander. She would skirt the atmosphere of Aeotheran, to avoid the orbit of the Dark Fusion. A quick hyperspace jump should have their arrival aboard the Covenant within minutes.
The door slid open, and Trevarus stepped through. He felt foolish, walking over to the small wardrobe. Civilian affairs bored him, but his role was now solid. He was as much a fixture of the Dlarit Corporation as Tron was himself... albeit in a slightly less public role. That suited his purposes.
A uniform the Master had never worn was hanging. Deep blue, with silver piping at the seams hung. He couldn't even remember how he had come to possess it. Yet, stripping off his battle-worn attire, he dressed in a uniform. The Master had not worn a uniform since his days with the Imperial fleet.
The insignia of a Vice-Admiral was still pinned to the upper left breast of the tunic, as was the shoulder-patch of Clan Naga Sadow, and the little pin at the collar desginating the Oracle of the Brotherhood.
As he fastened the belt about his waist, he felt the ship jump into Hyperspace. He had not been called to the Bridge for an emergency. His faith in Christine was well-justified.
Questions began to flow into the Master from the deepest levels of the Dark Side. Within moments, the his ship docked with the Covenant, and a new Officer of the Dlarit Corporation began his walk to the bridge.
Imgaril's face appeared on the communicator screen, his usual smart features looking ruffled and his tatooed face paler than normal.
"What happened to you?" she demanded.
"Naga Sadow launched a suprise skirmish on the base," he responed, "lead by one of their elders." he looked a little ashamed suddenly, "I fought the Elder but he nearly got the better of me."
Jin'gi's quarren face appeared next to the zabraks. "The attackers fought well but retreated off when Agrist and I arrived on the scene. We believed they have dispersed to regroup. Given the circumstances Agrist ordered no pursuit but have put the base on alert. They won't catch us by suprise again."
She nodded "Losses?"
"Agrist reports medium losses to equipment and personell, maybe a hundred troopers and half a dozen walkers.We destroyed perhaps half the attackers in return. It could have been worse." Jin'gi replied. "Next time they will all die."
Malisane sat nearby as Severina switched off the communicator. "Odd strategy," Severina commented.
Malisane shrugged. "I can't comment really."
"Why not?" she demanded turning to him in annoyance.
He looked at her in suprise. "You do not expect me to compromise our forces?" he asked, "our agreement was that I provide you with a new form and the Argnok. That doesn't mean I will tell you anything that you canl use against my Clan."
Her face grew annoyed. "Maybe I should change the deal?" she asked.
"Then maybe your new form can burn in space?" he asked calmly, "do not forget Severina, we need each other. If you kill me the Argnok will not receive the final sequence."
She scowled "Very well."
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
Malisane stared at the ghost-witch for the space of a few moments. He was treading on incredibly thin ice, waiting for a chance to see his goals to completion. He and Severina had not exchanged words for the better part of three hours. There was nothing to be said. Each was relying on the other to fulfill intricate details of an immensely complex plan.
The door to her quarters slid open, the shade glimmered for a moment, rippling with latent rage.
"How dare you disturb me!" Severina said, her voice boiling. "What are you doing here Imagril?"
"I apologize, milady." The Zabrak grinned, flashing a maw of sharp teeth. "Yet, I have a surprise for you."
Two stormtroopers dragged a limp, prone body into her quarters, dumping it unceremoniously on the floor. Malisane ignored it for a moment, before his eyes trailed over the uniform, insignia, and hardened features that every member of Clan Naga Sadow knew oh too well.
The Overlord himself had been captured by the True Brotherhood.
Malisane let no emotion escape from his face, studying the unconscious form of his Overlord. He wondered how such was possible, Tron was powerful and wise. His command of the Clan was long-standing and well respected, and his training in the Dark Side was equally strong.
"Mrussk, despite his hardships, provided us with a potent poison from the Miner's Brother. Moksuna managed to inject him on Tarthos." Imagril said, grinning very widely. "Sadow may recover.... the alchemist's poisons are rather famous."
Severina glimmered again, displaying equal measures of pleasure and anger. "Why have you brought him here? When the Elders of that Clan learn of their Overlord's capture, they will muster all their forces against this ship."
"What forces?" Malisane said evenly... "And I doubt the other Elders will concern themselves with the Overlord's demise"
Victory Star Destroyer Covenant
Tarthos, Orian System
"I didn't realize you were a Flag-Admiral Master," Nero said, walking along side Trevarus and Shuang Long.
"I was an officer in one of the greatest war-machines to ever curse the Galaxy, Young One. Glory is not found in ships of steel and glass... rather in the cold gaze of a fallen enemy's lifeless eyes."
Trevarus waved a hand, and the door to the Admiral's Bridge slid open. Talcor'tan'chaf stood beside the holographic display, considering the battle on the surface.
The Dlarit Security Force Base was a smoking ruin, the green-blue holograms showed Walkers and soldiers moving in formation against embattled enemies. Trevarus considered what he was seeing. Three lines of enemy combatants fielded between the Dlarit Security Force Headquarters, and the Cathedral. Loyalist Clan forces were so far holding them back from a full siege of the Cathedral.
"Are the drop-ships ready for deployment?" Trevarus asked the Captain.
"Yes Admiral. We merely await your signal."
"Deploy, I'll be going to the surface." Trevarus replied.
Surface, Approaching the Cathedral
Tarthos, Orian System
"Delta Commander, report." Trevarus said, studying the holographic readouts. Deployment to the surface had only proceeded with excellent speed, and the Master considered the movement of his division, as they debarked from their dropships.
"Governor, we have initiated combat with hostile forces on the southern slope."
"Excellent, push through the center. Walkers to the center, flanked by supporting armor. Force them to concentrate fire on the heavy armor, while the lesser weakens their position."
Trevarus keyed another relay "Gamma Commander, position to flank, approaching north from vector nine-twelve. Sweep in and cut out any possible retreat."
"Acknowledged, Governor." came the response.
Trevarus hated the cramped vehicle. Filled with communications and holographic relays, the Chariot was possibly the ideal ground-combat command vehicle. It slowly moved at the vanguard of the Clan forces, maintaining visual and sensory oversight of the battle. The True Brotherhood forces were fatigued, and would be short work. Breaking the siege-line in favor of loyalist Dlarit forces would be a simple matter of correct positioning.
"Lieutenant... I wish to debark." Trevarus said, his lightsabers flashing into his hands with a crack of displaced air. Another junior officer he didn't recognize or even know by name looked at him, wild with fear. "Move us to the northern perimeter."
"Sir, respectfully... this vehicle isn't armored for that kind of fighting." His driver responded over the intercom.
"Are you contradicting me?" Trevarus asked, his voice even calm
The Master ignored his reply, and dashed down the ramp, his cheeks stinging from the frigid atmosphere of Tarthos. The high mountains of the Kordan Range swept high over the valley of the Cathedral. He ran towards the massive structure, a few hundred meters behind a line flashing with red-bursts of blaster fire. He ran forward, looking for the thickest part of the battle, his lightsabers screamed for blood.
Leaping into entrenched soldiers in stormtrooper uniforms, the Master furiously slashed and arced his lightsabers, cutting them down with the rage of his will. Something called to him, out of the deepest levels of the Force itself.
He followed his rage, listening for insight.
The battle had begun to wane, as the fresh forces from the Covenant swept across the battlefield. There was no possible way for the embattled True Brotherhood forces to outlast the new machine. The assault led by Astronicus had softened their invasion force, which was rather meager to begin with.
Yet, one small enclave of soldiers stood firing at a small fortification. Flashes of red light lanced through the early morning air, though few were returned. Trevarus sensed something amiss.
It was nothing more than a heavy-laser cannon outpost. Yet shots rang in and out, successfully holding off a small platoon of enemies. Running towards it, he cut through the door and burst inside.
Ariac Simonetti lay crouched with his blaster, alternatively firing the heavy weapon, and surpressing their fire with his small rifle. Trevarus was amazed, he observed that there must be three or four trapped inside.
"You're either here to kill me, or help me. Either is welcome" Simonetti said.
"You have great courage, Captain," Trevarus said. "I am quite impressed."
"So do something with your damnable wizardry." Simonetti spat, pouring out a fresh salvo of blaster fire.
The Master closed his eyes, concentrating his attention on the signatures of the twenty or so soldiers that fired upon Simonetti's position. They were merely mundane, several even bore the emotional signatures of betrayers. They had changed allegiances.
Flashes of fire began to sing on the battlefield. Trevarus poured more of his rage forward, willing the Amulet of Orian to give his hatred tangible voice. The flames grew more intense, lighting across the battlefield. Finally, Trevarus released his wrath.
A vast conflagaration of fire swept across the distance, consuming the combatants in unholy fire. Screams, pain, horrid suffering. Trevarus drank these in with all the appreciation of a truly malicious being. It had passed in mere seconds, but the air was still. Simonetti checked the charge on his blaster.
"I had two shots left." the Captain said, his voice gruff yet amazed.
"Where is Astronicus?"
Simonetti paused. "The Viceroy was captured," he looked at Trevarus' uniform incredulous. "I thought you would have known, Governor."
Xanos.... Trevarus said. We have problems....
VSD Dark Fusion
Severina nodded. "Put him in the medical centre, under heavy guard. Do what you need to do to keep him alive but no more."
Imgaril nodded, "As you wish."
Malisane watched as they dragged the Overlord away, then turned to her. "This is insane," he told her.
"It was unexpected," she replied thoughtfully.
"What are you going to do?" the Battlemaster demanded.
"He could be a useful bargaining tool." she mused.
Malisane shook his head. "I doubt it, I know my clan they don't give in to blackmail. They'll rescue him or find a way of removing him from the equation, even if it means blasting this ship from existance."
She looked at him, "With what? Your skyhook or your dilapidated destroyer?" she said in amusement, "I know more about your Clan than you think De Ath. This Astronicus is your legendary Heir of Sadow, the centre of your Clan's belief system. They would not sacrifice him."
"It depends who your "they" is. The Summit would not, the Sadows maybe, especially if the price you name for his return is too high to pay." he argued.
"And what would you do De Ath?" she asked him pointedly, "what does this Overlord mean to you?"
Malisane shrugged. "I care about my Clan and its future, not individuals." he replied truthfully.
She nodded. "I see. I need to consider this. For now we will keep him where he is."
Malisane nodded. "Just remember what I have said."
"I trust you will not do anything rash De Ath, I would not want anything to sour our relationship?"
He shook his head. "I will not interfer, our arrangement stands."
This new war machine descended upon Tarthos, raging and screaming, unleashing torrents of rippling, seething, flame. Blaster bolts flew hot through the air, burning and scarring, the battlefield pockmarked with clouds of smoke and the burned-out, ruined husks of enemy ground craft. Missiles, various glimmering projectiles, slipped through the chill air, contrails extending far as the roaring harbingers sought their targets.
Amidst all this, amidst the rage and the hatred, the fire and the ice, Shuang-Long stood. His saber was in his grasp, the bright yellow of his blade contrasting with the harsh landscape.
Elegant, almost mesmerizing, the old warrior forced his way into the battle. Blaster bolts flew at him but he deflected them with grace, a flourish and a twist, a slight flick of the wrist.
Inexorable and calm, he continued his slow march, deflecting and slashing. A squad of troopers began to fire at him, and though he deflected many he was forced to dodge the rest. Quickening his pace, channeling the darkness into his body, he slipped past them, slicing and stabbing with perfection, precision.
More screams added to the general symphony of war, before he cut them off, the glorious conductor, with a simple turn and slash. Three remained to challenge them, and at close range their cause was hopeless.
One more step forward, one more vicious stab searing through flesh and bone. He held the trooper close to him, used him as a shield, flinging the dying man onto his comrades. Leaning in close, he whispered death in their ears as his amber blade flashed once, twice.
Somewhere close by a wall of flame erupted, and he caught the light out of the corner of his eye. Soldiers stood before him, not too far away. Where moments before they had had their blasters leveled at some sort of turret emplacement, now they were rapidly being engulfed in flame.
“Master,” Shuang said, shaking his head and smiling faintly as he recognized one of Caerick’s several signature moves.
The Knight approached the fortification, extending the force around him in an attempt to make sure he knew the nuances of the battle around him. It would not do to be shot in the back. Perhaps because of his focus on assaults from behind, he almost failed to notice the two blaster bolts lancing out at him from within.
He blocked one; the other struck him on the shoulder and bounced off, harmlessly deflected by the concentration of dark energy he had instinctively summoned to him.
Through the door exited his Master, and the venerable Simonetti. Caerick’s face was marked with a look of concern, while the Captain simply looked exhausted.
“Apologies,” Simonetti said, smiling faintly.
“What news, gentlemen?” Shuang asked, nodding at the Captain, but focusing on the concern on his Master’s face.
“It would seem that the Viceroy has been captured, my Apprentice.”
“Astronicus? How in Darth’s name did they manage that?”
“I do not know, and for the time being it is irrelevant. We must locate him, and a rescue seems a necessity.”
“You would rescue one for whom you hold such distaste, Master?”
“As much as Tron irritates me, he nevertheless serves a purpose, and remains useful. His loss would be, how to say this, an unpleasant circumstance.”
Trevarus grinned wryly, his sharp eyes flitting over the battlefield.
“If he is aboard their Destroyer, this would complicate matters somewhat,” Trev said, rubbing his chin absentmindedly, “I must consult with Xanos.”
Sepros. Orian System
Anubis and Tsingtao had been flying for ten minutes, when they received a transmission.
Unidentified Miy'till starfighter, you are entering restricted space. Please send all vessel and pilot information.
"This is Dark Jedi Knight Tsingtao Ming, I have Guardian Anubis Wrath Piloting the Vessel. We are returning to the Sadow Palace. Prepare yourselves four our landing. Ming out."
Anubis felt the need to leave and move to Tarthos to the clan's flagship, but he needed to do something first. As they came closer to the Sadow Palace, the two Journeyman prepared for a landing. The fighter flew into the hanger smoothly, landing near the bay doors. The men exited the Miy'till starfighter, heading towards the door to the rest of the Palace.
Anubis walked slower for a moment, before turning back. He ran at the fighter, jumping into the cockpit. Tsingtao turned,
"Anubis, what are you doing? Where are you going?"
"I need to leave this place, I'll be back m'friend" was all that could be heard before the cockpit hatch sealed itself shut. Ming sighed, and pushed himself towards the vessel, trying to stop the Valheru from leaving. The fighter rose off the ground a few feet, the engines charging.
The knight made the jump to grab onto the left wing of the fighter and succeeded. Anubis was fighting the controls, trying to keep his fighter from doing a barrel roll and flipping. He used the secondary maneuvering jets, but still the fighter began to roll over. Anubis let it do so for a moment, forcing the knight to let go.
The Guardian had no choice but to accelerate out of the hanger, and into space within the next minute or two.
Anubis, spoke the knight, be careful.
Tarthos, Orian System
Anubis wedged the fighter out of light speed and hyperspace, the planet of Tarthos shining in front of him. He sped up, gaining more velocity as he entered the atmosphere. He flew through clouds, to find immense fighting going on below.
"Clan Naga Sadow, This is Guardian Anubis Wrath in the approaching Miy'till fighter. Designate enemy walkers so that I may fire."
"Anubis, good to see you have come" came the reply of Admiral Trevarus, "All walkers to the left are designated enemies. Target their legs, fire when ready."
Anubis angled the fighter towards one of the front legs located on the first walker. The Journeyman fired his heavy concussion missile, blasting apart a chunk of the walkers foot. As that foot came down, it bent under pressure, ripping apart the walkers entire leg.
Seng Karash Starport
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Though Anaxela was keeping her Force signature shut off it hadn't taken Vexatus long to locate her. An absence was as noticeable as a blazing sun when you were looking for it. It also helped that she had recently lost an arm. Tracking down a one armed woman with vibrant flowing red hair had proven simple after questioning the weak minded.
The witch was one hundred meters or so ahead of Vexatus, desperately making her way through the crowds. The Prophet wasn't sure how she had gotten off the skyhook, as soon as they had beaten the Noghri down and taken control of the command room they'd closed off the installations hangars. Anaxela probably had had a private speeder waiting somewhere.
That or she simply flew.
Considering her strange array of abilities Vexatus would not put it past her.
There would be no risk of the True Brotherhood retaking control of the skyhook. Most of the command center was damaged during the duel for a start. Beyond that Vexatus had been sure to close down the station's functions before returning to the city. If any True Brotherhood were left onboard they were now essentially sitting in a giant floating prison cell.
