Battle For Inos: A Clan Naga Sadow House Feud
OOC: After the introduction post, posts *must* alternate between houses. Example: HMR makes the first post, HLK makes the second post, HMR makes the third post, and so on. Any post made back to back will be deleted from the runon. If 24 hours
elapse with no post, the same house may then post back to back. Posts from Ashura do not count for either house, so look at the post before Ashura's to determine which house is next.
For record, in case we have anymore DB website issues, here is a link to a copy of both houses roster.
At the very top of every post made, you should indicate your House with (HMR) or (HLK).
REMEMBER, YOU CAN NOT EDIT YOUR POST FOR ANY REASON AFTER IT IS POSTED. YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED FROM THE RUNON IF YOU DO SO.
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Throughout the Orian System, thousands of military officers and their Dark Jedi Commanders recieved the order simutaneously. The situation was already sureal, to put it mildly, but this changed everything. For some, especially in the military, it was just another order. To many, it was much more. Lines had been drawn, the stakes made amazingly clear. Like a chess game of massive proportions, everything was in place.
FROM: A-GOVGEN DEREV NIROTH, DLARIT HICOM
TO: ALL DLARIT MILITARY FORCES
1. MAINTAIN EMERGENCY CONDITION ONE.
2. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, BEGIN SAR OPERATIONS ON INOS MOONS. ALL EFFORT AND HASTE TO LOCATE FALSE BROTHERHOOD SIGNAL AND SOURCE.
3. ROGUE FORCES UNDER COMMAND OF GOV FAERIL HEREBY ORDERED TO STAND DOWN AND DIVERT IMMEDIATELY TO SEPROS.
4. THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE IS AUTHORIZED SHOULD ROGUE FORCES INTERFERE WITH SAR OPERATIONS.
SIGNED AND SEALED
DEREV NIROTH, ACTING GOVERNOR GENERAL
Zaroth's post has been deleted for blatantly destroying continuity in the first post of the runon. HLK will be awarded 5 of HMRs points at the end of the event.
Either house may now post.
Zaroth was aboard his ship when the order came through; Muz had left for regions unknown and the Hunter was taken by surprise at the state the Clan was now in. They were divided now; there was no telling how the situation would play out. Zaroth went through his saber drills until he arrived at his destination.
--In orbit over Inos--
The ship lurched as it pulled out of hyperspace. Zaroth gasped when he saw the whole navy divided over Inos. Zaroth navigated his ship towards the Final Way as he contacted Jade Atema telepathically:
"Are you ok?" he thought as his chest knotted.
"Yes." she was strangely serious. "Where is your Master?"
"I do not know. He left. What is happening?"
"Derev and Faeril are negotiating."
"I'm coming to find you"
Zaroth docked and boarded the huge capital ship. He swept through the many corridors following Jade's Force emanations. When he finally found her, she shushed him as he charged in.
Zaxen was meditating nearby as she watched. Zaroth was fighting the urge to seize her in an embrace, he was so releived she was alright. Zaroth joined Zaxen in his meditations until the time came to join the rest of the House.
Wreck of the Miner's Brother
"Sir, incoming transmission. Priority One." The droid's monotonic voice interrupted Macron's silent reverie. He had spent the last month here in contemplation since resigning his post as Aedile for the second time. He had hardly spoken in two weeks as he walked the old decaying corridors alone. Only shades born of his shattered mind and his "pets" kept him company.
"Yes, I see that," responded the Sith as he washed his hands. "Patch it through, C-13. Nothing else to talk to, I mean, no one else is here..." Macron chuckled to himself and stood up. The holoprojector buzzed with a blue light and then showed a wavering image. An image of Robert Daragon floated on the tiny dias of the projector.
Macron smiled tightly. “Warlord Daragon, to what do I owe this honor?” he said quietly.
“Macron, we have a major situation on our hands here,” came the tinny voice.
“So I hear, so I hear,” mused the alchemist. “But you still didn’t answer my question. Circular logic, I like that,” he mumbled.
“Quaestor Faeril may be a target for assassination,” replied Bob as his image swigged an unidentified bottle in minature.
“And that’s news?” asked the madman with a frown. “So? She's more than capable of taking care of herself, I assure you.”
“She has requested your support as Marshal Commander and a member of Sapphire. You are to report immediately.” The tiny image became serious with a stony grimace.
“Very well,” growled the alchemist as images from the last inter-clan conflict came unbidden to his mind. The old palace smoked in ruins, the carnage painted in umbral tones as he delved into his scarred and fading memories. Several moments passed as he looked off into seemingly nothing.
“Mac?” asked Bob from the hololink with concern.
“I hate it when my brothers and sisters try to kill each other,” remarked the former Tribune as he stood up with a sigh. “It was awful last time. I’m on my way. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
RSD Final Way
Dark tendrils flowed out among the stars, whispering secrets and songs of existence and rushed like a river into the inner sanctum that was the mind of Zaxen Dauketrenal Isradia, Warder of the Keepers Path and Hand of Ragnos. He listened with his whole being, felt the subtle vibration that was the universe, saw the songs of dying stars and yet there was nothing he could divine other than a manipulative hand and hasty decisions. Nor nothing he could send to those he could trust other than those at hand.
Zaxen felt the ripples as Zaroth burst into the chamber, his aura of emotions screaming at Zaxen's out stretched senses. He was impulsive, reckless, and overly emotional as usual but the Jedi Hunter was as eager as one could hope. As Zaroth came and sat near him, he could feel the change in his mind as it turned inward.
So they sat for perhaps another hour, Zaroth creatively visualizing his combat techniques, Jade Atema his mistress quietly observing, and Zaxen with his mental fingers dancing along the starlit back drop over Inos.
Finally Zaxen's eyes opened. His first breath was sharp as the change in oxygen content in his blood caused a euphoric head rush. The universe became matter, shape, form and time in the tangible sense once more. His next breath was deep and soothing. Jade took that as her cue.
"What have you seen?"
Zaxen considered this a moment before speaking gazing out the viewport at the planetoid below.
"A veil of sorts. Someone or something is manipulating things even to the point where the Force seems twisted."
Zaroth now with his own eyes opened was looking at Zaxen with a questioning look. Smiling Zaxen continued. "In other words, we are in a smoke screen."
Jade nodded causing her long dark hair to shimmer in the starlight. Zaxen looked to his side and didn't have to use the Force to understand Zaroth's gaze. He looked back to Jade who was now staring out the viewport as well.
"That would seem to fit with what we have been hearing from up top." She sighed heavily and turned around.
"So what do you think?" She asked her former apprentice.
"I don't know, I would say that both of our Quaestors are perhaps a bit hasty in their decision making, but when have Sith ever seen past their pride?" Zaxen replied.
"Indeed, just be careful who you say that to. Even your family has a Sith follower or two." She said chuckling refering to both Ashura and Alector Isradia.
Zaxen smirked as he looked over at Zaroth who seemed a bit lost to the conversation but was just as quick to be rid of it and was once again trying to hide his obvious gaze towards Jade.
He allowed his smile to fade and was once again reflecting on what was at hand.
"Once more a game of kings and wizards..." he thought to himself.
OOC: Just to point out my participation in this run-on is to keep the plot on course with each new chapter, as well as some character development for the NPC’s below.
While Jade, Zaxen and Zaroth discussed recent events, Aleho Ruoxf
was walking down the corridor of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. It was quite interesting to see a little Togruta girl no more than ten years old walking next to a DAC. Delta-10
had been assigned by the Deputy Governor General to keep his ward safe, well, as safe as could be in this kind of situation.
“I still think you should have remained on Tarthos,” said the clone, “things could turn nasty and the last thing I want do is report my mission as a failure.”
The young Krath Protector shook her head and replied, “Then don’t let me die then. I have to find Master Dauketrenal anyway, Master Ashura instructed him to assist in my ‘education’ while he was away.”
Ashura had indeed informed Zaxen to assist in her training; the Battlemaster thought it would help the Knight in what it felt like to have his own student… atleast for a while, until he picked one of his own.
“Listen kid, my orders are to stick to you like glue, and a starship is not the place for little girls,” Jenth said through his customised helmet. The DAC was always ready for combat, even if he had to baby sit the youngling.
“I’m not a little girl… I’m a Dark Jedi,” corrected the young Krath.
“Forgive me, oh powerful Dark Jedi. Please don’t smite me with your supreme powers and reduce my body to dusty,” said the clone sarcastically.
“That was so not funny!” Aleho folded her arms and got all snippy about it.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
stood on the bridge of the Final Way looking out at the world below. The Adjust to the Deputy Governor General had assigned himself to the acting Deputy Governor General, Faeril Munlear. The cloned DAC was in his service uniform, something which he was becoming more accustomed to wearing.
“Any news Admiral?” Asked the clone.
Araic Simonetti shook his head; the commanding officer of the Republic-class Star Destroyer looked worried. This was something he never though he’s witness. Simonetti had been at the Fall of Antei, he had stood on the bridge during the True Brotherhood conflict. He has seen this system in the near brink of chaos but never had it gone to this extent.
Yet there was only one thought going through the man minds, over and over like a broken record. Where the hell was the Viceroy and why had he not taken command yet?
Temple of Sorrow
(AKA New Sadow Palace)
Dark Jedi Master Astronicus Aurelius Sadow was waiting; the Viceroy of the Dlarit Corporation had learned patience a long time ago from his Master. Events were in play the Overlord knew he had no control over. A veil had fallen over the Orian system, and even the Sith couldn’t see clearly enough to know what was going to happen next.
Tron had gone along with everything, although he had never been Marked, the man could still see, or rather sense something at work. Hidden away in the darkness. What he did know was everything pointed to Inos.
He was the only Elder left now; Darth Vexatus was dead, as well as Trevarus Caerick. Although Astronicus didn’t know what to make of Shan Long, or if he could ever trust him. There was always Muz, but the Deputy Grand Master was far too busy to solely be concerned with the clan. No, Astronicus was alone now.
Well… apart from the ravishing red haired woman who lay half naked in his bed. Sakura Haruno
was proving to be insatiable. Tron was not the one to get involved with Disciples, in fact woman in general were more of a disposable vessel for his own pleasure. The man was a player, and it seemed Sakura had turned out to be one too. Unlike most women, this one was able to keep him interested; he wondered briefly how far he’s let this go?
Tron was sitting on his bed watching Sakura sleep; he was far older and more experienced then her in the bedroom, although it still amused him when they try to out perform him. He was the Master after all. He ran his hand down her back as she slept on her chest, the bed sheet stopped at her waist but his hand moved underneath and kept on going.
Sakura suddenly inhaled sharply and moaned into the pillow, a dreamy smile spread across her face as she softly muttered his name. “Astronicus.”
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
HLK Rollmaster’s Office
Tsainetomo Keibatsu leaned back in his chair, taking a lingering look around the stateroom for what would be his last time. He had just sent out a missive to his Summit members not moments before, tendering his resignation. The Archpriest could no longer brook the actions of Derev Nirot...scratch that: Thorin Oakenshield, and his continuance in serving as a Summit member, in his mind, did exactly that.
During the last year, Tsainetomo had seen his Clan embroiled in never-ending strife and had seen his family sundered, seemingly beyond repair. All the while, he remained silent, dutifully serving as Rollmaster. He’d seen his Consul, and cousin, Ashia Kagan Keibatsu, tamp down the fires of rebellion, only to see them fanned into a roar with the dubious ascendancy of the Battlemaster in Marka Ragnos’ misguided halls. Still, he’d remained silent.
If there were a final straw, it would be that the DAC’s had been activated to take over several key positions, most dear to him being Sadow Palace. He was Prefect, and to have Derev, without preamble or council, instruct the clones to turn it into a prison was tantamount to lunacy. And, a prison was exactly what it was, what with the "sequestering" of the Clan Overlord within its halls, gilded though they were.
It was here that Tsainetomo felt the sting of failure the most; his family had sworn fealty to Astronicus, and he cursed his very bones at not seeing events as they would unfold or that he would need to be the one to take point in the Overlord's protection. After all, his master and brother, Shin'ichi, was nowhere to be found, neither was Ashia, Sanjuro, and Xhedias; Muz, as Deputy Grand Master, and Shikyo as Herald, were both caught up with the governing of the Brotherhood main; Manji had gone "ronin" and Mononoke had relinquished his ties long ago. Whoever decided to "reward" the Keibatsu family for their previous service by giving them administrative positions astutely surmised that they would be rendered impotent by the same, effectively clearing the way for Derev's coup.
Yet, in spite of all of this, Tsainetomo would not let recent events be the death knell of his family's legacy. As long as he had breath in his lungs, a mind to call upon the Force, and an arm to wield his sunset-hued blade, the Keibatsu would be true to their charge. It was time to put plans into motion. Those plans would culminate with the utter and abject humbling of Derev; the Battlemaster would know his place, by his hand if need be. But, they would need to begin with a few calls.
Tsainetomo produced two private comlinks from within his – no, the Rollmaster's – desk and sat them in front of him on the smooth surface. He bathed them in his tripartite gaze; the blank screens returned the look accusingly, as if they knew of the words he was going to speak within them before he did. Alas, that's how fate worked.
Picking up the one on his left, he opened the channel.
"Sadow Prefecture, Captain Orenth speaking." The voice of Tsainetomo's former adjutant and de facto Captain of the Palace Guard rang unwaveringly through the tiny speaker. The Keibatsu could tell in his tone that pleas to come to reason and release the Overlord would fall on deaf, tube-grown ears. The DAC were loyal like that, and as Quaestor, Derev did outrank him in that respect. Still, Tsainetomo knew the measure of the clone, and he had trusted the Captain at one point. He owed him the respect of giving him a chance.
"Oren, it’s me." There was no room for emotion in this, Tsainetomo mused.
"Commander Keibatsu," Orenth acknowledged the former Prefect.
Tsainetomo got right to business. "I suppose that if I were to ask you to countermand Derev's order and allow me safe passage, I would already know the answer."
The Archpriest's rhetoric and the deletion of Derev's rank in his statement were not lost on the DAC. "Countermanding the Quaestor's order would need some serious justification, Commander. Were you coming as a Kresshian to surrender yourself to his authority?"
The Keibatsu smiled inwardly. ‘Sharp, as I trained him to be.’
“If I were to come, Oren, it would be as Prefect, to liberate the Overlord and the Palace.”
A heartbeat passed as the DAC considered Tsainetomo’s proposal. “Then, Commander, you are right: you would already know the answer.”
Tsainetomo closed his eyes. “Oren, you’ve served me and the Clan well. You should know that I will feel some measure of regret after I’ve killed you.” There was true admiration in the Archpriest’s voice.
“Understood, Commander. Captain Orenth out.” The channel closed.
Tsainetomo wrapped the comlink in a tendril of the Dark Side and crushed it, disabling the tracking device therein and leaving the debris on the desk. He took several breaths to steady himself for his next request. His resignation had freed him to act with a bit more impunity, yet as powerful as he was, and as steeled as he was for events to come, he knew he’d need help. Picking up the remaining communicator, he rose from his seat, turned off the lights, and strode into the corridor, opening the channel.
He hoped in his heart of hearts that the man on the other end still considered him to be a friend.
HMR RM Office
Jade ran a hand through her hair and flicked it over her shoulder while looking out the view screen. The stars use to be so beautiful and captivating, now they only held ghosts and the threat of blood to be spilled. She turned to look at the two in her quarters, noticing the quick movement of Zaroth’s head out of the corner of her eye. She smirked and looked at Zaxen who rolled his eyes at Zaroth’s obvious movement and nodded at her.
“Neither of you have lived through a major war with Naga Sadow yet. I fear this time we will have to fight against our own.” Neither of them moved and she sighed. She had joined in the middle of a house war, Marka Ragnos against Ludo Kressh. It had been brutal and bloody, with both sides losing items precious to them. It had taken months, maybe even a year or two after the war before the houses’ bad blood with each other settled down. “I trust you are prepared for such a battle?”
“Yes mistress.” Zaxen nodded. He would of course fight for Marka Ragnos, it was his House, his home. True people he knew and had trained under had moved to Ludo Kressh, he would be true to his comrades and his house.
Seeing Zaxen’s egger response Zaroth answered quickly in suit. “Yes, of course!” Jade looked at Zaxen who gave her a look of annoyance at Zaroth’s tone. The kid was willing to act, but she wondered how he would feel when met face to face with someone from Ludo Kressh with the orders to ‘take no prisoners.’
Jade glanced at the door to her office before putting her attention back on the men in front of her. Someone was coming and they were looking for Zaxen. “I hope you both can put actions to those promises.”
Approaching RSD Final Way
"Hello Tsainetomo," cackled Macron as he fiddled with his com switch. "How may I assist you?"
"Heard you had some trouble from droid fighters near Sepros on the way over," replied the Krath's voice. "I'd like to discuss a proposition with you that involves one of your favorite things, mayhem."
"Excellent. True. They are space junk now though," giggled the Sith. "Interesting that no one tried to shoot me down. Well, a clone on TIE patrol did..."
"You dust him off?" asked Sai.
"Nah. Just scrambled his brains. They're pretty easy to mind trick," chuckled the alchemist. "Hate to kill a good clone. See you on deck in a few."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
"So you're sure the Overlord is bring held on Sepros?" asked Macron. "And you intend to liberate him."
"That's a fact, my friend. It needs doing, as they say. And maybe another order of business as well," stated the Archpriest with a glint in his weird eyes.
"Does it involve slaughter?" asked the madman as his own feral yellow eyes lit up with anticipation. "Destruction? Carnage? It's been a while. It would be nice to slay beings other than Vong scum for once."
"In a manner of speaking, yes. More like an assassination, my friend. You know of whom I speak," implied the former Rollmaster.
Macron gazed out the porthole window for a few moments as he considered the name silently passed between them on telepathic wings. "Indeed, I do. I've been wanting to crush him for a very long time. I'd be more than happy to help," giggled the Warlord as he fingered his lightsaber hilts. "More than happy."
HMR RM Office
Zaxen was about to reply to Jade's last comment when the office door slid open and the young Aleho came storming in all fire and excitement. Zaroth unaware of who the girl was quickly sprung up igniting his lightsaber. The little Krath squealed in startlement and pulled her own lightsaber. Suddendly a lumbering Delta-10 brought his weapon up with honed, battle hardened reflexes and just as his finger twitched to pull his trigger which was the same time the Krath girl and the Obelisk Jedi Hunter were about to clash, a thunderous voice rang out.
"STOP NOW!!" Spoke Zaxen as he stood slowly to intervene.
The Force enhanced shout had been enough to shock all present into turning their undivided attention to the Dark Jedi Knight. As he approached the trio he turned his gaze first to Zaroth.
"Hunter Zaroth, now is not the time for hasty action." His voice was calm but as cool as ice. He then turned to Aleho.
"Protector Aleho, Learn to knock. The House Roll Master does not take kindly to her peace being disturbed by young girls who think their position is greater than what it truly is."
Finally he turned his gaze to the Delta-10 trooper. "You must learn to reinforce wisdom. She is under your charge. To protect someone also includes protecting them from themselves."
"Am I understood?" Dumbfounded by Zaxen's calm yet commanding presence all three simply responded with nods.
"Good, now please Aleho if you would kindly take a seat near the wall. I need to continue my discussion with the Roll Master and Zaroth." She nodded once again and quietly moved to the side and sat as commanded bringing her body guard in tow.
Zaxen satisfied that all was situated he began again.
"Mistress I understand what you are saying and I am certainly all for fighting for our House, but I must tell you that I think something more is going on here. Simply branding our sister house as the enemy is not logical. Its too convenient. The Consul AND the Proconsul both called away which is in itself strange. This crash on Inos which we are still not certain about and now communications both conventional and through the Force are being jammed. This is bigger than the egos of two Quaestors."
Jade nodded thoughtfully, "I see your point Zaxen, but what do you propose we do? If Derev gives us the order we will have to fight."
"I understand mistress and I will fight those who try to kill us but not before exhausting our other options. If we go into this civil war it will weaken our clan critically, leaving us subject to outside invasion which could possibly be exactly what is going on."
Zaroth took the opportunity to chime in. "We will still have to fight and so what if we have to kill a few Kresshites. Maybe we should be the only power in the clan. It would certainly make things easier in the long run and we could probably run things like we want to."
Zaxen nodded. "Yes you maybe right Zaroth but what you fail to realize is that in war both sides take damage. So while we may be able to beat House Ludo Kressh into submission our forces may be too spent to hold off a system wide invasion from either another clan or some other force. We simply could not do it."
Zaxen paused for a moment and walked over to the small bar and poured himself a glass of sparkling water and ice and sipped at it and then continued.
"Honestly, with the two Quaestors being as stubborn as they are at the moment, I would suggest trying to make contact with someone in Ludo Kressh who can perhaps see reason. Even if we do go to war over this incident the faster we can get a hold of someone over there and start working on some sort of solution we are going to end up destroying our own clan from the inside out."
All in the room seemed be somewhat taken aback by the suggestion which screamed of insubordination and even mutiny. Zaxen let his words sink in for a moment before adding a final thought to it.
"And to be honest...it may have already gone too far."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
“Good. Then we are in agreement,” stated the Archpriest with no small measure of satisfaction lacing his rich baritone voice. The pieces were falling into place.
“Well, then, let’s go!” Macron gleefully said, rising from his seat opposite the Keibatsu.
“Wait, wait, m’friend,” began Tsainetomo with a broad grin, fully knowing the Sith’s penchant for violence. “As clear as our goal is, we must plot the course carefully. This is a dangerous road we plan to take, and we must make sure that any ‘potholes’ are paved over before we come to them.”
“Speak plainly, Krath,” Macron sank grudgingly back into his chair, knowing his friend’s own predilection for planning.
“We must not implicate anyone in our Summit in this; I doubt that it will, but if our plan goes awry, they will most surely disavow our doings, hanging the both of us out to dry. That’s not a fate I’d wish on our worst enemy, even him,” Tsainetomo stated, refusing to even speak the Ragnos’ Quaestor name aloud, lest they were being monitored.
“I propose we see what the high muckity-mucks have in mind; it won’t do if the Summit thinks two of its ‘premier’ fighters are off the reservation. Besides, if things play out and history proves that he’s acted prudently, we don’t have to lift a finger. But if they don’t, I for one feel good about being on the side that...corrects...matters.”
“True, true,” mused the madman in a rare moment of clarity. “So, we go and see Bob...”
“...and find out what he wants us to do,” finished Tsainetomo. “It may be well within the House’s plans to send a contingent to the Palace, in due time. More’s the better for us; our due diligence in that respect is simply to get assigned to that detail.”
“What if there are no such plans, Sai?” asked Macron.
“Then, that’s a bridge we’ll have to burn when we get to it. If it means freeing the Overlord, and healing this Clan from any damage rampant egos are doing...”
“...then, so be it.” Macron did the finishing this time. Both men clutched one another’s forearms in a warrior’s clutch, signifying the importance of the event. After all, ‘blood-oaths’ were not to be entered lightly.
“So, for now, let us depart. Retire to your quarters, madman. I’m sure a briefing is forthcoming, and I don’t want to bring unwanted attention to our little...arrangement,” Tsainetomo instructed.
Macron made for the hatch. “Waitaminute...last I looked, I outranked you,” he reminded the Krath with a feral grin.
“Of course, my mistake,” Tsainetomo said, raising his hands in a placating gesture, the moment’s levity belying the serious of what the two Kresshians were plotting.
For both their sakes, that was the last mistake either of them could afford to make.
--ISD11 Harbinger, Inos orbit--
--HMR RM Office--
"Tsainetomo" said Zaroth.
"What?" said the others.
"Zaxen says we need to contact someone in Kressh. Tsainetomo may be willing to speak to us. I mean, he is a Keibatsu. I declared my loyalty to the Keibatsu when I was first apprenticed to Muz. The least one of their number can do is trust me."
"Well then. This is a promising development." said Zaxen. "But how do we find him?"
"Well, we all know where he is. Do you have your ship?" Zaroth asked, looking at Zaxen.
The two ships flew at a speed they could barely handle. Twisting and rolling through the masses of larger ships, they made their way slowly toward the Final Way. Breaking through, the ships crash-landed into the landing bay.
--RSD Final Way, Inos orbit--
The ships were surrounded. But the forces were merely soldiers. Zaroth and Zaxen leapt out of the cockpits, Zaxen landing in a roll and slicing through two soldiers with his lightsaber. Zaroth landed close by him, deflecting shots as Jade threw her lightsaber to impale a soldier. All three de-activated their sabers simultaneously.
"That's the last of them." called Jade. "Now then..." she walked towards the huge doors leading into the main ship.
All three stood in a line and combined their power to bend out and burst through the door. They strode through. They had made it. But that was the easy part.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
"Darth be damned bunch of little meddling children," mumbled the madman as he fidgeted.
He was awake as usual. Macron seldom if ever slept, his unusual body chemistry not requiring much sleep with the aid of the Force. However, sleep did help to calm him and it had been elusive of late.
The Sith peered at the datapad readout as the cable connecting one of his lightsabers to it fed information from the internal minicomputer. "I see, harmonic instability in the 24,32,91 location of the crystalline matrix..." His voice drifted off as he used the small toolkit to re-align the crystal. "That should do it."
Just then, an alarm sounded. "Intruder alert code 6," the computerized voice commanded. "Security teams Alpha and Beta report immediately to Hangar Bay 4."
"What the hell?" said the alchemist with concern in his voice as he jumped up from the berth. "I'm close... code 6 means Force-users are involved. Dren." Macron's footsteps pounded down the hall as activity flourished. Tsainetomo's quarters were not far away from the hangar either, and both passed a knowing glance between them as they sprinted through the open bay before the blast doors slammed shut.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Hangar Bay 4
Macron ignited his own orange blade as he looked at the carnage. They were some of the first on the scene that were not already dead. Several dead soldiers met his questing yellow eyes, and a trio of figures stood before him and Tsainetomo. More soldiers crouched behind the twin Kressh Dark Jedi, weapons at the ready as they communicated back and forth with central command.
The Archpriest spoke up first as he ignited his own tangerine colored blade, mirroring the orange one clenched in Macron's fist. "Zaxen, Zaroth, and Jade.... what is the meaning of this outrage? You better have a damn good reason. And how in the nine hells did you get by the patrols outside?"
Macron looked his former Apprentice in her eyes for a long pregnant second. His voice was low and forceful as he spoke up. "By my authority as Marshal Commander, you are all hereby ordered to stand down and be arrested. Or we will unfortunately be forced to terminate you. This is no joke. Heh heh."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Hangar Bay 4
Jade looked back into Macrons yellow eyes; She still had high regard for him and was looking forward to learning more of his alchemy skills should this war ever end and they both survive. She glanced at Sai and smirked. She had worked with him as both a master under the MSP and then with him come the time she became Roll Master. She didn’t hate the guy, although by orders she should really hate them both. Go figure!
“Get ready you too.” Jade spoke into both Zaxen and Zaorths mind, Zaxen was ready to grab Zaroth should he decide to go rouge and kill a few HLK members while they were there.
Jade lowered her blade but didn’t deactivate it. In one swift move so as not to cause alarm by doing things too slowly she took a small device from her hip held it up in her hand, it was clearly a small holoemitter. “We were just leaving anyway.” She tossed the device at Macron, using the force to feel him catch it as she took off back to their ship, Zaxen and Zaorth running after her. She felt Sai move to stop them and used the force to close the ramp to the ship and activate the engines. Zaxen ran to the controls and took the ship up. Jade looked out the view port. “Don’t kill anyone Zaxen or this isn’t going to make our proposal very appealing.” Zaxen smirked and as he turned the ship around she looked own at Macron and Sai and nodded. Zaxen gunned the engines and took off from the Final Way, using every evasive maneuver in the book to avoid the patrols before jumping and getting the Harbinger back into sight.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Hangar Bay 4
Tsainetomo stood looking for a long time out of the ray-shielded hangar bay entrance, long after the glow of the Ragnosian’s craft’s ion engines faded from sight. His sunset blade slurped its way back into its hilt, and still he stood, staring, his back stiff.
“Let’s start policing these bodies,” Macron ordered to the contingent of soldiers that had accompanied the two Force-users to the hangar. “And repair that hatch!”
