A Foreboding Wind
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
A foreboding wind scoured the bleak icy surface of the barren moon, rushing along to come to a stop against the craggy rough-hewn formations of the site known as the Necropolis. They almost seemed drawn to the wizened figure who now stepped through one of the entrances with a surety that belied his prematurely-aged appearance. The dust of ages billowed around his tattered and filthy clothing, cutting through his meager protection to lap hungrily at wrinkled skin. The only sign the silent man gave that the temperature had bothered him was a slight clenching of a blanched fist. The wind suddenly ceased as if it were a hushed and chastened child.
Stepping further away from the structure, the man walked without the slightest limp or hint of a bowed back; surefooted and confident, it was as if the soul of a much younger man inhabited the dilapidated shell of his body. A strict physical regimen allowed him to keep his form in as tautly fit a condition that his advanced years could manage. However, that routine was one of the last vestiges of any discipline that remained within his fractured mind. Otherwise, his thoughts swirled like the frozen winds that circled the hoary rime-clad cliffs.
Many years of Dark Side usage had reduced the man's psyche to a tattered shell of what it used to be when he served the Emperor. The Force had been a charitable, if not benevolent, mistress. His command of the eldritch and esoteric was nearly instinctual at this stage in his life. The man formerly from Vjun literally ate and breathed the Dark Side, wallowing in the secret-riddled ghoulish delights of the dark caves below.
Even now, the Dark Side leapt to his aid as his yellow eyes fought to adjust to the outside light. The power came almost unbidden to better enable him to view the area. The mad former Shadow Guard cast a crazed look towards the scudding gray skies. Portents of possible futures slid before his vision, reminding him of what his secret allies had foretold.
Indeed, it was this strange vision borne of a dream within the Force's deep embrace that coaxed the elderly hermit from his haunt within the vast underground structure. The ominous phantasm spoke of strife, death, and visitors from afar. He smiled in grim anticipation, reaching up to absentmindedly brush a wisp of silver hair from his face. His other hand crunched ice beneath the butt of the metallic black phrikite staff he leaned on.
"It seems we are to receive guests," the man said to seemingly no one in particular. "Come, let us prepare." With that, he turned to re-enter the structure with a flourish of his tattered black and red robes. As if emboldened by his disappearance, the wind suddenly began to gust anew, howling with the voices of unfortunate beings whose remains had long been transformed back to the dust from whence they came.
Inos Moon 44
The ship known as the Nachzerer settled with a crunch and the whine of servos as the landing gear bit into the moon's permafrost. Her engines began to cycle down and the ramp to the beetle-shaped craft opened, allowing its occupants egress onto the planet.
Two figures tramped down the ramp to begin surveying the landing site, one clad in blood-red armor, the other in his woolen warrior's robes, the well-made cloak drawn tightly about his form. "Gorram cold planet again. Thanks, Mac," Tsainetomo growled under his breath.
"Yeah. I'm telling you, you ought to invest in some gear, man. Seriously." Macron looked at the Krath Archpriest with a grin on his tattooed face as he removed his visor.
Brothers and Sons in Sadow, Macron Goura and Tsainetomo Keibatsu gave little in the way of conversation to the Journeymen that accompanied them on this expedition, and who now spilled out of the Nachzerer to walk around the stationary Equites, as a stream flows around rocks in its depths. Each of the Dark Jedi had a purpose on this moon. The environment was harsh, but this assembled team was harsher.
No details were known of their mission on the far-flung system's moon, save to Mac and Sai. "Besides," thought the Korun-Keibatsu telepathically to the alchemist, "The less that is known about our reason for being here, the less explaining that we'll have to do when one of them doesn't return."
"Or if none of us do," replied Macron silently. The Sith spoke up. "Alright, look sharp people. We're here to investigate this site. Here's the scoop..."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
"The scoop is, we're here to investigate this dusty old boneyard," piped up Tsainetomo. "Rumor has it that Lord Orian used it for burials. Like any Sith, he probably stashed interesting things in the tunnels below, if we can find our way in." The assembled group of Dark Jedi remained silent, taking in the briefing as they peered about the cold cliff base.
"Correct, my tripart-oculated friend. We sensed this site during the recent Battle of Inos," recalled the alchemist as he gesticulated. "Obviously, that was not the time for a thorough investigation. However, with the recent orders issued by the Overlord..."
The Krath Archpriest coughed, interrupting his friend with a nudge. "Ahem. What my addle-pated friend here means
is that this team of crack operatives has been assembled to check the Tomb sites out. We are to collect any pertinent data, items, or other useful things."
"Including life-forms," muttered Macron under his breath. "Our intelligence reports indicate the possibility of other Force-users on this moon as well. They are to be considered hostile and dealt with accordingly." His face cracked a grin, twisting the tattoos horribly as the madman smiled. Only the thought of violence made him smile these days.
"What Macron means in plain language is- if you encounter hostiles, kill them with no questions asked."
The Korun-Keibatsu smirked. "We're pretty sure that we will encounter resistance." The Krath pointed at the armored Sith Warlord. "At least, he's hoping so."
One of the team raised a hand, and Tsainetomo spoke. "You have a question....?"
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
The young Krath archeological student raised her hand, the tips of her fingers would keep seen just above the heads of the older Journeymen. "Yes Master. I read in a archeology book by Master Caerick's that Sith Lords of old would booby trap their tombs to stop Jedi and tomb raiders. Booby traps like creatures and other Sith traps."
The voice turned out to be Guardian Aleho Ruoxf, the youngest Dark Jedi in Clan Naga Sadow. Leho had taken an interest in Krath archeology after reading a book written by Trevarus Caerick; a Krath archeologist himself.
"I'm pretty excited to see whats inside," the ten year old Togruta had met Sai and Macron during the Battle of Inos, "I have brought some equipment if we need to dig anything up." It was clear this Krath was buzzing to get inside.
Tsainetomo nudged Macron’s arm with his elbow, as if to say 'This one', and allowed a look of pride to play across his features, if only for a moment. He’d remembered young Aleho from their previous exploits during the Feud, and had come away impressed by her fervor. He made a mental note to have a lengthy conversation with Ashura later on; there was indeed something about the Togruta that bore watching, and the Procon would have answers to questions that begged to be asked. Meanwhile, Macron picked up on the cue, and began to jibe the other Journeymen.
“That’s the spirit! She’s only 10, and I wish the rest of you had just half of her spine!” The remark, though delivered with a smile by the mad alchemist, cut the rest of the Journeymen to the quick; a shuffling of feet by some and others seizing the Dark Side prompted Sai to speak up.
“If some of you were offended, you should be; only the strong can hope to survive the path we’ve chosen as Dark Jedi, and that strength might be the only thing that lets you walk out of that place alive.” He cast a glance over his shoulder to the façade of the Tomb, and felt for a fleeting moment as if their assemblage were being watched.
Macron continued. “Now if you’re done feeling sorry for yourselves, I suggest you start checking your gear. There’ll be time to answer a few more questions before we go inside. Be sure to check in with myself or Sai soon; we’ll need to know how you want us to contact your next-of-kin if you don’t make it back.”
Jade listened to the speech from the top of the ramp from the Nachzerer. She shook her head the freezing air brushing over her robes finding its way through the tiny holes in the fabric until it finally turned her skin to ice. She looked at the tiny hand stretched above the other jourmeymen. Jade remembered Aleho well, Zaxen and she had been very annoyed with the deal to leave her behind when they last fought on the icy surface, but it had worked out in the end. Apparently her clan mates could still be trusted…to a point.
As the journeymen scattered to do their equipment checks Jade made her way down the ships freezing ramp, her footsteps barely audible until the snow surrounded her boots and crunched under her presence. She walked up to Macron and Sai giving a slight bow to Macron. “Master.” She looked at Sai and smiled keeping her fangs in check. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you again.” She resisted the urge to embrace the men, glad the feud was over, and she gestured with a black gloved hand at the bitter colourless surface. “You didn’t bring us here again just so you could do some strange endurance experiment did you Macron?”
Macron smirked and looked her in the eye. “If I wanted to do that, I know of a perfect Dark Jedi who isn’t quiet human.”
Jade smirked then chuckled, half tempted to say ‘I’d like to s you try it,’ but knew full well he would take her up on those words if she did. “Good to be working with each other again, instead of against one another.” Macron and Sai both nodded their agreement. Jade glanced over at the journeymen then back at the two powerful Dark Jedi’s. “What can I do?”
The Prefect of the Marakith Skyhook looked over the city of Seng Karash. Between helping the Dlarit Police firm up their ranks and fixing the security protocols on the Skyhook, Joseem had his hands full. Turning away from the window, he motioned for his BD-3000
luxury droid to attend him. He always asked the droid to wait on the far end of the office, to better watch her
gyro-stabilized gait. "Feema
, make sure that R7 gets the repairs completed on the Starhawk
. I may have to go see the Governor at his residence down in the Residential District." Feema's eyes glowed a soft blue as she registered the command. "Of course, Master. I will attend to it at once." and with that, she walked away.
Joseem turned back to the large window. The skyhook turned at a very slow rate, so as not to disturb the occupants, but enough to give views of all of Seng Karash. Joseem was looking over the Entertainment District at the moment, the monolith of Dystopia jutting out from the surrounding buildings, black as his own hidden heart. Suddenly, Joseem felt a disturbance in the Force, a shock of like minds reacting when he saw a flash and then smoke rising from Dystopia.
He turned and activated his hologram. Lieutenant Krill, his personal DAC, popped up and resolved in shimmering blue. Not waiting for a response, Joseem started barking orders, "Krill, grab a platoon of men you trust and dress them in Dlarit Police Tactical Response gear. I want all of you on the roof of Dystopia in five minutes. Contact me when you have arrived." Krill saluted, "Yes sir, right away sir." Joseem then brought up the captain of the engineering team. "Toby, lock us up tight, I think it would be prudent for the next few hours that we run a drill, a mock invasion, if you will." Captain Toby saluted, "Yes sir, I will see to it."
Joseem once again looked out the window, feeling the skyhook stop turning, his eyes on Dystopia. Things are never quiet over there, but this seems different. I hope they can use the help I am sending them....
: Here is what the Special Tactics armor
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
“You can start by interviewing the Journeymen and cataloguing their strengths and weaknesses,” began Tsainetomo in response to Jade’s offer. “We’re not quite sure of what – or who – exactly we’re up against in there, and we’ll need to be able to react quickly should we be set upon by the unsavory.”
“So what am I now, your secretary?!” Jade responded incredulously, snarling as she fought to keep her baser instinct to attack the Korun-Keibatsu in check.
“Tsk, tsk, my apprentice; you did ask, after all,” Macron chided with a broad smile, sensing a fight and doing his not-so-very best to stop it. He crossed his arms and waited for the music of ‘sabers springing to life to begin.
Tsainetomo, for his part, didn’t take the bait. The newly named Son of Sadow stretched out with his feelings and spoke calmly, his eyes half-lidded. “Ah, Jade; I sense much conflict in you. You’re unsure of why we’re here, and your newfound powers are aching to be tested. You want answers, but you don’t know what questions to ask, most importantly because,” – here, Sai’s eyes opened fully – “you don’t trust me.”
“And, you shouldn’t.”
At Sai’s startling admission, both Jade and Macron shifted suddenly. The memories of their previous excursion to Inos were still fresh in their minds. The turn of events had ended with the young Aleho wrenched from Jade and Zaxen’s protective grasp and they themselves thrown to Derev’s potentially less-than-tender mercies, and all at Sai’s suggestion. “You shouldn’t trust me, Jade, for the simple fact that I am not asking you to. Just give me the benefit of the doubt. I know you are powerful, but you lack focus, discipline. Your erstwhile Master here has taught you plenty, but he is after all, only a Sith...no offense, Mac.”
Macron bowed with a flourish. “None taken,” he said, his yellow eyes flashing in the pale light.
Tsainetomo continued, stepping close to Jade. “While you have been newly initiated into the inner levels of the Krath Priesthood, I have been flourishing within its Mysteries, and am willing to share my experience with you, should you choose to avail yourself of my knowledge. I can give you the tools with which to hone your unfettered rage, Atema, just as Shin’ichi has done for me.”
Jade’s eyes narrowed at the invocation of the Abomination’s name, and at the mention of her married one, she spat into the permafrost. “Don’t call me that!”
“We are who we are,” Tsainetomo said with a warm smile. “But, we can also be so much more than that, if we choose to be.”
His words sank deeply into Jade’s mind, and she looked at him before responding in a low and deep voice.
“I will do as you ask, and think on your offer...for now.”
“Either way, you will have your education,” Tsainetomo promised. Satisfied, Jade turned away and began to mill about the assembled Journeymen.
When she was out of earshot, Macron exhaled audibly. “That was close. I just knew there was about to be a fight! You are a smooth one, Sai, I’ll give you that. You could sell ice to a Wampa!” He clapped his friend roughly on the shoulder.
“Make no mistake; she’s strong, bud. I may have taken her if it came to that, but at what cost, I wonder? It’s in the air, Mac; can’t you feel it? The Dark Side is strong here. It’s affecting everyone, even you.” Sai looked at the alchemist from beneath his eyebrows, knowing that Mac wouldn’t try to egg on a fight unless he was in it.
In response, the madman shrugged. “I guess...but I’m thinking I need to bring you up to speed on what I’ve discovered, and why I asked you to join me here. It’s getting cold, and we’re gonna have to go in that forsaken place sooner or later. Come inside; there’s something I need to show you.” With that, the two Sons disappeared into the Nachzerer.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Nachzerer Interior Bay
"See the common thread?" remarked Macron. "It appears Sunei was indeed spotted on this moon by the Arakyd Viper droid we deployed." He punched a button on the display screen, shifting the image to a blurry figure standing near the Tomb facade.
"The guy is a former Shadow Guard," said Tsainetomo while holding his chin thoughtfully.
"He could be a rough customer by now." The Krath pointed at the figure. "He has a staff."
Both men looked at each other thoughtfully, brows creased.
"Undoubtedly he is, given that the Shadow Guard were top-notch warriors. They spread throughout the Stars after the Empire fell. Especially here in the Outer Rim." The Sith scrolled through a readout of spectral data from the droid's archived feed. "That confirms it. The staff is Phrikite."
"They used lightsaber pikes if I remember correctly," stated Sai. "Red ones. We had best inform the rest and get started."
"Sure man," Macron said as he opened a locker. An old and wicked-looking Tenloss disruptor rifle was withdrawn by the madman, along with a strange-looking powerpack replete with cable that he attached to his back.
The Archpriest and the Warlord started down the ramp as Macron replied. "It's an old Jedi powerpack, with some... modifications. Found it on Ossus. As long as it doesn't overheat, I can shoot the hell out of this thing with it attached. If it does overheat, well let's just say I won't be worrying about it any more at that point. Heh."
"You never mentioned being on Ossus? And you usually don't use a blaster?" Tsainetomo looked confused as they came down the boarding ramp. Around them, there was a firebase set up. A tall Delta-class clone with the markings of a major was directing the scene efficiently. Jade stood facing the tombs, her face crinkled in concentration.
"That's right my brother. But it's not a blaster, it's a disruptor. Much better on zombies, man." The alchemist winked with one yellow eye at Sai as Aleho gulped nervously nearby.
"Zombies?" she piped up. "Really? I did read the Sith used them."
Jade turned to the group, walking back a few meters to the camp. "Zombies are there, yes. And something else... something that hungers." Her own instincts were seething under the surface of her smile, sharp teeth pricking flesh. She could hardly wait to do battle and experience this Dark place.
"I bet so," agreed Sai as he regarded the clone. "I don't believe we have met, Major..."
, sir," replied the trooper with a salute. "Delta-17 Advanced Class Commando assigned to Marshal Commander Macron Sadow. Advanced rankings in archaeology, combat tactics, chemistry, terrain and artillery operations."
The Korun-Keibatsu turned to look at Macron with distrust winking in his weird eyes. "Lots of things you haven't told me, apparently. How long did you have you had this dude in the cooler?" He jerked his thumb at the Major as he returned to his duties. "Poor bastard."
"Until a week ago. I did pick him when I was Consul, but the Viceroy ordered me to activate him for this mission," answered the Sith with a non-committal shrug. "Okay people, let's move out," he said as he gestured toward the yawning caves.
"It will tempt you with illusions," said the Archpriest as they all began to pick their way toward the site. "Keep your mind strong, and your focus clear. Master your fear, and release your anger. Remember, this is a Dark Side site of some power. It will play on your emotions, and urge you towards the Dark Side. If you can maintain your sense of self, your connection to the Dark Side of the Force will be much stronger after this trip."
"Ekeia, you take point with Jade. Hunter Basai, you will scout for flankers and check any side tunnels briefly. I'll bring up the rear and cover our backs. Sai here is in charge of the front and any threat analysis," remarked Macron as they cautiously entered one of the gaping abyssal openings. "Watch out for traps and undead. Anyone got a fusion lantern?"
"I do," said Aleho Ruoxf as she ignited it. "Ashura said it would come in handy."
Tsingtao sat up from his bed at the sound of data terminal alerting him to an urgent incoming message. He looked around the room trying to recognize his surrounding. The room itself was dimly lit with ornate furniture and tapestries decorating the room. A large wooden desk occupied the room at the far end. A flashing light next to the desk is probably the data terminal.
Something in the bed stirred as the terminal chirped again. Tsingtao looked back at the bed and noticed a female Zeltron curled up asleep next to where he was lying down. "This is surely not Gamuslag," he thought to himself with a chuckle. He proceeded to get out of the bed and headed over to his desk.
"Tsingtao here, what is it?" he said as he leaned back in his chair.
"Sorry to disturb you, Commander, you have an urgent message from the Prefect of the Marakith Skyhook."
Commander, only one person still called him that these days. Zerek was Tsingtao's personal Abjunct assigned to the Sith Warrior when he was the Prefect of Gamuslag. Zerek was the head trainer for the Dlarit Commandos created at the Cenota Facility, and he chose to remain with Tsingtao, when the Prefect was appointed the Lieutenant Governor of Aeotheran.
"Thank you, Zerek. Please patch him through." The hologram on the display changed from his Abjunct to a familiar looking Zabrak.
"Joseem, what can I...." Tsingtao said before the Zabrak interrupted.
"Sorry for disturbing you, but we have an emergency situation at the Dystopia building. It has been rocked by an explosion. I have sent Krill and some men to investigate. I think it would be wise for you to return to the skyhook."