Anaxela was “talking” to one of the starport attendants now. She was obviously panicking. Despite closing her presence in the Force down so tightly she was starting to mind trick the attendants to get through customs quickly. Sloppy.
Vexatus grinned wide when the witch darted her head around, staring right at him. Anaxela's eyes widened as she shoved the customs officer out of the way and broke into a run toward the main public hangar.
The Sith Lord unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and began chase.
* * *
Customs didn't obstruct Vexatus. There was no more need to be discrete. He allowed his mind to violate their own, dominating their thoughts as he passed unchallenged. The Prophet's mind shards were no more a mind trick than a Star Destroyer was a skyhopper. The customs officers agonising pain brought a warm smile to the Sith Lord as he passed, even as the men clutched at their skulls trying to massage away the phantom pangs.
Vexatus caught up with Anaxela in hangar number twelve. The witch had given up trying to keep her presence quiet, there was no point hiding anymore.
“Surrender, witch,” yelled Vexatus, “and perhaps I shall make your death quick.”
Anaxela glowered at the Falleen. “We of the True Brotherhood do not cower,” cried the woman back as she reached out with her remaining hand and tapped the cockpit release on the old Z-95 Headhunter beside her.
Vexatus grunted. “Amusing,” chuckled the Sith Lord.
“What is?” spat Anaxela unamused as she used the Force to lift her gently into the ship's cockpit. A second later the starfighter's main guns lit up, angled straight at the approaching Falleen.
Vexatus laughed. “Most amusing. You and your True Brotherhood. I had read reports of your past activities. I had expected no less.”
“And what was that?” said Anaxela, a bitter smile crossing her face as she placed her hand on the stick, ready to pull back on the firing trigger.
Anaxela's face tightened. “How dare...”
Vexatus shook his head. “Copy failure to become failure. Is it really such a surprise?”
In truth, Anaxela was simply stalling for time, waiting for the ship's engines to warm up fully. It would have been suicide to try and get past Marakith's guns and the kind of brutal acceleration it would take was unwise to perform on a cold engine. Even so, Anaxela was suddenly curious.
“What do you mean “copy failure”? That would make you a failure as well.”
“You think I am of the brotherhood?” Vexatus roared with laughter. “You understand so little.”
“Then what?” asked Anaxela, now utterly confused.
“I am the One,” Vexatus said as he reached out, closing the Force around the Headhunter in a crushing motion. In nanoseconds Anaxela would be no more than a splatter on a crumpled starfighter.
The Z-95's twin lasers burst into life, red bolts flying at the Sith Lord. Vexatus held up a hand, imagining a sphere of emptiness around him and watched as the lasers dissipated harmlessly into air. Anaxela cursed as she kicked the Headhunter into maximum acceleration and directed the ship vertical, shooting toward the stars.
Marakith remained lifeless, its guns still silent from where Vexatus had earlier disabled them.
“Kark it,” spat the Falleen.
Xanos... We have problems...
Trevarus's voice sounded in his ears, out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
Vexatus gazed up at where Anaxela's fighter was rapidly disappearing. Unless it was a diversion her trajectory seemed to be taking her towards Tarthos.
The Falleen smiled. All things were indeed One. There was no such thing as a coincidence.
I shall be there shortly.
Anaxela would flee to Tarthos and Vexatus would follow. There he could deal with whatever problem it was Trevarus was having. All things were indeed intricately linked. Everything would come together before the end and this "True Brotherhood" would be silenced in a single, final blow.
VSD Dark Fusion
Astronicus' conscious aroused and began to take into awareness his surroundings. He was laying upon a surgical bed, his eyes still closed so as not to alert anyone present. He sensed other beings in the room, most likely guards, and could hear the mechanisms of a nearby droid. His body was weak, he had been poisoned and could hardly stay awake let alone do anything to alleviate his current situation. First things first, Tron. We need to rid ourselves of this poison., he thought to himself.
He had never personally used the teaching or Force power known as detoxify poison for anything but alcohol, but it was the same concept and would be just as easy. No doubt his captors would expect him to do this, he was being monitored and they would be notified once the poison had left his system. He would have to act fast after that. His strength was fading, he had to act fast, so concentrating deeply he focused on the poison down to the molecular structure. He grasped it and began to burn it up, the Force accelerated it making it extinguish itself. His body was now cleansed, but he still lacked strength, the detoxification had sapped his energy and the poison had weakened him. He could go into a Force trance, but that would take time and allow the enemy to do what they will.
This called for the only next possible action, he would feed on the Dark Side. Very similar to Force Rage, he would draw on the Dark Side to strengthen and renew his energy. It was working, he could feel the power of the Dark Side flowing through him. His rage was likewise building, he hated the fact that he was imprisoned, that he had fallen in battle leaving his men to fate, he hated that he was not strong enough to have avoided this. The energy was building up, it was becoming too much for him to handle, he needed to release it.
"Sir, the patient life signs are jumping around that the sensors cannot get an accuarate reading." Reported the MD-1 unit.
Imgaril stepped forward, stretching out his own senses to see what the Overlord of Clan Naga Sadow was doing. He could see with his own eyes that the body was trembling and shaking uncontrollably. He knew the Dark Jedi was drawing on his knowledge of the Dark Side, but could not figure out just what he was doing. The two guards at the door likewise were becoming nervous as to what was taking place. Imgaril stepped closer, no matter what the Dark Side Adept did he was no match, he had none of his sabers or any weapons. Whereas Imgaril had what he needed to facilitate the act of elminating such a threat. He was about to reach for one of his own sabers when the prisoner sat upright on the surgical bed. His eyes were still closed and he appeared to be unconcious.
Astronicus now had the power of the Dark Side flowing through him like the blood in his veins. He turned his head, opened his eyes, staring straight at Imgaril and the two guards. The latter were stunned by this, however, Imgaril was ready as he whipped out one of his lightsabers and ignited it. Before the snap-hiss could complete though Astronicus' arms raised from the bed, breaking the restraints that had been holding them down and he outstretched his fingers. Blue-white lightning shot out from his fingertips, the two guards falling to the ground immediately. Imgaril though raised his saber to deflect the lightning. He succeeded momentarily, but Astronicus was releasing so much Dark Side energy that it hurled the Zabrak against the wall.
"You'll never defeat me, Sadow!" Growled Imgaril as he took a stance of defiance and brought now both of his sabers up to deflect any further force lightning. "If that's the only weapon you have, then you've already lost."
"Ah but you forget," replied the Overlord, "I'm no mere Dark Jedi, I am the heir to the Sadow legacy." Astronicus closed his eyes and concentrating remembered how Master Yoni had once told him of a power that would allow one to translocate an object. It had to be small, but then Astronicus' sabers were not all that large or heavy to begin with. He stepped down onto the floor, looking the Zabrak over, it was uncommon for an Adept to be able to use the power of obejct translocation, but he had no other choice. He concentrated again and this time the twin sabers appeared in his hands. His right arm was outstrecthed before his primary saber translocated into it but as soon as it did he ignited it, the blade's full length came to a halt at the Zabrak's chin. "Let's dance, you and I."
Imgaril spit a sigh of hatred and brought his sabers into his preferred fighting style. The medical center would be close quarters fighting, what with all of the equipment and beds, but it would make no matter to the two combatants. Imgaril's rage was strong, no doubt he was using it increase his strength through the Dark Side as well. What he underestimated was that Astronicus had the advantage already. Astronicus was a master in the art of Force Confusion, his enemy was distracted and did not realise that he had already moved behind him. But of course that confusion was also thanks to the fact that of a force illusion. Imgaril shook his head and tried to clear it, he was able to just enough to turn in time to block the twin sabers of Astronicus as he sliced down at the Zabrak.
"Your trickery and deceptions will not help you in this battle weakling." Spat the infuriated Zabrak. "I will be the end of your legacy and the destroyer of all that you hold dear."
"Then you best act fast fiend. For I will not give you the edge in this battle." Astronicus smiled as a dastardly thought crossed his mind. He stepped back and took up a defensive posture himself, but uncharacteristically closed his eyes and extended his arms wide, showing a hole in his armor per se. Imgaril took advantage of this and charged, one saber raised up high the other at waist height and stabbed at the Overlord. The strangest thing then happened, his blade sunk into the Adept but did not do any damage.
He was feeling confused again, he shook his head, he needed to be clear minded, but his force rage had clouded his mind too much. As he went to pull his saber out of Astronicus he realised he was not holding anything in it at all. And that was when it all came crashing down as his eventual fate flooded into his mind. Astronicus had translocated his saber elsewhere, but he was not defeated, he still had his other which he felt firmly in his left hand. But he knew it wouldn't matter because in the split second that this all had happened and that he had come to these conclusions he knew he had left his defenses open and that the Sadow had both of his sabers on either side. Before his eye could even blink they had criss-crossed and scissored him in half. A look of anguish, defeat and more importantly despair overcame his facial features as his body fell lifeless to the ground in two clumps.
Astronicus breathed a sigh of relief. He truly did not think that any of what he had done just now was possible or that he would have the strength and energy to do it. It was just as that thought hit his mind that he felt his own body give out and collapse. He had called on reserves of energy, had called on the the power of the Dark Side and it's energies to strengthen him and now he was completely depleted. His body fell motionlessly to the ground and lay next to the lifeless husk of Imgaril. He had won but at what cost to his own life?
The Argnok entered real space, its droid crew rapidly manipulating the controls as it scanned its surroundings. Then its sublight engines powered up, heading for the white spearhead shape of the Dark Fusion
The Dark Fusion
Malisane sat tapping at his datapad, transmitting codes back and forth on a heavily scrambled signal. Finally he clicked it off. "Its here."
She looked at him eagerly, an uncommon expression on her normally placid face "With the cargo?"
He nodded. "Of course. Do you doubt me?"
"I'd like to see proof before I complete the little transaction we discussed." she told him.
"Of course." he replied, "you can inspect it. It will be sometime before it is ready, even with the modifications we have made."
She nodded. She waved a hand at the communicator. "This is Severina, a wayfarer class freighter is on route to this vessel."
"Yes Lady Severina," the voice replied, "we have it on scanners."
"Allow it to dock in hanger three, and have security cordon it off, no-one is to approach it until I arrive."
The Dark Fusion
Malisane felt at odd feeling at the sight of the Argnok, a flash of familiarity. It was surrouned by stormtroopers who stood to attention as Severina approached. She turned to Malisane. "Well?"
Malisane raised his datapad, tapping in a code, and the hatch opened, a ramp slowly lowering. With a nod from the spirit they walked up the ramp. Inside the atmosphere was gloomy, a few droids stood quietly awaiting orders.
Malisane glanced at the hatch to the cargo pod and stopped. "It is in there."
"Why do you stop?" she asked suspiciously.
He turned to her. "The yaksalmari would cut me off from the force, I do not know what they would do to you."
She nodded, grimacing slightly. "Where did you obtain them?"
"My clan keeps a limited supply of them, for research purposes. The research facility in Usharak Keep stores some."
She nodded. "Very well. Show me then."
Malisane pressed a button and the screen lit up, flicking to the camera in the cargo pod. It centres on a large incubator, surrounded by several yaksalmari on their frames. The incubator was lit up as lights flickered over its surface. Malisane focused on it, and inside could be seen a girl of perhaps ten years old, blonde and hauntingly familiar. He pressed another button and DNA scans flickered up next to the image.
He turned to Severina, who was staring at it quietly. After a few moments she spoke. "Perfect."
He nodded. "Still under accelerated growth, our new technology combined with the yaksalmari has accelerated the process beyond even Grand Admiral Thrawn managed. Combined with the reduced need for mental consiousness it, she, will reach adulthood in several days. Then you may take possession."
Severina nodded quietly, her face unreadable. Then she turned to him. "You have kept your side of the bargain De Ath," she said quietly, "I will arrange for the transfer."
Malisane nodded. "Good." He turned and left Severina staring at the monitor.
Suddenly the communicator clicked on. "Lady Severina, the prisoner has escaped. He had killed Imgaril."
Severina turned as Malisane came back into the main room. "This complicates matters."
Severina nodded, raising her voice. "Have all guards proceed to that section, eliminate him or hold him at all costs."
"De Ath prepare to launch. I have what I need. Anaxela can keep the Dark Fusion and the Orian system, if she can hold it."
He nodded. "Very well."
The battle raged ever on, a stalemate achieved. Nero hid behind the wreckage of a True Brotherhood vehicle that was destroyed in the initial assault to reclaim the Cathedral, and the Miraluka cursed as he turned to look around in his hiding spot.
The enemy had succeeded in laying down a blanket of blaster bolts which mercilessly cut through the ranks of the Jedi and the Dlarit security forces, each bolt searing through it's target. The screams of the dead and dying pierced the air for a fleeting moment, commemorating the souls of the dead to whatever lay beyond before being drowned out by blaster fire and the shouting of orders.
"Sithspit," Nero cursed again as he narrowly dodged a blaster bolt, and twisted around to see what was behind him when he recieved a tug on his robes, favoring them as opposed to the flight suit he had worn on Aothoran.
Nero turned to look into the eyes of six Dlarit Marines who had crouched near him, out of the relentless hail of blaster fire. "It's no use, sir," One of the Marines said, thinking that because the young Obelisk was not dressed in a Dlarit uniform that he was a Jedi Master, like the leader of the attack, "They're on an elevated position and they're targeting us really well, we need-"
The Marines' words were cut off as his prediction came true; the True Brotherhood group in front of them turned their weapons to their hiding place and wrought wave after wave of destruction down on their shelter. The bolts were beginning to turn the remains of their shelter white-hot from the heat, Nero and the Marines had to do something quickly; not only were they running out of time and shelter, soon they would fall behind with the main force, leaving the entire force open to be flanked, it could mean the death of all of them.
Nero looked up and saw the sleek three-pronged form of a fighter course overhead towards on of the enemy walkers, laying into it with barrages of blaster fire and concussion missiles. He pressed his finger against his communicator's earpiece. "Shuang!" He called over the noise, "Who is piloting that fighter?"
"Anubis, little one." Shuang replied, his voice loud, but reassuring to Nero.
"Good, patch me through if you can."
"Will do, and keep up. There's no point in getting you that drink if I have to scrape you off the floor."
Nero heard the connection sever and several soft clicks as he was patched into the fighter's cockpit. "This is Anubis Wraith." Came the voice of the pilot.
"I need you to get these heavy blaster emplacements off our back or we're going to be flanked!" Nero nearly screamed into the communicator; it was needed as their shelter was starting to melt fast. "Strafe the east flank, we'll provide extra damage, over."
"Will do, Anubis out."
Nero turned to the Marines, motioning to the thermal detonators on their belts. "When the fighters come overhead, lob those over the shelter, don't worry about precision, let me handle that. Got it?" He waited for the Marines to comply. Each pulled one out of their belt and armed it, looking determinedly at them, then to Nero. Nero nodded, holding his hand out as a signal to wait.
The scream of the fighter's thrust engines came overhead again, followed by the blaring sound of energy weapons being unleashed. Red streaks filled the air as this time the screams came from the True Brotherhood's soldiers as they were fried by the heat.
The pause in their barrage was all Nero needed. "Now!" He called to the marines, placing his hands together as if in prayer, closing his blind eyes and concentrating, reaching his mind out past the shelter to the battle in front of it. He felt each soldier throw their detonators and saw the spheres fly through the air. Nero concentrated on imagining a solid surface, at a slight angle, that would roll the explosives directly at the feet of their enemy.
The Marines watched in fascination and awe as their thermals fell through the air and bounced off thin air, directly at the remaining troops in their way. The panic in their faces was music to Nero's senses as they tried to scramble away from this unforeseen attack. The detonators would hit the target zone, it was time to press the advantage.
"Go!" Nero shouted to the Marines, diving from behind cover and running towards the emplacement at full speed, his boots grinding the rocks beneath them, slippery with the blood and corpses of friend and foe alike. The air hung with the smell of blaster bolts and charred flesh. Death hung over the battle, and Nero would see that it took all who stood before him.
The detonators went off in sequence, ripping some of the True Brotherhood's soldiers apart, their bodies devastated in a cloud of fire and blood. The Marines pressed forward behind Nero, their aims true as they covered the area with great effect, the twitching of enemy bodies as they were riddled with fire.
Nero picked off a few soldiers with his blaster-pistol as he closed the distance, then unsheathed his dagger. Ducking low to avoid a hastily aimed shot at him, he drove the blade upwards, through the bottom of the mouth and into the skull of his enemy.