The men busied themselves at following the instructions as Macron drew near to Tsainetomo.
“Uhm, you do realize that they’re gone, right?” the alchemist asked rhetorically.
“So close...so close,” the Archpriest muttered, more to himself than to his friend. Macron placed an armored hand on the Keibatsu’s shoulder, and Tsainetomo relaxed as he snapped from his regretful reverie.
“You’re right, Mac,” he said, offering a smile. “Besides, we have larger matters at hand, like how in Darth’s name did a paltry group of Journeymen compromise our defenses and land right in our laps?!” He shouted the last part of the statement so that the soldiers would hear. It wasn’t an indictment of the Ragnosians, per se; more so an admonishment for the other personnel to tighten their security net.
Tsainetomo continued, all the while looking at Macron. “I mean, I’d hate to have to report this incompetence to Bob and Faeril...their level of ‘understanding’ might not be as great as, say, Macron’s.” The alchemist stifled a giggle at that; his brutality to friend and foe alike, especially in the pursuit of science, was known to Force-user and mundane alike.
The admonishment had the desired effect; the men, already moving at breakneck speed, moved impossibly faster, whisking away the bodies and repairing the hatch, one of them even calling in the aforementioned order to increase the patrols around the RSD.
Tsainetomo, satisfied for the moment, lowered his voice back to a hush. “Alright, my friend, I believe I’ve tamped down my frustration for now. Let’s say we look at that trinket your Apprentice gave you; unless I miss my guess, those three just may have given us a wider window with which we can work our wiles.”
Macron nodded his assent. “Nice alliteration, Sai!”
The Archpriest smirked. “I figured you’d like that...” The Kresshians left the hangar, the soldiers clearing a wide birth as the fearsome pair walked through them.
Vardorian Scout Fighter "Storm Crow"
Enroute to ISD11 Harbinger
"Harbinger control this is Commander Dauketrenal on approach. Request permission to land." Zaxen spoke into his headset while making a few small corrections in his course. The tension in the cockpit was almost plasmic as its three occupants prepared to play out the next part of their plan.
"Commander Dauketrenal standby to receive from command and control." Came back the pleasant female.
"Roger Harbinger control. standing by." Zaxen keyed off the mic and turned to his passengers.
"Well this is it. It is very critical that we pull this off. If we do this right we can both save our skins and avoid making our House look any more like an aggressor."
Zaroth sat quietly, oddly uncharacteristic of him,as the burden of what he must do in order to cover up the true meaning for their fool hearty delivery to the Final Way was laid upon him. His suggestion to meet with Tsainetomo and by default Macron by blasting there way to the Flag Ship of House Ludo Kressh was almost shot down vehemently by Zaxen until he explained the twist involved.
"ZAXEN WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!!" The nearly crazed voice of the Quaestor erupted. Zaxen heard Zaroth inhale sharply as if to speak but Jade held up a hand to calm him. Zaxen calmed himself and focused his mind, clouding his dark intent.
"Apologies Lord Scion." Zaxen placed special reverence on Derev's Ragnosian title.
"Priestess Jade and myself are returning an attempted defector." he continued.
"That should of come through me!! That little stunt probably turned every weapon that the Kresshites have on us." Came Derev's retort.
"Yes your Holiness but in this case there was not time due to the sensitive nature of the one defecting." Zaxen said remaining calm.
"What do you mean?" Derev asked curiously.
"It's Zaroth." Zaxen replied cooly
An extended silence filled the space of what must have been an eternity. Zaxen could sense the anxiety pouring out of the young Obelisk Hunter behind him. Finally the silence was shattered by a venomous command.
"You will bring him to me when you return."
"As you command." Zaxen replied.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Macron looked on the small holo emitter Jade had thrown to him not an hour ago with an expression of curiosity with a touch of pride. Jade was indeed resourceful.
His Keibatsu Krath companion entered quietly and sat down at the table opposite Macron folding his hands. "Ok lets see what these fools have for us Mac. At the very least it should prove entertaining."
Macron grinned "I should hope so, would be a pity if it were boring considering the rather dramatic method of getting it to us." He placed the emitter on the table and pressed its small activator on its side.
The small disk flared to life and filled the room with a bluish hue as a ghostly image of Jade Atema came into view.
"Greetings Macron and Sai. I apologize for the rather abrupt entrance we must have made but I felt it necessary in order to get this message to you as quickly as possible. We feel as though our Quaestor is not acting in the best interests of the clan. We also feel the Faeril is being too stubborn to deal with Derev and that their negotiations will probably end in us going to war with one another. I will let my apprentice Zaxen explain."
Jade's graceful image was replaced by the Zaxen's tall, noble image which bowed eloquently.
"I greet you great ones. It has come to my attention that several things that have come about that have put our clan in a very dangerous position.
Firstly is the fact that our clan overlord has been arrested. We do not know by who or why.
Secondly is that both the Consul and Proconsul are not present. Third is that all communication out of the system whether in the Force or by conventional methods are being blocked somehow.
It is my conclusion then that at the very least a war will weaken us to the point of our clan being easily over run and at worst that someone or something is plotting to bring about our downfall."
The Battlelord and the Arch Priest looked at each other with impressed looks and turned back to the image of Zaxen who continued on.
"Now as I see it neither of our Quaestors are seeing much reason and both have a taste for blood. I personally do not see any amount of negotiation on their part or reasoning on our part that will lead them to compromise with one another. Inevitably our two houses will be at war. We have come to you to besiege you to see reason. If we were able to help each other we could perhaps find the truth behind these trouble events.
Naturally, I imagine you have already thought to attempt a rescue of the Clan Overlord. We too feel that this is paramount yet nothing has been said or even hinted at as far as a rescue which only drives me to question the logic of Derev's choices. We also know that there is no love lost between you and our Quaestor. I would say that it is possible that his...removal..maybe necessary in the near future. For the time being however we can not move against the Quaestor and attempt a rescue without being caught. In fact I fear that we must let this war be put into motion and hope we can move fast enough to put it to a stop."
I besiege the Sons of Sadow and the Noble House Keibatsu to help us keep the clan unified. We have nothing set in stone as of yet but I imagine our goals lie along the same path. That being the case know that you would have allies where you would think to find enemies. For now though we must at least appear to be foes. If you agree, try to get a message to us somehow. May the Force be with you."
With that the image of Zaxen bowed and the image disappeared.
Inos High Orbit
Zaroth groaned as he picked himself off the floor for the fifth time and was just as quickly hurled across the room and slammed into the wall where once again he fell groaning even louder than before. His whole body ached and blood smeared his skin in more than once place already.
Derev snarled as he walked up to the Jedi Hunter. "You little worm... how dare you!" He said as he drove the toe of his boot into Zaroth's stomach. "You will pay for macking a mockery of me!" Another kick flew into Zaroth, this time snapping several of his ribs.
Zaxen and Jade watched with stern gazes neither betraying the loathing they had for their Quaestor. They were the reflection of obedience as they watched their young, brave friend be mauled by the Sith Battlemaster.
Kick after kick came until Zaroth was screaming with each strike. "Your treachery will cost you dearly you filthy traitor." Once more Derev picked up Zaroth by his neck and using the Force propelled him across the room, smashing him into a large view screen shattering it. Derev walked over to the the bruised and bleeding mass that was Zaroth and dragged him to his feet. He reached down and grabbed his lightsaber and ignited the his personal variant of the energy blade and held it close to Zaroth's face.
"Give me one reason why you should draw one more breath?"
At this point Zaxen stepped in. "Beg pardon Lord Scion but killing him would not be wise."
Derev turned his anger infused glare on to Zaxen. "You would be unwise to interrupt me again Zaxen or you will be joining him in short order."
Zaxen bowed his head. "With respect sir, he is tied well in with the Keibatsu family and his master is Master Muz Keibatsu who is also a son of Sadow who is the husband of our consul and the Deputy Grand Master of the Brotherhood. Killing his apprentice with out his consent would bring about a horrible wrath I fear."
Derev sneered at this but Zaxen's wisdom could not be argued with. He turned back to Zaroth deactivating his blade and struck him across the face sending him once more to the floor.
"Get him out of my site..."
As if on cue to guards came forward, picked up Zaroth's limp body and drug him from the office. Zaxen and Jade followed close behind. When they were well away from Derev's office Zaxen sent a telepathic touch of appreciation, and pride in the young obelisk. He was placed on medical hover bed and flown to med bay where both Zaxen and Jade took turns watching over him.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Hallway Outside of - Hangar Bay 4
“I figured you’d like that...” Tsainetomo said to Macron as they walked down the hall. They strode towards their destination discussing the object which had been given to them by the group of journeymen in the hanger. The corridor appeared to be fairly busy as the after math of the intrusion was being dealt with. However, despite the activity taking place around them Sai and Macron strode through the crowd without any effort.
“Sir.” A voice to the pair as they walked down the hall. What appeared to be a low ranking officer stepped into the pairs path and stopped them as the walked down the hall as gave them a salute. A few of the members of the crew in the area gave the man a quick look, as if they were looking at a madman, the rest simply pretended they didn’t know the man and continued on their duties.
“What is it ..Lieutenant..” Sai said tersely to the officer who had stepped in front of them. Surely this man could have taken whatever finding he had to his immediate superior rather than come to them.
The officer appeared to have dark hair, and a rather large nose. A long scar ran down the side of his face tapering off at his chin.
“I have a preliminary report here which I thought would be prudent to bring to your attention. From my research, the security hole that was exploited by the individuals just now is not the only security hole which is within our security systems.” The officers said.
The two looked at each other raising an eyebrow as a pad was handed to them by the Lieutenant. A detailed report had been composed, meticulously detailing the information of an intelligence report.
“Carry on..” Macron said his attention now on the officer.
“Yes sir.” The officer replied “From my findings, it is quite possible for a force adept individual with some skill or credits to slice into the database system and insert an officer into the databases of the crew roster. This individual would then be able to plant themselves on this ship, using the force when possible to convince those he works with in a squadron that he is a member with them. Such an individual would then be free to go and walk around the ship as he pleases. This report marks severe security holes in the computers database, and security systems”.
“Well, thank you Lieutenant.” Sai said looking over the report. “This is quite a detailed report, tell me how did you manage to do this amount of research, and where is it from.
“Well, Sir..” The officer said pulling off a prosthetic nose, peeling off the scar going down the side of his face, revealing himself
“You could call it personal experience” he said, now once again looking like the former member and Aedile of House Marka Ragnos – Alexander Anderson.
Zaroth walked through the corridors of the Harbinger with Zaxen and Jade, with a strange feeling that his body was not his own. His body seemed to move independently, his mind and feelings somehow elsewhere. But he had a feeling of impending doom. Everything went dark and Zaroth felt his companions no more. He was alone, and he was falling. Just when it seemed that he would be forever trapped in oblivion, lost to the world, lost to his love, everything slowly came back into focus. He was lying on a cold floor. He had never been in so much pain in his life. There was someone standing over him. At least, it looked mostly human, but it had a monstrous face, elongated ears, an unnatural jaw line and a bat-like face with glowing green eyes. Slowly the features changed, and Zaroth finally recognised the figure as Derev Niroth.
Zaroth felt a sudden rush of energy and saw moving shadows around the room, slowly consuming everything until there was nothing but a feeling of dread. The Hunter was lost again in darkness. But slowly, a feeling of calm descended on him. He could see the woman for whom he had agreed to the plan to expose the real enemy of Clan Naga Sadow. Zaroth was calm and pleasure was the next thing he felt. Slowly the pain left him completely as Zaroth could feel someone touching his arm. His body, soul and mind were as one again as his eyes snapped open. He was free of the dream world in which he was once imprisoned. Zaroth was awake and the first thing he saw was Jade. He smiled as he realized everything would be alright.
--Medical Bay C—
“You’re awake. How do you feel?” asked Jade.
“Better. You saved me” said Zaroth. “What happened? All I remember is meeting with Derev. After that, everything’s a blur.”
“The plan is working.” Jade informed him in a soothing voice. “Derev believes you had defected. He is the reason you are here. He has placed you under house arrest. Your lightsaber has been confiscated.”
Jade was angry at Derev. He had nearly killed the Hunter in his rage. But Jade knew that if she knew of a defector, she would have reacted the same way. She stood and said:
“You should get some rest. You need to recover.” As she walked towards the door, she felt an explosion of emotion from Zaroth.
“Jade.” She stopped and turned to face Zaroth. “You have done so much for me. I just want you to know, I will be forever loyal to you and your allies. I love you.”
Jade smiled and kissed Zaroth on the cheek.
“Thank you” he said, as Jade left to give him some rest.
The Overlord stretched and walked over to the far wall of his chambers, his visitor still resting in red. He touched the inset panel and the outline of a door appeared mysteriously where once there was none. The metal sheeting whooshed up into a recess and lights activated to reveal his personal wardrobe within the walk-in closet. To the left and right uniforms of different styles and robes of his various rankings over the ages surrounded him. But it was what was at the far end resting on a mannequin that interested him most, his un-elaborate but most effective and suitable battle armor. Basically a set of stormtrooper armor overlaying old Jedi robes, this particular arrangement was crafted by the current Deputy Grand Master and imbued with special properties thanks to the alchemical wizardry of Macron Sadow.
He donned the armor and clipped his two lightsabers to his belt. They too were master crafted by Muz Keibatsu Sadow while he served as Herald of the Brotherhood. Identical to every last detail, including the embedded Clan Naga Sadow emblem on each. They both sported white blades of fury and had seen many kills and much destruction at the hands of their master. Astronicus stretched again, making sure the armor was nice and snug, adjusting it where he saw fit. Like his sabers, his armor had seen a great deal's worth of battle and had the scars to prove it.
He exited his closet, the door closing behind him and disappearing just as fast. Walking to the opposite wall across the room he made his way to a painting of odd shaped and distorted squares. The painting was a gift from an old friend, but sentimentality was not one of Astronicus's strong suits, he had converted it into a keypad of sorts with each square being a key to a lock. Of course, upon inspection by a mere mundane this would not be readily apparent, but thanks to the Sith Alchemy he had learned from Macron, it was most effective to deter even force users.
The first set of squares he pressed in on alerted whomever was on the other end of the receiving line. His next series activated yet another door inset into the wall to appear, the holographic camouflage covering it having disappeared. This door too whooshed open, but unlike the closet it did not reveal any of his personal belongings but rather his two personal Dlarit Advanced Commandos who had been waiting in a secretive room linked to the passageway. Captain Cresh and Lieutenant Dorn both walked forward and saluted their Viceroy. They were clones, but that did not lower his opinion of them in any way. They were both able bodied men and had proven their loyalty and worth to him on many occasions.
Stirring from their sleeping positions in the far corners of the room, Astronicus's pet Tuk'ata
both came over to inspect the new arrivals. They were both well acquainted with each other, yet the Sith hounds were always untrustworthy of others no matter how much their master felt about it. Kren and his father Xor had served as willing guardians of Master Sadow for many years now and were willing to sacrifice their lives for his defense should that extreme be required.
"Captain, what can you tell me of the current situation?" Ordered the Viceroy as the three began to walk down the secluded and secret corridor that the clones had just left. Their private rooms were built onto this tunnel as was a private armory that the Clan was unaware of. Those who had built this passageway also built their own tombs within here unwittingly. The best kept secret is never allowed to go beyond those that need to know, and as far as Astronicus was concerned, only he and his DACs needed to know.
"Everything is proceeding as you had foreseen, sir." Replied Cresh, "The clan is divided and the two houses are ready to battle each other."
"Very well then, let us prepare for our part in these moments of turmoil, shall we?" Asked Astronicus rhetorically. Events were unfolding just as he had seen in a waking force vision. He knew his part in all of this and would thus play accordingly, but he would not allow anyone to think they had an edge over him in the slightest of details.
Medical Bay C
Jade left the medical room and stood in the empty hallway for a moment, glad at the voidness of bodies. Zaroth’s oath and admission to her had both surprised her and had left her thinking she should have seen it coming, well at least the last part. She hated the way he had been treated, he had served Marka Ragnos well for a while now, but then again she can’t say she would have done anything different had she been in Derev’s shoes and found out about a defector.
Zaroth was young and fairly high strung in his energy and drive to get things done, and she could see how that would cause a problem in a war like this. She herself had many known to her in Ludo Kressh, her current and former master’s were a couple, not to mention her family head was the current aedile of the house. Yes her list of allys could be quiet interesting for Zaroth to carry out an oath too, the problem was, how strong was that list really? They had risked a lot to try and get a message to her former master and friends; she just wondered if she could count on them and build something up within the houses.
Jade started walking back to her quarters, she had a few newbies she was going to teach some new moves too and she figured if Macron and Sai were able to get a message to her, they’d probably try to find her there.
HMR RM Office
Jade walked around her office, the newbie’s just leaving both in a sweat and with a few cuts and bruises. However they were lucky, had she not been holding back due to the fact of war and HMR needing all its members with their limbs intact, they would have learned a harder lesson and needed to take more time to heal.
She took a piece of silk and cleaned off the blade of the dagger she normally kept at the small of her back, before replacing it and sitting down in her chair. She arched her fingers together. She hated sitting around waiting, and her mind thought back to the Search and Rescue mission orders currently in place. She figured her apprentice Zaxen would likely head into the field and go for it, or at least make an attempt to make it seem that way. She would normally go, but she wanted to find out more about the possible dealings with Sai and Macron, not to mention it was also easier to keep an eye on Derev with regular meetings and the likes by staying close on board. She sighed and eventually decided she would stay on the Habinger for the moment but make sure Zaxen had a secure line to be able to reach her somehow incase he did take off.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Hallway Outside of - Hangar Bay 4
Tsainetomo glanced at Macron as they looked up and down the corridor. No one was close. macron slammed a fist into the nearby storage closet access control as the Krath grabbed Alexander by the shirtfront. Anderson was shoved roughly into the compartment while Macron loitered outside nonchalantly as he flicked the switch to close the door again.
"Who put you up to this? asked the Archpreist with a cold, quiet voice. "Derev? That damned Chiss Malaricun?"
"I came initially as a plant, yes. However, I remain- and exposed myself to you of my own free will. And my lackluster replacement as Aedile had nothing to do with it." The Knight held himself well, and kept his cool as the tripartite eyes stared into his own. Both men peered deep into the windows of their souls as they attempted to gauge the other's motives.
"Somehow I believe you," remarked Sai as he released the man's jacket. "Still. I'd be careful next time. A lot of us are getting jumpy around here." A rude armored fist beating on the door interrupted him.
Macron's muffled voice could be heard through the door. "We cool? Hate to interrupt you lovebirds hiding in the closet and all..." Faint snickering followed the jibe. "People are coming. There might be rumors."
The door opened as the two stepped out. "Real frackin funny, Mac. We're cool- for now," the former Rollmaster said as he looked menacingly at Alexander.
"Huh. Well, fair enough. Let's go discuss things in my quarters," the alchemist quipped. "It's relatively safe there."
"Not to be naive, but your quarters are rumored to be remarkably Un-safe," commented Alexander dryly as they all began to stroll down the hall with feigned nonchalance.
Tsainetomo chuckled with a tight-lipped grin as Macron turned to face the "Lieutenant" with mock horror.
"My good man! Surely you jest? My hospitality is famous!" The Warlord gestured with a flourish as the door opened. "Please by all means. Fortunately for you, my good Krath friend here thinks you are useful at the moment. I like to keep my friends- and my enemies close. I really hope you are a friend, although I would be very happy to entertain you should you prove to be otherwise. I bet you're A-positive," he said with a sniff.
"Can he really tell that by smell?" whispered Alexander as Macron fiddled with the security lock.
"Damn good question," whispered the Korun back. "Be cool and you won't find out."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
All three strode through the door. It closed with a click of an engaging security lock as the three found seats. The Archpriest spoke first. "Mac. We could use help, and I hear our friend here is not bad with a saber and has some piloting skill."
Macron looked blankly at the wall for a long time. Almost a solid minute passed uncomfortably before he spoke. "We take him," he mumbled softly. "Astronicus sent him here."
"No pudu?" replied Tsainetomo. "You doing that funky Marked thing again?" The madman merely nodded sagely.
"No pudu," remarked Alexander. "He did say you might not be receptive. I don't fear you, but I'd rather not be dead anytime soon."
"The man's got balls. I admire that. The we get busy with the planning," giggled Macron. "Sai, would you get that private holocaster com link to Astronicus set up? I'll go pitch a bender in the hall and provide a distraction."
Inos High Orbit
Aleho paced back and forth occasionally glancing out the large view port over looking the planetoid below and the two fleets orbiting as if vultures circling its carrion prize. She was, for all manner of the word, pouting. She was bored, anxious to do something, anything and she was beginning to feel a little abandoned by her teacher Zaxen. Her DAC sat quietly watching, his mind ever on his mission but could only suppress a sigh of his own.
"I know I could help. I am not that much younger than that Zaroth..." The young Togruta spoke to no one in particular.
The DAC responded to her anyway. "Well kid I am sure they had a good reason for leaving you here."
As if on cue the door to the observation deck opened spilling in bright corridor light into the subdued hues of the chamber. A dark silhouette of a man appeared shortly and stepped into the room and the door shut behind him.
"There WAS a good reason. There wasn't enough room." Zaxen walked into the chamber as the light adjusted back to its normal state.
"You must really learn to control your emotional states Leho. I could feel you from two decks below." Zaxen half scolded, half bantered his young student.
Aleho furrowed her brow in annoyance. "I thought our emotional states were a source of power." she shot back.
Zaxen smirked. "Most certainly but if you can not control them, then you become nothing more than out of control zealot who is just as dangerous to themselves as they are to those around them. If you can not control yourself then there are those who will be happy to control you. Never forget that Leho."
Aleho grimaced as she knew she could not argue the point.
"Well Leho, you wanted to help now is your chance. We are going out to see if we can't help with the Search and Rescue operations."
Aleho let another wave of annoyance fill the Force. "But that's so boring! We are Dark Jedi! Can't we send clones to do something like that so we can get to the real stuff?"
Zaxen turned slowly gazing at his young student. "And do you think that this mission is not important? That wreckage down there on Inos is the catalyst to this entire situation. I would imagine that whatever is going on with our communications, a clue to its cause can be found there. Besides, Kresshites are all wound up, its likely we could end up in a fire fight anyway.
Aleho's interest peaked at this. Zaxen smiled. "I thought you might like the sound of that." he said.
Inos High Orbit
The engines of Zaxen's Vardorian scout fighter the "Storm Crow" hummed into life. The strange craft's sleek hull seemed to pulse of its own seperate accord as if it were anxious to get started, as if it could sense what it was about to go through.
Zaxen, Aleho and her DAC shadow all climbed aboard and set about the pre-flight sequences. Zaxen sat himself in the pilot's chair and ran his hand along the various consoles. He let his energy touch the energy of the ship and it responded in kind. Aleho strapped in and manned the navigational console, she could feel the Force rippling around the cockpit.
Zaxen turned to her. "Its ok, touch it." He said.
Aleho reached out to touch the controls. "Not with just your hand..." Zaxen instructed.
With that she closed her eyes and sent her etheral touch out to the ship and was shocked to have it touch her back.
"What is this?" she gasped.
"One of the mysteries of Vardor." Zaxen replied. "Now lets get going."
They preflight finished and launch clearance was given. The Storm Crow lurched as it moved forward rapidly and then dropped into the weightless void of space. Immediately the scene took shape before them. The Ludo Kressh fleet spread out before them, the hulls glistening with weaponry. Inos lay beneath them a purple gem in the star scape.
"Well there are Forty-Three moons out there surrounding Inos and intelligence is sketchy as to which one it is. So lets start from the farthest one out and move in. We can probably cover more before the Kresshites get suspicious and come see what we are all about. We will let the normal SAR patrols cover us." Zaxen said as he began programming waypoints.
Aleho brought up the ship's scanners and began sweeping for possible wreckages as they approached the first moon. Suddenly she felt a burst of anxiety that seemed to pour out from the ship. She immediatly switched scan modes and discovered the source of the agitation. Several Kresshian ships had broken off their main patrol group and were moving to intercept.
"Looks like we have been found out." Aleho said with a hint of excitement.
"Blast. Set weapons to ready, just in case." Zaxen said.
"Probably going to get real nasty, real fast."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Xander watched the madman go off to provide the distraction while Sai began to set up the holocaster.
"while we work on that, you will see a list of individuals who range from being officers to minor technicians on the ship." Xander said watching Sai
"Those are the individuals who I believe are the eyes are ears for different individuals. The ones I have highlighted are individuals who I believe are in the employ of Ragnos. The ones who are highlighted and bolded are individuals who I know are in the employ of Ragnos and are spying for them.” The journeyman said reading from the list
“Really?” Sai said looking at the list “How do you know that these individuals are spies for Ragnos for sure?” the Keibatsu inquired.
“Because I planted them myself.” Xander said without looking up
“The levels of intrigue indeed are deep within the Clan it seems.” observed Sai a slight look of concern across his face. “Why are you telling us this?”
“Because, I am working with you, and I would hate to see any sort of sabotage take place. There are some sleepers who I placed aboard as well, those are especially marked. However, I am the only person who has access to the codes, at least I believe I am. It would probably be best to deal with those individuals first, just in case someone else gains access to the codes.”
Macron returned to the room looking rather satisfied with the work he had accomplished.
“Also, it can be mentioned that there are a number of .. individuals on board the Harbringer who may be … sympathetic to our cause.” Xander said as Sai returned to doing the final set up for the holocaster.
“You mean all of the female officers you had relations with?” Macron said with a laugh
“I wouldn’t say quite .. half …” Xander said innocently
Sai and Macron laughed as they turned on the holocaster. After a few moments the face of Astronicus appeared before them.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Tsainetomo hastily depressed the ‘Pause Transmission’ button on the holocaster, and the Overlord’s ghostly image hung eerily frozen in space before the trio.
“Before we do this, Xander, why don’t you take that file you so lovingly compiled and start dealing with those most pressing threats.” Tsainetomo’s tone made it more of a statement than a suggestion.
Initially, the former Ragnosian didn’t take the hint. “But, I’d rather stay here. What can I do with the file that you or someone else wouldn’t be able to?”
“Well, for starters, you have something that neither I nor any one else in Ludo Kressh, has: trust.” Tsainetomo swiveled in his chair to turn fully on the Knight. “If anyone but you approaches these ‘persons of interest’, their guard is immediately going to go up, and we’ll not know what trickery may be afoot. They’ll be more at ease if you do the digging. Besides, it’s your baby; don’t you want to be the one solely responsible for outing this treachery, and thus, claim the inherent glory?” The Korun-Keibatsu smiled at this, knowing instinctively that his words had taken root.
“Good point, Sai. I’ll get right on it. Just keep me posted on things; I should have a status report for you in a few.” Xander left the chambers.
Macron turned to Sai and stared dubiously at his friend; Sai feined ignorance. “What?” the Archpriest asked, shrugging his shoulders exaggeratedly.
“C’mon, man; you know ‘what’. Why did you really send Xander out?” the alchemist posed.
“Well, there is the matter of that little gift from your apprentice that we’ve got to open...” Tsainetomo’s voice trailed off, not wanting to voice what Mac had already known about his Korun friend. The Archpriest was notorious for being of the untrusting sort, and a report or two was not going to secure his loyalty easily.
“Of course!” Mac said, seeming to ignore Sai’s subterfuge in avoiding his question. He produced the small holoemitter and the two men viewed the message from Jade and her cohorts.
A minute and a half later, the message ended, and the two Kresshians sat in silence.
Finally, Macron piped up. “Well. Interesting.”
“Indeed,” agreed the Keibatsu.
“Ya know what else is interesting, Sai,” Macron said. “How you skillfully avoided my earlier question.”
“Oh, you caught that,” Tsainetomo stated somewhat sheepishly. “Well, there’s something I have to do, and I’d rather do it without witnesses. Unfortunately, that includes you. I’m asking you to step outside, too, Mac.” Tsainetomo lowered his voice in a rare display of humility.
“But, this is my room!” Macron exclaimed.
“Mac...please.” There was no confrontation in Tsainetomo’s tone, only respect.