"Very well, I will be there shortly. Tsingtao out."
Tsingtao let out a sigh. Why was there always an emergency? He activated his terminal again. "Zerek, prep my shuttle, we are returning to the skyhook. And activate the perimeter defenses."
"Acknowledged, Commander," came the reply.
Tsingtao stood up as a voice from the bed reached his ear. "Mind if I hitch a ride with you, my lord?" Tsingtao looked towards the bed, as the Zeltron woman sat there looking back at him. "I need to make sure Leppy's is open properly."
Tsingtao nodded, "I hope to be at Leppy's again tonight, but we'll see."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Nachzerer Interior Bay
Kalei had lost her train of thought as she looked around the area. The only thing that had brought her mind back to where it was supposed to was Aleho speaking up. Looking in the direction of the young girl in the crowd, she chuckled softly to herself as she listened to what the girl was saying.
To say this place did not give the Huntress a bit of a chill would be stating a lie, however, she knew that she had been ordered here as part of her Black Guard duties instead of remaning with Tsingtao. She had not felt comfortable with this but did not dare to argue when given an order.
Huntress Basai, you will scout for flankers and check any side tunnels briefly.
Hearing the orders she had been given from Macron, she simply nodded and glanced towards the sides to spot the entrances to any tunnels. It was going to be a long day, especially when she had to keep an eye out for traps and undead. Undead were one set of people that she could not sense coming, no matter how hard she tried. Now was the timet to be on her toes.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Aleho ignited the fusion lantern and started walking with the others to the mouth of the tomb. It was dark (of course) but the darkness seemed to linger even when the lantern lit the area. "It's the Dark Side," whispered the Togruta, "Master Ashura says it can affect its surroundings, make shadows longer, have the darkness feel deeper." The little girl then shuddered as an unnatural cold sank through her skin and into her bones, and even deeper into her being. For Leho fear was the path to the Dark Side, and she was afraid (not that she would ever admit it).
However she was also excited: the mixed feelings were causing her adrenaline to pump already through her system, her senses were already being heightened by the power of the Force as it flowed through her. The tomb reminded her of the first home she ever knew, as a child (younger and more carefree than she was now), Aleho would wander about the Shadow Academy. The Dark Side there was like a unnatural presence that she grew up with, she felt that lingering presence in this place. The fear slowly started to seep into the depths of her mind as unseen blanket engulfed her.
The Dark Side of the Force began to flow more easily for the ten year old, the fear had been completely replaced with a sense of excitement and wonder. The affect of the Dark Side on one so young was starting to show. Togrutas as a whole possessed a special affinity for the Force. Aleho's heightened spatial awareness (imparted by the hollow horns atop her heads known as the montrals) kicked in as her hunting nature took over. Ruoxf sense of spiritual connection with the environment also heightened. It had been so long since she had felt like this, not since Lyspair, and even then she had been to young to understand the significance.
"Masters," said the Guardian as her voice seemed a little worries as everything that was happening was leading to greater ability to feel the Dark Side, and for one so young could loss herself within the feeling. Even now the effects were starting to show as her facial features seemed darker by the glow of the fusion lantern. The colour of her skin seemed to be darker red than normal (although it could merely be from the lantern's glow. "I'm beginning to feel...a little weird. It's hard to explain." A dark (almost sinister) smile spread across her face as it seemed a corrupted Aleho was becoming less afraid and unsettled; it wasnt natural for one so young to sink so fast, however considering where she grew up and the company she now kept... was it surprising? All she needed to do was not loss herself to the corrupting influence of the surrounding Dark Side presence. That was going to be the hard part.
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Level Seven Function Room
Despite over three hundred guests milling amongst the buffet tables and bars the room still felt spacious and comfortable. The room buzzed with light music and conversation. Malisane was stood in a corner along with the ever present Captain Senth. Both the Battlelord and the DAC held plates of canapés and picked at them without enthusiasm, and sent a steely glare at anyone who approached for idle conversation with the former Aeotheran Governor and club owner that send them quickly away. "I don't see the point of this sir," Senth admitted.
Malisane shrugged. "Bob had his official inauguration at Sadow Palace, this is a public relations exercise for the rest of the system, the puppet mayor, military officers, senior administrators, local businessman, keep the citizens happy."
"I suppose so," the DAC replied.
Malisane looked up at the stage. "Something's happening." They watched as Ashura, resplendent in his Deputy Governor General's uniform, stood and projected his voice across the room. "My lords, ladies and gentlemen. Pray silence for the guest of honour, the newly appointed Governor General of the Dlarit Corporation and the Orian System, Governor Robert Daragon!"
"Daragon?" Senth whispered.
Malisane shrugged. "He can hardly say Warlord Robert Sadow it might get people thinking," Malisane replied, his lips hardly moving. They watched as Bob walked onto the stage accompanied by a huge round of applause.
It was dark in the basement. The club had only been reopened after a refit several days and most of the staff were still on leave. A strange sound of twisting metal filled the room, and after a few minutes a sound of metal hitting the floor lead towards the cavernous freight lift doors, which slid open.
Level Seven Function Room
"Furthermore," Bob continued, "we are showing a fifteen percent rise in profits over the last twelve months, the strife in the galaxy though unfortunate for some has lead to new business opportunities for Dlarit and its products."
"This is as dry as hell who wrote this stuff?" Senth asked.
"The Summit has PR people who churn it out," Malisane replied, ignoring several people who turned to give him disapproving looks.
A second later people screamed as an explosion rocked the building, shaking the chandeliers and upsetting several tables. Malisane darted to a wall terminal. "That came from the shuttle bay."
"What's happening?" Ashura demanded as he ran over, followed by several clan members. On the stage Bob was shouting for calm, as more clan members and security joined him on the stage protectively and the soldiers in the room gripped their rifles.
Malisane studied the display. "Large explosion in the shuttle bay, it's gutted. The structural integrity of the building is secure though."
"Is it a failure or something else?" the Pro Consul asked quickly.
"Impossible to tell," Malisane replied.
"We should evacuate," Ashura said.
"We'll have to go out at ground floor level with the shuttles out of action," Malisane replied, "I'll activate the emergency elevators." He frowned. "My access isn't working," he said furiously tapping at the touchpad."
"They might not have reloaded the password file?" Senth suggested.
"I built this place my DNA is hardwired in," the Battlelord replied, "someone's locked me out."
"The freight elevators are opening," Ashura said pointing. Malisane turned in surprise as the large concealed doors at the rear of the room scraped open. The elevators were dark, then a hint of metal and glowing eyes could be seen as a line of black shapes walked out of them into the room. Cold black metal skeletal faces peered out from beneath black robes, red glowing eyes surveying the room.
"What the hell are those?" Ashura demanded as people watched in horror.
Malisane recognised them, "I've seen them before on Kangaras," he replied, "they're trouble.
A second later the civilians in the room began to scream again and military personnel raised blasters as each robot snapped a limb out holding a lightsaber hilt and ignited the blades. People began to push open the doors for the stairs as the droids began to attack, soldiers raising blasters and firing shots that were deflected away. The assembled clan members gripped at concealed saber hilts as they too backed towards the door, mindful of the rules about not revealing their true identity.
"We need to get the members out, balls to the civilians," Malisane said, as more droids entered the room. "Split up and make for the stairs down."
Ashura nodded quickly speaking into a communicator as he watched Bob being escorted off the stage.
Sepros, Landing Pad
"I dont need you to follow me around like a damned pup!" Sakura said to the new bodyguard of hers as they walked up to the shuttle. "You're making me uncomfortable enough with this situation."
"Sorry ma'am, but orders are orders," replied Lieutenant Dorn as he over took her and stopped her from walking up the ramp. "Stay here and let me check the shuttle out." The clone then walked up the ramp while Sakura waited. After a moment he heard her shout, "all clear." The Equite then walked up and took the co-pilot seat. "Fly it then."
Dorn smirked and pressed the comm switch, "Control this is Shuttle Tyberious requesting permission to launch."
"Shuttle Tyberious, request denied. All travel has been surspended until further notice. The long range communication satilate was destoryed and we believe other locations have been attacked also." Replied the man's voice.
"Spast!" Dorn swore and looked at Sakura who looked a little white. "I think I'm going to be sick!" The woman quickly got off the shuttle and vomited. "Great," said the clone to himself, "now Im suck with a pregnant woman with morning sickness."
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
The Proconsul personally saw to last of the mundane being evacuated from the level the rest of the clan was on. "That's the last of them, you better have a plan on how to deal with these...things, Malisane."
"Well, easier to say than do, Ashura." Replied the Battlelord.
"How did you defeat them last time?"
Jade fell into point with Ekeia close beside her. Kalei came up behind them and three then started out ahead of the main group.
“I can’t believe I have to check the side tunnels.” Kalei muttered as she fell in behind Jade.
Jade smirked, the dark side sliding through her senses and making them strong, yet on edge. She had been ready to attack Sai had he kept up with his little secretary position crap but managed to stay just focused enough not to snap her saber to life. “Just keep your senses open and be light on your toes.” The elder of the group she would have to make sure the two didn’t do anything stupid to get themselves, or anyone else, killed in the process. Kalei keep close to Jade and Ekeia, and Jade wasn’t surprised. The journeymen hadn’t seen much in the way of action and she often spent time training with them when their masters were otherwise occupied.
The sound of water dripping near by made Ekeia turn to look in Jade’s direction and the Archpriestess pretended not to notice as they continued across the rocky surface. The rest of the gang had just entered the cave and she estimated they were about 20-25 feet behind them. Jade nodded to a side tunnel coming up to their left. “Kalei go check it out.”
Kalei turned slowly as if not really wanting to go but shuffled her feet towards the entrance forcing them to finally pick up and head down the dark unknown. Jade turned to Ekeia. “Her first tunnel…we’ll wait.” Jade didn’t want to leave Kalei without some back up, it would give the kid confidence to do her job well later on, know that someone had her back.
Ekeia looked behind them and watched as Sai and the others made their way across the bumpy surface, avoiding the stalagmites and stalactites of the cave. Jade followed Ekeias’ glance and nodded to Sai that everything was fine as he looked up in their direction. His offer was one she was very curious on. Granted with the recent battle it was not easy to trust those in either house, and taking Aleho had been alarming at the time, but he was one of Shin’s, he was her family. She trusted him, more so then she let on, but she wasn’t going to let that show, not for a while anyway. He should know by instinct she wouldn’t kill him…well if he kept up with the secretary crap she might be tempted…She smirked, yes she would take him up on his offer.
Jade turned back to the tunnel entrance and waited for Kalei to come out.
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
and his team had their LAAT land on the top of Dystopia as the shuttle bay looked to be a mess. Through silent hand signals, Krill ordered the team to make their way down the enourmous monolith. The turbolifts were not working, so he had the team use the shafts instead. Krill and his team used there grappling hooks and rappelled to level seven. The calming music from the in turbolift reverberated throughout the shaft, keeping his team company.
On level seven, The Proconsul personally saw to last of the mundane being evacuated from the level the rest of the clan was on. "That's the last of them, you better have a plan on how to deal with these...things, Malisane."
"Well, easier to say than do, Ashura." Replied the Battlelord.
"How did you defeat them last time?"
Malisane was about to answer when a small spherical object flew past him towards the droid. He only had time to shout "Thermal Grenade!" when it hit the floor and skipped to the monstrosity. The resultant explosion knocked everyone to the floor, but there was only debris where the saber droids had been. As the heat and smoke dissipitated, a team from Dlarit Police SORT (Special Operations Response Team) was walking out of the other turbolift shaft and the lead trooper walked up to him. "Lord Ashura, are you ok?" the trooper asked.
Ashura dusted himself off and replied, "What the hells were you thinking, lobbing a thermal detonator into a small space?!?" The trooper cocked his helmet a little to the side. "My Lord, you being who you are, I felt that you would negate the concussive discharge." He looked around, making sure only the team and the dark jedi were around, then continued. "I am not really with SORT. Prefect Maruuch sent us when he saw the smoke from the Skyhook." Ashura realized then that these were D-SOG troops, led by a DAC. "What is you name, Trooper?" He asked. "Delta-class Advanced Commando, 1st Lieutenant Krill, Sir, at your service." Krill replied.
Ashura looked at him and the team. He could use these men in public, due to the way they were dressed. They had better armament then a normal SORT officer and their tactics at working in small units would be an advantage. He had to take care of the DAC though. There were not many left and the ones that were assigned to clan members were almost irreplaceable. "Ok, here is what we are going to do...."
OOC: Sorry about the edit. Just noticed that actually using the turbolifts was not going to happen.
Mitsuhide stood in his office, looking at his haggard appearance in the full-length mirror he had placed in the office. He always was a creature of extreme vanity. He would fuss with his hair for hours to make sure everything was in place. What he saw in his stead was now someone alien to him as night was to day. His expression grew troubled as he remembered things from before. Things that didn’t seem to fit anywhere
Come come… I will show you the way. Follow me… remember to dance, remember to dream… Our voice is a voice of song… our song is a song of anger and inquest… Come come… we teach you to see…
What did this mean? His thoughts were clouded, much like his own heart. Something in the back of his mind remembered the dances he once practiced. But, it was as though he were viewing them through a fog. The memories were sealed to him, much of his mind was locked away, some secret lurking in the darkness of his mind. Some other person, perhaps? Mayhap it was simply someone else’s memories. He was remembering quite a few things he didn’t fully remember. Almost at command, his mind flicked to the most recent memory that was, or wasn’t his own.
He snapped out of his reverie with the sound of people scurrying down the halls. This was not a new occurrence; his office was situated near the Novice quarters so he was accustomed to these sounds. He looked at his desk to gauge the time and saw something that caught his eye, a familiar symbol. The symbol was the same as he had found in the libraries under Kar Alabrek. A curving vertical arc, interspersed with spokes across two quarters. Where else had he seen this before? Something else in his memories tugged at him.
Turning back to the mirror, he scowled at the disheveled hair and tried to straighten it with no notable success.
A loud, feral scream erupted from his lips as he slammed his fist into the unoffending mirror. Sound outside of his office stopped immediately and he snatched up the drawing and headed once more to the libraries to find out what it was and whom it belonged to. The time had come for him to put good use to his scholarly demeanor and he was going to get to the bottom of this and what was causing these memories and the voice in his head.
As he left his office, a fleeting thought flashed into his mind. Had he finally slipped off the precarious edge of his sanity? Was this truly what it was like to go insane?
Shaking his head, he went posthaste to the deepest levels of Seng Karash and began to dig through every record book stored there. Sending in a request to be admitted into the much larger libraries at the Sadow Palace on Sepros.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
"Just another dead end," Kalei yelled from the side tunnel, her voice echoing on the dark stones. "Only About 60 meters. I'm coming back." Her comlink popped, the signal fading in and out faintly whether from the rock to the vile aura permeating the misty air. "Nothing of note here."
"Copy that," replied Tsainetomo as he raised his wrist comlink to his lips. "Come on back, we're holding here for now." He turned to Macron and spoke. "Something down here is interfering with the transmissions. I doubt we can communicate with the surface and we are not even that deep down yet."
The Warlord nodded. "Dense mafic type stone... with nickel. And the Dark Side. Heh heh." He opened a canister on his belt, displaying a small flying insect-like droid. "It has a transmitter. We just load it, and hope it makes it topside." The madman giggled.
Jade peered down a nearby tunnel as the other Equites argued. Ekeia stood by her side, her eyes closed as she felt with the Force. The Archpriestess chuckled darkly. "I sense death this way," she said with a hungry smirk. "I can Smell them. Hungry dead." She growled softly, licking her lips.
Aleho Ruoxf stood nearby, picking at some debris on the floor. "Bone dust and chips," she commented as the pocket analyzer scanned them. "Quite old, perhaps several thousand years."
She smiled confidently, her interest in archaeology expressing as a true Krath.
Macron knelt beside her, peering at her data on the flickering screen. "I do believe she is correct," he murmured. "But given the isotopic carbon readings, I'd call it a positive for three to five thousand years with most younger."
"Why the age difference?" asked Tsainetomo as he saw Kalei's approaching light. "That doesn't add up." Kalei Basai returned to the group, standing beside the Keibatsu.
"I can answer that Masters," piped up Aleho with quiet determination.
"And your thoughts, youngling?" said the Sith alchemist with a scowl. "Enlighten us."
"Not all of them died at the same time," she responded with surety. She tapped the datapad. "The peaks are pretty clear on the spectra."
Jade, Ekeia, Macron and Sai all raised their eyebrows in disbelief.
"The kid is sharp," commented Ekeia dryly.
"Indeed," smirked Macron. "There is little time to waste." He closed his yellow eyes, searching within for holes in the force using his Mark. A deep blackness beckoned nearby, a portent of deeper immersion into the power and trickery of the Dark Side. "Jade, is this the tunnel?" he asked.
The Krath Archpriestess pointed down the tunnel she still faced. "That way. And prepare yourselves, they are not far off now. Soon, we will battle."
"And the illusions and overwhelming emotions will follow," Tsainetomo offered. "Keep your minds focused. Move out."
Sepros, Orian System
Astronicus "Tron" Aurelius Sadow, Overlord of Clan Naga Sadow and true heir to the Sadow lineage sat at his desk as reports of several happenings began to poor in all at once. A look of consternation covered his chiseled face as the pieces of a veritable puzzle began to take shape. Two attacks had been made on the system within the past standard day and the reports had just now started to poor in confirming what the Force had already told him. Coincidence was never something Tron had put much value on, nor did it have much value here. He had no doubt that a play for power and a coup were now in motion.
"What do you make of all this?" The Overlord spoke to seemingly no one.
But a reply came. "Classic redirection my Lord. Draw the arms of your enemy away so that you may strike at the heart. The real attack has yet to come." With the reply came the subtle sound of steps from a dark corner within the room and a shadow detached itself from its brethren and took the shape of a man.
Resplendent, obsidian armor glistened with the certainty of doom and cast the aura of strength and power that invoked the spirit of Naga Sadow. This figure was Zaxen Dauketrenal Isradia, and among many things he was Captain of the Black Guard and the Overlord's personal agent.
"Well observed. Too much is happening all at once. It would appear my attempt at a clan cleansing has not removed the cancer of treachery. Something this well coordinated could only be done with detailed inside knowledge." Tron continued scanning through the reports his mind looking for the thread which would tie these events together.