He looked forward, his gambit had worked. The path ahead to the next set of entrenched soldiers, near the entrance of the Cathedral was cleared. Only a few soldiers stood between the Clan and victory. "Anubis," He spoke into his communicator, "When I get my drink from Shuang, remind me to invite you along."
The puzzled voice of the pilot came through, "I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'll take you up on it."
Nero smiled as he pushed forward, cutting a swathe of destruction through the enemy ranks. Bodies lay piled everywhere, and the normally snow-covered area of Tarthos was now red with blood. He looked to the massive, overbearing structure of the Cathedral, and smiled wickedly as the massive doors opened and more Dlarit soldiers poured through, surrounding the remaining forces allied against Clan Naga Sadow.
There were still many enemies to slay, but finally, the stalemate had been decided in their favor, and they would in time wrest control of the Cathedral from those who dared call Clan Naga Sadow weak.
Battle of Tarthos
Tarthos, Orian system
Anubis smiled, flying overhead the Naga Sadow forces. He opened communications with the bulk of the forces, trying to contact his fellow Guardian, Nero. He got a link,
"Nero, get ready"
"For what, Anubis?"
"Here is the plan. I can barely fire without a gunman, so I need you to join me in the fighter. I'll swoop in slowly, just enough that you can grab onto the wing and pull yourself into the cockpit."
"Whoa hang on," came the voice of Shuang, "If there is going to be any ass kicking, I want in. Me and Nero will prepare for you."
Anubis exhaled, this might be harder then he thought. He brought the three pronged fighter around for a run. As he brought the acceleration control down, the fighter slowed while descending towards the ground. Anubis lost concentration for a moment, and the fighter dropped ten feet. The thing scratched across the rough surface of the planet.
"Guys, get ready!"
Anubis was horrified at the screeching sound ruining the bottom of the fighter. As he approached the fellow Journeyman, they were signaled to jump. Anubis pulled up and accelerated, catching the two men on the fighter's wings. Anubis opened the cockpit hatch for Nero, and the Guardian climbed in. The hatch closed, leaving Shuang outside on the wing.
"Nero, learn how to fire the different types of weapons. Whatever you do, don't push the red button. Shaung, are you ok out there?"
"Doing fine, m'friend" came the Knights reply.
“Wow,” Shuang yelled into his comlink over the roar of the wind whipping past him, “this was a pretty stupid idea on my part.”
“You ok?” asked Anubis, a faint hint of concern in his voice, “I don’t want splattered Knight over my cockpit.”
“As long as you don’t turn at too extreme an angle, I’ll be fine.”
He crouched down, slowly and carefully, extending one claw over the edge of the wing. He gripped it tightly, hearing the screech of metal on claw as his knees came to rest on the surface. He would need as much friction as possible to keep him on his perilous perch, especially if he intended to survive this encounter.
“How’s about a slow strafe over the battlefield, boys?” he yelled.
“Sure, why the hell not,” Anubis said, his voice crackling over the comlink.
“I think I’ve got the weapons down. Let’s do this,” said the voice of young Nero, nervous but full of empowering adrenaline.
The ship lurched just a little, reacting to the sudden boost of power that Anubis had routed to the engines. Howling winds pressed past Shuang, threatening to push him off the craft. He held on tight, eyes narrowed, claws scraping for purchase, low and on all fours. The dark side thrummed around him like the insidious vibrations of a violin, surrounding him like a comforting cushion, holding him down.
His coilbolt in hand, the old Knight scanned the surface for targets, the dark side pulsing through him, enhancing his vision. He was to become winged death.
The ship turned, but he was stable in his position. Screams of wild exhilaration shrieked out of his comlink, and he laughed uproariously, adding his voice to the raging cacophony of wind and voices.
Mr. Pennant, it seemed, had indeed learned to work the weapons. The ship, inclined slightly, roared over the battlefield, blasters flaring. An armored personnel carrier was struck, shrapnel and heavy fragments of durasteel ripping into the surrounding infantry. A heavy piece sliced the air and struck a Dlarit Trooper, promptly removing a portion of his head.
Just another mundane, fallen.
The blasters continued to rain hell down upon the betrayers and invaders, scattering troop formations, igniting fortifications, piercing the hulls of their cheap vehicles. They were nothing but maggots compared to the might of Sadow.
Shuang let loose with his coilbolt, precise shells striking their targets, exploding with heat and terrible force. Blood flew, limbs adorned the battlefield.
Ahead of them, they could see a few walkers flanked by infantry, assaulting embattled Sadowites. A few of the infantry noticed the approaching fighter and fired, their shots useless, glancing off the hull. Pennant trigged the concussion missiles. Shuang reloaded his coilbolt with explosive shells, and quickly fired into the crowd.
They slipped into the chill air, a rippling cascade of pain propelled by hellish flames. The walkers exploded almost simultaneously, the cheers from below drowned out by explosion and wind.
“Son of a bitch!” Anubis roared, gleeful.
“Drinks for all!” Shuang said into his comlink, smiling wickedly.
The ship leaned again, turning at a wide angle, Anubis clearly watching out for Shuang’s safety.
“Ready for round two?” Shuang asked.
“Hell yes!” was Anubis’ jubilant reply.
"You're quite the pilot, my friend," Shuang said, "well worth the cost of a drink."
"We make a hell of a team," Nero said, flipping switches with almost reckless abandon.
VSD Dark Fusion
Astronicus awoke, he was not aware of how long he had been out, but from the most notable fact that security had not arrived and the fact that no one had come to check up on him or the Zabrak meant he had not been out for too long. His awareness of the surroundings was returning as was his force awareness. He reached out those same senses and probed the nearby hallways. Sensing a squad of troopers heading to the Medical Center he picked up his twin sabers and stuffed them into his belt. Looking around he located his robes and dressed as hurriedly as he could. The doors flashed open and the squad entered, unfortunately for them they found Imgaril and the two guards dead on the floor.
"Lady Severina, the prisoner has escaped. He has killed Imgaril." Informed the squad leader.
Severina raisied her voice. "Have all guards proceed to that section, eliminate him or hold him at all costs."
"Yes lady." Replied the sergaent. Then turning to his men he looked around and said, "Find the prisoner he couldn't have gone far."
The squad left as soon as they had arrived. Once the doors closed Astronicus reappeared in the room, he always knew that the power of force of illusion was a good one to learn. The weak minds of the stormtrooper squad was easily manipulated into believing that the Medical Center was unoccupied by anyone living, that and the decapitated MD-1 droid helped to make sure that no one would be aware of his presence. Sticking around here would not do him any good though, he needed to leave this vessel, but not until he made sure of some more important things first. He left the Medical Center, destination: Engineneering.
Deck 6, Section 12
VSD Dark Fusion
Astronicus skulked around the corner, his back pressed against the wall. He peered around and saw a squad marching around the bend. They were heading toward him, about thirty meters out. Stepping back he held out his saber in front of him, the thin silver cylinder hung motionlessly in front of him as he pulled his hand away. Concentrating he sent it hurtling down the corridor toward the quad like a missle. As the saber reached within a meter of the troops he ignited it and began spinning it. The hot white blade sliced through them decapitating all six before they had a second to react
The corridor was now clear and he advanced unheeded by any opposition. The corridors were fairly empty, only a few crew members here and there, avoidance was not that hard and when he was challenged he had no trouble disposing of them and their remains. Astronicus felt no regret in taking their lives, they were the enemy and had participated in the subjugation of the Orian system. Strangely enough, he had not run into any Dark Jedi, at least not any that posed him a challenge. A few Journeyman class had attempted to subdue him, that had been a laugh in itself. They had obviously just earned their sabers and were quite unfamiliar with the techniques of Vaapad, a lightsaber form that the Overlord had been studying for sometime now.
After that his journey through the ship went unhindered, the security details were apparently searching more critical areas of the ship for him. Ducking into a service corridor he found a maintenance tube that technicians would typically be found in for making repairs to the ships primary systems. The door of course didn't give until he used one of his sabers to make it cooperate. The steaming hole cut into it would likely call attention to where he was so he made sure they would head in the opposite direction that he was planning on going by making more cuts which indicate he had headed upward.
VSD Dark Fusion
A heavily staffed and busy area, the main engineering hub was definetly not going to be an easy one to just saunter on into and start taking out systems. Astronicus decided a plan of action was called for and began inventoring what he had available, starting with what he had scavenged from the equipment belts of the stormtroopers he had rid himself of and the Dark Jedi knights whom had thought they were masters.
It was not a bleak outlook for him, he had a set of stun grenades, the sabers of the three unfortunate journeymen, a blaster rifle, several power packs for said blaster rifle, and oh yes a thermal detonator that one of the troopers had been carrying. He would have to place that just right so that he could do the most damage, but so that it would not have any unwanted side effects on himself when it detonated. He could pitch it hurtling into the hub, with the devestating aftermath of sending backwash at him which could incinerate his body. He could roll it in there, run and use the force to set it off. Or…or he could do something a little more sinister. Taking in a good glance at the main engineering area he headed up another maintenance tube to a safe distance.
He was not quite sure just how far he could translocate something, this power was something new he was toying with and was not the easiest of things to master on your first day. Sitting down in a junction where other tubes intersected he took up a meditation pose. He set the thermal detonator down in front of him and began to focus on it, concentrating on its entirety. He could sense its intricate workings and feel the solidity of its shape, size and design. He was completely immersed with the object's lifeless void in the force. The thermal detonater began to shimmer and then vanished, reappearing in main engineering, but that was when the problem arose. To see it right in front of you was one thing, but to have it at a distance and not physically visible was another. If it had been organic or had some connection with the force then it wouldn't be so hard, but it was an inanimate object and thus harder to locate.
He had to think fast, someone would find it and move it or dispose of it if he didn't do somehting quickly. He stretched out his senses and focused on the crew in main engineering. They were thinkers, all of them, not hardly one of them was weak minded, but there was always one bonehead mundane that could be tampered with. Astronicus searched and searched until finally he found him. It was a member of the maintenance crew that serviced the food dispensers and waste units. He was easy to affect the mind of, and once Astronicus felt certain he had him he began to force whisper strong suggestions into that bleak mental capacity he called an intellect.
Must find the detonator. Must find the detonator. Force whispered Astronicus to the mundane. He was quite certain of where he had translocated it to, but how sure this bonehead would be able to find it was another matter. Look around the primary control station. Find the detonator. Primary control. Detonator. The maintenance tech stumbled about like a bantha on a leash looking hither and tither muttering detonator and primary control. The other engineers in the vacinity began to stare at him quizzically but noe dared approach him in fear that they thought he was in a drunken stupor or worse on drugs.
I found it! thought the tech ecstatically. I found it! Astronicus knew he had him hooked and now was the sinister, yet entertaining part of this entire endeavor. Its pretty isn't it. Pretty. Push the button to see the lights. Push the button., he whispered to the mundane. The idiot's next thoughts were lost, but that was to be expected as the ship rocked about violently from the explosion that encompassed most of the primary section of the engineering control center. His work now done, Astronicus made his way to the nearest hangar bay to find a way off of this piece of garbage.
Geosynchronous Orbit over Aeotheran
Macron’s eyes lit up at the readings coming from the Dark Fusion. Whatever happened aboard the vessel couldn’t have been good for them, as the Nachezerer’s scanners indicated several subsystems failures and lesser generators coming online, trying desperately to keep the VSDII’s defensive and offensive capabilities operational.
The information, coupled with the assurance that the Skyhook was not going to pose any problems for them, all represented Providence finally shining upon the harried Clan Naga Sadow forces. As the Alchemist realized his place in the grand order, he keyed the vessel’s mike and gave what was to be perhaps the most important singular order he was to give in this campaign:
The word, unimportant in itself, served as the catalyst for a maelstrom of well-orchestrated destruction, the likes of which the usurpers above and below had never seen.
At the order, Sai’s hands flew over the Nachezerer’s holocontrols, banking the beetle-shaped transport steeply into the atmosphere, making all speed towards the battle for Seng Karash. As she traced a bright orange arc through the skies, various hatches aboard the space platforms Obsidian and the QX-3 opened, fighter wings from the former and troop transports from the latter spilling forth as locusts from the Underworld’s hellish maw.
“Macron, the fighter wings are moving to engage the VSDII, the QX-3 is in close pursuit. The Obsidian is remaining on station, transports are at our six...and you have the conn.” The Priest got up from his copilot’s chair, moving to join Nekura in the cargo bay. As Shin’ichi replaced him, Macron gave a nod to acknowledge the status report. At this point, words were wasted, as the Keibatsu sank into their natural element and executed the moves that were as well practiced as their breathing.
The Nachezerer, with the transports close behind, screamed into the streets of Seng Karash. Sai tied back his wild mane of hair and moved to the hatch to stand beside Nekura, both men igniting their lightsabers as the cargo bay opened.
The True Brotherhood’s forces were dug in, harrying Ashia’s contingent throughout the city as the two forces engaged in urban warfare on a heretofore unimagined scale. The usurpers had laid claim to the system as their home and were hard pressed to relinquish it. However, the next turn of events would cause every heart to rue their choice.
A slight lull in the battle fell over the city as the canyons of buildings resounded with the roar of engines far too powerful to belong to ground transports. Suddenly, from the haze and fog, shuttles emblazoned with the city’s erstwhile landlords’ markings burst from seemingly everywhere. A True Brotherhood ground commander surmised that the ships were moving too fast for an extraction, and too high for a landing. His eyes went wide as he saw the unthinkable unfold before his eyes. He hurriedly shouted orders to open fire, but what happened next was unavoidable.
From the lead transport sprang two figures, blazing columns of silver and blue energy in hand, followed by a menagerie of horrible creatures, ranging from hssiss and chrysalis rancors, and battle droids were close behind them all. Upon alighting on the battle-scarred ground, they began to tear and rend into the True Brotherhood forces, killing with tooth and claw, ‘saber and blaster. The commander’s earpiece became inundated as he was flooded with reports of similar accounts throughout the city, as the enemy shuttles vomited clones who silently plied their own trade, striking down the commander’s forces at every turn. The Naga Sadow forces, freshly bolstered by the new arrivals, gave a shout and redoubled their efforts, their morale boosted and their resolve, steeled. All around him, the nameless True Brotherhood’s commander’s forces were being decimated before his very eyes, and there was nothing he could do about it. His ears ceased filtering the sounds of tactical reports and became filled with the screams of the dying, mirroring his spirits. Absently, his thoughts went from defending a new home to finding an unsullied plot where his remains might rest.
Skies above Aeotheran
Nekura’s voice filled the cabin as he reported the battle’s progress. “Mac, we’ve engaged the enemy and...gakusei, behind you!...and I’m happy to report your pets are performing beautifully. We’ll see you when you get back.”
Macron signaled Shin to arc the transport spaceward, towards the VSDII, where the QX-3 had already opened up with its considerable armament on the disabled capital ship. Combined with the incessant peppering of the fighter wing, it was only a matter of time before the shields failed and the skin of the ship would be opened to the infinity of space.
Shin’ichi asked Macron why they weren’t on the ground with their bretheren.
The Alchemist smiled as he replied. “Someone we know needs a ride.”
Battle of Tarthos
Near Ragnos Cathedral
Tarthos, Orian System
The scene on the ground was chaotic as the beetle shaped Sheathipede-class shuttle Vexatus had "acquisitioned" from the Seng Karash starport came in to land on the outskirts of the battlefield. More than a dozen armoured walkers and juggernauts had descended on the hastily erected outpost outside the cathedral. The True Brotherhood appeared to be holding out, their own armour outnumbering that the loyalist Dlarit forces had managed to muster.
Nevertheless, man to man, the True Brotherhood was still outnumbered and their armour advantage would only protect them so long. Time was running out and Ragnos Cathedral would soon be back in the hands of the Clan's forces.
Vexatus pondered why Trevarus had called him here if all was going to plan. No matter. Anaxela's shuttle had landed in the center of the True Brotherhood garrison. His task was here regardless.
The Sheathipede extended its landing legs, looking every part the insect it was designed after, as it set down on the surface of the planet Tarthos amidst the still smouldering wreckage of what had once been the Dlarit Security Force Headquarters. Vexatus could sense Trevarus waiting outside within the loyalist forces staging post. There was a sense of... satisfaction. Whatever “problem” the Oracle had had it was clearly not one which troubled him deeply. In fact, he was almost... jubilant.
“Xanos,” greeted Trevarus as Vexatus stepped down the ramp, exiting the shuttle.
“Trev,” said Vexatus, his eyes narrowing as he studied the deep navy uniform the Oracle was wearing. “What's this?”