After a heartbeat, Macron acquiesced. “Well...I suppose we’d better not keep the Overlord waiting. I’ll be right outside.” His own voice was subtly tinged with compassion, if only for the man who’d fought at his side and had shed blood as he had in service for Sadow. Besides, Macron had once claimed the name ‘Keibatsu’; he had an idea of what Tsainetomo felt he must do.
The door to Macron’s quarters slid shut for a second time, and Tsainetomo took a long breath before he hit ‘Resume’ on the holocaster.
The ghostly image suddenly began to move; the face’s demeanor quickly displayed its owner’s annoyance at being placed on hold for so long.
“...better be good, Macr-...Ah, Tsainetomo!” The Overlord greeted the Keibatsu warmly. “I didn’t expect you to be the one on the other end. How can I help you?”
The question took the Archpriest off guard. “M’lord? It is I who should be asking how I may serve. You must know what’s happening.” Tsainetomo’s voice betrayed his confusion. “The Houses are in disarray, the Force guides no one with surety, Derev has gone mad with power and you are a prisoner! I’ve failed both my family and you.” His confession came out in a rush, and the effort seemed to leave him spent. The Archpriest hung his head.
“Tsainetomo Keibatsu, lift your eyes to me.” Astronicus said softly and Sai complied, steeling himself for the sentencing he was sure was coming. “Failed? You’ve done no such thing. You continue to serve me and your Clan, well and with honor. I know the Houses face a great trial to come, but I’ve full faith that we will be united at the end.”
Tsainetomo interjected. “But you are taken prisoner, held against your will, and Derev...”
“Tsainetomo,” interrupted Astronicus. “I’ve heard your mind is quite sharp, but you are not, at this moment, living up to that. Think for a moment. Where do you think that I am, right now?”
“You are in the Palace, held by the DAC’s acting on Derev’s order,” The Overlord laughed at this.
“’Tis true, I am on Sepros, but not at the Palace. In fact, I am at home, well rested and being attended to...and quite well, I might add.” A salacious look flashed across Astronicus’ face before it reverted back to its stately mien. “Besides, am I to be thought of as so feeble that I could be kept where I would not want to remain?”
The question shocked Tsainetomo, jarring his thinking. “Ah. Quite right, sire.”
“Now, heed my words, and take wise consul from them,” began the Overlord. “There will be an accounting, of that both Houses can be sure. As for the Palace, it will be liberated in the fullness of time, and you will be called upon to serve me and your Clan, and I’ve no doubt you will do so. As for right now, it is for you and your confederates to stem the loss of life, not exacerbate it...where necessary. I trust you to divine when.”
The Overlord’s words were direct, and had a galvanizing effect on the Archpriest. Astronicus continued.
“Now, tell me: how do you plan to follow my decree?” The question was pointed, in both content and delivery.
“M’lord, I haven’t worked out full details as yet, but I believe that there are assets in place in Marka Ragnos that may be brought to a certain line of thinking, as it were. We’re also in the process of outing Ragnosian plants within Ludo Kressh, and I can assure you that any one who acts counter to your will shall be severely dealt with.” Among those who Xander had listed in his report, a certain Battlemaster’s name hung on Tsainetomo’s tongue; as the Overlord didn’t mention it, he thought it best not to repeat it again. He’d allow the Sith to weave enough rope to hang himself, for the moment.
For the moment.
Astronicus appeared to be considering Tsainetomo’s words. “Very well. I shall contact you again when matters deem it necessary. Astronicus, out.”
The Overlord cut the transmission, and his ghostly image faded. A moment afterward, the compartment’s hatch slid open, and Macron burst in hurriedly. Tsainetomo sat at the table, leaning back in his chair, his eyes closed, attempting to process everything the Overlord had imparted to him.
“Well?” the alchemist asked impatiently.
“You’re...gonna have to give me a minute,” Tsainetomo said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But, I will tell you that we’re going to have to carefully watch where we get our news from here on out. In the meantime, there’s one more man we might need to tap; we need to find Shin.”
Vardorian Fighter Scout "Storm Crow"
Approaching Inos Outer Moons
Zaxen watched the trajectories of the incoming Ludo Kressh patrol fighters, their closure speed, and gauged it against his own speed and distance to the moon. The Storm Crow sent a wave of excitement into the minds of it's operators and speed became a slipstream of power. The strange Vardorian ship gleamed in the eternal night like a dark comet. Zaxen let his mind go and the read outs on his consoles became obsolete as he could now feel the approaching swarm.
Aleho watched her console closely however starting her scanning of the moon at maximum range hoping for a lucky hit on the surface of the first moon. She could not help but feel the increased excitement of the situation and the energy radiating off the ship and she soon became adamant.
"Master Zaxen? Are you not going to turn and fight?" She asked in a semi flustered tone.
"Not if I don't need to. Remember those are our clan mates out there. If there is some sort of third party playing the houses against each other to weaken us we will need all the help we can get fighting them when they are discovered." Zaxen replied his voice soft yet crystalline as if the person there and the person speaking were two different people.
Aleho nodded quietly and continued to watch her screen for any signs of the mysterious crash.
"Leho, set a waypoint along the equatorial region on the farside of the first moon and then at the far polar region. Lets see if we can't lose them using the mass and magnetic field to our advantage." Zaxen ordered.
The young student nodded and did her best to find an appropriate course. Her skills were still rudimentary and her task was fast becoming difficult for her knowledge. She focused herself on her task and willed herself to succeed. Within moments Zaxen was looking at the waypoints laid out on his HUD.
"Thank you Leho." He said smiling. "Well done."
The Storm Crow picked up even more speed and the small, icy moon began to fill the view port as their course drifted ever so slightly to starboard to obtain an equatorial orbit. Zaxen rolled the ship to place the moon down relative. The Kresshite patrol was hard pressed to keep up but managed to do so and began closing the gap as they approached at an almost right angle.
Suddenly the comm speaker squawked to life.
"Unidentified ship, you in violation of a no fly zone under the order of Sith Warrior Faeril. Turn back from your current course or be fired upon."
Zaxen smirked at the suggestion and poured on more speed as the surface of the moon came rushing towards the nose of the ship. The message was sent again though significantly more garbled as the line of sight between the ships was lost. Once the first waypoint was reached, Zaxen rolled again and turned headed for the south pole of the moon's axis.
"Leho, begin a tight beam scan we should be able to cover the whole moon longitudinally with out that patrol spotting us, but you will have to be quick." Zaxen ordered.
Aleho nodded and set herself to work. Zaxen pulled the nose of the craft a higher into orbit so the scanning cone could cover the moons surface. While doing this the Krath stretched out his senses, looking for the pilots of the Kresshite patrol. It did not take long to find them following his last course around the equator. Focusing on them he compensated his course in order to keep out of their scanner range. It was working and it was not look before they had completed the search of the surface.
Zaxen stayed on course for another moment before breaking off towards the next moon. The ruse had worked but he still had forty-two moons left.
"Leho, contact the SAR team and report our progress, have them feed any relevant information to us. There is no need to have us do double coverage."
The young Protector complied enthusiastically having a new found appreciation for the work they were doing. It was exciting playing cat and mouse but even she knew that this little game could only last so long.
Zaxen smirked as the comm system flared to life again with the same warning. "It looks like they will be a little harder to shake next time Leho. Be sure to give me good navpoints to follow or we may end up in real trouble and likely late for dinner."
And so the game continued.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Several flock to the thought of walking the paths of a Sith, and very few survive the first few steps. Those that have walked its path for a distance knows that they have died a long time ago, but in the end these are not true Sith but minions of our will. A true Sith does not walk the path of the Sith, they create one of their own.
This was the code Aticus had formed himself upon, and the only thought that flowed within his mind as he sat silently in a meditative trance within his chambers. He hated the thought of being on the RSD Final Way primarily because he was not doing what he felt Lord Ludo Kressh was desiring him to be doing. Few believed he had a connection with Lord Ludo Kressh, but he cared little about this as it would be they that suffered his wrath not he, in the end. These visions that he believed in were things that even the elders could not explain and outside of the summits of the clan, no one truely cared or believed in. Aside from Horus he was honestly begining to look crazy, but he had served with the Dark Brotherhood for longer than most others had and he knew the difference between insanity and a calling of a higher power.
His meditation was proving to be difficult due to all of the combined force users on the ship, which further pissed him off. Sighing he finaly gave up and snaped his fingers, bringing light into the room which was prior engulped in blackness. The dim lights showed barely anything in his chambers, this being mainly because he was rarely onboard the vessel, but he refused to take any part of this mission if he had to bunk with anyone. His solitude was his right as a veteran, and a requirement for him in most cases. He stood up from the chair infront of the simple desk beside his bed. A mirror reflected the nude, yet near perfect physical build of Aticus. He was not large, but rather cut like a diamond. He believed his body the most important weapon in his arsonal thus he kept it sharp and ready at all times.
Hanging from his neck was a medallion with the Taldryan emblem. Though he hated most in the clan, he kept it as a rememberance of his failures and accomplishments with his first clan within the Brotherhood. The cold chain and emblem reflected in the light and off the mirror, casting odd glimers on the wall that for a moment caught his attention in thought of it being a rifle scope or worse. He sighed again. To many years in battle has made you to perfect hasnt it? thought the Sith to himself as he reached to the folded clothes on the bed. His entire life he had made himself a weapon, and in the past ten years he had done more slaughter than he had imagined in twelve life times. As he pulled his pants up he heard the door open which in his reaction he quickly aimed a pistol to head height without even looking. He then realized who it was without even looking by feeling the presence of his fellow Paladin.
Don't you know how to knock or page or something? I mean, it quite rude to just burst in here without me even knowing. said Aticus lowering his weapon and throwing it to the bed.
Horus smiled. Oh did I catch the great Aticus off his guard? Suprising.
Aticus said nothing, as both knew had he truely felt danger it would not have been a blaster when the door opened, but a lightsaber blade through the door before it had even opened or perhaps worse, but Aticus and Horus were to close to attempt trying each other.
So why havent you been around the ship? This use to be your thing, flying and what not. You're back onbaord yet you act like you would rather be elsewhere. further stated Horus.
Aticus finished dressing himself into his casual clothes and placed his hat on to finish this. He turned to Horus and replied. Thats because I would mate, you know that I have an obligation to build..
Horus broke in before he could finish the sentence. And I don't obligate myself as well?
Frowning to Horus, the Paladin showed his disapproval in Horus's statement. The Sith then opened a black diamond box and removed his lightsaber, one of the final lightsabers hand made by Kaine Mandaala. It was quite a treasure in its own, and his prefered side arm. After he cliped it on to his belt he holstered his modified E-11, and inserted three spare clips onto his belt and nodded to Horus to lead the way to somewhere other than his quarters.
HMR RM Office
Jade stood up from her desk and stretched. To hell with waiting around this was getting annoying, her apprentice had the right idea, go out and see what you can find. Granted HLK members weren’t going to be too happy about it, but screw it, sitting around and waiting was something a light Jedi did. She was impressed though at how he had taken on a student, or at least was starting too. She had trained him well, but smirked as she wondered if he would be nearly as hard or demanding as she had been in some of her lessons.
As she prepared to at least go and torture…or rather train some newbies her com link went off. “Speak.” She was in no mood for small talk; it was get to the point and do it now.
“Priestess Jade, Jedi Hunter Zaroth is requesting your presence.”
Jade sighed and looked at the comlink before answering. He would request to see her, especially after his confession. She wondered if he was thinking he could pull it off on being on pain killers. “Very well, I’m on my way.” She deactivated the thing and put on her outer cloak, the long dark purple flowing around her and taking her form as she walked out of her office.
Medical Bay C
Jade walked in and saw the broken form of Zaroth. He as healing but after a confrontation like the one he had with Derev, well things weren’t going to heal all that quickly. Not to mention she wasn’t very sure Derev would even let the Jedi Hunter get anywhere near being able to get off the bed. Defectors were never given much room to breath let alone live. He was lucky.
Zaroth opened an eye and gave her a smile. “Jade, you came.” She nodded. ‘I wasn’t sure if you would after…”
Jade held up a hand to stop the Jedi Hunter in his words. “Relax Zaroth. I heard you wanted to see me? You know asking for me can put us both in a lot of danger. No doubt Derev will be wondering why.” He looked at her and she could tell he was afraid, it was easy to feel his emotions of Derevs most recent ass whopping. “I won’t lie kid, it was a dumb move to head to the Final Way, but what’s done is done.”
“I’d never want to get you into trouble Jade.”
“Ya I know.” She stood next to him. “I have to get out and do something, this sitting around and waiting is making me itchy. Was there anything specific you wanted Zaroth?”
He just looked at her, afraid to ask. “Umm…no.”
Jade slowly shook her head. “Look if by some miracle Derev lets you get out of this medical bay I’ll return part of your oath to ya. Since you can’t contact Muz right now, I’ll be your master.”
Zaroth looked at her in surprise; it wasn’t something he had expected. Jade nodded and turned to leave the medical bay pulling the hood of her cloak up onto her head.
Rear Admiral Araic Simonetti stood proud on the bridge of the Republic-class Star Destroyer Final Way. Looking out the front viewport at the purple gas giant known as Inos, he couldn't help but grin at the thought of how far he had come. Just a little over four years ago the Correllian was merely just another everyday officer living his almost non-existent life aboard a CR90 Corvette. But then an opportunity presented itself, and Simonetti took well advantage of every chance that arose and was now seeing things he had never dreamed possible. Handpicked by the Dark Lords to be the captain of the Final Way, Simonetti had quite a lot to prove with that much responsibility and he knew that failure was not an option as Dark Jedi were not very forgiving.
"Admiral Simonetti," a voice interrupted the Correllian's thoughts, "The prisoner is ready to be questioned."
"Thank you," the Admiral replied, "I will inform Lord Atema immediately." Admiral Simonetti left the bridge and headed towards Sith Warlord Robert Atema Sadow’s chambers. Half way there, however, the Admiral was met by the Sith with two of his Decimators following behind. Simonetti had been serving the Warlord for some time, but still was not use to the sight of his personal bodyguards.
"I trust our friend is ready to talk now," the newly appointed Aedile stated more than asked.
"He is indeed, Lord," the Admiral replied, "I have...." Admiral Simonetti was quieted by the sounds of the engines of the Final Way shutting down and the Star Destroyer coming to a stop. "Bridge, this is the captain. What the devil is going on?"
"Sir, the override code has been given," a voice over the comlink stated.
"Override code? Why would the Clan Summit shut us down?" Simonetti said more to himself than to his Aedile.
"I think it is time we have some answers to our questions," Warlord Atema began, "I've been away from our House for far too long and things aren’t as they seem. First the departure of the Summit, than a “Emergency Incident”, and now this. It is time for me to get more involved. Admiral, I need power restored on this ship. While you are doing that I will question our guest and see what else lies ahead for us."
"It will be done Lord," Admiral Simonetti quickly stated and headed towards the bridge.
Sith Warlord Robert Atema Sadow watched the Commander hurry away and thought to himself, "And the plot thickens."
The Office of the Prefect was busy as usual. One man sat at the desk rummaging through a stack of papers. Tsingtao despised paperwork, but it is part of the job as Prefect. Signing various requisition forms, Tsingtao made a mental note to remain on Gamuslag more frequent.
His private communicator sounded. Tsingtao lifted up his head and reached for the device. The incoming call was from Bob. "Everyone out!" he said as his assistants left the room. "Tsingtao here."
"Tsing, how are things on Gamuslag?" Bob asked the Prefect.
"The same as usual, my Aedile, more paperwork to cover the ground for a herd of Banthas."
"I'm guessing you have not read any communiqué from members of the House?"
Tsingtao hesitated, "No, I've been away from the Facility for so long, that I'll probably be unavailable for some time."
There was a slight pause. "Tsing, I want you to lock down the Cenota Facility. No one comes or goes without Faeril or my authorization. There are things afoot that requires our immediate attention."
"As you command, my Aedile. Is there a reason for this request?" the Sith Warrior asked.
"None that I can say through this channel. Lock down the facility and then join me on the Final Way at Inos and I will provide you all the information. Bring the Sapphire. And some booze." Bob requested as the communication line was terminated.
Tsingtao returned to his desk and sent a message to Zerek. "Zerek, lock down this facility. All non-military personnel are to be confined to quarters until the lock down is lifted. Post guards in all essential places. Place only those you trust, my friend." Zerek, the Dlarit Advance Commando in charge of the training facility at Cenota, acknowledged the order.
Tsingtao activated his secured personal transmission code. “Sapphire, this is Commander Tsingtao Ming. You are to rendezvous with the Final Way over Inos as soon as possible. Mission details will be provided in Briefing Room Gamma. Tsingtao out.”
Tsingtao let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t think I’ll ever be caught up with all this paperwork.” He thought to himself with a chuckle. He grabbed his gear and proceeded to his private docking bay. Zerek was there to meet him.
“All personnel are confined as ordered, Commander. What are your orders?” Zerek asked the Sith Warrior.
“Everyone will remain in their quarters until I return. No other personnel are allowed in or out of the facility. I want all defenses set to high alert. Only authorization is from Quaestor Faeril Munlear and Aedile Robert Atema of House Ludo Kressh.” The Sith Warrior ordered as he climbed into his XJ3-Wing starfighter.
Zerek saluted and turned to leave the docking bay as the ship flew out into space.
--Medical Bay C--
Jade left and the door slid closed behind her. Zaroth continued to stare at the general area she was in as memories of his recent vision flooded back to his attention.
He had seen a familiiar scene in the vision, Ragnos Cathedral on Tarthos, but with one crucial difference: the city was in ruins. Zaroth was surrounded by the remains of his Housemates. Jade and Zaxen lay in front of him, their broken lightsabers still sparking. Ashura was beaten to a pulp to his left, with the bodies of the broken Keibatsu family aflame before the cathedral. Derev and Faeril, however, were nowhere to be seen.
Zaroth had been pondering the meaning of the vision for a long time. Was it prophetic, or was he simply insane? He could imagine none powerful enough to wipe out the Keibatsu, let alone the whole of HMR. And it couldn't be the True Brotherhood, they were destroyed too. He had not yet told anyone, not even his own Master, but there was no good reason to hide it. Perhaps this scenario was the beginning of the end.
Finally realizing his mistake, Zaroth mustered all his strength to get up from the bed, and staggered through the door in an effort to reach Jade. Calling out to her with the Force and the effort of walking was exhausting, but he continued nonetheless. Just as he thought he would never reach her, and thought surely he was going to collapse, Jade ran through the door in front of him and caught him as he began to fall.
"Shadows... death..... the Clan.... traitors" the Hunter was delirious. Slowly but surely, the words degenerated into gibberish, until all he was saying made sense only to him. He was lost now in the vision, oblivious to everything. Oblivious to the feeling of being carried and placed onto the bed. Oblivious even to Jade's efforts to wake him. And, again, all the Hunter knew was darkness.
Jade stayed with him until he woke up later that night. He was fully healed, totally revitalised and determined to save House Marka Ragnos. He had told Jade everything, and she now realized the full extent of Zaroth's resolve. She had allied herself with him fully, to stop the destruction of the House and the Clan. Zaroth stood and blasted through the door with the Force, Jade following behind. They were going to help save the Clan any way they could.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
"Find Shin'Ichi," Macron said with a frown. "He's hard to find when he wants to be found."
"True, true," replied Tsainetomo with a sigh. "I might know where to look."
"He's on this ship, isn't he?" asked the alchemist. "Secreted away somewhere, waiting to kill us all? That's what I'd expect anyhow."
"Not exactly my friend. But not too far. I can't say more, it's classified." The Krath looked smugly at Macron for a second. Like any Krath, he loved having secrets at his disposal.
The Sith raised his eyebrows in mock consternation, making his clownish face distort. "By who's order? They outrank me?"
"Shin'Ichi outranks you in DSOG," came the retort from the Archpriest. "Not many others do. It's his order, and command oversees research and development last I checked."
"I'll be an Acklay's uncle," snorted Mac. "I hope he shows soon. He's actually spent some time in Inos space, and probably knows it better than any of us."
"I heard you tried to explore the moons area in the Nachzerer at Bob's behest before you docked," stated the former Rollmaster. "Or so my sources say."
"There's more security holes in this place than Corellian cheese," chuckled the Warlord. "That's true. I didn't get too close, I almost got shot up by some clones in unmarked HLAF fighters. I splashed one with advanced concussion missles and ran," Mac explained. "Not much from the sensors honestly, even the Ssi-ruuk modified set."
The internal comlink chimed. "Macron, Tsainetomo, report to Medical Bay 8, orders of Lord Atema," came the bored-sounding computerized voice. "Bring your gear. Have a nice day."
Both men looked at each other knowingly. Medical Bay Eight on most Clan Naga Sadow warships referred to the "Interrogation Room." It appeared there was questioning to be done. With Macron working the prisoner's body and Tsainetomo working on their mind, not many could hold out for long.
"Shall we?" asked Sai as he opened the door with a whoosh.
"Let's," giggled Macron as they walked down the hall.
--Medical Bay C--
Jade glared at Zaroth as the door burst open; using the force she smacked the Jedi Hunter upside the head. “What in hell did you do that for?” The smug look on Zaroths face faded as he watched Jade’s eyes go to pitch black. “Look if you’re going to take me up on my offer of being your master while yours is unreachable you’re going to have to do things my way.”
Zaroth looked at Jade, he loved the women and her dark allure and had wanted to show off his pride and powers as he opened the door. In his silence though Jade waved her hand and using the force pinned him to the wall a good 3 feet off the ground.
“No more fireworks. This is a delicate situation as it is. You have to learn constraint. And so help me, you may be my adoptive apprentice but I won’t hesitate to kill you if you step out of line.” There was a hiss in her voice as her fangs lengthened and she looked at him. Zaroth nodded quickly, Zaxen had told him of some of the things Jade had done during his training and how strict she can be, but he never thought he would be on the other end of her fangs. “Good.” She released her hold on him, and his feet finally touched the floor as he slid down the wall, using the force himself to soften the landing. As she stepped over the rubble of the door a medical officer started to come over and complain, but when she turned and looked at him the man was smart enough to high tail it in the other direction before confronting her.
Jade replaced the hood on her cloak to hide her face. “It’s your own damn ship Zaroth. If you’re gonna start breaking [Expletive Deleted] at least make it your enemies [Expletive Deleted]!” She continued walking to her office, feeling Zaroth tailing her.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Medical Bay 8
Captain Joseph Todd sat all alone in a dimly lit cell wondering to himself what his fate would be. He had been planted as a spy some time ago by the leaders of House Marka Ragnos, so long ago in fact; he had gotten past the initial time of worry of getting caught and was just getting comfortable when he was placed under arrest. “Isn’t that the way it always goes,” he thought to himself.
Two Dlarit officers opened an electronic cell door and allowed several guards to enter. Captain Todd’s face was filled with defiance, which slowly gave way to fear as the guards were followed by Sith Warlord Robert Sadow.
“And, now Captain, we will discuss the plans of your pathetic leaders,” the Warlord stated impatiently.
“How is that possible?” Admiral Simonetti questioned his communication officer.
“I do not know sir,” Lieutenant Anthony Smith replied nervously, “But the source of the override code came from the surface of Inos and that same source is currently jamming all communication outside the system.”
“Very well,” Admiral Simonetti stated, “Carry on and keep trying to get our communications back online.”
The officer quickly saluted and headed back to his post while the Rear Admiral flipped on his comlink, “Captain Wile, Engineering Update.”
“We are making progress sir,” the veteran Captain replied, “The code is not meant to be permanent, and it’s just a lot of time and work to get the ship back online. It was designed to just buy some time in a worst case scenario. We will be back and running within 12 hours.”
“Understood,” the Rear Admiral replied as his switched off his comlink. “Things are definitely not as they appear,” Admiral Simonetti thought to himself, “But then again, I’m not even sure how things appear at the moment.” The Admiral gave a slight smirk while he began to look over the latest status reports.
OOC: OK, so Faeril is on the VSDII Orian Legacy as stated in Chapter Two, this means that the Final Way is serving as a support craft to it and not the capital ship. So HLK members dont worry about having you characters on the Orian Legacy, just be aware that is where Faeril is commanding the House forces from. Hope that helps clear things up.
VSDII Orian Legacy
Inos High Orbit
Detla-2 rushed out of the bridge to relay the acting Deputy Governor General's orders. He arrived not long after at the Hanger Command. "Lt, Governor Munlear has ordered all forces to make way for the Moon. Deploy all assault crafts and land vehicles, asap." The young man saluted and replied, "at once Major Besh." He then rushed off.
RSD Final Way
Inos Hight Orbit
Faeril's order came across the communication system, the Rear Admiral switched on internal comminications. //Attention all hands, assult crafts and land vehicles to be deployed on inos. This is it people.//
Troops starting rushing about as they got there gear to deploy.
Vardorian Fighter Scout "Storm Crow"
Approaching Inos Outer Moons
"Yes, Master Zaxen," confirmed the young Krath as she went about doing what was told. It was an incredible ship, Leho wondered if her Master, or Master Zaxen, would teach her to fly it sometime.
RSD Final Way
With the air filled with discontent and paranoia, Fenris was one of the last ones to find out what happened. But when the news finally came to his ears, he showed no emotion. In truth, his face was a window into himself, he was unaware of what he should feel, whether it be anger or sadness, Fenris was empty. Most Sith and Obelisk began readying their weapons or selves for the upcoming Feud that would undoubtedly rip apart the Clan.
He began to think of the many moments that had transpired during his time with Naga Sadow. The many traitors and enemies that had formed in his wake, and he had wondered why Marka Ragnos had picked this time, as all Kresshians were wondering. He had come to wonder what would happen when the two Houses would clash, Sith against Sith, saber clashing with saber, brother versus brother, to be honest he found it strangely intriguing, it was like watching an animal devour a weaker animal.
"There's only one option really." he said to himself as he grabbed his armor and shield and walked out of the area he was in. He was of no importance to either side, and while he was a Sadowian, the Kresshians of the Clan were the ones he would be siding with. Not because they were right, or because they offered more, but because they were there, because Fenris knew their weaknesses and strengths, and found fighting them not as useful as fighting the Ragnosians.
"Should find whoever is currently higher then I am to let them know they have my ineptness at their disposal." said Fenris as he briskly walked to the Bridge, nodding at the passing droids and mundanes as he did so, clutching his saber with the Force.
OOC: Due to HMR not posting within the time frame, I was allowed to post.
Vardorian Fighter Scout "Storm Crow"
In Between Inos' Moons
Zaxen looked back to Aleho with a questioning look. "You are certain?"
The Togruta nodded. "Yes they have broken off the pursuit and are returning to the Final Way."
Zaxen turned back to his controls and eased off the speed and made for a wide arc on the fifth moon of Inos they had approached to allow for an easier scan. Aleho was busy scanning multiple channels when they got a hit.
"I got something Master Zaxen!" She half squealed. "Looks like what we have spotted it."
"Let me see." Zaxen punched up his center view screen on his console and nodded.
"That looks like what we are after. Pass the word."
Just then a familiar mind touched his and he could see beautiful dark, raven hair and smell the faint scent of exotic spices and knew that his old mistress was calling him. He could also see in his minds eye the prideful chaos of Zaroth and knew that he was already in motion with his next scheme. Jade sent a touch of reassurance that all was well but that it would be good if he returned soon. Zaxen sent his own touch of reassurance back to Jade and altered his course to return to the Harbinger.
"Master? Something else you might like to know. It looks like the Final Way has powered down." Aleho flipped a few switches to focus in on the Star Destroyer. Zaxen turned to look. "Thats an interesting turn of events. Has the Ragnos battle group made any adjustments or moved to attack?"
"No none at all." Aleho replied. "But it looks like the Orian Legacy is starting to launch landing craft. I think they figured out we found the crash site."
"Interesting. How are our SAR units and landing craft doing on getting here?" Zaxen said turning back again to look at Aleho's screen.
"It looks like they will make it here first but only just. Other units from the Harbinger and our support ships are also inbound." Aleho looked at her screen her confidence now at its peak with the Force flowing through her and the unusual ship.
Zaxen put on speed once more and made best possible speed to the Harbinger. Aleho turned a bit confused. "Aren't we going to land?" she asked.
"Not yet Leho, we have to pick up a few friends and hopefully keep them from getting themselves killed."
