Have Lightsaber, Will Travel
Near the Ruins of Ragnos Cathedral
A cold, blistering wind howls along the tundra that covers much of Tarthos, even as a single Imperial Shuttle, launched from the large luxury yacht in orbit, touches down outside the building that until recently housed House Marka Ragnos. Its docking ramp lowers slowly, and two guards in armor emerge, followed by a cowled man in black robes trimmed with silver, leaning heavily on an ebony staff. On the ring finger of his gloved right hand a sapphire and platinum ring gleams dully in the fading rays of daylight. He leaves the guards behind with a wave of his hand, then progresses towards the Cathedral, stopping some distance away and throwing back his cowl to reveal pale skin and hair the color of freshly fallen snow.
A shame, to see a building that has stood against the scourge of time destroyed so, and apparently by one of our own brothers... Grand Master Jedgar Paladin muses, as he reaches into his robes and removes a long black pipe and a small pouch of potent tobacco. He fills the bowl, and there is a slight waver in the force as energy is transmuted to flame and the pipe begins to burn gently. His fingers cover the top as he puffs, until the tobacco is properly alight. Then, he begins to walk, still using the staff to support himself, alone and lost in his thoughts.
To rebuild, or leave it thus, as a message to those who come after. Paladin thinks, as he walks through the ruins, mansized blocks of stone thrown about like a child's blocks in a moment of petulance. He frowns, something cold and dark welling up unbidden. A moment of anger, intense, bitter, and he lets out a shout, his staff pointing at a huge block. Blue-white lightning crackles down the length of his staff, shooting forward and striking the block, exploding it into a thousand white-hot fragments in an instant. They will all pay for this. he thinks, sullenly.
The guards rush forward at the sounds of the explosion, and Paladin is again his serene self, sitting on a boulder, pipe in hand. Only those looking closely would notice that his crossed legs hover an inch above the stone. "You have the rescript from the Consul?" he asks, to the senior guard, motioning towards a sealed black cylinder at the other man's hip.
"Yes, your grace." comes the immediate answer as the man goes to one knee before the Grand Master.
"Good." Paladin says, as he rises, walking slowly, heavily back towards the shuttle. "Send a message to Markosian City. Assemble the House. I will be there shortly." Then he is gone, walking away with the same stately pace that brought him here, only silence, shattered rock, and the tinge of smoke washed away in cold wind to mark that he was ever there at all.
There was a flurry of activity about the place as members of House prepared for the arrival of the new Quaestor. Aleho was with the other Journeymen as they all got ready with ceremony, however the girl was a little distracted with what happened in the tombs to concentrate properly. All she could think about recently was what happened in the tombs.
"You need to get your head out of the clouds."
Ruoxf turned around and saw the new Aedile looking at her. "Mistress Atema, I'm sorry."
"We have a Grand Master coming soon. Everything has to be perfect for his arrival."
The Guardian nodded her head as she understood, the Clan had two Grand Masters as members, now one of them was a House Leader. Jade walked off to scold some more Journeymen and to get everything ready. "This is going to be a day to remember," Leho sighed and got back to what she was supposed to be doing.
Kalei had managed to pull herself away from her Black Guard and Night Hawk duties in order to get back to help clean up for the arrival of Marka Ragnos' new Quaestor. It was amazing that she had any time away at all, especially with what had happened with her assignment from Ashura and then at the tombs.
Everyone seemed to be rushing around a lot more, but there was a very good reason behind that; the new Quaestor was also a Grand Master. This meant that, at least according to everyone, that things had to be spotless and basically perfect. The Jedi Huntress agreed with them. Though from the moment she had come to Marka Ragnos, Derev had been in charge, it was good to have some change, though Derev would be missed.
She caught sight of Aleho being talked to by Jade, the new Aedile of Marka Ragnos. A lot of changes had been made lately, so it was a lot for the house to take in. The young girl seemed still distracted by what had happened in the tombs, and frankly, Basai couldn't blame her. The exact details, only she was sure of, but they seemed to scare her quite a bit.
Going back to the area she had been working on, she took in a breath, wondering when their new Quaestor was going to show up.