Trevarus grinned. “You don't recognise my old uniform?” The Krath sighed as if relishing a distant memory. “It's been a long time since I've worn this. How many years has it been since the Exodus?”
Vexatus's face hadn't changed. He shook his head. “I would have thought you above mundane military formalities.”
The Krath laughed. “This from Admiral Xanos?"
The Falleen scowled. "I cast aside my military rank long ago. The Empire never had much room for an alien anyway."
Trevarus sighed. "We all do what we must. Indeed, that is why I summoned you here.”
The Falleen grunted. “Summoned... yes, of course,” said the Sith Lord with contempt. “Well, I have responded to your request. What is so pressing?”
“The Overlord. He has been captured.”
“And,” said Trevarus, “I thought you might want to launch a rescue operation.”
Vexatus nearly choked on his laugh. “What? Why?”
The Oracle sighed. “Leverage, my apprentice, leverage.”
The Prophet considered the point. There was indeed something to be gained in helping rescue Astronicus. It would be useful to get the fools of Clan Naga Sadow off his back. Too many had had knives out for them both after their "betrayal" at Antei. “I see your point,” said Vexatus. “What of Anaxela? I followed her here.”
Trevarus narrowed his eyes as they defocused, the Krath Master appearing to stare through Vexatus at something else entirely. “Anaxela... yes... I can feel her presence. She is nearby.”
Vexatus nodded. “Inside the True Brotherhood garrison. I saw her land.”
Trevarus smiled. “Then I believe we may be able to kill two birds with one stone.”
Battle of Tarthos
Dlarit Mobile Command Center
Near Ragnos Cathedral, Tarthos
The lightly armored Chariot circled the battlefield, moving at the periphery of the heaviest fighting. Simonetti, Vexatus and Trevarus stood among the holoprojectors, studying the movement of opposing forces.
Simonetti watched the two men with distrustful interest. He had been attacked by Caerick on no fewer than three occasions, yet the madman had saved his life. He professed no great love for the Dlarit Corporation, but here he was commanding the raging battle. He watched Caerick issue orders to various platoon and company commanders, organizing the chaos of battle.
Yet, it seemed to be all for show. It was not lost on Simonetti, that they were moving towards the structure designated at the hostile forces Command. It was difficult to keep track of their conversation, and he suspected that much of it was through the Force, simply so that he could not overhear.
A pair of ST type walkers, and four PT types flanked their craft, on the holodisplays, flashes of laser fire protected the command vehicle as it hovered slowly across the battlefield.
"Driver, stop" Trevarus finally said.
"Copy, Governor." Came the reply. There was no question this time.
"Captain," Trevarus said, addressing Simonetti. "I am leaving the rest of this operation in your capable hands. I will also leave my two Apprentices in your command, they are both reasonably seasoned warriors."
"Yes, Governor. Where are you going?" Simonetti asked.
"Lord Vexatus and I have a more pressing matter at this moment." Trevarus drew his favored heavy coat over his uniform, and his lightsabers appeared in either hand with a crack.
"What's wrong, Trev?" Vexatus asked.
"Focus your attention... our quarry is attempting to flee." Trevarus said, running down the ramp once again. Vexatus followed in hot pursuit, his crimson blades arcing to life.
Mechanical sounds of the Walkers tore through the air, punctuated by scattered explosions and laser fire. The pair ran through the battle, attempting to close the gap. Urgency drove Trevarus forward.
He stopped, mid-stride and gazed at the Command Center, some three hundred meters distant.
"We're too late." Vexatus said, pointing to the rising form of a Sentinel-class shuttle rising into the dark sky, its landing lights flashing.
"Shavit!" Trevarus said loudly, following the shuttle's flight.
The two Elders started running again, twirling and leaping through a knot of stormtroopers. Flashing lightsabers seared through their forms, falling smoking to the cold ground.
As they closed the gap, the troops protecting the garrison Command took up positions to hold them off, six E-WEB type heavy laser cannons stood in their way. At seventy meters, their fire began to pour forward. Trevarus and Vexatus slowed, moving through more defensive stances. At twenty meters, the Krath stood behind Vexatus, and shut down his lightsabers. As the troops poured fire at the pair, the Prophet moved through the more intricate defensive postures of the Soresu, giving Trevarus time to deal with the heavy weapons.
Abruptly, all six began to shake and move, their fire becoming erratic. After a second or two, they seemed to crumble into heaps of scrap, sparking and catching fire. Deprived of their heavy weapons, the True Brotherhood forces began to fall back, into the command center itself.
They lept forward, lightsabers cutting through the light steel of the main door with quick efficiency. The first corridor was deserted.
"They've gone. There is no force-presence in this structure. We'll need a clandestine way to give chase... I have no desire to face down a Victory-class Mark Two in my Corvette." Trevarus said, looking around.
"There must be a hangar facility here. Our best option... would likely be to ah, commandeer one of their shuttles. It would be docked without much question." Vexatus responded, after considering the Master's scenario."
"I agree." Trevarus said. "Let's go."
They were both familiar with the type of pre-fabricated Command structure, it was an ancient Imperial type used throughout the war. Both had been inside on countless occasions. They quickly found their way to the hangar control room. Three shuttles remained.
Lightsabers off, they stormed into the room. One stormtrooper raised his blaster, but Trevarus thrust insanity into his mind, and the soldier fell dead.
Four officers or so cowered unarmed off to one side of the room. The pair studied them for a moment, the Force boiling rage.
"We are ordinary soldiers in your Army. The Command Crew is being deployed to the Dark Fusion, and you are recalled as well. We are departing immediately." Vexatus stared into the eyes of the Senior Officer as he said this. The Force flowed through every human standing in the room, their minds of no consequence to the Sith Lord's powerful will.
Almost as if they didn't even notice the duo, the crews began prepping a shuttle for departure. They walked up the ramp of another Sentinel class, and took seats in the passenger area.
We're coming, Tron... Trevarus said, into the Force. Save some fighting for us...
Battle of Tarthos
Tarthos, Orian System
"Anubis, bring Admiral Trev's students back down to the ground. I want all three of you to join us on land," came the voice of Simonetti over the speaker. Anubis opened a link between the cockpit and Shuang, on the wing of the craft.
"Shuang, we're going to land. I'll try and turn as lightly as possible to set us down but I can't guarantee anything."
"Roger that, m'friend."
Anubis slowly tilted the controls, turning the fighter over True Brotherhood forces. He made the turn around, heading to the end of the Sadowite forces. Nero, sitting behind Anubis, gulped,
"Anubis, we got a problem."
"And what might that be?"
"They just locked on to our ion signature."
"Uh oh," commented Anubis, "that can't be good."
Anubis hit the accelerator, increasing the velocity of the fighter.
"Anubis, what the hell are you doing!" yelled Shuang.
"Shuang get in here, their forces just locked onto our ion signature, and are preparing to fire."
Shuang crawled closer to the cockpit. As he waited on the outside, Anubis acted quickly, opening the hatch for just enough time so that Shuang could crawl in. The hatch reclosed, and a warning went off. Anubis knew all to well what that meant. They were being fired at. Anubis had no choice but to sipher all availible power to the engines and maneuvering jets. The force knocked the wind out of the three Journeyman. There was almost no space left in the cockpit, as Shuang and Nero had to sit together. Anubis could hear the missile behind them.
"Nero, activate the concussion deflector field!"
"Ok, got it."
Nero hit one of the buttons to the side, and a small energy field surrounded the fighter. It faded a moment later, the missile got closer, the noise it created getting louder.
"There isn't enough power."
"Damn it all to hell!" yelled Anubis as the missile took out the engines and maneuvering jets. The whole back end of the fighter exploded. As it started to fall into the Sadowite forces, Anubis was able to communicate with them.
"Sadowite forces, make way! The piloting controls are fried, and I can't stop."
The men opened an area for the flaming fighter.
"Shuang, open the hatch so that we can get out of here!"
Shuang coughed from the smoke that was filling the cockpit. He ignited his lightsaber, smashing the protective fiberglass. The three Journeyman climbed out of the fighter, and onto what was left of the right wing. The wreakage was descending rapidly to the ground, still inflamed.
Near the Hangar Bay
VSD Dark Fusion
We're coming, Tron... Astronicus heard Trevarus say into the Force. Save some fighting for us...
Fighting was the least of his concerns right now, he had been doing that ever since he had put everyone aboard on high alert thanks to his sabotage. It seemed every corner he came around had a squad or platoon waiting for him. However, thanks to his knowledge of the layout of Imperial warships he had been able to find his way to the closest hangar bay.
As he peered into it through as a ventilation shaft screen he noticed a Sentinel-class shuttle entering. It appeared the passengers were in a hurry of sorts as the pilot extended the landing ramp before he had even touched down his landing struts. It was probably a medical evacuation unit, Astronicus' best bet for getting out of here.
Thinking brashly and without caution he kicked the ventilation screen and rolled out into the hangar bay. Other than the tech and medical crews rushing to the shuttle it was fairly deserted here. He made a force dash towards the shuttle, but as he approached he noticed yet another squad of troopers coming down the boarding ramp. He juked to the left and ducked behind some crates to avoid detection. The squad was oblivious to him as they continued off the ramp and toward the exit. But as he watched them go he noticed they stopped at the doors and took up sentry stations. Other squads were appearing at the other exits as well. His chances of escape were fleeting.
The medical crew had ascended into the shuttle while the tech crew began looking the under-carriage of the vessel over. He had to make his move and he had to make it now. If he force dashed to the ramp again he would likely catch the troopers' attention but should be able to seize control of the vessel and lift off before they could get close enough. His options were thinning down and he had to act. Rising he force jumped from behind the crates and ran head on for the ramp. And as expected the troopers did take notice of him. They trained their weapons and began firing. Astronicus dodged, dipped, dived and dodged to avoid the hailstorm of blaster bolts that were intent on burning him.
He stopped short of the ramp as he spotted a Quarren descending it. wearing a set of Dark Armor made from Phrikite. Phrik alloy was a rare metallic compound that was one of only a few lightsaber-resistant substances known. This should be fun thought Astronicus. He noticed the Quarren also carried as double bladed lightsaber on his belt. Stretching out his senses he confirmed his doubts, this was a Dark Jedi and not one whom he would decapitate, dismember or otherwise incapacitate very easily.
"Ah, the much vaunted Overlord of Clan Naga Sadow." Said the Quarren. "I am Jin'gi Moksuna. This shall be most entertaining."
Astronicus flipped up his sabers through the force into his hands and ignited twin white blades. Yet another obstacle in his long venture to get off of this damned ship. He stepped back and assumed the Vaapad fighting stance, hoping against all hope that it may just intimidate the Quarren.
"Ah the Vaapad form, I'm quite familiar with that." Said Jin'gi, "No I take that back, familiar is the wrong word, I guess I should have said that I have mastered that form, amongst others."
An equal match, plus he had lightsaber resistant dark armor on, this did not bode well for Astronicus. It seemed he never got a break when his Clan's system gets invaded.
"Good, I was hoping you knew it well," replied Astronicus, "I haven't met much of a worthy match during my visit on your lovely vessel. Shall we begin?"
"Certainly. But let us make it a bit more entertaining first." Invited Jin'gi. "Guards open fire on this scum!"
Astronicus wasn't even aware that the blasters had stopped firing. But he was quite readily aware when they began again. The Quarren must have had something up his sleeve planned if he was willing to do this. Astronicus was really getting tired of all of these obstacles that kept presenting themselves. So acting out of rage, probably the worst thing to do in a fight, he rushed the nearest squad of troopers. He deflect several blasts aimed at him and stabbed one to his left, while at the same time brought his right up to slash across another's chest. He was beginning a swirling dervish when the first blast him in the side, then another and another. He was knocked off balance and about to fall when he sliced through the last guard at this exit. He could escape and run. Run, run away and hide like a frightened child. Or he could once again call on the Dark Side and rejuvenate his depleted energy.
He chose the latter and as the energy began flowing into him he decided to share it with the next nearest squad by unleashing some force lightning into them. They crumpled to the hangar bay floor, smoke rising from their corpses. He was about to initiate an attack on the next set when he saw the twirling turquoise blue blades of Jin'gi Moksuna's double bladed lightsaber veering for his head. He lunged forward and brought his sabers up in a defensive guard. So this is how it's going to be…this better be fun!
Sentinel-class landing craft Omega Six
True Brotherhood Transport
Orian Space, Orian System
The visage of the great Victory II-class Star Destroyer Dark Fusion towered into view as Omega Six neared its command ship. The Dark Fusion lumbered through space on full alert, a steady stream of landing craft flowing into its gaping hangar. The True Brotherhood was evacuating. Anaxela had signalled the retreat.
And as Trevarus Caerick and Darth Vexatus chased the witch along what was to be the last leg of a voyage that had begun eight days ago on the edge of the Shroud outside Antei, the rage of Astronicus Aurelius Sadow cried out in the Force, fear consumed by pain and an unrelenting resolve.
The Overlord was fighting for his life and the two who had brought this fight upon him were heading to save him. The irony was not lost on them. Had it not been for the delay departing Antei, the True Brotherhood invasion would never have occured. Nevertheless, something told them they were not exactly wanted.
Trevarus turned away from surveying the Star Destroyer growing in the main viewport. The True Brotherhood crew were gladly guiding the shuttle in to dock, whatever will they having been powerless before the iron will of the two elders.
“Xanos, do you sense that?”
The Falleen closed his eyes, stretching out with the Force. “Like a cold chill?”
The Krath nodded. “The second presence. It is aboard that ship.”
“Then perhaps we should have made that three birds.”
Trevarus laughed. “Caution, my old apprentice. Whatever, whoever it is, it is powerful.”
Vexatus nodded in agreement.
Omega Six decelerated as the maw of the Dark Fusion's hangar stretched around them until the shuttle was submerged in the ship's underbelly. Passing through the hangar shield the ship glided steadily through the familiarly shaped corridors of the Star Destroyer's hangar, eventually setting down along the rear wall of the bay they had entered.
Racks of TIE Fighters lined the high ceiling, while row upon row of landing craft sat ready down the sides of the hangar bay. Stormtroopers disembarked the returning ships, heading further inside the ship.
None of this concerned the Oracle and the Prophet. In the distance, across the hangar, was a quartet of powerful Dark Jedi. Astronicus was narrowly holding his ground against a Quarren, a Trandoshan and a Human.
Disembarking a shuttle nearby was the unmistakable presence of Anaxela. However the moment their senses washed over her she was gone, vanishing into the endless currents of the Force.
“Coward,” whispered Vexatus with contempt.
“We will deal with her later,” said Trevarus, although contempt laced his own voice. “She has nowhere to run.” Trevarus stared at the figures fighting across the hangar. His face curved into a smile. "For now, let us help the Overlord."
The Battle for the Cathedral
The flames of the downed starfighter licked at their heels as the ship came down. They cut across the sky, going so fast that each of the Journeymen had to hold on to each other to keep on the ship. Nero was the last to stand, holding on to Shuang Long's arm, clinging to it for dear life as he stood in the fighter, the wind tearing at him and his companions.
He could feel the eyes of the combined Sadowite forces on them as the ship careened past them, coming ever closer to the ground and further into the battle. It would seem that the small fighter would leave a crater further down in the line of True Brotherhood forces defending their newly-gotten prize.
"In the name of the Force! Jump, you fools!" Screamed a distraught Araic Simonetti through the commlink at the Jedi. He'd only just assumed control of the assault, as well as taken responsibility for two of Master Caerick's apprentices. Apprentices which were now in mortal danger, potentially provoking the wrath of the Master himself if he found out that they had been slain only hours after having been left in his care.
The three Jedi jumped just as they felt the shock waves of the initial impact tear through the ship, crumpling it down as the ship gave way against the earth it fell against. Concentrating as one on the intricacies of the Force, they created a barrier out of thin air that slowed their fall, the ship shooting out from underneath them as it crumpled, twisted and cut it's way straight into a portion of the enemy forces, gouging a shallow trench as it rolled to a stop. It was now a mangled, unrecognizable wreck, standing testament to the costs of battle.
The landing for the former occupants of the fighter went more smoothly, though painful all the same. The barrier was only meant to stop the inertia of jumping from the ship from cratering them; all three were unprepared for the forces that would act on their minds and bodies as they landed. Anubis Wraith and Shuang Long managed to keep hold of each other, but Shuang released his grip on Nero's arm, the forces tearing them apart. Each landed harshly, the pain immense, but they had survived.