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Xander walked back through the hallways. After he had been dismissed by Sai Keibatsu he had stopped in a refresher unit to change into another uniform. What many people did not realize was that putting on a disguise what not simply a matter of putting on some makeup or using some sort holo image. The real trick was taking on an entire new persona. This meant taking on a different manner of body language, walking, talking, attitude, and then appearance mattered.
The truth of the matter was that disguises really had very little to do with what he did. The Dark Jedi Knight was able to use a few small changes and a uniform to change himself from a spy journeyman walking through the halls, to a busy maintenance worker bustling like a little worker droid towards his next assignment. Nobody asked questions of those who appeared to be busy, questions were asked to those who did not appear to be doing anything.
Xander had dealt with a number of the plants he had put forward through different methods. These ranged from making recalls of some, to convincing others to change over towards the side he wished. Some agents Xander simply left as they were so that he could feed them false information and make it appear as if the Ragnos Group had the upper hand.
One of the individuals Xander had hoped to use in this sort of capacity was one Captain Joseph Todd. This is why Xander found himself trudging through the hive of action that was the Final way towards where Robert Daragon was dealing with this particular operative in medical Hanger bay 8.
Not quite sure how he was going to present himself to the Aedile of House Ludo Kressh the dark hair man continued down the hall. Seeing Macron and Sai heading his direction he stopped and looked down a hallway. Reaching into he belt he grabbed a hydrospanner and grabbed a passing droid and deactivated it as if preparing doing maintenance work. Turn his head down towards the droids parts he used his body language and position to mask who he was.
As the two passed by him they didn’t appear to make any note of the technician they passed. Xander stood up as they were passing and saluted saying “Sir, your orders have been carried out”.
Mitsuhide stands in the Hall, his iridescent eyes taking in everything around him as his cool, nonchalance continues to cover his face. A mask of serenity, unbreakable and impenetrable.
Jade walks down the hallway her darkside flowing out in radiant waves of annoyance. Things had to get done and no one was doing them. Mitsuhide sends a ghosting chuckle through the halls, disappearing into the shadows and perching on an outcropping on one of the pillars. He watches Jade enter the hall with mild curiosity, wondering what had her so irritated. Jade walks on stopping as she feels someone watching her. Zaroth coming up behind her in the distance. "Whoever you are show yourself."
Mitsuhide chuckles softly, his eyes watching her carefully. His voice echoes in the vaults of her mind, ~Tell me, Jade. What bothers you so?~
Jade smirks. "Mits I should have guessed. And if you need ask this stupid feud does!"
Mitsuhide shrugs in the darkness, leaping from his hiding place. His looks at Jade through a curtain of hair, "These are trivial matters. I am unconcerned about Ludo Kressh...or whomever is pulling the strings here." He smiles lightly, "There are few things that cause me to worry anymore."
Jade growls. "We all have friends in the other house. However now..." She moved her hand behind her. "I have an adoptive apprentice to get into line."
@`Mitsuhide chuckles softly, the sound almost musical, "Looks like you have your work cut out for you. The Avatars stand ready to defend this place even against those in Ludo Kressh that the rest of this house may call friends. I make no distinction. It's us and them...until another force becomes known; I will destroy any of them who attempt to take our city."
Jade nods her hand on the hilt of her saber. "Yes as will I, Marka Ragnos for blood and glory. But I am still for Naga Sadow as well." She sighed as Zaroth sauntered along, she figured he was smart in letting her cool down a bit. "And what about you? When did you arrive on the Harbinger?"
Mitsuhide chuckles softly, "Who's to say I'm really here, Jade?" His smile disappears, "I am simply passing through. Looking for orders and what not."
Jade shakes her head and put the hood of her cloak back up over her head. "You with your hidden ways and continuous riddles. If we can't kill our enemy maybe you can riddle them to death."
Mitsuhide chuckles softly, "Perhaps I can. I speak in riddles to make others look into what I am saying. I am cryptic with all, but my wife." He motions for her to walk with him, "Tell me of the war effort. What can I do to ease your irritation?"
Jade grins and chuckles a little, feeling sorry for his wife knowing h probably still threw a few riddles her way. She sighed. "You could help us win that's how." She shook her head.
Mitsuhide rolls his eyes, "Tell me what you need help with exactly. Tell me where you need the Avatars and they will be there."
Jade smiled and looked at him the tips of her fangs just barely visible. "Have your team on alert I have a feeling our orders for attack or the likes will come swiftly."
Mitsuhide nods, "They will be waiting, Jade." With that, he looks at her with his eyes slightly distant, "I will be waiting for the order to move. They will all be placed on alert and ready to move at a moment's notice." He spins swiftly and disappears back down the way they had come.
Jade looked at Zaroth as he came up to her, her hood covering her face leaving it in sadows. “Zaxen is coming, get your things and meet me in my office in 15 min.” She turned quickly to gather a few extra items.
RSD Final Way
Malisane entered the hangar bay and regarded the crews that scuttled around the two shuttles, busying themselves preparing them for launch. A lieutenant in a grey fleet uniform was coldly barking orders at them. The battlelord walked forward and the lieutenant turned, then snapped to attention at the robed figure. Malisane left his hood covering his face. “What is the current situation Lieutenant?”
Lieutenant Dorres glanced at the shuttles. “The landing equipment is almost on board Commander,” he replied.
“Good,” Malisane replied, “I do not doubt what we will find down there is of great interest.”
The lieutenant nodded. “I am sure, sir.”
“Continue as you were Lieutenant,” another voice ordered..
Malisane turned and regarded a familiar figure that walked towards him across the bay in a black D:SOG uniform. The long straggly hair and the scarred face with it's eye patch was unmistakeable. Battlelord Agrist, former True Brotherhood strategist and now commissar of the Final Way. Malisane and Agrist had avoided each other since their battle on Lehon, which had lead to Malisane's attempted and aborted departure from the Brotherhood.
To Agrist, that event was recent enough to make him suspicious, to Malisane it was in another life, before his appointment to the Chamber of Justice and his change of perspective he still couldn't explain. The former mercenary regarded him coldly. “What brings you to my ship De Ath?”
“Your ship?” Malisane repeated, regarding the other battlelord dispassionately, “you serve here as we all do. Do not get above yourself.”
Agrist took the rebuttal on the chin. “That does not answer my question though,” he replied, “given your activities last time you were here. I am responsible for ensuring it's safety, and deciding who threatens it.”
“I could not be more pleased for you,” Malisane replied coolly, “I would suggest you attend to your duties then.”
Agrist was about to reply when another voice shouted out. “Malisane!” Both battlelords turned to greet the smiling figure of the alchemist, Sai following closely behind him.
Sai shared Macron's enthusiasm. “Back together again?” he said, “it's like Telos all over again.”
“Not quite,” Agrist replied, remembering the four of them slicing their way through the bowels of the Yuuzhan Vong worldship. After the events since things did not quite feel the same.
Macron ignored the mercenary's sour mood. “Where have you been hiding?” he demanded of his former companion.
“Right here,” Malisane replied, “I decided to observe. I have no interest in the squabbles of the houses, they made little sense when I was a journeyman and that has not changed since. We all work towards the same aims, the future of the Clan and the Brotherhood.
“You are aware of Derev's actions?” Sai asked.
Malisane nodded. “I am. He did exactly the same thing I would have done in the circumstances. I just think he underestimated the members tendency to scheme and over complicate any given situation.”
“He arrested Lord Sadow.” Agrist pointed out, “you would have done the same?”
“That was a little surprising,” Malisane admitted, “however I doubt that situation is clear cut. Astronicus is capable of extracting himself from Sadow Palace whenever he wants, regardless of Derev's intentions.
Sai nodded. “True.” he admitted.
“So,” Malisane said thoughtfully, studying the Alchemist, “it seems we are nearly ready to depart. Are we taking a shuttle or do you have the Nachzerer moored around here somewhere?”
“I will not be departing anywhere,” Agrist replied, “as much as I would miss your company De Ath, I have my duties holding Simonetti's hand.”
Macron nodded. “Bob should be here soon. We'll see what he has to say.”
“Very well.” Malisane replied.
Zaroth had packed everything. ‘Everything’ wasn’t much. He had a commlink and his cloak, but no weapon. His lightsaber had been confiscated and he had no way of acquiring a blaster or sword, so his proficiency in Knifist and his connection to the Force would have to do for now. Zaroth was lucky to have escaped undetected. He had almost been caught a few times, but he had managed to Mind Trick the soldiers into letting him pass. Zaroth turned as he heard the door open and saw Jade walk in. She passed him his lightsaber and stood, hands on her hips.
“It was HARD to get that” she said. “Lose it and I’ll kill you.”
Zaroth smiled. “So, what next?” he asked.
“We wait for Zaxen. He’ll be back from his reconnaissance soon. He’s found the crash site on one of the moons.”
“Good news. I’m going to meditate for a while. Come get me when Zaxen arrives.”
With that, Zaroth went towards the corner and settled into a comfortable position. He closed his eyes and immediately was pulled back to the apocalyptic view of Kar Alabrek. He was again surrounded by dead comrades. There was a huge column of light ascending into the sky above the city. The smell of burning flesh entered his nose as he turned to see smouldering remains of innocent women and children as more drop ships descended. Zaroth opened his eyes to see a nosy security guard come to investigate the room. Zaroth stood as Jade grabbed the guard. He took his lightsaber from the table and ignited it. Jade let go of him as Zaroth plunged the crimson blade into him. He withdrew his blade and left the guard where he fell. This was not the best time to disturb the two.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Serendipity, it seemed, was truly a fickle thing.
Tsainetomo could scarcely believe the good fortune that had befallen him and Macron. He suppressed a grin as Agrist began to shepherd Malisane towards the Nachzerer, and he sent a mental tug to Macron, prompting the alchemist to hang back.
“Do you know what that is, Mac?” asked the Keibatsu, nodding towards de Ath’s retreating back.
“That’s an old friend, a good ‘saber arm and someone we can count on,” replied Macron.
“Normally, I’d agree with you, but this time, I have to tell you you’re wrong,” rejoined the Archpriest, satisfaction writ in no small measure upon his brow. “That is what we’ve been waiting for; the missing piece for our plans. Malisane is our passport to the Palace. He might as well have just snatched the keys from Derev himself and handed them over on an electrum platter.”
Macron’s eyes widened as understanding dawned on him. Tsainetomo intended to use Malisane; rather, the Battlelord’s Chamber of Justice station to grant them free reign right through Sadow Palace’s threshold.
“Listen: regardless of what he says, Malisane holds more than just a passing interest in what happens in the Houses; otherwise, he wouldn’t be here,” Tsainetomo began to explain. “He does, however, have a sense of justice, however skewed you or I or anyone else may think it is, and I intend to remind him of that at just the right time. He’ll practically fly us to the Palace himself. Besides, de Ath’s already betrayed his feelings in agreeing with the Usurper’s actions, regardless of how he justifies it with the “Clan and Country” rhetoric; plus, his presence here virtually screams insubordination in light of the Dark Council blackout on involvement. He’s in our pocket, and he put himself there. As long as he thinks that the Overlord is at the Palace, I’m content to let him continue to believe that. It’ll be easier to persuade him later on to join us in aiding in its liberation.”
The trail end of the comment gave Macron pause. “What do you mean, ‘thinks the Overlord is at the Palace’?”
Sai looked Mac dead in his eyes, tripartite meeting yellow. “Mac, between you, me, and that gantry over there, Astronicus is not being held at the Palace, or anywhere else for that matter, against his will. He told me himself; he’s at his home. He might as well be on holiday!”
“Tsainetomo, m’friend, you’ve definitely come into your own! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were a Sith to the bone! Pretty ruthless, indeed.” Macron tittered as he appraised his Krath companion with admiration.
“I’ve learned from experience, Mac. It was he who delivered us to the Vong on Telos, remember?”
Tsainetomo went over the other events while Macron listened; taken separately, they drew neither undue attention nor suspicion, but brought together, they made for an intriguing tableau of machination.
“Alright; between Xander’s rousing of his plants and the leaking of Captain Todd’s interrogation, the Ragnosians should be truly in disarray, trusting none of their own. At some point soon, we’ll need Jade and her cabal ready to move; we should advise your apprentice to begin consolidating her support, and to begin, like us, to make planetfall. Once there, I’m sure the confusion will allow us enough of a screen to slip away undetected.”
“Done, and done,” Macron stated as the two slowly began to follow the two Battlelords towards the Nachzerer.
“I’ve ‘assurances’ that Shin is already planetside, so we’ll be able to tap him soon,” continued Tsainetomo.
“How do you know? When did you have time to talk to him?” Macron asked.
“I didn’t.” Tsainetomo tapped his temple, where he and his Master’s bond manifested itself, feeling as if someone had jammed an icicle in and slowly twisted it.
“Good! Now, when are we planning to secret ourselves to the Palace?”
“I imagine we’ll be able to devise that once we get our assignment from Bob; until then, we soldier on, but if we get split up, I’d advise you not stray too far from the Nachzerer once we land,” came the Keibatsu’s answer. With that, the two conspirators walked with more purpose towards Macron’s beetle-shaped craft, boarding and making preparations for lift-off while they waited for the Aedile to give them their orders.
--Mitsuhide's Office/Jade's Office aboard the Harbinger--
Mitsuhide paces along the carpet in his office, his serene face scarcely covering the fury in his eyes. He send his fist roughly through the wall, as he swears at great lengths. His soft, musical voice making each word sound harsher than that of a seasoned war vet. He moves with inhuman grace and sits behind his desk, dictating a message to his team. "Members of the Avatars. You are to prepare for war immediately. You are to gather what gear you have and be on alert, priority one. Use of lethal force against all hostiles is verified." He rises from his chair, his face seemingly calmer after the message had been sent. His eyes flick to the holo message awaiting connection, he lightly touches a button on his desk and his face instantly serene. His musical voice, calm and light as he speaks swiftly, "Ah, Jade. How are we this morning? I trust you have recovered from your bout of peeves the other night?"
Jade looks around her office and sighs at Zaroth's kill. "You really have to stop that you know. Zaroth looked down and took the right approach to going back to his meditation. "Yes Jade." she laughed. "Oh no, now that's mistress to you." He smirked as he sat down. "Yes, mistress." She sighed and sat down at her desk and decided to see how Mitsuhide was doing. She laughed at his tone. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
Mitsuhide chuckles softly, "You seemed to suffer from a great deal of irritation the other night. I trust all is well now."
Looking over at Zaroth meditating in the corner, Jade speaks softly, "To a point."
Mitsuhide nods, his expression distracted. He looks back to her and shrugs, "At least he MAY learn obedience. I trust you will have fairly good success with this one."
Jade laughs "Oh we shall see, he is a fiery one. he is lucky though that Derev didn't kill him." She saw the shudder radiate from Zaroth in his meditation as her words brought up his brutal beating.
Mitsuhide laughs softly, "I'm almost surprised YOU haven't killed him yet, Jade." He smiles lightly, "Are there any orders yet?"
Jade grins evilly. "Well he is the DGM's real apprentice and all. and no not yet."
Mitsuhide speaks softly, "Keep me posted. Akechi out."
With that, the image on his desk shimmered and vanished. He sat there quietly in the dimly lit office, awaiting his orders.
Fenris walked through the ship trying to find a Dark Jedi to answer to. He wanted to help in the worst way, but he knew that he'd get nothing that he wanted if he asked the wrong person. He tried thinking of who he could ask that would give him a chance, and only one person came to mind. His masters favored apprentice. The man he knew only as Tsainetomo. He began to walk faster now, searching every inch of the ship for the man, only to finally find him within the Nachzerer, Mac's favored ship that had helped the fight against the Vong over Telos.
"Oh, Sai!" said Fenris, trying to call out the Krath that he had hoped would help him. "I have a proposition for you." he sang as he saw the Krath poke his head out.
"Listen, I don't have time for this." said Sai as he went back to preparations.
"Just hear me out. I know that when the Bantha poodoo hits the fan, you and Mac always seem to have a plan, idea, or something going. I'm not asking to be apart of it, I'm just asking that you allow me to help." said the Rattataki as he stared at Sai, wishing all his will that the Krath would say yes. It wasn't that he wanted the glory of being able to work with Sai and Mac, it was just he wanted the glory of seeing Sadow Palace, being able to say that he helped them fight Derev, how many Journeyman could say that?
"Ok...I can see that you are busy helping Macron and Malisane prepare. Please, if you need me or can use me, come find me. I'll probably be in my quarters or training." he said, hoping that the Archpriest would find him sooner or later. For the time being, he would go to his room and try to meditate.
Vardorian Fighter Scout "Storm Crow"
On Approach to ISD II Harbinger
"Harbinger control this Commander Dauketrenal on final. Request final clearance and landing beacon guidance." Zaxen maneuvered the Storm Crow into a better position to be retrieved by the arrow head shaped beast of the stars that was the Harbinger.
"Roger Commander, this is Harbinger Control. We have you locked. Release controls and enjoy the ride." Came back the pleasant female voice of the control officer.
"Roger Harbinger Control you have control." Zaxen replied and switched off the com.
"Ok when we get on board. I need you two to sit tight and keep the engines warm." Zaxen said has he turned to his two passengers, His student Aleho and her DAC body guard Lt. Jenth or more commonly known as Delta-10. "We are probably going to have to move fast and I am not sure how everything is going to play out. So we might have to blast our way out if things go sour."
Zaxen reflected on the fact that the head strong Zaroth had removed himself from house arrest and that had it not been for his Mistress Jade that he would probably be dead. Smiling to himself he made one last comment just as the Storm Crow was crossing into the hanger and set down on the deck "Actually its a pretty good bet we will have to blast ourselves out."
ISD II Harbinger
En Route to Rollmaster's Quarters
Zaxen walked with a determined pace but not so much as to give him away. As he strode down the passageways of the Star Destroyer officers and crewmen alike made way for him. As he made his way to Jade's office he let his senses stretch out along the ship, probing for "listeners" in the Force. He found none and felt it was relatively safe to contact his Mistress through the Force.
Not missing a step he took in a deep breath and shaped his thoughts into a spear and aimed it at the mind of Jade. "Mistress what is the situation on your end?"
A moment later the familiar brush of exotic spices filled his nostrils and shadowy essence filled his mind. "We have a new ally, Mitsuhide. He has agreed to bring out the Avatars in order to assist us."
Zaxen furrowed his brow. He liked the idea of having allies but the more people you had around while working behind the scenes the more likely it was for you to be found out or for things to go terribly wrong. He sent this impression to her mentally. A wave of reassurance came back in response.
At that point the 1 MC of the ship blared into life. "All hands general quarters. Make ready for engagement and planetary assault. I say again...." Zaxen cursed his luck. Under general quarters the flight deck would be strictly monitored and only certain craft would be allowed to launch. Also movement about the ship would be more difficult as security measures would be on the highest level of alert.
A few moments later the door to the Rollmaster's office slid open and Zaxen stepped across the threshold and the eyes of everyone inside looked at him.
"Well... are we going?"
RSD Final Way
Macron and Sai turned as Sith Warlord Robert Sadow came up the ramp into the Nachzerer's interior, followed by several journeymen including knights Fenris and Xander.. “About time Bob we thought we'd be sat here all day.” Sai said with a grin.
Bob grinned back. “The equipment is loaded on the shuttles,” he replied, “we're ready.”
Sai turned to Macron . “Full ahead Mr Sadow, take us down there.”
Macron nodded and headed for the cockpit, Fenris and Xander following.
Malisane was sat at a terminal studying the display of the ice moon. “It looks cold down there,” he said quietly, “looks like we might be heading into a blizzard.”
Bob shrugged. “I've already got my thermals on.”
Faeril stood on the bridge, watching as Macron's ship drifted smoothly out of the hangar bay followed by the two shuttles. She clicked the communicator. “Be careful down there Bob, I have a bad feeling about this.”
“They've been in worse scrapes,” Agrist's voice replied as he entered the bridge behind her.
“We'll know that when we know what we're up against,” she replied.
Agrist nodded. He turned to the D:SOG Admiral who was sat in the command chair. “I'd suggest giving us a bit of space from the planet.”
Simonetti nodded, “Take us back to a wide orbit.”
The Republic class star destroyer boosted it's engines and navigated away from the planet, it's support ships forming around it.
Sai and Bob joined Macron and the knights in the cockpit as Macron manipulated the controls expertly. The ship was rocking about and his hands flickered over the switches, stabilising them as best he could.
“What's the problem Mac?” Bob asked.
“The atmosphere is pretty crazy,” the other Warlord replied, “big pockets of turbulence. We're being bounced around like crazy. I'm having to come in steep otherwise we could be up here all day. I've got the no seatbelt sign on I'd buckle up if I were you.”
Bob and Sai sat down and clipped themselves in. “The shuttles still with us?” Sai asked.
“Just about,” Fenris answered from the co pilots chair, “they're suffering in this as well. Fortunately D:SOG trains it's pilots well.”
They waited while Macron took the craft down lower, until finally the flight was more stable. Below them they could see sheer ice and snow, a vast frozen wasteland that looked like nothing could survive out there. “I sense a strong Dark Side presence,” Sai said ominously, the Krath Archpriest's face showed concentration.
“In a ship full of Sith? You surprise me,” Bob said with a grin.
Sai opened his eyes. “I'm being serious.”
Bob shrugged. “We'll see.” He pointed to a flat ridge on the ground below. “Put us down there Mac.”
Macron nodded. “That looks as good a place as any.”
A few minutes later the two shuttles joined the Nachzerer on the ridge, and immediately a group of D:SOG Marines disembarked and began to unload speeder bikes and and monitoring equipments. Malisane was the first down the ramp, wrapped in his thick robe. He looked around at the ice plains below. Like Sai he sensed something unpleasant here, something he didn't recognise. He turned as Macron and Sai came down the ramp, chatting earnestly about the mission and their intentions. He felt separated from them now. Once he and the two equites had been close companions, but that had changed between Telos and now. The events of the last few months were still unclear to him, and before his actions in the Arcona system and Lehon had wrenched him apart from his felow Clan members. He also sensed an air of wariness from many of his Clan members about his position with the Chamber of Justice, conversations stopped when he entered a room. Oddly enough the transparent distrust and distaste of the mercenary Agrist was more comforting. At least there Malisane knew where he stood.
He could hear the two of them talking but couldn't make out the words, though he caught the name “Shin'Ichi”. So far the Pontiflex had been conspicuous by his absence. Was he out here somewhere? Presumably members of Marka Ragnos were. He knew tensions were up between the houses but Malisane felt this was the best time to heal them. A shared enemy was what the Clan needed best right now, the reason the Battelord wasn't still at his keep on Kangaras.
His thoughts were disturbed by Bob's voice. “Alright people no time for making snowmen. Before we set off we need some readings. The ridge is blocking our scanners. See if there's anything nearby.”
“I'll go,” Malisane said quickly. He was curious what was out there.
Bob nodded. “Xander, go with him.”
“Very well, come on Mister Anderson.” Malisane replied.
The Knight nodded, and Malisane lead the Knight off up the ridge, the two of them walking lightly across the snow, huddled in their robes.
HMR Roll masters office
Jade looked at Zaxen and laughed as the announcement went off. “We need to wok on your timing I think there Zaxen.”
Zaxen smirked and looked over at Zaroth in the corner. “I see Jade managed to pull your ass out of the fire, for the time being.”
Zaroth made little comment as he came out of his meditation. Jade thought back to the kid she just sent to Mits for more questioning and to be his watch guard, it was definitely a crazy period for the Clan. She looked at Zaxen’s little apprentice and smirked, oh it was going to be fun watching him train her.
Jade looked at Zaroth. “You know getting you to Zaxen’s ship isn’t going to be easy kid, especially with this lock down.” Zaroth nodded solemnly. Jade went to a closet and picked out a dark robe and cloak and threw it at him put this on and give me your saber.” Zaroth was reluctant to give Jade his saber, he just got it back and that had been a surprise.
“Jade…err mistress?” He glanced at Zaxen, who grinned knowing full well the experience of being in Jade’s line of fire.
“If anyone does recognize you it’s better you don’t have your saber on you, we might just get off this flying bucket of metal without killing our own.” Zaroth reached inside his cloak and handed Jade her saber, she clipped it behind her and nodded to Zaxen. “Lead the way.”
Malisane’s and Xander’s footfalls were barely audible over the roar of the frigid winds, and Tsainetomo watched the pair as they headed off towards the ridge. Macron and Bob had powered down the Nachzerer, and a low hum emanated from the craft as the engines were brought to an idle and the two men tramped down the ramp to join the others on the moon's permafrost.
The Archpriest instinctively drew his robes close about him as the wind cut across the landscape; being from a desert clime, he naturally abhorred freezing temperatures, and he developed early in his career a way to use the Dark Side to shield himself from the cold’s ill effects. Sai drew on that talent now, but old habits were hard to break.
Looking about the staging area, he espied Fenris walking a bit aimlessly, the Knight’s breath coming in gray plumes from beneath his hood. Catching his eye, Tsainetomo motioned him over.
“Sai! I’m glad you called me and decided to take me up on my offer. I just want to reassure you that you’re not going to be disappointed in me,” the Knight said between gusts of icy wind, struggling to make his voice heard.
By contrast, the Archpriest’s voice rang clear to Fenris, the former using the Force to speak with both voice and mind. “This, I know, Fenris. Just keep your mind and loyalties clear; it isn’t me you need worry about disappointing. I am but a cog in the machine, much like you yourself, and we all have those to whom we report.”
“I understand that, but it seems that you and Mac are the ones who are taking point on this, so I’m here to help those who are acting, not talking.” The fire that burned within Fenris burned brightly, and Tsainetomo seized his opportunity to take advantage of the Knight's desire to act.
“My friend, I’m just a messenger; I’m sure that you, like many others like you, tire of not being recognized for your efforts to help the House. Our Master will be most pleased to hear what I say about you.” Tsainetomo finished with a reassuring smile.
Fenris’ breath caught in his throat when he realized who Sai was referring to. “Shin’ichi? He’s here?” The Knight cast his eyes about nervously.
“Not here, dear boy; he is everywhere, but I will allow that he’s closer than we both may know.” Tsainetomo drew closer to Fenris at this point. “Your use to us will be most important, now more than ever.”
Clearly intrigued, Fenris’ eyes sparkled as he spoke. “How, Sai? Just tell me what to do and I’ll...”
Tsainetomo held up a hand to quiet the Knight. “Not now; too much depends on silence right now. Stay close to me, and I’ll put you in play when the time is right. Patience is key, Fenris.”
Fenris nodded and walked off, excited and lost in his thoughts. He had to respect his Master’s favored Apprentice for being so forthright; the man had made it clear that he was going to be used, but he tempered that with the promise of an unspoken reward. He’d be content to play his role.
Meanwhile, Tsainetomo strode over to Macron and Bob, his robes billowing in the wind. “The pieces are just about ready to be put into play, gentlemen,” he said, addressing the two. Macron nodded while Bob drew himself up fully.
“I think it’s time you filled me in, Keibatsu,” the Aedile said.
Tsainetomo looked at Bob for a long moment. The more people that were involved in any plan, the more chances it had to fail, but Bob was too pivotal for the Korun’s machinations. Finally, he spoke.
“Bob, you and I both know that this whole thing has gone on long enough. I mean, really; what the frell are we really doing down here on this rock?!”
The Aedile simply looked at the Archpriest, knowing the question was rhetorical.
“Frankly, Bob, we need you to be at the forefront, helping to stop this thing before both sides lose too many fighters. That’s why I’m arranging a way for you to get to Derev, or Alaric at the very least, to try to talk some sense into those Ragnosians. Our young friends Fenris and Xander will be key in this, and they’ll have your back.”
“Oh, that’s reassuring,” said the Son of Sadow in his typical way, his voice laced with sarcasm and dry wit. “You seem to have something working, but I need to remind you that we need someone on their side who’s willing to help.”
At this, Macron chimed in. “Already taken care of, Bob,” the madman tittered, his thoughts straying to his apprentice Jade and her cohorts. He hoped that she had things under control on her end; too much depended on it.
Satisfied, Bob looked back and forth between the two men and nodded. “Well, stay the course, gentlemen...stay the course. Just keep me in the loop. Now, where’s my drink? It’s kriffing cold out here!” The Aedile stamped his feet in an attempt to keep the blood flowing to his extremities, and headed off to the Nachzerer to take a sample from his secret stash.