Zaxen moved over towards the Overlord's desk to view the reports more closely himself. He scanned them quickly noting the various sites of the strike and compared them to the current placement of assets. "They knew exactly when and where to strike." he commented. "The coronation of our new Consul, the strike on Kar Alabrek, and when most of our Journeymen and several of our most powerful and trusted Equites are out on the Inos moon where communications would be delayed if not cut off all together."
Tron nodded silently as his eyes narrowed as he continued his scan. "Indeed it is too perfect. What is of major concern to me right now is just how far do the fingers of my enemies reach?"
The pair of men were thinking the same thing. Who else knew about the pregnancy of Sakura? And who would use it to their advantage?
"Zaxen, it is clear that there are very few that I can trust. It is a very critical time for the clan and how you proceed may very well determine if it survives at all." Zaxen was somewhat shocked at the severity of that statement. To see the Overlord show such a vulnerable side reaffirmed just how serious the situation had become. Tron went on. "First and foremost your mission is to protect myself and the line of Sadow. You will have full access to the Clan's assets and you carry with you my word of authority. Seek out and destroy all who would subvert me."
Zaxen bowed his head. "It will be done." and in a flourish he turned and was gone back to where light did not illuminate.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The antechamber deep within the tombs resonated with the Dark Side, a baleful glow bathing the vast cavern in crimson light. Any other sentient being would’ve found it quite difficult to make out any details had they not the time to allow their eyes to adjust, but the hermit once known as Curwen Sunei
had no such hindrance. In fact, Time, as it had been ever since he’d been freed of Palpatine’s and Vader’s shackles, was on his side.
Seated upon the stone dais his makeshift throne rested upon, Curwen leisurely cast his gaze upon all within the chamber. There was no sound, save for the chipping and scraping made by rough hewn tools, held in the hands of humanoids who mindlessly went about their task of mining the vein of crimson adgean that ran the length of the chamber walls.
His fractured mind regarded those humanoids; true, they were once human, whenever they were brought here by his nameless benefactors, but once within the tombs walls, they reverted, sometimes kicking and screaming, to these mindless shells of beings now shambling with inexorable slowness about the cavern. Some took longer than others, but they always succumbed. Sustained only by Curwen’s will, and the Dark Side energies permeating the site, his servants inevitably exhausted themselves and burnt out, their flesh literally sloughing off their bones and collapsing in a puff of dust. Their passing usually happened within a standard month, and Curwen never marked it excepting to note that his unnamed benefactor would come at that time to both refresh his “supply” and take a few of the adgean crystals he would fashion from the mined chips that the humanoids would deposit in a pile.
He could not trust them to fashion them into a usable form; no, that task was left for him, and one he was glad to do. Though he reveled in his insanity, a distant part of his psyche longed for the exactingness that the work required. Further, he could take his time with the task; again, Time was all he had, and needed.
But, the arrival of the new beings on Inos’ frigid surface had piqued his curiosity. No, that was too mild a word. Excited was more like it. Not only had they landed in nearly half of the expected time, they, like him, were tapped into the Force. His mind wrapped fleetingly around the thought that once they were under his control, they could last nearly four times as long as his usual stock. He wouldn’t be bothered as often, and he could probably use them as part of an army to pay his own visit to his benefactor.
Curwen licked his aged lips with a blackened tongue as he savored the idea. Yes, the newcomers would do nicely. First, though, they’d need testing. Stretching out into the Dark Side, he compelled some of the ‘other’ denizens to go forth and greet his new guests. He grinned as moaning and haphazard shuffling answered his call.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
The expeditionary force had just begun to delve deeper within the tunnel when Tsainetomo stopped short. “Hey! What’s going on up there?” cried a startled Macron, shouldering his way forward to find himself alongside Jade and the Keibatsu.
For his part, Sai said nothing, his strange eyes peering into the blackness. His hand strayed unconsciously to the cylinder on his belt. “Hush! You hear that?”
Macron and Jade strained their hearing, standing stock still, the pale light of Aleho’s lantern at their backs. Ekeia shook her head as Jade tersely responded. “I think he’s gone as nutty as you, Master; I don’t hear anyth...”
The Archpriestess was interrupted as the clatter of pebbles resounded out of the blackness. All of the Force-users eyes widened as a wave of Sith Undead
approached, ghastly, misshapen and pale forms jerking into view, illuminated by Aleho’s fusion lantern, their arms outstretched towards the group as if to embrace long lost lovers.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Kalei jumped at the sound of the pebbles clattering near them. In the glow of Aleho's light, figures of something she had never seen before appeared. Backing away slowly as they got closer, she tripped over something and barely caught herself on the wall.
Speaking quietly, she looked to the others, "What are those things?" Her hand hovered near her amory saber as she watched the figures in front of her. She was not sure what to make of them, but she also did not like the feelings she was able to get from the others. Everyone in the group was nervous or frightened.
Shaking her head to attempt to block them out, she kept her eyes on the approacing figures, she finally remembered from things she had read and learned what they were and her eyes went wide.
((I'm sorry this is so short, I'm trying to pack up so I can move soon))
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Aleho's armoury lightsaber ignited as she assumed Form III; she wasnt that well training in Soresu but she knew enough to defend herself against zombies... she hoped. The Dark Side began to flow through her at an alarming rate, everything was just so easier here, so addictive.
"Everyone stand ready," said Sai as he looked to Marcon weapon the mad Sith carried. "You going to shoot them with that thing or not?" The Sith Warlord giggled and replied, "Not until I see the white of their eyes".
Then there can a what seemed to be a war cry as young Ruoxf ran forwards the Sith zombies with her lightsaber shouting, "DIE!".
"You got to be kidding me!" Sai said and used the Force to pull Leho back to the group. "Not yet youngling, you'll get your chance."
Seng Karash, Aeotheran
Ashura and the fake Special Operations Response Team moved quickly through the level identifying the threats. Malisane has also joined them as he knew what they were facing better than the Proconsul did. With no mundane about lightsabers were now being used to fend off the robots. "Level seven sucure," said Lt. Krill.
"Good, we still have the rest to go through. These things seem to adapt to our fighting style, like there learning each time they fight us. I have a feeling its not going to be easy," said Ashura, "and who else knows what other surprises there are going to be."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
"YUCK!" Leho side stepped the exploding zombie as Macron giggled insanely as he pointed the disruptor at another one and blew its head off.
"I could do this all day."
"I dont think your going to get a chance, Master. Firing that thing at close range might cause a cave in," said Kalei.
"The Hunter has a point, lightsabers to the ready! Attack!"
Jade’s violet blade snapped to an evil hiss as it sliced through the mid section of a near by zombie. She spun out and around coming up behind Kalei and swung her blade down through the head of another, effectively cutting the thing in two. The Dark side flowing through her so strong made her fangs itch and extend in her mouth.
She saw the various colours of the Journeymen and Masters light up around the cave, swinging through the zombies. As she crouched low, for no other reason then wanting to have fun with the power now flowing through her, she swung her blade up, the tip connecting with the sickening hanging flesh of dead meat. As the pieces of the body fell to the ground and made small tendrils of dust swirl on the caves floor she begun to wonder how this fight would affect the Journeymen, how many of them would they have to stop from going crazy in the dark side, form craving the ultimate power?
“Jade, behind you!” As the words left Ekeia’s lips Jade sensed another of the creatures come up behind her. Not evening moving she let the thing get close to her then maneuvered the hot blade under her arm and into the soft rotting belly of her would be attacker. She let the blade burn from the inside before twisting it in the core of the creature, as she turned to look at it she thrusted her wrists up, bringing the blade neatly through the body and head of the zombie. She watched as it fell, making an off handed comment to Sai and Macron who both looked at a fresh kill. “Zombies are so stupid.” Macron looked up at her and pointed with a finger to his mouth before swinging around and cutting down another zombie. It was clear he would have liked to still be shooting the brains…or rather dead existence out of the zombies but he enjoyed a good battle like any Dark Jedi would. It took her a moment to realize what he would have been pointing at, but as she went to lick her lips she felt her fangs. Quickly receding them she brought her saber up to lead a zombie into her trap. Macron was one of the few who knew more about her physiology and predatory nature, something she would have to be careful not to slip into while the dark side ran so strong around them.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
"Be careful of your hunger," reminded Macron as he twirled to sever a shuffling corpse at the waist with his orange blade. "The Dark Side is strong in this place." He looked pointedly at Jade who was busy smashing the skull of a decrepit cadaver in with the butt of her lightsaber hilt. "It's affecting me, too."
"Nice," commented Tsainetomo as he beheaded the last Undead. "However, these are but a few minor minions, I suspect."
"It does seem that they are not very menacing," commented Aleho as she shut her verdant green saber down. "From what I have read in Master Ashura's books, I thought Sith Undead were tougher?"
"That's what I was wondering," said Ekeia as she stabbed a zombie in the head, removing the top of it's cranium. "Normal people are harder than this."
Kalei looked around, stabbing a still-twitching corpse in the neck. "These are just chumps. Toys, I bet. The real challenge will be lower." She shut her armory blade down with a slurping sizzle.
"I'd have to agree," replied Jade. "Surely our host is testing us. Unfortunately, with the Dark Side so strong here it's almost impossible to sense him." She inhaled deeply, nostrils flaring. "And all I smell is old death."
"Ah, but that goes for us as well. That would be why he sends minions, as his eyes and ears."
The Krath Archpriest peered about. "I don't think he got much from them, though. He may be a necromancer. The Sith were known to have used such arts."
"Let's hope not," snarled Macron as he stomped the eyes out of a gory skull with an armored boot. "That one won't be keeping an eye on anything now. Hee hee." He went about, stomping and slashing the eyes and ears out of the bodies that lay about.
"Holy crap," whispered Kalei to Aleho. "I've heard he's weird, but wow..."
"And you would be wise to be wary yourself. The Dark Side affects us all here. As you can see, Macron there has a bloodthirsty side that he normally keeps under wraps, so to speak. This place brings out your lower self," said Tsainetomo from nearby as he overheard the two talking. "This can be a great source of power, and a danger at the same time. Learn this lesson, and you will master your power more fully."
Aleho nodded as Kalei looked thoughtfully. The Hunter spoke up first. "Shall we continue on then? I'd like to see what's below. So far, we haven't found much."
Ekeia shrugged. "I'd hate to go back empty-handed."
"Other than finding that which is inside us," whispered Aleho Ruoxf as Macron returned. "And I'm not sure that is such a great gift after all."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The robed figure slammed a fist down on the tabletop as the holocron's image faded. "Damn them," he hissed. "Destroyed my lesser walkers." He rose, passing across the cthonic chamber's floor to pick his staff up from an elaborate rack of bones. He laid it upon the table, opened a metallic case and extracting a few tools from the interior.
A click opened a panel in the center of the staff, revealing a cradle of golden wires and metals. He gently placed a red adegan in the cradle, concentrating on it seeking the perfect alignment within the body of the handle. The Adept shut the hatch and raised the staff before him in two fists. His synthetic adegan originally in the staff had burned out long ago, and now crystals from the veins in the moon's living rock powered his weapon. His nameless benefactor had supplied twin Nextor nova crystals to further enhance the weapon.
A red lightsaber beam screamed forth from one end of the pike. His face twisted in gleeful anticipation. A click of his thumb lit the second beam, turning his phrikite staff into a double-ended lightsaber pike with twin searing scarlet blades. "Perfect," he smirked. "Let them come to me. In the meantime, perhaps some illusions are in order," he said with a tight grin. "And I must don my armor, and raise my guards up from their slumber."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Necropolis Caves Facade
"Hunter Zaroth, I cannot raise them on the com," commented Major Qek. "Something about the place is interfering with transmission."
"I see. I'll have to go down there myself to bring them the information from Aeotheran. Carry on," he said with a wave of dismissal as he stalked towards the yawning cave mouth. "Good lord, it stinks," he said while holding his nose as he stepped into the dark entrance. "I hope they aren't too far down yet."
“Aleho, you make a good point, however…hold on,” Ekeia whispered back. Reactivating her armory saber the Jedi Hunter whipped back around and jogged up the path the group had just walked down. There had been a slight movement in the force that Keia had just barely sensed. It seemed familiar but she couldn’t place it as the adrenaline rush was still invading her mind. Preparing herself for another attack by the undead she brought her saber into a ready position and turned the corner to see a dark figure not 5 feet from where she stood. Lunging forward with the simple red saber she was surprised to see another red blade ignite and swing into an upward block to deflect her attack.
“Keia put your saber away. NOW! I would rather not be dead,” Zaroth said curtly, bringing his saber up to illuminate his face and assure Ekeia that he wasn’t an enemy.
Putting away her saber she apologized, “Oh. Umm…sorry about that Zaroth, I’m still a bit of a nervous wreck. We were just attacked by a good size group, made me a bit jumpy.”
“Forgiven. Why don’t you lead the way back down to the group, I’ll hang back and watch out for anymore members that may decide to join the party and make sure you don’t run off and attack them as well.” Laughing Zaroth gave Ekeia an encouraging shove and followed behind.
Catching up quickly the rest of the group Jade, Kalei and Aleho turned around and gave the two questioning looks, more so when Keia came close enough for the trio to see the blush that had remained on the Hapan’s face from her slight mistake. While Ekeia turned to hide her embarresment Zaroth bowed slightly to Jade to show his respect having sworn an oath to be loyal to her.
“Do I want to know what that was all about?” asked Jade who was trying to stifle a knowing grin.
“I bet you could figure it out by yourself Jade,” answered Keia, sounding a bit harsher then she had meant to.
Turning his back to Ekeia and still chuckling a bit, Zaroth looked to his current mentor. “I’ll tell you in a bit Jade. It’s a good story.”
Deciding to not stick around for the jokes that were sure to follow, Ekeia walked past them to hide up near Tsainetomo.
Placing a hand upon her shoulder the Archpriest gave her a slight smile. “Don’t worry about it. As I said, this mission will bring out the darkest in us and push many of us to our limits. The humor in your slight mess-up will delay the inevitable a bit longer, which I believe will be good for the group as a whole. Let it go and place your focus on where it belongs,” and with that he left her to catch up with Macron.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Zaroth took up the rear guard as the group slowly made way deeper into the ever-darker tunnels. He held his lightsaber, deactivated, should he need it in a hurry as he looked over the rocks. The Hunter was troubled; he had recently experienced a series of vivid visions, all culminating in the destruction of Ragnos Cathedral and the death of his Clan mates. A part of the visions had already come true; perhaps he ought to tell someone? He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t told anyone and as his responsibilities had increased with his appointment to Executive Officer of the Night Hawks, he began to question his choice. All of his work would be for nothing if the Clan failed. Zaroth pushed the thoughts away for now and stretched out his perceptions to try and locate any members who had fallen behind. Happy that no-one else was here, he re-joined the main group and called Kalei and Ekeia to him.
“Zaxen will not be joining us here; he has told me to come and reinforce you two as his voice here. He is busy with Black Guard business. “ Zaroth explained.
Ekeia shifted slightly, then said “Do we have any orders?”
“Not at the moment,” Zaroth replied. “We are to follow Sai and Macron until he contacts us.”
“How will he contact us? The caves are making the comms all screwy.”
“He did not say, but he is resourceful. He’ll find a way. In the meantime, we’ll follow what orders we do have” Zaroth informed them. He moved off ahead to talk to Jade; he had missed her after the recent inconveniences.
Joseem stood at the docking platform as an inbound shuttle landed a few feet away. As the shuttle door opens, Joseem turned to R7 and motioned for the droid to follow. As he entered the shuttle, he could hear the engines increase its power to take off. As he entered the main section of the shuttle, he could see out the window that the crafted had lifted off the platform and turning towards a new direction. He turned to one of the passengers seated in the main section.
"What took you so long, Tsingtao?" he asked with a curious tone. "Where is Zerek?"
"Oh, we just had to drop off a friend before coming to get you, my friend," came the reply. "Zerek is back at the residence making sure the area is secure. What is the status of the troops you sent in?"
The Prefect provided a brief recount of the events. R7 provided a video playback of the tactical team arriving at the Dystopia and entering the building. "There hasn't been much communications but as far as we can tell they have made it to Ashura and the others."
"Excellent," said the Sith Warrior.
A few minutes later, the shuttle hovered above the roof of the Dystopia building. The hatch to the shuttle opened as Joseem jumped down to the rooftop. R7 floated down after its owner. Tsingtao stood at the opening and turned towards the pilot.
"Take the shuttle back to the Skyhook and await for further orders."
As soon as the pilot acknowledged the orders, Tsingtao jumped down towards the roof. Joseem and R7 were awaiting him on the rooftop. Tsingtao noticed that members of the Sapphire Squadron were stationed in a defensive position. Xander walked up to the new arrivals.
"Sapphire Squadron, reporting." he said. "We have secured the rooftop and are about to go into the building."
"Good work, Commander Anderson. Let's get to the Bob, Ashura, and the others."
Jade nodded in response to Macrons comment. He was very right as was Sai. This place brought out your inner darkness and your inner power. She could hear the hart beat of each journeyman and master in the cave, even smell the fear of those whose first battle experience it was. All of it made her own heart beat hard in her chest, craving for the life force…she shook the thought away, she would not be beaten like this.
Jades attention was taken off the two masters as Kalei and Zaroth. She chuckled as Keia walked off to talk to Sai, tying to look un-embarrassed and looked back at Zaroth smiling in response to his bow and nodding her head in a thank you. It had been a while since she had really gotten the chance to talk to the hunter, ever since the civil war really. He had sworn an oath to her even professed his love for her. She had been shocked but accepted and even offered to be his temporary master as his was unreachable during the war.
Jade turned to Macron as Zaroth turned to find Kalei and Ekeia, and spoke telepathically to him. I worry for the journeymen on this mission master, it will be difficult to keep so many in check with the dark side so strong.
Consider it a true test in their trials.
Jade smirked and nodded turning as she sensed Zaroth come up behind her. His heart beat pulsed in her ears. She smirked. “Welcome to the frontline little Zaroth.” She chuckled as she called him by her pet name for the hunter. As he began to answer a red blade snapped to life and an journeymen hopped around slashing at what looked like thin air screaming for someone to help him to get the creatures away from him.
Sai turned to Macron. “Looks like the illusions are starting to kick in.”
“Seems rather soon, we aren’t that deep into the caverns yet,” Jade commented as a couple of his buddies moved in to stop his freak out.
“Dark side is full of surprises.” Macron slightly laughed and hissed at the same time; bring out a small hint of his own blood lust desires.