Shuang Long brought himself to his feet steadily, every muscle in his body screaming protest. Stoically, he reached out and helped Anubis to his feet as well. Both of their robes had been badly torn, cuts and bruises underneath where exposed skin met the permafrost of the planet's surface. They checked each other over; neither was too badly hurt, they could continue the fight.
"Where's Nero?" Anubis asked Shuang Long.
"Our grips were torn from each other, I don't know." Shuang said, concern evident in his voice, echoing Anubis' own. The looked over and saw a group of Dlarit Marines rushing towards them, covering them with blaster shots to bring them back to the main group.
The duo looked over and their hearts sank. They saw what happened to Nero; he'd lost control and had fallen hard. His body lay prone, oblivious to his surroundings. He was broken, lying face up against a rock, his robes torn, covered in blood.
Shuang and Anubis rushed away from the Marines and to their comrade. They feared the worst.
And just as suddenly, their vision bled away in a multitude of bright colors, laying before their eyes a new scene, completely unlike the battle they each knew they were fighting. They saw the body of the Miraluka lying there, but this time with a faint outline of someone crouching over him, pulling and lifting him into an embrace. The figure seemed caring, the deep love for Nero evident in it's form. It helped Nero to his feet, though he had his eyes closed and looked dead to the world.
The figure kissed Nero on the forehead and wiped the blood-clotted hair away from his eyes, and the scene changed again for Shuang and Anubis. Now they were standing opposite a much older Nero, in fine health. He looked serious, concentrating on something behind the other two. Behind Nero was a massive army, composed of black-clad figures wield all manner of weapons. The ground was covered in corpses and blood, mixed in the with snow of whatever landscape they were on.
Nero raised the lightsaber of Master Beriss high and issued a fierce war cry. It was long and loud, and soon echoed by all who were serving him. The entire group charged towards the Knight and Guardian, the battle-lust evident in their eyes.
And then, reality bled back into their vision, and what they saw shocked them. Nero stood, though with the help of some unknown force, his frail body moved along like a marionette being pulled on strings by some invisible puppet-master.
Both Jedi continued their rush to aid Nero, each puzzled by what they had seen. They didn't speak; they had bigger things to worry about, but both sensed that something strange had occured, and they would speak of it to Nero once the battle was won.
Reaching the wounded Obelisk, both of them checked for major wounds; there were none. His wounds were only slightly worse than theirs; if he woke up he would be able to continue the fight.
"Young one, wake up." Shuang said quietly to Nero, grabbing hold of a wrist and moving his shoulder underneath Nero's to support him and take his weight off the strings that were pulling him. Anubis did the same on the other side. As soon as Nero's full weight rested on their shoulders, Nero's eyes snapped open, no trace of weariness in them.
"What happened?" He asked no one in particular, gauging his surroundings.
V-II-SD Dark Fusion
Trevarus and Xanos both felt it, having been familiar with the Force-signature that the Miraluka exhibited. It had changed briefly, but drastically. Changing almost entirely, it seemed almost as if the Rite of Exaltation was being performed again on the Krath's Apprentice, but it lasted only a fleeting moment.
"Well, Master?" The Falleen smiled maliciously, "What do you make of that?"
"It seems something's got my Apprentice in a predicament, but everything seems normal now." Trevarus replied coldly, "Let us not trouble with it now. We have more pressing matters to attend to. We will have much time to wrest the answers from the Force about this issue when we are done."
Both Elders proceeded further into the bay to help the Overlord, as they agreed before embarking.
TIE Defender Scalpel
Edge of the Orian System
Anaxela watched the cold blackness of space from the view screen of the Scalpel. By now, the illusion she had wrapped over a dominated journeywoman’s body would have faded. She hoped the sorcery would trick the two Elders she had fought into thinking she was still aboard the Dark Fusion, albeit only temporarily. The mighty illusion took most of her remaining energy, and she was exhausted.
Making a strategic retreat was the only prudent idea. The two she had faced were overwhelming in concert. She had tasted real fear for the first time, and found it unpleasant. The Sword was gone. Her brother, and her enemies still lived. Severina had turned on her in a typical Sith manner. The red haired woman’s face twisted in an evil grimace as her rage boiled in her veins. Her hatred of the Elders that struck her down was a font of horrible power. She poured it into her severed wrist and injuries.
The nub of her stump itched where the growth chemicals were inducing the new hand to grow. It would take time… a month at least. A month of meditation drifting between systems like an asteroid. The TIE carried little in the way of supplies, and this was the only way to achieve her goals. Her eyes wandered to the hyperdrive heading as she engaged the drive. “Kangaras…” it had read.
No matter. She had loosed a vicious poison into the Dark Fusion’s water supply. It always paid to have a backup plan in case your underlings got out of control. Although it would do little to the ghost, she would have few living servants after. That was exactly her vicious style. Unfortunate that so many had to die, but pawns were for playing with. And this was now Personal.
There were yet still more ways to make the dogs pay. She fingered the vials that had been retrieved from the Miner’s Brother. The irony of using a bioweapon of her brother’s own design on Kangaras was not lost on her.
The Battle for the Cathedral
The transport screamed through the atmosphere as Shin worked the controls. “Closing… range in 50 microts,” he stated calmly. As the Seng Karash assault was going fairly well with Sai, Ashia, and Manji in charge, the fighting was still ugly here on Tarthos. Aeotheran would be under control in less than 72 hours, but Tarthos was still a hotspot with the main True Brotherhood forces.
“Copy that,” replied Macron as he thumbed the weapons display button. The pop-out turrets would open when the ship slowed down enough, and that moment had arrived.
“Armed and ready,” he giggled. The ground swept past below, showing a scene of armor and entrenched soldiers slinging blaster bolts back and forth in a sizzling light show. One of the ships ahead of them plowed into the ground, figures leaping from it with a flash of the Force.
“Nachzerer, hit the nearest walker to the bunker,” yelled Simonetti over the comlink. “We need some assistance.”
“I see that,” replied Macron as he cracked his fingers and chuckled. “Firing.” Blood red blaster bolts from dual Turbolasers and quad cannons scythed through the front leg of an AT-AT, slagging a hole through the knee joint. The now-unstable walker wavered like a drunken cow, and fell on it’s side. Macron waited for the inevitable explosion.
He frowned when it did not happen. “Damn kark-knocker,” he growled. The Consul thumbed another button, launching a satisfying volley of missiles at the carcass from the rotating turret. It rewarded him with an orange fireball against the cold ground as the blazing rockets smashed into the underbelly of the armored vehicle. “Shuttas,” tittered the Sith. “Gotcha.”
The ship shuddered under the impact of a missile. “Still holding,” yelled Shin'Ichi over the klaxons. “She’s still good. Can’t take too many more of those,” he bellowed. “I know the specs you stated, but man, you were wrong,” said the Krath with a look of concern.
Macron yelled back. “Take us around, below that ridge,” he pointed at the map. “Swing around and give the shields time to regenerate. I’ll kick in the back up generators!”
Another hand waved at the comlink, activating a line to 3 large space vessels. “Covenant, once more into the breach. Move behind the platforms as they closeand tow the Fire of Sepros hulk as a shield.” he ordered. Especially with at least 3 elders on board of ours, the Warlord thought.
“Golan XQ3 and Platform Obsidian, close on the Victory Destroyer. She will be forced to either fight or flee. There are insufficient pilots on her to mount a solid fighter defense. With the firepower of all 3 of our assets, and the platforms and space wreck as shields, combat won’t be an option for long for her. Either way, the stalemate will be broken. I know it’s asking a lot- but our homes must be free,” canted the madman. “Nachzerer out.”
VSD Dark Fusion
Severina turned around as Malisane entered the seating area. "You have it?"
He nodded, raising the bracelet. She nodded, "Good. Do not put it on."
"Why not?" he asked.
"I doubt you have the power to control it. It does not just house my essence, it has other abilities, but requires study. An unskilled wearer would likely be ripped apart."
He put it down on the table quickly. He did not know if she was telling the truth or not but wasn't risking it. "Then we are ready to depart?"
She nodded. "Your Elders have reached this vessel, they battle the remaining followers."
"That does not bother you?" he asked.
She considered this. "Jin'gi will be a sad loss, but as you said yourself individuals are less important than the whole."
He moved to the controls and sat down, firing up the engines.
Severina had her eyes closed, then snapped them open. "The witch woman has escaped."
"What, to where?" Malisane demanded.
Severina searched the force, concentrating on her thoughts on the force. "Your birth place."
"Kangaras? Why?" He felt a surge of emotion, Kangaras was dear to him, the world he had first breather life on, and the world Macron had sent him to rule as its Prefect.
"Well I find it hard to believe she has gone for a vacation. She no doubt has some diabolical plan for revenge. Take us there."
"Why do you care?"
"I do not, but she is alone and injured. There will never be a better chance. I will find her and kill her, a final loose end tied up before my rebirth."
Malisane nodded. "Very well."
Orian Space, near the Dark Fusion.
The Wayfarer class freighter cleared the atmospheric shielding. Severina watched it out of the viewport, sensing her followers fighting onboard. She cared nothing for them. With her new form she could rebuild, there were enough potential force users out there, enough members of the Dark Brotherhood who sought a new life, enough time in her young body to complete her dream. The True Brotherhood was a concept, an ideal, it would be rebirthed as well.
Malisane piloted beyond the range of the Dark Fusion, and the planets, then keyed in the co-ordinates for the jungle world. A few seconds later the Argnok entered hyperspace.
Victory Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Destroyer
White lights flashed into cobalt as the Overlord battled the Quarren wearing armor of obscene design. In his haste, Astronicus had not noticed the ambush.
Two Dark Jedi, strong and powerful waited for the moment to spring. A moment of distraction, of apparent weakness. Mrussk and Agrist watched the battle between the two Elders carefully and patiently. Soon they would strike.
Dismissing the feelings of imminent danger, the Trandoshan and the Human gripped their lightsabers, and advanced on Astronicus and Moksuna. Yellow and blue flashed into life behind Tron. Leaping to the side, Tron barely evaded a lunge from Mrussk's yellow Shien style double lightsaber.
"Well, this just got interesting," Tron said.
"Need some help, Astronicus?" A voice called out from behind. All eyes fell on the pair. A tall verdant skinned Falleen, his hair held across his shoulder from the top of his head in a long braid. He bore two crimson lightsabers, one shortened into a shoto, held in his left hand.
"It seems that he does... That's hardly fair, three on one. We'll balance the equation." Said the human next to him, ice blue eyes flashing, a light grin spreading across his face to an air of obvious insanity. He twirled his right handed lightsaber, flashing violet around a black core. His left too, held a black-bladed shoto.
"Caerick, Vexatus... good to see you." Tron said through clenched teeth. He took the pair's arrival as an opportunity to fall back. Three Sadows stood arrayed against three of the True Brotherhood.
"Stheee. one withssss the darksssabersssss. He'issss mine." Mrussk said, arcing his yellowed blades in a whirling flash of light. He took the offensive stance, and stood.
"Lizardlings and their lightsabers," Trevarus said, rolling his eyes. "So juvenile."
"Don't tease the animals, Trev." Vexatus said, a false admonishment in his voice. "You'll only agitate them."
"Good." Trevarus looked at Moksuna.
"You fish over there! Yes you! Fish!" Trevarus said. Moksuna was silent. "You stand like a Jensaarai... and reek of their heresy. Did the Saarai Kaar banish you for leaving too much seaweed in the washrooms?"
All three True Brotherhood leapt foward, closing the gap between the three Elders.
"Now let's have some fun." Astronicus said, his lightsabers crashing against Moksuna's sapphire blades. Xanos squared off with Agrist, and Trevarus with the Trandoshan.
Lightning flashes of light and cracks of thunder filled the hangar as the Force boiled its fury. Blades whirled and twirled, as the Equites and powerful Elders demonstrated their Mastery of combat with the elegant lightsaber. A storm of intense fury had just begun its intricate melody.
The insane Krath studied his opponent's movements carefully. He held the double lightsaber almost perpendicular to his body, sweeping violent thrusts that ended with a tight arc. There was almost no strong defensive position, yet the form held the characteristics of the Djem-So, and Soresu as well. The footwork was modeled after the noble Defender's Stance. Getting inside should be easy.
Trevarus kept himself at a short distance, and touching his lightsaber, made a slight adjustment. His right-handed blade extending another thirty centimeters or so.
The Trandoshan seemed taken aback, finding his arcs picked up rapidly, as the Master moved. Each thrust by its yellow blade, was met by a tight riposte from the Trevarus' shoto, and he found himself reacting most aggressively to pick up quick thrusts and tight arcs from the Master's overlong blade. The Master of the Krili Variant meant to tire him out.
Mrussk hissed. "Yousssss will find death today humaaaan."
Strange whispers flitted about his conscious mind, slipping in and out of the recesses, invoking images and thoughts that confused him. He felt his mind had been compromised, defenses breached, a strange mass of images and thoughts playing about like an out of control recording.
The feeling was, to be honest, quite alien.
The Frost Dragon quietly let his gaze run over the young one at his side. Nero was able to support most of his own weight now, leaning only slightly on Shuang’s shoulder.
“What happened, you ask?” Shuang said, chuckling, “we seem to have crashed.”
“No, really?” Nero replied, eyebrows shooting up in mock surprise, “I would never have guessed.”
“How are you feelin’, son?” Shuang asked.
“Good enough to fight. Good enough to stand, too.”
The Frost Dragon turned to Anubis, who was busy spraying the wounds on his arms with various medicinal items. He was hurt, but not too badly. There was still bloodlust in his eyes.
"Sorry about your ship, mate," Shuang said, and patted him on the back. An explosion sounded near them, spraying them with pebbles and a rain of cold soil. Blaster fire roared around them, as Dlarit Marines battled with True Brotherhood fighters. One of the troopers fell back, fumbling with his comlink. They could hear Simonetti's rather upset tone through the crackling interference. A stray bolt struck him, killed him instantly.
Nero picked up the man's comlink and handed it to the Knight.
"Captain, this is Syrus Korodin. The trooper you were speaking to was slain, regrettably."
"Damn," came Simonetti's reply, interspersed with harsher words, "you are the Governor's apprentice, I presume?"
"Good thing you survived your landing. Did the other two, as well?"
"Yes, with some mild injuries. We are ready to serve."
Another marine fell, but the line held firm.
"The bulk of the fighting is occurring in the general proximity of the Ragnos cathedral. Have the most experienced among you three lead the Squadron that you are currently with to battle. Feel free to take command of stray squadrons, or depleted ones. Create some order out of this mess."
"I will send Nero Pennant and Anubis Wrath to follow out your instructions."
"And yourself? What plan do you have?"
"Why, sir, I will provide air support for the mission."
"I copy, Korodin. Proceed with caution."
The Frost Dragon smiled, his strange icy blue eyes showing a faint tinge of red.
“You heard me, and you heard the man. Take command and let’s move out.”
“You said you were providing air support?” Nero said, somewhat confused.
“Yes, you heard right. It’s my turn to unleash terror from the heavens.”
“With what?” asked Anubis, his expression incredulous.
“I called in my ship, remotely. There it is, in fact.”
He pointed up at a strange, elegant ship, painted red, black, and silver. It slipped through the air with effortless ease, leaving a faint blue contrail behind it as it roared. A moment later, after circling the field of battle, it dove and quickly landed beside the Knight.
“My naboo N-1T advanced starfighter. I refer to him as the Twilight Shadow, although you can call him Shadow. Open up.”
The transparisteel canopy flipped open, and Shuang climbed in.
“Good luck,” Anubis said, grinning.
“Kick some arse, boys,” the Knight replied, closing the canopy and rocketing into the skies.
“Oh, wait,” he said, flipping the canopy open again, “Anubis!”
“What is it, Shuang?”
“If you lose this, I will torture you into insanity. That is a promise.” He flung his saber to the young jedi, and smiled brightly. “Use it well.”
Jade Serpents Briefing Room
Krath Archpriest Ashia Kagan Keibatsu walked into the briefing room and stopped at the podium. Everyone in the room jumped to their feet, standing in attention. Some of the newer members were in awe to be in her dark presence. Ashia looked over each member one by one, personally assessing them. Finally her voice echoed in the room. "Be seated. You have been assembled here today for an important mission, one that is crucial in our fight with the True Brotherhood." All eyes were fixed on her as she continued. "Our sensors on Dentavii Prime are picking up a faint reading just on the edge of the Orian System. Based on the readings we have ascertain that this is a metallic object, but none of our probes have made it close enough to determine what we might be facing."