Macron laughed hysterically; fully encased in his battle armor, he had his temperature regulators to thank for his comfort. Still, he couldn’t help from twitching in an attempt to shake off the phantom ‘bugs’ that crawled over his skin, residue from experiments long passed and a madness that had firmly had its hooks embedded in his psyche.
“I saw that, Mac,” teased Sai, smiling broadly.
“To blazes with what you saw; it was probably three of it, in any case,” the alchemist shot back.
“Fight fair, Mac,” Sai rejoined, both men knowing that Mac was partially responsible, in what seemed a lifetime ago, for the Archpriest’s strange eyes.
The moment shed a bit of levity on the grave situation. Any minute now, the Kresshians fully expected to be in a life-or-death struggle with their Clan mates, the Ragnosians, who had yet to make their presence fully known on the frozen rock. Tsainetomo looked once again towards the distant ridgeline, the Dark Side pulsing in waves from beyond its jagged surface. As well as things seemed to be progressing, there was still a crucial step that he must take.
He had to get Malisane alone, and talk to him as only he could.
Inos Moon 6
"Fight fair?" The madman blinked inside his helm. "There is no such thing. The only fight that is fair is the one you win," he mused. "You know, they ought to name this moon," bantered the alchemist as he looked across the frozen landscape. "Terrestrial, cold, but with atmosphere. Snowball would be an apt name. Hmm." He peered at the datapad screen in his hand as it chimed.
"Malisane got something?" asked Tsainetomo. "That was quick."
"Perhaps. He is quite talented, you know. His sensors are indicating Wampas may be about. Watch your step," Macron tittered. "They make nice coats though if you can avoid saber scars. I hear Shin uses a magcaster on them for that reason. "
"I sure could use a nice fur cloak, my friend. I hate cold planets. Alright, tell me this. How do they spread around like that? I mean, of course Wampas exist on Hoth, but why so many other planets?" asked the Archpriest. "Doesn't make sense, they don't have space-faring ability or the intelligence to do so."
Macron drew himself up within the armor, relishing the opportunity to expound upon one of his favorite subjects- exobiology. "You see my good friend, it is though that the Rakata were responsible for disseminating them throughout the galaxy on their ships. There are even other Wampa variants, like the swamp Wampas of Algon Four," he canted. "They evolved."
"Right," said Sai by way of ending the topic before Macron got too far into one of his rants. "I'm going to go help Malisane and get a nice rug."
"Uh huh," replied the Sith with a shrug of his expressionless armor. "I'll contact Jade and see where she's at with this thing and determine their readiness. I'm sticking here with Bob. Hurry back, don't miss all the fun!" laughed the Warlord.
HMR Roll Master Office
Jade laughed as Zaxen smirked. “As you wish mistress.” He gave Zaroth and over the shoulder look before motioning with his head for them to follow him. He took a look out the door and waves over his shoulder that it was safe for them to follow.
Jade motioned with her hand for Zaroth to go in between with his new robes. “You’re next…prisoner.” She smirked and put the hood up on her cloak. Zaroth nodded and concealed his own face as he crouched behind Zaxen and followed down the hallway, both Dark Jedi feeling Jade coming up behind them, her dark tendrils reaching out, sensing for anything that might disrupt their initial attempts at a safe and easy get away.
Zaxen looked around at the surprisingly empty hallway around her office; he figured it wouldn’t last long. He reached out and spoke into Jades mind. “Do you really think it’s going to be this easy to get back to the Storm Crow?” Jade only laughed in response and he smirked. “Ya I didn’t think so either.”
Inos Moon 6
Macron watched Tsainetomo walk off across the frozen wasteland. "Off to go confer with Malisane in secret, I bet," he chuckled. "He's more like a Sith than he cares to admit. I have my own nefarious plans of course," the Warlord said with a knowing smile under his faceplate.
He lifted his wrist to the vocoder in his helm, activating the comlink. The R-3 droid inside the Nachzerer responded to the command and boosted the signal secretly as the alchemist spoke quietly. More people had piled out of the vessel, and the Sith wanted privacy for this conversation.
"Come in Manji-sama," he said with a giggle. "This is Macron."
"I read you, took you long enough. You have things worked out with Jade?" the voice was scratchy as the Krath's signal bounced off a relay unit in deep space.
"I do. Hopefully among us we can get to the bottom of this thing. I'd really rather not have to kill any of my Clanmates. Or you,' Mac said with a snicker. He knew the comment was bound to get Manji's back up.
"The day you can do that is the day I hang up my kimono," snarled Manji. "Don't get too big for your britches little boy. I brought you into being a Dark Jedi, and I can take you out too."
"It's been a long time since we sparred, no?" replied the tattooed madman cooly. "You might find I have learned a trick or two since you went out beyond the Rim. Anyhow, I have nothing but respect for you as my Master," laughed the Sith. "When can I expect you?"
"I should be planet-side in about an hour," came the modulated voice. "I'll meet you at the rendezvous spot."
"Copy that. I'll bring the sake. Have a safe landing," Macron said as he shut the encrypted link off. "Now all I have to do is wait," he mumbled to himself as he wiped frost off his visor.
As the link closed with a descending whine, Manji settled back on his heels with a wry smile. He'd only returned from the Kyataru system a few days before all the chaos had started, and the long absence had made his head somewhat fuzzy in terms of clan politics. The faces of House Marka Ragnos had changed, but he was determined to see that the memory remained. Getting to his feet, the Krath moved through his apartments, collecting the equipment he'd need for a little jaunt to Inos' 6th moon.
Inos Moon 6
Snow burst away from the thrusters of the shuttle as it touched down, the muted roar of the engines fading slowly as the ship settled into the snowdrifts. A few moments of silence passed, then the landing ramp slowly thumped down as Manji emerged, his normal attire augmented with a thick, wool-lined haori overcoat and a pair of thick hakama trousers, to stave off the cold. The omni-present jug of sake hanging from his belt swung slightly as he strode down the landing ramp towards Macron, grinning.
The alchemist stepped forwards, the two men clasping hands in a warrior's handshake. Macron chuckled.
"It's certainly been a while, Manji-sama."
Feigning indifference, the Epis lifted the jug of sake and took a swig.
"It has? I notice you've made sure to remember the courtesies."
"I see you've become even more of an alcoholic."
Putting on an expression of shocked surprise that was spoilt somewhat by his grin, Manji shrugged widely.
"It's cold out here, sake heats your insides up. It's logic, my friend!"
Laughing behind his mask, Macron twitched fitfully as he gestured to a small group of field tents nearby.
"Let's go and get comfortable, shall we?"
Lifting the small porcelain cup, Macron took another swig of the rice wine and let out a sigh of enjoyment as he sat back on his heels. The tent was lit by a small glo-lamp which cast a warm, orange glow over the walls and the carpeted floor. Leaning forwards, his helmet off, the alchemist fixed his former master with a serious gaze.
"So, are we agreed?"
Chuckling, Manji raised his own cup to drink.
"What, on the fact that Derev's a power-hungry moron? Yeah, no argument from me. That said, he has a point about seniority. It would have helped if he hadn't tried to enforce it quite so badly, though."
Face serious for once, Macron stared at the glo-lamp, the light highlighting the tattoos covering his visage.
"I don't even care about that any more, I just want to see this Clan whole again."
"I'm with you on that, dude. If we keep picking at each other like this, we'll be easy prey for any other Clan that fancies adding a few trophies to it's war chest."
Pushing himself to his feet, Manji placed the small cup on a nearby table and stretched like a cat, his shoulders cracking slightly as he rotated them round.
"Anyway, I think we've dealt with the serious sh*t, it's time for me to get some practice fighting Jedi again. Kyataru's great and all, but I've obviously not sparred with any Brotherhood guys for way too long."
Smirk restored to his face, Macron got to his own feet, pulling his helmet towards him and slipping it on.
"Like I said over the commlink... I've learnt a few new tricks, Master."
“We shall see, Apprentice.”
The two warriors, one Sith and Kresshian, the other Krath and Ragnosian, stepped with surety from the relative comfort of the tent to the harsh climate that Inos’ frigid moon afforded. The scene was as prophetic as one could ask for, as these men, once brothers but now for all intents and purposes set at odds for the sake of duty, faced one another.
Manji and Macron had enacted this drama time and time again before this moment, as only Master and Student could, but it seemed as though this time the stakes were a bit greater than what was previously offered in their sparring matches. As the Force-users marshaled their strength, the environ itself responded to the gathering of their eldritch energy, the driving snowflakes slowing their fall when approaching either, and the snows beneath their very feet surrendering to their power.
Blades silver and orange sprang forth from hilts as the men waited for some unseen signal to begin their session. The Darksiders received it in due course, as the winds quieted themselves for the slightest of moments; in the brief lull, Manji and Macron rushed one another.
Many a Darksider tends to describe their ‘saberwork as part of a ‘deadly dance’; so practiced and deadly were these men that the eloquence otherwise conjured by such imagery was lost in the veritable lethality of them plying their trade. Time and time again, mercury met tangerine as they thrust and parried, lunged and reposted. In fact, their sheer ferocity was not punctuated by boasts, grunts and yells, but by the white precipitation itself: Manji in all his fluidity of the execution of Djem So caused the drifts to swirl around his form, not even giving them a chance to settle upon his wool haori, and Macron’s violent display of Trakata causing the snows to explode outward from his body, the flakes fleeing from his battle scarred armor time and time again.
The men dueled thusly for several minutes, each coming closer and closer to striking a killing blow; a lesser combatant would’ve been destroyed had they faced either one. Just when they seemed poised to strike each other down, Manji by a gut stroke and Macron by one that would’ve cleaved his tattooed head from his body, a third crescent of sunset came between the two blades and gave them pause.
Tsainetomo stood looking confused at the two men, his ignited blade in hand. “I walk away for a minute and fighting breaks out?!” Suddenly, the light of recognition entered his tripartite eyes and he exclaimed, “The Dokugan-ryu*! I had a feeling, but I had to be sure!” In deference to his blademaster, the Korun-Keibatsu lowered his eyes. “Manji-sama, it is good to see you.”
“Well, well, my gakusei** has come into his own, it seems. Macron, maybe I have been away too long. Last I saw him, he was a stripling Knight, and he would’ve fallen to his knees at my presence; now, he keeps his feet.”
“Yeah, I’ve tried to keep him alive long enough to be able to do so that,” giggled Macron, his voice strangely synthesized as it emanated from his armor’s vocoder. “He actually thinks he’s good with a ‘saber now.” The alchemist threw the jibe at the Archpriest.
At this, Manji responded with a raised eyebrow; Tsainetomo replied, “Mac knows I’m good with a ‘saber, and I have many of you to thank for it. Luckily, I only wanted to find out who you were fighting with, Mac, otherwise, you may have seen just how well you’ve trained me.”
“Anytime, youngster,” Manji and Macron replied at the same time, and all three men laughed, throwing back their heads.
“Not only has he developed martially, he’s quite the tactician as well,” Macron continued to espouse the talents of Manji’s cousin. “Sai’s been scheming, and I think his plan to bring the Clan back together may actually work. Tell ‘im.”
“In due time, Mac. I still have to set something up, something pretty crucial. But, if you want to know before then, Manji-sama, you could loosen my tongue with a cup or three of sake...” Tsainetomo smiled as the men erupted again in laughter. It was the laughter of mirth and of hope, as only respected warriors could share, as was the promise of things being not as irreparable as Fate had mandated them to be.
* Kyataran for One-Eyed Dragon
** Kyatarn for Student
ISD II Harbinger
The tension on board the Harbinger made the air stink of stale and bitter apprehension. Zaxen absorbed it and fed it into his keen mind, warping into energy that he could use and twist. Jade and Zaroth followed him in short order as he led the way through various corridors and decks. He purposely took long routes and indirect paths so as to avoid unnecessary interaction and possible detection. It did not take long for Zaxen to grow tired of this and felt the burden of time begin to take its toll. He reached for his comlink and contacted young Aleho.
"Leho, get everything heated up on the ship and keep the ramp secure until we get there. Don't let anyone in."
"Of course Master Zaxen." Aleho replied quickly and without question Zaxen noted with a hint of a smile.
Zaxen halted them in the middle of a long corridor and began to stretch out his senses. Jade sent a touch of a question to his mind. Zaxen simply held up his hand and replied with the single word of "Diversion." He closed his eyes and let his non physical touch roam along the bulkheads and floors, into the wiring and composites. He let his essence flow down and away from them into an area two decks below them and several meters aft. It was full of weapon techs and other personnel. It would do perfectly.
Zaxen knelt placing his hands upon the deck plate and sent waves of energy and intent through the Force to this target area. The walls around the seemed to bulge and creek for a moment as the energy passed. A few moments later a sound as if the ship itself were moaning in protest could be heard echoing up from underneath. Half a second later the fire klaxon blared to life.
"That should buy us some time." Zaxen stood once more and continued on towards the hangar deck now on a more direct path.
ISD II Harbinger
As expected the hanger deck was full of deck crew, handlers, maintainers and pilots all running about as flight operations were in full gear. Also as expected the flight deck was secured to all non essential personnel. It would have been easy enough to fool one person with a simple touch to his mind with the Force but the entire hangar while on high alert was beyond the trio's scope of power. Zaxen however was not one for impossibilities and sometimes the mundane answer was also the most effective one.
A plan quickly formed in Zaxen's mind and he sent the impression of it to Zaroth in Jade with the simple suggestion "Find cover. I will return shortly." He moved with the ease of grace and speed from shadow to shadow across the large hangar and into one of the many door ways opening up to a pilot's locker room area. By the time the bustling pilots noticed Zaxen enter he was on the move. A dark blur of violence flew from one end of the room to the other and then to another. A few muffled, startled cries was all that had managed to escape the mouths of those unfortunate enough to have been there. None would know death however, at least not from Zaxen. Their deaths would be better served in combat. All Zaxen needed was three flightsuits and for no one to recognize him.
As they pilots lay in unconsciousness, Zaxen sent only a small suggestion into their minds. All would awake thinking the atmospheric regulators had been damaged. With that Zaxen quickly changed into the flight gear and placed an ill fitted helmet on. He stuffed his regular clothing into a flight bag and quickly filled two other flight bags with gear reasonably suitable for his two companions.
Zaxen quickly made his way back to Jade and Zaroth who had yet to have been noticed. He threw them both a flight bag and Zaroth began to change hurriedly. Jade was less than thrilled at the thought of removing her robes but her apprentice was quick to silently remind her through the Force with the task at hand. Zaxen spied Zaroth watching Jade begin to disrobe and quickly grabbed him about the neck and turned him away forcefully and whispered "Have respect for the Priestess." Though in the back of his own mind he secretly had wished to see what secrets were held beneath those dark flowing robes.
Zaxen quickly shoke the thought from his mind and set it upon getting everyone out alive. Jade stepped behind Zaxen placing a hand gently on his shoulder letting him know that she was ready. All three picked up thier flight bags full of their discarded clothes and made themselves all look like they belonged. Zaxen keyed his comlink to Aleho. "Leho, we are coming. I want the engines hot by the time we are aboard." He did not wait for a response.
The trio made it across the fighter deck with out incident. They climbed the long flight of steps down towards the private hangars and already the three could hear the whine of Storm Crow's repulsors. Unfortunatly others had also taken notice. A few deck hands and a security were already at the base of the ship screaming over the repulsor whine at Aleho to shut the engines down and exit, threatening to fire if she did not comply.
Zaxen, Jade and Zaroth approached quietly and spread themselves out so each had their own angle from which to strike. The distinctive snap-hiss of lightsabers filled the air causing nearly all present to jump in surprise. It was the last emotion any of them would ever experience. Three Dark Jedi became a whirlwind of death and in seconds it was over.
"Lets get these bodies on board in the cargo hold, we can't have any evidence."
Two minutes later the Storm Crow sped its way from the belly of the Harbinger, cutting off two Tie Defenders in the process. Their course... the 6th moon of Inos.
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Tsingtao docked with the Final Way after scanning a few of the moons. He did not find anything out of the ordinary and decided it was time to seek out his Aedile, Robert Atema Daragon. When he landed on the Final Way's Docking Bay, a Lieutenant walked up to the Sith Warrior.
"Sir, your gear and orders await you in the Sapphire Briefing Room. I have been ordered to escort you there," said the Lieutenant. Tsingtao waved his hand dismissing the junior officer. "That will not be necessary. I can make it there on my own." Tsingtao left the Docking Bay, and he approached the Sapphire Squadron's briefing room.
Sapphire Squadron Briefing Room
RSD Final Way
Inos High Orbit
Tsingtao entered the room and approached his desk. On the desk was a datapad. The screen on the datapad flashed the message "Confidential! For eyes only." Tsingtao frowned that this was left out in the open. He pressed the screen and entered his secret code. Bob appeared on the screen.
"Ah Tsingtao, I'm glad to see you arrived. You are ordered to take the Sapphire Squadron to the seventh moon of Inos. There you will secure a landing zone for the Kressh Forces here." The screen changed to a geographical map of the moon. Coordinates flashed on the screen as Bob continued. "The Paladins of Kressh and the Jade Serpents will also assist in securing the LZ, but you know I want the Sapphire to take the lead on this. You may encounter forces from Marka Ragnos, so stay sharp. Once the Kressh Forces have arrived, you are the secure the crash zone and salvage any and all materials. Bring whatever you find back to Faeril and myself. I will see you shortly after this mission is complete."
Tsingtao turned off the datapad. He sat in his chair and contemplated the turn of events. He turned on his terminal and activated the call to assemble the Sapphire Squadron. Tsingtao prepared to brief his team and the conflicted that awaited them on the moon.
With alcohol once again warming his insides and loosening his tongue, Manji stared calmly across the tent at Tsainetomo and Macron, both grim-faced. Chuckling, the Dokugan-Ryu lowered his head, gesturing with the empty porcelain cup.
"You guys need to chill out a bit, trust me. There've been problems between the two Houses how many times before? We're Dark Jedi, guys, it's in our nature to betray and backbite."
A cool glance was levelled at Macron with those words; at some point, the Sith knew he would be receiving a beating for the way in which he had betrayed and murdered Lord Vexatus on Lehon. While Manji did not wish to delve into the Sith's motives for the killing, he could certainly punish the dishonourable way in which it had been carried out. Despite his words, the Epis would always face an opponent in combat if the chance arose; poisoning and assassinations were not his forté. For a moment, Macron returned the gaze, the tension in the small tent spiking dangerously- then the Sith lowered his eyes, twitching and giggling quietly. Sensing the release, Tsainetomo leant forwards, gesturing with his own cup.
"I know, there have been tensions before, but this time is somehow... different. There's something wrong with The Force, we can all sense it."
Grinning widely, Manji took hold of the bottle and refilled his cup.
"'I've got a bad feeling about this?'"
Macron laughed loudly, a choking cackle. Smothering his own grin, Tsainetomo shrugged.
"Basically, yes. It's not just Derev going on a power trip... that would be easy enough to deal with. He seems strange, not himself."
"Surely that's something that could be beaten out of him?"
"Well, you'd think so... unfortunately, he has enough of the House behind him to repel any attempts. He also has majority control of the Clan fleet. The crewmen may not like his methods, but they're soldiers; they'll follow the chain of command, and he has seniority to Faeril."
Lowering his cup, Manji frowned.
"You sound awfully calm about all this, considering that any moment Derev could send a sh*tstorm of Dark Jedi and blasters down on this location."
Sitting back on his haunches, Tsainetomo felt a sly grin spread across his face. Light gleamed in Manji's eyes as his own mouth curved into a smile, realisation dawning.
"Now, gakusei... don't you think it's time you told me what this plan of yours is?"
"He betrayed me and used me badly, so I returned the favor," Macron interrupted with a mumble while looking into his cup. "I know you want to ask. I can feel it."
The silence in the tent became thick. Manji set his cup down slowly. "So you poisoned him? That is dishonorable," he stated slowly.
"That's right. I certainly did. It's the Sith Way. You wouldn't understand," replied the Warlord as he locked his yellow eyes with Nekura's single one. "It had to be done for the greater good."
"I thought I taught you better than that," said the Epis with a frown. "That's what Palpatine said, and look at the mess he made. You Sith disgust me at times."
Tsainetomo looked on impassively, not wanting to be involved with this particular subject.
"You taught me to win," snarled the Sadow as he slammed his fist on the table. "Vexatus the Betrayer was a threat not only to our Clan, but the whole damn galaxy. I beat him the only way I could, with treachery. He's dead- and I'm not. I won. The proof is in the pudding, as they say," hissed the madman. "I didn't enjoy it for once, for the record."
"You deserve a beating for that, my Apprentice," spat Manji. "You dishonored me." He shifted slightly away from the table, freeing his weapon hand. Although he was Macron's master, he knew the insane Sith was unpredictable and quite strong with the Dark Side. A true warrior was always prepared for the worst.
"I'm aware of that. I've been beating up on myself every day since. It doesn't help," whispered Mac softly as he looked down into his cup and swirled the liquid. "I'm not like a Krath." He relaxed back into his camp chair with a creak of leather.
"Ahem, gentlemen. Let's return our minds to the task at hand," spoke Sai as he broke the tense moment with a fresh pour of sake for everyone. "There will be plenty of time for self-pity and beatings later my friends. So. My plan is this..."
...Several Days Later...
The chaos had found new heights once the news was widespread. Both houses, despite their shortcomings, had saught to avoid open conflict, but it was now upon them. Once Sapphire Squadron had found the crash site, all bets were off. It seemed to take only moments for one of the most desolate moons in the galaxy to become a war zone.
House Marka Ragnos had the undesirable glory of scoring the first kill of the Battle for Inos. Ordinarily, a clone was an exepndable thing, but things were different now. The young pilot meant little to even his squad mates, but his death was a rallying cry. It took only minutes for the rest of Sapphire to descend on the crash site, and only minutes more for them to claim revenge.
Within an hour, both houses had set up landing zones just a few clicks from the crash site, and the area directly around it had become a no-mans land. Both sides had landed artillery and tanks, and anything that moved was quickly sent into the next life. It was becoming clear to even the most seasoned commanders that the Battle for Inos would be bloody, and that much was at stake.
The rumors were wide spread that the Final Way was adrift and burning in space, and that it's escape pods were being used as target practice by the newly formed Avatars of Woe. Other rumors flooded both of the houses, each seemed to fuel the next, along with their newfound hatred for their former brothers and sisters. All that mattered now was claiming the crash site, and the powerful force artifact for themselves. The destruction of the other house was only an added bonus.
Jade took the flight helmet off and shook her head letting her hair flow down and looked at Zaxen. “Nice plan, next time though, get something a little less….” She looked down and back up. “Form fitting.” She smirked.
Zaxen grinned. “It was all there was mistress…”
Zaroth cut him off, “Besides it suits you.” The odd look on Jades face had Zaxen turn to the Jedi hunter who moved away from him and a little closer to Jade. Zaxen smirked and laughed in his mind.
Jade walked up and looked at Aleho, resting the flight helmet on her hip. “So you are Aleho, the famous apprentice or at least learner, of Zaxen.” Aleho nodded and looked to Zaxen. “It’s good to get a moment to finally…meet you.” She grinned, the tips of her fangs just visible, she had met the kid back at her office but only very briefly and never really got the chance to talk to her, but being sent from Ashura she would be under Jades protection. “If he’s anything like I was I hope you survive.” She laughed at the look on the kids face, before turning to Zaxen. “This ship have a changing room?”
He motioned with his head to a small room off to the side. As she passed Aleho she added, “But if he is, you’ll definitely turn out to b a skillful Dark Jedi.”
Zaroth watched Jade leave and looked at Zaxen. “We are going where all the action is right?” Alehos ears’ perked up over those words.
Zaxen looked out the view port as he answered. “We’re going to take care of some business, yes.” He watched the reflection of Jade in the viewport as she came out from the room dressed in her robes once more.
Everything was proceeding as foreseen. It may look out of control. It may seem like things were falling apart. But in all actuality it was the same conclusion as in all of his force visions of the future. All roads led to this destination. The weak would fall to strong. The infection which plagued the clan would be cut away and it would heal.
Astronicus was calm, relaxed and in control. He had contacted his loyalists within the fleet, his sleeper agents, and had enacted Order 23. Other loyalists had marshaled outside his residence, ready to act on his orders. They would make their way to Inos, inconspicuously as they had taken the precaution to mask their newly acquired vessels in black matte paint and refractive material.
His faux pas in the ruse to agitate the members of Clan Naga Sadow had in itself become real and lead to what many would think to be a surprise element in all of this. But if there was one thing he had learned from the recent past events within the clan, it was to pay head to force visions and take an earnest part in them, no matter how improbable it was.
At present, House Marka Ragnos had a stronger advantage in the ensuing battle but numbers meant nothing when dealing with things such as Dark Jedi and the power of the Dark Side. A master of his own abilities could easily grab hold of a Star Destroyer and pull it down to the surface of the planet or collide it into another capital ship. Of course that would take a great deal of concentration and would sap the user a great deal of his power but for a Dark Jedi Master it was not beyond his possibilities.
Of course, wasting a resource such as a Star Destroyer would be against his intentions, unless it posed too significant of a threat. Amassing a fleet of great power and ability was more important in the overall scheme of things than anything else. The lives of a few thousand mundanes was nothing in comparison to the weapon they yield. Personnel can be replaced easily, however, with the time it takes to build a ship along with the monetary resources required it was more effective to replace the crew rather than the vessel.
He and his loyalists would enter orbit around Inos and wait patiently as events unfolded around them. Only if it should necessarily become so, would he interrupt the oncoming battle. He was only mildly surprised at the recent events in the Minos Cluster that forced the recent turn of events. With the Emperor's Hammer undergoing a civil war of it's own, with the ousting of their former Fleet Commander by the Warlord Stephan Ronin, it was only logical to come to the conclusion that they would attempt to follow trail of the Brotherhood here.
Astronicus was well known amongst the galaxies entrepreneurs as Tron Dlarit and so finding where he resides, at the least the star system where he care for business by means of the Dlarit Corporation, would not be as difficult as one might think. And so, the now rogue elements of the Emperor's Hammer would try to find a way to contact the Brotherhood by any way they might, and using Astronicus would be the logical course. Though it was quite ironic that it was the Grand Master of the Brotherhood who sold out Astatine's attempted coup in the Emperor's Hammer.
"Sir, it's time." Came the voice of Captain Cresh over the Overlords comlink.
"Acknowledged, Captain, I'm on my way." Astronicus stood, his time for meditation was over, now it was time for action.
Inos Moon Surface
Contested Area "No Man's Land"
Days had gone by since Zaxen and his motley crew of allies landed on the Inosian moon. Their earlier plans of rendezvous with members of House Ludo Kressh in an attempt to ally with them and to help avoid any extensive losses to the clan was proving difficult to carry out. War had broken out and significant losses had already been taken on both sides. The worst loss was that of the Final Way which was nothing more than a derelict burning in space.
A twinge of anger and irritation crept into his mind. These fools can not even think straight. Blinded by their own pride and self glorification. All the starships and fighting skills in the universe don't amount to anything if you can't even see truth because you are blinded by your own arrogance. Breathing deep he channeled his anger and it bred new conviction inside of him and powered his tired body forward.
He was perched high on a snow covered out cropping on a sharp peak. He scanned the battlements with a set of thermal binoculars. Through the gloom of the Inos lit twilight he could make out the line of heavy artillery, armored divisions and further back about a kilometer he could see the makings of a forward command post. Chances were that the people he was looking for would be found there. Getting there was going to be the real trick. For now nothing could be done about it.
He slowly crawled back from the ledge and began to make the long journey back to the Marka Ragnos base camp. Luckily not many had taken notice of his rather abrupt departure from the Harbinger and those who had were all sleeping eternally in the Inos Moon soil. He had hidden his ship in plain site and with the large freighters and cargo ships ferrying supplies. Those on the ground had no clue about what had transpired on the Harbinger and even Zaroth was able to move about the camp freely.