“’Surprises’ is right,” Tsainetomo said under his breath as he slowly began to kneel, then picked his way through the dust while the others were focused on the mad, ‘saber-wielding Journeymen.
As if heeding a siren’s call, the Archpriest’s fingers locked upon an object, cylindrical, faceted, and utterly perfect. His tripartite eyes widened in the darkness as he realized what it was: a red adgean, and perfectly grown, not synthesized. The Clan’s resident crystal expert Macron had shown him some of his esoteric techniques, and the gem had none of the inherent imperfections that came from an alchemist’s touch. Even more astounding to the Korun-Keibatsu was that it resonated with the same Dark Side harmonics that permeated the caverns. The signature was small, almost imperceptible, but it was there. And, it seemed to be leading him deeper within the labyrinth.
Still, the intuition that came with practicing the Krath Mysteries served the Son of Sadow well; throughout the hamonic there was an undercurrent of grave danger, to both himself and his Clan-mates. As much as he was tempted by his lust for knowlege, he would not risk their lives; not, at least, without just cause. He needed to know more, but there was no time to explain.
Macron, who had been tittering at the Journeyman’s antics, had noticed his friend kneeling in the grime and placed his hand on Sai’s shoulder. “Oh, you have got to see this...Guardian Redd Shyrt has flipped his gorram lid! Whatcha got there?”
“A ‘surprise’,” Tsainetomo said darkly. Macron’s own yellow eyes widened as he realized too late that his friend had suddenly seized upon an obscene amount of the Dark Side, and, even more ominously, that he couldn’t move. The Keibatsu rose, holding Macron in his telekinetic thrall, lifting the Sith off of his feet. Before Macron could cry a warning, Tsainetomo had hurled the madman forcefully towards the throng that had gathered around Guardian Shyrt in their efforts to talk him down. The Alchemist crashed bodily into the crowd, sending the gathered members sprawling, arms and legs akimbo. Only Jade and Aleho escaped the assault, the former diving forward under the flying form of Macron, the latter ducking to the side, her young eyes taking the scene in disbelief.
Coming up from her tucked roll, Jade hissed, her violet blade snapping to life as her fangs bared, shining white between crimson lips. “Bastard! Traitor!” the Archpriestess spat.
Tsainetomo did not hesitate in bringing his own sunset-hued weapon to bear as he stepped forward to meet her. Jade put up a valiant effort to strike him down, but she was too new to the rank, too raw, and Tsainetomo’s experience and refined technique proved too much for her. He swiftly had her saber arm pinned to the wall as he leaned in close, whispering in hurried tones.
“There’s no time to explain; remember your need for instruction! Now’s the time; take advantage, or die.”
Jade struggled momentarily against the Son of Sadow’s powerful grip and his words. The heat from his body and his heartbeat pounding in her ears threatened to drive her mad...but her higher mind prevailed. She would know Tsainetomo’s secrets, if she had to rip them from his throat herself. Jade gave no verbal assent; she simply relaxed in his grip. The Keibatsu released her just as the rest of the team began to regain their footing, cursing and shooting Tsainetomo confused looks.
Stepping away from Jade, Tsainetomo simply uttered one command: “Follow me.” With that, he leapt towards the ceiling, borne on the Force, his blade still ignited and Jade a heartbeat behind. As they reached the apex of their jumps, quick violet and tangerine swipes loosed some stalactites from their mineral moorings and sent them crashing to the ground, effectively sealing them off from the rest of the party, but not before Aleho dove forward herself just ahead of the stony deluge.
Macron rose to his feet, the poor Guardian Redd Shyrt finally freed from his delusion by sweet death; the young man had absorbed the brunt of Macron’s flight and was crushed. Zaroth rose to his feet, spitting dust. “What the frell was that all about?!” he demanded, dusting himself off. Keia chimed in. “I thought you two were friends!”
“We are, m’dear. He did it simply because he knew I was the only one who could take it,” Macron explained, patting his armored suit. “Ol’ Mr. Shyrt, however, could not.” The Alchemist bent to retrieve the fallen Guardian’s armory ‘saber. “Can’t leave this lying around, now can we? Come on, folks; we’ve got to find another way down.”
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The wizened figure smiled in the darkness. “It seems my ‘gift’ has been found. Let us prepare, as we are to have guests.” Curwen stood, grasping his staff in a grip that belied his appearance. “Two, in fact, and...” – he stopped, listening to his Dark Side augury – “and, Another.” His grin widened as he thought of his good fortune. Things were going far better than he could have ever imagined.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Lower Level Entrance Cave
"Poor bastard," remarked Macron as he palmed the blade and regarded Red Shyrrt's bone-crushed frame. The incredible force of Tsainetomo's vicious darkside-fueled force-wall had thrown Macron's armored body into the dead man's form with extreme prejudice. The Warlord spoke up as he regarded the honored dead. His own spine had been compressed, but he did his best to cover this weakness up as a true Sith. In this unholy place the Dark Side of the Force would knit his bones as long as he remained in control.
"Forgive him. He simply did not have what it takes, or as we like to call it, the 'Sh@t'. He would have been fine had he not come-down-here. Oh yes, a minor Dark Jedi perhaps, to live long and die perhaps of old age. If Dark Jedi ever die of that particular malady." Macron tried to reach around to touch his back, but was unable because of the armor suit restricting his shoulders "My back hurts. Frack. Oww Gorram."
"I'm getting old," thought the alchemist.
The Dark Side rushed to caress his wounds, offering succor at the price of increasing madness. Macron growled low in his throat and administered a bacta injection into the veins of his neck with a hypospray. "I control Me. You'll not take me yet you bastards," he hissed to himself. "Nothing could be more seductive than training with Lord Vexatus the Betrayer. Nothing could betray me more. Nothing could be more evil and vile. You will not make me serve."
"Instead, Red Shyrrt reaped the whirlwind of failure and his own particular destruction. I will be careful and prosper where he failed," commented Ekeia as she peered about in the darkness. "This place separates the chaff from the wheat. Anybody hear that?" Eerie faint screams of abject agony seemed to fade in and out of her hearing, twisting away from her senses as she concentrated on them. They seemed to be ragged wails of horrid agony and pain, but with rapidly diminishing ghostly volume. She tapped her ears like a swimmer that may have taken water.
"No, I don't hear a thing? Illusions? Trust yourself Ekeia." The alchemist handed the red armory saber to Kalei. "Now you have two, at least for now. You might need the extra edge, know what I mean? Just be sure to return it to the armory IF we make it back. Form Zero has a basic twin saber paradigm. Remember your training- it may save our lives."
Zaroth grasped his temples as the air became thick with the whispered temptations of Dark Power. "The Dark Side is strong here. It is nauseating me. I was warned me about what 'could' be down here. I'm prepared for the worst." A flickering shadow crossed his peripheral vision. It darted into a nearby side corridor that was choked with rubble, beckoning him to follow where no solid being could. "Damn. I thought I saw something." He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
"You mean when Macron?" asked Kalei with concern. "You will get us all back safely, right?" She held her head high, senses seeking opponents that might shuffle forth from the gloom. "Either way, I intend to drink my fill of this place and send some of these scumbags back to Hell."
"Hee hee hee," the Warlord giggled madly and nodded vigorously with approval. "Something like that. I never promised though." He fumbled at his disruptor, frowning at the angry red light blinking on the side. "Dren, she's drained. All of you, check your power-packs and saber cells. This needy hole will drink them quickly."
"Fair enough," grumbled Kalei. "I've still got a good charge on my saber. I'm ready."
"Umm. Shall we move on?" asked Zaroth with a pointed cough. "I think I can feel a breeze from over that way. It might lead lower." He lit his own blade, holding it forth like a beacon as they began to pick their way forward through the dusty tunnels.
"By all means, lead the way. After you sir," cackled the insane Equite. Mac dropped the useless disruptor and powerpack. "Damn. Ole girl's crapped the bed I think," he mumbled while palming twin saber hilts. "Oh well, she was a good disruptor. I hope Tsainetomo, Jade and Aleho are alright...I'm really worried about them. Especially about the youngling. She has great potential. I hope the Dark Side does not overwhelm her in the fetid bowels of this place."
It had been instinct that took control of the girl and she jumped ahead of the falling stalactites. There was no way back now, she was sealed off from the rest of the party. Aleho Ruoxf was alone in the dark, and she was frightened.
“Get it together, fear is good, it keeps me sharp. I will not let it use me, I will use it,” whispered Leho to herself and ignited her green armoury lightsaber. The eerie glow now lit her path, as she followed the sound of footsteps. The two Equites were making there way down the tunnel, and the Guardian was in pursuit.
The Dark Side of the Force was everywhere, Aleho felt like she was swimming rather than walking. Sounds started to resonate from around her, she swore someone was calling her name. So the Journeyman stopped and listened.
Is it you?
“Yes, who is this?” Leho could swear it was a woman's voice. “Rollmaster, is that you?” The girl then gasped as a Togruta woman stepped into view, she looked a little like the Guardian. Some how Leho knew who it was.
Yes. It's me... I've finally come back to reclaim what was stolen from me.
Aleho, they stole you from me. I've searched for you for many years and tracked you down to this place.
Ruoxf was frozen to the spot, her mother, her own flesh and blood had come to get her. It was like a dream come true. She watched as woman opened her arms to girl and waited for Aleho to embrace her mother.
Do not be fooled, my apprentice. This illusions will be the death of you.
Leho turned around to see Master Ashura standing there. His sapphire blue eyes looking sternly at the Guardian.
“Illusion,” she crocked as she felt tears swelling up as this happy moment was being ripped away. “No, I-I don't want to believe you.”
It is true apprentice, even I am an illusion; however I was created by your own very mind to help you. That woman doesn't exist, she is created by the Dark Side to lead away from your true purpose. Your mind knows this, why else would I be here.
Come to me Aleho. Give your mother a hug.
The Guardian was torn on what to do, she looked between her master and mother as confusion rooted itself into her core. A whole array of emotions surged through her, along with the Dark Side side. She could feel her grasp on reality slipping away.
Come to me Aleho.
Remember, power is defined by the ability to do or act.
Come to me Aleho.
As well as the possession of control or command.
Come to me Aleho.
By eliminating weakness and constantly growing in strength, one achieves greater power.
Come to me Aleho.
Be one in Mind, Body and Spirit.
Come to me Aleho.
Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and all that you are, and do not be blinded by pride, fear or ignorance.
Come to me Aleho.
“ENOUGH! IF YOU TRULY WERE MY MOTHER YOU WOULD HAVE FOUND ME BY NOW. YOU ABANDONED ME. I HATE YOU!” With that the illusion of her mother shifted into her worst fear: a Yuuzhan Vong warrior stood in her place.
Now Aleho, unleash your anger!
Thought turned to action, which transformed into a single deed. Her homeworld, Antei, had been stolen from her. Her nightmare was standing before her but she was no longer a little girl. Her rage unleashed. Leho's hands gripped her saber and kept in direct line with the wrists and forearms, her legs were now slightly wider than hers shoulders and slightly bent at the knee. She faced the warrior with her hilt close to the right side of the waistband with her lightsaber blade extending up and forward. She performed the strike as shown and learned at the Simus Institute: her wrists in line with the hands as she put her weight behind the stoke.
The rotting corpse which the illusion wrapped itself around fell to the ground, however Leho didn't stop as she swung her saber continuously at it. Her rage was unyielding as she let it out.
Enough. We need to find Jade and Sai.
The Guardian looked at the illusion of her master her mind had conjured to keep her sanity. Aleho nodded her head and started to make her way down the tunnel. For a brief moment her thoughts focused on her mother; she realised she was never coming for her. Little did Aleho know that Ashura had used his Magistrate connections with the Iron Throne to track down Leho's mother while the Battle of Inos raged. Upon finding her he told the woman about her daughter and then killed the Priestess. Aleho Ruoxf was his to mold. Leho was to become what he wanted, or she would die.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sith Burial Cave
"Eeeyah! Eeyah! Makordu s n'thwan, derriphan Jiiaasjen
...." The ancient Sith tongue
Sith tongue rolled from Curwen's lips as he recited the passage from a Sith Spellbook
he had found in an ancient redoubt on Ziost. The harsh syllables reverberated from the black stones, almost shimmering visibly in the air. Half-seen shadows seemed to coalesce in the dank atmosphere, mingling with the charnel stench while pouring like black smoke into the mouths of the cadavers lying on biers in the center of the chamber.
The former Shadow Guard raised this hands in supplication of the Dark Side. "Vexok Savaka! Derriphan! Jiiasjen!
<Awaken! There is work to do! I bind to you the devourers!
>" The forms began to twitch on the icy slabs. Their fingers spasmed independently as the dark shades were bound to the grim corpses. Flesh that had been dead for days began to squirm and writhe as the Sith magic
began to work.
The Adept had bound the shades to the fresh bodies and now they awoke. Six corpses stood slowly, grasping ancient Protosabers
and beltpacks that Sunei had found elsewhere in the winding passages. Curwen had replaced the old crystals with new red ones mined from pits in the darkness here below.
The souls of three Sith Knights, a Sith Warrior, and one Battlelord that had served Lord Orian were bound to the bodies by the horrible rite for a time. Each was now equipped with a formidable, if ancient style of lightsaber and retained their combat skills from when they still drew breath. They were all hungry to consume life.
"Arise, my brethren. Take up your arms and go forth. Slay those who would invade the sanctity of this place!" shouted the man as he sank to his knees. "In the name of Lord Orian whom you served in life, I command thee in death! Zhol kash dinora- >"
The ritual had been effective, but it drew powerfully on his weathered frame. Even for an Adept the strain of such a powerful binding and animation sorcery took a heavy toll. It was easier to do and more powerful here in this vile place, but the price he paid was also higher.
Faint red lights kindled in the shriveled eye sockets of the dead things. Vicious snarls twisted their shriveled black lips like worms as the leader replied in a sepulchral voice with bits of maggoty flesh dropping from his gums. "Ja'ak teral..." They began to slither and slink forward into the stygian gloom. Soon, there would be Hell to pay by the intruders.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Stay focused Aleho, said the echoed voice of her master, keep going onwards.
Ruoxf nodded her head as she pressed onward in the darkness, the only light from her lightsaber. Voices called out to her, whispering dark thoughts caressing her like a lover.
Stay focused, use it and dont let it use you.
"Yes Master," replied the young Dark Jedi as kept going onwards, the darkness ever calling.
A massive ripple in the force took hold of Jade and tossed her to the side as Macron went flying through the air. Vengeance ran thick through her veins the instant the alchemist hit the crowd. She snapped hr head towards Sai her blade crackling to life as she did so. Her fangs extended without any control and her eyes slid to the purest black, appearing soulless. “Bastard! Traitor!” The words slipped off her tongue as though it wasn’t even her saying it, but the energy flowing through her made her strong and she felt nothing but vengeance for her master and her Clan. How could Sai turn against either of them?!
Sai’s sunset coloured blade hissed to life and arched in the screeching noise of the two powerful blades snapping against each other. She put up a great effort; the dark side sliding through her veins, till a far away voice, somewhere in her mind whispered something to her. She couldn’t concentrate on it fully but it sounded like a spell a warning, it distracted her enough that Sai turned her and pinned her against the wall holding her saber, and her arm, at bay. She narrowed her eyes the violet colour slowly mixing with the soulless black as she stared at him, his heart beat making her fangs itch for the chance to take what ran through his veins. She struggled against his hold and his heartbeat as he spoke.
“There’s no time to explain; remember your need for instruction! Now’s the time; take advantage, or die.”
As his words hit her she stopped struggling and only looked at him, no nod of understanding, just a look of mild curiosity.
Jade followed him, taking half a heartbeat to respond, following suit to close them off from the rest, sending the rocks crashing down. Jade felt Aleho move away from the falling rock and was glad the kid had clear vision enough to do so in such a heat of adventure. She was one of Ashura’s and as such under Jade’s protection. She would have sent the kid a warning but she was too busy concentrating on Sai and wondering if he was actually going to show her the ropes or hang her with them.
Jade followed Sai till he stopped on a dark ledge, catching up and landing about 15 ft away. Only the tips of her fangs showed between her lips as she looked at him. “You have a lot of nerve pulling that stunt.”
Kalei eyed what was going on around her as she stood there, her saber in hand. A small look of confusion crossed her face as she watched Jade moving off after something else had happened. There was to much going on, and she was trying to sort it all out inside of her head. Everyone's feelings were so strong that it was starting to give her a bit of a headache.
Looking at everyone there, she tried to push away the sounds of sabers humming and listen to what was around them.
You can not defeat what lies before you, why are you here? came a voice inside of her head. She knew the voice all to well; it was the voice of her father. Was her father trying to give her advice even though she hadn't seen him since she was a teenager?
As she focused a bit more, she realized it was not the voice of her father after all. The tone was the same but it wasn't him. Pull back now while you still can. Get yourself out of there, leave the others behind. Was she being tested? What was going on?
She could not push the voice out of her head, maybe it was someone getting into her mind from whatever was coming towards them. Closing her eyes and tightening her grip on her lightsaber, she took a deep breath and pushed the voice to the back of her head so now it was only a small whisper. The Huntress knew she had to focus on what she was doing here instead of whatever that voice was telling her to do.
Looking at the others, she was waiting for someone who was more in charge than she was to say the next step. She was here on Tsing's order, as his Black Guard, and she wasn't going to let him down, not on the first thing she was going to be doing for him in this position.
The voices. The darkness. The liquid feel of the Dark Side. It all became too much for the young Guardian to handle. Like a wave of sheer energy Aleho found herself collapsing to the ground, her consciousness sinking into the abyss, her mind lost all connection to the world around her. It was all too much for her.
Just hang on Aleho, be strong. Be strong.
And then her master's voice was no more as she laid on the cold ground. Leho's unconscious mind began to swim in swirls of rage, hate, fear, lust: all that drew upon the Dark Side of the Force. Her life was in in danger, even more so than she could realise as an undead fiend approached her. For a moment it seemed the ghastly creature would kill her for sure, but instead it picked up her young fragile body and carried her off to the heart of the tomb.
[Bring her to me, my undead servant.]
”You have a lot of nerve pulling that stunt.”
Tsainetomo stopped at the ledge, his back to Jade, and let a smile play across his face. The Son of Sadow turned slowly to face the Archpriestess. If she was to choose this particular moment to have her satisfaction, then so be it; he would make her earn it, though.