Each member of the Jade Serpents kept their gaze on their lQuaestor, knowing full well the importance of this mission. Was this reinforcement for the True Brotherhood or another threat facing Clan Naga Sadow. Ashia looked over each member one more time. "We will jump out of hyperspace at this point where you will launch in TIE Interceptors towards the target. Note at seven clicks is were our probes lose communications with us. Report back at what you find, but under no circumstances are you to engage unless ordered. Dismiss!" At that command, the Jade Serpents rose to the feet and snapped at attention as Ashia left the room. Tsingtao turned towards the Jade Serpents and smiled, "Okay everyone, it's time we show everyone what we are made of and bring honor to House Ludo Kressh. Everyone in the hanger bay in 30 minutes." Each member gave a shout and exited the room.
In the hanger bay, they were each assigned a call number.
Jade 1 = Krath Tetrarch Tsingtao Ming
Jade 2 = Krath Tyro Karale Striste
Jade 3 = Krath Tyro Paranoid
Jade 4 = Krath Tyro Gordan Wrath
Jade 5 = Krath Tyro Kravan Kavar
Jade 6 = Krath Tyro Jos'hu
Jade 7 = Krath Tyro Lamber
Jade 8 = Krath Tyro Melkor
Jade 9 = Krath Tyro Cadavus
Jade 10 = Krath Tyro Abyssimus
Jade 11 = Krath Tyro Falling Light
Jade 12 = Krath Tyro Obsidian
Each member went to their ships. Tsingtao approached his TIE Interceptor and touched the wing shield. The Interceptor was black as space save the jade green stripe insignia of the Jade Serpents. These TIE Interceptors were also equipped with torpedo launchers one one side with one torpedo each. He climbed aboard and began getting acquainted with the controls. Soon the Hanger doors will open and they will be on their first mission together. A siren sounded inside. Tsingtao pressed a button and he felt the ship come to life. Suddenly all twelve ships left the hanger. "Block formation! Let's see what glory is awaiting us." Tsingtao said into the intercom.
The Jade Serpents traveled in formation as the Covenant flew back into Hyperspace. Tsingtao cycled through his radar until he found the mysterious vessel. He set a waypoint in the nav computer and forwarded the location to the rest of the Squad. He looked at his display as eleven lights lit up indicating each member acknowledged the new heading. Tsingtao checked his radar. They were heading the seven click mark. "Stay focused. This is where we lost signal with our probes in the area." he warned. Again eleven lights lit up.
"Jade 1 to Base, we are approaching the object now. We are six clicks from target. Still no confirmation on the ID of the object." Tsingtao said. Nothing but static. "Jade 1 to Base, repeat, we are approaching the object now. We are six clicks from target. Still no confirmation on the ID." Static was broken as a familiar voice filled the cockpit. "Acknowledged Jade 1. Report when confirmation is made." Ashia's voice smoothed the tension within the squad. They were still in contact with the rest of Clan Naga Sadow.
A few minutes passed, and the object began coming into view. "Look at the size of that thing?!" came through on intercom. Tsingtao looked up and saw a space platform three times the normal size coming into view. He was about to radio in his findings when his radar began beeping, flashing a red warning. "Look alive. We have company!" Tsingtao yelled into his com as twelve TIE Fighters bursted into the area. "Jade 1 to base, we have incoming fighters. The object has been identified as a Class 4 Space Platform."
The fighters were coming in faster than he anticipated. "Jade 6, take Jade 5, 7, and 8. Flank our party crashers on the right. Jade 10, take Jade 9, 11, and 12 and attack from the left. The rest of you come with me." He checked his overhead as confirmation lights lit up. "
"Base to Jade 1. Come in Jade 1. Can you destroy that thing?"
"Negative. We have incoming fighters and I'm sure that platform will have some more waiting. We will do what we can, but some Bombers would be great."
"Acknowledged, Jade 1. We will see what we can do. Hang tight."
"Roger that, Base. Change of plans my Jade Serpents. Jade 6, take Jade 5 and 7 and proceed to target. Destroy any shield generators and turbo laser batteries. Jade 10, take Jade 9 and 11 and provide cover. Alternate if need be. Everyone else, target a TIE fighter and blow them out of space!" Lights acknowledged one more time.
"Jade 6 acknowledged." Jos'hu was thrilled to be part of some action finally, not for the rush of the danger, but because his nagging sense of "something around the corner" told him this was the first step into something much bigger than himself.
He maintained course toward the unknown object, hoping Jade 5 and 7 were following him as per Jade 1's orders. As he flew through space in his TIE interceptor, he could not help but feel free from nearly all restraint. A silence set in that boded ominous, but in that silence, Jos'hu's mind was clear. He must destroy any shield generators and turbo laser batteries between his clan and the object we sought to destroy.
Peripherally, Jos'hu sensed the passing of light particles. They were being fired upon. "Jade 5, break right; Jade 7, break left. Take one of those batteries out each. Be careful, but trust the Force."
"Jade 1, we are taking fire. I'm closing in on a shield generator now; my wingmen will have two of four visible batteries disable momentarily. Copy."
He did not feel right about it, but turn power to his fore-shields down to half in order to raise the firepower of his guns. The second he did this, though, a flash burned his right wing. He had acted on training rather than instinct, and it cost him knowledge of his intuition - incoming fire from the right. "I'm all right, Jade 5. We need to get these shield generators down. Hurry up with those cannons!" Shaken, but not badly damaged, Jos'hu sped toward the first of two shield generators in sight. The guns seems to be targeting him rather than their own immediate threats, Jade 5 and 7, since apparently the orders were to protect the shield generators at all costs.
Jos'hu switch all power back into his shield and waited. Within moments both turbo laser cannon had been destroyed. Two remained, but two was better than four. "All right, reform and attack the shield generator. Put full power into your fire." Descending like vultures to their prey, the shield generators and all personel within, were transformed into an immediately extinguished ball of flame. "Oh I love how space is like the void I feel deep within," thought Jos'hu.
"Jade 8 was with me the whole time and I never even sensed him. I'm impressed," again thinking to himself.
"Good job, you two. Now let's get those remaining guns."
(OOC: Nice post Jos'hu)
Victory Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Thrumming cracks of embattled lightsabers resounded through the hangar. Flashing streaks of multi-colored lights flared, blinding any potential observers. Six Jedi moved against each other, demonstrating perfection of their respective forms.
Astronicus paired against the Quarren in heavy armor, his dual-bladed turquoise lightsabers arcing and sputtering to resist the white light of the Overlords own weapons. Moksuna moved in the classic stances of the Juyo, his feet guildings body, with his weapons held horizontally. He easily blocked and parried the Overlord's attacks, forcing him to a more defensive posture.
Flashing violet black, the Master seemed to entertained with the antics of his Trandoshan opponent. Trevarus sping his body, advancing out of the Kirili and through the violence of the Vapaad, his lightsabers now equal length. With the flexibility of his steps, and the swift movements of his un-attached lightsabers, Mrussk was losing, and badly. The Krath had forced him into near desperation.
Finally, the Sith Lord battled the mercenary leader. Vexatus seemed to be toying with the man, elegantly deflecting his assaults. Various insults could be heard in the midst of the chaos, as the Falleen taunting Argist, breaking his mind through mental intimidation as a Master of Dun Moch should.
Locked in a grapple with the Trandoshan, Trevarus called out to Vexatus noiselessly.
He might be useful, Xanos. He has the aura of a competent field commander.
And he is fighting me, without fear. Vexatus replied
Perhaps break him... but do not kill him...
Trevarus broke the grapple by leaping backwards, flipping high into the air, fueling the Dark Side into ever fiber of his body. He landed in a crouch, lightsabers held out at his sides. As soon as his body touched the ground, he leapt forward again, his body pivoting in a complete turn as he slashed at his opponent with either blade. Mrussk artfully parried the assault, and Trevarus pressed forward. The Krath pummled his blades against the upper part of his body. He rained down high arcs, from over his shoulder, forcing the Trandoshan to make ungainly steps to the side.
It is almost impossible to parry a high attack in Shien, being a more aggressive form. Mrussk abruptly snapped his lightsabers in two, adjusted his footwork.
"Humanssssssh. Yousss fiiiight well." Mrussk said, hissing.
"You, frankly bore me." Trevarus said. But the Trandoshan leapt forward, splitting his blades would allow him to more accurately use the true nature of his Form. The alien launched his body in a tight arc of flashing yellow. He gave a quick thrust and Trevarus stepped to the side, sweeping his left-handed lightsaber through the emmitter of Mrussk's right with a fast undercutting arc.
The weapon sputtered and sparked.
"Lizardlings and their toys." Trevarus mockingly said. "You're finished."
The Argnok left hyperspace, Malisane sat at the controls, scanning for a sign of the TIE Defender.
"No sign of her on the scanner."
Severina shut her eyes. "I sense her," she replied, "she is heading for the planet."
"You're sure?" Malisane asked pushing the engines up to full.
"I could sense her if she were three sectors away De Ath."
"We might struggle to catch her," Severina replied, "you must signal your forces here and have them launch interceptors."
"We don't have any interceptors," he replied.
"What ships does this system have?" she asked.
"You're stood on it."
Severina made a disaproving noise."She is making planetfall, put a map up."
Malisane did, the jungle surface showing up. "She is making for this region." she said pointing.
"Thats a hundred miles from Usharak Keep" he said, "it makes no sense."
He considered this. "Kangaras is largely unexplored," he said quietly, "our Ewok forces keep a fifty mile perimetre around the Keep by agressive hunting of whatever passes within it. Many of them die in the process and fearless as the Ewoks are even they don't go beyond it. Some of the beasts they've brought back are like nothing I've seen before, corrupted by who knows what. The dark side presence of Usharak Keep discourages some of the larger wildlife. If Anaxela has landed there alone she's dead."
She laughed. "I lived on this planet decades before you were even born De Ath. I used to go for walks in the jungle. Are you afraid to go there?"
Malisane shrugged "I don't relish the idea, unlike you I can die."
She gave him a patronising look. "Whatever we meet I will handle. Land us at her co-ordinates."
He sighed. "I don't share your confidence."
Victory II-class Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
“I tire of this,” sighed Vexatus as he sent a blast of Force energy at Agrist, throwing the former mercenary across the hangar. Agrist's legs gave about halfway through the fall, sending the man tumbling onto all fours. Before he could reel himself to his feet, the Falleen was already towering over him. “Why even bother?”
Agrist spat on Vexatus's feet. “Because they're better than you.”
The Sith Lord let out a laugh. “Is that so?” Vexatus smiled faintly and took a few paces back. “Get to your feet.”
Agrist stood up, bringing his azure blade around in a standard Soresu block. “Bring it.”
Vexatus remained where he was, his grin growing.
Agrist glared at the Falleen. “I said finish it. Enough of this charade. If you're going to kill me, kill me.”
The Falleen didn't move. “Giving up so soon?” mocked Vexatus. “I expected better.”
Agrist's face turned to thunder. “Kark you!” The man charged at the alien, his lightsaber slashing back and forward in a classic Makashi double thrust. The Falleen stood, waiting, at the last minute his lightsaber flashed to life with a snap-hiss, parrying the mercenary's blade with virtually no effort. Vexatus slid his blade down the length of Agrist's, severing the emitter node. The man's weapon sparked and Agrist flung it to the side before it burst into flame.
Vexatus laughed; Agrist hurriedly withdrew. The Falleen shook his head as he looked at the burning hilt of the man's lightsaber. “You really should have used a more stable crystal.”
Agrist looked dumbstruck. His expression quickly melted away when Vexatus turned back at him. “So,” the Falleen said, “where were we?” He grinned, sweeping his lightsaber side to side in a wide arc as he slowly began to advance.
Agrist reached into his pocket and sneered at the Falleen. “You think you know it all,” spat the man as he withdraw a short tube, no more than twenty centimeters in length. In a single motion the man brought the weapon to his mouth, inhaled and blew. A dart no larger than a credit chip shot out and toward Vexatus.
The Sith Lord dropped his shoto, bringing his hand up and narrowly summoning a bubble of energy around him in time. The dart froze, motionless in the air an inch from the Falleen's chest. “Impressive.”
Agrist scowled. “Why won't you just die!” shouted the former mercenary.
The Falleen smiled, closing down his lightsaber. He motioned at the dart with both hands, weaving his fingers through the air as if dissecting the weapon, which was precisely what he did. The dart split open, its covering coming off as the viscous liquid within flooded into the air. The droplets floated up to Vexatus's nose where he inhaled their aroma.
“Curious,” considered Vexatus, acting completely oblivious of the man still standing before him. Agrist stood there, staring in utter bewilderment at the total complacency of the Falleen as he studied the poison. “Synox. Though there is something more to it.”
Synox was a toxin common to assassins throughout the galaxy. Agrist studied him. “You know your poisons.”
Vexatus smirked. “I know many things,” said the Falleen dryly. “I am curious how a man of your standing comes by such a potent substance.”
“I get around,” grunted Agrist. “Enough talk. Just do it.”
The Falleen's smirk darkened, his skin tone itself taking on a much colder shade of grey-green. “Why should I wish to do that?”
Agrist stared at him.
“I am sure we could find use of a man of your... unique talents,” said Vexatus. “Assassins and field commanders are always useful to have around.”
There was a subtle shift in the mercenary's features. “You offering me a job?”
The Falleen shrugged. “I prefer to think of it as an opportunity.”
“What's the catch?”
Vexatus grinned. “Your life.”
The mercenary made a confused grunt. “Say again?”
“You die here now. Or you die sometime later in service. Your choice. Either way, you die.”
“Die now or die later?” repeated Agrist. “Hard choice,” said the man sarcastically. “You got yourself a soldier.”
The Falleen's grin widened into a smile. “Excellent.”
Vexatus's shoto drifted from the ground into his empty hand. “Do you have any weapons left?”
Agrist laughed. “I always have a weapon left,” said the man, drawing a pair of large, serrated vibroblades.
“Good.” The Sith Lord turned back to stare at the quartet fighting at the other end of the hangar. “Consider this your first test of loyalty.”
The two Sith began to make their way toward the battle.
Letting out a yalp of victory, Jos'hu watched as Jade 8 destroyed the last remaining gun, and the four TIE Interceptors: Jade 5-8, reformed into V-Attack formation, and proceeded to target with no remaining obstacles.
"Jade 1, shield generators and turbo laser cannons annihilated. Your orders have been accomplished. Do you need assistance with those TIE Fighters, or will you be joining us en route to the object? Over."
Nero watched with mild interest as Anubis held and studied the lightsaber that Shuang had given him. Though Anubis was much taller and heavier than the Miraluka, he could see the anticipation and awe at the simplistic, elegant weapon. It had echoed his own fascination with the lightsaber he kept, waiting for the day when he could use it properly.
"Alright," Nero said, looking up as the sleek crimson form of the ship designated as 'shadow' took to the skies to finish what the three of them could no longer do, "Let's go get the Cathedral back. The Marines inside have already come out, and if we don't get to them in time, we lose them and the Cathedral."
"Indeed," The Valheru replied, "You take the left flank, I'll take the right. Pick up any broken units on the way and we'll meet at the doors."
The Miraluka nodded, igniting the lightsaber's blue blade and running towards the nearest group of soldiers. It was then that he saw what kind of losses they were taking; the True Brotherhood may have the advantage of numbers on their side, but the Clan had several slower, but more powerful advantages. They would not be able to win the battle quickly, but would ensure victory if properly handled. They had their enemy surrounded, they had the ability to re-supply and call for reinforcements if need be, and they also had the ability to heal their wounded, unlike their enemy who decided they could take the Cathedral from a Clan of Dark Jedi.
Nero turned his beaten, blood-soaked form to the nearest group of Marines, who looked at him warily. He supposed they had a right to; no being could've survived that crash but a Jedi, and even then he didn't look very impressive, but at this stage he didn't care about their feelings. He wanted to see the inside of the Cathedral to see what he was fighting for, what he nearly died for. The Cathedral and the entire war with the True Brotherhood was keeping him from his studies. He had vowed that he would soak up all knowledge from his Master, but he had left to pursue a path of danger and glory beyond what he would achieve here. That knowledge made him angry, though he kept it under the veil of blood and the Miraluka calmly demeanor.
"You," He said quietly, barely heard over the din of the fighting, his attention to the Marines punctuated by a pointing finger at the squad leader, "Come with me. Get on the comm and radio in to any squads that have no leader or are low on strength. No more than 3 squads. We're going to push this battle before your compatriots behind enemy lines die defending the Cathedral. Do you understand?"