As he approached the camp after the hour trek through the dusty, snowy moonscape Zaxen took notice of the heavy losses their forces had sustained. Large smoking hulks littered the area all the way to the horizon. Bodies and pieces of bodies scattered about the land made for a grotesque, macabre scene. Zaxen could feel the ghosts of the fallen warriors still screaming on the wind and once more the anger flooded through his being. Conquest and Glory is one thing, but the arrogance of our leadership is the true weakness of our Clan. It is only proper that we suffer. His thoughts trailed off as he spotted the sleek outline of the Storm Crow.
Time to check in and see if Jade, Zaroth, and Aleho had faired any better in finding a way into the Kresshian camp. Then perhaps sleep.
William Archaon Darkfire
Mitsuhide sat patiently at his desk when a young, chiss male walked in. He was shaking noticeably, and he looked like he was on some sort of makeshift high. He was fairly tall, appeared to be about 200 lbs, and was slightly pale. He seemed to be having a considerable amount of difficulty walking, and even with standing up.
“Ja-Jade told me to come to you...” He said, his voice shaky, “I’m William Dar-arkfire. She told me to come he-ere.”
“Ahhh, so you’re the one that was dragged into her office. Hmm, I haven’t heard much about you yet, but she was nice enough to have the men bring your file to me. I haven’t quite gotten to reading it yet, however. Please, have a seat.” He was very cheery, and smiled nicely as he gestured to a comfy chair in the corner. William sat down, his posture horrible, and his body trembling.
“Care to explain exactly why you’re shaking so badly?” asked Mitsuhide, who was sincerely curious.
“God damn Ragnos security, that’s why. Th-they dunno crap when it comes t-to sedatation.”answered William, thoroughly unhappy at still being in such a shaky condition.
“Sedation, you mean sedation.” Corrected Mitsuhide.
“Do I loo-ook like I give a damn?” replied William bitterly. “Look, Jade just told me t-to come down here and explain what I d-did.”
“Which is?” he inquired, who was slowly losing patience with the chiss.
“Read the file, sm-smart one. It says s-so right there.” Mitsuhide looked down at the hulking file that lay in front of him. He knew it wasn’t going to be full of cheerful pictures from his last family reunion, he was clearly dealing with a man with a vast criminal record. He opened up the manilla folder, and took out a small note on the very first page. It had been written today, and it was from Jade. It read: “Mits, I just wanted to make sure you had a good idea of what this man did. He was caught in the Cathedral of Ragnos, stealing and destroying priceless artifacts, apparently for no reason. The guards didn’t say anything about a motive or any others active in the crime, just him.” He stared up and looked William in the eyes, all cheeriness had left his face.
“The Cathedral? The Cathedral of YOUR God damned house? What the hell made you do that, you fricken’ dumbass?!?!” he shouted, thoroughly pissed off at finding a house member desecrating his own Cathedral. “WELL?”
“Wouldn’t you love to know.” he replied, with a big grin on his face. Mitsuhide stood up, his fists tightly clenched, and his veins popping out of his arms.
Inos Moon Surface
Jade sat at Storm Crow looking out waiting for Zaxen and Zaroth to get back. She had gone out west into the vast waste land of ice and snow, while Zaorth had gone east and Zaxen north, while Aleho sat at the ship and complained at how she was left on watch duty.
She looked out with the Storm Crows extra pair of binoculars. With the force being blocked she tried hard not to use it incase of alerting any unwanted visitors to their whereabouts. She sighed. “Just more white cold after more white emptiness.” She called out to Aleho who came down the ramp of the Storm Crow and sat next to her, both wearing as warm of gear as they could find.
“Master Zaxen has been gone for a long time, so has that other one… Zaroth you called him.”
Jade grinned and looked at the kid. “I trust Zaxen he was trained well. Zaroth I have no doubt will return, it’s just how much trouble he decided to try and get into while he was out scouting that makes me wonder.”
Aleho giggled as she recalled some stories Zaxen had regaled her with regarding Zaroths’ forms and ways of making an entrance and/or an exit.
Jade scanned the horizon again and finally saw Zaxen crawling along his way back to the ship, her connection to him told her he hadn’t been successful ether. “Looks like we will have to wait and see if Zaroth found out anything.”
Aleho looked at her. “Priestess Jade, how do you know Zaxen has not already found and contacted the members of Ludo Kressh?”
She grinned at the kid. “A master and an apprentice can form a close bond should they click during training.” She turned to go into the ship. “He will be a few more moments, come in and get warm while we wait.” Jade left the ramp down for Zaxen to get into the ship and unfreeze quicker. Her attempts hadn’t been very successful, but she hoped Macron or Sai tried to at least get a hold of her if neither of them managed to find their campout. She looked out the view port on the Storm Crow and saw Zaxen was closer. She would wait till he warmed up before heading out again with him to see if perhaps two heads might be better than ones.
Inos Moon Surface
Leho hadn't experienced such a bond with her Master; Ashura if anything was more like a father figure. He had found her after the uprising in the Orian system, impressed how one so young was able to survive. He took her on as his apprentice, looked after her, told her stories. As Aleho grew in rank her training increased. He always seemed to find the right balance to push her onwards; even known with Master Zaxen taking over her training, the balance was kept.
Ruoxf has watched many Dark Jedi walk the halls on her former home on Antei; she had seen Journeymen, Equites and even the odd Elder about the Shadow Academy. Her thoughts drifted to the day she and her home were ripped apart. She had cried a lot after that day. If it hadn't been for Headmaster Aabsdu di Plagia Dupar for setting her back on the path to the Dark Side, she didn't know where she would be today.
Master Ashura had plans for her, Aleho knew this (although she didn't know the details), yet the Battlemaster seemed to patiently wait till a time he believed she was ready.
"I'm ready now!" She was often fond of telling him. Isradia would often grin and say, "Almost, just be patient a little longer." It drove her nuts, but Ashura's apprentice did as she was told.
By the time Zaxen returned to the "Storm Crow", Leho had a hot mug of tea waiting for him. "Here you go Master. This should warm you up again." she said with a fond smile on her face.
Inos Moon Surface
"They are pretty close," came Zaroth's voice in Jade's earpiece. "Been tracking them a mile or two, and they know I'm here I bet. No reaction though."
The Krath noidded, raising the binocs to her eyes again and peering into the whispering whiteness. Three figures struggled in the biting wind, rime frost coating their garments with hoary sparkles. Tsainetomo, Manji, and Macron hunched into their gear and slogged towards the craft. The long walk had been all the way around the combat zone, and they were cold.
Jade spoke up across the cabin. "They are here," she remarked as a knocking sounded on the port-side hatch.
Ruxof spoke up first. "Who?" she asked quizzically. "Someone's here?"
"Help, and our contacts in HLK," the Priestess quipped and punched the hatch opener.
Aleho sipped hot tea next to the autobrewer with Zaxen, who regarded the new arrivals with discernment. "Possibly trouble," Zaxen remarked and mentally assessed where his weapons were.
Two of the snowmen shook off heavy winter garments of Kyataran make, crisply rubbing their hands together. The third was encased in armor that was covered with glittering ice crystals, and was spraying the surface of it with chemical de-icer.
All three regarded the teapot hungrily while Macron removed his helm.
"Umm. Would you like some tea?" asked Aleho.
"Please," chuckled Manji-sama as he sat down next to Jade. "Odd bedfellows, but they're good people." The Epis cast a sidelong glance at Macron's tattooed face after the comment. "As much as Dark Jedi can be."
"We're here to get to the bottom of this, and hopefully stop the killing," remarked Sai. "Here's the plan we worked out with Manji..."
The Archpriest sat behind his desk, a light smirk on his face. He knew what the Guardian before him was seeing. He saw the image of a towering fury. An inferno of rage, yet all the while, Mitsuhide had yet to move.
Almost suddenly, the images vanished from the Guardian's mind, leaving him looking around, confused and somewhat shocked into mild sensibility.
Mitsuhide spoke softly, "Guardian Darkfire, I'm sure there's a fairly decent explanation for your actions in the Cathedral, but I really just don't care. Break what you will, the Quaestor will determine your fate...if I don't kill you first myself."
Mitsuhide stood fluidly, picking up a large glass ball from his desk, a gift from his wife. He held the ball in his hand and walked over to the seated Guardian. He looked down at the young chiss and spoke in a barely audible whisper, "You should never backtalk those stronger and faster than yourself, Darkfire."
With that, he smashed the glass ball against the side of the Guardian's head, blood dripped from his mouth as his head hung limply against his chest. Pressing a button on the wall, Mitsuhide ordered several guards to his office.
"Get this low-life prick out of my sight before I really do kill him. Use any means necessary to soften his demeanor before you bring him back."
Mitsuhide went back to his desk, his calm completely unruffled as he began to leaf through some of the built up paperwork on his desk.
William Archaon Darkfire
William's stride showed his displeasure. He was still bleeding from his mouth, and he was still in shock as to what the Archpriest had done to him. He felt the lump on the side of his head, the bruise throbbing under his fingers. He was walking impatiently from Mits’ office towards Zaxen's ship, where he was told to recieve orders from Jade Atema. He didn't want to take orders from her, he didn't want to take part in this war at all. The only reason he was here was because it was his choice of serving a life term in prison, or serving as an expendable soldier in the war. He looked back to see the security guard Mitsuhide had sent still following him.
He hadn't even gone to prison yet, and he already knew he would be there for life without parole. He figured it would be no deal, he would just break out within the first week, same as always. However, as soon as he was told the name of his prison, he realized that escaping this armored fortress would be no simple task. It was the highest security prison, and escaping there would require much more then low level force powers. When he had been given the offer to serve the war in place of his life term, he immediately accepted, seeing as how it may have been his only way out.
William did not expect to serve his house and become a famous war hero, rather he expected to do what was required to get him out of prison for good, and nothing more. Maybe he’d go back and “accidently” light Mitsuhide’s office on fire. William smiled to himself at the thought. The smile quickly left his face as he focused on the present rather then the possibilities of his future.
"Watch Guard..." William said to himself, "If she's such a great Dark Jedi, then why the hell does she need a fricken' watch guard?" William was still pissed at the two guards who had sedated him at the Cathedral of Ragnos. All he had been doing was checking out some of the artifacts when he went through one of his episodes. He didn't believe it gave the guards the right to drug him up so bad that he couldn't do anything but have a seizure for the next five hours. "If I ever run into them again, I'm letting you take over, you can take care of them better then I can." He said, apparently to himself.
Mits had not been much better to him then the guards had, he refused to give William any leeway for what he had done. At first, he had been cheery and accommodating, but his attitude changed slowly as the conversation drew longer. Once he read William’s file, his mood flew south for the winter, and all cheeriness left his mind. William seemed to have a talent when it came to getting the archpriest angry, he had never heard of him smashing a glass ball over someone’s head before. He didn’t remember much about it, once he finally awoke, a security guard had told him that he was to head straight to Zaxen’s ship, where Jade, Zaxen, Zaroth, and Aleho would be waiting for him.
He turned the corner and, to his surprise, found that there was no ship there.
“Is this some kinda joke or something? Where the hell is the Storm Crow?!” He shouted, irritated and confused. He turned to face the guard, who was equally surprised.
“But... Mitsuhide said it was right there... He told me it would be waiting for us...” Said the guard, dumbfounded by the ships disappearance.
“I walked all this way to find a ship so that I could get my ass out of a life term. Aint no way I’m turning back and sitting in a cell for the rest of my life.” Said William.
“We’re leaving, now. We’re going back to Mitsuhide’s office, we’re telling him the ship is gone, and he’ll decide what happens to you,” Explained the guard, who had recovered from the initial shock of not finding the Storm Crow “You’d better pray he’s in a good mood, or man, are you screwed.”
Jade took a look at Macron and Manji giving a slight bow to each and then looked at Sai. He was part of the small band of apprentices all linked by Shin 'ichi. She had to admit it was certainly and interesting group and it was going to be even more intriguing to hear about the plan that they all had.
She sat down next to Manji and looked across at the other two Kresshites. “I hope we can end this senseless killing s well.” She took a small sip of tea handed to her by Aleho and glanced at Zaxen and Zaorth who nodded. Zaroth obviously proud he had been the one to find the three cohorts and bring them back. She smirked at Sai. “”It would be interesting to see what Shin ‘ichi thinks of all this.” She hadn’t talked to him since the feud had started, and it had taken a great deal of effort just to get a hold of her former master and Sai.
Zaxen sat down, Aleho close in tow to his side, “What is this plan you have Sai”?
Tsainetomo closed his eyes as he contemplated his next words. Days of planning had culminated in this moment, and he waited until he was sure that everyone’s attention was fully upon him.
When the Archpriest opened his eyes, they blazed with a fire that even Macron hadn’t seen in all the years they’d served together. The Keibatsu fixed them all with his tripartite gaze as his rich baritone began to fill the compartment.
“We all know that this conflict must come to an end, and swiftly. I believe that our next course of action, should we not deviate, will be the best way to again unite the Houses.”
The Force-users waited with baited breath as Tsainetomo continued. “Ludo Kressh’s Quaestor still is incommunicado, and Marka Ragnos’ seems to be the one who’s most visible. I propose that we get a group of seasoned Dark Jedi in front of him to persuade him that the path we are currently on can only lead to the Clan’s dissolution from within, leaving it ripe for destruction from without.”
“How are we going to do that?” Jade asked.
“Funny you should ask. From what I understand, you and Manji-sama here are the only ones whom he’s granted an audience of late. So, I will arrange for Fenris and Xander, who are waiting nearby, to accompany you and my cousin to be presented to him under the auspices of capture. They are loyal to the Clan, but weak enough for you to control should they get any delusions of grandeur.”
Manji nodded at hearing the step in which he was involved repeated and chimed in. “Fenris and Xander will lend credence to the notion that HLK’s involvement with the True Brotherhood is...ludicrous, at best.” The Dokugan-ryu sipped his tea. “But it’s important that they have no contact with any clones or D:SOG personnel.”
“Manji-sama is right. They are not to leave your presence, otherwise they risk imprisonment. We’ve trained the D:SOG forces too well, and they’ll do their jobs if given a chance.” Tsainetomo added.
The Korun-Keibatsu continued. “So, between Manji-sama, Jade, Zaroth, Zaxen, Fenris and Xander, there should be no difficulties in convincing Derev to use his influence and stronger forces to dramatically change the course of this conflict. By any means necessary,” he finished coldly.
Jade shook off the chill that suddenly overtook her frame. In that moment, she had no doubts as to why Shin’ichi had named him his Prime. Just then, Zaxen spoke. “Ok, but what are you and Mac doing? I think that one hand should know what the other’s doing, and I’m not exactly sure we should trust you, entirely, and I think that everyone in our little cabal should be accounted for.”
Tsainetomo smiled, his white teeth gleaming in the cabin’s light. Strangely, the smile didn’t touch his eyes. “Too true, Zaxen. As for me and Macron, I’ve enlisted a little help from the Chamber of Justice we'll be liberating the Overlord.” He let the lie slip effortlessly from his lips. It was hardly common knowledge that the Overlord had no need to be found, but as predicted, the invocation of the CoJ’s office served to distract them away from the mention of Astronicus and his true whereabouts.
“The CoJ?! I thought there was a black-out on all communications, and the Dark Council had issued a moratorium on interference in this!” Zaroth exclaimed incredulously. “How did you manage to do what the upper management couldn’t?”
Tsainetomo’s thoughts strayed to Malisane as his stare bore holes in Zaroth. “I have an ‘in’, and that’s all you need know.”
There was a pregnant moment of tension as the silence overcame them all. Finally, Aleho chimed in as she brought the teapot forward to refill Manji’s cup. “Oh, Master Zaxen, I’ll finally be able to help you in something important. I’ll make you and Master Ashura so proud!” Her excitement was quickly tempered by Tsainetomo’s next words.
“That’s right, little one, but not in the way you think. You, my dear, will be coming with me.”
The teapot crashed to the deck.
Zaxen’s voice was low as he spoke. “Why-in-the-name-of-Darth-would-she-do-that?”
The mirthless smile returned to the Archpriest’s face. “For insurance, my friend. After all, ‘one hand should know what the other’s doing, and I’m not exactly sure we should trust you, entirely, and I think that everyone in our little cabal should be accounted for’.”
The words repeated back to Zaxen stung more than any blaster bolt or telekinetic strike ever could.
William Archaon Darkfire
William walked into Mitsuhide’s office, both angry at not finding the Storm Crow, and frightened about being sent to prison. The room was unoccupied, and - aside from the blood on the ground near the chair William had previously occupied - appeared to have been this way for quite a while. There were no files on the desk and no pens left out.
“Where is he?” Wondered William. He walked up to the holocron and pressed a button. In about five seconds, a projection of Mitsuhide sprung out of the projector. William stared at Mits for a brief moment, then spoke.
“Where the hell are you?” Asked William, wondering as to why he wasn’t speaking to the Archpriest in person.
“Where else, Kar Alabrek.” Replied Mitsuhide.
“How the hell did you get all the way over there in a few minutes?”
“Still don’t get it do you? Let me give you a hint. Here,” the Archpriest lifted up the glass ball his wife had given to him, “look familiar?”
“But... you shattered that thing on my head” his hand went to the side of his head and felt the still throbbing lump. “How can you still have it in one piece?!”
“If it’s here in one piece, then what does that mean?” he asked
“That you never broke it...”
“And that means what?” The Guardian paused for a moment to think.
“You weren’t in this room... You never were.”
“Exactly,” stated Mits, “Jade told me all about you before you came in. You were a special one, not many people deface their own cathedral. So I figured I’d try and make you learn something from this whole fiasco.”
“I don’t understand...” said a thoroughly confused William.
“I wouldn’t expect you to, although I was kind of hoping that you’d catch on sooner than you did. I never left this room, you were talking to a hologram the whole time.”
“I know a hologram when I see one, it’s not that hard to tell the difference!” Shouted William, his confusion turning into anger.
“Really? You think you can tell the difference between a hologram and me?” The hologram disappeared. “Then why haven’t you figured out that that wasn’t a hologram?” William spun around, shocked to find Mitsuhide standing behind him. “Confused?”
“What the hell is this?” Shouted William, unable to comprehend what had just taken place. “What the hell is going on here?”
“You see, there’s this really neat thing called the Force, its kind of...”
“I KNOW WHAT THE FORCE IS!” Shouted William.
“Then why can’t you seem to understand the basic concept of an Archpriest using the force to create an illusion to deceive your little mind?” Asked Mitsuhide, finally revealing the means of his apparent teleportation. His being swirled and faded into nothingness. The hologram of Mits came back, and William turned around slowly, his face covered in pure confusion.
“Are you sure you know what the force is? Because that doesn’t look like the face of someone who has been given an answer and accepts it as the truth. The force is a truly amazing thing, really. I can use it to bend the minds of those less masterful in the art then I, and make them see nothing but lies. It allows me to strike people from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, without so much as lifting a finger. Reach out and feel its dark tendrils, and it will empower you to do things previously thought impossible. With it, you can do almost anything imaginable. But don’t get your hopes up, William, you have a long way to go before you’ll be able to do much at all with it. Right now, it would seem you can’t even accept its existence.” The hologram disappeared, and William fell into the chair, desperately trying to figure out what had just happened.
Xander was meditating as the situation began to grow worse around him. He could tell that his fellow journeyman Fenris was quickly becoming agitated with the lack of action. Fenris usually was not very good at keep his emotions in check. As Xander sat there he evaluated the Dark Jedi Knight.
Both Fenris and himself were a product of the tutelage of Shin. The Pontifex had done a good job in his training of Fenris, and the man continued to make strides in his growth, where Xander often felt that his growth was lagging behind. Xander couldn’t help but feel comparatively inadequate. A feeling which he of course would never acknowledge.
His com beep and Xander hit it and replied to it “Xander here.” He said tersely watching Fenris stretch.
“Xander I want you to report to me” said the voice of Sai. Another great apprentice Shin’s, this one possibly the opus of the Sith’s training. Xander shook his head to himself, sometimes he really did think that he was an island in a sea of greatness. “Bring Fenris with you..” Sai added
Xander nodded to Fenris who had heard the communiqué and started heading towards where Sai was. The events had been rocky, and the battle was beginning to heat up. Being a simple journeyman Xander did not actually really know what was going on. However, his contacts had told him that things were becoming pretty lean.
Xander arrived to where Sai was, he looked around and was surprised to also see Jade, Zaroth, Zaxen and someone he didn’t even know was alive anymore.. Manji. His foot crunched on what appeared to be a shattered teapot. Looking down Xander raised his eyebrow.
“Men.” Sai said addressing Fenris and Xander. “We have decided that in order to get talks rolling we are going to be sending you two under the supervision of these individuals to speak to Derev as…” Sai paused “Envoys”
Xander raised an eyebrow at the pause, but saluted “Yes sir” Xander said saluting. He looked at Fenris to his side. The man’s face was a portrait of despair and worry. Obviously he felt that they were being used as some sort of sacrifice, being seen as possibly disposable because of their former ties with House Marka Ragnos.
“Your job is to persuade Derev that the path we are currently on can only lead to the Clan’s dissolution from within, leaving it ripe for destruction from without.”
Xander nodded as he listened.
“You are to, when your ..” again Sai paused “escort” is prepared to leave.
Xander turned to see Jade, an odd look in her eye. He couldn’t help but think back to a certain dagger which he currently happened to have on him…
Xander regarded Jade quizzically. "I'm ready when you are," he said while eyeing Manji next.
He was somewhat apprehensive, but appreciated the "escorts" he would have on this sombre journey.
Fenris stood up, characteristically exuberant but slightly nervous. "Let's do this," he offered as he reached for his rucksack.
Manji spoke up clearly. "You have any idea what they might do, kid? Derev might have you executed on the spot," he stated. "Brave of you to come."
Fenris gulped audibly. "That thought had crossed my mind," he mentioned. "But I am here to serve my Clan and House." Jade, Xander, Sai, and Zaroth all nodded in agreement as they stood.
"We'll get them there in one piece," smirked Jade as Manji smiled. "I hope."
"Gentlemen," said Jade as she moved toward the airlock. Macron re-appeared in the main bay from a back hallway. Jade stopped her speech and regarded him coldly. "Master," she drawled. "Where were you?"
"In the fresher," he offered. "Not too comfortable to relive oneself out there," he said and gestured at the door with a boyish shrug. "Grandfather, father, daughter all in the same room, and a great grandson as well, figuratively speaking. How quaint," remarked the alchemist as he looked about the bay. "Aren't we the little Dark Jedi family."
Tsainetomo was putting his gear back on and swigging from a steaming flask. "Back to the cold for us," he shuddered. "I hate icebox planets like this. We are off to do our part and slip onto Sepros unnoticed."
Both men strode out the door as the wind howled from its opening like a yawning white mouth. They both raised their hands in a universal gesture of departing. Once the hatch closed and they were outside, both switched to an encrypted comlink. Macron's was contained in his helm, and Tsianetomo's was done via bone conduction from a small patch on his neck.
"We really going to Sepros?" asked the lunatic. "That's crazy talk, even for a Krath."
"We are, my unstable Sith friend," remarked the Krath icily. "Let's make our way to the HMR landing site, and I'll show you how. Use stealth," he remarked casually as the wind blew more swirling frost about them and obliterated their tracks. The two shapes seemed to melt into the whiteness as they trudged into the hoary landscape.
William Archaon Darkfire
William was still slouched in the chair, trying to fully understand what had happened only a few minutes ago. He was starting to feel a little bit light headed, and he wasn’t sure as to why. Maybe it was that his mind just couldn’t grasp all that had happened, or maybe it was just that the blow to his head had done more than he had thought. Either way, it was getting difficult for the young Chiss to focus, so he decided to give up on figuring it out for the moment.
Far away, in his office on Kar Alabrek, Mitsuhide sat patiently by his desk, formulating a plan for how to transport the Avatars to Inos, and exactly what they would do once there. He had already thought up the bulk of it, but years of experience had given the Archpriest great wisdom, and he knew that he could never be too precise in his plans; every detail was to be treated as essential to the success of the mission, no matter how minute it was.
His mind was not fully on the task at hand, however, it was still dwelling on the recent events that took place. In order to use the force to deceive another’s mind, you must first explore it, and see how it runs, what makes it tick, and how each piece of the brain fits together to work as one. As soon as he had entered the guardians mind, almost instantaneously he had felt a second presence, one that did not want a visitor. He had felt struggles to push him out, and much hatred coming from the deepest parts of his mind. It was intriguing, yet it was single-minded. It was hating, yet it was patient enough to think. It was rage in its purest form, and no mind Mitsuhide had ever read contained such a powerful aura of pure, insane, rage. He took his mind off of the past and tried to focus on the present once more, but the question still lingered in his head: Was it just William, or was it something entirely different?
William had sat around for long enough, he decided to contact Mits and see what he should do next. He had never been big on asking permission before doing something; he would do it regardless of the reply. Yet, he knew that his best bet of staying out of prison was to follow his orders. He walked over to the holocron, and activated it, simply hoping that his conversation would make sense this time. After a brief moment of silence, a hologram of Mitsuhide popped out of the projector.
“I’m sick of waiting, and I’m not going back to jail. I’m going to Inos.” William spoke first.
“No, you will not be allowed to fly over to that moon without some sort of supervision, I can’t risk having you fly out on me, my little jail bird. Besides, you would die on that frozen wasteland, you wouldn’t make it through the night. If you must go there, I’ll see if I can’t arrange for you to be transported to my office down here, on Kar Alabrek, where you will fly to Inos along with the Avatars of Woe and myself. We were already planning on making a trip there, and having another person to help out incase things go wrong is never a bad idea.”
“Anything to make sure you get your way, huh? Fine, we’ll do it your way,” William sighed a heavy sigh; he hated it when superiors used their power to have everything go their way. Maybe that was why he liked wars, because not everyone got their way, and in wars, William had just as much a chance to have it his way as everyone else, “When do I leave?”
“I’ll see to it that you are on Kar Alabrek by nightfall.” Said the Archpriest.
House Ludo Kressh Command Center
The Aedile of Ludo Kressh watched the battleground from the command vehicle as the members of Clan Naga Sadow waged war. Sapphire Squadron had done an exceptional job clearing a landing zone for the forces of Ludo Kressh, but that was expected from the elite group. The ground forces of the Final Way had formed a front line, that so far, was keeping the forces of Marka Ragnos away from the crash site. It was now time to fortify those front lines with the Dark Jedi of Ludo Kressh.
Robert Sadow looked to his left and said to the Ludo Kressh Equite at his side, “Prepare your group to head to the front two join Colonel Voss and continue to hold the Ragnos forces back. There is no need for you to push the enemy any farther back, just do not allow them to get to the crash site. Take the remaining members of the Jade Serpents with you.” The Equite bowed and went to complete the Aedile’s orders.
Colonel Damian Voss heard the screams as the Ragnos forces tried to cross the front line of the Kressh defense. Nearby, the Dlarit troopers were already firing at the newcomers. The first shots went wide, but their surprise would be over in a moment, and they would destroy the followers of Ragnos where they stood.
“Take em,” the Colonel shouted as he leapt forward, drawing his blaster and the Ragnos fire. He hit the ground, rolling under a blaster bolt, and came up on one knee with his weapon extended. A blast from the nearest enemy scorched the ground where he had been, but the Colonel gritted his teeth and ignored it. He squeezed off a blast of his own, and one of the troopers was hurled backwards.
The small skirmish was over in minutes, with the Ragnos forces once again retreating. “Beat them again Colonel,” Sergeant Rockatansky said.
“There just feeling us out Sergeant,” the Colonel stated, “Looking for a weakness in our line. And when they are ready, they will make their move and leading them will be the Dark Lords of Ragnos. That battle my friend, we will not win on our own.”
House Ludo Kressh Command Center
The holo-projector showed a determined, proud, and battle worn Colonel Voss, “Sire, I have been eagerly awaiting your contact. What do you wish of us?”
“You have been doing a great service for Ludo Kressh so far Colonel,” Aedile Robert Sadow stated as the holo-projected image bowed in acknowledgement, “We have reports of the Ragnos forces massing near your present location for a large push to move towards the crash site. I believe both of us are aware of who will be leading this attack, so I have sent some Marshal Commanders and their forces to strengthen your location. You will follow their orders and not allow the enemy to pass your defenses.”
The Aedile waited slightly for the Colonel to bow in understanding the situation and cut the transmission.