“I have about as much nerve as you, pretending that people don’t know about your little ‘dental plan’. Tell me, are those for show, or do you just use them to bite off more than you could ever possibly chew?” Tsainetomo crossed his arms, inching backward towards the lip of the ledge until his heels were hanging over the edge, and waited for the onslaught.
Jade obliged. No longer content to abide by the man’s smugness, she fully bared her fangs, her anger given voice with a hiss that ripped from her throat. With hate in her eyes, she launched herself at Tsainetomo, leaving her feet and diving through the 15 feet of space that separated the two. She would relish sinking her teeth deep into his jugular, drinking her fill of his blood and power, draining him until he was a shriveled husk...
...and suddenly, he was not there.
Tsainetomo had calmly watched the woman rushing towards him, and at the last possible moment, took a single step backward, dropping off the ledge and catching it with his hands. Luckily for Jade, the drop was only a few feet, and she tumbled unceremoniously in the dirt below. Sai released his grip and walked over to the seated Jade, and held out a helping hand. “Are you alright?”
Jade, her wounded pride tamping down her rage, grasped his forearm wordlessly and the Keibatsu helped her to her feet. “You have a lot of anger, a lot of power, but no focus. Focus is the gift I will give to you, and it begins with this.” Tsainetomo produced the red adgean he’d found earlier.
Having been a student of Macron herself, Jade stared wide-eyed at the gem and reached for it. Tsainetomo handed it over, and she turned it over lovingly in her hands. “Where did you get this?”
“In the tunnels above. It is what led me to do what I did back there, and it is what leads us on our path below.”
“How?” Jade asked incredulously.
“To hone Focus, you must first understand Commonality. You must be willing to see the big picture in order to discern the details. Concentrate on this place Jade. Feel the song it sings.”
Taking a deep breath, Jade did as she was told, and stretched herself out in the Force. Soon, the resonating thrum of the power inundating the tombs began to beat within her head. “It’s as it was before, like walking through a thick fog, Tsainetomo. I hardly understand...”
Interrupting her, Tsainetomo began to speak again. “Now, ‘listen’ to the gem. Really listen, but don’t block out the tomb. Trust me.” Jade did so, and found that the gem did resonate much the same, just muted. “Now, find the link between them and...” He let his statement trail off, knowing what the result would be, and began to walk.
Jade had to concentrate a bit harder, but her efforts were swiftly rewarded. Suddenly, in her mind’s eye, a gossamer thread shot from the adgean in her hand to end at an unseen terminus somewhere unseen in the tunnel ahead. “Oh!” She exclaimed as she caught up to Sai.
Tsainetomo calmly plucked the gem from Jade’s upturned palm to begin walking, staring at his find once again. Almost absently, he muttered, “You can do it with people, too. Aleho, for instance?”
Jade, having already been given a valuable grain of knowledge was instantly intrigued, but she still let skepticism creep into her voice. “I already do that, Son of Sadow. I am strong, and I telepathically speak to her all the ti...”
Sharply, Tsainetomo raised his voice. He caught the derision she made no effort to hide, and he framed his response accordingly, causing her words to catch in her throat. “No, Jade, you do not! What you do is the equivalent of shouting at the top of your voice in a large hall, hoping that she’s somewhere on the other side, and that she’s listening! It makes no sense, to cast a wide net to catch one fish! Anyone with half a mind and even less Force ability can eavesdrop on your excuse for conversations and...” He calmed down, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. After all, it wasn’t her fault, not entirely, and he did promise to teach her a better way. When he spoke again, his voice was again smooth and measured.
“Find the commonality between you two, think of your oath to Ashura, and your feelings for Aleho. Fill yourself with that emotion, and concentrate on the young girl. You’ll be able to do with her what you’ve learned to do with the gem and our destination below. At first, using that technique, you’ll only know where she is, but with practice, you can pluck the thread and send and receive impressions, and at greater levels, you can begin to manipulate the people with whom you are linked, provided they are weaker than you.”
Jade was nearly overcome with her newfound knowledge. Just as with the adgean, she’d produced an ethereal link between her and the young Aleho. However, her elation was tempered with horror as she discovered the youngling was in the grasp of...something. “Sai, it’s Aleho! She needs our...”
She looked at Tsainetomo with concern, then confusion as she saw the Keibatsu suddenly ignite his tangerine blade, swinging it seemingly with abandon towards her, she ducked, her own hand instinctively closing around her weapon’s hilt. Looking up, she saw Tsainetomo’s blade crashing into another lightsaber blade, locking in an ‘x’ above her.
Jade rolled to the side, her violet blade belching from her hilt, and saw that Tsainetomo’s opponent was as ghastly as the foes they’d dispatched earlier, but this one moved with more surety, and was armed with an archaic lightsaber, old and connected to a power pack on the fiend’s back, but still as deadly, judging the way it held off Tsainetomo’s weapon. Jade approached the ghoul, looking to bisect the thing while it was occupied with the Keibatsu, and watched as it impossibly shunted Sai’s blade to the side and expertly blocked her own strike!
Suddenly, the first ghoul was joined by another, similarly armed, and the group wordlessly began battling. The cavern was lit by the clashing blades time and time again, and soon, Tsainetomo and Jade began to sweat from the exertion and from drawing upon the Force.
The fiends, however, had no such limitations.
“They wield lightsabers like they are Force-users!” Jade shouted above the growl of their weapons.
“Yet, they are clearly not. Further, they seem to be slightly slower, but they won’t get tired, like us.” Tsainetomo added gravely. “They seem to be trying to herd us, rather than kill.”
Jade had to agree. The pair of ghouls did indeed seem to be content in pushing them inexorably down the path they had already begun to travel. “Then, let’s let them!” Jade extinguished her weapon and began to jog down the path, and Sai followed suit, towards what, neither knew. Tsainetomo thought of Macron, and he connected with the Sith, giving the mad Alchemist a veritable breadcrumb trail to follow.
He hoped silently that the trail wouldn’t end at his cold and dead body.
Zaxen quickly took estimation of the situation as he made his way to Black Guard Hall and the intelligence center within. The palace was a practice in madness as people flocked to and fro in a frenzy, each participant of the mob doing their part to make sense of what was happening in the Orian system. Zaxen weaved himself through the crowded halls as the various pieces of his mind's puzzle began to take shape.
Kar Alabrek has been attacked and likely destroyed...The Consul's coronation at Dystopia has also been attacked...and the Heir to the Bloodline of Sadow has been conceived. His thoughts mulled these facts for perhaps the hundredth time since discovering that they had indeed happened.
Stepping up to the great doors of the Black Guard Hall, Zaxen placed his hand upon the panel to have it scanned, which was the first key. The second key came in a silent inquiry through the Force that only a Black Guardsman could answer. As the doors slid open to allow him access a retinue of droids came shambling up offering any assistance or service that might be required. Zaxen simply waved his hand in dismissal as he continued forward towards the intelligence center.
The Intelligence center of Black Guard Hall was a mini control center with monitors of various sizes and placements displaying everything from the menu at the banquet hall to the galactic news and nearly everything in between. The Dlarit Corporation had spared no expense in establishing its intelligence and monitoring network. Zaxen made full use of it. He began bringing up files on people of interest, people who could have known about the various events, weaknesses of the Dlarit and Naga Sadow assets, and the timing for all that was taking place. As he continued to scan he soon came to realize that it would be impossible for one person to plan and time all the attacks. There was a group and it was deeply rooted.
Zaxen leaned back in his chair and soon realized that trying to piece together this mystery through a computer was pointless. He would have to find a trail and follow it to its source. The answer quickly came. Only five people could know about the pregnancy of Sakura, the Overlord, his two clone DAC guards, himself, and Sakura’s doctor. Of the five the doctor had the highest probability of leaking the information despite being a trusted employee of Dlarit corp. for years.
Zaxen quickly keyed in the data for the doctor and scanned it over. Dr. Conar Villo a thirty year employee who has served as a private physician to the Overlord and those closest to him. Villo was a medical genius having graduated the old Imperial Academy of Medical Sciences at the top of his class and went on to achieve his doctorate in record time. He had served on both the battlefield and in the board room and everything in between. He had also been recognized for his various contributions and theories to the galactic medical community and was considered one of the greatest physicians of his era. He was the perfect target for a usurper.
Zaxen stood and made his way to the exit, he had found his first target.
Sadow Palace Medical Wing
Dr. Conar Villo sat at his terminal reading various new reports of the recent attacks as they began to stream in. Lines of concern streaked the man’s face. It seemed the whole system was falling in upon itself. He sent out orders and recommendations for assistance to the areas hit. Dystopia was in pure chaos and all of Tarthos seemed to have simply up and vanished. He made several notes on his keypad and shuffled various articles on his desk when suddenly he felt a sudden wave of uneasiness.
“Greetings Doctor.” Came a cold and even voice.
The sudden break in the relative silence of his office startled Villo and he looked around for the source of the voice. “Who’s there?!”
Suddenly he was there as if he had always been there. The obsidian armor stood out darker against dark, a harbinger of fear, pain, and death. He moved as if he were a wraith, each motion had purpose yet each motion seemed effortless as if were in one place and then suddenly in another. Villo was overwhelmed and nausea began to creep its way through his inner ear and down to the pit of his stomach.
“I’m here to discuss the matter of your treachery.” The shadow spoke.
The Doctor felt his skin flush and immediately go cold. “What are you talking about?!”
The armored shadow stepped closer and stood directly in front of Villo’s desk. “I am referring to the pregnancy of the Overlord’s mistress and the fact that you leaked the information to our enemies.”
“Rediculous!” the doctor’s voice sounded strained in his own ears. His body began to shake with fear. “ I would never do such a thing!”
“You do not sound very convincing doctor…” with that the dark figure raised a gloved hand and the air began to squeak out of Villo’s throat as his lungs were denied replenishment.
Doctor Villo clawed at his wind pipe as fear began to wash over him in waves. “Please…” He strained out. With a sudden flick of the figure’s hand Doctor Villo flew from his chair across the room and crashed into a cabinet of medical supplies. Pain coursed through his body but at least he could breathe once more.
“You will tell me the name of your contact.” The voice spoke with an edge of steel. The doctor felt as if cold fingers were reaching into his brain and squeezing it from the inside. His head exploded in pain and his vision began to blur.
“There is no contact! I don’t know what you are talking about!” The doctor shrieked in agony. The fingers probed deeper and images of memory flashed before his eyes. The nightmare standing over him now twisted his hand and the pain surged once more as he felt his memories being torn out of his mind.
The scene of the examination of Sakura Haruno flashed before him and ran slowly. Every detail was fine tuned as if it were being replayed via a holo projector. Each moment seemed to increase the pain pulsing through Villo’s head. The strain of such a fine memory recall began to overwork the doctor’s brain.
“Tell me what you see.” The voice spoke.
Suddenly it caught his eye. There was a young nurse who had assisted Villo in the examination of Sakura. “There was a nurse…”
“A nurse?” the shadow asked.
“Y-yes, Lori is her name.” Villo struggled with consciousness as he spoke. “She was there with me.”
“Thank you doctor… you have been very helpful.” Then the pain was gone with the shadow as if it were never there, as if it had been a dream.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Lower Level Caves
"I think we are getting closer," commented Kalei. "The Dark Side seems even stronger down here."
"I'd agree with that," replied Zaroth. "I keep seeing shadows moving from the corners of my eyes. It's taking a lot of concentration to keep my head clear."
Macron spoke abruptly as visions swirled in his troubled brain. "Aleho's in trouble, and Sai and Jade are being pressed deeper into the tunnels," he snarled. "We've got to move faster."
Ekeia stepped ahead, peering into the darkness. "Wait a sec. Something's moving, but I sense no life." Her saber snapped on, illuminating the area dimly. "Wait, I see something- somethings moving. More undead I bet!"
The other three Dark Jedi ignited their blades an instant later, bathing the tunnel in differing shades of light.
Three forms strode into view, gaunt mummies with brown flesh stretched tight on their bones like rotten cardboard. They each carried a lightsaber hilt of olden design, connected to a belt pack that hung loosely on their bony hips. All three ignited blades of a sizzling red color and ragged edges, raising them and moving to the attack as the party gaped.
Macron laughed, summoning a wall of crushing Force energy to slam into them and bowl them over like pins. Except, it didn't happen that way. The wave dissipated as it struck their leathery bodies, the energy absorbed by the husks as the dim glow behind their eyes brightened. The Derriphan spirits bound to their husks drank the power like blood.
The alchemist screamed in horror as his mind began to snap. "Don't use the Force on them! Defend yourselves," he howled as he drew his second blade and ignited it. "Garrrrrrrhhhh!" He had lost the ability to speak as Rage overtook his body. He began to rain furious stabs and blows on the strongest one of the corpses, driving it back from the Journeymen.
The other two corpses assaulted Zaroth, Ekeia, and Kalei. Both of the cadavers were roughly equal to Knights in saber skills. Zaroth was barely holding his own against the corpse, slamming his own crimson blade into the red one of his foe. Ekeia and Kalei danced about the other mummy, darting in with measured strikes. They were much faster, but the corpse was skilled with a blade and untiring.
"They're holding us back," yelled Kalei. "They're trying to separate us from the others!"
"Strike the cables!" shouted Zaroth. "Shut their sabers down! We are more maneuverable!"
The Warlord growled deep in his throat, spittle flying from his lips as he immersed himself deep in the Dark Side. The corpse he fought was good with his blade- but the raging alchemist was better. He shut one blade off, ducked a high strike by the undead and snapped the switch back on in a vicious Trakata strike. Macron's orange blade cut cleanly through the pelvis of the corpse, leaving the halves to topple to the floor. His red blade spun in a Makashi swirl that removed both the right arm and saber cable of the cadaver, leaving it to squirm helplessly.
"Too bad you're dead and can't feel the sweet pain anymore," spat the madman as he wiped the slobber from his chin and flipped it carelessly into the undead's supine face. "Now for the rest of you. Hold them off for just a moment, then jump aside!" he said loudly as he turned to the others battling. He dropped both saber hilts and raised his hands. Debris began to swirl around him, rocks and stones becoming airborne as the Whirlwind took hold.
"Now!" the scream ripped from Macron's lips as he threw his hands towards the mummies. The spinning mass of rocks and stones slammed like a pillar into the twin corpses as the Dark Jedi jumped aside. Old bones were crushed, fragile electronics ruined. One undead went down as a melon-sized rock crushed his skull with a puff of dust.
The other walking dead had avoided the worst of it, although her protosaber was ruined. "Get her!" snarled Zaroth as he dove forward. The dead woman was set upon by the three Journeymen and summarily carved into smoking bits. The air smelled now of old burned flesh and rock dust.
"That sucked. I can't do that much more," commented Macron as he huffed with exertion. "No time for chit-chat, we have to go help the others. If Aleho gets ruined, Ashura will never let me hear the end of it," he mumbled. "Frack."
High Security Wing
Cenota Detention Facility
Gamuslag; Third Moon of Sepros
Dry air hung in the filthy cell and the stench of urine permeated the stone walls. Time seemed to stay still as first days, then weeks, then months passed. Vallen’dere had long since given up hope of rescue. His only awareness of time was the twice daily visits of the guard who would toss something supposedly called ‘food’ through the thin slit in the otherwise solid door. The door must have been half a meter thick, and solid durasteel. The Cenota Facility had been built to keep people in, and so far that was exactly what it was doing.
Vallen’s eyes stung when the slit creaked open and the duty officer shined a torch inside. Vallen was not used to light; his cell did not have any. Originally the permanent darkness had brought chaos to his internal body clock, but after a while he had grown used to it, and was even starting to take comfort in it. There was something tranquil about the darkness; it was peaceful; safe. Safer than the outside at least. His last time outside the cell had been his brief excursion to the so-called resort of Lor Zatean. Vallen preferred not to remember that. The creatures . . . the creatures had haunted his dreams ever since. He hoped one day to return the favour to the stooge from the Chamber of Justice, Malisane de Ath, who had ‘released’ him only to use him as bait. It had worked; but not without nearly costing Vallen his life. Justice . . . yeah right.
The guard pushed something inside and drew the slit shut again. Vallen tested the object with a claw first and sniffed; the smell reminded him of rotting meat. It was probably some type of processed nerf, but most likely past its recommended consumption date. The war was probably taking its toll on the system’s supply lines, no surprise that the prisoners only got what the main populace threw away. Vallen forced a mouthful of the meat in his mouth and did his best not to let it touch his tongue. It was sour, and he half expected it to kill him, but death would be a welcome release from the indefinite – translation: permanent – incarceration he faced.
Vallen still wondered why they didn’t just kill him. He was just a waste of resources, and if they had hoped to learn anything from him they surely must have realised they would either have done so by now or never would. They wouldn’t, of course. Vallen had been innocent. But his brief time spent with Darth Vexatus had caused them to see fit to place him under arrest. All known associates had been rounded up. Vallen predicted there must have been at least several dozen hauled up in the Cenota Facility, not counting those who must have still been at large. The influence of an Elder went far; and, even with the traitor dead, Vallen doubted the system could ever be free of one who had directly helped build it. And yet, despite all the ones who had gotten away, Vallen – innocent – had had been one of the few sent to Gamuslag. A bitter irony for the Fosh who had only met the Falleen once during the mission to the Dajorra system, and the ‘fall’ of Estle City to the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong.
‘Fall’. Vallen wondered how many other things had ‘fallen’ only to in truth have been betrayed.
Sleep came to Vallen not long after he had finished the ‘meal’ he had been given for the evening. Vallen dreaded sleep. It was the worst time. The darkness was peaceful, comforting. But sleep was wild and untamed. If not for the nightmares of the beasts from Zatean, it was the sword; the burning, flaming sword that seemed to haunt his every thought. It made Vallen want to tear his eyes out, but instead he had simply taken to plucking out his feathers. He was certain he must have been almost bald now. The pain gave him a slight relief, and was his way of escaping the dreams. Vallen was not blind to the irony that they had been fighting the Vong for years, and here he was turning to voluntary pain as his ‘saviour’. It was poetic justice in a way. Vallen had no idea how the war effort was going, but if the quality of the food was any indication he surmised not as well as it could be.
The floor seemed to burn beneath him and Vallen felt the heat of the fire as it lifted him up and enveloped him; the sword appeared again, looming in the darkness above, calling . . .