Sith Warrior Dismal Ryokou-Amor sat silently in the cockpit of the Barloz-class light freighter he had purchased alongside his student, Knight Laigerick Ryokou-Amor, a few months earlier. Dismal was cross legged, with his eyes closed. His breaths were deep and rhythmic, and his mind was expanded to be aware of all things. The ship was set on auto-pilot while he was meditating. Laigerick was slumped in his chair, with a steady snore adding onto the ambient hums and beeps.
Dismal and Laigerick had recently taken an excursion to the Unknown Regions, as a meditation and “self-discovery” trip. Overall, they needed to get away from the stressors of the Dark Brotherhood for a little while. Now, with total relaxation having been attained, they were en-route back to the Orian system.
The Warrior slowly opened his eyes, shifting his gaze around slowly to become aware of his surroundings. As he awoke, he felt keen, his senses sharpened. He had felt something during his meditation, but he was unsure as to what.
“Laig, wake up,” said the Equite loudly, giving his former apprentice a slight telekinetic push with a wave of his arm.
“Wha’?” said the Knight, leaning up and rubbing his eyes. “We there?”
“No, but I sense something. I can’t tell what, but I know something’s…different. We need to hurry back to Orian.”
“How far away are we?” responded Laigerick, still slowly coming back to full consciousness.
“Not that far. Let’s pilot ourselves, bring it up to high gear.”
“Sounds good to me, master,” replied the Knight, bringing his hands to the controls once more. Then, like that, the craft entered hyperspace as starlines appeared in the viewport.
The same Imperial shuttle that landed some time ago at Ragnos Cathedral now made its approach to the headquarters of House Marka Ragnos in Markosian City. The wings folded back up and the shuttle touched down, the ramp opening to reveal two guards and an elderly dark Jedi in robes trimmed in silver, his cowl pulled down until only his nose and mouth showed, one hand gripping an ebony staff with gold-inlaid head and ferrule. The ferule tick-tick-ticked in time with the old man's steps as he made his way down the ramp and towards the entrance to the building, offering not so much as a wave in response to those who bowed to him.
When finally he arrives inside, Grand Master Paladin threw back his cowl, letting it gather around his shoulders and placed both hands on his staff, voluminous robes swirling around him like some sort of constant black cloud. He waited, looking around at the other Dark Jedi who have come to meet him, his green eyes narrowing slightly.
"I bear with me a rescript from Consul Robert Sadow, naming me as Quaestor of this House. I take it that none question my right to rule here?" He paused, just a moment, his voice snapping out like a whip. "Good. I also take it that your former Summit have been safely incarcerated?"
He reached into his robes and pulled out a scroll case, tossing it into the air. It twisted and quivered, then broke open, the scroll inside - a large map of Tarthos - going flat and levitating in mid-air. The Grand Master uses his staff as a very long pointer. "This, as you no doubt already know, is Tarthos. Our home." he said, with exaggerated patience, as he might explain the nature of the Force to a brand new apprentice. He continued in the same half-annoyed, half-pedantic tone. "We are here. In Markosian City. Why are we here? Because our home, in Ragnos Cathedral, has been destroyed." He glowered out at the other Jedi, "Not by one in pursuit of power, not in what might call honorable treachery that is so ingrained in our kind. No, young ones... we have been betrayed to the Vong, those force-dead aberrations that have so recently displaced us from our rightful place on Antei." The staff rapped hard against the stones, like a gunshot, as the ferrule hits the floor with a spark, "A disgrace! A blight upon our House that I have been called here to remedy."
Paladin walked around the map once, as it continued to hover, "This area..." he said, when he has reached the other side, again motioning with the staff, "In the arctic, has, I have been told, claimed several of our Bretheren who went to seek what was there. I detect nothing. That can mean very few things." The new Quaestor grimaces slightly, "Either a force user of such strength that he can shield himself from the probing of a Grand Master - in which case, there would be no need for Vong weapons if he wished us destroyed - or a Vong incursion of some sort."
The Grand Master paused once more, the map rolling back up and coming lazily to his hand, "We will go explore. But first, we must ready ourselves... Prepare your things for an expedition of several days."