“Lieutenant, “the Aedile said over his comlink, “Tell Commander Tsingtao to report immediately.”
High Orbit Inos
Corporal Pillai of Blood Herald squadron rolled his X-Wing directly behind the enemy HLF-500. When the targeting computer went red and he heard the familiar tone, he gently squeezed the trigger and his enemy turned into a giant fireball.
A small success in a losing battle that had seen his Commander, along with half of his squadron, be destroyed in just the first wave of the attack. They had been overwhelmed and had paid the price.
The small fleet of Ludo Kressh was quickly being disposed of. The Corporals command ship, the Final Way, was dead in space and the few Dark Lords of Ludo Kressh were not going to be enough to turn the battle back in their favor.
The ships that were left were putting all of their focus on protecting the Orian’s Legacy, but something major was going to have to happen to change the outcome in the space above Inos.
House Ludo Kressh Command Center
“You requested my presence Sire,” the Commander of Sapphire said as he entered the Command Center.
“Thank you for coming so quickly Commander,” Aedile Robert Sadow said as he motioned for the Sith Warrior to be seated,
“You did an excellent job securing our landing zone, I commend you.”
“We did our best Sire, but it was not at all an easy mission,” the Commander replied.
“Of course not, that’s why I gave it to Sapphire,” the Aedile stated, “And Commander, I have another one for you.”
“Sapphire is ready to go, just give the order,” the Commander eagerly replied.
“Your orders are to lead Sapphire, assisted by a small group of fellow Dark Jedi, through the ice caverns to the east and secure the crash site. The warriors at the front will continue to hold Marka Ragnos off to the west until you can complete your mission. They will then slowly fall back to the east to form a perimeter around the crash site. I cannot stress enough the importance of you mission objective.”
The Commander nodded, “I understand, what can I expect for resistance?”
“Besides the usual wildlife of this planet that you will most likely find in the cavern, we would be ignorant to believe that our enemy had not devised a similar plan and may be trying to get to the objective from the north,” the Aedile answered, “So you may encounter enemy forces when you get to the objective or after you secure it. Now I must stress something very important for you to pass along to your team. This is a very difficult time for our clan. A civil war is upon us and that means we must fight against brothers and sisters whom we have fought with before. But you must all understand the importance of our objective as the future of House Ludo Kressh could depend on this. So each and every person must get in the mindset that they are willing to do what is necessary to defend their home, even if it means killing fellow clansmen. If your mind has already accepted this, then when they hesitate, you will already be sealing their doom.”
“Understood Sire,” the Commander said as he stood up, “We will be underway within the hour.”
Sith Warlord Robert Sadow watched as the members of Sapphire Squadron left the Command Center while listening as the reports from the front line listed the casualties. It is never easy being in a summit position and knowing that the orders one gives could mean the end of numerous lives, but today was even more difficult as win or lose; Clan Naga Sadow was going to suffer.
The Aedile’s last hope was that the small band of Dark Jedi, made up of both Ludo Kressh and Marka Ragnos, could get to the acting Consul in time to put a stop to all this death and destruction, as the end of days for Naga Sadow was quickly approaching.
Jade regarded Macron slightly. She trusted him enough that he was her master and she learned from him, but in the time of war one questioned everyone, friend, master, apprentice, and foe alike. The plan Sai had told her was an interesting one but she couldn’t shake the feeling that he was hiding something. “It’s just a little cold Sai.” She smirked at the look he gave her.
“If you call that a little cold….”
Manji cut off Sai’s thought. “How are we going to reach you when we reach our destination and contact Derev?” Zaxen nodded as if he were just about to ask the same question.
Macron looked at Sai. “We’ll think of something.” He grinned and Jade couldn’t help but think of a Cheshire cat.
Zaxen turned to Aleho. “I don’t like that you are going off with them.” Aleho nodded as Zaxen hid various small weapons on his apprentice while helping her get ready for the icy surface. “Be careful Aleho, something tells me Sai and Macron aren’t headed to the overlord.” Aleho gave Zaxen a wide eyed look. “Just watch your back and be mindful of the force.”
“Yes master Zaxen.” She wrapped her scarf around her face and joined Macron and Sai by the exit.
“Xander, make sure you follow your…escorts and don’t let Fenris come up with any ideas.” Xander smirked and nodded.
Jade laughed and looked at them. “Oh don’t worry Sai, I’m sure we’re going to have a… grand time.” Xander wasn’t sure he liked that idea, and he liked it even less as she added, “As soon as they hand over their weapons.”
Sai and Macron took Aleho as they headed out the door and down the ramp, Xander and Fenris turned to look at them as Sai chuckled, oh they weren’t going to like be “captives” in this plan.
Zaxen watched as Aleho left with the two Ludo Kresh masters out the view port as the ramp closed before turning to Jade and using the force slide a container across the floor to Xander and Fenris. “If you would be so kind as to de-arm yourselves.”
The Togruta Dark Jedi was alone, for a lack of a better word. Her bodyguard was still unconscious and she was going off with two Dark Jedi she didnt know. She was scared, she couldnt help it. Her master wasnt about, she was leaving Master Zaxen and heading off to Darth know where. However she had been trained better than that; she allowed the dark side of the Force to rise along with the fear. The young girl turned it inwards.
She turned to the two Ludo Kressh with determination in her eyes, as not to allow her fear show... even though the two Equites could clearly sense it in her. The little Dark Jedi had gotten very attached to Zaxen during the time her Master was away, it pained her to leave him but she took his advise to heart. Atleast she would meet the famed Overlord of the Clan... if that was there true destination.
She didnt complain that the two of them were walking too fast for her, in fact she allowed the Force to flow so to move herself faster to keep up with them. Leho was going to put on a brave face, she would made them address her by her rank or last name; the kid wasnt going to be pushed about. Her would become her own companion... no, that was wrong, it was the Dark Side, she reminded herself. The Dark Side was her companion.
She would see Master Zaxen again... she would see her own Master too. She allowed the Dark Side to burn inside her like a candle against the cold.
OOC: Just a reminder... no killing this NPC; although this doesnt mean she cant be hurt or something. Nice posting from everyone so far!
Engines roared as the shuttle lifted itself through the stratosphere, those inside bracing themselves against the change in pressure. As they felt the familiar lightness of space settle in, Manji turned to the two Kresshians staring at him somewhat apprehensively.
"You kids don't know who I am, do you?"
They shook their heads slowly, eyes straying over the vivid scar across his eye barely concealed by the curious sword-guard eyepatch, the curious and alien clothing he wore, and the strangely-styled lightsabre hanging from his belt. A deep chuckle oozed from the Epis' throat.
"Let me put it this way... I've been butchering my enemies since before you two were in Novice robes. I've fought the strongest fighters in the Brotherhood... and won. This," a finger lifted the eyepatch and ran the length of the scar beneath, "I got from the former Combat Master of the Antei Combat Centre, Dalthid, moments before I threw him off the top of a very tall tower."
Suddenly a lupine grin spread across his face.
"Not that I'm trying to scare you or anything."
Only silence greeted him as the two Knights looked at each other, expressions unreadable. Chuckling again, Manji turned back towards Jade and Zaxen.
"This place got a practice room or something? I fancy going over the forms while we're en-route."
Gesturing with a hand, Jade glanced at Zaxen as the Epis swaggered off.
"Before you ask, yes, he's always this arrogant."
As the flagship Derev had commandeered loomed closer, the group sat together in the cockpit, staring out at the huge cannons that bristled on every surface. Uttering a low whistle, Jade settled back.
"I hope we can get close enough to parlay before he tries to blow us out of the sky..."
Gesturing absentmindedly, his eyes fixed on the ship, Manji spoke.
"Nah, he won't. As far as he can tell, we're a Marka Ragnos craft bringing back Kresshian prisoners to justice. That element of surprise is all we need to get in there and convince him to end this destructive conflict."
Sitting back in his own chair, the Epis grinned widely.
"Now, the fun part begins..."
The two Kressh Jedi trudged along as Aleho followed. Tsianetomo spoke up first as all three huddled together behind a snowy rock. "Stick close Protector. We're going to sneak in to find this 'artifact' and liberate it if we can. We can use that as a bargaining chip to re-unite the Clan."
"I thought we were going to liberate the..." the Togruta wondered.
"Right. No, we aren't, not unless he calls," murmured Macron. "He's fine."
"But you told Jade..."
"What she wanted to hear, and what we wanted her to hear," said Sai with a calm smile. "It's the way of the Dark Side."
Macron gave the Krath Dark Maven an appreciative smile. "More like a Sith every day," he remarked with a chuckle. "Just proves my point."
The Korun hybrid began to elucidate as he cuffed the Warlord on his shoulder. "Shut up, you jackanape. Look Aleho.."
The Togruta pulled herself up and stood firm, reminding herself of her promise to be respected. "That's Protector or Ruoxf, please."
"I'll be thrice-damned," giggled Mac as he peered ahead with electrobinocs raised to his visor. "She's got guts. Excellent quality in a Dark Jedi."
"Fine. Dark Jedi Ruoxf, we're going into a combat zone. With clones, and armor, and force-users. It will most definitely get hairy. Be prepared," whispered Sai quietly as the wind reached a lull.
"That it will," echoed Macron as he stowed the binocs in a belt case. "Be ready with your verdant blade. You will need it to defend your life- and ours. Ever been in a combat such as this?"
She frowned. "I have not," she replied after considering the question. "But my Master has trained me for such."
"Fair enough, and honestly spoken. Today, you'll become a blooded warrioress most likely," the Archpriest remarked. "Look sharp. Pay attention, and you may learn something from us and survive. Ashura will be proud. Now, here we go."
Inos Orbit on the way to the Harbinger
Jade looked out the view port at the Flagship coming into view and sighed mentally. Turning she smirked at Xander and Fenris. They had switched houses just before the war, and now they found themselves on a ship bound to bring them in as traitors and captives to be nothing more than a play thing for Derev to throw around his office, at least if Zaroth had been any indication as what Derev would do when he’s royally pissed off at you. “Feel like going home boys?” She grinned.
“Like going home to a firing squad,” Fenris muttered.
Manji grinned. “Perhaps more then you know kid.”
Jade looked around the small ship and looked at Zaxen, standing up she walked to the pilots chair and talked quietly. “I’m not sure how exactly this is going to go over, but I promise you we will get Aleho back.”
Zaxen nodded. “Yes mistress.” He knew she would protect her own, and since the kid had been sent by Ashura she fell under Jade’s protection.
Jade turned to Manji and spoke into his mind. “How much are we going to tell them? Or do you think we should tell them anything?”
Manji was a little surprised at the contact but spoke back. “Not until the time is right, it will look more realistic if they believe they are being turned in.”
Jade nodded and put Xander’s and Fenris’s weapons in a carry case, as they might come in handy when persuading their point of view.
Personal courier of Astronicus Sadow
High orbit above Inos
The Overlord feared nothing. That did not negate the fact that he may have 'concerns' over how matters unfolded. His presence here above Inos was the least of his concerns, he had created a force blind to prevent his ship from being detected or seen by any means. The elements of what was taking place before him were quite intriguing. He had seen many things in his force visions but some of what was now transpiring had not been revealed to him.
"Have you established communication taps on the Dlarit Navy's starships yet, Captain?" Astronicus implored of his adjutant.
"Yes, sir." Replied the clone. "We now have all comm traffic available for your listening pleasure."
Astronicus sat back in his command chair. He was not a paranoid individual, but his time amongst Imperial Intelligence, as well as the branch the Emperor's Hammer had created which he was once the executive officer of, had given him the impulse to always know what everyone under his direction and authority were saying. The installment of the communications hijack system aboard all vessels owned by the Dlarit Corporation had been done discretely and quietly, with the installers having unfortunate accidents after the work was completed. This ensured that word did not leak of the existence of his electronic ears on all of the ships.
But the comm hijacks were only the beginning of his secret little toys aboard the starships. For now though, it would be all that he would need to activate. He would enjoy listening to the traffic between the vessels. As a former battle group commander, he had an interest in how smoothly a fleet ran by way of what was transmitted and how those in authoritative positions handled situations they were thrown into. An evaluation of the officers stationed aboard the various ships gave him insight into how they would react to future engagements. It also helped him to understand the training that was being given to the Dark Jedi that were heading up the true leadership in these events.
Many of these Dark Jedi had previous military experience, some of them even having served as Admirals within different elements of the Galactic Empire both pre- and post-Galactic Civil War. If Clan Naga Sadow were to survive the turmoil that the galaxy was going through and should it position itself to be the dominant clan within the Brotherhood, he would need to sharpen them to the finest point and discard the slag that would be left over leaving only the pure elements.
Astronicus would see to it that only the strongest and purest of loyal disciples would emerge from this confrontation. Only those that would guide the clan through the darkest of nights to come would survive the upheavals taking place. Then and only then would Clan Naga Sadow be in a position to threaten and take hold of the Brotherhood, leading it to the next Golden Age of the Sith.
William Archaon Darkfire
The Guardian was slightly glad that he was finally going to leave this metal prison of a ship. It reminded him too much of the constant threat of being shipped back to his uncomfortable steel cell. It had been about fifteen minutes since his last conversation with Mits, so he figured the ship would be here by now. He had been told that the ship would be ready for his departure in roughly twenty minutes, and it would probably take five or so minutes to get there.
He picked himself up and walked out the door, glancing over his shoulder at the empty room, wondering if he would ever come back to see it again and get his chance to burn it down. He walked down to the hangar bay he was told the ship would be at, taking his time to get there. What he could have traversed in only a couple of minutes, William took seven to do. Finally the hangar bay came into view, and many massive ships stood infront of him. Of course, William knew that he would be stuck with one of the small, low tech transport shuttles he hated so very much.
Unfortunately, the ship he was assigned was not in the bay at all. He scowled and cursed Mitsuhide for telling him that it would be ready in only twenty minutes. He walked up to a wall and leaned against it; he would just have to wait.
Xander sat in the ship listening to the various interactions around him. The ship hummed gently pushing itself through space towards the destination. The place Xander once called home.
Listening to the diatribe by Nekura Manji. The man seemed to think that his previous battles were somehow impressive or should have made Xander really care. Playing along Xander feigned fear but could help but thinking that the master he has studied under Shin’ichi Keibatsu.. didn’t have half of his face.
Next was Jade who seemed to take some sort of pleasure over tormenting Fenris. The man let his emotions run too freely. Xander himself did not fear his upcoming meeting with the man he once served under as Quaestor.
Some individuals prided themselves on not being afraid of death, others claimed they spat in the face of death. Xander was just rather insouciant to the possibility. Giving up his weapon was rather pointless, even if he had kept his lightsaber in his current company using it would have been a death wish. As he thought about how his meeting with Derev would go, he calmed his thoughts and meditated. The meeting could go in any direction.
After a period of time of which Xander was unsure he heard the sound of them reaching their destination. The gentle noises of their arrival and the ensuing action which generally took place after a ship arrived at it’s berth. Technicians scurrying about their business, people taking orders. The door to the ship eventually opened.
“Ok time to go.” Xander heard Jade said as he stood up. It was indeed time to go, what happened there was another matter.
A stinging cuff to the back of his head drove Xander down the landing ramp of the Storm Crow, he and Fenris falling in beside each other as Manji followed them with Jade close behind, carrying their weapons. A senior crewman raised his arm in a cautious salute as they approached, loyalties obviously being tested by the conflict. He knew that they were quite high in the hierarchy of Marka Ragnos, which afforded them a degree of respect, but with the state of mind that Derev was currently in, almost anyone could be suspected. With a quick shake of his head, the crewman addressed the more senior of the two, trying to hide the uncertainty in his voice.
"Greetings, Epis. Please state your business."
The mask of arrogance sliding easily over his face, Manji shoved the two Kresshians forward unceremoniously, his lip twitching into a smirk as he noticed them stiffen with anger.
"We're bringing these two Kresshian scum in for questioning. They were caught spying on our base of operations down on Inos, and we intend to squeeze out of them whatever they know about the other side's plans."
As the crewman began to speak, Manji interrupted him rudely.
"Before you ask, Derev insisted that all prisoners were to be brought to him first of all. Also, I think he has a vested interest in finding out what these two know, don't you?"
The crewman hesitated. He hadn't heard of any such order himself, but he was merely a lowly servant of the Dark Jedi; it would not surprise him to learn that commands had been given over his head. In addition, he had lasted this long in the Dlarit Navy by not arguing with his superiors... they had a tendency to make their displeasure obviously and violently known. Swallowing at the thought of seeing one of his comrades lifted into the air, crushed, and then thrown against a bulkhead with the aid of the Force, the crewman saluted again.
"Very well. Please follow me, I will take you to Lord Niroth."
As the procession moved off after him, Manji exchanged an emotionless glance with Jade. A thought passed between them.
First step down...
Aleho Ruoxf was confused... she had spent the last twenty minutes with Macron and Sai fighting her own forces (although she didnt have much choice as they would have killed her regardless). She looked at the dead clone at her feet and bite her bottom lip. Leho had been scared, but she had focused her mind on the loss of her homeworld, and at the Far Outsiders. Anger had boiled up. Every move was filled with a mixture of adrenline, fear and anger.
She had kept pushing on even bolts of energy flew close to her head. The young Dark Jedi looked at her green humming blade; she hadnt stopped wielding it. She had been over come by the moment, by letting the Dark Side guild her actions. It had been her first reall engagement and the ten year old has beginning to see things very clearly: death came easy to those who couldnt defend themselves.
However the fighting had stopped like the snap of the fingers. Both sides looked confused.
"Did we win?" Aleho asked... although 'win' was the proper explenation for it. She looked at the two Equites as they were walking off. "Hey!" The girl shouted and ran up to Macron. "Did Master Zaxen and the others complete their mission?" She asked.
The poor young girl didnt have a clue what was going on. How could she had known the how feud had been a elabrote desception designed to test the clan's ready for war. And it nearly brought about the clan's destruction.
Leho was getting frustrated by the lack of response and shouted out "DID WE WIN!!!!"
The Krath turned to her and said softly, "No... we didnt win... but if we dont act now the clan will loss for good."
"What?!?" Leho was even more confused than before.
OOC: Thus starts Chapter Four of the Feud... CNS united once more (fictionally at least
). Keep posting in turn, this is were the all judges eyes will be watching closely. At this point everyone should become aware of the true intention of the feud... although it isnt over yet.
Nachzerer Landing Site
Cresting a small rise in the terrain, three figures approached the beetle-shaped craft while varying ships of all manner of sizes took off all around them. The two larger beings stalked confidently through the drifts while the smaller of the trio trailed behind at a labored trot.
“Come along, Mistress Ruoxf, lest you be left on this rock,” chided Tsainetomo, looking over his shoulder at the child behind him and his longtime friend, Macron. The Krath Archpriest had much on his mind since they had received the message detailing the Overlord’s ruse...and subsequent impending danger of an approaching enemy fleet. It seemed that Derev, as misguided as he felt his actions were, had been used, as they all had been. Astronicus had picked an interesting way to test his Clan; Tsainetomo hoped that the test hadn’t set them up to fail against the very thing that it had been designed to prepare them for.
“Maybe she likes it here. Did you see her fighting back there? Impressive...for a pup.” Macron chortled as he typed in commands on a small computer housed in one of his armor’s gauntlets; the Nachzerer faithfully responded, its custom engines roaring to life.
“I’d never done that before...killing, I mean. Sure, Masters Ashura and Zaxen trained me, but to actually do it...” Aleho’s small voice trailed off as the gravity of her actions settled upon her.
“As I stated, little one, you’d be duly blooded before we were done with you. Now, your Masters will have someone entirely different to contend with,” the Keibatsu finished with a knowing grin. The alchemist smiled himself; some would consider it cruel to subject a 10-year-old to such atrocities, but if she intended to survive in the days to come, young Aleho was better off getting her education early.
As they tramped up the Nachzerer’s ramp, Macron gestured towards a chair while the Archpriest made his way to the cockpit. “Have a seat, Mistress. We’ll be up in no time. Drinks will be served along with a choice of snacks momentarily.” Taking the Sith seriously, Aleho’s mood immediately brightened. “Really? Then, I’ll have some tea and cookies!”
“By you, I mean. Drinks and snacks will be served by you,” Macron said with a wide smile, the craft's interior lights gleaming in his yellow eyes.
“Not funny,” Aleho said under her breath as she sank back in her seat, fastening the buckle.
Macron laughed as he joined the Keibatsu in the cockpit, the latter’s hands deftly flying over the holoresponsive controls. The Nachzerer lurched as it lifted off of Inos’ moon’s icy surface and made for the upper atmosphere.
“What do you suppose is the hubbub, bub?” Macron absently asked.
“Dunno, m’friend. But truthfully, I’ll be glad to deliver the young one back there in her Master’s lap once again. Thinking things through, I’m pretty sure that Xander and Fenris are out of any immediate danger, but if history’s any indicator, things are going to get worse before they get better.” Tsainetomo finished as the craft leapt spaceward, towards the Harbinger, Derev, the Overlord, and any answers that awaited them.
Jade looked at Manji as the Harbinger seemed to shift and shutter like its engines were cut. “Ok, that I didn’t expect.”
Manji nodded, it was an unexpected move, especially when someone like Derev was so up in arms. “That it is, but in war it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected.”
Jade sighed and looked to Zaxen and Zaroth. Zaroth gave Fenris a slight kick in the rear. “Keep going traitor. There’s nothing stopping you from meeting Derev.” Zaxen rolled his eyes, he knew the young Jedi Hunter was just showing off trying to act all macho in front of his adopta mistress.
“The sooner we get to Derev and get this over with the better.” She gave Xander a nod whom looked at her. When he had been in HMR they had slowly gotten to know each other, and because he was also within Shin’s group of apprentices she had gotten to know him more so. She’d have to find a creative way to keep Derev from chopping off his head.
Manji stepped in first and looked around. “Derev, we bring you presents of our trip to the planets’ surface.” He smirked.
Silence answered at first followed by Derev finally coming out and slamming a data pad against his desk. “It had better be good! I’m not sure I like recent developments.”
Jade walked in up to Manji’s side and nodded. “We have captured Former HMR AED Xander and current HLK Battle Team Leader Fenris.” Zaxen pushed the two forward for Derev’s Inspection.
William Archaon Darkfire
“20 minutes is long enough! I’ve waited for orders from Mits, I’ve waited for the Storm Crow, I’ve waited for my transport ship to come, and I’ve been walking back and forth all over this god damn ship.” William was extremely irritated at his transport ship to Kar Alabrek not showing up twenty minutes after it was expected. He had been walking back and forth between offices and hangar bays since he had gotten onto the Harbinger, and each time it was a false lead, with no ship waiting for him in the Hangar.
The walk that previously took him seven minutes shrunk down to a minute and a half. He entered Mitsuhide’s office for the third time, and activated the hologram, requesting a live chat with the Archpriest he hated so very much. The hologram popped up shortly, and Mitsuhide could easily see the anger on the Guardian’s face.
“I am sorry about the ship, Darkfire, but there was a change of plans. You see, it turns out that Jade, Zaxen, and Zaroth returned to the Harbinger about 15 minutes ago, so I called off your flight to Kar Alabrek. I’m sure you’d rather take a flight with them, so I’m going to send you off with them.” Announced the Archpriest.
“Why the hell didn’t you send someone out to let me know they were here, instead of making me waste another chunk of my life?” Asked William, his voice deep and harsh.
“Don’t question my methods; you need to learn to respect your superiors, and accept that they are usually correct.”
“Congratulations, your older than me, and you actually CARE about getting a big title, who gives a crap? A title is just that, a title. It doesn’t mean anything to me, but it seems to mean the world to you.”
“You’ll probably find Jade and the other’s in Derev’s office; I trust that you can find your way over there. Apparently they have some Ludo Kressh prisoners with them,” Stated Mitsuhide, ignoring William’s comments, “By the way, congratulations, Jedi Hunter.” The hologram died, and William was alone in the office once more.
“Ludo Kressh? There’s just no end to this, is there? There’s always SOMETHING to piss me off... Wait, did he say Jedi Hunter? Since when was I promoted? Huh, I guess they liked what I did to the Cathedral, cause that’s pretty much all I’ve done to get promoted.”
“We have captured Former HMR AED Xander and current HLK Battle Team Leader Fenris.” Zaxen pushed the two forward for Derev’s Inspection.
“Really?” said Derev looking at the pair. An unpleasant look coming over his face when his com beeped. Derev glanced down at a screen that Xander could not see. The Quaestor’s face showed surprise.
“It seems I have an unexpected guest coming to see me. Take these two to the brig and watch them. I will see them soon.” Derev said and dismissed them.
With that Xander and Fenris were taken to be guarded
Brig (Unknown amount of time later)
Xander hated waiting, at least for such long periods of time like this. Fenris stood up again and started pacing like a caged animal.
“He’s just messing with us now. Playing mind games with us to keep us of guard while he laughs at us from wherever he is” Fenris rage again “This is why I never liked the man to begin with.” Fenris said
They had been locked in a room with no windows or doors. Xander supposed this was some sort of precaution to stop them from using the force to engineer and escape.
Suddenly the door opened and Jade walked through. “You are being summoned.” Jade said to the two. Xander nodded and stood up followed by Fenris as they walked through the door.
As they walked through the corridors the entire ship seemed to be in some sort of panic. Mechanics, and technicians seemed to be moving at twice the speed of their normal scurry. Even Jade seemed agitated, she often wore her heart on her sleeve but something really my have happened to make her emanate agitation at this sort of level.
After a while they reached the door of what they thought was Derev’s office.
“You know what?” Fenris said fairly loudly “He can kill me if he wants, but ..”
As the door opened a lone figure sat at Derev’s desk.
Clan in leather the Quaestor of House Ludo Kressh Faeril stood facing them “Glad you could make it gentlemen.” She said in a cool sardonic voice. “The times have changed".
OOC: This post is meant to move the plot up to be in line with the Chapter 4 post that Derev made. So Derev is locked in the Governor-General's quarters. The fleet is arriving, etc etc.
Approaching the Harbinger
"Harbinger, This is Nachzerer requesting landing clearance," repeated Tsainetomo. "Do you copy?"
Macron studied the readout on his holoscreen. "Their carrier wave is up," he said analytically. "They are receiving. Just not answering."
"Why would they not reply," asked Ruoxf. "Aren't we all friends again now?"
Both Dark Jedi looked at each other, with a slight wince and a look of mutual understanding. Macron spoke up. "Not exactly, young mistress. Dark Jedi are... usually possessed of shall we say strong personalities," he commented dryly.
"Something you will learn and even develop as you grow stronger with the Dark Side, young one," said the human-korun as he returned to the com panel."... do you copy?" finished the Krath as he leaned over the comlink. "This is..."
"Copy that Nachzerer. You are clear to land." Tsainetomo scanned other CNS channels with the Nachzerer's communications gear. The Verpine enhanced sensors caught a command channel from the Harbinger briefly, breaking the encryption for a moment.
"All fighter groups, Nachzerer is clear to land," came the officer's voice. "Order 72 is no longer active. Do not fire upon Kressh craft, I repeat do not fire..."
Sai looked up as he lost the encryption code. "We're in," he said with a smile. "Nice illegal gear. Bet it cost you," he smirked. "May I ask how much?"
"Not that much- just someone's life. Easy job," responded Mac with a sick grin. "I'm good for some things on occasion."
"Never saw it coming, eh?" snorted the Archpriest as he settled into an Ewok-hide chair to perform the landing with Macron. "Of course, you're not exactly the latest thing in covert ops. Not like a Krath."
Both men chuckled.
The tattooed alchemist looked slightly amused. "Do I look like the stealthy type? My gifts are in other areas. That Verpine saw it coming all right, but there was frack-all he could do about it. They wanted him to really feel the fear before he died." Mac flexed his hands before him like claws and giggled. "Ah, the sweet smell of success."
Aleho looked slightly ill as the madman freely admitted to performing an assassination. She would certainly not be the same after this trip. Somewhere, deep inside she felt her connection to the Dark Side growing from her experiences.
"Gotta admire that in a customer. Landing in 2," said Sai as he began to cycle the engines.
The hapless commander of the Harbinger clutched at his collar as he was yanked upwards by Manji, the Epis' good eye staring furiously into the two eyes of the Chiss.