The sargeant nodded, a tight smile forming on his face. Nero had chosen his words well; the mention of saving his compatriots had paved a smoother way to convincing the Marine and his squad to follow his orders. Moving quickly towards the front of the fighting, he spotted Anubis already charging ahead. The Valheru worked fast; he would not steal all the glory.
"Commander Simonetti," Nero said into his communicator, "Anubis and I are gathering broken units and we are going to flank the enemy on both sides, but we need the bulk of the force to draw their fire."
"I read you, Mr. Pennant," The Commander said, his voice calm, befitting a commander with years of military service and cool under pressure, "I will relay the orders, just make sure we get the Cathedral so we can go home. I'm expecting nothing less from the Apprentice of Master Caerick."
The Miraluka smiled; he would get his prize, and Nero would take his. He turned his attention to the battle. The orders had been relayed, and the bulk of the force was charging forward, taking the brunt of the fire. Anubis had taken his team and was about to begin flanking. The True Brotherhood would not stand a chance.
The Guardian motioned to his forces. "Prepare for my signal. We'll flank the left side of the force, they won't see us coming. We'll slaughter them all, free your comrades, and seize victory this day. Remember it well, for now is the chance for you to have glory."
The men cheered, raising their weapons high until a stray sniper shot took the head off one of the soldiers. They were in position and sitting ducks for artillery and snipers. "Shuang, air support please. Or is that fancy crimson ship just for decoration?" Nero said to Shuang Long over the communicator.
"You're going to find out just how decorative Shadow is." Came the terse reply of the Knight who was guiding the ship to strafe the enemy once again, the powerful star-fighter grade lasers spitting hot death at them.
Nero looked over and what he saw was not in his plan. Anubis' group had become the targets of multiple snipers and they were being peppered by laser fire and missiles; they'd been spotted and they knew the tactic they were going to use. Telling his men to hold their positions, he ran over to bring support, his lightsaber occasionally deflecting laser bolts that he couldn't dodge.
He crouched beside Anubis, and opened his mouth to speak. Then the explosive shockwave from several missile impacts hitting around them drowned out all sound in a cloud of dust. Both Nero and Anubis were thrown back, but the scream from the Valheru was distinct in Nero's ears. He had gotten hurt, possibly fatal.
When the dust cleared, he saw what had happened. Nero's ignited lightsaber had cut through Anubis' left leg, severing it at the knee. Anubis screamed in pain again, and the soldiers were rushing to see what had happened.
"Back to your posts! Kill them, for Sith's sake!" Nero barked at them, the anger clear in his commands. The soldiers nodded and slid back to their posts as Nero bent over to examine the wound. True to the lightsaber's wound signature, the cut was clean, the wound itself cauterized by the heat of the blade. It did not, however, deaden any nerves still left in the area.
"Nero, what the frak?!" Anubis screamed.
"Be quiet," Nero said, grabbing Anubis' arm and lifting him up, he kept his voice level. He didn't want Anubis to see the shame he felt, but also the anger radiating from the wounded Jedi towards what amounted to an honest mistake compounded by the vicissitudes of battle.
Nero hoisted Anubis up and turned to the nearest field officer. "Continue the attack. The main force must begin the assault, be prepared for heavy losses. The flanking groups must succeed, or we all die. Do you understand?"
The officer nodded, barking out orders. Nero, in the meantime, was half carrying, half dragging his fallen comrade to the safety of the back of the line, where a mobile paramedic unit was cleaning wounds and ferrying the dying back to base. Nero set Anubis down on a stretcher, and pulled a blaster rifle from the body of a Marine and handed it to him. "I'll finish this one for you." Nero said simply as he turned and ran down, back towards the battle.
Battle of Tarthos
Tarthos, Orian System
Anubis felt the pain searing through what was left of the leg.
"Medic!" Anubis called, "get me the following parts. I don't care how, just get them."
Anubis listed off a few items, mostly cybernetic parts, and a small power generator. When the parts arrived at his stretcher, he took a hydro spanner and began to work on his temporary leg.
As he finished up his leg, he applied some medication to the lump of a knee. He would need to attach his leg, using alchemy he learned from watching the crazy Consul of CNS commit experiments. He concentrated hard on the attaching parts, the connecting ends lighting up. Anubis forced the two objects together, causing the Hunter large amounts of pain. He would need to remain strong. As the fusion ended, Anubis put pressure on his lower leg, testing it out. It appeared as if it was connected perfectly, as the pain stopped after the fusion ended.
"Glad thats over," sighed Wrath as he walked around a little, testing out the leg. It seemed to work perfectly. He walked over to the stretcher, grabbing a new pair of robes to wear, along with his items including the saber. The Hunter buckled up, and started to run to the front lines near the Cathedral. They were losing forces to quickly, so Anubis had to take it up a notch. As he entered the battlefield, he threw the blaster rifle above the True Brotherhood forces, and caused it to implode using the force. Shards of steel and energy flew into the enemy crowd, cutting down their forces.With a sense of accomplishment, Anubis joined Nero.
"What the hell?" Nero asked as Anubis cut down a stormtrooper in front of him. Anubis and Nero smiled, continuing on with their work. They commanded seven troopers to cover them, as the ran into the True Brotherhood crowd, lights flashing everywhere. Anubis' leg was fine for the most part. It didn't preform to well, but it did work for the time being. Nero showed some happiness that Anubis was back on his feet, and was there to help him out.
Victory Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Destroyer
Standing down their battle, Vexatus and Argist moved towards the remaining pairs of combatants. Grunting curses, and the swift thrumming of lightsaber blades punctuated by the crack as blades met.
Trevarus advanced on Mrussk, the Warrior fending him off with a minor skill in the Soresu. Trevarus decided to end it quickly. He shut down his lightsabers, the blade in his right hand disappeared with a crack. He held his lightsaber loosely in his left hand, the emitter pointing an accusing malice at the Trandoshan.
"The Trakata..." Vexatus said, almost to himself
Leaping high, the Master landed, falling into a tight roll that swept him to Mrussk's side. He flashed to his feet, the lightsaber roaring to life as its black-violence swept clean into Mrussk's chest, sweeping down then deactivating again. The tall, heavily armored alien fell to the ground, lifeless shock stiffening on his visage.
"Why did you toy with him so long?" Vexatus asked.
"I needed some amusement.... he was just skilled enough to provide a measure of entertainment." Trevarus said, considering the lifeless husk.
Astronicus was still locked in combat with the phrikite armored Quarren. The four men watched as Tron skillfully fended off a series of slashes and quick thrusts. He was entirely on the defensive.
"Fancy calamari tonight, my Apprentice?" Trevarus asked.
"I've wanted a chunk of that sack of drignal-dung for awhile," Agrist said, flipping a dagger in his hand.
"As long as your chef doesn't douse it in that horrid sanradish sauce again." Vexatus faintly smiled at Trevarus. "So what do we do?"
The Sith Lord's question was answered for him, as the Quarren's lightsaber flashed into Tron's weapon, a sputtering chuck falling to the floor. In a classic Juyo move, Moksuna moved into an incredibly fast leg sweep that brought the Overlord tumbling to the ground. Jinji stood over the fallen man, his lightsaber ready to issue the killing blow.
"Shavit!" Trevarus shouted, leaping forward. He grabbed the Overlord in a telekinetic grip, and pulled him out the way. Turquoise energy flashed into the decking, leaving a long glowing streak where Tron had lay only seconds before.
The Amulet of Orian flashed to life. "This thing about this particular specimin of cephalopod, is that you have to crack it carefully."
Long tendrils of the silver-metal flowed across the space between them, snaking around the warrior's hands, legs, and chest, encircling him completely. Loud cracks could be heard erupting from the Phrikite armor. The Jensaarai issued would would approximate a scream, a long gutteral emanation from the little tentacles it had for a mouth. Large peices of black metal fell clattering to the deck. The jumpsuit he worse underneath was a light gray fabric. In short work, Trevarus had smashed the armor off it completely.
"Then, there is usually a membranous layer that needs to be removed." The insane Krath said evenly, as little hooks formed in the tendrils, moving along the silver, tearing away the fabric in great swaths. Reddish-brown leathery skin, showing cuts and bruises from the Master's torture pocking it carefully. Soon, the alien was nearly naked, screaming horribly.
"Finally, apply gentle heat, slowly." The silver began to glow red, as the Fragment of Ombus shone with brilliant intensity. The screaming reached a fever-pitch as the Quarren's flesh began to sear black, the smell sickeningly sweet.
Trevarus grinned with all of the malicious sociopathy that drove him. The creature strugged in vain against bonds he could not break, the Force boiling with dying life. Trevarus breathed in the intoxicating fumes, laughing as he snarled, forcing more of his mad will through the Amulet.
The Quarrent's flesh began to crackle, and outright burn. Flames licked the silver metal, flowing anc coursing back up his arm. Trevarus laughed almost as loud as the dying alien screamed. More and more flames erupted, and the form of the alien stopped screaming. All felt his passing, though Trevarus stopped laughing. He seemed rather, disappointed.
"That was one of the most brutal murders I have ever seen." Agrist said, his voice teeming with admiration.
"Just wait until he does it to you." Vexatus said.
Tron said nothing, rising to his feet, still holding the sputtering mess of his lightsaber.
The Planet Kangaras
Clan Naga Sadow Dominion
Severina waited impatiently at the foot of the ramp, before finally Malisane descended it. She looked in disaproval. He was wearing green fatigues and was carrying a heavy A280 rifle. He had his old red bladed lightsaber at his belt and a long knife. Severina's bracelet was secure in a zipped pocket.
She sighed. "When we meet Anaxela precisely what use do you think any of that will be?"
"It's not for Anaxela," he replied, "its for anything else we meet."
She rolled her eyes. "Are you sure you're a Sith?"
"Come on I thought you wanted to get going?" Malisane snapped back.
She drifted effortlessly over the damp ground through the trees, Malisane walking cautiously along beside her, eyes scanning the trees and rifle ready.
"Trust your feelings De Ath, there is no danger around us."
Suddenly he spun at a crashing noise, rifle raised as a large cat like creature burst from the undergrowth to the left, snarling. It was black, with a strange set of overlaping plates on its back and forejead and a tough leathery skin.. As it bounded towards them Malisane aimed and fired, blaster bolts striking its chest making it roar but still it continued. Malisane dropped the rifle, reaching for his saber, bringing it up as the red blade ignited with a hiss.
Severina raised a hand and the creature raised into the air, coming to a stop with its legs still thrashing and its head snarling and biting at a force it couldn't see or touch.
Malisane studied it warily as it struggled in Severina's invisible telekinetic grip. "No danger?"
"They're not dangerous," she replied keeping the beast suspended helplessly, "met a lot of these when we first came to Kangaras, tried to take one as a pet once but they're suprisingly resistant to manipulation. By the time I succeeded the thing was so docile it was useless."
"I see." Malisane replied doubtfully.
"The trick is to twist the spine just right," she said and the creature suddenly stiffened, its roar shaking the trees in agony, then went limp. She casually let it fall.
She looked at him. "See how insignificant your commando equipment is? Trust the force."
He ignored her and started walking. "Anaxela can't be far off now. She probably heard that thing die."
"I did," a voice said from nearby." Malisane was unable to react as his body was suddenly hurled across the clearing, smashing into a tree. He hit the ground hard, raised slightly, and then was still.
Severina turned calmly. Anaxela was stood watching her, her good arm still raised and the one with the stump by her side. He clothing was torn and dirty but she had a look of fierce determination in her eyes. "Your pawn has fallen Severina."
"He is of no-consequence," the spirit replied, "he is strong but has the same stubborness to act as his father." She regarded the flow walker calmly. "Let's finish this."
Victory II-class Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Orian Space, Orian System
The Dark Jedi stood in silence as they stared at each other. The reasons for their sudden alliance were as complex as they were contrived. They all knew the current state of affairs would be short lived. After a few moments, they all reasoned it was better not to ask why they were fighting on the same side, but just accept it while it lasted.
The ship shook, the hull vibrating, no doubt from the fire now raining down on it from the Star Destroyer Covenant and the platforms Obsidian and Onyx which had already cut off the Dark Fusion's escape.
“We need to get to the bridge,” said Astronicus finally, his gaze not quite meeting Trevarus's. He noticed Agrist standing off to the side, behind him. “Who's he?”
“A friend,” said Vexatus, voice icily cold. “He has chosen to join us.”
The Overlord studied the man for a few seconds then shook his head. “Whatever. I just don't want him stabbing me in the back... that's happened to much recently,” Astronicus's voice was bitter. They all knew he spoke of the events at Antei.
Trevarus put on a false smile. “We wouldn't want that,” said the Krath warmly. “So, let's get going to the bridge.”
Battle of Tarthos
Tarthos, Orian System
The battle around Ragnos Cathedral raged as the brigade of Dlarit soldiers brought to reinforce Astronicus's advance company drove the attack toward the heart of the True Brotherhood outpost. Though all of the enemy commanders had managed to withdraw, most of the troops themselves were stuck with no means of retrieval. Dropships only go one way.
The True Brotherhood's initial armour advantage was being worn away. The two armies were now more or less evenly matched, the Dlarit troops actually having a slight advantage in terms of walkers of juggernauts compared to the older models in use by the True Brotherhood. They also had far superior numbers in terms of infantry. The True Brotherhood was finished, it was only a question of when.
Turbolift, enroute to Bridge
Victory II-class Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Orian Space, Orian System
The ship shook again, the turbolift momentarily screeching and slowing as if about to reverse direction.
“There better still be a bridge when we get there,” muttered Astronicus.
“Master...” hissed Vexatus, his voice acid.
Trevarus raised an eyebrow, realisation dawning on him a moment later. “Oh, right.” The Krath withdrew a small communicator from his belt and clicked it on. “This is Vice Admiral Trevarus Caerick, Governor of Tarthos, requesting all Dlarit forces cease fire on the Dark Fusion. I repeat, cease fire on the Dark Fusion. We have the Viceroy onboard.”
Vexatus shook his head. “You really aren't used to having to deal with normal people are you?”
“It's easy to forget the Mundane can't sense us.” Trevarus shrugged.
Astronicus said nothing, his face hard as steel as he gazed distantly through the durasteel doors. Agrist stood in the corner, not quite sure whether to laugh.
Victory I-class Star Destroyer Covenant
Dlarit Security Force Flagship
Orian Space, Orian System
“This is Vice Admiral Trevarus Caerick, Governor of Tarthos, requesting all Dlarit forces cease fire on the Dark Fusion. I repeat, cease fire on the Dark Fusion. We have the Viceroy onboard.”
Tor Vaxill looked up from behind the gunnery control team. “Commander?”
Kala Miros had to grit her teeth as the voice of Trevarus Caerick came over the speakers. The Covenant's executive officer could not believe the madman had been made governor. Still, he was getting the job done. Kala couldn't doubt him on that. Tarthos would be under control soon. Perhaps these Dark Jedi, or whatever they were, weren't so bad after all.
It's better than the Jedi sitting in their ivory towers, thought Kala.
Tor Vaxill called up again.
Kala shook her head, snapping herself out of her thoughts. “You heard the Admiral, Ensign. Cease fire, cease fire.”
The Ensign nod his head and began issuing orders to the gunnery officers throughout the ship. The other ensigns throughout the bridge followed suit, scanning for new targets.
Battle of Tarthos
Tarthos, Orian System
As Nero and Anubis began to cut down True Brotherhood soldiers, two men arrived from the back of the enemy forces. They wore light silver armor, brandishing double bladed swords. Anubis and Nero split up, each taking an enemy. Anubis had lost sight of Nero, as all four Dark Jedi engaged in combat. The man that faced Anubis charged at him. The Hunter was quick to realize what the enemy was doing, and lowered his stance, drawing out his sword. Anubis waited as the man raised his blades, to slash right down the center of the Jedi Hunter. Anubis allowed the blade to soar down at him, until a foot away. As it reached the mark, Wrath thrusted his blade to the left, driving the second blade right into it's owner's leg.The man let out a cry as Anubis disarmed the man, ripping the blade from the bloody flesh of the man's leg.
"Who are you?"
"My name, is Novice Gul Keelg," spoke the man, being tackled to the ground by Anubis.
"Are you a member of the True Brotherhood?"
"Tell me the codes to deactivate your turrets, now."
Anubis smiled, taking his sword and slowly cutting through Gul's leg. As he yelled in pain, Anubis removed the blade from the wound. He questioned the Novice again, but did not receive a proper answer. The Jedi Hunter grinned getting to his feet, grabbing his sword in the process. He turned the blade towards the ground, and pushed it down with his weight. The silver blade went right into the Gul's shoulder. Gul cried, feeling tremendous pain.