He looked around, stare going through the younger Jedi, "I will be seeing to some business before our departure. But for now... are there any questions?"
Jade ran around checking all the details and on the journeymen. Many were so nervous about have a Grand Master as the leader to their house they were either districted or fumbling up the simple tasks given to them. She shook her head and moved to Aleho and nodded. “Aleho…Aleho?!” She girl turn to her. “You need to get your head out of the clouds.”
Aleho turned to her. “Mistress Atema, I'm sorry.”
Jade gave the kid a half smile; she could see the memories of what happened in the tombs flash across the kids eyes and her mind. She worried though, as it almost seemed like she was trying to remember something. No one knew exactly what the one in the cave had done to her, but Jade held an oath and she would uphold it, as such she worried and watched the kid closely. “We have a Grand Master coming soon. Everything has to be perfect for his arrival.” Only her eyes showed the girl some real sympathy, but Aleho knew the Archpriestess held her as a sister, Jade turned and walked away to talk to some other journeymen…or rather to “encourage” them to get their minds focused.
Soon after Bob send out the notice to have the Grand Master serve as the leader of the House she had received a private message from the Grand Master asking her to become the new Aedile of the House. She wasn’t about to refuse, though she had been surprised.
Her head snapped to look at one of the journeymen as he dropped a large pole to hold up a new tapestry of the House symbol. She sighed and walked over picking the pole up with the force along with the journeyman. The guy struggled for a moment till he saw it was Jade then stared at her in fear of being dropped or thrown across the room. Though she was tempted she could understand why they were all edgy. Paladin had requested her presence for a meeting as soon as he arrived. She had been more then surprised at the promotion he gave her, but she wondered if his meeting might be to place her in the same area as Derev and Alaric. She frowned at the Journeyman. “Be more attentive! And have respect! You are dealing with the code and symbol of the House, of YOUR House.” She set the Journeyman down jarring him slightly as he nodded and caught the pole as she used the force to throw it at him. He watched her with wide eyes, more then pleased not to be in the medical bay. Jade turned and walked away.
Tarthos Some time later.
The Grand Masters’ shuttle landed and she gathered the House members in the main hall a waiting for his arrival. As he burst in with style and power she held a new respect for the man as he moved and opened the scroll. Her senses hit her and she smelled the scent of after battle clinging to him. He had been to the Catherdral, had seen the wreckage first hand. Flashes of getting the heck out of dodge came to mind as she bowed. Her new robes of black night, ends with a design in gold, and more importantly the symbol of the House in gold on the hood of her cloak greeted him as she moved and watched over the members as he spoke. She waited for the questions, when non arose she nodded to a couple Journeymen who stood up and bowed to the new Queastor before leaving to do as he ordered. Jade stood in her spot as the members bowed and left, watching the Grand Master with her eyes and her senses. She had meet him only briefly before he became the Queastor of the House but had found a respect in him that she was proud to have him bring to Marka Ragnos. It was going to be a very interesting time to work with him, she would learn lots.
The Vong! Thought Aleho with intense disgust. How she hated the Far Outsiders, they stole her homeworld. The Eighth Great Jedi War was her first witness of the monsters. How she had been a scared little girl, however she no longer feared them. It was perhaps the only good thing to come from her visit of the caves. It had been a horrifying experience but it had opened her eyes that there were worse things then her nightmare.
When the Grand Master asked if there were any questions, Leho found her hand being lifted by an invisible force. The Duke of V'Armonde looked down at the young Guardian with those intense green eyes of his. "Your Grace, please let me be the first to congratulate you on your new position. This is indeed an time of growth for our House." Leho said, although she wasnt quite sure where she had found the strength and courage to speak up. "My question is this: there have been rumours about returning to Antei. If this is true then I am assuming the Dark Council has a plan on how to liberate mine, I mean, our homeworld?"
Jade eyes focused intensely on Aleho, the girls expression was like stone and her thoughts were like ice. How she had changed. How she had grown. Yet it still make the Aedile wonder and worry slightly. Perhaps she should speak with Ashura about his youngest apprentice?