"You're telling me that this whole frackin' conflict was one big ruse? And now there's an enemy fleet approaching us?"
Half-strangled, the Chiss managed to nod before Manji snarled furiously and hurled him aside, kimono whirling about him as he turned away.
Swallowing slightly, Jade fell in behind the Epis as he stormed down the corridor, boots ringing against the durasteel. The doors to the bridge slid open before them, opening onto a scene of organised chaos as the crew bellowed orders into their comm channels, the fleet arranging itself for battle. The capital ships rotated slowly until they were facing the direction from which the enemy fleet was approaching, every gun brought to bear.
Staring at the same tactical map that was present at every station on the bridge, Manji growled, pulling a hand heavily down his face.
"Ugh. I hate space battles. We should just let those nerf-herders board us and butcher them one by one."
Moving alongside him, Jade stared at the tactical map as well, her mouth twisting with distaste.
"There's certainly a lot of them..."
As the Sadowan fleet completed it's initial manoeuvres, the enemy fleet appeared on every ship's viewscreen. In an instant, the cannons were engaged, streaks of green fire tearing through the nothingness of space to create a beautiful, deadly lightshow. The belly of the Harbinger began to disgorge fighters as the battle was joined.
"Come with me, Alexander. They've almost landed." Quaestor Faeril stood up gracefully, with a sad look in her eyes. "So many died today, and for what. I understand the need for preparedness, but such a waste..." the Sith said thoughtfully as she made for the blast door.
Xander followed right behind. "Pardon, m'lady, but was it not the Overlord's idea?"
"Indeed it was," replied Faeril as they started down the echoing corridor. Klaxons resounded in the air as the ship went to general battle quarters. "That's what worries me. We're weak, and under attack. I've got an X-wing prepared for you in the hangar."
Harbinger Hangar Bay
The hatch of the beetle-shaped ship opened with a whine of servos, clanging to the deck plating below. Macron and Tsainetomo dashed down the stairs, sabers igniting and ready for trouble. Aleho followed behind them with her still unlit saber hilt in her hand.
The preparations were for naught. No party of troopers greeted them with arrest warrants, and in fact only two figures stood at the bottom of the ramp. Both men bowed and shut off their sunset-colored blades as they spotted Faeril and Xander. Ruoxf looked confused until Sai muttered "bow," under his breath while smiling at the Quaestor. The Togruta bowed gingerly.
Faeril frowned. "No time for the niceties. I need you to..."
"Oh no," the Warlord spoke up while waving his hands. "No way I'm doing another space battle in the Nachzerer. No way. Nope."
The Warrioress cleared her throat, rolled her eyes, and began again. "To report to the bridge, Macron. Both to assist with the battle, and to keep an eye on the bridge crew. I really doubt they'll try anything stupid with you around for balance. In the meantime, Tsainetomo here will be taking Your ship into battle."
The Archpriest chuckled. "Sucks for you, Mac," he snickered. "I'm taking your ride for a spin around the block it seems. I promise to fill 'er up before I bring the keys back. We really need to do something about that lame paint job though."
"My... ship?" peeped the alchemist in horror as his face dropped in disappointment. "Really?"
"That's not a request, that is an order," snarled the Quaestor. "We need all the vessels we can get out there right now after the skirmish. Protector Ruoxf, you're going with Tsainetomo. I understand you did well below. Now, you can experience space combat and see if that is to your liking," ordered the woman. "Xander, you're flying wing to the Nachzerer in one of the remaining XJ-3's. I hear you're decent with a fighter, unlike Macron here."
"As you wish," bowed Alexander. "May the Force be with you." He turned toward the waiting X-wing and walked toward it as the techs removed the fueling lines.
Tsainetomo and Aleho looked the hull of the Nachzerer over quickly for a preflight check as a repair droid sparked away at a side panel.
Macron walked with Faeril toward the turbolift that would take them both to the bridge. "Be careful with my baby," moaned the mad Sith behind him as the hatch began to close across the bay. "She's all I have left."
William Archaon Darkfire
William was about halfway through his walk from Mits’ office to Derev’s when the intercom had started blasting orders to prepare for battle. Initially, William was startled to hear the intercom blasting out, and had taken out his weapon, thinking it was an enemy seeking combat. His mind was still a little on the edge, it had never calmed down ever since his brother’s “tantrum” all those years ago.
It really had been a traumatic incident for William, his brother turning against his family and killing them all. The rage in his eyes, the fear in William’s. But now wasn’t the time to think of the past, now was the time to focus on the task at hand. He didn’t really know what he was supposed to do, however. He wasn’t a flight personnel, he didn’t man the blaster cannons, he didn’t do anything on this ship, he was just a guest.
People were running past him, shouting orders to each other, heading to their ships or their posts. William had the strangest feeling of alienation on this ship, he was always different. Everyone moving to their posts, but William standing completely still in the middle of a crisis. He didn’t belong here, he was the odd man out, and he didn’t like it.
Shaking the feeling aside, he told his legs to move, but they did nothing. He tried and tried, until they finally moved, slowly and awkwardly. He had to force his legs with all his might just to move forward the slightest bit; they seemed to want to move the other way. His entire body seemed to be betraying him, nothing moved how it should. He tried to clench his left hand, and his right hand slackened. He tried to speak, but nothing came out, and his mouth simply gaped. He was being controlled, like a puppeteer controls a marionette. He was barely in control of his body, and his mind was beginning to fade as well. It was like a poison slowly creeping through his veins, shutting down his body, and beckoning him to oblivion. He felt as though death was merely a short step away, but he knew neither death nor poison was doing this to him.
He could feel the pent up rage building inside him, struggling to be set free. He could feel everything inside him growing bigger, everything that had ever made him happy, or sad, or angry. Nothing made sense to him anymore. He was alone, yet surrounding by hundreds of people. He was angry, but he had nothing to be mad at. People and things went past him, but none of it registered in his brain. All the time, that feeling of hatred bubbling inside him like a witch’s potion in a big, black cauldron.
He struggled to see, everything was fuzzy and spinning. He could barely make out that he was nearing an opening, a door perhaps, it was very hard to tell. He was slowly making his way towards this opening, everything starting to turn white. He felt his mind detaching from his body, the force slowly leaving it behind, merely a shell filled with emotions and rage. He heard a thud, maybe someone falling to the ground, and then darkness and silence.
Jade starred at the maps and gave a mental sigh, out of the pot and into the frying pan was a great expression that came to mind. It really was a great tactic. Turn your enemy against itself, see how much damage they can do without you lifting a finger and then kick them when they are down. Jade looked down at the communications consul she was in front of and found a message telling them Macron was on his way up. She smirked, old and new master talk about a lesson session. She looked up at Manji, “Seems we’re going to get some help on the space battle front.”
Manji turned to her. “Who?”
She grinned, “Macron’s on his way.”
Manji snickered, “Seems they’ll let anyone lead these days.”
Before Jade could answer the door to the Bridge opened and Macron responded. “Only when they know you’re the best.”
Harbinger Hangar Bay
Xander made his way towards the X-Wing that had been prepared for him. To the untrained eye Xander seemed to be pretty calmly heading towards his destination. Those who were force adept could see a different picture beneath Xander’s placid façade. The Dark Jedi Knight blazed with fury at the entire situation. He hated that the machinations of things could be so absurd, he didn't like the fact that he often felt manipulated and unimportant.
As the techs removed the fueling line Xander nodded to them as he quietly climbed into the cockpit of the XJ-3. He flipped on the com unit and spoke tersely to the R3 Unit which was behind him
“Prep the ship and get ready to fly into battle” Xander said tersely to the astromech droid, which beeped an affirmative to him. Xander sighed inwardly, he had barely been working with this unit for a minute and he already missed his faithful companion Angel. The droid had been with him through thick and thin.
“Ready to head out?” A voice said over the communications shortly after Xander readied the communication, and pulled on his helmet.
“Affirmative, Alexander Anderson ready when you are.” Xander replied to the Nachzerer as he dialed down the inertial dampeners slightly on the ship he was piloting. Xander generally did this as many pilots because he felt that it allowed him to feel what he was doing better. Others of course said that is simply made them feel sick when they tried it.
“Follow me.” The voice cracked over the intercom.
Xander nodded to himself and followed the instructions. As he did so he set the astromech droid to pilot the ship out of the hanger bay. He looked down at his belt his lightsaber which he now had back was clipped to his belt. Also on his person was the jewel hilted dagger. He closed his eyes slightly thinking back
“I’m lending you this, so you better bring it back. Bring yourself back too.” She had said
Xander thought about that encounter for a moment and then shook his head. It was time for battle.
Harbinger Fighter Battle Group
Aleho looked in wonder at Tsainetomo as he worked the unique controls of the Nachzerer. Being holoresponsive in nature, there was no control yoke to speak of, so his movements varied between those that a virtuoso instrument player would make to someone practicing the forms of some obscure martial art. The beetle-shaped craft responded dutifully to his deft touch, gliding gracefully to form up amongst the other fighters, including Xander’s own XJ-3, taking its place in the lethal screen issuing from the Harbinger.
“So, Mistress, would you rather ‘spot ‘em’, or ‘pop ‘em’?” the Archpriest asked while his eyes floated between the sundry displays. Suitably confused, all the young Aleho could manage was a very unsure, “Uhhhmmm...”
“I’m sorry; you’re not familiar with the lingo.” As the Keibatsu spoke, a sweep of his hand brought up a spherical display. “This is a 360-degree display of where we are. The blue blips are friendlies, and any unfriendlies will be red. You can call them out to me as they approach, type and proximity, and I can shoot them down. Or, you can take the guns if you’d like.”
It all sounded too complicated for Aleho, and the blank look on her young face showed it. After a moment, the Archpriest recanted. “Maybe it’s too much for now. Here, we’ll let you do shields.” With that, another graceful sweep erased the 360 display and brought up a top-down, stylized view of the craft. “Hopefully, I can keep any bad guys off of us, but any hits will register as flashing fields around this display. All you have to do is divert power to where the flashes are. Simple enough?”
Aleho thought so, until she realized there were no buttons for her to push. Another blank stare met Tsainetomo.
“I’ll show you how, don’t worry. Remember how you felt back on the surface when you were killing those men?” Aleho nodded. “Ok, try to tap into that same emotion; it’ll be easy once we start rocking. The only difference, instead of turning the emotion inward, you’ll extend it to the ship. Then, you take your hand” – here, Aleho felt her arm being coaxed to move a certain way through the display, guided by Tsainetomo’s insistent telekinetic touch – “and move it thusly. The ship will take care of the rest.”
“Most importantly,” Sai continued with his voice grave, “you must talk to me. I can’t maneuver if I don’t know you need help, and I’ll tell you what I’m doing so you can respond in kind. Also, you’ll have Xander on a dedicated channel in your headphones there. He’s the best in a wingman we could ever ask for, so talk to him, too. He’ll come running if we need help, but we need to watch his back as well. Got it?”
Aleho struggled to process her crash-course in battle tactics. “Anything else?” she chirped in a small voice.
“If you have any gods, I suggest you pray to ‘em right now. There won’t be much time for it later on,” Tsainetomo replied, switching the craft’s fire controls to his console. He’d have his hands more than full, between keeping them alive and bringing the Nachzerer back to Macron in one piece.
William Archaon Darkfire
William lay on the ground, sprawled out and apparently unconscious. He hadn’t quite made it into the supplys closet, he had fallen short a few inches. A couple of the personnel running by had seen him collapse, and one of them dashed over to investigate what was going on.
“Uh, are you ok?” He asked. William made no sound, and did not move at all. “Damn, what’s wrong with this guy? Hey guys, can I get some help over here? Something’s wrong with this guy, he just collapsed for no reason.” A second man came over, dressed in a flight suit, helmet held in the pit of his arm. He looked down at William, then gently nudged him with his foot, seeing if he was conscious. His body was stiff, not limp like a dead or unconscious person’s body is usually.
“Weird, did you see anything happen to him?”
“Well, he was kind of just standing in the middle of the hallway, and when he walked, it was really weird, kinda like this,” He imitated William’s walk, “Ya think he mighta had some seizure or something?”
“Maybe, guess we won’t know till he gets up, right? Wait, he’s getting up!” William had gotten onto his hands and feet, slowly making his way to a standing position. “Man, what the hell happened to you?” William made no response, his back to both men. “Come on, you can talk to me, I won’t bite.” Said the man wearing the flight suit. Before either man had time to react, William whirled around and launched himself at the man, sinking his teeth into his arm. He let out a howl of pain, bleeding from under the suit.
“But I might!” Shouted William, his voice exceedingly deep. He released his arm, blood staining his teeth.
“Holy crap, what in Ragnos’ name is wrong with you? You’re crazy!” William’s hand shot to his back, where it felt the hilt of his axe, tightening around the durasteel weapon. He swung it over his shoulder, it’s specially designed easy-release strap letting it leave unhinged, and lodged it into the crown of his head.
“And you’re dead,” He pulled out the axe, and his body crumpled to the floor, bleeding profusely. He turned to face the other individual, who was gaping in disbelief, horrified. William cocked his head to the side and grinned widely, laughing maniacally. The man sprinted away, but found an axe slicing through his arm and burying into his rib cage. He was slammed in the back of his head, then felt his feet flailing out from underneath him, and he plummeted to the ground. He landed on his tail bone, and a sharp, freezing pain shot up his spine and into his neck. He jerked to the side as the axe was pulled out of his body, and tried desperately to move and scream, but nothing happened. He felt a pair of firm hands grasp his head by the temples, felt his neck jerked back sharply, and then it was over.
By now, all activity in the hallway had stopped. No one ran by anymore, everyone stood and stared, equally horrified. The crazed madman looked up at the gathering of people, and let out a crazy, psychotic laugh.
Harbinger Fighter Battle Group
"I can handle the sensors too, Mr. Keibatsu," remarked the young Togruta as she studied the holocontrols. "It's like a video game. It sort of makes sense." She waved her hands across the lighted console, picking one point and depositing it a foot over with a greenish line between. "It's like the new 10209 gaming console, bit more advanced but more clunky. The girl grinned as she stood a little taller.
"So all those hours you spent on Corellians and Hutts weren't wasted," chuckled Tsainetomo. "Fine then. What are they telling you?" he asked as he touched another line of blue light. The interior lights dimmed as power was diverted to the combat systems and engines.
Aleho looked about, slightly concerned. “That the enemy ships over there have launched fighters,” she commented. Her fingers waggled in the air, points of light streaming from fingertips to weave across each other in the darkened chamber. “They are TIE Interceptors, and a few bombers from the looks. Yeah, TIEs. The ID program verified it,” she huffed. “Spot on.”
Sai remained speechless for only a second, quickly closing his gaping jaw. Aleho might be even better than he was with the weird controls. “Hot damn,” he canted slyly. “You have the touch, kid. Wait ‘til I tell Mac there’s someone else better than he is with this old girl,” he said as he patted the console. “That’ll burn his exhaust jets for sure.” He touched the comlink spot. It lit a dull red as the channel opened. “Alexander, do you copy?”
“Copy. I read you Nachzerer. I’m forming on your Three o’clock,” he remarked. “Looks like they launched Interceps. Do you have a confirmation on that?” The channel hissed with the electromagnetic noise of space. “Nachzerer?”
The Krath gestured towards Aleho inside the transport’s cramped cockpit. “Answer the man, youngling. We have better sensors, and he’s asking for your input. This is how you work with your wingman.”
Ruoxf smiled, touching the comspot on her own display. “Um. Copy that, Knight Alexander. We have positive ID on Seinar TIE Interceptors. They appear to be modified with basic shields.”
Xander smiled inside of his flight helmet as he twisted a knob on the heads-up display in his XJ-3. “Welcome aboard, Protector. It seems they will be on us in about five standard minutes.”
ISD II Harbinger
"Officer on deck," barked the Sergeant guarding the turbolift door as Macron strode forth from it.
"At ease, Sergeant," replied the Warlord as the man relaxed slightly. He peered ahead intently, noticing Manji and Jade staring at him. Manji's face creased with a grin as Jade waved towards the madman. Macron waved back gleefully.
A figure wearing the uniform of a Vice Admiral stepped forward. "Marshal Commander Sadow, Governor Faeril has requested that you supervise the shields and weapons tactical pit."
"As you wish, Vice Admiral Larin Garash." The Sith bowed with a flourish of red cape. "I am at your command." Mac strode towards the sunken area, barking a series of curt orders. "No time to waste. Get me a channel to Flight Commander Terol. Move shields to forward positions, and prepare for the first pass of snubfighters..."
William Archaon Darkfire
It was a very surreal experience, being away from one’s body. It was very weird to William, just floating in space, inbetween life and death, reality and fiction. He had no body, no thoughts, just his soul. Everything was white, but not pure white, it was more like having milk over your eyes; he could make out nothing, but could still see through the milky whiteness to see the impressions of people and things.
He couldn’t move, or think, or do anything but half exist. Through the whiteness, he would often see hazy images of happenings, most likely what was going on down at the Harbinger. It was like an old window that had become disfigured and covered in filth over many decades. He couldn’t turn away from it, he always looked the same direction, sometimes seeing the whiteness, sometimes peering through this proverbial window.
It was slightly ironic, in the way that, although William’s soul was free, free of his body and reality, he felt trapped and longed to be back in his body. And yet, he could not feel anything, so how did he know he was longing to be back? Then again, he couldn’t think, so how could he know anything? Where ever it was that his soul was floating, it was a terrible place. It was why William loathed it so much, and loathed his inner self so much after his returns. Mad at himself for succumbing to it yet again, and enraged at the captor.
Archaon. The millenia dead warlord who embodied everything hateful inside him, quadrupled it, and used it as a drive to control him and fulfill his only reason for possesion. Hatred. Hatred towards the man who had killed him. Hatred towards the God’s who kept him imprisoned outside of his body for eternity. Hatred towards planets for never accepting him as their leader, and conforming to fit his image. Hatred was his single emotion, and to him, the only one he needed to exist. Hatred made him powerful, and without it, he was nothing.
And so he hated. And so William feared. Completely safe from the crazy warlord, and completely safe from any actions he could do, he still feared. For William was not naturally black-hearted. As he floated in oblivion, blackness was the only feeling that he was completely sure that he was actually feeling. Surrounded by whiteness, and still feeling dark, it was what truly terrified the Chiss. He hated darkness, and that was what Archaon meant to him.
He had a vague vision of bodies flying in the air, and an axe chopping into a body, crunching as it stopped abruptly, half way through a spine. He heard a silent, deep, fuzzy laugh, and muffled screams of various tones and pitches. If he were to lose his sight and his hearing forever, William would never be a sad man again.
Harbringer Fighter Battle Group
“All right, so how do you want to do this?” the voice cracked over the intercom.
Xander looked down at his controls and thought. The astromech droid behind him squeaked, then continued to feed the nav data across Xander’s monitor. He quickly punched a combination of buttons in sending out coordinates.
“Ok ready for this? Nothing fancy let’s just do this by the manual” Xander said calmly. Going by the manual actually meant that what they needed to do was race out and engage that interceptor while the wing remain close as a backup. This was generally done better in a group of three but Xander felt pretty sure that the other ship would be able to pick up the slack. If they didn’t of course, things could get messy but Xander had every confidence in them.
“Go.” The problem in Xander’s estimation was that he didn’t really feel that it was the best thing that could be done. It meant that one pilot had to take the brunt of the load. More often than not when he was Ravana Commander he would take on that role himself. Using the force to guide him, and often taking on six or seven ships at the same time. But the way things were looking he felt that soon they were going to have to deal with the interceptors in wave after wave.
“Let’s go, mess with the best die like the rest” the protector said over the com unit. mess with the best die like the rest? Xander thought, who actually says that kind of crap?
He shook his head and kicked his X-Wing into a controlled roll heading into laser fire on Nachzerer’s flank. They quickly took out the first interceptor despite it’s shields and quickly sliced through the explosion targeting the other surrounding ships. The astromech droid whistled annoyingly as Xander once again wished he had Angel with him.
Quickly juking around the Nachzerer Xander continued firing then suddenly pulled up throttling back finding three interceptors in front of him and ready for plucking. Using the force to guide him he started picking off the interceptors.
He forgot how much he loved this
Harbinger Fighter Battle Group
The red bolts from the X-wing’s wingtips slammed into the first Interceptor head on. Its shields flickered, dropping as they overloaded with a flash. Xander pumped a few ion cannon shots into the ship’s side, causing it to crawl with blue sparks and begin to drift. “You’re finished, I’ll take you out later,” commented the Knight as he turned the hurtling Incom fighter around.
The two TIEs were pounding the Nachzerer. Green bolts shot from their panels to rip into the fluttering shields. Inside, the scene was chaos.
“We can’t take any more hits on the right side!” exclaimed Aleho Ruoxf as she waved her hands over the console. Lights changed color around her, each one indicating some sort of information about the ship. Some of them were blinking an unhappy red.
“Sure we can kid,” replied Sai as he waved his own hands through the strands of multicolored light. “One word: Armor. It won’t hold long, but it won’t take long either to waste these punks.” He concentrated, anticipating the movement of one of the TIEs as he turned the transport about. “Mistress, target that ship with one of the last missiles and start getting a lock.”
The probability of the snub fighter’s flight path echoed in his mind, and the Krath slammed his hand on the old-fashioned red firing button. Red bolts shot forth from the Nachzerer, lancing the Interceptor’s shields with energy. “Fire the missile!” he shouted at the Togruta girl.
Aleho responded, touching the console in front of her. The ship gave a mild shudder as it hiccupped one of the last birds in its belly toward the maneuvering false Brotherhood pilot. Blue plasmatic light shot from its tail as it sped hungrily toward the foe.
The enemy pilot pulled up hard, turning his ship right into Xander’s path. Blue ion bolts slammed into it from the rear, almost instantly removing the last of the shielding. It stopped moving under it’s own power as the approaching concussion missile slammed into its side. The TIE exploded into a shower of debris and fire.
“Perfect,” commented Tsainetomo. “The old one-two. Xander, do you have any more hostile contacts?” Aleho watched carefully as the silence echoed in the cockpit.
“I do, but we’ve moved beyond them in the dogfight. Looks like they are engaging the Harbinger. We’ve got one of their screening corvettes coming up,” answered the Knight across the comlink. “It also appears the rest of the Clan ships have shown up, along with Platform Onyx.”
“You thinking what I am, Mr. Anderson?” asked the Archpriest.
“Probably. I’ve still got a full belly of proton torpedoes,” came the response.
“I’ve got four myself, and two single turbolasers. Let’s go nail a corvette!” he shouted gleefully. ‘Looks like they finally gave Fenris a fighter,” he said. “He’s in a HLAF, almost to our position.”
“Copy that. I’m coming about on your nine,” said the Knight. “I think we have them on the run.”
“Care if I join you gentlemen?” asked the familiar voice form the comlink.
“Please do!” answered Tsainetomo. “Let’s go stick this piggy.”
ISD II Harbinger
“Admiral Garash sir, the Covenant and Orian Legacy have arrived to support us,” commented one of the pit officers. “The Vibres are holding out fairly well at range.”
“I see that,” said the uniformed man as he held his chin thoughtfully in his hands. His eyes flickered across the tactical readout in front of him on the view screen. “Order the Interdictor to power up and launch fighters.”
Manji turned to the Admiral. “You mean to hold them here? Are you crazy?” he asked.
Jade spoke up. “Surely this is a mistake?” The woman fidgeted as she considered the implications of holding their enemies at arm’s length. “We are outnumbered.”
“No. In fact, we intend to destroy them,” the career officer said solemnly. “The entire Clan fleet is now deployed, and even the Kangaras Division has arrived outside the interdictor field. They are caught like bugs in a trap. Even the Final Way is not as damaged as she appears. She will be the icing on the cake.”
“You’re kidding me?” asked Jade.
“No. It was all part of Overlord Astronicus’ plan. The flames were largely a ruse, and neither of us were using full powered weaponry earlier. The information that she was adrift was a ploy designed to draw our enemies into battle. And well done, I must say,” ruminated Garash. To add weight to his words, the rapidly approaching ominous figure of the Final Way began to come around the side of the planet Inos.
“Shields to right side,” ordered Macron across the room as he loomed over several officers down in the pit. “All turbolasers, give them a broadside,” he commanded. “Divert 10% power from life support and fire the ion cannons too.”
The lights in the ship dimmed a tiny amount as the power drain kicked in. The air was slightly colder as well. Admiral Garash spoke as he opened the interior com. “All hands, now hear this. We are going to life support level two. Don protective gear. That is all,” he said as he looked at the madman. “I sure as hell hope you know what you are doing, son,” he remarked with concern.
“I’m sure Astronicus does,” laughed Macron dryly. “It looks like they are on the run, and we’re gonna win this thing.”
“Then we begin the rebuilding,” mused Manji. “Again.” All of the Dark Jedi present stopped for a moment, realizing the implications of the statement. The Clan would win this, but it would take time to rebuild the trust and things that had been destroyed.
William Archaon Darkfire
Archaon remained in full control of William’s body, deciding its every move, thought, and reaction. Driven by insanity and rage, William’s body moved at an alarming rate, almost twice as quickly and powerfully as usual. Arhcaon may have been unable to feel pain, but all bodies have their limitations, and Williams’ were being exceeded. His muscles were beginning to tear, little by little, each stroke of the axe disconnection his muscles from his bones a tiny bit more. And up in the sky, William found the presence of darkness accompanied by the feeling of pain.
Back on the Harbinger, Archaon was fast at work, butchering every living being in reach. Some stood in shock, some ran, and some pulled out blasters, but Archaon’s speed and strength was too much for their shaky hands to best. A bolt shot, an axe to the thigh. A scream of pain, a laugh of crazed joy. It was repetitive and grotesque, and was the only thing Archaon craved.
A body hit the floor, and Archaon turned to face his next victim. He swung his axe, taking aim at the fleshy neck of the pilot. About a foot away, his axe froze in space. He struggled to move it forward, and screamed when no results were yielded. He pulled it back for another swing, but found himself unable to move the axe in any direction. Suddenly, it was yanked out of his hand, and went flying through the air, his head crashing into one of the metal walls of the Harbinger, a blotch of crimson left behind.
William’s pain was starting to get unbearable when suddenly, it ended. The “spyglass” with which he had been watching Archaon’s progress disappeared, and he suddenly felt the sensation of hurtling towards the ground at impressive speeds. His vision began to clear up, and he could make out the Harbinger, quickly approaching him. He shortly realized that the Harbinger was not racing towards him, rather he was falling towards it. As abruptly as it had started, he came to a crashing halt, as though he had been slammed face first into a floor. His vision blurred again, and everything turned milky once more.
Archaon’s eyes opened, a new fire of fury and rage glowing behind them. He picked himself up and scanned the halls for his culprit. His eyes laid rest upon a slightly tall human in black robes, standing still and looking very discontent. He growled and shouted at him, his deep voice echoing in the now empty hallway. He bolted towards the man, his axe readied to strike. The man stuck his arm out, and William’s feet left the floor.
“GAAAH!!! LET ME GO!!!!!” He screamed and thrashed, and, finally seeing he was not going to be released, threw his axe at the man’s head with remarkable accuracy. It stopped in mid air only a few feet away from William’s hand, spun around for a few seconds, then launched towards the wall, bouncing off of it and falling with a dull thud against the floor. The man took out what appeared to be a lightsaber, and ignited the blade. It was no ordinary lightsaber, however. It had two glowing, orange blades that protruded out the side, arching together to form a blade at the end.
“You should be sure of what you’re doing before you actually do it, apprentice. You are in no position to be demanding me to let you down, and violence will get you nowhere in your current state.” Stated Derev.
“SHUT UP!!! I didn’t come out so I could hear you talk! Let me go and face me like a man, you damn cheater!” Shouted Archaon, unwise in the ways of the force, even after observing William’s use of it.
“Cheating?” He let William down, and guided the axe toward him, where it was hastily snatched up. “The force is fair play; your inability to harness it is not my fault, nor is it yours. You may control my apprentice’s body, but don’t let that trick you into thinking I won’t kill you. I would gladly kill my apprentice should he fail me, regardless of who is controlling his actions.”
The Runon is Closed!