Corporal Mayk dropped into one of the chairs in the mess hall and felt his muscles collapse. It had been an unusually long shift. Most of the second shift crew had been called to the attacks in Seng Karash on Aeotheran. Word had it the nightclub had been the target of a terrorist attack, but news didn’t travel fast to Cenota. Mayk only had gossip to go on, and gossip was notoriously inaccurate.
‘How’s the bird?’ Sergeant Macklay asked.
‘How do you think?’ Mayk quipped. He was tired. He wasn’t in the mood for Macklay’s sarcasm.
Macklay didn’t press the point. Mayk guessed he must have looked pretty shattered for the sergeant to drop the chance to wind him up. ‘Did you know he’s started having nightmares like the others?’ Mayk said.
Macklay scooped a spoonful of custard into his mouth. ‘Another . . . one?’ he said between mouthfuls. ‘That makes . . . what . . . six, right?’
Mayk nodded his head. Six. It was getting worse. ‘He was jabbering something about a ‘sword’ in his sleep too. Jonez mentioned something similar about one of the others.’
Macklay’s scraped the bowl clean and took a long time as he chewed the last of his dessert. ‘That makes four of them that I know of,’ he finally said. ‘Bets on the other two?’
Mayk snorted but didn’t answer. He was thinking the same thing. Whatever was haunting the inmates it was spreading . . . and the coincidence of the events on Aeotheran could not have been worse. If Cenota had problems they would need all the help they could get. Wardens were not trained to fight convicts; they were there to keep them locked in.
A lump formed in Mayk’s throat as thought about it. The way Command was, he wouldn’t be surprised if they just bombed the place. What were a few convicts to the rest of the Corporation? Mayk swallowed and pushed the thought out of his mind. All he could hope was whatever the problem was on Aeotheran that it was dealt with quickly . . . but with the archaeologists off on their little jaunt to Inos everything was going slow. Something was coming . . . he could feel it. You didn’t need to be Force-sensitive to know when stuff was all going wrong. Things were unravelling, but forces was spread out too thinly all across the system; Mayk just hoped that when whatever it was coming finally came they were all ready to deal with it . . .
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The undead slave brought the young unconscious Dark Jedi into the sanctum of its master. The robed figure looked to Aleho and pointed to the stone table, a moment later the girl was placed on it.
Curwen Sunei circled the table as he looked at Leho, this child was but bait for the others. He pulled out another of his red adgean crystals and placed it on the girl's forehead, her young body jerked for a second as the crystal seemed to be a focal point for the Dark Side. Aleho's skin seemed to slightly turn a darker shade of red as her body struggled with the negative energy feeding through her.
"Soon," whispered Curwen as he sensed his guests approaching, "all the pieces will be in place."
OOC: Just a bit of character development for her, the affect of it wont come into play until she reaches adulthood... will probably need to have Macron 'undo' or 'fix' what's being done to her when she's rescued. Ain't I a stinker
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Upper Level Caves
The power of the Dark Side flowed through Shimura, dulling his force perception even though he tried to suppress it. His cloak wrapped around his lean body and his pale hand thumbing the ignition of his saber. Shimura had always kept tabs on his friends and family, mostly Macron. His friends' study of various Sith subjects had always interested the Zabrak, while Macron wanted to learn about them, Shimura wanted to apply them. He wasn't sure what his cousin was up to, but the tombs generally meant something big. The Keibatsu pulled himself from his thoughts and noticed faint scream echoing off the walls of the cave that tingled the nerves in his thick skull.
The thudding of his combat boots striking stone reverberated off the walls of the cave as he pushed himself into a run. He knew he was missing something, something savage. Something he wanted to jump into. He knew it was odd he didn't have to face any of the renown tomb defences which could only mean that the tomb had another target in mind, one far more dangerous than himself. His friend and his entourage were the targets.
"Won't Macron be surprised?" Shimura mused to himself as he pushed himself harder.
There was a scraping noise, and then a loud clatter as the panel fell onto the black tiled floor. Immediately the figure of Senth hit the floor in a crouch, covering the room with his blaster. A second later Ashura and Malisane followed, and Bob came last.
Malisane dusted himself off. “Never thought I’d be creeping down the ventilation ducts of my own club,” he grumbled.
Ashura looked around curiously at the expensively furnished room, with its bright lighting and soft music. “Where are we?”
“Third floor,” Malisane replied, “Schmooze. People come here to be seen.”
“Can’t they be seen elsewhere or something?” Bob asked.
“It’s a social thing,” Malisane replied, “pretentious people.”
“Ah,” Bob replied, “you got anything to drink?”
“Help yourself,” Malisane replied reaching over the bar for a bottle, “we seem to have given them the slip.”
Ashura nodded. He was studying a competition poster on the wall. “Drink a two litre bucket of beer in under thirty seconds and win a hundred credits.” He frowned. “That’s impossible.”
“That’s not impossible,” Bob replied, “we just to knock back those big metal jugs of ale at the Conclave in less time. They’re about two litres.”
“I need a drink,” Ashura said quietly.
Senth was stood by the door listening. “Looks like the lobby outside is occupied,” he reported.
“Is there another way out of here?” Ashura asked Malisane.
The Battlelord considered this. “Well there’s the window. There’s a safety field around the building, in the event of fire or generally falling out you drift downwards.”
“Sounds good,” Bob replied. He looked around then picked up a chair, and casually hurled it through the glass window smashing glass outwards and sending a blast of cold air into the bar. The chair hovered in the air outside for a few seconds as the Sith watched it, then they blinked in surprise as it began to buckle, immense forces crushing it into a solid metal cube. Then it fell out of sight.
“Someone’s been messing with the forcefield,” Malisane surmised, “if that had been one of us we’d have been crushed to a pulp.”
“Think of everything these people don’t they?” Ashura asked.
“Who?” Bob demanded, “who is doing this?”
“That’s what we have to find out.” Malisane said grimly.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
After running almost aimlessly through the tunnels, Tsainetomo nearly skidded into Jade’s back as the passageway opened abruptly into a large antechamber, the entirety of which was bathed in an ethereal crimson glow. His eyes, like the Archpriestess’s, were transfixed by the insanely large vein of adgean running the length of the walls, and at the lifeless beings who seemed to be mining it.
“Eureka!” the Son of Sadow breathlessly exclaimed as the majesty of their find overwhelmed him. The Herald’s office would reward the clan richly, indeed. Here was an almost inexhaustible source of power crystals for their trademark weapons...provided they could evict the current tenant and claim the place as their own, of course.
Jade’s eyes averted themselves to an unassuming dais in the center of the chamber. “Aleho!” she exclaimed as she made her way towards the structure. Tsainetomo barely had a chance to register the wizened figure standing over the youngling when the sound of a lightsaber igniting reached his ear. Spinning, he uttered a curse as his own weapon belched forth.
“Frack, I forgot all about these wretches!” The ghouls had finally caught up and engaged him. “Get to Aleho if you can; I’ll try to hold them off as long as I can!”
Tsainetomo’s tangerine blade carved angry ellipticals and infinities in front of him as he drank deep of the Dark Side, enjoining the Force to bolster his efforts. Initially, he was rewarded as he ran effortlessly through Djem So’s forms, his entire body the picture of menacing fluidity. The ghoul’s surrounded him, attacking from in front and behind, and the Son of Sadow’s mind fractured as he accepted the inevitability of the situation. Only the matter of Time’s inexorable passage stood between him and his fall.
As he shared the Family Keibatsu’s curious penchant for a split neurosis, he slipped into his unique version. His was to become detached from everything, seeking to resolve a situation, often to the cost of friend and foe, alike. This time, thankfully, he’d only be endangering himself.
Tsainetomo, Archpriest of the Krath Mysteries, Son of Sadow, he of Keibatsu blood, spun and slashed, dodged and parried as his blade growled and met the archaic weapons time and time again, sparks bathing the space around him. Tirelessly, the ghouls sought to strike him down. Finally, the Korun-Keibatsu swung from left to right, from down to up, and cleaved the ghoul in front of him in a clean diagonal. As he spun away from the ruined specter, his ‘saber arm was up and his body open, leaving his form open to attack from the ghoul behind him.
As he completed his spin, the ghoul took the bait and ran Sai through with its own weapon, the blade passing mercifully through his side and just above his right kidney, punching through his back. He stood, impaled upon the lightsaber blade as time froze, his mouth open in a silent scream as the wound radiated icy fire through his body.
The ghoul also remained frozen, its own mouth mimicking the ragged laughter that emanated from the old Dark Adept standing over Aleho some distance away.
Suprisingly, Tsainetomo still held strength enough to stand, and to grasp the ghoul’s ‘saber wrist.
Painfully, the Son of Sadow pulled the blade through him and the specter closer to his Force-drained form.
Defiantly, the Keibatsu, one of the finest warriors the Clan had to offer, brought his own ‘saber to bear and dragged the blade through the fiend’s throat and neck, and the head fell away, the wound smoking and glowing. The ancient weapon extinguished itself as the Dark Side left the corpse.
A second later, Tsainetomo sank to his knees, his own sunset blade dying in the crimson light of the chamber.
Jade stopped short of the dais and Aleho, the Dark Adept cackling all the while.
Tsingtao entered the ballroom after the "all clear" signal was given. He was followed by Joseem Maruuch, Horus Blackheart, and the rest of the Sapphire Squadron. Bodies and debris were everywhere.
"So this is where all the chaos started." the Sith Warrior thought to himself.
"OVER HERE!" yelled Xander near the middle of the room.
Tsingtao walked towards the Sapphire Commander. "What is it?" he asked.
"Some sort of droid,," replied Xander. "though I know not of its origins."
"Whatever it is, we need to know more about it," Tsingtao stated. "Have your second team back on the roof and have these remains taken to the Skyhook. I want an extraction point ready when it is time to go." Xander nodded and went about his task.
Joseem walked up to Tsingtao. "R7 has patched into a terminal. He is trying to access the building systems but is locked out."
Horus approached the two Sith. "I have searched the area, no signs of our Clansmen. I beleive I found their escape route but not sure where they could have gone." the Battlemaster reported. Tsingtao nodded to Joseem.
"R7,I need you to get me access to the security cameras. Try and locate Bob, Ashura, and the others." the Zabrak order the astromech droid. A few seconds later the droid chirped a response. "He has found them. They are on the third level of this building."
All of a sudden, R7 yelled wildly as an electrical shock flowed throughout its frame. Joseem quickly went to his droid. "R7 seems to be fine. He was shut out of the system. Someone doesn't want us here." Joseem reported after checking on R7's condition.
"Someone or something. We must get to the others. Horus, lead the way."
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Everyone had split off in different directions, and the Huntress wasn't sure who to follow. Was she to go after Aleho and keep her master's other apprentice safe or go off and try to get more help for the others. Her head was starting to spin, like something was digging into her mind.
She suddenly lost her grip on her armory saber and it fell to the ground. Putting herself against one of the walls, she looked down at her hands. Either she wasn't seeing straight or she was fading away. How was this even possible? What was going on with her right now? She knew that she was there, had been since she'd been asked to go to the Tombs by Tsingtao.
But now what was happening? Looking towards where her saber was on the ground, she tried to reach for it only to stumble back against the wall and clutch her head. A sharp pain sped through it, as though something were pulling her away from where she was by her mind. This wasn't right, Kalei was feeling herself beginning to drift away. Had she been hit by something and was losing a grip on her life? She did not know, but soon felt her head hit against the rough ground beneath her.
Basai tried to reach out for her saber once more, which was now on the ground right next to her. This was unsuccessful as quickly her vision blurred and she felt nothing beneath her, as though she were floating towards somewhere.
Night Hawks HQ, Infirmary
Kalei quickly felt something under her and she snapped her head up, quickly becoming dizzy. She recognized where she was, she was back at the headquarters of her Battle Team. Had everything just been a dream? She looked at her arms and they looked solid. Someone came up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. "You need to lay back down, Kalei. We don't know what happened to you, but you've somehow been injured. You were found in your room with your amory saber in your hand, you seemed to be extremely focused on something."
Looking back, she saw one of the infirmary workers. Letting out a slight sigh, she turned back and looked at her arms. All of the scratches and such that she had recieved in the tombs were on her arms. "What happened to me?" she asked quietly, trying to remember exactly what was going on. "You were getting ready to go out on the mission to the tombs, apparently they reported you left with them. How that is possible, we do not know, because you were in your room. The only reason we found you is because someone heard your saber ignite."
She was confused, but had read about something like this happening. "So nothing could wake me I take it?" The worker shook his head. "Did you by chance try to see how much activity was in my brain?"
The worker nodded, "It was almost off the charts for someone of your stature. We had to check how well versed in the Force you were before we finally decided on only one thing. You somehow were projecting yourself to the mission to the tombs. We did a double check with those we could contact down there, they said you were with a team that went into the tombs."
"I was there, I remember it. Then the group got split...that is when I think I started to lose my grip on what was happening there and ended up back here." The worker placed a hand on Kalei's shoulder again and laid her back down. "We will let them know what happened when we are able to contact them again. Stay here and rest, we are going to send you back to the main Marka Ragnos faciltiy when we are sure you are safe to be moved."
The Huntress laid herself back down and sighed. She could have sworn she was really in the tombs, it had all felt so real, including getting hurt. She had felt the pain of the injuries she had recieved as well. She knew she was going to have to research this more once she was well enough to do so.
((OOC: This was an idea from Malisane since I was a bit lost on where to have myself in this. So I'm no longer with the group in the tombs.))
Mitsuhide checked his messages and found that he could not receive access to the archives at the Sadow Palace without the authorization from either the Consul or the Proconsul. Apparently both of which were unavailable.
He looked behind him to see his ever present shadows, Dravunia and Zenovak. Nodding to both of them, he held up the drawing.
“Dig through all of these books and find ANY reference to this and bring it to me,” he said softly.
These two are perfect, Zalera. Think of the power they will give us... the constant visitor in his head told him.
“Quiet, Faram…we do not need to worry ourselves with what they will give us…only the results the two can bring.”
As you wish, old friend...
With that, the voice faded to the background and awaited its next opportunity to show itself. Leafing through the books he had gathered; he found few references all to a battle some years prior involving the Overlord and the Apostates.
There was something to these explosions that were still connected to these two, but Mitsuhide was hard pressed to find the reason. Both of the Apostates are declared deceased, and there is no other record of this organization elsewhere in the books.
Growling lightly, he slammed his fist into the table causing a shushing sound to come from the librarian. With a venomous glance, the Scholar got a muffled apology from the librarian and returned to the manuscripts before him.
Inos Moon 42
Tombs of Urias Orian
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
"Ha! Soon you two will join your supine friend there in death, woman" snickered Curwen Sunei as he gestured toward Jade and Aleho. He casually grasped the long golden metallic pole from where it leaned against the wall. The Adept held it before himself in one had, twin short red lightsaber blades springing from the shaft with sputtering hisses. "The Sword will be pleased."
Jade bared her wicked teeth fully. "You'll not find me to be easy prey, human." The Krath raised her searing lightsaber before her in concentration as she prepared to engage the old man. His power as an Elder was staggering, but so was her steely resolve. Aleho was unconscious on the table, and the Archpriestess intended to rescue her.
"Not so fast, old man," sneered a giggly voice from the shadows of the tunnel. A touch on Macron's arm inoculated him with synthetic orbalisk venom. The Sith stepped from the darkness, Ekeia and Zaroth by his side. The dim red light from Sunei's blade and the purple from Jade's lit the three figures dimly.
All three ignited their respective four blades, the multiple colors illuminating the cyst-like chamber with flickering light. "Ekeia, take care of Tsainetomo and look sharp. Get him on his feet as soon as you can. Zaroth, Jade, you're with me. We'll fight him together. Come at him from all sides, all at once. No mercy."
Dark Jedi did not fight fair. Macron and Zaroth circled wide, making the old man the central point of their circle with Jade completing the figure. Ekeia dragged Tsainetomo toward the hall entrance, drawing out a medpack and administering bacta and first aid. "Don't you dare die on me," she growled as she gave him CPR. "I need you on your feet! You're not allowed to die!"
Curwen peered closely at the group. His sense of the Force told him some, but such powers were somewhat deadened here in the bowels of the Dark Side site. An Elder he may be, but one trapped in an old man's body. All three of his standing foes had wielded actual lightsabers, that much was plain to see. He spoke up. "Feh. You think you can take me, younglings? I've fought in more battles than you have fingers." He held the pike with one hand, pointing his other claw-like fingers at Jade. Blue arcs of lightning shot from his fingers to torment her.
Jade caught the lightning on her plum-colored saber blade. She then screamed in rage, launching a furious Shii-cho assault by way of a rude reply.
Curwen frowned, using both hands on the crimson-bladed saberpike to deftly defend against the violet swatting blade. "Well trained I see," he commented. "This should be interesting." He held Jade at bay, twirling the pike impressively as he blocked her vicious swings.
Macron gestured toward Zaroth, two fingers pointed at the old man. "You have no idea. Get 'em," he howled. The Warlord shut one blade down for Trakata usage and left one on to defend with Makashi and Dun Moch.
Zaroth and Macron both leaped high in the air, each executing a flip as they landed around the battling pair. Two red blades slipped in to slice at Curwen, and an orange one snapped on and off quickly in a vicious stab that sputtered off the saberpike's phrikite pole. A deft stir of the saber pike swept Zaroth's blade aside, and the other end caught Macron's red saber to send it crashing against Jade's purple one.
Jade dropped low, slashing at the Adept's legs. Macron struck hugh, twin sabers slicing down in a fifth circle Form II technique, throwing 4 blows in rapid succession. Curwen leapt above the low slice, knocking aside Macron's attacks with quintuple twists of his pike.
At that instant, Zaroth threw his armory lightsaber with the aid of the Force as hard as he could at the Adept's mid-section. It buzzed forward with blinding speed, slashing at the old man's midsection as he narrowly dodged it.
"Argh," snarled the former Imperial Guard as his side smoked from a lightsaber burn. His intensified speed had avoided a fatal blow, but he was indignant that he had actually been mildly cut. He landed atop the table, legs astride the unconscious Aleho. He released a hand, sending a smashing wave of force energy spiraling forth that pummeled the three fighters.
Zaroth flew some feet back, sliding across the floor with a groan as he fell unconscious. Jade and Macron still stood, their own resistance and skills keeping them from being totally smashed. However, they still slid backwards several feet away from the Adept. Both had a few broken ribs. Each channeled the Dark Side to control the pain, combined with Jade's weird nature and Macron's drugs.