Kalei had stood and listened to her new Quaestor speaking as she looked at the map. She did not like the idea of even he, as a Grand Master, not being able to detect anything. If someone could shield themselves from a Grand Master like Paladin, then that was one danger. Vong was another entirely.
As was asked, the new Dark Jedi Knight went off to prepare for the task ahead. She wasn't sure what to expect, she hadn't even known of the ones who were sent up to the arctic area to see what was there.
Not taking to long to pack, she sat down at the foot of her bed and started to meditate. She didn't have much time, but she had to see what she could sense, if anything, from that area.
Pulling herself out of her meditation, Kalei sighed to herself. There was no way for her to get anything off that area, not even if there were any animals there. Something wasn't right, and now she knew it. Hooking her lightsaber to her belt, she flung her small bag over her shoulder and went in search of where the others were gathering, an uneasy feeling inside of her that this wasn't going to be easy at all.
Dismal had slipped quietly into the building as the new Quaestor of Marka Ragnos, Jedgar Paladin, was beginning his address. Laigerick was following silently behind. Both had on a black cloak with hoods up, concealing their faces. When they had found a spot to stand near the back of the congregation of dark jedi, they lowered them.
No one seemed to notice the two’s entrance, or if they did they didn’t show it. All were engrossed in Paladin’s speech. Not that the two former Plagueians were an exception; they too were listening intently after being settled. As the Duke of V’Armonde mentioned the treacherous Yuuzhan Vong, Dismal was hit with a sudden chill and a look of disgust came about his face. The Vong were his number one sworn enemy, ever since taking the Brotherhood home world for their own and taking his master and him prisoner aboard a ship while invading his old clan’s star system. As it was revealed that it was in fact the Vong who had destroyed their own Ragnos Cathedral on Tarthos, Dismal grimaced once more. He made a vow to himself: the Vong would fall. Indeed, they would be utterly destroyed.
The Warrior shot a look to his former apprentice. He hadn’t seen or fought the monsters first hand, but he had certainly heard of all they had done. He was not in the slightest uneducated about their treachery. It was easily discerned that Laigerick was experiencing the same emotions his master was.
As the Grand Master came to a conclusion, Dismal turned on his heel and headed out, his cloak flourishing. He had all he needed. His lightsaber, ability in the Force, and an undying hatred would definitely suffice. He quickly went to stand where the others who were already prepared were gathering.
How in the deepest pits of the Sarlaac did I get to this point? Mack thought as he stood with his arms behind his back, hanging onto the words of the old man. He hadn't been in the brotherhood that long, no more than perhaps a month, yet he found his own zeal for the brotherhood to be that of any member who had been here for years. It worried him, yet it felt right. As he stared at the visage of the new Quaestor, he saw what he thought as the dark side personified, absolute power being fed this man. He longed for it himself, power being no stranger to Mack. But this was different. His power had always been of material wealth, something that, he assumed when he first came here, the dark side didn't recognize. And he had been right.
He nearly jumped and fled when the Grandmaster glared at the gathered, seeming to look into his very soul within a fleeting moment of eye contact. No one had given him the chills that easily, yet here he was almost shivering like a little youngling. Calm yourself, Mack. He's here to rule the house, not kill you for no reason, he thought. He listened intently to the old man, listened as he went on about the Vong, then about the strange occurence in the arctic. He dared not give any question to him as he himself had stated that he was busy. And just like that, the meeting had ended.
Mack simply stood where he was while everyone else went to gather their things. He knew he needed to pack up, especially since he was probably the lowest of the people who were going. But it seemed that he was rooted to the ground. He felt almost light-headed, more in control, and courageous. His mind flew through possibilities of what was happening, but soon gave up, not caring and just wanting to live in this better state of being. Emotions of every sort flooded his body, and at that point, his mind pointed it as the dark side.
It was then that he heard a voice. "You..... you will not....." His face crossed with puzzlement. Not what? Make it? Live? What? he thought impatiently. His mind ran through everything it could before he heard, "You will not..... be afraid....." And he believed it. This voice, this power, seemed to take his fear and replace it with anger, rage, and hate. Yet it was controlled, completely controlled by him. He relished in it. He wanted more.