"Ok. enough. The code for every turret is stored in a datapad located in a pouch on the left side of my belt. Please, no more pain," cried the man. Anubis reached into the man's pouch, grabbing the datapad. AS he stood up and left the man on the ground, Anubis reached into the mind of an enemy soldier.
Soldier, dispose of the man on the ground.
The man obeyed, shooting his injured ally. Anubis then commanded the man to kill himself, calling him a traitor. The Hunter looked for his Guardian friend, Nero Pennant, but could not find him anywhere. Anubis needed to contact command, to give the Sadowite hackers the codes to the turrets under True Brotherhood control.
"Come in Simonetti, this is Anubis Wrath. I have control codes for those turrets under True Brotherhood control."
"Good to hear it, transmit them please."
"As you wish." Anubis pressed a button on the keypad located on his arm, and the data was sent over to Simonetti. Anubis decided to loot the body of the man he had tortured. He ran over the the dead body, and stripped the man of his bright and silver armor. He placed the chest plate over his head sliding into it. With that on, he quickly placed other various pieces of armor on himself, like the arm and leg pieces. Last but not least, he placed his belt over top of his amour, the saber he had been given hanging off of it.
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
True Brotherhood Flagship
Domain of Clan Naga Sadow
As the doors to the turbolift slid open, Trevarus and Vexatus vested shimmering lightsabers. Trev walked ahead of the group, Tron holding the middle, being valuable and unarmed.
The corridors were eerily quiet, their footfalls resounding hard, in time with the thrumming of thier lightsabers. They stalked from the central lifts, through the various areas of the command floor. Most Officer cabin doors were locked, the ports into ready-rooms revealing dark emptiness.
"Something is very wrong, Xanos." Trevarus said, looking into another empty room. "I sense almost no life, alien or otherwise."
"Nor do I. Yet, it could still be a trap." The Sith Lord replied.
They paused outside the main entrance to the bridge, the blast-doors were closed. With a wave of his hand, Vexatus opened them, all stepped through.
The bridge too, was devoid of life. They walked around, Trevarus casually flicked on a a silent weapons control station in the pit crew. The monitor showed ready and armed turbolaser batteries that had fallen silent. He studied the indicators. They had been firing, as if controlled not even moments before.
The Dark Side flowed around them.
All four wandered causually around the bridge, intrigued, until the command chair swivled to face them. A young man, perhaps early thirties with reddish-blonde hair and deep hazel eyes sat with his arms folded.
"The Lady knew you would come." He said flatly.
Trevarus held his lightsaber mere microns from the man's throat. "And you are?"
"Commodore Rill Spainet. This is my warship."
"Where is the crew?" Tron asked. "You can't man a ship of this size by yourself."
"Oh, they didn't want to defect." The officer said, rather bluntly.
"I see. So you're a mercenary." Agrist said, as if he finally understood something.
"What is it?" Trevarus said, turning back to the defector.
"I was never aboard the Fusion during the battle... but the ship itself never behaved as a normal warship would, in combat. Surely you noticed its tendency to hang at the periphery of the battle? We knew about the Covenant the moment it entered the system. Severina and Anaxela counted on your ship being crippled by the Vong, but they never explained why it was important." Agrist himself seemed amazed.
"Oh, we had a minimal crew... mostly for the entertainment of Malisane de Ath." Spainet said. "Severina's sorcery was really amazingly clever."
"What do you mean?" Trevarus said, genuinely intrigued.
"She slaved her ghostly form to the ship's central computers. She was capable of controlling it as effectively as the nominal skeleton crew. Yet, her control wasn't perfect... so the ship often behaved erratically."
Trevarus's dropped his lightsaber. "Viceroy?"
The Overlord seemed stunned by what he had heard. "I demand you surrender this ship to the Dlarit Corporation, it is now taken as a spoil of war."
"Very well." The Commodore responded. "I merely ask that you allow me to retain my command."
"That is an unlikely option, yet I'm feeling merciful at the moment." Tron said.
When isn't he? Trevarus said telepathically to Vexatus.
Hush, Master.... came the response.
Tron continued: "You will be Executive Officer to Vice Admiral Caerick, Governor of Tarthos. If you demonstrate your loyalty, however shifting... your command may be returned to you. If not, he is free to issue a summary execution."
"Very well, I accept. Your orders, Admiral?" he asked.
"We'll take the ship to Tarthos... I have need of it. Assume the helm. Tron, I'll need you in communications. Xanos, weapons. Agrist... do you know anything about capital warships?"
"Not a thing." the Sith responded.
"Then sit down, and don't touch anything." Trevarus said evenly.
The Master took Spainet's place in the tactical command chair. It was been so many years... since the Exodus, and the years before that in Wild Space. He familiarized himself with the controls, remembering his training. Numbers and indicators, holographic positions readings relayed across his memory. It flooded back, as good training will.
"Helm, set course, and prepare to make the jump into Hyperspace." The Admiral said, evenly. "Execute upon course calculation."
"Mark, three... two... one..." Spainet said. From his position, Trevarus could see the streak of stars, slowly elongating as the massive ship thrummed with energy. In a surge of speed, it shot forward, the blue-white of Hyperspace swirling for the space of a moment, before the stars faded to thier position.
"Set course for orbit along latitude 30 degrees north, nine minutes west, longitude 70, 6 minutes west. Decrease speed to point five sublight."
That orbit would place them directly over the intense fighting on the ground, above the raging battle of the Cathedral. Trevarus had a small card up his sleeve, given the Commodore's revelation. He studied the holos, as the ship began scanning forces on the ground.
"Astronicus, patch me a line on as many frequencies as possible. Even the emergency bands."
Touching his monitor, Tron nodded at Trev. The Admiral depressed a button, and began to speak:
"Attention all forces currently engaged on the surface of Tarthos. This is Vice Admiral Trevarus Caerick, Governor of Tarthos and Captain of the Dark Fusion. Immediately stand down, or we shall begin indiscriminated orbital bombardment."
"Repeat, stand down, or die."
Astronicus offered Trevarus the most evil of glares from his station, out of the corner of his eye, Trevarus saw Vexatus smirk.
"All True Brotherhood forces... you are hereby granted the right to lay down arms, and surrender. We shall not execute you. Your leaders have been destroyed, and your only option is surrender or death."
"I think that will get my message through clearly." Trevarus said, after he had finished his broad-band communique.
"Xanos, see if you can fire a few warning shots into the battle, just to get my point across."
"With pleasure, Admiral." Vexatus said, still smirking.
The silver-clad warrior ran into the thick of the battle, Nero hot on the warrior's heels. The Dark Jedi knew the tactic; he was counting on the fact that Nero might get hit by a stray blaster bolt or cut down by a sword. It was a tactic of desperation, as the True Brotherhood forces were too occupied with their own fight against Clan Naga Sadow, and each soldier was too busy trying not to perish to pay much heed to two figures running through the slaughter.
Nero had lost sight of Anubis, and knew that it would take several moments for Sadowite forces to intercept the warrior if Nero should fall. He didn't care much, however, as his body had taken a massive amount of punishment over the last two weeks and he had remained standing; one more battle would not make a difference to him.
"Your friends will not save you." Nero said coldly, slashing at his opponent's back with his dagger, "Stand and fight for what you believe."
The warrior stopped and turned to face Nero, the double-bladed sword in his hand. "Very well then, Jedi." He spat, the venom present even when filtered through the helmet's voicebox.
Nero ignited Master Beriss' saber, the blue blade cutting a sharp line of color over the warrior's silver armor. He swung at Nero, bringing the blades directly across Nero's chest, hoping to inflict serious injury in the first few moments of battle. A stupid move. Nero deflected the blades easily despite his limited skill with the lightsaber he was wielding, wholly inadequate in the face of the legacy he held in his hands. But the weapon would prove adequate enough for Nero's purposes.
The movements were fluid, each strike precise. A mundane would have fallen, slashed to ribbons. But the slashes never hit home, their promise of sweet death unfulfilled. The lightsaber had cut straight through the blades, dropping with a hiss of molten metal against the freezing snow beneath their feet. The warrior looked at his useless weapon, and discarded it, bringing up his fists.
Nero smiled wickedly, displaying his teeth in a show of malice. "Just what I wanted. Please," Nero said, closing down the lightsaber and standing erect, hands at his sides, his torn robes fluttering in the wind and displaying the numerous scratches and bruises on the Miraluka's body, "Show me a true death, for if you cannot, then I will provide you with one."
The warrior hesitated a moment, thinking some foul Jedi trickery in Nero's stance. It seemed that he had never come across anyone trained in martial arts almost purely for defense, taught to attack and to kill. It was a dangerous oversight on his part, one that Nero would see to that it was his last.
The man lunged at Nero, fist balled, twisting at the hip and swinging his shoulder to extend his reach. Nero deftly stood to one side, the minute difference on his previous position enough to ensure that the warrior would only place a glancing blow. To add insult to injury, the Obelisk brought his hand and pushed the extended arm away from himself, parrying the blow with a gentleness that would infuriate any hot-blooded warrior with it's simplicity.
Crying out with rage, the warrior extended his other arm in the same motion, but Nero once again had the advantage of simple movements combine with a clear head. Twisting his body, he brought his foot up, bent at the knee, and kicked it outward, catching the trooper in the chest and sending him off his feet.
"You make this too easy..." Nero muttered as he saw a patch of exposed flesh underneath the helmet, a fatal design flaw that would cost the soldier his life. "Die then!" He exclaimed, drawing a dagger and coming at the fallen warrior. But something made him stop. The same thing that made the warrior look up at the sky. The thing that hung over the battlefield, blotting out the sun and casting all the forces into shadow.
A Victory-II Class Star Destroyer.
All, mundane and Jedi alike, looked up at the massive hulk of the Star Destroyer, it's giant triangular form a promise of death from above. Nero's communicator clicked on with an incoming transmission, one he would overhear on several soldiers around him.
"Attention all forces currently engaged on the surface of Tarthos. This is Vice Admiral Trevarus Caerick, Governor of Tarthos and Captain of the Dark Fusion. Immediately stand down, or we shall begin indiscriminated orbital bombardment. Repeat, stand down, or die. All True Brotherhood forces... you are hereby granted the right to lay down arms, and surrender. We shall not execute you. Your leaders have been destroyed, and your only option is surrender or death."
Nero recognized the cold menace so familiar in his Master's voice. The message had stopped the battle dead in it's tracks. The True Brotherhood forces were considering his offer. They were hesitant, thinking that they should fight and kill as many as possible before dying a glorious death. Nero heard hushed whispers between the True Brotherhood soldiers that the Sadowites would not dare to fire on their own.
They were wrong. After a few minutes suspended above the cold plain, the Star Destroyer began to spit hot death, bombarding the ground below with massive charges of energy from it's naval-sized turbolaser batteries. A total of six shots, spread over the battlefield and causing death and destruction wherever they hit.
It was the straw that broke the camel's back. En masse, True Brotherhood soldiers were throwing down their arms and surrendering. They had seen the lengths to which the Clan would go to ensure victory. The young Obelisk was utterly surprised. How could they have taken up arms and gone to steal so much from the Clan without so much as thinking that the Dark Jedi were going to throw everything they could at them? How was each and every soldier not prepared to die?
"Why?!" Nero screamed as he rammed the dagger into the skull of his fallen enemy. The surprise was evident in the way the soldier's body twitched as it lay, dying by betrayal. He had thought himself safe because he had surrendered. Nero removed the dagger and looked murderously at the True Brotherhood soldiers. "You do not fight! Why?" He screamed, close to losing control of his anger.
"W-w-w-we surrender!" Stuttered a trooper, the fear clear in the tears streaming down his face.
"You are all cowards! You asked for death, now come and take it!" Nero screamed again as he moved between the ranks, cutting and slashing with his dagger, now sticky and hot with blood. Nero didn't utter a word as he slaughtered every enemy soldier he could see.
He'd killed four of them by the time Anubis had caught up to him. "Nero," Anubis said, "Stand down."
"Why should I?" Nero spat back, rage underlying every word, "They deserve to die. Dying would be a blessing to them! No retreat. No surrender!" He breathed heavily, the kind belonging to a man barely in control of his emotions.
Anubis said nothing; he knew that reason would no longer stop Nero. Closing the distance quickly, he took the Miraluka, who looked frail and delicate next to the much larger and heavier man, and snapped Nero's arm, the breaking of bone audible to everyone in the vicinity. In a scene of mercy, almost, Anubis then punched Nero in the head, sending him sprawling. The soldiers around looked relieved that the madman had gone down.
The attack had knocked some sense back into Nero. He looked up at Anubis, his eyes clear. Anubis smiled as he helped Nero up. "That's payback," He said, "Don't ever cut my leg off again, or I'll make sure you never walk again."
Nero simply nodded, the shock of the pain enough to silence him. Walking alongside his Clan-mate, they began the trek back towards the main camp, where the medics were to patch Nero up, and a shuttle awaited to take Nero back to his destiny; to become stronger at the side of a man who had proven time and again that he would sacrifice everything for victory.
Victory-II Star Destroyer Dark Fusion
Dlarit Security Force Destroyer
Domain of Clan Naga Sadow
Scanning the holographic readouts, the Master was well-pleased. He probed the Force, and found the influence of his Clansmen ever the stronger. The despair of the True Brotherhood army nearing its completion. He breathed in the vapors of utter defeat, and was pleased.
He had seen the accomplishment of his goals. An Overlord indebted to him, a position of relative promenience that he could abuse.
Yet somewhere beyond, he felt the flow of failure.
Do you sense them, Xanos? Trevarus asked wordlessly.
We will face them again. Our Flow-Walker, and the Ghost.... the Master responded
I believe it so... yet one is deprived of her toy. The other is given new life.
Another battle, for another day... are those not words of yours, my Master? Vexatus said, his smug demeanor apparent even through the Force.
Indeed they are... yes... indeed they are....
Sadow Palace, Auditorium
Domain of Clan Naga Sadow
Six months later....
Arrayed around a central table, none spoke until Astronicus stood. The Viceroy of the Dlarit Corporation surveyed his officers. He counted the victories and defeats, the promotions and executions. In all, he surveyed the gains of his might empire, and was pleased.
"Gentlemen, I have some good news." he finally said.
"And that is?" inquired the Governor of Tarthos.
"The vessels we ordered into construction nine years ago, have finally entered serviceable deployment. Our fleet, as of tomorrow, will be bolstered by an Imperial-Class Destroyer, and a Republic Class Star Destroyer. With the capture of the Orian Legacy, heretofore named the Dark Fusion, our System Defence Force will be at its strongest yet." Astronicus took his seat.
The Governor General stood, his tattooed face noticably grim. "What of our analysis of the failure of the Dlarit Security Force, in the wake of the alien incursion? And not to mention the compromising of our territory by a heretic faction?"
"As discussed six months ago, we have designated a small cabal for special operations, the Special Operations Group. They are.... ahem... aware of our particular abilities." Tron said, grinning wryly. "This loyalist group will ensure that such an incursion never again occurs."
Tron nodded to Ashia Keibatsu. "Governor of Aeotheran, what is your report?"
Ashia stood. "Viceroy... Seng Karesh has been throughly swept for any True Brotherhood sympathizers. A detachment of the Special Operations Group is stationed in the city. I appreciate Trev's involvement in the project, considering what he and Lord Vexatus did to Marakith."
Ashia took her seat, and a hush fell over the small assembly.
"And what do you have for an accounting, Governor Caerick?" Tron asked. None would deny the malice in his voice.
"I report that the Dlarit Security Force Headquarters is rebuilt to specifications, with the addition of facilities for the Special Operarations Group." The Master said. "I have personally overseen the induction of our Followers, with the elite Commandos requested, such that we shall never again encounter a question as to ultimate purpose."
The void was more silent than the chamber upon his words.
Trevarus placed the Sword of Shar Dakhan on the large table, and allowed a moment for each of the assembled Jedi to consider it. Its malice bore down on every force-attuned member in conference, that was to say... all of them.
"We have triumphed, yet we have failed. Two enigmas escaped our vengeance, and we will not know peace until they are confronted. One has been derived of her power... another has yet the chance to wield it. I foresee a great strife for this Clan, and even this Corporation... because hubris is as blinders to a beast of burden." The master took his seat, and would not speak again.
Conversation drifted back and forth between aspects of the Brotherhood and the managment of the Dlarit Corporation, yet none could take their eyes from the Sword of Shar Dakhan, or the chilling words spoken by the Oracle of the Brotherhood.
We have triumphed, yet we have failed....