Jade and Macron both responded in tandem with telekinetic energy of their own, a specialty of Clan Naga Sadow. Jade's free hand clenched into a fist as she snarled, seeking to crush the Adept's brain within his head. Macron hurled his own wave of crushing force with every erg of extra energy the Dark Site could supply, dropping one lightsaber to palm something from his belt as he threw the blow.
Both Sadowites hissed with bloodlust as Master and Apprentice fought side by side against a common foe. The Adept deflected both attacks, but it cost him precious energy and time. Pinpricks of blood appeared on his face from some of the unseen debris he had missed.
"Wicked," giggled the mad Sith with a cough as he drew his fallen lightsaber back to his grasp. "But how long can that old body of yours hold up, hmm? Jade here is not quite human, and neither am I. Your power is great, but your body will give out before we do."
"I can still take you. Surely I wouldn't treat with the likes of you." Curwen's earlier summoning and binding rituals had left him with much less than his normal amount of energy, and he was trying to hide his concerns. An extended battle with other hardened force-users would not be the best idea.
"You certainly will," came a low rasp from the mouth of the chamber as Sai raised a hand. Ekeia looked on in concern, administering another injection as the Krath genius coughed. "And here is exactly why, my friend. You're going to need an antidote shortly for the Violator needles Macron just hit you with, courtesy of my idea. And if we don't come back, you'll have an army of Dark Jedi coming here to 'see' you, including some even more powerful that you. They won't be kind, that I promise. We've learned much since Palpatine's days..."
Sunei touched his face, feeling the tiny droplets of blood smear across his fingertips. He could feel something was wrong, but with the Archpriestess and Warlord facing him down, it would be difficult to concentrate on purging it. As well, the very nature of the place made healing such things more difficult. "What do you propose?" asked the old man haughtily as he considered the probabilities. He could sense the unlikely truth in the Krath's words.
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The poison wormed its way through Sunei’s veins and he felt his body scream. It spread out from the epicentre of the eruption like rivers of fire. He gasped for air when the infected blood pumped into his lungs, feeling an explosion of raw agony in his chest. But he did not flinch. His will had broken once back when he had served the Emperor’s Shadow Guard; it would not break again. Death would be a welcome release from the nightmares . . . but he had no intention of dying here.
‘What do you propose?’ he said, well aware his death was fast approaching if he did not at least humour their wish to barter, much as he may have preferred to prise the antidote from their dead hands—or better yet, instruct one of their reanimated corpses to offer it to him freely. But the poison was spreading too quickly, and he had no way of knowing if either of them even had an antidote on them. Or if one even existed.
A phantom of flame flashed before his eyes, and an arc of pain unlike any he had felt surged through his frame, causing him to buckle to his knees. The Dark Jedi stared, but none of them moved; no doubt well enough aware that it might be another of his many tricks. The image flashed before his eyes, like an inverted crucifix; he felt as if he could not escape it. It burned in the back of his mind like a star; full of fire and wonder; but also death and despair. His mind recoiled, and he drew himself back to full height, the toxin’s venomous pain momentarily all but forgotten in the face of the far greater torture from the daggers now piercing his mind.
‘The Sword must be appeased,’ he hissed, spitting each word through clenched teeth as if it were a curse, and simultaneously fighting the pain of the toxin that had now reached his head. Only one thing sated the nightmares; only one thing made the dreams go away. Sunei reached into a pocket under his robes and withdrew a rusted dagger, the blade still coated in dry blood. The Sword demanded of him sacrifice, and sacrifice he would bestow; even if it meant his own.
The insane sorcerer ran the dagger across his own wrist and muttered in a language which had been old when the Republic was still young. He cackled and watched as the blood congealed into a greasy pink pustule that rapidly enlarged until it looked fit to burst. It did. A horror beyond horrors emerged; it was much like an infant, but dripping in blood, and with clawed fingers, hooked feet, and teeth as rabid as any dogs. Its mouth drooled pus, and exuded a stench that reeked of death and rotten flesh.
Sunei burst into laughter and backed away from the Dark Jedi. ‘Behold my homunculus!’
Sanctum of Curwen Sunei
The old man’s laughter continued despite the poison running through his veins, a dry, raspy hitching noise, as he backed towards one of the cavern’s entrances. The Sadowan Force-users were taken aback by the slimy grotesquery that was birthed by the Adept’s ichor, freely spilt and malice-spawned.
It looked every bit an infantile version of the Sith Sorcerer, except for its feral features and steaming, bright red skin, moist and gleaming. Horrid mewls escaped its maw, and it writhed on the cold stone floor of the cavern. Zaroth, newly awakened, rose to his feet and stood next to Macron. He and Jade stared at the demon-spawn, faces filled with disgust, where Macron looked on in awe and wonderment. The Madman nudged Zaroth’s shoulder as if to say ’Go ahead; touch it.’, but Zaroth was having none of it. “Are you kidding?!” he asked. “I’m not getting anywhere near that thing!”
Tsainetomo was being helped to his feet by Ekeia, and the Son of Sadow leaned on her unsteadily as she ushered him to the other Sadowans; he pressed his palm against the ‘saber wound, his eyes grave and glinting in the glow of the cavern. “If you’re done, children, we’ve some unfinished business to attend to.” A cough racked the Archpriest’s frame, and Ekeia put a supporting hand on his chest. “Thank you; I’m fine.” Sai’s voice was reassuring. “Pardon me, sirrah?” Tsainetomo called out in a strong tone across the cavern to the fleeing wizard. “I believe there were some terms we have yet to come to an agreement on.”
“You’ve seen my terms, whelp!” The Adept screamed over his shoulder. “My majiks will purge your accursed poison from my form, and I’ll return, renewed in stren...” The old man’s tirade was lost as he ran into what seemed to be a brick wall. He tumbled end over end back into the cavern, spindly arms and legs akimbo, and was followed by a Zabrak.
“Ah, I see you’ve met my cousin, Shimura!” Sai said cheerfully as Macron’s face lit up. “Well done, my friend!” the Alchemist tittered as Shimura Keibatsu raised a hand in greeting.
“You gents are a hard bunch to find,” the Zabrak pronounced as he eyed the scene before him.
Meanwhile, the Adept rose to his feet, his robes dusty and torn from combat. He was about to launch into another tirade when again, the phantom flame lanced across his field of vision, inverted cruciform burning into his retinae.
The Sword demanded of him Sacrifice, and Sacrifice he would bestow...
The thought pierced his addled brain, born both of memory and admonishment, as if the Sword itself planted the statement in his mind.
Realization clouded his wizened features as he realized where he now stood: where he had birthed the Sith-demon. He whipped around, concern writ large on his face, but his alarms were raised moments too late; the homunculus had leapt from the floor in a blur onto the Adept’s back, its foot-talons finding purchase in the elderly flesh and the hand talons free to drag long, ragged furrows in the old man’s face, causing rivulets of blood to flow freely, staining his neck and robes. It screeched as it began to rip the old man to shreds.
The homunculus, created out of strife and eldritch majiks, had inherited all of the Adept’s insanity, ambition, and lust for power, was seeking to replace by way of consumption he who had created it.
The old man’s hands flailed about his neck and shoulders, instinctively trying to preserve his life, but the laugh his mouth issued was tinged with acceptance. “Yes! For the Sword! The Sword!” he exclaimed, laughing even as the pair fell to the floor, rolling around in a wash of tattered robes, dust, ribboned flesh and blood.
The Sadowan’s looked on, mouths agape in horror, except for Macron, who giggled, and Sai, who viewed the scene, expectation sharpening his gaze. He urged Ekeia to help him closer to the man and homunculus as events continued to play out.
The old man’s frame was spent, from physical exertion, prolonged Force-usage, and the Violator poison coursing through his system, so it was only a short matter of time before the demon-child gained the upper-hand. It now sat astride the old man’s chest, powerful claws descending again and again, ripping through cloth and flesh with equal ease. Finally, it bent close to the wizard, whose face and neck was a picture of ruined gore. The demon opened its ragged maw, and the wizard smiled (or, approximated one with what remained of his mouth) as the thing’s fetid breath washed over him.
Needle-like fangs punched into his neck, and the demon began to drink deep. The old man began to black out, feeling his life-force ebb away with every beat of his heart. The Abyss called...
...and Tsainetomo pulled him back.
“Now!” the Korun-Keibatsu roared, the weakness of his appearance belied by the strength of his voice. “Macron, Zaroth: the demon! Jade, Shimura: the old man!” At his command, Sai’s comrades wrapped the horrid pair in invisible bands of their collective will, separating the two and holding them aloft, side by side. “Ekeia, minister to the old one!” The Huntress left Sai’s side to apply a med-pack to the ragged wound in the wizard’s neck, staunching the blood’s flow.
Sai gamely limped towards the levitating old man, the wound in his side screaming at the effort. He leaned in close to the wizard, whose eyes blinked slowly as he teetered on the edge of consciousness. “Your name, old man. Tell me your name.”
The last shreds of resistance fell away as the man replied, his voice gurgling in his ragged throat. “Curwin....Curwin..Sunei...”
Tsainetomo smiled as he rose to his full height, his arms lifted towards the hovering pair and his fingers splayed. The words he spoke were old when the last to hear them before the Sadowites were ancient themselves; the air between the Son of Sadow, Sunei and the homunculus shimmered as the binding incantation was completed.
A horrid scream escaped the creature, and Curwin’s mouth, though silent, seem to mirror the sound in its shape. Then, the pair settled to the stone floor as the telekinetic hold was released, and Mac ambled up to his friend, who had taken to leaning back on Ekeia.
“Whoo, man! I knew you could fight, but now I learn not another, but two things: you can take a ‘saber to the gut, and you can do that weird, chanty-thing!”
By way of response, Sai tapped his temple and winked at Macron, mouthing the word ‘Krath’, then spoke again to the fallen Dark Adept.
“Curwin Sunei, you are hereby Bound, to that which you have spawned, and to me, who have bound you.”
Even in defeat, Curwin was defiant. “Why should I serve the likes of you?!” he spat through ruined lips.
“Firstly, it is not me whom you shall serve, but those who I represent. I have read on you, Sunei; if you thought Palpatine was bad, imagine no less than three like him; I assure you they are just as powerful and infinitely more patient.” Sai, of course, spoke of Astronicus and the two Grand Masters who now took up residence in his Clan. There was no need to divulge details at this juncture; besides, the Sadowan’s held the cards now.
“Secondly,” Sai continued, “we shall be taking that...thing you so haphazardly created with us. And thanks to the Force-binding I have executed, if you should so choose not to serve...” he let the rest trail off as he mouthed more words in the ancient language and clenched his fist. In response, the homunculus screeched in agony; Curwin moaned as well, feebly raising a bony arm in acquiescence. “Enough...what..would you have...of me?”
“It’s not what we’ll have, as that is already ours.” Tsainetomo gestured widely around the cavern, at the adgean vein. “No, Curwin Sunei, the question is what you’ll have of us.”
Curwin peered through blood-crusted eyelids at the Archpriest in disbelief. Silently he waited for Tsainetomo to continue.
“You enjoy your life, after having lived it for so long, I presume? You shall keep it. You relish your solitude, this much is obvious. You shall have it. I imagine you’ve been recompensed somewhat by that whom you call the ‘Sword’...you shall continue to have that luxury. You will find your new Masters are...merciful.”
He smiled as Curwin spat, blood and spittle intermingling in the dim red light. “I have no Master!”
“Benefactor, then. Call it what you will, Sunei; ‘a rose by any other name’, and all that. The circumstances, however, remain, do you not agree?” Sai’s smile faded as he quit the game of verbal chess.
“Further, you will use your influence over the traps and such to grant us safe passage out, and any envoy that returns shall be similarly unmolested. We will seek audience with you at indeterminate times, and you will be hospitable and forthcoming.”
If Sunei’s surprise was evident before, it had blossomed into full blown shock at this point. The man was a Force-whelp in comparison to his own experience and power, yet he had taken clear command of these ‘negotiations’. But even with his assumptive tone, he had still remained respectful. A curious thing, that. Palpatine would’ve had him killed on the spot, so it was clear to him that these intruders needed something more than the crystal threading the walls of the chamber. Still, there was the matter of the so-called cure for the vile poison in him.
As if reading his mind, Tsainetomo gestured to Macron, who stepped forward with a syringe. The alchemist jammed it into the man’s frail thigh, and he immediately felt a measure of relief as the liquid began to take effect.
“This is not a full cure, mind you. It’s only a ‘stop-gap’, if you will.” Macron said with delight. “You’ll need a booster every thirty Standard days or so, and that need, along with me taking care of your ‘baby’ there” – Mac pointed to the homunculus – “will ensure your sticking to the terms of these negotiations.”
“What if I don’t?” Sunei asked petulantly.
“Well, there’s always ‘Orbital Bombardment’,” Macron stated with bored finality. “As nice a find as this is, it’s not as if we were looking for this exactly. Finding ‘nothing’ is almost the same as finding ‘something’, I think, especially when that ‘something’ is ‘nothing’.” The Adept blinked at Macron’s circular logic as the Madman broke into gales of laughter.
“What my friend means is that our Masters don’t know about this place, and we can always say our expedition was fruitless. Your misspent life means nothing, in the grand scheme.” Shimura’s rough translation shook Curwin to his core.
A pregnant silence filled the cavern as the Sadowans awaited the Adept’s response.
“As you will.”
“Then, we have an accord. We’ll be in touch...there’s a conversation we’ve yet to have. Zaroth, Jade, collect young Aleho, if you will. Mac, you and my cousin have the pleasure of bringing up your new pet.” Tsainetomo issued a few more commands as the Adept was all but forgotten.
Once the necessary preparations were made and the adgean samples taken, the Sadowans stalked out of the chamber and Curwin Sunei was left to wallow in his defeat.
Moments passed before the Adept was physically strong enough to stir, but his mind was ablaze with thought.
His eyes continued to bore down the tunnel that the Force-users had used to leave. All in all, things could’ve gone much worse for him, he surmised. The Force-whelp was right in that his circumstances hadn’t changed; not really, anyway. If they kept their word, he’d live, albeit a bit dependently on the tattooed man’s concoction, and he would be free to continue his studies, just as he had before.
But first, the Healing. It would take a long time for him to be able to get around again. Curwin Sunei would persevere; he was Sith, and he was a survivor. He outlived Palpatine; he may just outlive the likes of those who’d just left him. And they had unwittingly given him more than they had probably wanted to. They had revealed that they, too, served someone. They had revealed that they came from afar, from a place that would probably be rife with secrets for him to take for his own.
They had no idea of what he'd done to their young female friend, or how him ministrations would come back to serve him in later days.
Most importantly, they had evidenced no contact with the Sword; not at least, to the intimacy that he had.
In response to his thoughts' touch, the image of the Sword flashed once more, burning his brain and blinding his normal sight.
In the red-tinged darkness, Curwin Sunei, Adept of the Dark Side, laughed.
Jade had watched the battle unfold before her eyes and took no questions as to the orders and plans giving in the heat of the moment. She had been slightly relieved to have Macron and the others walk in on them, even more so that Ekeia could go to Sai’s aid, she would have had to go back to revive him, yet leaving Aleho alone for longer in the old mans grasp would have posed an issue.
She walked down the cavern holding Aleho, Macron trailing the odd beast along with them with some invisible force rope; she no doubt had some sort of torturous effect on the creature. It’s not like he would like the old man off that easy as they went. Her ribs screamed at her as her body worked to heal them in the burning fashion that it always does. She thought back to Sai, she was learning from him as he had promised, yet she knew this adventure, and what he had in store for not only her, but others, was far from being over, by a long shot.
“It’s about time we caught up with you mistress Jade, seems you like to be in the heart of the action.” Zaroth commented from her side and she smirked.
“Well you know me; I always have to be kicking someone’s ass.” She smiled the tips of her fangs showing. It had taken much energy along side Macron to fight the old man. “And good show in the fight, little Zaroth.” She grinned showing more of her sharpened fangs as her blood lust ran a little stronger, craving to replace the valuable energy it was taking to heal. She nearly laughed at the look on Zaorth’s face as she called him by her old nic name for him.
“Thanks…I think,” Was his response as he looked at Aleho in Jades arms. “Need any help?”
She shook her head; she had an oath to obtain. “No I can handle her.” She looked over at Macron, and concentrated as Sai had shown her to do so only he could hear her thoughts. “I think you should check her over, there is no telling how long he had her in his clasp, and what he did with her.”
As the group of Dark Jedi approached the caves opening, Aleho began to regain consciousness. Her first instant thought had been the one she always had in moments like these: she wanted her mother. However she realised she was alone this universe, her mother had abandoned her, all there was were the allies she had made and the master who was training her. She felt cold... as if the warmth of youth had been robbed from her. Leho had enter the cave as a young girl aspiring to make her mark, but she left with the sense of understand that all life was a struggle, all she desired was to survive.
The little girl's mentality was gone, there was only a Dark Jedi now. She had lived a sheltered life in the Shadow Academy, and a protected on in her House and Clan. She wasnt ready for what the real world had to offer, she learned that during the feud. Now she had learned it was time to grow up. It was time to study harder, time to put away the toys and bodyguards. It was time to embrace the darkness liked she had done in the caves, to let it embrace her and change her. Yet their was something else she couldnt put her finger on. Then it dawned on her... the old man... he had called to her in her dreams. Who was he? Why was he calling to her?
The young Guardian moaned, a sense of awareness had come across her body. She felt as if something had been taken from her, something which she possessed before falling unconscious. It would be years before she realised it was her innocence. All she knew at this point, all she felt was as if she had been violated. Her young hands tightened around whoever was carrying her, her vision was far too blurred by the steams of tears coming from her eyes. Aleho didnt have the experience in dealing with this as the rest did. The transition she was going through was something all Dark Jedi experienced, hers was just too soon for someone of her age. Time would heal all wounds and in this case help her realise how her connection to the Dark Side had strengthened. Little did she know she would soon be ready for the nightmares, the creatures that stole her homeworld.
Somewhere below the Leisure District of Seng Karash
The smog throughout the hydroponic facility beneath the city was thick enough to choke his nostrils; so he had had to breathe through his mouth, which had only burned his throat instead. The droids in the Undercity seemed oblivious to his presence; clanging into him, and carrying on about their business without whistling an apology; or even a complaint to watch where he was going.