He was startled slightly, his mind snapping back to reality. He looked into the face of a woman. "Get your things, your going too," she said, then ran off to get her own things. He smiled, realizing that the fear that he had felt was now completely gone. Whatever happened, he was grateful for it, as well as empowered by it. he headed off to gather his things...
T/D Beta “The Corrupt”
“Landing Authority, this is The Corrupt requesting entry sequence. Clearance 7672, Mitsuhide Akechi. Archpriest transferring from Ludo Kressh,” the cowled man in the cockpit said softly.
“Archpriest Akechi, welcome to Tarthos. Entry sequence sent and confirmed,” replied the technician.
Bringing his ship into descent, Mitsuhide looked at the black surrounding the world, “Well, Faram. Looks like we’re back where we started.”
Yes. So it would appear, Zalera. What shall we do here? More of what you did to your family perhaps? the voice in his head asked nonchalantly.
Shaking his head, he cleared the words from his mind, “I don’t remember anything about that, but I had nothing to do with it.”
Oh, you’ll remember, Zalera. You will always remember…
With that, the voice left him be as he continued his descent into the world. Upon landing, he grabbed his satchel from the small cargo compartment and exited the ship. Looking around, he saw the ruins of the Ragnos Cathedral.
“So much for withstanding the test of time. Looks like I got here in time to assist with the reconstruction…”
He had always hated manual labor. He was better suited for records keeping and advisory positions, but he would get the job done no matter what was needed. With a jostle from a technician, he was pulled from his reverie with a disgusted glare.
“Watch where you’re walking, churl,” a voice told him.
With barely a movement, the Archpriest shoved the man against a nearby wall with the Force. Pinning the man there, he raised his hand to lift the tech a few feet from the ground.
Moving his head slightly, he studied the tech with his nearly glowing green eyes, “You seem to be lacking in the respect area, boy…”
Tightening his fingers, he began to choke the tech until a new voice spoke to him.
“That’s enough, Archpriest. Let him down and we’ll get you settled in.”
Turning, Mitushide saw the Aedile Jade Atema standing there watching him. Releasing the Force, the tech tumbled to the ground gasping for air.
“Next time you might not be so lucky,” said Mitsuhide before he strode forward to join his new Aedile.
You should have killed him, Zalera…
Falling once more into silence, he followed a now puzzled Aedile who wasn't sure to whom he spoke.
Demonic stood listening to the new Quaestor's address to the house in the back. He was still young and had not learned much since being found by Ekeia. Demonic still wore his camouflage battle armor since his prior profession was being a commando before joining the Dark Brotherhood. After the new Quaestor's address to the House, he turned and headed to his room, thinking of what he could bring and what he would need. In his time of being a squad leader of commandos, he had fought the Vong on many planets, even his homeworld of Corvanni IV. But if there was no Vong in that area, then the Grand Master stated that it was possible that there was a Jedi there, blocking an outsiders ability to probe the area to sense what is going on.
His mind sorted through all the equipment he had in his room that could worked great against the Vong but also that could take on a jedi. He decided that his best bet was to pack his equipment for preparation of taking on the Vong since there would be more than enough Dark Brotherhood members to take on any Jedi there.
He entered his room and began searching for his two pistols, his father's knife, repeating rifle, and his special thermal explosives. He found his father's knife last, looking at it he shed a tear thinking about what had happened to his family when he was sixteen. Demonic hooked everything into place and grabbed his helmet, hooked that to his belt and was about to leave when the Aedile Atema banged on his door.
"Go to the meeting point we will be leaving shortly, Novice," said Atema.
"Right away Aedile," he bowed slightly not knowing if it was the proper thing to do. Demonic started walking towards the rally point, and half way there he felt himself welling up again. He whipped his eyes clean with his glove and unhooked his helmet, placing it on, and began to remember everything that the Vong did, all the friends that they had killed and planets they had destroyed. But more importantly he remembered what fueled his anger the most, the loss of his family.