There was too much noise, much too much noise. He had glanced back toward the nightclub about a mile back, but the smog made it impossible to see so much as twenty feet in front, let alone a few thousand behind. Good, he thought. At least if he couldn’t see anyone chasing him, it meant they couldn’t see him. He’d taken an emergency elevator down to the basement and escaped via a little known exit into the hydroponics plant.
The side of his face still stung from where the bomb had exploded right by him. He put a hand up but flinched away again the instant his fingers touched raw flesh. Why had he been right by the bomb? He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t even remember why he was running away. Who was he running from again? Or had he actually followed someone else down there and given chase? But if so, who was he chasing again?
He thought he was losing his mind. Images flashed before his sight, but it felt more like he was watching memories of someone else. He saw his hands connecting two red and blue wires together; close a hatch; tap in an activation code; could remember the feel of the detonator trigger inside his pocket; and the heat when he finally pressed the button.
Had he really done it? Was he the bomber?
He didn’t know. He wasn’t even sure of his name anymore. Was he who still he thought he was? Was any of this even real, or was it just a dream? Or rather: a nightmare? A burning image flashed before his eyes, and he doubled over in pain and collapsed to the floor; having to reach out to stop himself buckling over face first. His eyes tightened, and he tried to push the image away. He screamed when the aging scar on his forehead, shaped like a third eye, tore open anew and blood ran down his face. He had forgotten what it felt like; the pain each time the scars opened afresh; the torture each time the cuts refused to heal. It had not done so in months. He had thought it never would do so again.
He remembered a dimly lit bar; somewhere in San Korinar, maybe. There had been a man; he’d remembered purchasing components; taking them back to the flat in Seng Karash he’d rented; assembling them into a device: the device he had ultimately taken to Dystopia in an assassination attempt on the new consul. His new consul. A man he respected. He could not understand what would possibly have led him to make an attempt on his life.
He heard a droid roll past and gasped when its tracks bumbled over his hand, but did not recoil. The pain was trivial next to the thoughts impaling his mind like knives. He did his best to steady his breathing; deep and slow: in, out, in, out: repeat. The burning nightmare in his mind receded and he felt his own memories come back. He still wasn’t sure whether he had actually done what he had just seen in his head, or if the nameless nightmares were instead of someone else. He knew it didn’t matter. He had pressed the trigger—his fingers ran across his cheek making him wince—he knew he had pressed the trigger. The rest no longer mattered.
He reached up for a nearby pipe that served as a nutrient feed and pulled himself to his feet. He could see his reflection in the glass pipe. The left side of his face was seared bare to the bone in places, and his forehead down his eyes to the nose was dripping in fresh blood from where the scars had opened again. He ignored the pain to rub his face clean—or as well as he could—with the cuff of his traveller’s cloak. No doubt they would all be wondering where he was. Or if he was dead. He could easily spin them a story about being caught in the blast. He had been, after all. But they could never know the truth. Even he wasn’t sure of the truth.
He took another deep breath and started toward the nearest turbolift back up to the main city. Back to the Skyhook, then a long, hot bath. He could worry about the nightmares later. But tomorrow he would get to the bottom of it. Surely somewhere in all the dusty old tomes of the Simus Institute would be the answers he was looking for?
OOC: This is to introduce a character who I plan to expand on in the future and may use for the GJW run-on, given my own character is like, you know, dead.
Lori Filran sat at the small cafe' in the medical wing of the Palace. She was tired, yet her blond hair was only slightly disheveled and her smooth human skin gleamed with radiant youth. So much was going on so fast that she was relieved to have just a few moments to herself and a cup of caf.
People hustled about carrying folders, notes, datapads and briefcases as the background was coated in echoes of the news being displayed on various data screens. the current happenings of the Orian system had spread fast and yet nothing was still known as to what exactly was going on. She felt uneasy and wondered at her role if any she had played in the recent hours.
Her thoughts were interrupted when she noticed a handsome looking man wearing a D-SOG uniform with a Commander's rank giving a more than noticeable glance from across the room. She smiled at him turning her head slightly sending a nonverbal hint of invitation. The officer smirked from behind his own cup of caf before standing and making his way over. Her message had been well received.
"Lot's of excitement going on today." He spoke with a clear and even voice, a strong tenor, and commanding attention.
Lori had to catch herself. "I'm sorry what?" she immediately felt like a fool.
"You know, everything that's going on. Some say its another attack." He said.
"Oh right... yes, lots of excitement." She was completely captivated. She felt like she was swimming in a warm ocean as her heart began to pound against her chest in the presence of this man.
"Do you mind if I join you?" He asked with his intoxicating voice.
"Oh yes, please!" She kicked herself mentally. She sounded desperate as if she hadn't had a date in years.
The officer smiled as he took his seat across from Lori. She fidgeted slightly uncomfortable but pleasantly so. With a only slight persuasive nudge they were sharing drinks that were a bit stronger than caf. The conversation was lively and Lori felt herself becoming more flush and much more comfortable with her new friend. They began sharing stories and jokes and the more than occasional suggestive hint. By her third drink Lori felt as if she had known this man her entire life and as if on cue he got up and asked,
"You want to get out of here?"
Lori's heart skipped a beat."Yeah we can go to my place, its not far." She kicked herself mentally again. Not only did she sound desperate but now she sounded easy. Things were already in motion and all in all she didn't really mind. In fact things seem to be going rather well and it just felt natural.
Five minutes later they were barely in her door way when they were locked in a tight embrace with their lips pressed hungrily together. Lori's breath was heavy and quick as she began grouping at the buttons at her guest's uniform when she realized she didn't even know his name.
Her head was swimming in an ocean of lust, desire, and carnal need. She had never been so wrapped up in someone and she was putty in his hands...more than she knew.
Then he spoke. "Tell me what you know about a certain pregnancy." His voice cool, even, and intoxicating. She was left with no choice but to respond.
"Only pregnancy I know of, was the one with Sakura Haruno...she's Mr. Dlarit's mistress. The baby was definetly his." An odd inner voice seemed to tug at the back of her mind whispering that this line of questioning was a bit strange, but this man's touch found only the right places and the inner voice was soon silenced.
"How very interesting. Who else knows?" He spoke again as his hands slowly removed what was left of her top.
"I have someone who pays me for bits of information...concerning Mr. Dlarit. I told her." She responded her voice in a sort of dreamy intoxicated tone.
"Who is she this person who pays you?" His hands moved along her heaving chest and up to her neck as his fingers brushed her throat.
"I do not know her name, or what she looks like. Everything is handled over the cortex on a secured line. I send her encoded messages and she wires credits into my account." Her voice was now as if she were a droid explaining a maintenance procedure. She could hear herself and feel herself but she could not control herself. At this point however it did not matter she was melting in pleasure.
"Where are the messages sent?" he asked.
"I am not exactly sure...Seng Karash. Entertainment district somewhere." she responded.
"How are the messages sent?" His hands moved over her cheeks and down the side of her neck.
Lori lifted her hand and pointed to her nightstand by the bed. "Encoded portable data terminal...password is...Alpha Alpha 219 Coup de Grace."
She smiled at his beautiful eyes and she felt a small twitch in his hands and short burst of pain run through her spine down to her feet and then she felt nothing.
Zaxen let the girl fall to the edge of the bed and he laid her carefully on her back. The look of serenity still captured on her motionless face. He took a pouch from his back pocket, opened it and produced several empty vials which still had the residue of a locally produced spice based narcotic. He moved quickly to remove any evidence of his presence and took the girl's encoded data pad with him as he left quietly.
In just glancing over the information in the datapad Zaxen quickly realized just how perilous the situation had become.
He tapped his comlink's secure channel and moments later the voice of the overlord came back. "Report."
"I have located a critical security leak and ..disposed of it. However, the damage has been done. Your heir is not safe. The inside person has passed detailed information about Sakura, and her movements for the past several months as well as certain higher level troop movements from her various medical duties and work with Dr. Villo. She has also passed a fair amount of our information on our clones and their production."
Silence hang in the air for a moment. Zaxen continued at a brisk pace back towards the Hall of the Black Guard and entered just as The Overlord replied. "Well done Zaxen. Track this link to its source and destroy it. "
"It will be done." Zaxen quickly replied and closed the link. He quickly changed into a set of tactical gear that could pass for everyday clothing in Seng Karash, packed his black guardsman armor and special equipment in a duffel bag and made his way quickly to the Palace shuttle bay.
But all was not as it should be...
“We’re going to be overwhelmed,” Ashura reported, pushing more furniture against the shaking doors with the force, “there has to be another way out of here.”
“There isn’t,” Malisane replied “just the door and the window unless you want to go back up through the ceiling.”
“Then think of something!” the Pro Consul snapped back.
Malisane nodded. Like the other Battlelord he estimated they had a few minutes left before the droids on the other side broke into the bar, then despite the skills of the three Sith and the DAC they would be eventually slain by the superior droid forces. “There is one thing,” Malisane replied, “though it’s drastic.”
“Whatever it is do it,” Ashura replied.
“Give me your communicator,” Malisane said holding out his hand, “I need to reach Marakith.”
“I’ve tried, for the last ten minutes something’s been jamming the signal.”
Malisane took it off him and flipped open the back. “I can send a simple burst code transmission,” he replied fiddling inside the communicator.
“And they can translate that?” Ashura asked.
“The computers can, I can send them an instruction.”
“Don’t you need the access codes?” Ashura asked.
Malisane shook his head. “I can get past those, I designed them.”
Ashura raised an eyebrow. “We need to discuss that sometime.”
“Not now,” Malisane replied. “There, it’s sent.”
Lieutenant Hormek entered the room, depositing a steaming cup on the table next to the console, before sipping his own. “Anything to report Corporal?”
The corporal shook his head as he picked up his coffee. “Nothing new,” he replied, “we’re still monitoring the Leisure district for further distress calls but its gone quiet.”
Hormek shrugged. “Sure if anything is going on the local police can handle it.”
Corporal Alaris suddenly sat up in his console began to flash. “Sir, problem with the computer!”, he said urgently, “some sort of incoming transmission sending instructions to the mainframe.”
“Source?” Hormek asked as he leaned over.
“Unknown,” the corporal replied tapped away at the keys, “the defence system is coming online, it’s being fed strike co-ordinates.”
“Override them!” Hormet ordered.
“I can’t,” Alaris replied in frustration.
People in the streets below looked up in horror as the ion blast hit the tower, electricity surging down the black glass surface of Dystopia, and a loud hum filled the air as the invisible forcefield flicked and died. Inside the three Sith lay on the floor as electrical equipment exploded showers of sparks around them. “What the hell have you done?” Bob shouted.
“I’m saving our lives,” Malisane replied coldly when the noise died down. The room was in pitch darkness, a deathly quiet surrounding them.
“You hope,” Ashura said getting to his feet. He flicked the button on his lightsaber, then lowered it as nothing happened. “If that didn’t work we’re defenceless.”
“Source for the goose,” Malisane replied mysteriously, “I’d be surprised if those droids survived. Anyway we still have the force.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Bob said ripping aside the furniture around the door, “I want to know who’s behind this.”
Two days later . . .
Temple of Sorrow, Sadow Palace
Sepros, Orian III, Orian System
The Lord Sadow lounged back in his high backed throne and let out a loud sigh. The investigators had scoured every inch of Dystopia but had turned up no new leads. De Ath was of little use, either; even if he had helped end the fighting by disabling the duelling droids with the ionic discharge from Marakith.
All they had to go on were the crude sword motifs that had been found carved into the shrapnel from some of the explosives. And that lead had turned up nothing.
‘Is there anything good to report?’ Sadow said.
Ashura waved his fingers through several gestures in the air, causing the holo-emitter in the center of the room to bring up a report about Inos. The proconsul was filling in for the lord consul, who had fallen ill; Tron sensed there was more to it than Daragon was telling him, however.
‘Brother Goura reports the expedition to the tombs of Orian turned up more than they expected. A hermit—someone called Curwen Sunei,’ Ashura said finally.
‘I presume they dealt with this . . . hermit?’
Ashura scanned the report. ‘No . . . apparently they reached a ‘mutual agreement’. There is a memo attached to the report from Brother Goura requesting your permission for further study.’
Tron took in a deep breath, then exhaled it in a long sigh. Sometimes he felt Macron dug around deeper than he should, but it did no real harm. The boy appeared to have learnt his lesson since his folly as the Betrayer's apprentice. ‘Tell my Son to proceed as he sees best.’
‘As you will, my lord,’ Ashura said. The proconsul glanced down his itinerary. ‘Ah, yes. Lords Paladin and Firefox inform me the Council is pleased with our progress, and General Keibatsu informs me the fleet should be war ready within a couple of months.’
‘Ah, good, good,’ Tron replied. The word on what remained of the HoloNet was the Imperial and Republic remnants had the Vong on the retreat in the Core; rumour had it the war may finally be over soon. He shouldn’t have known—not that it was hard to guess—but his master, Yoni, had already told him what the Council was planning.
Antei. It was at last time to go back.
The Far Outsiders had made a mockery of them all for too long. How many years had it been? Four? Five? Tron had practically lost count. It had felt as if it would never end. But Lords Sarin and Ashen apparently had a plan; not that even Master Yoni would disclose the closely guarded intricacies of that.
The Battles of Lehon and Inos had cost them a lot of ships in the past year. But if Shin’ichi said the Dlarit Navy would be ready within the month, it would be ready within the month.
Maybe finally they could all move on; after five years of loss, defeat, and betrayal . . .
‘Oh, the doctors tell me Sakura is doing well.’
Ah, Sakura. At least there was some good news in spite of recent events. He could at least take comfort that the continuation of the Sadow bloodline would be assured in but a few months more.
His lips almost rose into a smile.
Ashura collected up his things and shut off the holo-emitter. ‘One last thing, if I may?’
Ashura’s eyes drifted around the room for a moment before he continued, ‘There is a report from Brother Keibatsu that the inmates at Cenota have been experiencing shared recurrent nightmares.’
Tron almost asked why he should care, but left Ashura to continue.
‘My lord,’ Ashura said, pausing for the faintest slither of a moment, ‘the nightmare appears to share similarities with the utterances of Curwen Sunei recorded in Brother Goura’s report.’
Tron’s eyes widened. ‘Similarities?’
‘I would not want to presume, but—’
‘No,’ Tron said, cutting Ashura off. ‘Presume all you want, Brother Isradia. My Clan has lived in blind darkness for too many years. Carry on.’
‘It is possible it is a . . . a vision, my lord,’ Ashura said, very slowly. ‘They all seem to be experiencing the same recurring dreams of a—how shall I put this—a burning sword.’
Tron narrowed his eyes. ‘A sword?’
Ashura shrugged his shoulders. ‘That is all I can piece together.’
Tron closed his eyes and reached out. He heard nothing. If this ‘sword’ was out there, somewhere, then it was invisible to him. He opened his eyes again. He could ignore it . . . but after the bombings . . .
‘Have you told anyone else about this?’
Ashura shook his head. ‘No, my lord.’
‘Good,’ Tron said. ‘For now, it may be best if we keep this between ourselves. Individually, Brother Goura and Brother Keibatsu may not be aware of the link themselves.’ The Overlord paused and pressed his lips together as he reflected on a memory from the year before. ‘Knowledge is dangerous, Brother Isradia. Whatever this . . . vision may or may not be, it is best denied the strength it seeks.’
Ashura frowned but nodded his head. ‘Understood, my lord. Will that be all?’
‘Yes, I believe that will do for now, Brother Isradia.’ Tron closed his eyes and allowed his mind to drift as Ashura left the room. ‘Tell the Lord Consul I look forward to hearing his report next week.’
Elsewhere on Sepros at the Simus Institute
The scar on his forehead burned where it had bled only days before. He had tried to explain it when he got to Marakith, but the guards had thought he was crazy. So, he’d shot them. Disposing of the bodies hadn’t been hard; it wasn’t like anyone would miss a couple of Dlarit Police troopers.
At least, not with how many had been going missing lately. The war had been dragging on too long, and with supplies running low, and too many refugees, crime on the streets had started to skyrocket. He didn’t think it’d be long before there’d be martial law, but the Sadows seemed to have more pressing concerns at present. Not that they’d let a meagre knight like him in on the workings of the inner circle.
It was strange, though. He could hardly remember where he had been. There had been a celebration at Dystopia, no? A party? But it had been interrupted by something . . . an attack?
They had been attacked?
No, that couldn’t be right. But—
He looked up at his reflection in the transparisteel window. His eyes were strangely dark, like the light had been sucked out of them. Black. Even the scar on his forehead looked darker than he remembered it. And was his skin going pale? They said the dark side could do this to people. But after only a few years?
His eyes were not his main concern, however. One side of his face was completely deformed, the skin almost completely burnt down to the bone in places. He felt like some kind of cliché holothriller villain.
Now he remembered. There had been a bombing. He had run off after the bomber in the Undercity.
Maybe the bomber had killed the police troopers? Yes, that made far more sense. He wouldn’t have done that. Why would a Krath priest have wanted to kill a police trooper?
‘Yes,’ he said, speaking to his own reflection. ‘The bomber killed them. That must be it.’
He’d probably banged his head or something. Or maybe they’d mind tricked him? That might explain his loss of memory. He’d felt disoriented ever since he’d gotten off the shuttle in the Institute’s hangar.
The book in front of him—more a massive tome really, ancient and dusty—was open on a large double spread page about insanity and Force visions. He remembered there was something he was meant to do, something he was meant to learn to prevent, but he couldn't quite remember what.
His forehead started to itch, and he reached up and rubbed it where the fresh scab shaped rather like a third eye was located. He flinched when he touched the Mark.
One of the initiates nearby snapped at him to keep quiet.
Did apprentices these days have no respect? Couldn’t the boy see the lightsaber hanging on his belt?
He looked down at his hand and noticed his fingers had now put blood all over the page. He touched his forehead again and realised: it was bleeding again.
When he looked back at the page again the blood seemed to have vanished. The book was no longer on Force visions—maybe the page had blown over?—instead it was now on what looked like a drawing of a black star. Could stars be black, he wondered? They said Antei was home to a Dark Star, but he had never been there—he’d been discovered after the planet had been lost to the Vong. He still wasn’t sure on the whole idea of a Dark Star and put a lot of it down to artistic licence.
But the Dark Star on the page in front of him, it looked real. More than real: almost . . . alive.
He suddenly felt as if someone was trying to drive a dagger into his forehead, and when he next glanced at the page he saw it swirling, the Dark Star swelling up . . . like a pool of black blood . . . threatening to swallow him . . .
Then he passed out.
ooc: since I started this runon....